The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier ⋅ Mar 27, 2017 ⋅ #267

Dear Group,

The email newsletter version of this post “Are Medical Billing and Life Extension Efforts Part of Digital Health?” is viewable here.

While we typically don’t think of medical billing as being a part of digital health, it is in fact mostly conducted using computers and is an integral part of the current U.S. healthcare system, ergo it’s digital health. And when it goes one step further, and actually empowers patients and providers to make vital healthcare decisions at the point of care, it’s even more significant in digital health terms. Backed by $25 million in funding, medical billing startup Eligible—founded by group member Katelyn Gleason—was featured in TechCrunch this past week.

Can billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech research succeed in making death optional? That’s the question reporter Tad Friend asks in his New Yorker piece, “Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever“. With genomics playing a big role in efforts like the National Academy of Medicine’s $25 million Aging & Longevity Grand Challenge, many life extension initiatives do fall within the realm of digital health. But as I’m often compelled to do, I disabuse people from the notion that life extension is a major goal of digital health. It’s certainly a potential outcome, but I feel it’s more important to focus on healthy living, quality of life, and improving healthcare as the main objectives of digital health.

Trials have shown that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can outperform human medical experts in certain types of diagnosis. Writing in The New Yorker, Siddhartha Mukherjee takes an in-depth look at the state of the art: “The Algorithm Will See You Now”. On a related note, you may recall Vinod Khosla’s comments that “It is inevitable that, in the future, the majority of physicians’ diagnostic, prescription and monitoring, which over time may approach 80-percent of total doctors’/internists’ time spent on medicine, will be replaced by smart hardware, software, and testing.”

We’ve all heard the stories of people resorting to crowdfunding to pay their medical bills in the United States. Writing in JAMA, Harvard’s Michael J. Young, MD, and Ethan Scheinberg, JD take a look at the promise and ethical perils of crowdfunding in healthcare. As they state, “GoFundMe’s most successful campaign to date has raised more than $2 million through more than 37,000 donations slated to help a young girl with a rare neurological disease. Owing in part to virtually no regulatory reporting standards for crowdfunding portals, robust data on the frequency and scope of medical crowdfunding are limited.”

Three well known digital health app makers—Cardiio, Runtastic, and Matis—have reached a total of $30,000 in settlements with the New York Attorney General’s office, thereby resolving allegations they used misleading claims and engaged in irresponsible privacy practices.

And finally, a little bit of cuteness overload for you: “Rayna meets a robot” is a short and adorable video. I’ll spare you the cliché about this showing our dystopian future at work.

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Paul Sonnier
Keynote Speaker ⋅ Management Consultant ⋅ Social Entrepreneur
Contributing Editor, Innovation & Tech Today
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