AI tools to predict hospital stays are hampered by a string of shortcomings

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Biofourmis senses an opportunity

Remote patient monitoring company Biofourmis announced a $300 million Series D round this morning, a critical investment as the firm looks to products that not only identify when patients are likely to deteriorate, but can help manage their care. The company says that 20 hospitals have signed on to use its care at home services — which includes monitoring devices and an app — to help prevent costly ER care and readmissions.


Next up: using patient data to drive treatment decisions, like titrating drug doses. Biofourmis has a pivotal trial under way for its BiovitalsHF software — but even if results are positive, it faces hurdles in patient and provider acceptance. “That’s going to be the linchpin, is if the patient trusts it enough to say, ‘I’m not seeing my doctor every week, but I have to increase my dose every week,’” said cardiologist Ritu Thamman. Read more in Mario’s latest.    

Getting wearables on the right hands


When the federal All of Us research program launched, its goal was to build a truly representative pool of participants, evening out the imbalances seen in medical research. But the effort hit a roadblock when it tried to fold in data from participants’ own wearable devices. “When our team compared the demographics of all program participants to Fitbit data contributors, we saw the representation of historically underrepresented communities shrink,” wrote All of Us team members Yashoda Sharma and Chris Lunt in a new STAT First Opinion.

In a new survey of federally qualified health centers, they confirmed the primary barrier was cost. That’s why last year All of Us launched a program to distribute 10,000 devices to participants; today, they report about 3,000 program-provided devices are sharing data with the researchers.

Meta’s tool to fight Covid-19 misinformation

WhatsApp, the Meta-owned instant messaging company, has launched a chatbot for the California Department of Public Health to help combat Covid-19 misinformation, particularly in the state’s Latino community. The free tool, available in English and Spanish, offers users a menu of options, including local vaccination sites, transportation options, and FAQs to help provide factual information about the vaccines. Meta, which also owns Facebook, has been under pressure throughout the pandemic to fight misinformation, as vaccine skeptics have used its platforms to circulate false information on Covid-19 and the vaccines.

AI tools to predict hospital stays are all over the map

Hospitals across the globe are using AI algorithms to help predict length of stay to target care to the neediest patients, cut costs, and improve operations. But a new systematic review published in PLOS Digital Health found they are hampered by a variety of shortcomings, such as data cleaning approaches that limit their generalizability beyond individual institutions. It calls for the development of a unified framework that would make it easier to assess the quality and durability of these tools and help identify populations with higher risks of adverse events such as hospital acquired infections.

Making the rounds

  • NexHealth, developer of a patient messaging and scheduling system for health clinics, raised $125 million in a Series C round led by Buckley Ventures. The company is planning to use the money for hiring and to build a doctor-facing platform.
  • Mendel, a startup that uses AI to read unstructured medical data, raised $40 million in a Series B round led by Oak HC/FT. The company plans to use the money to expanding its engineering team and develop a product called Resolve, which seeks to combine clinical records to create a clearer, more precise medical history.
  • Clinical trial technology company Unlearn closed a $50 million series B round in support of its digital twin approach. Participants include Insight Partners and Radical Ventures, as well as the company’s previous investors.

Other new business

  • BenevolentAI, a UK-based company using AI for drug discovery, is launching a partnership with the nonprofit Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative to help discover therapies to prevent progression of severe dengue, a disease with no cure that infects 390 million people a year. The effort will leverage a variety of data sources to examine the mechanisms of disease and identify drug targets.
  • An agreement between Teladoc and Northwell Health will implement the virtual care giant’s platform across 20 of the health system’s hospitals, to start. Building off a Microsoft Teams integration announced last year, the system aims to help clinicians delegate administrative tasks.
  • Hybrid primary care company Carbon Health announced its acquisition of the California clinics of MedPost Urgent Care, another step for the company’s build-out of its physical footprint. Its virtual care platform is supplemented by 120 primary and urgent care clinics, with a large cluster of 45 in Southern California.

New jobs all around

  • Memora Health has tapped Omar Nagi to be its chief commercial officer and James Colbert to serve as senior vice president of care delivery. Prior to Joining Memora last fall, Nagi helped launch the health care business at Lyft. Colbert previously worked for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.
  • Smart ring maker Oura named Tom Hale, former president at Momentive, as its new CEO. The company recently announced a capital raise that put its value at $2.5 billion.
  • Graphite Health, the health system-led nonprofit building a marketplace for software applications, has hired Ted Gaubert as chief technology officer. He joins from data analytics company Dun & Bradstreet, where he was CTO of global product engineering.
  • After five years leading AI teams at NHSX, the body tasked with driving digital innovation for England’s health system, Indra Joshi is decamping for big data giant Palantir Technologies, Healthcare IT News reported.

What we’re reading

Source: STAT