The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier ⋅ Nov 6, 2017 ⋅ #299

I made this announcement to 59,251 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. I also send out my Digital Health Newsletter, which you can sign up for and receive for free, here.

The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier ⋅ Nov 6, 2017 ⋅ #299

Dear Group,

I’m delighted to feature EBD Group’s ‘Digital Medicine 2.0 Whitepaper‘. According to the report, as we continue to see the convergence of digital health, biopharma, and medtech—and advances in technology and regulation change the healthcare landscape—we need a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges ahead. With perspectives from over seventeen thought leaders in the digital health space, Digital Medicine 2.0 covers trends in digital medicine policy, financing, privacy, and partnering. Download the full whitepaper here.


I’ve published two issues of my newsletter since last week’s group announcement, which you can read below and via the following link:

The Digital Health Newsletter for Oct 31

The Digital Health Newsletter for Nov 4


Also, please note that I’m available to deliver my keynote address at conferences and corporate events. You can also advertise in my group announcements, newsletter, and on my website. My professional bio is viewable here and my full list of services is viewable here. I can be contacted via my LinkedIn profile.

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.


The Digital Health Newsletter for Oct 31 

Over the course of the past few months, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been using a new, “Uber-like” healthcare improvement center, which is designed to identify problems at Veterans Health hospitals cross the country and then work to rapidly address the issues. In an exclusive report by USA TODAY’s Donovan Slack, he interviews VA Secretary David Shulkin and takes a look inside the center, which is located at the VA’s Washington, D.C headquarters.

The center has 16 screens, which display maps that staff toggle between to see data, including: rates of death, avoidable complications, staffing levels, and patient wait times. Red dots serve to flag issues at hospitals. One recent issue caught and resolved was a high nurse vacancy rate at a facility in Little Rock, AR. In response, 84 new nurses were added to the staff. According to Shulkin, “That is very unusual for the federal government. If we had not taken what I would call dramatic intervention, we may have had to start limiting services there or the quality of care could have gone down.”

According to a report in the journal Nature Human Behavior, people who are thinking about killing themselves have distinctive, measurable brain activity that can be identified by a computer with 90% accuracy. When hearing words like “death” and “trouble”, these individuals produce a unique neural signature that can be picked up by a brain scanner and a machine learning program.


Berlin, Germany-based Ada Health has raised $47M to become “the Alexa of healthcare”. Ada provides a chatbot that helps people decipher their own ailments in a form of pre-diagnosis, and then connect them with a doctor as needed. According to CEO Daniel Nathrath, “The future of healthcare lies in a much more patient-centric model, where individuals have actionable insights at their fingertips, and doctors and artificial intelligence work together to support patients throughout their healthcare journey.”


It seems that Apple has been automatically categorizing users’ ‘brassiere’ photos for over a year. One user, who had searched for ‘brassiere’ in the Apple Photos iPhone app, was surprised to see that all of her photos featuring bras were automatically categorized into a group. Oddly, it doesn’t seem that Apple has been doing the same thing when it comes to men’s boxers, briefs, or underwear.


A $1,500 Bluetooth and Wi-Fi robotic tea-maker (that also has a companion app) is being discontinued by startup Teforia, which has announced that it will “cease all business operations.” According to a statement from the company, “The reality of our business is that it would take a lot more financing and time to educate the market, and we simply couldn’t raise the funds required in what is a very difficult time for hardware companies in the smart kitchen space.” While users could brew their own tea leaves, the company was focused on selling its own proprietary tea packs for up to $2.50 each.


The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) have signed a cooperative agreement to use digital technology to save lives and improve people’s health in Africa. According to the announcement, “Africa is currently undergoing a digital revolution,” and “The partnership will focus on building platforms to scale digital health at national level, build a capable workforce to effectively use ICT as well as address the need of multi-stakeholders partnerships for sustainable adoption of digital health. It will bring together several entities including financial institutions, telecommunications operators and ICT companies with the aim of strengthening public-private partnerships to increase the resilience of health systems and improve their services and accessibility through the use of ICT. The new Agreement will consolidate existing efforts and resources towards making available ICT foundations and platforms that are a requirement for providing and scaling up digital health services.”


In a new study, scientists have discovered genetic links between asthma, hay fever, and eczema. According to Dr. Manuel Ferreira, from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Brisbane, Australia, “This is important to know because it tells us which specific genes, when not working properly, cause allergic conditions. This knowledge helps us understand why allergies develop in the first place and, potentially, gives us new clues on how they could be prevented or treated. We analysed the genomes of 360,838 people and pinpointed 136 separate positions in the genome that are risk factors for developing these conditions. If you are unlucky and inherit these genetic risk factors from your parents, it will predispose you to all three allergic conditions.”

study of a procedure that examines DNA to count embryo’s sex chromosomes before IVF has found that there is no added benefit from it for most patients as compared to traditional IVF methods. While the study found that the next generation sequencing (NGS) method did confer some advantage to women undergoing IVF in their late 30s, there was no advantage identified for patients under the age of 30. Women in the latter age group represent the majority of those using IVF assisted reproductive treatment procedures. As a result of the report, one leading UK provider of fertility services, the Oxford Fertility Unit, said it may alter its approach to offering the £4,000 IVF add-on treatment.


The Digital Health Newsletter for Nov 4

I’m delighted to feature EBD Group’s ‘Digital Medicine 2.0 Whitepaper‘. According to the report, as we continue to see the convergence of digital health, biopharma, and medtech—and advances in technology and regulation change the healthcare landscape—we need a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges ahead. With perspectives from over seventeen thought leaders in the digital health space, Digital Medicine 2.0 covers trends in digital medicine policy, financing, privacy, and partnering. Download the full whitepaper here.

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering have created a new type of device that accurately sequences the genome of single human cells.

Dubbed Single-Stranded Sequencing using micrOfluidic Reactors (SISSOR), the process works by using a microfluidic processor (allowing for manipulation of single cells and separate chromosomal strands into separate chambers) and computational methods that look at the strand information for use in haplotyping and error correction. The technique is considered a breakthrough because it overcomes the ‘curse of polymerases’, which describes the introduction of errors when DNA is copied.

According to bioinformatics professor Vineet Bafna from UCSD’s Center for Microbiome Innovation, “We cannot read genome information from single cells without polymerases, so we had to come up with a solution that gets rid of those errors.” And Kun Zhang, a professor of bioengineering at UCSD, states: “Accurate sequencing of single cells will enable the identification of mutations that cause cancer and genetic disease. At the same time, precise haplotyping will allow for the genotyping of haplotypes, combinations of different genes or alleles as a group from either parent.”

The paper’s authors describe their work as having produced “the most accurate single-cell genome sequencing to date.”

One potential important application of the technique is in helping couples to get pregnant via in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Paper co-author professor Xiaohua Huang stated that: “For genetic diagnostics prior to IVF implantation, a human life is involved, so the utmost accuracy is required. With our technology, we can do highly accurate sequencing and haplotyping of the genome based on a single cell biopsied from early embryos.”


Australian tech festival Pause Fest is implanting NFC wireless microchips into the hands of 10 attendees in preparation for their 2018 event. The chips are preloaded with 3-day-passes, programmed to unlock doors, and will function as tickets for public transportation.


The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has announced a $2B investment to build three new digitally-based specialty hospitals. According to the announcement, the new hospitals will offer next-generation treatments in patient-focused, technology-enhanced settings unique to health care. The three hospitals mentioned are a new UPMC Heart and Transplant Hospital, UPMC Hillman Cancer Hospital, and UPMC Vision and Rehabilitation Hospital. According to a tweet by UPMC’s Chief Innovation Officer Rasu Shrestha, MD, the hospitals will have no new beds, which is pretty amazing.

AI-powered health coaching company Twine Health has received $1.5M in additional funding. The investment will be used to further develop the company’s platform and expand into new markets in the United States and internationally, including in China. According to a press release, Twine Health’s SaaS platform is already being used by 56 workplace health providers and healthcare delivery systems, helping hundreds of thousands of employees daily. The platform covers all major chronic conditions for employees with comorbidities and encompasses the entire spectrum of care —diet, exercise, medication adherence, and more —required to control these conditions in the long run.


Travel site Trip Advisor will now add police and news reports about rape, theft, and assault at resorts listed on its Web site. It will reportedly also be adding safety, health, and discrimination alerts about hotels, restaurants, and other businesses. A previous story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel highlighted that Trip Advisor had been deleting reports of rape at hotels listed on their site.

During a panel at the recent Interdisciplinary Summit on Children and Screen Time, experts discussed how smartphones, tablets, and other digital device ‘screens’ affect children. The nonprofit Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, host of the summit, has also produced a report authored by 130 experts detailing what is known about the affects of screen time on kids.

A new 18-and-older digital sex education platform called has launched to provide advice and classes from sex ed professionals delivered live to your laptop or smartphone. The intent is to build a safe online environment for people to learn about basic anatomy, disease prevention, as well as help people ‘reclaim sexual pleasure after a traumatic experience.’

YouTube and Facebook have reportedly been removing photographic, video, and other evidence of atrocities posted by users on their websites, which may be jeopardizing cases against war criminals. YouTube’s AI system designed to identify violent content, extremist propaganda, and content ‘disturbing’ to viewers, for example, recently shut down 900 groups and individuals who were documenting the civil war in Syria.


Smart earbud hearing device maker Doppler Labs —which received $50 Million in funding —announced that it will be shutting down after four years. The company’s $299 wireless buds allowed the wearer to control the volume of the outside world via an app. A big product issue was its short 3-hour battery life. Sales of the device never took off and no buyers emerged for the company.


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has reportedly sent a letter to genetic testing company Orig3n saying that its labs must be certified for Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) in order for it to sell 18 out of its 140 gene/DNA tests. Referring to these 18 tests, Karen Dyer, a director in CMS’ division of laboratory services, stated that they offer “genetic testing that provides information for the assessment of health”, and therefore Orig3n’s labs must be CLIA certified. These include tests for ‘muscle power’, ‘sugar sensitivity’, and ‘age-related metabolism’. According to Orig3n COO Kate Blanchard, the company will not sell the tests in question until it has achieved CLIA certification.

At a cost of $750,000 per year, Spinraza—’the most expensive drug in the world’ —may soon become obsolete (or at least cheaper) due to competition from a new gene therapy. Spinraza is used to treat spinal muscular atrophy, a fatal genetic disorder that’s usually diagnosed in newborns. The new gene therapy comes from AveXis, which has just published results from a clinical trial. While gene therapies still aren’t inexpensive, either, it’s hoped that this new treatment will be sold at a much lower price in comparison to Spinraza.



CNS Summit 2017
Nov 16-19 in Boca Raton, FL
Join the leaders in pharma and clinical development focusing on the latest technology and digital healthcare at CNS Summit 2017! We are Collaborating for Novel Solutions.

Digital Health World Congress 2017 (Winter Edition)
Nov 29-30 in London, UK
The leading technology digital healthcare conference in London, UK and Europe.

Digital Medicine and Medtech Showcase 2018
Jan 8-10 in San Francisco, CA (alongside JP Morgan)
At the intersection of technology and medicine: Digital Medicine & Medtech Showcase

XPOMET Convention 2018
The Convention for Innovation and High-Tech in Medicine
March 21-23 in Leipzig, Germany


Please contact me for options on event promotion, including having your event featured at the top of this list, featured in my weekly Digital Health group announcements, and on Twitter, where I’m the #1 influencer in #DigitalHealth and highly ranked in #IoT and #WearableTech.

Please provide the event name, date(s), event website link (direct and not a shortened url), one-paragraph event description, the venue name, and location (city and country). Not all events are relevant to digital health and webinars are typically not allowed, but you can ask me about promotion options.


Copyright © 2017 Paul Sonnier


Paul Sonnier
Social Entrepreneur ⋅ Speaker ⋅ Consultant
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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