September 02, 2015
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by Angus Klamer

An IBM supercomputer to help with China’s air pollution crisis

Out of 360 Chinese cities, 351 do not meet the country’s own air quality standards. As a result, breathing the air in Beijing for twenty-four hours is equivalent to smoking thirty-six cigarettes, and 17% of the annual deaths in China are air pollution-related.

It’s easy to say that China needs help with its air quality, and IBM has stepped in with a supercomputer to help. The artificially intelligent project, called Green Horizon, receives air quality data already collected by the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau and runs a machine learning algorithm to sort and interpret it. It then plugs the data into existing mathematical models and chooses the best model for predicting future indicators of air quality. It is effective enough to create air pollution forecasts for up to three days. As IBM works to increase this number, this system could eventually help authorities make important decisions (like what factories to close and how many cars should be on the road) to improve the air quality in China, although this will surely be a slow process.

Google, Sanofi join forces to help diabetes patients

Google’s health-care research unit, Life Sciences, has teamed up with European pharmaceutical company Sanofi to develop new ways to treat and monitor diabetes. Sanofi is a leading maker of diabetes medication, while Life Sciences is working on small, “smart” medical devices that continually collect diabetes-related data, as well as software that learns from the information.

Google Life Sciences, led by Andrew Conrad, started about two years ago as part of the company’s plan to expand into transportation and healthcare. It will become a standalone unit in Google’s planned reorganization into a holding company called Alphabet.

Conrad said the Sanofi partnership is the most recent of several collaborations that combine expertise in medication, medical devices, software and computing infrastructure. This multidisciplinary approach is needed to effectively treat diabetes, but is very uncommon.

MouthLab’s new device could analyze your vital signs in real time

In the September issue of the Annals of Biomedical Engineering, the John Hopkins School of Medicine revealed that they are in the final stages of developing a handheld device called MouthLab that can allow hospital-level vital sign analysis to be done from home without any medical specialists present. Referred to as a “check engine light” for the human body, this device could potentially cut down on the number of unnecessary and wasteful ambulance trips and hospital visits when a patient has normal vital signs.

The device’s mouthpiece and regulator have a similar look to scuba diving equipment, with an attached box that displays measurements of vital signs. The final product will also be able to upload critical personally-monitored information to the cloud for storage and further analysis.

The current version is capable of assessing four vital sign indicators and blood oxygen levels, while future versions are expected to have capabilities (thanks to its mouthpiece design) that include saliva biochemical analysis, blood sugar levels, respiration biochemical analysis, and metabolic rate. Both diabetes and lung cancer can be detectable through the breath, so the MouthLab gadget has the potential to make huge cuts to medical costs and save millions of lives by detecting these diseases early on.

mPulse Mobile raises $1.7 million for secure healthcare-focused messaging tool

mPulse Mobile, an Encino, CA based startup, has developed a secure messaging system designed for healthcare-affiliated organizations including pharmacies, payers, providers, public and private exchanges and employee wellness. The program is tailored specifically for the different organizations that use it.

Here’s a few examples of how different healthcare organizations can use the tool:
With the recent acquisition of assets of the healthcare division of Archer USA, a Seattle and Johannesburg-based company that develops mobile-based patient engagement offerings, mPulse Mobile’s goal of bringing innovative mobile solutions to challenges in healthcare is becoming a reality.

  • Payers: offer members secure mobile push notifications, Medicare enrollment support, and caregiver communications
  • Providers: provide patients with appointment reminders, visit summaries, emergency room waiting time display, virtual visit support, and post-visit satisfaction surveys.
  • Pharmacies: support medication management programs, communicate shipping and order statuses for mail order prescriptions, offer medication adherence reminders, and help consumers find them

BioIQ picks Atlanta as starting point for National Expansion

BioIQ, a healthcare technology company based in Santa Barbara that allows organizations to better connect with their populations to achieve health improvement goals, has opened its new East Coast headquarters in Atlanta and has hired tech industry veteran Lisa McVey for the newly created position of executive vice president for Technology and Operations.

McVey spent twenty-one years with the McKesson Corporation, another Atlanta-area healthcare technology company, where she served in a wide variety of positions across many key departments, including CIO.

As healthcare and technology become more and more intertwined, companies like BioIQ are continuing to excel. BioIQ is considered a done for youhealth screening and management platform that helps companies comply with Affordable Care Act requirements and increase their HEDIS scores. With its new East Coast headquarters and EVP of Technology and Operations, BioIQ plans to continue its growth and success in recent years, and Lisa McVey is excited: Ive been part of the healthcare technology field for 20 plus years and I can say with authority that BioIQ is one of the most exciting companies in Health IT today.

This article is brought to you by Enola Labs, a custom mobile and web development company focused on building software solutions to complex healthcare problems.