Amazon and Google reawaken sleep tracking & WHO calls for a global misinfo plan

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To wear or not to wear…your sleep tracker

Wearable sleep tracking has been an alluring target for tech giants for nearly a decade. But this year, Amazon and Google are investing in another kind of technology: passive sleep monitors that keep tabs on rest from the bedside, Erin writes in a new story. The companies’ moves suggest a widening strategy aimed at making sleep monitoring devices more clinically and practically useful. Small details — like Google’s decision to link to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine — could also help win over skeptical clinicians, which will be key to adoption in the long run. “That makes it more collaborative,” said Seema Khosla, medical director of the North Dakota Center for Sleep. “Rather than, ‘I’m a behemoth and I will squash you, tiny sleep doctor.’”


Misinfo needs a global solution

Covid misinformation has done widespread damage. Hans Kluge, the WHO’s Europe region director, is one of the people trying to figure out how to undo it. In a conversation with Casey at HIMSS, Kluge called for a global strategy to combat misinformation and said we need to rely on spoke about using technology to confirm vaccination status and spread factual information.


Back in July 2020, researchers told Erin Covid falsehoods on social media were “the equivalent of an ideological dirty bomb.” While platforms have made some  efforts to combat the issue, most haven’t impressed the White House, according to a new report in the New York Times. Even after experts have identified specific individuals as prolific spreaders of falsehoods, Facebook and Twitter have allowed some of the posts to remain up with caution labels. “The companies have struggled to create rules to pull down posts that have nuance,” the NYT says.

The latest from HIMSS 

Speaking of HIMSS, Casey and Katie have been covering the conference all this week. Here’s a rundown of the highlights so far:

  • Netflix for health care: Wilson To, head of healthcare and life sciences at AWS, made a pitch for using data to deliver recommendations to patients deciding how to proceed with care.“When an individual turns on Netflix, for example, they are able to get recommendations that help them figure out what they should be binge watching.” Tej Anand, business professor at UT’s McCombs School, countered that “those recommendations are coming from stakeholders that have an agenda to drive.”
  • Ransomware attacks on hospitals: Alex Stamos, former chief security officer at Facebook, said that U.S. authorities must consider legal changes to prohibit hospitals and other health entities from making ransom payments, because the economic incentives are working too strongly in the attackers’ favor.
  • Regulation post-Covid: “What’s going to happen is the regulatory agencies are required to essentially go back to the way it was before,” said Amy Abernethy, the former FDA official now at Verily. “But we don’t unlearn.” Read more on the future of drug and device regulation, and the role that real world data will play in it, in Katie’s story.

ML for better medical timelines 

Throwing unstructured notes from medical records at an algorithm isn’t always particularly helpful. Human experts often have a better sense of what really matters, but they can also get tired (and bored) of manually building clinically-relevant timelines. So scientists from MIT worked out a way for machine learning and human expertise to work together. In a paper presented Friday at the Machine Learning for Health Care Conference’s poster session, Jason Zhao, Monica Agrawal, and their colleagues described how their method worked to identify when a person’s cancer metastasized and when treatment began.

Digital health’s latest haul

  • Prescription digital therapeutics startup Mahana Therapeutics raised $61 million in Series B financing led by JAZZ Venture Partners and Gurnet Point Capital with participation from Lux Capital and others. Mahana says it will use the funds to launch its FDA-cleared remote treatment for IBS. Gurnet Point’s Sophie Kornowski and JAZZ Venture’s Meghan Reynolds also joined Mahana’s board of directors.
  • Elektra Health, maker of a digital menopause treatment platform, raised $3.75 million in seed funding co-led by Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six and Flare Capital PartnersCity Light CapitalJanuary Ventures, and Hannah & Guy Raz also participated in the round.
  • Clinical trial software company Reify Health raised $220 million for its trial recruitment tools from Coatue ManagementICONIQ Growth and Adams Street Partners. Reify is now valued at $2.2 billion, according to a press release.

When 2 startups are better than 1

  • Butterfly Network, Inc., maker of a handheld whole-body ultrasound, announced an exclusive partnership with AI-guided ultrasound software maker Caption Health to offer an integrated version of both products to health care professionals performing cardiac assessments.
  • Health analytics company Sema4 teamed up with Midwest-based regional health care system Avera Health, giving the health system access to its health IT platform for integrating clinical and genomic data to support cancer research and care.
  • Zebra Medical Vision, which is developing deep learning for medical imaging applications, is merging with Nanox in an all-stock deal that could be worth up to $200 million.

Movers & shakeups

Telemental health startup Woebot Health named Kim Goodwin president of user experience. Goodwin previously served as a design consultant and senior adviser to personalized health network PatientsLikeMe.

Amid a larger staff reorganization at Amazon, AWS’ longtime SVP Charlie Bell is departing after more than 23 years at the company, The Information reported. Fellow AWS SVP Peter DeSantis will replace Bell’s work leading utility computing, according to CNBC, while AWS VP Prasad Kalyanaraman will presume responsibility for infrastructure.

What we’re reading

Source: STAT