Nanox aims to silence naysayers with digital X-ray demonstration; Olive acquires Verata Health; and more digital health news briefs

Also: The U.S. Government Accountability Office and the National Academy of Medicine outline policy options for healthcare AI; Click Therapeutics secures $30M in debt financing.
By Dave Muoio
02:45 pm
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A mock-up of the Nanox.ARC prototype.

Put your X-ray where your mouth is. After fielding accusations of fraud that temporarily damaged the value of its stock, digital X-ray-imaging company Nanox gave a highly publicized live (but virtual) demonstration of its imaging technology at the Radiology Society of North America's annual meeting.

The demo – a recording of which Nanox said will be available to the public later today from the investors portion of its website – appeared to show the Nanox.ARC prototype generating multiple imaging modalities, such as 2D X-ray and tomosynthesis.

In a concurrent statement, Ran Poliakine, the company's CEO and chairman, also highlighted deployment agreements for "more than 5,100 Nanox.ARC units throughout service providers in numerous countries, and, pending local regulatory approvals and customer acceptance, we believe we can begin deployments as early as mid-year 2021.”

While prior critiques from short sellers in September had cut the company's share value down by a third, the company has gradually won back those losses in the time since. The price has fluctuated this week between $49 and $67. It took an immediate hit of roughly 10% upon the start of the demonstration, but has since pushed back into the mid-$60 range this afternoon.


A busy week for AI automation. The same week that it unveiled a $225.5 million funding round, healthcare administrative-task-automation startup Olive announced that is has acquired Verata Health, a fellow artificial intelligence company that specializes in automatic prior authorization through an EHR. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Over 60 employees and key executives will be joining Olive's team, bringing its head count to roughly 500 employees. Olive said that it plans to integrate Verata's technology and provide its customers with an end-to-end prior authorization offering that it said will reduce write-offs by more than 40% and cut down prior authorization turnaround-time by as much as 80%.

"We started Verata to have an impact on patients and providers across the country," Verata CEO Dr. Jeremy Friese, who will now be serving as president for the payer market at Olive, said in a statement. "Combining our AI solution with Olive's creates the leading platform to solve prior authorization on 'both ends of the fax machine' at providers and payers to drive impact for millions of patients."


Report outlines policy options for healthcare AI. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) recently published a 106-page report detailing the opportunities and challenges they see for healthcare AI.

For the former, the government and non-profit organizations saw major potential benefits for clinical tools that could predict patients' trajectories and recommend appropriate treatments, but noted that these systems have so far only seen wide adoption as population health management tools. On the administrative side, a varying range of tools is offloading provider burdens through automation and optimization.

On the other end of the spectrum, the groups listed transparency, unintended bias, privacy and uncertainty regarding liability as major obstacles that are either limiting AI's adoption or undercutting its potential benefits. The groups then developed a list of policy options that are designed to address these challenges.

"AI has promising applications in health care, including in augmenting patient care. For example, it may have the potential to improve treatment, reduce burden on providers and generally increase the efficiency with which health care facilities and providers use resources, resulting in potential cost savings or health gains," GAO Director Karen L. Howard and NAM executive director of the NAM Leadership Consortium wrote in a foreword.

"However, as might be expected with a tool with such broad potential use in health and health care decision-making, applying AI tools for health and health care also raises ethical, legal, economic, and social questions."


$30M debt financing for Click Therapeutics. Prescription digital therapeutics company Click Therapeutics announced this week that it has secured $30 million in debt financing from K2 HealthVentures in an effort to further its pipeline and accelerate commercialization of its Clickotine smoking-cessation product. The company also said that it has also recently hit internal milestones that included locking down "significant" distribution partners for the therapeutic product.

"Click’s platform-based approach enables targeting of a wide variety of different indications, and its multiple commercial and co-development collaborations support a global reach,” Parag Shah, founding managing director and CEO of K2 HealthVentures, said in a statement. “This investment furthers our strategy of partnering with transformative life sciences and healthcare companies with world class management that [aims] to improve individual outcomes and enhance public health more broadly.”

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