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DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: AI on the verge of disrupting healthcare — Philips brings precision medicine to cancer treatment — Insurers should invest in online presence


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US HEALTH EXECUTIVES EXPECT AI TO REACH HEALTHCARE IN 3 YEARS: Although AI is generating significant buzz in the healthcare sector, it has yet to infiltrate the clinical setting properly. In 2017, the overwhelming majority of healthcare delivered in the US had little to no AI involvement. However, 85% of US health executives believe AI will have a central role in healthcare within the next three years, according to an Accenture report.

Two key trends indicate that AI is poised to impact US healthcare over the next 18 months:

  • Clinical trials are becoming more common. Several clinics and researchers have begun exploring how AI can be used within a clinical setting. For example, Google, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the University of California conducted a study that assessed the ways AI could be used to predict mortality rates. As more evidence reveals that AI can empower health systems’ offerings, investment dollars will likely creep up. 
  • The FDA is taking a greater interest in products that use AI. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced in April that it planned to expand its regulatory coverage to encourage and prepare for the development of health products that incorporate AI. The FDA is working to facilitate the inclusion of AI in digital health tools by considering how it can add the segment to its pre-certification program.

Building consumers’ and clinicians’ trust in AI will be paramount as health systems and insurers implement the technology, Accenture notes. While consumers are concerned about how their data is being used, clinicians want proof that the technology is dependable amid liability concerns and that it ensures positive patient outcomes. There are two primary strategies to overcome these issues:

  • Provide transparency around the motives for using patient data in AI as well as how AI models make decisions. This can help to demonstrate that the business understands and acknowledges the consumers’ concerns and helps to foster trust in the brand’s use of AI.
  • Present evidence of how AI can provide positive outcomes. As more pilot studies of AI in clinical settings come to light and show how the technology can assist physicians and hospitals, such as through clinical decision support, clinicians will become more comfortable trusting the technology in a clinical setting.

PHILIPS PARTNERS WITH DANA-FARBER TO BRING PERSONALIZED MEDICINE TO CANCER TREATMENT: Health tech giant Philips is using cancer research institute Dana-Farber Clinical Pathways to develop a cloud-based precision medicine platform that helps oncologists more quickly identify appropriate cancer treatments, according to Healthcare It News. Philips’ cloud-based precision medicine platform, “IntelliSpace Oncology,” will help oncologists map cancer patients to the appropriate treatment options based on their radiology, pathology, genomics, and electronic health records (EHR) data. Precision medicine — which makes use of variations in consumers’ genes, environment, and lifestyle to guide the treatment of diseases — enables health systems to process large amounts of data to tailor personalized treatments that deliver better experiences and better outcomes. This helps to minimize the number of hospital readmissions and unnecessary tests, the number of hospital readmissions and unnecessary tests, thereby lowering the overall cost of healthcare. Moreover, the potential of precision medicine to reduce costs and improve outcomes means it has a role to play in the emergence of value-based care (VBC). An earlier implementation of Dana-Farber Clinical Pathways for lung cancer resulted in a $15,000 reduction in the cost of care per patient. 

bii global precision medicine forecast

WEB PRESENCE IMPORTANT FOR INSURERS AS CONSUMERS FLOCK TO ONLINE SEARCH: Online search and consumer reviews play a significant role in consumer behavior and decision-making when engaging with insurance providers online, according to a new Yext study. When it comes time to select a new provider or agent, 75% of respondents rated reviews as somewhat or very important to their decision, and half used online search tools as their first resource for insurance information. The “Yelpification” of healthcare means patients are shopping around online before choosing insurers and providers, and both players have reason to worry — review sites transformed the restaurant landscape with increased transparency, putting more power into the hands of consumers and pushing some businesses out of the market. Moving forward, payers that invest in their online presence, including monitoring online reviews and improving search engine optimization, will be best prepared to capture more of the available market. This trend will gain momentum as a younger, more digital-friendly demographic begins to shop for insurance.

NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSING HELPS HEALTH SYSTEM GAUGE CARDIAC DEVICE EFFECTIVENESS: Missouri-based health system Mercy is using natural language processing (NLP) — a branch of machine learning that trains computers to process large amounts of natural language data — to evaluate the performance of cardiac devices, according to Healthcare IT News. NLP enables Mercy to analyze raw data across its EHR system and unlock previously inaccessible data from areas like clinical notes. The result is a more complete picture of patient data, which Mercy clinicians have used to glean insights into the efficacy of the different heart failure devices it has installed in 100,000 of its patients. Clinicians can use these insights to give feedback to medical device manufacturers and to evaluate which device a patient is most compatible with to improve quality and outcomes. Given the success of the tool for medical devices, Mercy's exploring new areas where they can apply NLP, such as operations workflow.


  • Medisafe, a prescription management platform, increased the rate at which HIV patients refilled their prescriptions, according to a new study. Medisafe aims to reduce the $300 billion in healthcare costs related to poor medication adherence each year, which leads to unnecessary hospitalizations, ER visits, and extra tests.
  • The UK National Health Service's (NHS) online patient portal was down for nearly 24 hours beginning May 30, 2018, according to Digital Health. Patients were unable to refill prescriptions, view medical records, or schedule appointments during this period.
  • Zebra Medical Vision, an Israeli diagnostic imaging startup, secured $30 million in additional funding to bring its total financing to $50 million, according to TechCrunch. Zebra uses computer vision, or the automated extraction of analysis from images, to help radiologists improve diagnosis.

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