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Improving health access for the well-connected
It sounds like a home run for health care access. But Teladoc’s new partnership with Amazon — allowing millions of consumers to dial up doctors on a smart speaker — is unlikely to improve care beyond well-heeled consumers who already have plenty of access. “People who have Alexas already both have the means to afford these technologies and they have high technical literacy,” which is typically correlated with health literacy, Northeastern University computer science professor Timothy Bickmore told STAT. “These are patients who are generally already able to take care of themselves.” That said, business analysts lauded Amazon’s foresight in inking a deal with an established player in the telehealth industry, where it hopes to expand its business in coming years. Mohana has the full story.
Microsoft launches a bold experiment in health AI
In closing its $16 billion deal to buy Nuance Communications, Microsoft is now set to launch a bold plan to incorporate AI into a broad array of health care services. Executives told Casey the strategy is not limited to Nuance’s speech recognition technology, but aims to create a cloud-based platform to support the use of AI tools in medical imaging, patient engagement, data security, and clinical decision support in different specialties. Check out the full story here.
Health entities face a cybersecurity mandate
Amid the Ukraine news and President Biden’s State of the Union address, it would have been easy to miss the U.S. Senate’s approval of a cybersecurity bill with big implications for health care entities. The measure, whose prospects look good in the House, requires firms in critical sectors such as health care to notify the government when they get hacked or pay ransom to regain control of their data systems. Its passage would mark a sea change in the government’s ability to track a wave of cyberattacks that have hit health systems and other businesses across the United States in recent years.
A boost for BenevolentAI in drug repurposing
The University of Oxford’s RECOVERY trial of Covid-19 therapies confirmed the benefits of a drug originally flagged by an AI tool created by BenevolentAI. The trial found that treatment with baricitinib, a drug marketed by Eli Lilly for rheumatoid arthritis, reduced deaths by 13% in patients hospitalized with Covid-19. BenevolentAI’s technology flagged the potential of the drug in January 2020. The results are not exactly a reason to run around declaring AI can save the world or revolutionize drug research. But they do point out that the technology can help repurpose existing drugs to assist patients facing novel or hard-to-treat diseases.
The latest money
- Lynx, a maker of software to customize health billing and payments, came out of stealth with a $17.5 million fundraising haul led by Obvious Ventures and .406 Ventures. The company’s software enables users to offer discounts and other incentives to encourage use of telemedicine or other services.
- Arrepath, a Princeton, N.J., company using AI to combat drug-resistant infections, raised $20 million in seed financing from Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund, Insight Partners, and Innospark Ventures. The company is building technology to help discover anti-infective drugs.
- CancerIQ, which is building analytics to detect cancers earlier, raised $14 million in a Series B round led by Merck Global Health Innovation Fund and Amgen Ventures. Launched by Black female co-founders, the company is seeking to address inequality in preventive cancer care.
- Stanford Health Care named Nigam Shah to be its first-ever chief data scientist. Shah is currently a professor of medicine and biomedical informatics at Stanford.
- CVS Health announced two new hires: Amaresh Siva will be its senior vice president of digital technology, and Musab Balbale will be its chief merchant. Siva previously managed supply chain data at Lowe’s; Balbale was a VP of merchandising at Walmart.
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