The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier ⋅ Apr 27, 2017 ⋅ #272

I made this announcement to 55,565 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 27, 2017 ⋅ #272

Dear Group,

I sent out two of my Digital Health Update newsletters this past week. Below are highlights on what I featured. As previously mentioned, these go out first to subscribers of my free Constant Contact email newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

The Digital Health Update for April 25, 2017
Featuring my healthy chocolate recipe for genetically-disposed chocoholics (and everyone else!), healthcare jobs outpacing most other industries (and why establishment healthcare industry stakeholders have resisted and not pursued productivity and quality gains possible via digital health process improvements), a new Kaiser Permanente hospital here in San Diego, WHOOP for NFL players (who will own their data), a video demo of Qualcomm (medical) Tricorder XPRIZE-winning team Final Frontier Medical Devices for technology legend Steve Wozniak, the TODAY show’s review of apps to “help you get centered”, and an autonomous robot suitcase crowdfunding on Indiegogo.
Read the newsletter, here.

The Digital Health Update for April 22, 2017
Featuring a new AI-enabled chatbot for medical marijuana, telemedicine patients flashing their doctors (unrelated to the marijuana chatbot, I presume!), a new brain hacking mission by Elon Musk (for communication via the mind), study results of a pacemaker for the brain (to improve memory in people with brain injuries, Alzheimer’s, and dementia), wearable tech sensors and robotics for measuring muscle stiffness, plus another solution for cystic fibrosis and glucose, the first-ever 3D-printed synthetic cartilage for use in knee joint replacement surgery and, finally, a gene therapy drug known as “the world’s most expensive medicine” ($1M) is being pulled from the market.
Read the newsletter, here.

I’ve copied and pasted the text from the newsletter below for better web-search (SEO) and archival purposes.

The Digital Health Update for April 25

Is chocolate good for you? Well, the recipe I use to make my own at home certainly is, as you can read (and download) below, but the typical store-bought chocolate bar may be bad for both your health and the size of your waistline.

By analyzing data from 818 adults of European ancestry (~50/50 men/women), researchers have discovered that the oxytocin gene variant, aka the ‘love hormone’, is linked to higher chocolate intake  and, unfortunately, a larger waist circumference. But this downside of chocolate consumption runs counter to evidence that chocolate may help reduce blood pressure and lower body weight, plus it can also help prevent diabetes and insulin resistance. In other experiments, scientists have found that friendly bacteria/microbes in our gut gobble up the antioxidant polyphenols and fiber in cacao powder and turn it into compounds that reduce inflammation (helping the heart) and help tell us when we’re full. So why the discrepancy? More than likely it’s due to the unhealthy additives in most commercial chocolates.

Pictured at right is my healthy superfood chocolate that I make using raw cacao paste/liquor (a solid, despite what the name implies), raw vanilla powder, raw honey, raw coconut oil, maqui berry powder, and matcha green tea powder. It’s sugar- and milk-free, plus doesn’t contain soy lecithin, an emulsifier added to most commercial chocolate to bind the cacao butter (fat), cacao solids, and dairy together plus impart a ‘silky smooth’ mouth feel. Unfortunately, there is evidence that emulsifiers disrupt our gut microbes and makes us fat. In other words, lecithin—along with sugar, milk, and high-heat processing (which destroys flavonoids, beneficial enzymes, and other nutrients)—defeat the massive health benefits of consuming raw cacao.

You can download my chocolate recipe for free, here (PDF).

Whenever I hear criticism of digital health from for-profit healthcare systems,medical association representatives, big pharma, or other healthcare industry establishment stakeholders that benefit from the status quo, I’m reminded of my tenure at Boeing where, among various roles I held there over several years, I worked as a process engineer. Since the dawn of the digital revolution, aerospace and most other industries have embraced digital and other technologies as tools to help improve efficiencies and increase productivity, which can drive down costs, especially for labor. But healthcare has largely resisted this trend and always pulls out a convenient excuse when criticizing digital health. As such, it’s no wonder that we have seen employment in the healthcare industry grow at a rate far exceeding that of other industries.

As Kaiser Health News’ Chad Terhune reports in “Health Care In America: An Employment Bonanza And A Runaway-Cost Crisis” and an op-ed in the NY Times “Our Costly Addiction to Health Care Jobs“, “labor accounts for more than half of the $3.4 trillion spent on U.S. healthcare” and “the industry has been a great friend to the U.S. economy. Its plentiful jobs helped lift the country out of the Great Recession and, partly due to the Affordable Care Act, it now employs 1 in 9 Americans”. While I’m all for good-paying jobs, it would be nice to see productivity also increasing along with improved health outcomes. In other words, it would be great to obtain more value out of increasing healthcare costs versus just the jobs benefit.

In this regard, I love this quote by Harvard University economist Katherine Baicker: “The goal of increasing jobs in healthcare is incompatible with the goal of keeping healthcare affordable. There’s a lot of evidence we can get more bang for our buck in health care. We should be aiming for a healthcare system that operates more efficiently and effectively. That might mean better outcomes for patients and fewer jobs.”

NantHealth (Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong is the CEO) offers a $11,000 diagnostic test, “GPS Cancer”, which reportedly has just 6 payments out of 670 commercial orders. According to Bloomberg, while doctors are showing interest, the company may be providing commercially-ordered tests for free. NantHealth’s Jen Hodson stated that “We will not turn away a patient or physician that wants to order GPS. That said, it does create a lag on reimbursement if the underlying insurance of the patient is not one of our contracted employers or payers.” NantHealth earned $100 million in 2016, which includes software services for payers and hospitals.

The brand new Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center has finally opened and, as indicated in this video , it includes some great digital health features. The 565,000 sq. ft. facility located in the Clairemont Mesa neighborhood of San Diego utilizes renewable energy at the LEED-certified platinum level for healthcare and is the first hospital in the world to use 100% LED lighting. The hospital has 321 beds (with ultimate capacity of up to 461) and, apparently, each room includes a 75-inch ‘patient care wall’, which provides virtual doctor visits, medication information, education, nurse connections, and food orders.

The NFL Players Association will use WHOOP wearable tech for NFL players , who will own their own digital health and performance data to use as they wish. The company’s continuous biometric monitors gather physiological information that show physical work habits, discipline, and more, which can be used in contract negotiations and, of course, to improve athletic performance. As I previously shared, MLB recently approved the company’s device to continuously measure biometrics of professional baseball players during games. The sleep, recovery, and muscle strain data collected amounts to 100 megabytes of data each day.

In a fascinating new video, the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE-winning team Final Frontier Medical Devices shows off their “DxtER” solution for technology legend Steve Wozniak at Silicon Valley Comic Con.

In a TV segment on the TODAY show, Mario Armstrong reviewed several digital health apps.  The segment description: “Digital lifestyle expert Mario Armstrong visits Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford with an array of apps to help you get centered, including Headspace, which features guided meditations of various lengths; Happify, designed to reduce negative thinking; Smiling Mind, which is customized for different ages, and Relax Melodies, which offers soothing sounds to help you relax.”

An autonomous robot suitcase by Travelmate is currently crowdfunding on Indiegogo. What struck me from a digital health perspective is that this device would be great for people with physical disabilities. The self-moving suitcase can follow you wherever you go and comes with a smartphone app, Bluetooth connectivity, GPS, USB chargers (connected to a removal battery), and a built-in scale that measures the weight of your suitcase’s contents. Other nifty features planned include a camera and VR for people to join you on your travels.

The Digital Health Update for April 22

WeedHorn has introduced a new chatbot for medical marijuana information inquiries. According to founder Rick Bakas, the AI solution’s responses will continue to get more granular over time and users will be able to quickly get information on what cannabis strains may be helpful for their symptoms, what dose they should use, and how often.

Mon dieu! It turns out that telemedicine patients are flashing (their private parts) to their doctors.

As Chrissy Farr reports on CNBC, the largest telemedicine providers have been experiencing this inappropriate behavior from users and are taking steps to address the problem.

Alphabet’s Verily has initiated a significant Digital Health study of 10,000 people. Genomics and wearables will be used to gather health and other relevant data of participants over the course of several years.

While technology is already implanted in brains in cases like Parkinson’s, Elon Musk wants to create an actual plug-in for our brains that’s connected to the cloud. People could then communicate without having to talk, voice call, send email, or text messages. Antonio Regalado at MIT Tech Review is skeptical of the feasibility of this technology, and says the billionaire is wrong that telepathy technology will be available in a few short years.

In a new study of a pacemaker for the brain, memory was improved and timing of electrical stimulation was determined to be important. This may help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and head injuries. “The cool thing about this paper is that they showed why stimulation works in some conditions, and why it doesn’t in others,” said Bradley Voytek, UCSD assistant professor of cognitive science and neuroscience.

We all get stiff muscles with varying frequency, but for people with cerebral palsy, stroke, and multiple sclerosis, for example, this can be chronic and very painful. In an effort to objectively rate muscle stiffness for medication dosing, researchers at UC San Diego, Qualcomm Institute, and Rady Children’s Hospital created a wearable sensor & robotics solution.

Researchers at Stanford & UCLA Engineering have developed a wearable sensor device that causes skin to sweat then tests that perspiration for cystic fibrosis and glucose levels. This could potentially be used in  disease monitoring and diagnosis.The data is also transmitted wirelessly for analysis.

For the first time ever, researchers at Duke University have 3D-printed synthetic cartilage for use in knee joint replacement surgery. The process creates  replacement parts that are an exact match for a person’s knee anatomy. The hydrogel-based synthetic cartilage closely matches human cartilage in strength and elasticity, plus remains stable inside the body.

Due to a lack of demand and questions about effectiveness, Glybera, a genetically-engineered gene therapy drug known as the world’s most expensive medicine ($1M), is being pulled from the market. Other gene-therapy products being reviewed for approval by the FDA include a treatment for blindness and a new type of cancer treatment.


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
Keynote Speaker ⋅ Management Consultant ⋅ Social Entrepreneur
Contributing Editor, Innovation & Tech Today
Founder, Digital Health group on LinkedIn ⋅ 50,000+ members
Creator, Story of Digital Health
Facebook: StoryOfDigitalHealth
Instagram: @StoryofDigitalHealth
Twitter: @Paul_Sonnier
San Diego, CA, USA




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