“We have a health privacy machine that’s in crisis. . . We have a law that only covers one source of health information. They are rapidly developing another source.”
University of Maryland Carey School of Law professor, Frank Pasquale, on health insurers’ growing reliance on “lifestyle” data analytics to guide their health insurance premium decisions.
The Imaging Wire
Race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth, debt, neighborhood, social media posts, and shopping habits all may affect your patients’ insurance premiums (and some think they already do). ProPublica and NPR explored how health insurers and “lifestyle” data brokers (including Optum, IBM Watson Health and LexisNexis) are teaming up to predict healthcare costs and potentially influence patient premiums, due in part to the fact that HIPPA keeps them from using actual medical information. This isn’t really a medical imaging story, but it certainly is a healthcare story, and provides an interesting glimpse into the potential future of patient privacy. It’s also the first in a series from ProPublica and NPR investigating how the health insurance industry maximizes its profits, so buckle up for that.
Lobbying to Improve Cybersecurity (and assign responsibility)
The American Medical Association and other industry groups called on congress to improve the cybersecurity of medical devices and EHRs, each with their own motives. The AMA garnered the greatest headlines, suggesting a policy that emphasizes transparency and education, incentivizes best practices, and adopts a more equal distribution of liability risk and government enforcement between physicians, technology vendors and manufacturers. Some readers may notice that AMA’s final note about liability is the star of this story, as the AMA and manufacturers have been battling over responsibility for the legacy installed base for several months. The AMA got more demanding with its latest testimony, noting that although legacy devices are vulnerable, hospitals can only afford to update 10% of all systems annually, suggesting that manufacturers take responsibility for adding security features and processes to protect legacy devices. Device lobbies pushed back, warning that support for legacy technology could create financial hardships and slow innovation, while radiologist lobbies urged “constraint.” And that’s where we are… still deep in the lobbying stage, but hopefully meeting somewhere in the middle before the next big cyberattack hits.
The New Self Exam
MonitHer, an Israel-based startup led by a former NASA bioscientist, is developing a new handheld ultrasound device intended to allow women to screen for breast cancer at home. The ultrasound will translate data to an app that monitors for changes every month. If pathological tissue changes are identified, the patient is notified and can use the app to send images to their doctor. Although the software is already FDA-approved and patented, the ultrasound hardware is still in development with commercialization expected in one to three years. The MonitHer device eliminates the subjectivity associated with self-exams and allows for more regular screening than mammograms, potentially making the device valuable to high-risk women, it just has to earn the support of physicians who have dealt with their patients’ WebMD self-diagnoses for the last 22 years.
- Despite popular opinion, secondary imaging interpretations aren’t denied very often. A team of researchers found that Medicare rarely denied secondary imaging interpretations between 2003 and 2016, and actually found significant increases in secondary interpretations for many modalities over the period. Chest R&F made up the bulk of secondary interpretations in 2016 (75.5% of all), while cardiac MRI (35.7% CAGR), breast MRI (33.1%), and abdominal and pelvic MRI (30.3%) saw the greatest growth during the 14-year period.
- Innovatus Imaging launched three US-based Centers of Excellence that will focus on developing new products and services, combining the knowledge and resources of its merging businesses (Bayer Multi Vendor Service, Wetsco and MD Medtech). The Centers will include an Ultrasound Transducer Repair Center (Tusla), an MRI and CR/DR Center (Pittsburgh), and an Engineering, Testing, Regulatory Compliance and Manufacturing Center (Denver).
- UCLA researchers developed a new graphene-based photodetector that works with more types of light than current technologies and has the potential to improve night vision, thermal sensing, and medical imaging due to its superior sensing and imaging.
- A survey of 146 US C-level hospital executives revealed an emphasis on cost cutting, with 62% respondents concerned with “preparing for sustainable cost control” and 56% of respondents concerned with “innovative approaches to expense reduction.” However, the next three were top-line focused, including “exploring diversified, innovative revenue streams” (56%), “boosting outpatient procedural market share” (50%), and “meeting rising consumer demands for services” (50%).
- Siemens Healthineers announced the availability of a range of its ultrasound systems through the US Defense Logistics Administration (DLA) electronic ordering catalog (ECAT), joining many Siemens’ other imaging products available through the DLA contract.
- A new study from University of Oxford explored the rising trend of “incidentalomas,” or when doctors discover unexpected abnormalities in their patients while performing imaging tests for a completely separate issue. The study found that “incidentalomas” are rarely cancerous, but nearly always create anxiety, and revealed that “incidentalomas” are most likely to be found during heart and chest CT scans (45% of all “incidentalomas”) .
- Purview announced the launch of Horos Cloud Reporting, available within the popular open source (and free) Horos DICOM viewer. Horos Cloud Reporting allows “reporting that can be customized into templates, saved, and shared with a single keystroke” for a $1.99 monthly subscription.
- SuperSonic announced the FDA and CE clearance of its Aixplorer Mach 30 smart ultrasound, updating the existing Aixplorer platform after several years of development, and achieving FDA/CE clearance three months after the device was first announced. The new model launches with improved usability, a new range of probes, and updated shearwave elastography software that increases speed and examination depth.
- A federal grand jury indicted the CEO of minimally invasive medical imaging device company, Sanovas, on three counts of money laundering and wire fraud, accusing the executive of siphoning money from his company for personal use and claiming that the cash was used for business activities (among other fraudulent acts).
- University of Alberta researchers developed a theoretical framework that allows the first direct acquisition of beam’s-eye-view (BEV) projection images in MRI, potentially overcoming a key challenge in current image-guided techniques.
The Resource Wire
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- Agfa Enterprise Imaging integrates clinical videos and images into a single application
- Analogic’s BK Ultrasound bkSpecto urology ultrasound system combines image quality, speed, usability, and small footprint
- Canon Aquilion Precision, the world’s first Ultra-High Resolution CT system
- Caresteam touts benefits of weight bearing CT imaging
- Fujifilm’s FDR AQRO mobile x-ray combines high sensitivity with small size and low-dos
- GE’s Every woman. Every body. Every town. roadshow brings the company’s breast health technologies and message to centers across the country.
- Hitachi white paper on the business benefits of high-field MRI.
- Hologic’s 3Dimension Mammography System leads with 3D imaging and patient comfort.
- IBM Watson Imaging Clinical Review cognitive data review tool for more accurate patient records.
- Konica Minolta publishes latest Kontours issue.
- Philips’ new HealthSuite Insights AI platform curates and analyzes healthcare data and offers tools to build and operate AI-based solutions.
- Samsung’s RS85A premium ultrasound combines image quality with advanced ergonomics
- Shimaduz MobileDaRt Evolution MX8 premium mobile x-ray
- Siemens’ new Somatom Go CTs add cardiac and image-guided capabilities