May 17, 2020

Apple looks to build sophisticated health chips to process complex data

Health technology
Digital health
Catherine Sturman
2 min
Through a number of new job postings, Apple has revealed that it is looking to further enhance its ability to obtain advanced health information through...

Through a number of new job postings, Apple has revealed that it is looking to further enhance its ability to obtain advanced health information through the use of sensors in a number of its healthcare technologies.

From its Apple Watch to the traditional iPhone, custom chips will enable the business to further support those with long-term healthcare conditions, such as diabetes, improving overall efficiency and delivering exceptional patient care. CNBC has previously reported that it's also working on non-invasive blood-sugar monitoring through the use of optical sensing technology.

One job posting from Apple's Health Sensing hardware team has stated: "We are looking for sensor ASIC architects to help develop ASICs for new sensors and sensing systems for future Apple products. We have openings for analogue as well as digital ASIC architects."

Another has called for engineers who can work to "develop health, wellness, and fitness sensors."

Over the last five years, healthcare funding among the 10 largest IT companies in the United States has increased from $277mn to $2.7bn.

At present, Apple’s products provide health-focused tools, promoting its stance on health and wellbeing. Areas include all areas of exercise, heart rate and the sleep patterns of its users. The company has also undergone heart studies with Stanford University to develop new tools to detect atrial fibrillation.

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Working with a number of suppliers, such as Broadcom, the company caused controversy last year by parting ways with former graphic chip designer, Imagination Technologies, leading its stock price to tank and the business to be sold.

However, by developing specialised chips to gain essential healthcare data and drive exceptional performance, the company will aim to protect its intellectual property against rampant competition.

The news follows on from Apple’s recent hiring drive, where significant numbers have joined its wellness clinic, officially launched this year. Named AC Wellness, the subsidiary aims to transform primary care, and firmly put the ‘care’ back into patient services.

Additionally, launching its Apple Health Records service this year, enabling users of over 500 hospitals and clinics to gain access to their electronic health records and clinical data through their iPhone. Users can also access features such as putting forth prescription requests, accessing lab results, as well as a nutrition app and more.

Recently, up to nine further hospitals and clinics have signed up to Apple’s Health Records, enabling more patients to gain access to their clinical data. Included are Buffalo Medical Group in New York, Carroll County Memorial Hospital (Missouri) Coquille Valley Hospital (Oregon).

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Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

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