This Week: German Health Ministry Sets Digital Health as Top Priority

This Week: German Health Ministry Sets Digital Health as Top Priority

- March 1, 2019

This week’s digital health news…

German Health Ministry Sets Digital Health as a Top Priority
Germany has launched its Global Health Hub initiative with the aim to “promote the digitalization of healthcare internationally.” The project will be financed with start-up funding by the German Federal Ministry of Health and the German Agency for International Cooperation. Speaking at a launch event, German Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn asserted: “Germany needs to use its power and expertise to help effectively. Good health care does not end at state borders.” Member of the initiative will utilize a virtual platform to initiate partnerships. In a statement to Healthcare IT News, Kristina Kloss—head of Germany’s Global Health Hub office—shared: “Digitalization in health will be one of the initial priority areas for the hub. Members are invited to break these broad areas down into particular questions they would like to discuss and work on in an interdisciplinary way.”


Cedar-Sinai Launches Alexa-Powered Hospital Room Platform
Cedar-Sinai has launched a pilot program in over 100 patient rooms, which allows patients to use an “Alexa-powered platform known as Aiva to interact hands-free with nurses and control their entertainment.” Patient rooms are equipped with Amazon Echos that are connected to the rooms’ multimedia devices, as well as hospital staff’s mobile phones. In a blog post, Cedar-Sinai outlined Aiva’s health communication process: “The patient’s request is routed to the mobile phone of the appropriate caregiver, whether a nurse, clinical partner, manager or administrator. A pain medicine request would be routed to a registered nurse, for example, while a bathroom request would be routed to a clinical partner. If the request is not answered in a timely manner, the Aiva platform sends it up the chain of command.” In addition to hospital services, the Aiva platform is set to be used in senior living communities.


CVS Prepares to Spend $325 Million on Digital Healthcare in 2019
CVS is set to spend between $325 to $350 million on various digital health programs and devices within the next year. In the company’s recent year-end earnings call with wall-street analysts, CVS Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer Eva Boratto stated: “Investments are being made to further our analytics and digital capabilities, develop new programs such as chronic kidney care, and enhance Aetna’s clinical platform.” With a $67 billion acquisition of health insurer Aetna in December, 2018 served as an especially costly year for CVS. Despite these expenses, Boratto assured analysts that CVS was committed to “improving the digital and mobile experience for members and customers across all of our businesses, and […] making investments in our health cloud software platform.”


Livongo Announces New Amazon-based Voice Tool for Hypertensive Patients
Livongo Health, an applied sciences company based out of California, has unveiled a new voice-based tool that allows patients to use a voice-enabled “cellular blood pressure monitoring system upload” to upload data to an AI engine. In a released announcement, Livongo described its technology: “The Livongo for Hypertension voice experience will provide members the ability to easily interact with Livongo via the most natural and personalized communication channel – their voice.” After receiving a patient’s blood pressure data, the AI engine prompts patients with a voice-activated “Health Nudge” that offers dietary suggestion based on personalized gathered data. The tool is powered by Amazon Lex: a deep learning chatbot service, and Amazon Polly: a service that turns text into lifelike speech.


URGO Group Opens Applications for European MedTech Startup Partnerships
Paris-based health company URGO Group has opened applications for its annual mentorship program, which aims to support the growth of a chosen European medtech startup through one year of tailored coaching. The selected company will receive customized guidance and support in marketing, clinical trial assistance, product design, and more. The company has also mentioned a potential interest in forming “long-term strategic partnerships.” Startups have until April 30th to apply, after which 6 companies will be selected to pitch projects at URGO’s headquarters in Paris. In a released statement, URGO CEO Pierre Moustial remarked: “”We know how difficult it is to create a company and we believe that using the URGO Group’s expertise to help these startups with their launch is a key part of our role as an older medtech mentor. It also keeps us up-to-date and helps us stay flexible through exchange of best practices.”



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