46 episodes

Health Tech is a GeekWire podcast that explores the cutting edge of digital health. On each episode, we bring you stories about innovative technologies for patients, doctors and more, giving you a window into the future of health. Our fifth season is sponsored by Premera Blue Cross. Learn more about Premera here: http://bit.ly/2rSK8mT

GeekWire Health Tec‪h‬ GeekWire

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    • 3.7 • 3 Ratings

Health Tech is a GeekWire podcast that explores the cutting edge of digital health. On each episode, we bring you stories about innovative technologies for patients, doctors and more, giving you a window into the future of health. Our fifth season is sponsored by Premera Blue Cross. Learn more about Premera here: http://bit.ly/2rSK8mT

    Testing a new COVID-19 test

    Testing a new COVID-19 test

    GeekWire editor Todd Bishop: On a cold, clear weekday morning last month, my quest to figure out whether I had COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic took me to my back porch, where a mobile phlebotomist drew my blood. It had been 10 months since I was sick, and I had already received a negative result on a standard antibody test. 

    That earlier test was designed to detect the presence of the antibodies produced by the body’s immune system to ward off the virus that causes COVID-19. The negative result meant I probably didn't have COVID back in March. But given the possibility of a false negative in the antibody test, I wasn’t giving up that easily. And this test was different.

    This was a first-of-its kind diagnostic tool from Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies, a company that develops technology to sequence the human immune system for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. T-cells are specialized cells that determine the human immune system’s response to disease.

    Adaptive says tell-tale signs of T-cell responses to specific diseases can be detected earlier and longer than antibody responses, and with a higher degree of accuracy.

    Adaptive Biotechnologies’ new test, called T-Detect COVID, was developed in partnership with Microsoft officially launched this week, under CLIA Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments federal regulations. The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing the T-Detect COVID test for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The test costs $150 plus lab fees.

    On this episode of the GeekWire Health Tech Podcast, we’ll talk with Lance Baldo, Adaptive's chief medical officer, to learn exactly how this test works, and what it could mean for diagnosing and treating a wide range of diseases. And yes, I’ll finally learn almost definitely, whether I had COVID or not. 

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 34 min
    'Data saves lives': U.S. health systems unite behind new startup

    'Data saves lives': U.S. health systems unite behind new startup

    A group of 14 U.S. health systems, representing tens of millions of patients across 40 states, will pool data using software developed by Seattle startup Truveta, leveraging artificial intelligence to search for medical breakthroughs and previously undetected patterns of inequity in healthcare.

    The company, led by former Microsoft Windows chief Terry Myerson, gave new details about its origins and plans Thursday morning, saying it has grown to 53 employees. Truveta emerged from stealth mode in October.

    Created and governed by the participating health systems, Truveta says its goal is to extract insights from large amounts of health data, using those insights to improve healthcare without sacrificing the privacy of patients. The health systems will use software developed by Truveta to remove personally identifying information from the data. In addition, the company says it will be able to provide researchers with statistically representative populations for studies and clinical trials.

    Appearing on this episode are Myerson, the Truveta CEO; and Dr. Rod Hochman, president and CEO of Providence, the Renton, Wash.-based health system where the initiative began.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 20 min
    Halo Effect: Amazon, privacy, and the future of health

    Halo Effect: Amazon, privacy, and the future of health

    GeekWire editor Todd Bishop: A few weeks ago, I started wearing a new health band. It regularly eavesdrops on my side of conversations, and it has a lot of opinions about them.

    “You had three phrases that sounded annoyed, irritated or disgusted," a section in the app reported on a recent evening, recapping my daily interactions. Not only that, but I had "one phrase that sounded stubborn or condescending.”

    Another feature invites me to strip down to my underwear for a picture.

    "Find a well-lit area and try to avoid light from behind," a voice from the app instructed me as it prepared to conduct a high-tech, 3D body scan. "Change into minimal clothing so the camera can see your body.”

    Yes, as you might have guessed by now, this is the Amazon Halo band and subscription service, part of the tech giant’s big move into health and wellness.

    Thanks to its revelations, I am now painfully aware of my tone of voice, and more empathetic toward my family and friends who have to put up with me. I've informed the Amazon team of a feature request from my wife, who would like to receive an emailed report on my tone of voice at the end of each day.

    As for the body scan, let's just say this is one image that I won't be publishing with this story, and you're welcome.

    You might have seen reviews of Halo. The Washington Post’s Geoffrey A. Fowler and Heather Kelly wrote that it “collects the most intimate information we’ve seen from a consumer health gadget — and makes the absolute least use of it.”

    Based on my own experience, I agree with the first point, but not the second. Yes, Halo pushes the limits of my comfort zone at times. I have yet to get the motivation to take a second body scan after the first experience. But I have also started to rely on several of the features, including the in-depth sleep analysis and the tone assessment — two big areas where I personally have lots of room for improvement. 

    The band is comfortable to wear, and the programs in the app are useful. Just this week I boosted my time in deep sleep after doing a recommended progressive muscle relaxation exercise available in the Halo app before bed.

    And despite concerns from U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and others about the personal data Halo collects, I've found Amazon to be transparent about what it's doing, and clear in enabling me as the user to choose to participate, or not, in the more invasive aspects of the app. Yet Amazon could be doing even more to build trust.

    On this episode of the GeekWire Health Tech Podcast, we explore the future of health — and test the limits of personal privacy — through Amazon’s new health band and service. We talk with the principal medical officer on the Amazon Halo team to get the inside details on what the company is doing, and we hear an outside assessment of Amazon’s privacy and security promises from an independent expert.

    Episode edited and produced by Josh Kerns of Cypress Point Strategic Communications.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 30 min
    COVID-19: After the vaccine

    COVID-19: After the vaccine

    To say that Dr. Brad Younggren has a unique perspective on COVID-19 would be an understatement -- because he actually has multiple perspectives.

    Dr. Younggren is the chief medical officer at Seattle-based healthcare startup 98point6, which has seen interest in its on-demand virtual care service skyrocket amid the pandemic. He's also an emergency physician, and the medical director for emergency preparedness, at EvergreenHealth Medical Center, in Kirkland, Wash., the first hospital in the country to manage an influx of COVID-19 patients earlier this year.

    And he has been on the front lines before, literally, as a former U.S. Army physician who earned a Bronze Star and the Combat Medic Badge for his service in Iraq.

    So it was with a sense of hope and cautious optimism that he received his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine last week, along with his Evergreen colleagues.

    "It's been an intense year, working through this massive growth at 98point6, and seeing how we can support the country at scale," he said. "Then the individual work, taking care of patients at Evergreen, has definitely been tasking at times. It's been an emotional experience just to see the light at the end of the tunnel — that sense of hope that comes from interval change in how we're managing this pandemic."

    With cases surging in the U.S., Younggren and his colleagues are careful to note that we're not out of the woods yet. But even when the world can put the pandemic into the history books, COVID-19's impact on the science and technology of healthcare will endure.

    He drew parallels between his time serving in the military and the past year in the pandemic, in terms of its impact on people working in healthcare.

    There's a "battle rhythm you develop, because you're basically on all the time, and there's a level of fatigue that comes from that kind of work," he said. "We're seeing a lot written about the impact of COVID-19 on the healthcare worker, and not just the physicians, the nurses and the janitors and the people who are cleaning the rooms. It's impacting the entire healthcare system. These are very stressful times from that perspective."

    Younggren reflects on the past year, and talks about what's next, on this episode of GeekWire's Health Tech Podcast.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 31 min
    Wait, was that COVID?!

    Wait, was that COVID?!

    Did you get really sick in the first few months of the year? Do you wonder if it was COVID-19? You're not alone. 

    On the Season 5 premiere of the GeekWire Health Tech Podcast, we revisit the early days of the pandemic in an effort to figure out a mysterious illness, with help from experts at the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and ZoomCare. We come away with a deeper understanding of the nuances of COVID-19 testing, and insights into how the outbreak is changing the detection and treatment of disease.

    Hosted and produced by GeekWire editor Todd Bishop, with guests Dr. Erik Vanderlip, ZoomCare chief medical officer, and Dr. Alex Greninger, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at the University of Washington Medical Center.

    Season 5 of the GeekWire Health Tech Podcast is sponsored by Premera Blue Cross.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 32 min
    Inside the boom in remote patient monitoring

    Inside the boom in remote patient monitoring

    The last time we caught up with Pillsy co-founders Jeff LeBrun and Chuks Onwuneme, three years ago, they were focused on their flagship product, a smart pill bottle that sounds an alarm if people forget to take their pills.

    But that was just one example of the broader trend of remote patient monitoring -- technology that helps medical professionals keep tabs on the status of patients at home, day in and day out, not just during periodic visits to the doctor’s office. Even before COVID-19 led to a boom in telehealth, LeBrun says, the need for better remote patient monitoring was becoming clear to Medicare officials, due to an aging population and a limited supply of health care workers.

    "There's been over a decade of research showing that remote patient monitoring has led to improved health outcomes and reduced costs," LeBrun says. "With a system that's already stretched thin, they knew that they needed to use more technology to try to handle this coming load of care that they would need to provide over the next 10 years. And so I think we're really just at the tip of the iceberg. Certainly what we're seeing now is accelerating that approach."

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 20 min

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