By Darius Tahir | 04/20/2017 10:00 AM EDT
ALL ABOUT THAT BASELINE? NO TROUBLE: There's been a lot of rumors and hype when it comes to Verily, the Alphabet offshoot. Wednesday, some of that hype became solid, with the official kickoff of the long-discussed "Baseline" study, a four-year effort to recruit 10,000 participants and study them every which way to (hopefully) learn some interesting things about human health and disease.
The study will apparently involve genomic sequencing of all participants, along with the use of various wearable sensors and smartphone gadgets - all intended to agglomerate vast amounts of data from each participant. This data can be put to two uses: first, to identify early warning signs that reliably signal when a person is about to become sick; and second, to make medicine more precise - for example, to distinguish among subgroups of diabetic patients and treat them more effectively.
The four-year study might well cost $300 million or more, an affiliated Stanford researcher estimates. Fortunately we think Alphabet's good for it.
The general concept - using new technologies to examine large groups to analyze humongous datasets - is similar to the Precision Medicine Initiative. However, the numbers are smaller and, at least initially, the scrutiny more intensive. While the federal, NIH-led initiative will start out without massive genome sequencing or wearable use, the Verily study will go all out with intensive tracking, testing, surveying, monitoring, prodding and poking.
Verily's announcement attracted generally positive reviews. But former NIH official Tom Insel, now a Verily leader, allowed in a Bloomberg article that there were some "creepy" implications to tracking participants and their data so closely. (One engineer wanted to use wearables to track how many meals participants ate - the idea was shot down.)
Some were struck by the humble tone taken by Verily executives, who didn't promise the project would cure all ills. "Sounds like a healthy dose of reality is hitting the valley. This is a very good thing," tweeted Bijan Salehizadeh, a healthcare VC. "You're going to have to go out and get that big heap of data before you can say if there's anything actionable in it," said blogger Derek Lowe. "[I]nteresting results are not guaranteed."
AMA INTRODUCING EHR TRAINING TOOL FOR MED SCHOOL: The American Medical Association has introduced a virtual training tool that simulates clicking around an EHR for med school students. It'll include data for mock patients. The tool has already been put to use at Indiana University, the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and Southern Indiana School of Nursing.
eHealth tweet of the day: David Shaywitz @DShaywitz Basically, big idea of mixing All Biomedical & Health Data Known To Humankind in vat o' data & awaiting insight=hard. much to figure out.
THURSDAY: Your correspondent spent much of Thursday ceaselessly amused by two pieces of Internet ephemera: a bulldog skateboarding and the tale of Silicon Valley investors putting money into a juicing-machine startup ... whose machines are not needed to actually squeeze juices. Fun! Send internet japery at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with Pro eHealth on Twitter @ David_Pittman, @arthurallen202, @ DariusTahir, @ POLITICOPro, @ Morning_eHealth.
GOTTLIEB TO GET VOTE: FDA Commissioner nominee Scott Gottlieb will get the Senate HELP Committee's vote April 26. We imagine it will be a relatively easy pass for Gottlieb.
DATAPALOOZA AGENDA UPDATE: HHS Secretary Tom Price will, in fact, speak at the annual conference of health data enthusiasts, the event's host, Academy Health, announces this morning. The Georgia Republican will keynote next Thursday morning. Health Datapalooza will mark the first time Price will address a health IT-minded audience as health secretary.
- The agenda is still lacking in other headliners from ONC and CMS, two agencies whose leaders were regulars in recent years. "It really is going to be a great meeting. HHS is still involved, there's a significant international component and we're working hard to honor the spirit of patient inclusion and innovation that has made this community so unique," Academy Health Vice President Kristin Rosengren told us.
RIDE SHARING TO THE DOCTOR: Circulation - a Boston-based startup providing non-emergency rides to the doctor - is now working with 700 facilities in 25 states, the company announced. The startup, an Uber partner, is adding 30 clients, including hospitals, clinics and community health centers.
New data provided by Circulation show using its service saved its partners up to 50 percent of costs compared to traditional "non-emergency medical transports," and 95 percent of patients arrived to appointments on time.
SURVEY SAYS: About a third of health care providers use telemedicine or remote monitoring technologies, but less than 5 percent describe their use as "advanced," according to a HIMSS Analytics survey released Wednesday. The biggest challenge to telemedicine; "maintaining a sustainable business and/or financial model" about a quarter said, followed by clinician adoption (17 percent), strategy development and regulation compliance (12 percent each).
MARCH FOR SCIENCE: Researchers from the eHealth world will be marching with their fellow scientists this Saturday. After spotting this blog post from Oregon Health and Science University's William Hersh, a professor of medical informatics, we reached out to others in the informatics world, and found quite a few marchers.
It's a fraught time for the nation's health researchers, as Hersh points out in the above blog post: cuts to NIH aren't exactly great for business, and the possible shuttering of AHRQ isn't reassuring either.
STATE OF THE APP ECONOMY: Involves a lot of healthcare, the APP Association argues in a new report today. And it could be even stronger with more telemedicine reimbursement (Medicare only paid out $14 million last year), the group notes. More policy wishes include improved network infrastructure for the 5G standard, and more clarity regarding law enforcement's authority to access data.
WHAT WE'RE CLICKING ON:
ONC chief Don Rucker's recent paper on telephone calls and clinical workflow.
Will now-secret hospital inspection data become public?
A Q&A with Teladoc's chief medical officer.https://secure.politico.com/settings/settings
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