Now in its 5th yearth , HLTH has become one of the leading annual events for the health technology industry. Although this year’s meeting took place in the shadow of tragic events in the Middle East, companies from across the healthcare ecosystem filled the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center with hope and determination about how technology can “elevate humanity.”
The buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) was palpable and major tech companies used the meeting as an opportunity to announce new AI solutions. Google Cloud announced adding new features to your Vertex AI Search for healthcare companieswhile Microsoft launched a range of new analytics and AI services, as part of its new Fabric data analytics platform and Azure AI services.
Conversations about AI in healthcare have largely focused on how companies can responsibly use the technology and the potential of generative AI tools.
Company based in San Francisco Augmedix teased an early release of the latest product on its platform – Augmedix Go, a clinician-controlled mobile app that uses generative artificial intelligence to create fully automated drafts of medical notes.
Using natural language processing (NLP), large-scale language models (LLM) and structured data sets, the technology aims to support clinicians by summarizing key medical events throughout the day.
“In addition to the actual medical note, Augmedix delivers the structured data that makes up the medical note. Structured data facilitates internal data mining and saves a significant amount of time that would otherwise be spent sifting through data,” said Manny Krakaris, CEO of Augmedix. Medical Device Network.
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According to Augmedix, the products can save clinicians up to three hours a day and increase productivity by 20%. Since August, NasdaqThe publicly traded company said it expects at least $43.5 million in revenue in 2023, and will update estimates later this quarter.
But as generative AI technology evolves, data security issues are changing. Speaking at the opening of the HLTH session at Monday, October 9Google’s senior vice president of research, technology and society, James Manyika said that protecting the individual and privacy remains “fundamentally important” to Google and one of the biggest lessons learned from the company’s recent controversies.
The dawn of digital biomarkers
Increasing prevalence chronic neurodegenerative diseases was the main topic at HLTH 2023.
Digital biomarkers are being touted as a potential tool for measuring changes in indications such as neurological disorders and Medical Device Network met with NeuraLighta startup developing an AI-driven platform that measures eye movements to diagnose neurological diseases.
A computer-aided oculometric test tracks eye movements through videos of faces captured by a standard web camera and analyzes them using machine learning techniques. In August, NeuraLight published peer-reviewed studies showing that the tool is effective for diagnosing and monitoring Parkinson’s disease.
“I think traditionally when we think about biomarkers it’s been blood-based biomarkers or laboratory-based CSF biomarker tests, but digital biomarkers have a lot of potential,” explained NeuraLight’s CCO, Vivian DeWoskin.
“Many might associate the term digital biomarker with a wearable device or a sensor, but now we’ve moved to a stage where there are other modalities that should really be considered biomarkers, and oculometric biomarkers are an important part of that.”
The startup is focusing on a clinical trial that intends to use the test to track progression over time and see how well the results match standard clinical results.
As HLTH 2023 takes place during World Mental Health Day, discussions on improved mental health care were at the heart of this year’s meeting. Headspace CEO Russell Glass took to the main stage with LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslanky will discuss workforce wellness trends and how company culture plays a role in employee mental health.
Mental health and aging
Sessions at the conference explored how treatments such as psychedelic drugs and virtual reality therapies can help expand access to mental health services. Experts also looked at how AI-driven technologies, such as mental health chatbots and virtual therapists, are providing on-demand support and destigmatizing mental health issues.
The impact of aging and loneliness was also discussed. Intuition Robotics has unveiled its AI-powered companion robot ElliQ, which aims to support and accompany older adults as they age independently, while reducing loneliness and isolation.
CEO Dor Skuler said Medical Device Network the robot is not designed to replace human society. “As humans we have the ability to define spaces for different relationships,” Skuler said.
“Our relationship with a dog is real and meaningful, but it is different from our relationship with a person. Now we’re seeing thousands of older adults building a relationship with AI that doesn’t mix with a human relationship—it’s just a new kind of relationship.”
Virtual healthcare is expanding
The telemedicine trend shows no signs of slowing down, and pharmaceutical retail giant Walgreens used HLTH to announce a new digital offering that will provide on-demand medical care for common health needs. Patients in select US states will be able to access Walgreens Virtual Healthcare online starting in late October, and Walgreens said it will expand the service to cover additional conditions and markets in the future.
“Our goal is to be the most convenient destination for health and wellness whether you are physically or virtually in our stores,” said Walgreens Chief Commercial Officer Tracey Brown during the event.
The launch comes as Walgreens prepares to welcome a new CEO, healthcare veteran Tim Wentworth, who is tasked with transforming the company from a core pharmaceutical business to a leading digital health company.
Canadian company NuraLogix has also highlighted telehealth ambitions for its Anura Telehealth screening solution based on DeepAffex’s cloud-based Affective AI platform, which receives facial blood flow data from a device such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop using the camera.
During virtual meetings, the platform can apply AI machine learning algorithms that can predict over 100 health parameters including pulse rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. NuraLogix called it the “selfie for the healthy” although it cannot be used as the sole method for determining risk assessment.
“The beauty of our technology is in simplifying the work processes that are normally required to determine the health risks of individuals. The time required to visit a healthcare provider, obtain a claim and travel to a laboratory for testing, these steps can be reduced to a simple 30-second scan to obtain a health risk profile, all within the point of care for customers,” said NuraLogix’s head of medical officiating Dr. Keith Thompson Medical Device Network.
“Our biggest advantage in adoption across multiple market segments is the fact that our technology does not require the use of other medical devices to record measurements, but can be used with a device that most people already have – a smartphone or equivalent device with a camera and internet access.”
Adoption of Anura and the Telehealth platform within the US may be driven by the existence of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for remote patient monitoring and teletherapeutic monitoring – under these rules technologies used for remote data collection must be “defined” as a medical device under FDA guidelines, but do not require clearance as a medical device – they simply need to satisfy the healthcare provider that the data collected is sufficiently accurate and appropriate for the clinical task.
Despite this, NuraLogix said it is on a mission to gain regulatory approval, “Our current work is focused on conducting robust clinical trials to validate the technology for the appropriate regulatory authorities and ensure safe implementation,” Thompson said. “Once (it’s) approved as a medical device, it will allow us to transition from general health and insurance technology to more of the clinical workflows of SAMD.”
Connection and cooperation are the key to success
Emphasizing that many of the conversations at HLTH came down to how collaboration in the healthcare ecosystem is key to developing technology and improving patient health.
Company leaders agreed that innovative partnerships are the way to improve health equity, accessibility and patient outcomes. While the excitement and optimism about the technology’s potential is clear, the industry had one message – we can’t do it alone.
HLTH pointed out that the global ambitions of innovators are growing and that the potential of health technology is greater than ever.
What happened in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas – health technology is ready for the world.