The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier ⋅ Apr 13, 2017 ⋅ #270

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I made this announcement to 55,299 members of the Digital Health group on LinkedIn. If you’re on LinkedIn, please do join the group, which allows you to opt in to receiving these announcements in addition to connecting with thousands of other global stakeholders in digital health. Note that I will continue to update this announcement up until sending out the final version via LinkedIn. I’m also now using Constant Contact to send an html and image-rich version of my announcements. You can subscribe to that version here.

The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier ⋅ Apr 13, 2017 ⋅ #270

Dear Group,

In this week’s Update (sent first exclusively to subscribers of my free Constant Contact email newsletter, which you can subscribe to below) I highlight the global “Surfer Biome Project”, efforts by the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) to leverage predictive analytics in the early identification and support of suicidal veterans, a research report (published in Nature Medicine) on translating genome editing to the clinic and, finally, the field of “digital therapeutics”, an important sub-area of digital health.

I’ve also recently added supporting information on my definition of digital health vis-à-vis why I include genomics. As inspiration and corroboration of my rationale, I feature two key quotes from Dr. Eric Topol and J. Craig Venter.

Lastly, I’ll be sending out my next newsletter tomorrow. Featured stories will include the CDC’s recognition of the value of digital health in diabetes prevention, could we be seeing a new Theranos (or several) in the area of early cancer diagnostics?, plus a new study evaluating wearable fitness trackers and heart rate measurement accuracy published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and featured in an ABC News video report. I posted the last story on my LinkedIn profile and was surprised to see that it had garnered over 13,000 views in just one day.

Read my latest newsletter here and subscribe to The Digital Health Update here.

Reprint of the Constant Contact newsletter:

Surfer and doctoral candidate Cliff Kapono and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Center for Microbiome Innovation are spearheading the “Surfer Biome Project“, an effort aimed at examining the microbiomes of surfers around the world. By collecting, sequencing the DNA, and mapping the microbial communities found in samples from surfers’ bodies (and even their surfboards), Cliff hopes to see if the oceans spread antibiotic-resistant organisms to us.

In big news for direct-to-consumer (DTC) Personal Genome Service Genetic Health Risk (GHR) testing services, the FDA has given the green light to 23andMe to tell consumers if they have an increased risk of developing ten different diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In a statement, Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, head of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said that “Consumers can now have direct access to certain genetic risk information, But it is important that people understand that genetic risk is just one piece of the bigger puzzle—it does not mean they will or won’t ultimately develop a disease.”

The U.S Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using predictive analytics to identify and support suicidal veterans. According to a statement by the VA, “recent research suggests that 20 veterans die by suicide each day, putting veterans at even greater risk than the general public. Using a new predictive model, “REACH VET” analyzes existing data from veterans’ health records to identify those at a statistically elevated risk for suicide, hospitalization, illness, or other adverse outcomes. This allows VA to provide pre-emptive care and support for veterans, in some cases before a veteran even has suicidal thoughts.”

In what Dr. Eric Topol calls “a timely and impressive review“, Nature Medicine has published a research report “Refining strategies to translate genome editing to the clinic”. According to the report authors, “Recent progress in developing programmable nucleases (e.g. CRISPR), have paved the way for gene editing to enter clinical practice. Several clinical gene-editing trials, both ex vivo and in vivo, have been initiated in the past 2 years, including studies that aim to knockout genes as well as to add therapeutic transgenes. Here we discuss the advances made in the gene-editing field in recent years, and specify priorities that need to be addressed to expand therapeutic genome editing to further disease entities.”

In an article by Chrissy Farr in MIT’s Tech Review titled “Can “Digital Therapeutics” Be as Good as Drugs?“, there’s evident confusion about the fact that “digital health” is an overarching term for “digital medicine” and “digital therapeutics”, not a parallel term.  Peter Hames, CEO of Big Health, says  “It’s still a fluid space that everyone is trying to categorize.” Not exactly, as Farr explains: “About a dozen startups now call themselves digital therapeutics providers, and say they’re distinct from the rest of the digital health market of activity monitors, smart scales, and sleep trackers.” Operative phrase: “the rest of the digital health market”.

FEATURED EVENTS
Talkspace’s Reshaping Behavioral Health in the Workplace
April 25th in San Francisco – Save 30% using code DIGITALHEALTH-30

Dell EMC Healthcare Think Tank 2017
Apr 18 in Phoenix, AZ

Digital Health World Congress 2017 takes place May 23-24 in London, UK.
Complete list of global events

Copyright © 2017 Paul Sonnier

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Paul Sonnier
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