Home / Tech Insider / Science / DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Digital health wins big in new US spending bill — Dentists can use AI to spot tooth decay — Mobile app could help fight opioid crisis

DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Digital health wins big in new US spending bill — Dentists can use AI to spot tooth decay — Mobile app could help fight opioid crisis

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NEW US SPENDING BILL PAVES THE WAY FOR BROADER TELEHEALTH
ADOPTION:
 On Friday, US President Donald Trump
signed a new spending bill into law that could provide massive
tailwinds for the expansion of digital health solutions, such as
telehealth,
according
to Healthcare IT News. This is likely the first
time a complete spending package that expands telehealth access
to Medicare beneficiaries has been passed, HIMSS senior director
of congressional affairs Samantha Burch said. Budget
appropriators will have until March 23 to designate how the
budget will be allocated.

Why is this important?

The new spending bill includes the CHRONIC
Care Act
, which extends and expands the delivery of
telehealth to Medicare Advantage (MA) beneficiaries from 2020
onward. It will vastly improve access to telehealth options for
the more than 19 million consumers in the US enrolled in MA.
Telehealth includes things like virtual care, telemedicine, and
remote patient monitoring, which can help physicians and patients
better monitor chronic illnesses — the leading cause of death and
disability in the US, according
to the CDC.

How will this impact the digital health
industry?

Chronic illnesses are the biggest strain on the healthcare
industry,
accounting
for 86% of the $2.7 trillion spent in annual
health care costs in the US in 2014 alone. Aging populations and
the ongoing decline in direct care workers means this strain is
only getting worse. Broadening the use of telemedicine could help
reduce these costs, by enabling patients to connect more
frequently with their physicians and care providers, without
having to travel.

Moreover, the new bill addresses some of the gaps in telemedicine
reimbursement, which could help drive an uptick in provider
adoption and usage of telehealth technology — reimbursement is a
top barrier preventing extensive provider adoption of telehealth
and telemedicine. For example, the new bill would expand access
to stroke telemedicine services, meaning that providers would get
reimbursed for neurological consultations via telemedicine,
something that wasn’t covered by MA in the past, FierceHealthcare
notes.

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AI HELPS DENTISTS PINPOINT PROBLEM AREAS ON
X-RAYS:
  ParallelDots, the artificial intelligence
(AI) company, has started the clinical deployment of its
cloud-based AI application, Dentistry.AI, for detecting cavities
on dental x-rays, according to the Chicago Evening Post. The
solution integrates with commonly used imaging software by
dental clinics to automatically access patient x-rays.
Dentistry.AI then pinpoints areas that have a high
probability of dental caries, also referred to as tooth
decay. Dentists can use this feedback to focus on these problem
areas when further examining the patient. The tool can be used
to improve what is a relatively flawed process —
studies have found that 20%-40% of cavities are undetected in a
typical clinical setting, even when dentists use digital
radiography. Dentistry.AI could help reduce costs
associated with complications from missed cavities or
the need to run more tests in the future — total US dental
expenditures have increased 7% from 2014 to reach $124 billion in
2016, according
to the American Dental Association. That’s after several years of
being flat. 

MOBILE MEDICATION MANAGEMENT APP COULD HELP COMBAT OPIOID
OVERPRESCRIBING:
DrFirst, a provider of electronic
prescription and medication management solutions, launched

mobile app that allows physicians
to prescribe drugs and controlled substances while complying with
state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) requirements.
The app also gives providers access to 24-months of patients’
medication history, insurance information, and PDMP
databases. Having this 
information
easily accessible will enable physicians to save time during
the prescribing process, increase medication adherence, and
provide more informed care to combat opioid overprescribing.
Digital solutions like this will continue to garner interest from
the medical community as solving the opioid crisis remains a
major goal for the entire country — in the US, more than 1,000
people are admitted to emergency rooms due to
opioid addiction each day, according to data from CDC cited
by DrFirst.

RESEARCHERS USE AI TO AUTOMATE READING RADIOLOGY
REPORTS:
 Researchers at the Icahn School of
Medicine at Mount Sinai have trained a machine learning algorithm
to understand clinical concepts in a radiology report,
according
to HIT Consultant. The researchers used more than
96,000 radiologist reports to train the computer software, which
encapsulated the variety of language used in reports, according
to the study published last week in the journal Radiology. The
study could lay the foundation for the training of future AI
systems to read medical reports. The information in the reports
can be turned into data, which can help the AI provide clinical
decision support for physicians. This is just the latest example
of how providers and payers are turning to AI to improve workflow
efficiency, mitigate unnecessary hospital visits, and better
engage patients. And while the adoption of AI in healthcare is
still very nascent, it continues to gain momentum. Healthcare AI
VC deal volume and funding hit a five-year high in 2016, with
almost $800 million in investments across 90 deals, according to
TM Capital.



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