The Digital Health Newsletter by Paul Sonnier
July 10, 2017
I'm happy to feature on my event list Digital Health World Congress 2017 (Winter Edition), which will take place Nov 29-30 in London, UK. The Congress is the leading technology digital healthcare conference in London, UK and Europe and serves as as forum for medtech, mobile, IoT, and IT industry stakeholders. It covers all aspects of medical and mobile technology including ehealth, mhealth, telehealth, telemedicine, genomics, and healthcare IT. You can register via this link.
Note that the above is sponsored content. The support from Digital Health World Congress, 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 and global reach.
The FDA plans to study consumers' attention to side effects mentioned in TV drug commercials. Viewer eye movements would be tracked while they watch fake drug commercials with both long and short lists of side effects. However, Dr. Arthur Caplan, head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, says the FDA's plan is focusing on the wrong question, which shouldn't be whether or not anyone is paying attention to those side effects lists, but whether direct to consumer (DTC) marketing should be allowed at all. "Patients don't know what (these ads) are talking about, and instead of losing weight, or getting more sleep or exercise, (consumers) end up going after a pill", he says.
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XPOMET Convention 2018
March 21-23 in Leipzig, Germany
The Convention for Innovation and High-Tech in Medicine
"Digital health is the convergence of the digital and genomic revolutions with health, healthcare, living, and society." - Paul Sonnier

Writing in the WSJ, Dr. Eric Topol provides key insights into how digital health is " The Smart-Medicine Solution to the Health-Care Crisis". "To contain costs and improve results," he says, "we need to move aggressively to adopt the tools of information-age medicine." I couldn't agree more. However, while Dr. Topol adds that "Our health-care system won’t be fixed by insurance reform", Robert H. Frank, a professor of economics at Cornell University, writes in his New York Times piece entitled " Why Single-Payer Health Care Saves Money", that insurance reform, in the form of a single payer system, would substantially lower the total cost of healthcare delivery.  
Prof. Frank explains that "Sometimes described as Medicare for all, single-payer is a system in which a public agency handles health care financing while the delivery of care remains largely in private hands. As experience in many countries has demonstrated, the total cost of providing health coverage under the single-payer approach is actually substantially lower than under the current system in the United States."
Moreover, in economist Dean Baker's latest blog post " Paul Ryan Hates the Idea of a Free Market in Health Care, He Wants to Give Money to Rich People", he points out that House Speaker Ryan's comment that the Republican plan to repeal the ACA, aka Obamacare will result in a "a free market" for healthcare is a myth. To illustrate his point, Baker references a NY Times column by Dr. Farzon Nahvi, " Don't Leave Health Care to a Free Market". While Dr. Nahvi opposes the repeal of the ACA for humanitarian reasons and, according to his tweet, feels that " We need to abandon the fantasy that #freemarket medicine will solve our problems and move towards #universalcoverage", as Baker points out, Dr. Nahvi, misses the point that the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would not result in a free market for healthcare. 
Baker states that "There are no government granted patent monopolies in a free market. As a result of these government granted monopolies, we will pay more than $440 billion for prescription drugs this year. These drugs would likely cost less than $80 billion in a free market. The difference of more than $360 billion a year is a bit less than 2 percent of GDP more than seven times as much money as is at stake in the Republicans proposed Medicaid cuts. (Those cuts cover a decade, this is a single year figure.) The same story applies to medical equipment. MRIs are cheap without patent protection. It is possible to argue for the merits of government granted monopolies (I argue against them in chapter 5 of (his book) "Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer" [ it's free]), but it is not possible to deny that these monopolies are a government policy, not the free market. Paul Ryan has never indicated any opposition to government granted patent monopolies." Baker points out another example of how the current healthcare system and a proposed Republican plan would not be considered a free market: "We pay our doctors twice as much as their counterparts in other rich countries, costing us more than $80 billion a year in higher health care costs. This is due to the protectionist barriers enjoyed by our doctors, which protect them from both foreign and domestic competition. Paul Ryan has never indicated a desire to remove the protectionist barriers that allow many doctors to reach the top one percent of income earners."
Reinforcing Baker's criticism of the pharmaceutical industry, when the FDA approved PCSK9 inhibitors, a new class of drugs intended to treat high cholesterol, Bernard J. Tyson, Chairman and CEO of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals highlighted that these would be the most expensive class of drugs ever and "threatens to undermine the health care system upon which the drug industry relies." In his 2015 Forbes piece " Why Pharma Must Change Its Model", Tyson states that "The average American family pays the health care industry about $25,000 every year. In return, they expect us to deliver all of their care – including medical advances. It’s a more than reasonable expectation. There is no question that we should be able to solve our healthcare problems for well within the 18% of GDP that goes towards it. Every part of the industry has been shaken up by this new era of doing better for less. Countless industries outside of health care have already gone before us, understanding that technology and productivity gains must be passed along to the consumer for businesses and our nation to remain competitive. The pharmaceutical industry remains our lone holdout, and we cannot succeed without it. If the cost of new drugs continues to rise at this rate, any progress we make in other parts of the health ecosystem will be irrelevant."
So where does all of this leave us? Simply put — though not simply accomplished — radically transforming U.S. healthcare to deliver the best quality of care in the most cost-efficient manner requires a multifaceted approach comprised of digital health innovation, single-payer/Medicare for all (health insurance reform), pharmaceutical and medical device industry patent reform (plus drug-price negotiation and perhaps even publicly financed pharmaceutical research and clinical trials), and removal of protectionist trade barriers for doctors.
Aydogan Ozcan and his colleagues from UCLA published new research in Nature on the " Computational sensing of herpes simplex virus using a cost-effective on-chip microscope". Abstract: "Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), herpes is a viral infection that is one of the most widespread diseases worldwide. We present a computational sensing technique for specific detection of HSV using both viral immuno-specificity and the physical size range of the viruses. This approach involves a compact and cost-effective holographic on-chip microscope and a surface-functionalized glass substrate prepared to specifically capture the target viruses."
Swedish company SciBase has received FDA approval for its Nevisense system, which is used to help dermatologists assess suspect cutaneous lesions that may be melanoma tumors. The system uses electrical impedance rather than optical methods to characterize cancerous lesions. The pen-like device is applied against a lesion by a physician and the table-top touchscreen display shows a spectrogram of how out of range the readings are.  
Artificial Intelligence tools could be used to battle sexual harassment in the workplace by monitoring and blocking emails and even Slack and Microsoft Teams messages containing offending content. According to Michelle Lee Flores, a labor and employment attorney, “AI services in the workplace already can analyze workers’ e-mails to determine if they feel unhappy about their job. In the same way, AI can use the data-analysis technology (such as data monitoring) to determine if sexually suggestive communications are being sent.”
In a video segment for TechCrunch, Mike Butcher describes what it’s like to drive a car while it’s being hacked by Israel’s Argus Cyber Security. Even at low speed, Mike is understandably distressed when the brake and the gas pedals fail.
Google Maps is now letting users add wheelchair accessibility details for locations. The company had already collected accessibility data for almost seven million places, but gaps remained, so crowdsourcing the information may be a boon to more than three million people in the U.S. who require wheelchair accessibility.
One of the highest visibility pioneers in digital health-focused wearable tech, Jawbone, is being liquidated and its CEO is launching a new startup called "Jawbone Health Hub". According to the new entity's description, "Jawbone Health is at the forefront of revolutionizing primary care for millions of patients worldwide. Combining more than 20 years of proprietary wearable technology with clinically relevant signals, Jawbone Health connects patients and physicians like never before with continuous, data-driven dialogue."
DuPont Pioneer has secured exclusive rights to CRISPR gene-editing technology for agricultural uses and applications in plants. While company VP Neal Gutterson says, “We see CRISPR-Cas technology as an advancement in plant breeding which can enable a new era in crop improvement. This licensing agreement with ERS is a piece of DuPont Pioneer’s strategy to position our business as a leader in the application of CRISPR-Cas in agriculture", Antonio Regalado, senior editor for biomedicine for MIT Technology Review, points out on Twitter that the "first DuPont crispr product is a waxier corn, useful as emulsifier for salad dressing. not quite stopping world hunger yet either."

I replied to Antonio, asking if this is different than Monsanto's nonexclusive CRISPR patents from the Broad Institute, to which Antonio responded that these are " competing sets of IP covering same tech." 
A proposal by Cornell University to use genetically engineered,  self-destructing moths in a small area in upstate New York has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This could herald a new pesticide-free way to fight crop damage caused by the invasive diamondback moth, which eats cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. According to Emily Mullin, also at MIT Technology Review, this would be "the first open-air release of genetically modified insects created with a technology other than radiation for agriculture in the U.S."
A new trial of Oxford Nanopore's DNA readers is set to begin at the University of East Anglia, a public research university in Norwich, England. According to Dr. Justin O’Grady, lead scientist, “Doctors in ICU do not have the tools to rapidly and accurately identify bacteria causing pneumonia and so typically prescribe a broad spectrum of antibiotics through guesswork." If successful, the devices could be deployed to NHS hospitals within five years.
In other news on Oxford Nanopore’s hand-held DNA analyzer, a team of British and Brazilian scientists turned a bus into a makeshift laboratory and drove it on a tour of 6 cities in Brazil. The intent was to sequence the genomes of mosquitoes infected with the Zika virus in a mobile setting versus collecting samples and sending them back to a lab, which of course adds considerable time to the process.

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Copyright © 2017 Paul Sonnier, Story of Digital Health
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