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A Half-Dozen Hot Health-Tech Takes From This Week


Ethics, interoperability, and the wearables revolution dominated our reading (and listening) this week.

Takes: We all have them, but who has the best? That may be a question too big for Healthcare Analytics News™ to answer in this week’s roundup. But we’ve certainly come across a number of thought-provoking articles this week—both on this site and on others—about some important topics in the healthcare and technology worlds. We’ve gathered a half-dozen of them here to let you take their temperature.

1. The (Potentially Grim) State of Interoperability

Writing in Forbes, Ensocare president and CEO Luis Castillo considers where health-tech needs to go as it pines for true interoperability. While hopeful, he also drops this nugget in the text:

“We in healthcare IT need to recognize the call for interoperability and answer it with innovative ideas. Forget thinking outside the box; we need to nuke the box into the Stone Age and move on to the next big thing.”

2. Should Cops Have Access to Consumer DNA?

Last week, we wrote of the ethical considerations that arise when police work and the growing consumer DNA industry intersect. This week, we dove even deeper, speaking to the Chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health: Christine Grady, PhD—who also co-authored a commentary on the matter. This episode of Data Book begins with the terror of the Golden State Killer case before weaving into the complex, sticky issues at hand.

3. Healthcare, Wearables, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

In a guest column, wearables expert João Bocas compared the rise of healthcare wearables to an industrial revolution: A sea change so critical that they’ll alter every corner of the industry. Data capture and analysis opportunities are endless, but so are privacy and security concerns. Healthcare organizations need to develop long-term business strategies to adjust to their prevalence, Bocas wrote, because “Current healthcare systems are not equipped to work with the massive amounts of data generated by these devices.”

4. Voice Assistants Aren’t Ready to Handle People with Suicidal Tendencies

CNBC reporters Todd Haselton and Christina Farr wrote of a little experiment they played with Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. They wanted to know how the voice assistants would react if users expressed suicidal thoughts. All 3 recommended prevention hotlines if directly confronted with such thoughts, though if they were at all obscured or vague expressions of suicidality, the systems did not know how to respond. Experts explained that this was because the devices weren’t yet equipped to respond to emotion, but one—Brain Power’s Arshya Vahabzadeh, MD—believes that capability is soon to come.

5. Should Physicians Get Political About Gun Violence?

Tom Castles, who also serves as Associate Editorial Director of this publication, writes for MD Magazine in the wake of a string of miserable mass shootings and the American Medical Association’s ever-growing interest in studying gun violence.

“There’s no surer way to defeat an illness than to understand it. To understand it, we must study it,” Castles writes. “Medical professionals study and treat the causes and effects of gun violence every day. Who better than physicians to ‘get so political’ about it?”

6. How Apple's API Fits Into Its Burgeoning Healthcare Stack

Apple announced its healthcare API this week, which will allow programmers to create tools using both health metrics (from its devices capable of collecting them) and from EHRs (from patients whose hospitals allow them to be viewed from an iPhone). That’s impressive, but it’s important to look at not as an isolated announcement but as subsequent step in a series of healthcare-minded innovations, which may be building to something. This primer from our own Ryan Black takes you through the tech giant’s health-centered moves over the last few years, pondering where Apple will go next.

Related Coverage:

Our Top 5 Health-Tech Stories This Week: A Hacker, A GAO Report, an mHealth App

A Smart, Small, Familial Approach to Population Health

mHealth Apps: Trust the Studies, Not the Stars

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