A heart attack app, misinfo crackdowns, and MRI-safe headphones

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Can an app help heart attack patients stay healthy?

After a heart attack, managing recovery can be an overwhelming process. With a boost from Apple, a team from Johns Hopkins University has developed an app built on Apple’s CareKit that guides heart attack patients through the steps. Called Corrie, it’s been touted by Apple as an example of CareKit’s potential— tracking vital signs and activity and sending nudges about medications and follow-up appointments with the help of an Apple Watch and connected blood pressure cuff.


In July, the Corrie team published results showing the app reduced risk of hospital readmissions by half in a pool of 200 patients at four hospitals. But to turn the platform from a research project into a widely-used tool, they’ll need to prove that the app works in the real world. “There are so many apps out there that promise the coolest things in the world,” said Mathias Lee, Corrie’s technology lead. “Even in health care, very few of them actually become commercial products.” Read more about Corrie’s next steps and Apple’s support in Mario’s latest.

In Covid-19, ‘Do No Harm’ extends to social media 


The Federation of State Medical Boards has issued an extraordinary warning to clinicians that they could lose their licenses for spreading misinformation or disinformation on Covid-19 vaccines. The nonprofit represents medical boards across the U.S., so its warning carries weight, though it does not indicate how individual medical boards may act. Its decision to spotlight the issue came after President Biden’s administration significantly stepped up its efforts to shut down the spread of false or misleading information about vaccines and call out negligent social media companies.

Telehealth for all?

CB Insights

By now, we all know Covid-19 led to a sharp increase in telehealth use and related investments by hospitals and other businesses. Another byproduct is a rise in discussion about health equity in corporate earnings calls, as documented in the latest report from CB Insights on the telehealth industry. It remains to be seen, however, whether the expanded use of telehealth will be accompanied by investments to ensure its benefits reach all patients equally.

Drowning out MRI noise

On top of the claustrophobia many patients feel when they slide into the tube of an MRI, the machine’s thundering sounds can make for a harrowing experience. Clinicians and companies have tried to ease the discomfort with different strategies, but a new approach pulls straight from a consumer product: noise-canceling headphones. Conventional electrostatic headphones are bulky and include conductive metal, which can’t go inside an MRI. But the company Audeze redesigned a pair using carbon nanotubes and glass, to pair with an in-machine AV system designed by SMRT Image. The system will pilot in 100 hospitals and imaging systems this year. Read more in Mario’s story.

Covid-19 insights from EHRs 

During the pandemic, researchers have looked to data from electronic health records to learn about Covid-19. Structured data like ICD codes and claims data can help, but a new npj Digital Medicine paper calling on records from more than 20,000 Covid patients at Mayo Clinic uses natural language processing to pull data from unstructured clinical notes, too. Among 1,803 hospitalized patients, the researchers extracted 20 risk factors and 18 Covid complications and looked for associations between them.

The results of the research, funded by the AI medical analytics outfit nference, matched CDC-reported risk factors. The most significant predictors of Covid-19 complications were hypertension, other cardiovascular disease, anemia, and chronic kidney disease. But the research also showed cancer history and immunosuppression appeared to increase the risk of heart failure after Covid-19 infection.

A seller’s market in digital health 

Judging from our inboxes, digital health’s 2021 fundraising blitz appears to be slowing down, or at least entering a summer pause. However, IPOs and M&A deals remain plentiful. One new take from Damo Consulting, titled “Go on. Take the money and Run” points out that the sky high valuations of the moment make it a great time to sell, bad time to buy. Here are a few transactions to note:

  • The above notwithstanding, Iterative Scopes, an MIT spinout that uses AI to analyze endoscopic videos, raised $30 million in a Series A round led by Obvious Ventures. The company’s first products are focused on detection and monitoring of colorectal cancers and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Rani Therapeutics, which is developing a mechanical capsule to allow for oral ingestion of biologic medicines, raised about $73 million(at $11 a share) from its IPO on Friday. Initially, the company had said it expected its share price to fall between $14 and $16.
  • In partnership news, the biopharmaceutical research company Syneos Health said it is teaming up with Aetion, a generator of real word data, to beef up its services for accelerating drug development.

Coming up

The annual Machine Learning for Healthcare conference is scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The fully virtual event includes sessions on everything from machine learning in primary care to broader discussions on fairness and transparency in AI deployment. You can sign up here.

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Source: STAT