Digital health news briefs for 3/16/2017

By Dave Muoio
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Voice assistants are on the rise among European physicians with more than half of those practicing in major European countries either interested in or actively using these technologies, according to survey data collected by DRG Digital | Manhattan Research. According to the company, 56 percent of polled physicians said that they currently use or would like to use voice assistants in their work. Of these, 17 percent said that they already use voice assistant devices, although this portion rose to 24 percent in Spain.

Siri was the leading voice assistant, with two out of three physicians who use voice technology responding that Apple’s tech has a place in their practice. Use of Google Assistant was cited by half of the respondents, while Amazon’s Alexa was credited by just over a quarter of the physicians.

Dr. Lorie Harper, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, has received an award from the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine for a research proposal investigating the use of telemedicine to treat pregnant women in rural areas with opioid dependencies. Working with the Alabama Department of Health, Harper’s pilot will compare the effectiveness of in-person opioid agonist therapy to those delivered through telemedicine.

“The opioid epidemic disproportionally affects rural women in Alabama … and our goal with this research will be to measure the effectiveness of telemedicine in this population, specifically as it relates to improving birth outcomes for mothers and babies,” Harper said in a statement. “We’re working to reduce health disparities that impact mothers across our state and provide quality care that can help these women lead healthy pregnancies and lives.”

An investigation recently conducted at four Veterans Affairs hospitals presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual conference found that disposable wearable sensors could provide early detection of potential rehospitalization due to heart failure. The study, which monitored 100 patients over a three-month period, suggests that the sensors were of comparable accuracy to implanted devices, offering an alternative to invasive rehospitalization prevention strategies.

The Intelligent Fingerprinting’s Drug Screening System, a portable fingerprint-based drug test, is now available in Australia and New Zealand following a distribution agreement between the manufacturer and Melbourne-based Henley Health. Unlike many urine or saliva-based tests, the sweat-driven fingerprint test is quick, cost-effective, easy to administer, and can screen for multiple drug groups.

“We see fingerprint-based drug testing as a valuable addition to Henley Health’s existing suite of products as it gives us a particularly versatile and effective means of supporting our customers’ drug screening requirements,” Kevin Walsh, executive director at Henley Health, said in a statement.