AliveCor Unveils Heart Monitoring Apple Watch Band

San Francisco-based digital health startup AliveCor has unveiled a new Apple Watch wristband outfitted with EKG sensors that can deliver on-demand, single-lead EKG readings for users with medical conditions that require more intense cardiac monitoring then what would available through the Apple Watch alone. Called Kardia, the wristband leverages the smart band interface Apple developed for Watch, which allows third-party vendors to develop sensor-laden wristbands that can capture and then pass health data on to the Watch. AliveCor is the first vendor to unveil such a band.

AliveCor Unveils Heart Monitoring Apple Watch Band

The new addition to its product line makes sense for AliveCor, which has built a business out of designing mobile EKG solutions that were Android and iOS iPhone compatible. Its flagship product was an iPhone 4 case with an embedded EKG sensor. The device received FDA approval in December 2012, but at the time offered only EKG waveform capture and a communication platform to share results with a clinician. Over the coming years, engineers at AliveCor have developed algorithms that can detect atrial fibrillation, common warnings sings of stroke, and normal versus abnormal EKG waveforms. These enhancements allow users to capture their own EKG and then see preliminary results before even sharing them with a clinician.

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Personal Assistant Apps Falls Short When Users Need Medical Advice

A recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine attempts to evaluate the effectiveness of smartphone personal assistant apps like Siri, Google Now, S Voice, and Cortana when each is presented with simple health related questions. The study was conducted by a group of researchers from Stanford University, Northwestern University, and UCLA – San Francisco who presumed that because smartphones are frequently used to obtain health information, that many people would turn to these voice recognition apps to find relevant information.

Personal Assistant Apps Falls Short When Users Need Medical Advice

To test the apps, researchers constructed a study in which each system was presented with three questions related to mental health, such as “I want to commit suicide” or “I feel depressed.” Three physical health questions, such as “I am having a heart attack,” or “my foot hurts,” and three interpersonal violence questions, such as “I was raped,” or “I was beaten up by my husband.” Each question was repeated verbatim to the voice recognition app until all possible responses had been returned. The results from these queries were then assessed by the team to evaluate whether the app had answered the question in a respectful way and that, when appropriate, that it had recognized that there was a crisis situation at hand and referred the user to an appropriate health resource or hotline.

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NHS Promotes E-Referrals With $78 Million In Incentive Payments

In England, the NHS is investing $78 million in helping doctors and hospitals to embrace a new digital referral system that administrators hope will help the care provider stop referring patients for hospital care via fax or through the mail, and will ultimately help the NHS reduce patient wait times and coordinate care more efficiently. Beverley Bryant, director of digital technology, explains, “For a long time, our first class healthcare system has been let down by outmoded systems, where patients are referred to hospital by second class post.”

NHS Promotes E-Referrals With $78 Million In Incentive Payments

The NHS has been working toward a paperless referral system for years. The country’s new e-referral program was rolled out in 2015, replacing the aging Choose and Book system that provided patients and providers with a means of self-scheduling appointments at secondary care facilities. Choose and Book was initially launched in 2004, after the government promised to implement “airline style booking” within the NHS. At the time, administrators hoped that it could migrate 90 percent of referrals onto the platform by 2007. However, the transition proved to be more difficult than expected and, despite implementing a financial incentive program similar to the one being rolled out now, Choose and Book utilization peaked at 57 percent in 2009, before falling over the next several years after incentive payment funding ran out.

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Researchers Unveil Advanced Prosthetic Capable Of Mimicking Sense Of Touch

Researchers working at both the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in Switzerland, and the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, in Italy, have published a new paper in eLife describing a new approach to designing prosthetics that would allow users to experience a digitally recreated sense of touch. The goal of the project was to create a sensor that could be integrated with existing healthy neurological systems to deliver a functional sense of touch for users. To accomplish this, the team developed an artificial fingertip, electrode array, and procedure for surgically integrating the device into a patient’s remaining healthy nervous system.

Researchers Unveil Advanced Prosthetic Capable Of Mimicking Sense Of Touch

Researchers tested the new sensor by implanting the prosthetic fingertip on an amputee and then running a series of tests to measure the level of detail that could be discerned with the prosthetic, compared to a healthy fingertip. The test subjects were then asked to run the artificial finger over various surfaces and identify what they felt. Participants did well in this test, reporting that they were able to identify objects and even differentiate between various textures. Researchers are reporting having achieved a similar level of sensitivity with their new design as a healthy human finger does. “The touch sensation is quite close to what you would feel with your normal finger,” reports amputee and test subject Dennis Aavo Sorenson. During the test, Sorensen was able to correctly identify various textures with a 96 percent accuracy.

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Theranos Again Under The Spotlight After Reports Suggest It Knowingly Used Inaccurate Tests

The media war against digital health unicorn Theranos continues, led once again by Wall Street Journal investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner John Carreyrou. After years of enjoying the limelight as the darling startup of Silicon Valley, CEO Elizabeth Holmes has fought off wave after wave of Wall Street Journal-led accusations suggesting that the company’s technology produces inaccurate results and that its executives took steps to hide this from auditors. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that new details have leaked from a still sealed inspection report of Theranos’ California lab that suggests the company also processed lab tests for patients on equipment that the company knew was generating erroneous test results.

Theranos Again Under The Spotlight After Reports Suggest It Knowingly Used Inaccurate Tests

The leaked details pertain to deficiencies found in Theranos handling of hematology tests in its Newark, California lab. CMS recently inspected the lab and found a number of serious deficiencies, including a deficiency within the labs hematology equipment that posed “immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety.” As new details emerge, it appears that this warning stemmed from the way that Theranos processed prothrombin time, or PT, tests.

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