Facial recognition app maker FDNA teams up with genetic testing companies and more digital health deals

By Heather Mack
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Two genetic testing companies are integrating the workflow of Boston startup FDNA, which makes a suite of apps for clinicians called Face2Gene that use facial analysis, artificial intelligence and genomic insights in hopes of improving diagnoses and treatment of rare diseases. Gaithersburg, Maryland-based GeneDx  – which focuses on rare hereditary disorders – and San Francisco, Helsink and Dubai-based Blueprint Genetics will both have access to FDNA’s phenotypic data. This will give clinicians the ability to send phenotypic data in near-real time directly to labs, possibly opening the door for precision medicine development.

“Trying to diagnose patients with genetic sequencing is like searching for a pin in a 22,000-needle haystack,” Dekel Gelbman, CEO of FDNA, said in a statement. “By providing accurate phenotypic and clinical data to the lab directly at the point of genetic interpretation, we are truly realizing the promise of precision medicine. And, with the power of artificial intelligence behind it, clinicians will be pointed toward potential diagnoses that they may have never otherwise considered. GeneDx and Blueprint Genetics are both examples of innovative and renowned labs adopting technology that will lead the way in pinpointing rare disease and promote further medical advancements.”

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Withings products are back on Apple Store shelves following the settlement of a patent lawsuit between Apple and Withings parent company Nokia. The announcement comes with a suggestion that the two companies could be working together on a digital health project now that their relationship is restored.

"This is a meaningful agreement between Nokia and Apple," Maria Varsellona, chief legal officer at Nokia, said in a statement. "It moves our relationship with Apple from being adversaries in court to business partners working for the benefit of our customers."

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​Santa Monica, California-based GoodRx, a medication cost transparency tool, is partnering with medication management software maker DrFirst in order to mitigate the impact of the high costs of medication adherence. As prices for medication can hinder patients from filling their prescriptions, the two companies will integrate their services to offer doctors and patients access to prescription price transparency and discounts.

"Most Americans assume that drug prices are regulated or fixed," GoodRx CEO and cofounder Doug Hirsch said in a statement. "That's simply not true. Prices vary wildly in drugstores that are literally across the street from each other. The skyrocketing cost of drugs is a primary reason why patients don't fill their prescriptions. Our goal is to serve as a consumer's advocate, providing them with the knowledge they need to make better choices when filling their prescriptions."

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BTG, a global pharmaceutical and device company that specializes in making less-invasive treatment options for cancer, has tapped patient engagement software company HealthLoop to offer patients a digital support platform called IO Loop. IO Loop is designed to help patients prepare for treatment, track and report symptoms, receive relevant treatment information as it happens, and access personalized follow-up care plans.

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Clinical Ink, a mobile clinical trial data collection company, has partnered with interactive response technology (IRT) provider endpoint Clinical. Together, the companies will integrate their technology to enabled clinicians to easily manage critical information through a single system per patient.

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Digital HR platform provider Zenefits is partnering with Aetna and a few other unnamed small group benefits providers as it begins integrating level payment, self-funded employee health plans into its platform.

“Employee benefits represent a huge investment for any business and can create an important competitive advantage,” Colin Rogers, vice president of carrier relations at Zenefits, said in a statement. “Quoting for level payment self-funded plans usually involves a slow, manual, paper-based process. In coordination with Aetna, Zenefits has developed a unique online and mobile workflow that streamlines the process and protects the confidentiality of employee personal health information.”