Can Surgical Navigation Offer Precision In Tumor Biopsy?

By Payal Rathod, editor, Transparency Market Research.

Payal Rathod

TMR’s study expects neurological navigation systems to emerge as leaders in the realm of surgical navigation systems due to high prevalence of brain tumors. According to the National Brain Tumor Society, approximately 700,000 people in the U.S. are living with brain tumor. This number further incites the need for advanced neurological navigation systems.

Navigating within the precincts of a skull multiplies the risk of damage to the vertebral column. However, advanced neuronavigation devices such as the one developed by Medtronic addresses these concerns. This device, called the StealthStation S8, is a highly efficient system that uses electromagnetic tracking capabilities and 3-D segmentation tools to create tumor models.

Influx of 3-D printing technology in the healthcare sector
Operating on tumor models prepares the doctors to operate the actual tumor. It instills confidence in the surgeons that further amplifies the success rate of the surgery. Furthering the use of 3-D segmentation tools, the researchers have invented advanced 3-D printing technologies that are changing the game for surgical navigation.

Researchers from the Tel Aviv University printed the first 3-D heart using the patient’s biological parts and cells. The end stage heart disease can only be treated with heart transplantation. However, the shortage of heart donors stems the need for advancements in the armamentarium of cardiology.

This research has not only given a new direction to regenerative medicines but heightened the demand for 3-D printing technologies. According to TMR’s study, this trend is expected to turn the tides in the surgical navigation systems industry.

Intra-surgical visualization is imperative while performing a surgery. 3-D printing technology transforms a 3-D medical image into an object of the patient’s actual size. A combination of this model and augmented reality (AR) applications offers the surgeons a real-life operating experience in a virtual environment.

This technology helps the surgeons gain a better understanding of the nature of the surgery. It overcomes the shortcomings of single modality imaging and facilitates accurate intra-surgical visualization. Besides, the combination of cloud computing and 3-D printing technology further explores the possibilities in the realm of surgical navigation. It enables the development of prosthetic limbs and streamlines the 3-D printing process. This explains why the clinicians are keen on deploying the cloud computing technology.

Migration of surgical platforms to cloud computing

Cloud computing, though this technology is still young in the medical industry, it is graduating in the arena of surgical navigation. It facilitates the high computational power required for surgical navigation. Moreover, the advancements in the medical image computing techniques such as the graphics processing unit (GPU) facilitate improved medical image processing performance.

Recently, bioengineers developed a self-navigating medical robot that can navigate in the patient’s heart. Earlier, surgeons used a joystick to monitor tiny robots in the patient’s body. However, this newly developed robot works exactly like an autonomous vehicle. The optical sensor in the robot uses artificial intelligence algorithms that direct its path inside the heart.

Such discoveries have highly motivated the surgical platforms to deploy cloud computing solutions. The fact that it breaks the restrictions of physical location has also inundated its use. A cloud surgical planning application enables multiple surgeons to work on the same case irrespective of where they are located. This enables the surgeons to make accurate incisions, thus facilitating a pain-free treatment for the patients.

The spiraling need for minimally invasive surgeries help the surgical navigation systems gain prominence in the market, states TMR. To sum it all up, surgical navigation gives healthcare professionals the liberty to navigate surgical equipment with tremendous ease. Moreover, the high morbidity because of cancer with nearly 9.6 million people dying in 2018 has necessitated the use of advanced surgical techniques. This has opened the doors for new clinical studies relating to surgical navigation such as molecular imaging and intraoperative microscopy.

The Major Bottleneck Hindering Medical Imaging

By Ran Polikane, founder, Nanox.

Ran Polikane

The digital age has of course brought tremendous advances to healthcare, but one area in particular has lagged: medical imaging. The sad truth is that two-thirds of the world’s population still has no regular access to medical imaging. In many cases, even those who do have access to the technology still must wait weeks or months for medical scanners to become available. This means that diagnostic results often arrive too late and people do not get treated in a timely manner, sometimes with fatal consequences.

Early detection by medical imaging (or lack thereof) is perhaps the most important factor in the nearly 8.8 million lives lost each year to cancer, according to the World Health Organization. When detected early using medical imaging systems like CT scanners, cancer has a 70 percent to 99 percent survival rate, according to Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation.

Not all of the limitations in medical imaging are technological, and it is important to note there are simply not enough radiologists and diagnostics experts being trained in this field currently. Even in developed countries like the United Kingdom, there is a serious shortage of senior radiologists; while the workload of scan interpretation has increased by 30 percent in the U.K. since 2012, the number of radiologists has increased by just 15 percent.

But, a key technological impediment is causing what I believe to be the real reason behind the disparity in medical imaging: price. For example, CT scanners can cost $3 million, even before the high cost of maintenance is figured in. This cost is well beyond the means of most healthcare systems in the world, and most countries can only afford a few medical imaging systems to service their entire citizenry. Because of this, even in a highly developed country like the U.S., some insurance companies will only cover a medical imaging procedure, such as a mammogram, every two years, not every year. So imagine how hard it is for people in developing countries to get the timely medical imaging they need.

Fortunately, however, the holdup in medical technology is relatively straightforward, and it lies at the heart of the science underpinning almost all medical imaging technology, from CT scans to MRIs. It is the source of the X-rays, which has remained unchanged since their discovery more than a century ago in 1895 by the German physicist Wilhelm Röntgen, who simply labeled this newfound ray “X,” standing for unknown. The name stuck. 

Behind even our most advanced X-ray equipment is the same analog bulb little changed from Röntgen’s era. It looks like a big lightbulb — although far more expensive, about $150,000 to $200,000 each — and similarly needs to be replaced frequently. Also like the common lightbulb, but at a much more extreme scale, these X-ray bulbs produce huge amounts of heat.

In fact, a part of the reason for the rotating inside a CT-scan is to dissipate this heat, as it would otherwise melt through the machine at more than a thousand degrees Celsius. That spinning reaches somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 G forces, meaning the machine needs to be built with the precision of fighter jets — a primary reason only a handful of companies in the entire world are qualified to make them.

The fundamental analog nature of X-ray devices is why, despite advances on the frontend thanks to the digital era, we take a step back to the 19th century the moment the X-ray turns on. Thankfully, however, I am sure it won’t always be this way; there is an enormously exciting new advance under development, which I am proud to say I am spearheading in conjunction with some of the brightest minds in physics. This technology is called ‘cold-cathodes’ — a source of X-ray that works at room temperature and can be from a device as small as the silicon chips in your computers. Instead of using heat to generate X-rays, cold cathodes use an electric field to draw out the electrons that eventually become X-rays (I am skipping a step or two for the sake of simplicity, but this the key difference). 

Cold-cathode technology has tantalized with its potential for several years, but my company, Nanox, believes we have found the key to mass production with a different process, which was originally intended for flatscreen TVs. We are converting it to far more impactful uses. The intended result would work very much like a “tricorder” on the Star Trek series: small, producing far less radiation than current methods, and most importantly, readily accessible to almost every country and village, no matter how far flung.

What if we could democratize medical imaging? What if we could provide at least one medical screening for every person on the planet every year? Through their ubiquity, cold-cathode X-ray machines could save lives with early detection, making healthcare more affordable and accessible to all people globally. Bringing the X-ray into the digital era is a critical step in achieving true democratization of healthcare. As an entrepreneur, I can’t think of anything more rewarding than that. 

Amazon Has Permanently Disrupted Retail: Will It Disrupt Healthcare Next?

By Joe Grace, partner, Chief Outsiders.

The US healthcare system has serious systemic problems. While the cost of healthcare continues to escalate, access to care is more difficult than ever. As a country we are getting sicker, chronic conditions are on the rise and, for the first time, longevity may be on the decline.

Joe Grace

While the usual constituents grapple with these problems, Amazon has quietly put together a syndicate including Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to provide better and more affordable healthcare for its combined 1.2 million workers.

The joint effort between Amazon and Berkshire is called Haven and makes sense because many companies of size today are self-insured to provide healthcare at lower costs. But this is different. Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett seem to be personally involved in the development of Haven. So, what could they possibility have up their sleeves?

At the same time, many Democrats running for president are promising single payer health system (Medicare for all) as the solution to controlling costs and providing quality health care for everyone. Republicans argue that this is socialism and will result in unacceptable increases in taxes that will ruin our economy.

While politicians debate, Amazon’s real objective may be to create a health payer to rival all payers with tens of millions of Amazon Prime Members as health plan members.

With Amazon’s buying power, scale and capabilities, the e-commerce giant could create a health payer offering that could render the need for a single payer system moot.

The company’s buying power and clout representing tens of millions of members allows it to negotiate the lowest prices on the planet for drugs and medical treatment. Who knows … maybe Amazon will build its own drug manufacturing laboratories?

And with its fulfillment and shipping capabilities, it could deliver prescriptions to your door (maybe by drone) almost immediately, eliminating the need to ever visit a pharmacy again.

With its rapidly evolving tech platform, including Alexis and health monitoring devices, it could monitor health conditions and contact providers before medical emergencies occur.

What’s more, Amazon could take telemedicine and concierge medicine to another level with connectivity to providers anytime, anywhere, without the red tape that makes healthcare so difficult to access today. And it might even buy large health systems and shake them up by eliminating red tape while dramatically improving access to quality care. Even identity cards from doctors can change in the future. You can expect doctors IDs and specialist ID lanyards turning into digital identifiers in the future.

Lastly, let’s not forget Amazon’s ability to harness artificial intelligence and machine learning to deliver better, smarter, more efficient health care without ever talking to a doctor.

Bernie Sanders may be right when he argues that access to quality healthcare is a basic human right. But given all the roadblocks, lobbying and politics blocking the way to a government single payer system, it just may be delivered by Jeff Bezos rather than Uncle Sam. Hold on to your seats – healthcare is about to be disrupted big time. 

How Skilled Nursing Facilities Need To Prepare For Value-Based Care

By Kathleen Riordan and Apurva Subramanian, healthcare experts, PA Consulting.

Over the next decade one in five US residents will be over the age of 65, over 70 percent of whom will require some form of Long-Term Services and Support (LTSS) as they continue to age. The resources required to meet the care needs of our senior generation will triple by 2040.

The industry is reaching a tipping point and CMS – the primary payer for these services – is going to look for innovative ways to curb costs while maintaining high-quality, patient-centric care. Value-based payment models in other health service organizations incentive providers to do just this.  Historically, LTSS have been left out of value-based care payment arrangements; however, with the increase in use and cost of LTSS, CMS is gradually incorporating value-based care models in this industry to nudge providers into more innovative ways of delivering care.

For example, in 2019, skilled nursing facilities began receiving quality-adjusted payments for all Medicare Fee-For-Service (FFS) patient-stays. CMS is now withholding 2 percent of all Medicare FFS payments and giving facilities the opportunity to earn this back through an assessment of its performance on the 30-day all-cause hospital readmission quality measure. Recent results show that 73 percent of nearly 15,000 skilled nursing facilities reporting data received payment penalties for performance on the hospital readmission measure, with 20 percent receiving the maximum penalty of the entire 2 percent withholding.

Now is the time for long-term care organizations to act, as the initiatives CMS is proposing will significantly affect the industry. On the agenda for CMS is a range of payment incentives including:

The payment models in both skilled nursing and home health represent a shift that CMS is making to include all ancillary providers into the value-based care arena. Long-term care organizations can learn from hospitals and physician groups who proactively approached this coming wave of value-based payment reform. Organizations that are collecting and acting on data in a timely manner, establishing efficient cost-reducing processes, and integrating effectively within the care continuum will thrive in the new financial environment.

So how can long-term care providers implement an effective value-based care model? Follow these four steps.

  1. Understand value-based program requirements and determine the necessary people, processes, and technologies needed to adjust operations to achieve program success. The challenging part for long-term care is going to be in operationalizing new value-based care program requirements. Those organizations that can effectively arrange the right people, processes, and technology stand to soar above the rest. Advancements in technology have enabled organizations to progress further, faster. Currently, many vendors in the market offer telemedicine technologies and remote patient monitoring applications to care for high-acuity patients in more effective ways. For example, long term care providers can use telehealth to provide support to elder patients allowing them to stay in their homes longer. A great example is the Argenti care technology program in the UK that placed a configured Amazon Echo device in on-demand senior care services, the pilot was highly successful and improved outcomes and reduced cost. Some skilled nursing facilities are even investing in putting in motion detectors in patient rooms to assess movement anomalies to ensure patients get the right care when they need it. Investing in the right technologies to ensure a high-quality care experience can accelerate a LTSS provider’s ability to adapt to value-based care models.
  2. Use data and processes improvement methodologies to recognize and reduce unnecessary costs and develop best-practice processes. Long-term care service providers should already be collecting and using data to generate insights to inform best-practices in both the cost and delivery of care. The Visiting Nurses Association of New York, the oldest nonprofit home and community-based health organization, is already using robust data analytics to drive clinical and operational decision-making by creating a model to proactively predict when a patient may benefit from a different or higher level of care. For those organizations without a robust data analytics strategy, steps can be taken to capture, track, and analyze clinical and claims data to understand population-based characteristics and care needs. In doing so, LTSS organizations can establish benchmarks and reporting to create the drive toward more clinically and cost-effective approaches to care.
  3. Build relationships with providers across the care continuum to create open lines of communication and develop smooth processes for patient care transitions. Crucial to the success of long-term care organizations in transitioning to value-based models is the ability to develop clear processes and means of communication with providers along the patient care continuum to ensure smooth transitions in and out of care and a streamlined flow of information among providers. Currently, NYU Langone Health is partnering with 11 high-quality skilled nursing facilities to create a preferred network where organizations are coming together to improve care transitions by openly sharing quality, readmission, and length of stay data. In doing so, these organizations are learning from one another to improve their own performance standards and proactively prepare for additional upcoming incentives created through value-based care payment models. The transition to a culture of continuous improvement is often a challenge for organizations, as employees at all levels have to recognize and work to overcome the ineffectiveness in largely entrenched processes and procedures. However, in building a culture of continuous improvement where all employees have the capacity and ability to step outside of their daily whirlwind of job demands and look for efficiencies ultimately leads to innovative and productive ways of thinking and acting. 
  4. Partner with local community organizations to enhance your current service offerings. Value-based care models are intended to keep costs down while ensuring patients continue to receive high-quality medical care. The elderly population is a vulnerable population and requires additional support systems in place to have all their health care needs met. Building connections with local community organizations to help patients as they transition out of nursing care to their home or while receiving in-home care can set your organization up for success. Local area agencies on aging can connect long-term care providers with the right community resources to support their patient populations. Local community organizations can provide support with social care needs like transportation, fall-risk assessments, nutrition and meal preparation, community-based engagement, all of which have been shown to not only reduce hospital readmission rates, but also improve the health and well-being of the elderly. 

Long-term care service providers need to invest time and budget into comprehensive data collection and analysis, implementation of process improvement methodologies, and advanced technological devices to proactively adjust to payment reform. Navigating the integration of value-based care models for long-term service and support organizations can seem like a dauting journey. But we have seen that organizations that prepare effective strategies for implementing the four activities outlined above are more likely to experience a smoother transition.

Tech Mahindra Acquires Strategic Design Consultancy, Mad*Pow

Tech Mahindra, a provider of digital transformation and consulting services and solutions has announced the acquisition of Mad*Pow, a strategic design consultancy headquartered in the US. The addition of Mad*Pow to the Tech Mahindra portfolio is expected to help bolster capabilities in customer experience (CX) and digital transformation such as research, experience strategy and service design, user experience design, behavior change design, content strategy, mobile app and web development, design ops, data science and analytics.

The Boston-area consultancy will complement to Tech Mahindra’s existing offerings and capabilities across design, marketing and commerce.

CP Gurnani, managing director and CEO, Tech Mahindra, said, “Mad*Pow’s acquisition is in sync with Tech Mahindra’s global digital charter. With this collaboration, our digital footprint will take a deeper root not just in the US, but in the wider ecosystem world over. I welcome the Mad*Pow team into the Tech Mahindra family, and I am confident that together we will achieve greater success.”

A pioneer in the experience design field, Mad*Pow leverages strategic design and the psychology of motivation to create innovative experiences and compelling digital solutions for global clients. Mad*Pow’s unique human-centered design approach is fueled by deep empathy and an understanding of behavior science, which will create real differentiation for Tech Mahindra’s 900+ customers.

Will Powley, founder and chief creative officer, Mad*Pow, said, “Tech Mahindra’s experience and reach will enable Mad*Pow to scale faster by greatly enhancing its digital transformation offerings with existing and potential clients. The collaboration will also create vast opportunities for Mad*Pow to provide it’s unique and differentiated strategic design services to Tech Mahindra’s large global customer base.”

Vivek Agarwal, global head of corporate development, Tech Mahindra, said, “We are excited to announce Tech Mahindra’s key acquisition of a digital asset in North America. The addition of Mad*Pow to Tech Mahindra family will greatly enhance our ability to create and deliver enhanced customer experiences for our global clients.”

Mad*Pow’s acquisition underlines Tech Mahindra’s focus on digital growth, under the TechMNxt charter, which focuses on leveraging next generation technologies and solutions to disrupt and enable digital transformation, and to build and deliver cutting-edge technology solutions and services to address real world problems to meet the customer’s evolving and dynamic needs.

A Simple Text Message To Save More Than 13 Million Lives

By Abhinav Shashank, CEO and co-founder, Innovaccer.

Fact 1: As per the latest data made available by the Office for Civil Rights for HHS, more than 208,000 privacy-related complaints have been made in the last 16 years.

Fact 2: If a hospital makes a call to a patient to remind them of their upcoming appointment, they might receive a class action complaint about violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

While these two facts may not necessarily be related to one another, we clearly need to take a hard look at the increasing calls to protect patient privacy. But does that mean providers cannot send a text message to their patients? Certainly not!

California’s latest policy for text message technology for Medicaid plans: A case study

The 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), which was put in place to safeguard people from automated text or other telephonic messages, limits organizations from reaching out to their patients through text messages. TCPA can also levy financial penalties on organizations if they are found guilty of violating their policies. On the other hand, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, or HIPAA, require every “Covered Entity or Business Associate that comes into contact with Protected Health Information (PHI)” to follow the compliance policies, something that is accepted as a rule of thumb in the healthcare world. For any organization looking to reach out to patients remotely, both HIPAA and TCPA policies are extremely important to comprehend and follow.

In today’s context where patient engagement through text messages has emerged as one of the biggest avenues for optimizing care quality, the TCPA is losing its sheen to some extent in the healthcare domain. While no one denies the importance of TCPA, it does cause some roadblocks for organizations looking to enhance patient engagement in remote areas and population segments.

The California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) recently issued a policy to set guidelines regarding how Medicaid plans can safely use the text messaging technology to connect with beneficiaries. This is critical since one out of three people in California are Medicaid beneficiaries.

The latest ruling allows organizations to reach out to their patients through text messaging after submitting an approval form to the concerned regulators clearly mentioning the structure as well as the intent of such reach out campaigns. They also need to create proper avenues for privacy protection and give users a clear opt-out option. However, once such campaigns are approved, the payer can then run such programs without any additional regulatory clearances. Further, such outreach messages must be made available at no cost to Medicaid members.

What can we learn from the example of DHCS?

According to a study, hospitals could reduce their discharge time by 50 percent if conducted by secure text messaging, saving healthcare facilities an average of $557,253 per year.

Secure text messaging is indeed a big deal. Make no mistakes, privacy and security should still remain the top-most priority while enabling such mechanisms, and password protection is something that we should all consider. However, in an age when we are shifting our focus on precision medicine and advanced robotic surgeries, the ability to create a secure system for text reminders should not be a big deal.

The text message service is indeed the most prevalent form of communication for Americans younger than 50, and about 80% of people state it as the preferred way of receiving notifications. The latest DHCS policy will empower payers to connect with their populations like never before, an ability that would allow them to initiative preventive care and scheduling, while ultimately reducing care and cost and improving outcomes. It can be safely assumed that the latest initiative by DHCS is a breakthrough step in this direction.

Organizations need the ability to meet their patients where they want

I remember one of my friends asking me a very simple yet important question, “If I can connect with my colleague based out of London in literally 10 seconds, why does it take my provider so long to tell me that my appointment has been canceled?” I had no answer.

We cannot expect a person whose calendar is booked for the next 10 days to walk into a clinic for a regular check-up and wait idly for a couple of hours due to inefficient scheduling practices. Worse still, imagine a situation where a person takes time out to visit a facility for their Annual Wellness Visit (AWV) only to find out that their appointment has been rescheduled for the next week.

A simple suggestion of taking aspirin as a first-aid measure in a potential case of a heart attack sent through an SMS on your way to the hospital can help a patient significantly reduce the damage. Remote patient outreach is an important prospect for today’s practices, if not a necessity. It’s really that simple — connect with your patients to know them better, to treat them better, and to make them feel better with minimum interventions. While organizations can still sustain under value-driven contracts without such streamlined patient communication mediums, we cannot keep believing that we would cross that bridge when we come to it.

The road ahead

Consumerism in healthcare was never a widely-discussed topic until very recently, however, things are changing and how! Innovating while respecting the mandates in place should be the road ahead, definitely. The government is supporting new-age initiatives, federal healthcare agencies are bringing in new policies, and large payer and provider organizations are exploring ways to maximize patient satisfaction. Examples set by organizations such as DHCS will act as an ice breaker for other agencies and organizations wanting to break free to cater to the unique needs of the 2020s.

Choosing the Right Telehealth Platform: 5 Factors To Consider

By Rik Coder, vice president of public sector, Pexip.

Rik Coder

Today’s healthcare organizations face tremendous pressure to deliver high-quality care and improve patient satisfaction, all while reducing costs. As hospitals adapt to new value-based care models, telehealth can be a great way to improve patient satisfaction and engagement.

In fact, a recent study by Massachusetts General Hospital found high levels of patient satisfaction with telehealth, with 68 percent of patients rating virtual visits at 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale, and 62 percent reporting that the quality of virtual video visits was no different from that of office visits.

The technology backbone powering telehealth plays a big role in patient satisfaction. It must be simple and intuitive for patients to join video calls, while meeting the security and workflow needs of physicians. So, when choosing a platform to support your telehealth initiative, what factors should you consider?

1. Provide a great user experience

One of the most important factors in driving adoption for your telehealth platform is the user experience for both patients and physicians. The interface of the video application must be intuitive and easy-to-use, and the service high-quality and reliable. Organizations should also ensure that the platform provides connectivity to patient home sites for case management, post-procedure follow-up, and remote monitoring.

2. Ability to connect with any device, anywhere

Telehealth can break down accessibility barriers to care, whether those be technology-based or location-based. Patients should be able to join video consults from the comfort of their own homes using their mobile device or web browser, and physicians should be able to use the technologies they are used to, whether those be telehealth carts, office computers, video conferencing systems, Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts Meet.

With the right connectivity to disperse locations ranging from hospitals to clinics and rehabilitation centers, patients can get the coordinated care they need. This also improves the speed and quality of care as health systems spread across large geographies.

3. Scalability

As health systems expand, adding new sites and acquiring new practices, they need the ability to quickly scale to accommodate increased usage. Each new site also needs the ability to easily connect with each other for internal collaboration. With the right platform, you can add video capacity to accommodate times of increased demand in real time, and add capabilities to meet the changing needs of your organization with no additional configuration needed.

4. Flexibility

Each organization is different. Consider the IT resources and existing infrastructure requirements of your organization to determine the best deployment method for you (self-hosted versus as-a-service). Also evaluate how the platform will integrate with existing technologies such as EMRs and scheduling tools to make workflows as seamless as possible. If your video platform is clunky or requires additional logins, physicians are less likely to adopt it into their daily workflows.

5. Customization

Consumers today expect a consistent experience across all of their touchpoints with a brand, and when it comes to healthcare, the patient experience is no different. For instance, will your telehealth platform extend your organization’s brand and experience from the doctor’s office to the patient’s home, or introduce a different look and feel? Providing a seamless experience can increase patient trust and loyalty for your organization over the long run.

Choosing the right video platform is a big decision that can ultimately determine the success of your telehealth initiative. Beyond the fundamental needs for security and regulatory compliance, select a platform that puts user and physician experience first. With physician buy-in, you can drive adoption and give your patients the care they need, when they need it.

Top Startups That Will Change Healthcare

By Michael Dehoyos, web developer, PhD Kingdom and Next Coursework.

Michael Dehoyos

Technology is advancing at an unbelievably rapid pace and there are new breakthroughs every day for artificial intelligence and big data in multiple industries. They have the potential to completely revolutionize the field of healthcare and some changes are already starting to take place. This article will cover the top startup companies in healthcare that are at the forefront of the AI revolution and what their products and discoveries mean for the medical industry.

Sword Health

Sword Health is the first digital physical therapist that is powered by AI. The company recognized a need in the industry because they noticed that there was always a lack of experienced medical specialists. Even with the number of professionals finishing their medical training each year, there is an increasing demand for them which cannot be met. The AI-powered physical therapist created by Sword Health limits the input of human specialists to elaborating the initial personalized physical therapy journey for each patient. After this step, the patient does their regular exercises at home and their motion tracker will let them know if each exercise was done properly. This saves the patient having to make regular trips to the hospital for physical therapy and allows the specialists to see more people quicker. 

Prognos

Prognos’ goal is to completely eradicate the world of diseases by developing a tool that will identify disease at the onset. This company, formerly known as Medivo, has an ambitious goal which is to use AI and data analysis to predict disease at the earliest possible moment. A tech blogger at Australia2Write, Richard Key, explains why Prognos is so valuable to the medical industry: “Their database can access 13 billion patient records and then AI is used to gain actionable information. The registry helps Prognos figure out which patients are most at risk and develop a plan for treatment that’s personalized to each individual. It can also identify populations at risk and look for gaps in existing care.” 

Flatiron Health

Flatiron Health is aimed at the challenge posed by cancer in the diversity and complexity of the disease. It’s too difficult for doctors or healthcare organizations to deal with on their own so the entire industry needs to be used to make any advancement in this field. Flatiron Health is a company that’s developed an electronic health record (EHR) to unify all the medical data that exists thus far and pull insights from it in order to move cancer research forward at a rapid pace.

Babylon Health

At its core, Babylon Health is a tool that permits patients to consult human doctors or other medical specialists online, through text or video in real time. As explained by a data analyst at Brit Student, John Hunt, “It also has an AI component which is a chatbot that can assist patients with simpler, more straightforward issues. Its capacity extends to making diagnoses and recommending treatment options.”

The goal of Babylon Health’s company is to eventually have a completely self-sustainable doctor powered by AI, so it seems as though the future of healthcare is receiving treatments without seeing a human doctor at any point.

Arterys

Arterys’ focus is radiology and it uses AI to help existing human radiologists. Their oncology AI software is already approved in the United States by the FDA and it actually assists radiologists in measuring and tracking tumors in MRIs and CT scans using a user-friendly, easy browser. The goal with this is to get accurate and quick cancer diagnoses. The AI-powered tool uses what it’s learned to recognize and alert to lung and liver lesions and its accuracy has been shown to equal human specialists.

Modern Fertility

This is another American startup, but one whose focus is on female fertility. Modern Fertility is a fertility hormone test for women to use in the comfort and privacy of their own home. All they need to do is take a finger-prick test and mail it to the company, and then they’ll receive a report approved by a physician which tells them more information about their hormones and a complete fertility profile. It’s partnered with a medical facility in the United States and was founded by former Uber executives.

How the Digital Transformation Is Changing What Is Required of Healthcare Professionals

By Adrian Johansen, freelance writer; @AdrianJohanse18.

Measurement, Health, Monitor, Electronics, Clinic

The healthcare industry has long been known for its lengthy processes and difficult paperwork hoops. Much like the federal government, it has lagged behind other industries in updating technology to meet the expectations of modern system users. The sheer antiquity of the administrative work leaves patients feeling frustrated and like they are feeding information into a black box.

Though it has certainly taken a long time, the healthcare industry is finally beginning to adopt technologies and incorporate them into patient care. In many facilities, patients are now able to see note taking in electronic medical records. Some are now even able to sync health data they have collected on their smart devices with medical information needed by doctors for certain health screenings.

This process of adapting the technologies certainly hasn’t been easy. Beyond the time and difficulty of incorporating tech into a monolithic industry, there are substantial barriers in tech skill sets in healthcare professionals. The adoption of technology, however, has become an absolutely necessary means to connecting with patients and staying relevant in a surprisingly competitive industry.

A New Skill Set

As a healthcare professional, it is imperative to keep up to date on new procedures and findings related to certain illnesses. Many doctors, nurses, and physicians assistants spend years learning all of the basics and training in advanced healthcare practices. This high level of education is expected from all patients, whether their healthcare visit is a simple checkup or a complicated procedure. When it comes down to it, healthcare professionals have a lot of information stuffed up top.

With the advent of technology in the healthcare system, it has become almost essential for healthcare professionals to add one more skill set to their repertoire: healthcare tech guru. For some doctors and nurses who have been in the practice for a long time, the technology changes can be confusing and difficult to adapt to. Keeping personal health data private in an electronic format that is easily shared can be especially challenging. 

Some technologies such as telemedicine or patient-centered healthcare have completely changed the way healthcare is expected to be provided. Many recent medical field graduates are being taught different skills that will help them to provide care more effectively in a more tech-based health setting. For instance, they may be taught how to work alongside a healthcare robot, how to communicate with patients effective without seeing them in person, or how to use information collected on smart devices.

Boosting Engagement

Technology has also given another person new healthcare tools — the patient. Patients have a far greater ability than ever before to contribute to and be active in collecting their own healthcare data. This engagement can be a blessing and a curse. It gives patients the ability to track their own information and identify possible concerns, but it can also encourage some to write off going to the doctor completely.

The biggest way this technology has changed the jobs of healthcare professionals is by giving them a bigger window into the day-to-day lives and activities of their patients. Now more than ever before, doctors have the ability to confirm whether or not patients are following health suggestions and can document changes, adjust treatment, and coordinate care accordingly. Because of this, they are likely to need to learn how to better frame patient conversations to accurately convey the urgency and importance of their prescriptions.

On the flip side, technology also gives the patient a greater window into the black box that is their medical information. Electronic medical records have made it relatively simple to compile all medical information about one person and share it with other healthcare professionals or the patient. This means that patients have a greater knowledge base and more control over what happens to their medical information. 

Staying Relevant

Finally, as with most businesses — and healthcare is certainly a business — the adoption of technology is a critical piece of staying relevant. Successfully making the conversion to a technologically savvy doctor’s office can mean the difference between expanding to serve more patients or falling behind the rest of the industry. It is something that health administrators are certainly thinking about, even if the doctors aren’t.

More so than in previous decades, patients are expecting that doctors are able to meet their schedules. A digital and tech-savvy clinic can help make that happen. At this point, the vast majority of potential patients are going online to research doctors and facilities prior to making appointments — which they also greatly prefer to make online.

Perhaps the most important means of making sure the transition to a digital healthcare environment is successful is helping to train doctors and nurses to understand the technology they are going to be using. A greater understanding is critical to accepting and even promoting the changes as positive ones. If the majority of the office is struggling with understanding the purpose and need of going digital, it is going to be difficult to make the transition stick.

Make no mistake, technology is rapidly changing the healthcare world. This means many healthcare professionals are working hard to develop the necessary skills to successfully integrate technology into their practices. Doing so can help ensure they are both getting and giving out the most information to patients, which is better for overall health outcomes. 

Data, Data Everywhere, But It’s Still Confined In Silos

By B.J. Boyle, vice president and general manager of post-acute insights, PointClickCare.

B.J. Boyle

As every nurse, physician, clinical case manager, and healthcare IT professional knows well, we have passed the stage in which locking up patient data is an effective care practice. In fact, ineffective data siloing can slow down operations and can drastically and negatively impact patient care, as well as put unnecessary strain on an already overtaxed workforce. In short, data silos are a great barrier to realizing a fully implemented state of interoperability

We must unlock — and importantly, share — critical health data to improve the quality of patients’ care throughout their medical journey.  Data sharing will improve efficiencies in our nation’s health facilities by reducing readmissions, reducing negative drug interactions, and improving care to decrease patient length-of-stay, to name a few. Acute providers know that reducing readmissions is critical in a value-based payment environment because the penalties can be detrimental to the financial health of the facility. 

That makes the need to share data quickly and efficiently more pressing than ever. Only by embracing technological innovations and sharing data can care providers see a holistic view of the patient — from potential injuries and emotional challenges to drug interactions and comorbidities.

That’s not to say that keeping up with demand while offering high-quality patient care will be an easy task. But we know it certainly isn’t possible with the way things are. 

Further, by accessing data about previous patient outcomes, case managers can help patients and their families determine the right treatment facility for them, increasing the effectiveness of referrals and increasing the chances that your facility will become the preferred provider. When patients are matched with the right facility for their specific needs the first time, their recovery time and health outcomes will improve. That’s good for everyone: decreasing costs and increasing hospital ratings by reducing readmissions is a win-win. 

More confident care

Data that has been removed from silos and integrated into a cohesive and actionable digital chart allows providers to follow their patient’s journey post-discharge, improving the speed and quality of information exchange with skilled nursing and acute care facilities, which leads to more confident care. 

Modern EHR technologies and cloud-based solutions can finally make interoperability possible and can increase efficiency so providers can stop waiting by the fax machine and instead get back to doing what is most important: helping patients heal. 

Patient discharges, for example, can be extraordinarily labor-intensive and are further complicated when they are transferred to a post-acute care provider. As a result of the inherent complexities, hefty paperwork and need for seamless transitions, manual processes, a lack of transparency and data silos can cause significant negative impacts on patient health and frustration for families and providers alike.

The cloud-based technology we need already exists to assist with such paperwork, cutting down discharge time and allowing providers to get back to the myriad of other tasks awaiting them. Faster discharges mean more free hospital beds, helping with overall efficiency and an improved bottom line. 

More information sharing between clinics also means patients can make informed decisions about their own health. Both patients and physicians or case managers will have a full picture of both acute and chronic issues while referrals can be made more effectively based on past results of patients with similar conditions.

When you think about it, using integrated technology to share success rates is a no-brainer. People research their meals on Yelp before going to dinner, or read reviews on a pair of shoes before buying them, so why shouldn’t patients be equally as informed about something as important as their health in real-time?

Data sharing can also effectively eliminate issues like drug or medication problems. Researchers estimate that nearly half of all seniors between the ages of 70 to 79 take five medications a day. A patient might be given his or her medication twice—or perhaps not at all—because their care information is siloed between facilities. It’s a problem that can easily be solved.

We know that outdated, labor-intensive processes that involve manually transmitting data to separate servers doesn’t make sense in a cloud-based world, especially when it comes to solving a crisis we know is coming. While a piecemeal data strategy might have worked in the past, we can’t afford to be less than buttoned up now or in the future.

With the anticipated increase in demand for skilled nursing and acute care services, innovative and integrated data systems are critical. Increased interoperability means patients and providers can make informed decisions, quality care is improved, and paperwork-heavy tasks are simplified, improving hospital and clinic efficiency and making life easier whether we’re the patient, caregiver, or provider. 

We already live in a data-driven world, but it’s up to us to embrace a better way to take care of our patients’ health information now and in the future.