google AI predicts heart attacks by scanning your eye…

This week, the geniuses at Google and its “health-tech subsidiary” Verily announced AI that can predict your risk of a major cardiac event with roughly the same accuracy as the currently-accepted method using just a scan of your eye.

They have created an algorithm that analyzes the back of your eye for important predictors of cardiovascular health “including age, blood pressure, and whether or not [you] smoke” to assess your risk.

As explained via The Verge:

“To train the algorithm, Google and Verily’s scientists used machine learning to analyze a medical dataset of nearly 300,000 patients. This information included eye scans as well as general medical data. As with all deep learning analysis, neural networks were then used to mine this information for patterns, learning to associate telltale signs in the eye scans with the metrics needed to predict cardiovascular risk (e.g., age and blood pressure).

When presented with retinal images of two patients, one of whom suffered a cardiovascular event in the following five years, and one of whom did not, Google’s algorithm was able to tell which was which 70 percent of the time. This is only slightly worse than the commonly used SCORE method of predicting cardiovascular risk, which requires a blood test and makes correct predictions in the same test 72 percent of the time.

Why It’s Hot:

This type of application of AI can help doctors quickly know what to look into, and shows how AI could help them spend less time diagnosing, and more time treating. It’s a long way from being completely flawless right now, but in the future, we might see an AI-powered robot instead of a nurse before we see the doctor.


Could genetic testing help thwart the opioid crisis?

Why some people become addicted to oopiods and some do not has become somewhat of a mystery in the medical community. But the story is familiar; patient gets prescribed an opioid pain killer, and by the end of their course of treatment, they have developed a dependency (knowingly or not). But what if a genetic test could signal whether a person is more likely to develop an addiction, and therefore at higher risk from the moment they enter the doctor’s office?

That’s exactly what the medical analytics company Prescient Medicine has set out to do with their LifeKit Test- a genetic test that determines within 97% sensitivity how addictive your genetic response to opioids will be. Using an algorithm they developed based on genes that signal addiction in neural pathways, they give each test subject a score out of 100, with anything 52 or higher showing an elevated risk of addiction.


Perhaps LifeKit and advancements in genetic testing could be the preventative measure needed to stop this national health crisis, and even aid with substance abuse of all kinds. As genetic testing becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, it may arm doctors with the knowledge to offer alternatives that could saves millions of lives.


OK Google, Am I Depressed?

See gif of how it works here.

As reported by The Verge, yesterday Google rolled out a new mobile feature to help people who might think they’re depressed sort it out. Now, when someone searches “depression” on Google from a mobile device (as in the screenshot above), it suggests “check if you’re clinically depressed” – connecting users to a 9 question quiz to help them find out if they need professional help.

Why It’s Hot:

As usual, Google shows that utility is based on intent – instead of just connecting people to information, they’re connecting information to people. In this case, it could be particularly impactful since “People who have symptoms of depression — such as anxiety, insomnia, or fatigue — wait an average of six to eight years before getting treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.” 

Oscar and the design of healthcare apps

The design team behind Oscar started and ended their process fixated on the user experience. Many healthcare providers still send new customers stacks of paperwork for onboarding, and Oscar jumped wholly into online questionnaires, tutorials, and app. Over the iterative lifecycle, here are a few key learnings they found:

  • Like enterprise app design, healthcare apps should be seen as a consumer product (people don’t shed their skin and become mindless patients).
  • 87.8% of people who avoid early care do so because of bureaucracy, insurance issues, and price. Telemedicine is a glimmer of hope – connecting doctors directly with patients.
  • With healthcare apps, less is truly more. People tend to use healthcare apps rarely and often forget about them in between uses. The app needs to be more intuitive than innovative. Make it SIMPLE.
  • Test early and often using prototypes to course correct along the way.
  • The team was successful in limiting navigation buttons to give users a more guiding approach (forcing function).
  • They added CTAs for calling their doctor throughout the app at key touchpoints. This way, users understood WHEN they should be seeking help.
  • Getting users to spend LESS time on the app (meaning, they got what they needed and got off) became the goal. They needed to define success differently than other kinds of apps.


Headphones Up, Calories Down…

(start at 0:23, you can get the basic idea by about 0:45)

I think we can all agree that sugar is evil. Particularly in this country, sugar consumption has become a major source of serious weight and health issues plaguing many. And as our esteemed colleagues Karan and Liz shared with me yesterday, apparently even when you try other sweeteners to avoid it, the alternative is cancer. So, how can we get our sweet fix without risking some massive health related life event?

Rest easy, because based on University of Oxford research, Xin Cafe in China has created “Sonic Sweetener”. According to science, listening to certain sounds makes our brain think what we’re consuming is sweeter than it actually is. So, Xin Cafe worked with sound designers to create a cup with a headphone jack that plays the right notes while you’re drinking your beverage to make it seem as though you’re imbibing something sweet when you’re actually not (try out the miracle soundtrack for yourself here).

Why it’s hot

First of all, I’m impressed at such a seemingly lo-fi “tech” solution to a very serious, widespread problem. Sometimes it doesn’t take a massive innovation to meaningfully change the way we experience things in life. And obviously it’s one of the latest examples in what will be many many years of technology (some more progressive, some less) filling in the gaps where our humanity can fail us. Self-control is a great quality, but not one that’s always easily applied. What other human shortcomings could sound (or any other) technology help us with?

Ten Ways IoT is here! (And consumers may not like it).

The Internet of Things (IoT). Across many industries this is at the core of their tech, data and innovation strategies – from refrigerators to cars and on and on. Everyone is excited and cannot wait! Or do we really know what we are getting into? (MRM already works with a facial-recognition software company). For the most part we focus on consumer products and they impact of IoT will have; but there are many more areas that IoT is actually in place or about to be — and one issue looms large: what about privacy? Who owns all this data that will collected? Here are 10 good examples from TechRepublic:

1: Transportation infrastructure

The insertion of sensors at key points of highways and railways is enabling cities to monitor the wellness of their transportation infrastructures, along with events like traffic flow and congestion. The information these IoT sensors send back to headquarters is used to notify motorists of heavy congestion points and alternate routes.

2: Safety of sensitive goods during transport

Foodstuffs and medical supplies often require stringent temperature and humidity controls during storage and shipment. To facilitate climate control, logistics companies use environmentally controlled, sealed containers. The containers are equipped with sensors that emit status reports to a central network so they can be monitored for adherence to humidity and temperature controls.

3: Logistics tracking and performance

Major logistics carriers now use trucks that are sensor equipped so shipments can be tracked along routes, optimum delivery routes can be used, and timeliness can be tracked. In some cases, sensors are also used to track speeds, braking habits, etc., of drivers to ensure that the safest and most environmentally friendly driving practices are used.

4: Equipment diagnostics and preventive maintenance on the factory floor

As manufacturers adopt new 21st century practices, equipment within the factory is being outfitted with sensors that automatically flash an alert into the central factory operations monitoring network when a weakening component or other failure-inducing condition is detected.

5: Smart street lights

Street lights with IoT capability now “communicate” with city utility managers who are miles away, sending IoT data on energy usage and enabling remote adjustments to lighting to compensate for local environmental conditions—such as dimming the lights on a moonlit night or increasing lighting during rainstorms and fog. The ability to climate-adjust street lighting economizes energy usage and reduces energy costs.

6: Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

Aerial drones equipped with IoT sensors are being used by oil and gas exploration companies, mining companies, and agribusiness to chart and monitor remote, difficult to access areas and to measure elements such as soil composition and moisture content. The ability to perform these operations remotely saves field time and reduces the safety risk incurred when personnel are dispatched to remote and uncharted areas.

7: Inventory tracking during shipment

In areas of the world where the theft of inventory from trucks in transit for sale on the black market is widespread, transportation companies are attaching IoT sensors to packages and are making the practice known to locals. In one case, a transporter reported that the theft rate had fallen from 50% of inventory to 4% after IoT sensors were installed.

8: Home and business energy monitoring

The devices assist them in controlling energy consumption—whether it be for an individual home, a business, or a data center.

9: Mobile device tracking

In 2014 alone, more than 10 million mobile devices were lost in the UK. The worldwide total of lost or stolen mobile devices is undoubtedly staggering.

10: Safety monitoring/tracking of Alzheimer’s patients

Individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s or other mentally debilitating disorders can now be tracked via IoT sensors in case they leave the home and can’t find their way back. In addition, IoT sensors can serve as a safety net for potentially dangerous situations. For example they can be attached to stove gas burners in case a burner is turned on and left unattended.

Why is this hot? While there is a lot of buzz and excitement around IoT, most of the mass public is unaware of these advances – beyond the news and hype around driverless cars. But the IoT is in direct conflict with privacy concerns consumers have. While the examples given do not seem like the sources of personal data, they are the tip of the iceberg which is showing. Just imagine what is going on in the world of medical devices, trackables, wearable’s — Pandora’s Box has been opened but no one is quite sure what the results of doing so will be.

The chart below, from highlights the collision of hype and fear:

Global Index consumer data worries 3.3.16







Ransoming my health data? Wearable’s and Cyber security

According to a recent Forrester Report on Cybersecurity, hacking health records, devices and wearable’s and using the information to ransom — yes, ransom — people’s health data is on the rise. On the face of it, it seems odd, after all why would anyone want my health data and what would they do with it? Aren’t these criminals satisfied with my credit cards or Social Security number? No. A credit card can be cancelled, your health records are permanent.

This was the headline on MedCityNews after they read the Forrester report:

The biggest cybersecurity threat for 2016 could be hackers holding patients ransom for the use of their medical device

Seems dramatic? Maybe not. Ask the 4.5 million records hacked from UCLA Medical Center — they suspected it was criminals looking for celebrities health records.

H sauce 11.19 hospital breaches

Ask the 80 million people who trust Anthem and had their information hacked.

H Sauce cyber Hack UCLA 11.19

At the heart of this disturbing trend is the rise of Ransomware, a form of malware.  FastCompany wrote about the Ransomware trend recently ( Symantec estimated conservatively that upwards of $5 million is ransomed every year. How do they prefer to get paid? Bitcoin the favorite currency of choice.

H Sauce 11.19 hacking RansomWhy is this hot? Because as the explosion of Electronic Health Records, wearable’s, devices and the looming Internet of Things all coalesce, we see that the healthcare industry has lagged far behind others in putting proper measures in place to protect the most intimate information of all. The prevalence of the malware is accelerating faster than the security measures of the industry. Data is growing exponentially, yet protection of it is in its infancy.

H Sauce wearable growth 11.20

As Eric Cowperthwaite  the CEO of Core Strategy a security firm said: “…if the health care data stolen from these breaches was ever combined with the data stolen from the Office of Personnel Management, it would be the Holy Grail of electronic data on almost all people with government clearances,” Cowperthwaite said.

Imagine this message: “We know you suffer from major depression? How would you like the world to know?” Or if you failed a drug test, or had a preexisting condition that could hurt your job prospects. This is so scary, it just gets darker the more you think about it. Stay tuned for what the security industry reaction is.

A New App To Make Life Easier For Diabetics, Using Instagram

After an initial diagnosis, diabetes sufferers often experience a period of shock when they learn that everything has to change. Turkish mobile operator, Turkcell, and agency R/GA London have created an app to make adjusting to the necessary life changes much easier.

The app tracks a user’s condition via a photographic journal, using Instagram. By synching with a wireless reader that takes blood measurements, Selftrak is also able to map levels to an Instragram image, allowing medical professionals and friends to provide input and support. Alongside this, like everyone else in the world it seems, diabetics take snaps of their meals and post them, and again, these can be liked and helpful suggestions made.

The idea is to make using the app as simple as possible, helping people stay motivated, complying with treatment and keeping the lines of communication with medical staff open.So far, Selftrak has been tested in an 18-month long study with 200 diabetes patients at Istanbul University. The latest version, still in beta phase, is available on Google’s app store and a more limited iteration is currently available via Apple. Updates are planned in the coming months.

Watch the video here:



Why it’s hot:

Instead of trying to persuade sufferers to adopt entirely new habits, tools and behaviors to monitor the condition, Selftrak deploys Instragram, a tool many people already use and taps into behaviors that people already have. And initial tests prove the app is making a difference — the results of the 18-month trial are highly encouraging. Treatment compliance increased by 54%. Blood sugar levels decreased by 27% and complication forecasts decreased by 37%.