AI Talk: Medical innovations, MinuteClinic, activity trackers and Google Maps

Nov. 1, 2019 / By V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD

This week’s AI Talk…

Top-10 medical innovations

Last week, Cleveland Clinic released their latest ranking of the top 10 innovations that will shape clinical care in 2020. The ranking is an annual event and selection is based on rigorous examination of over 150 nominations. The final selections that made this year’s list are all related to therapeutics—almost all of them are FDA approved drugs to treat various conditions: osteoporosis, a particular form of cardiomyopathy (cardiovascular disorder), peanut allergy, cholesterol lowering in statin-resistant patients, ovarian cancer and diastolic heart failure. In addition, some were related to medical devices—one that cloaked an implantable device in a sack of antibiotics to prevent infection after implant, and another that is a closed-loop stimulation of the spinal cord as an alternative to opioids for treating chronic pain. Just the fact that Cleveland Clinic looked at 150 innovations is heartening! I didn’t see the complete list anywhere. Last year’s top 10 included a broad category—the advent of AI in health care!

MinuteClinic Video Visits

It seems like everywhere I turn there is another company getting into the telehealth arena! I saw an announcement from CVS that they are getting into this in a big way. CVS has over 1,100 retail clinics, called MinuteClinic, to address minor concerns. Using the telehealth platform from Teladoc, participants can schedule and engage in visits via a video call from their smart phones. This new service has been dubbed MinuteClinic Video Visits. Now that they’ve acquired Aetna, CVS plans to roll out 1,500 Health Hubs by 2021, which will complement their digital footprint for telehealth visits by providing in-store access to a variety of healthcare services.

Activity Trackers

I saw this article in Futurity about the predictive power of activity trackers uncovered in research reported in the Journal of Gerontology. The study collected data from 2003-2006 about 3,000 participants who wore a hip accelerometer (the ones that count your steps) for a period of seven days. The patients were then followed for the next decade. The surprising result? The activity level in those seven days was a better predictor of five-year mortality than any other predictor currently in use—about 30 of them! They also discovered the level of midday activity (or the lack of it) was a good predictor of mortality! Hmm—that is my usual time to take my 20-minute nap!

Your brain on Google Maps

I saw a reference to this article in the daily download section of MIT Technology Review. It’s an article in Scientific American. The author, a resident of Istanbul, explains how navigation apps changed his outlook. Istanbul is a particularly difficult city to navigate with a lot of very old streets merging with new ones in a three-dimensional topography. Perhaps we can compare it to Pittsburgh? Istanbul is of course, at least a few millennia older. The author states these apps perhaps weaken traditional navigational skills but they are replaced with an ability to explore new places with confidence! I don’t remember the last time I really used a road map, but I used to get these little booklets from AAA called Triptiks whenever we went on our vacation. These days I have no idea what I would do without my favorite navigational app Waze. And, every time I drive up to Pittsburgh from Morgantown, depending on the traffic, I have taken routes which I am sure the native Pittsburgher is unaware off! Up and down and backwards and forwards to avoid some traffic jam or other—it makes the whole process of reaching the destination a whole lot more interesting! Perhaps this is what the author of this article is referring to. You lose the ability to navigate, but you end up seeing areas you never dreamed of seeing!

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V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD, is Director of Research for 3M M*Modal and is an AI Evangelist with four decades of experience in AI and Computer Science research.