Welcome to Digital Health Briefing, a new newsletter providing the latest news, data, and insight on how digital technology is disrupting the healthcare ecosystem, produced by Business Insider Intelligence.
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GOOGLE‘S CLOUD HEALTHCARE API AIMS TO SOLVE POOR INTEROPERABILITY: Google introduced the Cloud Healthcare API during the HIMSS 2018 conference on Monday, which aims to make it easier for health organizations to collect, store, and access health data. The application programming interface (API) will extract data from Google Cloud customers’ electronic health records (EHR) using machine learning. Algorithms will then use the data to create actionable insights for providers and health systems. Google is trialing the Cloud Healthcare API with a select group of partners, such as the Stanford School of Medicine, with plans to roll out the product more broadly over the next 12 months.
Google aims to improve two areas of healthcare with its Cloud Healthcare API:
- Interoperability. EHR, including lab results and X-rays, are often held by the department the patient received care in, and are difficult to share between departments let alone organizations, which can lead to costly duplicate tests and procedures. Just 20% of US health system use EHR data from outside sources, according to Health Affairs. By automating the process of health data collection and making it easier for providers to access medical records, Cloud Healthcare will help lower the chance of duplicate tests and procedures.
- Predictive medicine. Machine learning algorithms can sort through massive caches of historical health data to predict outcomes in the ER, Alphabet technical advisor and former executive chairman Eric Schmidt said at HIMSS. Making it easier to collate information will give organizations more information to feed into Google’s Cloud analytics, in turn leading to better, more actionable insights. This can improve inefficiencies in the workflow by alerting healthcare providers of potential patient issues.
The update comes as Google faces growing competition in the healthcare cloud market as Amazon and Microsoft continue to ramp up their efforts. In November 2017, Amazon Web Services AWS, announced its partnership with healthcare tech giant Cerner to help medical providers use their data to make effective health predictions. Meanwhile, in February, Microsoft introduced a tool for its Azure platform to give its customers access to precision medicine tech. The global cloud healthcare market is projected to grow at an annualized rate of 21% between 2015 and 2020 to reach $9.5 billion, according to MarketsAndMarkets.
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LYFT, ALLSCRIPTS PARTNERSHIP EXPANDS NEMT ACCESS TO 7 MILLION US PATIENTS: Ride-sharing platform Lyft announced Monday that it’s partnering with health IT company Allscripts to develop a platform that will let 2,500 providers in the US order their patients Lyft rides non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). Allscripts will integrate its electronic health records (EHR) into Lyft’s Concierge application programming interface (API), allowing providers to reach some 7 million patients, according to USA Today. Patients aren’t required to have a smartphone, an app, or a credit card, to receive the service, which is paid for by providers.
This is just the latest effort by Lyft to reach more hospital networks with its NEMT service. Lyft made a similar announcement in February 2018, partnering with EHR company Hitch Health to find patients who could benefit from a free-ride to their appointment. And there’s already a substantial list of healthcare organizations that have access to the Lyft Concierge API, including American Medical Response, American Logistics Company, Carelinx, GoGo Grandparent, and One Call. But Lyft isn’t the only ride-sharing platform moving into health and follows closely on the heels of Uber’s health platform announcement last week.
For their part, Healthcare organizations are viewing Lyft’s and Uber’s moves into NEMT as an opportunity to stem the massive annual loss of revenue caused by missed appointments. In the US, missed appointments cost healthcare providers as much as $150 billion each year, with no-show rates as high as 30%, according to SCI Solutions. It’s worth noting that while Uber and Lyft are actively striving to increase their health audience, it’s not yet clear whether ride-sharing has a significant, or positive, impact on appointment no-shows, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
SAMSUNG HEALTH USERS GAIN ACCESS TO WELLDOC’S DIABETES PROGRAM: Samsung Health and digital therapeutic company WellDoc have joined forces to give Samsung’s customers access to WellDoc’s new consumer version of its Diabetes Wellness Program (DWP). Samsung Health is a personal health and fitness platform that displays user activity trends, health insights, telehealth services, and a portal to connect with friends and experts. Now users will also have access to the DWP – a 12-week program designed to help adults with type-2 diabetes manage the chronic illness. This could help alleviate the massive cost associated with diabetes, which afflicts more than 422 million people globally. In 2017, diabetes among American adults cost the US economy $245 billion in healthcare expenditures, according to Gallup. Digital solutions, including mHealth, for chronic illnesses are a growing field of healthcare. Several tech companies, including Amazon, Apple, Fitbit, and Sony, have launched efforts recently with the aim of making it easier for patients, providers, and payers, to monitor and manage patients’ illnesses. For example, Sony and Ericsson announced plans to develop a glucose-monitoring wearable for diabetics. And wearables, such as Apple Watches and Fitbits, can be used to accurately detect early signs of diabetes when paired with Cardiogram’s deep neural network, DeepHeart, according to a collaborative study between digital health startup Cardiogram and UC San Francisco’s eHealth Study.
TWO-THIRDS OF US PATIENTS WANT BETTER DIGITAL INTERACTIONS: Almost two-thirds of US healthcare consumers want their digital interactions to more closely resemble the retail experience, according to new NTT Data. These digital interactions include processes like filling prescriptions, accessing test results, and making doctor appointments. The findings from the study are reflective of the increasing consumerization of healthcare, which is being heavily influenced by the way customers are interacting with major online retailers such as Amazon, Apple, and Southwest Airlines. And this is impacting not only how patients are accessing healthcare, but also their willingness to change providers to get what they want. For instance, 78% of the “tech-savvy” group of study participants, dubbed “explorers,” said that digital customer experience in healthcare needs to improve. Moreover, 50% these explorers said they would leave their current doctor for a better digital customer experience. As this trend continues to gain traction, healthcare organizations will need to find ways to engage with their patients and customers, or risk losing out to organizations that are staying ahead of the curve.