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Practice Transformation

Artificial intelligence has started to transform U.S. health care. In hospitals and health systems, AI is already creating operational efficiencies, but it’s relatively simple AI. The potential is so much greater, Healthcare Finance News reports. AI can help improve precision medicine and reduce administrative complexity, lowering the cost of doing business. In this regard, the AI landscape is still evolving. The sophisticated techniques used in cognitive computing are the next frontier for AI in health care. For precision medicine, cognitive AI technologies can reduce the trial and error associated with matching a patient to a drug. (Healthcare Finance News)
What looks like a phone booth but contains so much more? No, not the TARDIS. It’s an OnMed station–a free-standing self-contained telehealth clinic, stocked with everything a virtual practitioner might need to diagnose a run-of-the-mill illness or prescribe common medications. The station allows users to have real-time consultations with a doctor or advanced practice provider via high definition video and audio. Prescriptions can be dispensed through a secure, automated vault, saving users a trip to the pharmacy. Tampa General Hospital is running a pilot program with the OnMed station. (STAT NewsTampa General announcement)

Evidence & Innovation

Medication reminders–delivered by Alexa herself–are a new feature of Amazon’s partnership with Giant Eagle, a food, fuel and pharmacy retailer. Alexa will help the customer review their current prescriptions and set up medication reminders based on when the customer prefers to take each one. When the reminder goes off, customers can ask, “Alexa, what medication am I supposed to take right now?” This could be the first step in Amazon’s broader effort to use the voice assistant to help consumers manage their medications, FierceHealthcare reports. (FierceHealthcareAmazon blog post)
Machine learning can improve medication error detection, reducing adverse events and the related costs, according to research published in The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety. This study evaluated the ability of a machine learning system–MedAware–to generate clinically valid medication error alerts. It was more than able: Overall, 68.2% of MedAware alerts would not have been generated by the existing clinical decision support system. (The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety)
Eleven drugmakers led by Pfizer and Novartis have set aside a combined $2 billion to invest in gene therapy manufacturing since 2018, according to a Reuters analysis. The companies say building their own manufacturing plants addresses the rising costs and delays associated with relying on third-party contract manufacturers. It also allows them to more effectively address regulatory concerns. The potential rewards are tremendous, but there’s also risk, Bob Smith, SVP of Pfizer’s global gene therapy business, tells Reuters. Drugmakers are taking a “leap of faith” by making huge capital investments for largely unproven treatments. (Reuters)

Policy Solutions

The Veterans Affairs Department reported significant telemedicine growth for fiscal 2019, the first full year since implementing a policy that lifted state licensing requirements for VA providers practicing virtual care. More than 900,000 veterans used VA telemedicine services in fiscal 2019, up 17% from the previous year, the VA said Friday. In related news, the VA has rolled out a telemedicine app, is offering more online services, is reaching out to rural areas, and is opening telehealth clinics at VFWs. The VA is planning similar setups in American Legion posts, libraries and even Walmarts. (Modern HealthcareWBUR)

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