In this week’s health care innovation roundup, read about Google’s possible forays into health care, new strategies to fight old diseases and two people who credit the Apple Watch with saving their life.
Google and its parent company, Alphabet, are poised to move further into the health care industry on multiple fronts. According to a breakdown by business research firm CB Insights, ideas Alphabet is pursuing include using artificial intelligence to support clinicians and rolling out population health interventions. Its Cityblock spinoff, for example, intends to establish neighborhood health hubs in underserved urban communities. Check out a breakdown by Becker’s Hospital Review, or read the full report.
River blindness, which is caused by a parasitic worm, has wreaked havoc in parts of Africa for many years. While there is an effective treatment, that treatment can cause coma or death in people who have a different parasite, the Loa Ioa worm. Researchers discovered “they could quickly determine who has the Loa Ioa worm using a smartphone, customized to work like a microscope,” and thus avoid treating those people for river blindness, according to Kaiser Health News.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is offering a $12 million challenge to develop a flu vaccine that would be effective for all strains of the flu virus. The challenge is “an important and necessary step intended to spark innovative ideas toward finding a game-changing solution to end the threat of flu,” Dr. Bruce Gellin, president of global immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, wrote in Fortune. Find more information on the challenge here.
There’s a lot of hype around how to implement blockchain technology in the health care industry. Earlier this month, MATTER, a health care startup incubator, hosted a blockchain in healthcare summit that convened experts from across health care to discuss how to leverage the technology. Read quick takes from four of them — including Steve Betts, chief information officer for Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
U.S. News & World Report shares the story of two people say their Apple Watch played a role in saving their lives. In one instance, the smartwatch notified an 18-year-old woman to seek medical attention after her heart rate increased to 190 beats per minute. She was diagnosed with kidney failure. In another instance, a man was diagnosed with a ruptured ulcer after his Apple Watch alerted him to seek care.
Also, read our related MHCSW story on these evolving devices: Use Wearables for Motivation, Not Medicine (Yet)