Artificial intelligence, wearables, and 3D printing tapped as emerging trends

By Robert Dostie

Emerging trends and technologies related to radiology and other aspects of healthcare are not limited to the halls of the annual Radiological Society of North America conference. CB Insights, a technology market intelligence platform, identified more than 90 companies that are applying machine-learning algorithms and predictive analytics to reduce drug discovery times, provide virtual assistance to patients, and help diagnose various medical conditions and diseases.

A CB Insights blog documents dozens of companies that are launching new healthcare products or applications that apply machine-learning algorithms and predictive analytics to reduce drug discovery times, provide virtual assistance to patients, and help diagnose ailments.

Some notable ones include:

Artificial intelligence (AI) in oncology: Pathway Genomics, based in San Diego, recently started a research study for its new blood test kit: CancerIntercept Detect. The company will collect blood samples from high-risk individuals who have never been diagnosed with cancer to determine if early detection is possible. Other oncology-focused startups include CureMetrix, Cyrcadia (wearable device), Entopsis, Flatiron Health, Smart Healthcare, and SkinVision.

Remote patient monitoring: New York-based AiCure is using artificial intelligence tools to ensure patients are taking their medications. Also, of San Francisco has developed a virtual nursing assistant called Molly to follow up with patients after their discharge. The company claims Molly gives clinicians “20% of their day back.” Further, Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Sentrian analyzes biosensor data and sends patient-specific alerts to clinicians.

Bringing algorithms to healthcare: Palo Alto, Calif.-based Ayasdi, for instance, has developed a machine intelligence platform based on topological data analysis. This platform delivers applications, such as patient risk scoring, and aims to reduce hospital readmissions.

The Advent of Wearable Devices

Today, healthcare management technology is not only available to healthcare providers—it’s also available to patients, family members, and physicians. New digital health wearables, apps, and sensor-enabled tools were showcased at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A short list of some of the most innovative and practical applications include the following products:

  1. An artificial intelligence-embedded toothbrush that collects data through sensors every time users brush their teeth. All brushing data (frequency, duration, and brushed area) are captured in the toothbrush and synced via Bluetooth Low Energy when the companion app is running. Algorithms from the sensors are used to help the brusher develop more accurate techniques.
  2. A medical-grade device that lets people monitor their heart health using proprietary sensor technology that records more than 20 million data points that stream to a companion smartphone app, which can be shared with medical professionals. The strap is worn around the chest and records continuous ECG, heart rate, heart rate variability, respiratory rate, temperature, and activity data.
  3. A compact scanning system that sends out audio-visual alerts when medication doses are due. The user waves a medication container that includes a scanning tag to indicate compliance. Each scan, or absence of a scan, notifies family members or other concerned parties with an update via a companion application.
  4. An artificial intelligence tool for diabetes management that uses an interface to connect physicians and patients with a smart connected insulin dose recorder that is compatible with a range of insulin pens. The tool captures injection data, which is saved to an app that is maintained on either a smartphone or computer.

3D Printing Takes Center Stage 

3D printing is an area that presents new ways to utilize studies captured by 3D, CT, and MRI modalities. Carestream, for instance, recently announced an agreement with Belgium-based Materialise that enables clinicians to create an anatomical model from a 3D file generated by our Clinical Collaboration Platform.

Such models allow surgeons and other specialists to develop a deeper insight into each patient’s anatomy. In fact, they can simulate and evaluate several different treatment options to determine which one can deliver the best outcome for each patient. Also, a series of models can simulate the same organ with differing anatomical differences. These models can help surgeons learn how to evaluate each patient and determine the best way to perform a procedure.

Furthermore, surgeons also can use the models to describe the procedure to their patients and address any questions they might have. Clincial education is another application for 3D printing.

Finally, we can expect emerging technologies to continue to create new ways to evaluate and enhance the delivery of healthcare. Being able to better predict, evaluate, and treat each patient’s condition may allow individuals to enjoy a more active and fulfilling life—with the added potential of greater longevity.

Robert Dostie is senior director of worldwide sales, CRM Enablement and marketing at Rochester, N.Y.-based Carestream Health.