Google continues to invest in health start-ups
Digital technology is continually transforming traditional industries, and health care is no exception. In the last five years, tech giants have increasingly looked at healthcare as a potential growth market, merging technology, data and healthcare in order to develop new products and services to support its users obtain a higher quality of living anywhere in the world.
In 2015, Google launched its DeepMind Health initiative, signifying its interest in supporting the medical profession through AI and machine learning capabilities in order to support the delivery of exceptional health care, either at home or within an acute setting.
With this in mind, the company’s recent acquisition of Seattle-based start-up Senosis Health is of no surprise. Originally reported by GeekWire, the technology has been created by US Professor and entrepreneur Shwetak Patel, alongside a large number of clinicians, researchers and tech experts. The technology has enabled the ability for users to turn mobile technologies into medical diagnosis tools. Financial details surrounding the acquisition have not been disclosed.
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Through the use of inbuilt sensors, smartphones are able to become useful medical assets in the tracking of essential health statistics, monitoring ongoing conditions.
In an early interview with GeekWire, Patel commented: “The sensors that are already on the mobile phone can be repurposed in interesting new ways, where you can actually use those for diagnosing certain kinds of diseases.” Its apps help provide data on areas such as a user’s haemoglobin levels through the HemaApp, alongside the company’s SpiroSmart app, which measures a user’s lung function through the phone’s microphone.
Through the acquisition, Senosis Health will remain as part of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, but will not become part of Google’s research organisation, Verily Life Sciences, but remain separate, signifying Google’s desire to keep the two as separate areas of development.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
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.”