The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier ⋅ Jul 29, 2017 ⋅ #285

I made this announcement to 57,370 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 ⋅ Jul 29, 2017 ⋅ #285

Dear Group,

New featured event: CNS Summit 2017! Join life science leaders and technology innovators collaborating to shape the future at CNS Summit 2017, which will take place Nov 16-19 in Boca Raton, FL. This unique conference will feature leaders from Amazon Life Sciences, X (Google), Mindstrong, U.S. FDA, EMA, Allergan, J&J, Sanofi, Pfizer, Lilly, and many more. Learn more and register on the CNS Summit website.

I’ve published two issues of The Digital Health Newsletter since last week’s group announcement. I’ve copied and pasted the text from both below for better web-search (SEO) and archival purposes.

Also, please note that I’m seeking a direct role with a company or organization that would, ideally, complement and leverage all that I’ve built and am doing, including my keynote speaking, weekly newsletter, Digital Health LinkedIn group management/curation, and contributing editor role at Innovation and Tech Today. My professional bio is viewable here. Please contact me if you see a potential fit or would like to advertise in my announcements, newsletter, and website. Please do not contact me with partnering, equity-only, or commission-type offers.

The Digital Health Newsletter for July 23

A major publisher is interested in a book I’ve proposed on digital health. As is often the case with new authors, they’ve asked for a commitment from me on the number of copies that will be sold. As a social entrepreneur, I’m not in a position to do this, but they do offer a sponsored/branded custom print option. This means that a company or organization would have its logo and information displayed both on the cover and inside the book. Distribution (hard copy/print and digital) will be global, with the top addressable markets of the top professional fields — healthcare, pharma, medical devices, health & fitness, and IT — totaling tens of millions of readers. In addition to the B2B audience, this is also a consumer and student-friendly book, which means that total readership potential is in the hundreds of millions.

My mission is to educate and catalyze digital health, globally. If your company or organization shares this goal, please do reach out to me for more information on this keystone sponsorship opportunity. Note that, due to cost considerations, this is most likely a fit for a large corporation or nonprofit, not a startup or small organization with a limited marketing budget.

Dr. Jay Parkinson, Founder and CEO at Sherpaa, wrote a rather scathing post on Medium about his experience working with a VC, who suddenly fired all of the employees — including the doctors — without notice. The problem with this, as Jay points out, is twofold: Doctors legally can’t just stop seeing patients under their care, and some VCs have an unrealistic expectation that all digital health companies will become unicorns (worth more than $1B). While understandably frustrated with what happened, Jay’s company is still going strong (minus VC-backing) and he’s sanguine about the whole affair, tweeting: “Am I mad at all VCs? Nope. There’s great ppl everywhere. Am I upset with VC motivations? Yep. If you’re a VC and can’t also be ethical, quit”.


UCLA’s Ozcan Research Group has received a patent for 3D tracking of sperm locomotion. Locomotion in an aqueous environment plays an important function in the lives of many microorganisms, such as bacteria, protozoa, and sperm.

Apple has patented a 911 call method on the iPhone that uses a predetermined fingerprint or a sequence of touches to contact emergency services.

In a landmark new report published in the National Academy of Sciences, “Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward,” researchers advise that three key strategies can help prevent, slow, or delay the onset of dementia and cognitive decline associated with normal aging: Regular physical activity, Brain/cognitive training, and Keeping high blood pressure under control.

Bluetooth SIG has announced that it  now supports mesh networking. The new capability enables many-to-many device communications and is optimized for creating large-scale device networks. It is suited for building automation, sensor networks, and other IoT solutions where tens-to-thousands of devices need to reliably and securely communicate with one another.


Joel Winston, a consumer protection litigator and former deputy attorney general for the State of New Jersey, penned a piece in Medium entitled ” How insurance companies invented the data-mining of personal & medical information.” Joel writes that MIB Group, Inc., the oldest and largest credit reporting bureau, has over 100 million records containing data coded for medical conditions, driving records, credit history, criminal activity, tobacco usage, alcoholism, drug addiction, participation in hazardous sports, and personal or family genetic history. Moreover, its database for insurance applicants includes medical conditions diagnosed by attending physicians, lab test results, physical exams, and self-admitted medical conditions. Potential issues with this are transparency and errors in the data, which can unfairly influence consumers’ tenancy, insurance premiums, banking, and employment. It is possible to obtain free annual file disclosures from the relevant agencies.

Online dating site Ashley Madison will pay $11.2M to data breach victims. Affected parties can claim up to $3,500. However, since it’s clientele are often cheating on their spouses, this might not be anywhere near the financial cost incurred.

Sheriffs in Minnesota say five people were hurt when the autopilot feature on a Tesla electric car suddenly accelerated, causing it to flip into a marsh. Fortunately, there were only minor injuries reported.

Uber is being sued (again) by disability advocates. Plaintiffs in NYC allege that the less-than-100 wheelchair-accessible vehicles in the area are insufficient to meet the needs of the local disabled population.

Finding Rover, a facial recognition app for reuniting dogs with their owners, was mentioned in an article about dogs in San Diego animal shelters that remained unclaimed after the July 4th fireworks.

The FBI has issued a public service announcement (PSA) alerting parents to the potential dangers of smart, Internet-connected toys.

A new court ruling prevents Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from telling users if they’re under FBI investigation and if their online activity is being tracked.


MIT Media Lab spinoff mPath has developed a  wrist-worn device used for monitoring people’s emotions during market research. By measuring changes in skin conductance and combining other data points, emotions such as stress, frustration, disinterest, or boredom are determined and associated with relevant information. Google glass and eye-tracking cameras are also used as part of the system.

Motorola Solutions is providing police in Chicago with body-worn cameras and  AI that could help officers identify objects and missing people. A prototype solution was developed with deep learning startup Neurala, whose technology enables picking out a person of interest in public spaces. Applications include finding missing children and, of course, suspected criminals.

By using scalp electrodes to record brain wave EEGs of people who were sleeping, researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison were able to  predict when someone was dreaming.

UK startup WaveOptics, which makes waveguide-based optics for AR, has nabbed $16M in funding. A demo video shows a cyclist checking bike diagnostics, navigation, and biometric vital signs.

Google Glass augmented reality glasses are helping the blind to navigate. San Diego startup Aira is connecting the glasses in real time to a human guide who monitors the video ‘seen’ by the glasses and provides verbal guidance to the wearer. Of the 54 visually impaired people who participated in the last Boston Marathon, this marks the first time that a blind person completed the race by using an Internet-connected human guide.


An online survey tool developed by  the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health was able to  help young people predict their risk of developing heart disease later in life. This provides an opportunity for them to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk.

Hospitals are using iPads that allow parents to  FaceTime with their sick or premature babies. Since the babies are isolated from the outside world to avoid germs, this allows parents to virtually interact with their babies and reduce the chance or making them sick or sicker.


Mothers of babies with the genetic disorder Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) are pushing for mandatory newborn genetic screening so that other families can avoid the terrible, sometimes deadly result of the disease, which is treatable. Missouri is the first state to require screening.

A new Apple ResearchKit update from genetic testing company 23andMe is allowing developers (e.g. of digital clinical trials) to upload patients’ genetic data. It seems that this app is not universal and will only work for genetic data stored in 23andMe’s databases.

The Digital Health Newsletter for July 27, 2017

New featured event: CNS Summit 2017! Join life science leaders and technology innovators collaborating to shape the future at CNS Summit 2017, which will take place Nov 16-19 in Boca Raton, FL. This unique conference will feature leaders from Amazon Life Sciences, X (Google), Mindstrong, U.S. FDA, EMA, Allergan, J&J, Sanofi, Pfizer, Lilly, and many more. Learn more and register on the CNS Summit website.

Note: The support from CNS Summit (this is our second time working together) plus other event organizers and companies is vital to sustaining my social entrepreneurship. If you are interested in doing the same and have content, an event, product, and/or service for which you’d like to obtain global visibility, please do reach out to me for more information on my services. I’m also available for consulting and seeking a direct role.

Today the U.S. FDA announced its “Digital Health Innovation Action Plan” and the launch of its “Software Precertification (PreCert) Pilot Program“. According to the FDA: “Digital health technology has become a new health care revolution that empowers consumers to make better-informed decisions about their health. At the FDA, we recognize this revolution and are reimagining our oversight of digital health technology to help provide patients with timely access to high-quality, safe, and effective digital health products. We’ve provided details and timelines for our digital health efforts in our Digital Health Innovation Action Plan, and one important piece of this plan is a new pilot program for software developers.” The FDA is hosting a webinar (Aug 1 at 1pm EST) to provide industry with the opportunity to discuss and answer questions about the PreCert program.
Note: Bakul Patel, who heads up the Digital Health group at the FDA, is one of the speakers at CNS Summit.

In an exclusive, MIT Technology Review reports that the  first known attempt at creating genetically modified human embryos has occurred in the United States. A team of researchers led by Oregon Health and Science University’s Shoukhrat Mitalipov used the CRISPR gene-editing technique to change the DNA of a large number of one-cell embryos. Known as “germline engineering”, this method can correct or eliminate genes that cause inherited disease. It also means that a genetically modified child can pass any gene changes on to subsequent generations via their own egg and sperm germ cells.

In other big CRISPR-related news, see the challenge to the USPTO’s decision on relevant patents in the GENOMICS section below.


Following months of speculation on whether it would find a buyer,  WebMD has agreed to a $2.8B buyout by KKR. WebMD has been a public company for 12 years and has about 75 million users per month. Private equity firm KKR will also acquire a majority stake in nutritional supplements maker Nature’s Bounty, adding both companies to its portfolio of health-related investments, which also includes Air Medical Group Holdings and Arbor Pharmaceuticals.

US-based startup Hinge Health has raised $8 million in Series A funding. The company is focused on alleviating chronic pain due to musculoskeletal disorders in hopes of intervening before surgery or painkillers are prescribed. The company supplies patients with health kits comprised of wearable tech and a tablet with its software.

Belfast-based biometric authentication tech company B-Secur has raised £3.5m from two investment funds. The startup has developed biometric technology that authenticates a user’s identity using their heart beat’s electrocardiogram (ECG).

New York-based startup Maven has raised $10.8M in Series A funding. The company is working to transform women’s health and is also working with companies to deliver improved maternity and family benefits for working parents.

Gurugram-based startup 1mg has landed $15M to continue growing its medicine database that provides information on drug side effects and the best alternatives. The startup’s platform also offers telehealth doctor consultations, lab tests/diagnostics, diabetes care products as well as Ayurveda and homeopathy products.


A restaurant in Chicago’s Conrad Hotel has partnered with Macallan, maker of the famous single malt Scotch whisky, to deliver a $95 virtual reality scotch cocktail using the Oculus headset. While staffers explain the distilling process, guests are virtually transported to Macallan’s distillery in Moray, Scotland. Oddly, customers apparently only get to smell the drink being mixed during the VR journey and get to drink it after their session is over.

The “Objective Zero” app connects military veterans in crisis with other veterans who are willing to talk. Veterans in distress can use the app for voice, video, or text, and broadcast a “distress signal” to other veterans who have volunteered to be ambassadors. The VA’s mental health services and resource info are also available in the app. Interestingly, the Headspace meditation and mindfulness app is offering its $150 services free-of-charge to veterans registered using Objective Zero. Also, Comeback Yoga, which focuses on relieving PTSD, is providing free videos in the app.

Comedian JP Sears posted a hilarious video in response to the American Heart Association’s recent “presidential advisory” declaring that coconut oil causes heart disease. In addition to Sears, others like Nina Teicholz, who penned an op-ed in the LA Times ” Don’t believe the American Heart Assn. — butter, steak and coconut oil aren’t likely to kill you“, feel that the “evidence shows that when it comes to heart attacks or mortality, saturated fats are not guilty.”


It’s great to see the pharmaceutical industry’s growing focus on digital health. But ironically, GSK’s new Chief Digital & Technology Officer doesn’t seem to be on Twitter. This is a general observation about pharma, more than anything, as I see it as emblematic of their inward-looking approach to leveraging digital. My point being that understanding technology and consumers entails using and engaging on digital platforms in order to better identify opportunities of all types.


In a new technology partnership, Apple and Cochlear have enabled iPhone, iPad, and iPod audio streaming to implanted hearing devices which are specifically made for use with the iPhone. The implant, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June, contains a processor that’s controlled by the phone itself and does not require an app to be downloaded from the iTunes app store. The system also allows users to control and customize the sound from their Apple devices.

Researchers at Microsoft and the University of Washington are working on creating super fast computations using DNA molecules as processors. The method used involves organizing DNA molecules in intervals on a DNA origami surface. This approach offers a way of creating DNA logic gates including the interconnects between them.


Helix has finally launched their DNA app store. The $100M startup will sequence your exome (20,000 genes plus some other “bits”) for $80 and serve as a platform for third-party app developers (including hospitals, like Mayo Clinic and Mount Sinai Health System) to sell you access and information related to it. The platform, allows for the mixing of consumer tests (e.g. lifestyle, nutrition, and wellness tests, which can have ” little or no scientific backing”), and ” medically serious” tests, like genetic disease carrier status. The risk of this “fuzzy line” between the two, according to Daniel MacArthur, a human genomicist at the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital, is that it may inflate customer expectations and undermine consumer confidence in “genuinely clinically useful genetic tests.”

The California University System, the University of Vienna, and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier have filed an appellate brief seeking reversal of the U.S. Patent Board’s decision on CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing. The group claims that the PTAB’s determination in Feb that the UC’s patent claims did not make the Broad’s patent claims obvious is based on a “misapplication of controlling legal standards established by U.S. Supreme Court and Federal Circuit precedent,” and “in its decision, the PTAB had concluded that UC’s claims covering CRISPR/Cas9 single guide gene editing technology and its application in any cellular or non-cellular setting did not make obvious Broad’s claims covering application of the same technology limited to use in eukaryotic cellular settings.”


Digital Health World Congress 2017 (Winter Edition)
Nov 29-30 in London, UK,

XPOMET Convention 2018
March 21-23 in Leipzig, Germany


Copyright © 2017 Paul Sonnier

Follow me on Twitter @Paul_Sonnier for all the news I share each day.

If you are a digital health company, event organizer, or provider of other relevant solutions or services you can advertise in my announcements, on my website, and Twitter. Doing so puts you in front of 50,000+ targeted global prospects each week. I also provide strategic consulting and keynote speaking. Contact me for my media kit, standard plans, and pricing.

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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