Wire #26

  • Machine Learning Fairness: A Carnegie Mellon University study published in Nature found that “fairness” can be achieved in machine learning models without significant tradeoffs in accuracy or model complexity. While evaluating an AI system that predicts mental health needs for inmates, a simplified model architecture led to more equitable results than a composite model approach that was more likely to overfit the data. The researchers point out that fairness must be a priority during any AI implementation, ensuring that model designs and data labels are specifically chosen to avoid bias.
  • Cigna Virtual Care: Cigna announced that it is expanding access to covered telehealth services and launching a virtual-first health plan to select employers through MDLIVE, a virtual care company acquired by Cigna subsidiary Evernorth earlier this year. The plan includes comprehensive primary care with no copay for MDLIVE providers, making Cigna the latest payor to expand into telehealth-led services following similar moves from UnitedHealthcare and Aetna.
  • Patina Series A: Senior-focused healthcare provider Patina emerged from stealth, announcing a $50m Series A round. Patina’s hybrid primary care model involves both in-person and virtual care teams that build longitudinal relationships with older adults, supporting their unique physical and emotional needs so that they can live healthier lives while maintaining independence.
  • Intervention + Coaching: The Omada Insights Lab released its first report on users of its chronic care management programs, finding that users who engaged with health coaches in the first week are 94% more likely to achieve desired outcomes, while members of its weight management program who messaged their coach experienced twice the weight loss as members who didn’t. These results echo the findings of a recent Hello Heart study that found that coaching combined with an intervention is significantly more effective than either component individually.
  • Bayer’s 2021 G4As: Bayer’s G4A Digital Health Partnerships program added five new “Advance Track” digital health startups, including: Cordio Medical (voice-enabled congestive heart failure detection), Liva Healthcare (behavior change coaching), Woebot Health (chat bot therapy), Nines (AI-enabled teleradiology), and Zed Technologies (medical image sharing). The new startups follow over 50 Advance Track alumni, which have gone on to raise a combined $998m.
  • One Drop CVD: Outside of its G4A portfolio, Bayer is making digital health headlines through its partnership with chronic condition management company One Drop, which announced the release of its cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention module. The new CVD module provides users with connected devices to capture blood pressure and weight measurements that are then automatically uploaded to the One Drop app. The app gives users access to one-on-one coaching from RNs and AI-enabled predictions to better manage their blood pressure.
  • Patient Engagement Apps: A new study in Telemedicine and e-Health investigated 54 mHealth apps to determine which components of app design encouraged or hindered engagement. Common app components associated with increased engagement included: personalized content, data visualization, self-monitoring features, and goal-setting functionality. Researchers also provided future app developers with components to avoid when building for engagement, including: social forums, poor app navigation, and technical difficulties.
  • Click Therapeutics Funding: Digital therapeutics platform Click Therapeutics closed $52m in Series B financing that it will use to develop its virtual solutions for conditions ranging from psychiatry and chronic pain to cardiometabolic and autoimmune disorders. The company also began collaborating with Otsuka to develop and commercialize a prescription digital therapeutic for depression, and is working with Boehringer Ingelheim to create a prescription-based virtual aid for schizophrenics.
  • The Case for LCS Telehealth: A new American College of Surgeons study suggests that virtual lung cancer screening consultations should remain a viable option after the pandemic, and could be valuable for other cancer screenings. Temple University Hospital previously held CT LCS exams and consultations during the same on-site visit, but made the consultations virtual during the pandemic. Analysis of the two periods (n = 637 & 440) revealed that the on-site and virtual visits had similar diagnostic results and follow-up recommendations, and didn’t adversely affect African American patients.
  • Amazon Smart Property: Amazon is adding new functionality to its Alexa Smart Property solution designed to make it easier to deploy and manage its smart devices at scale. The new features make the Alexa voice assistant more effective within hospitals and senior living communities, allowing users to easily connect with care teams and family, view and create schedules, and control other devices in their room.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team