Health News

Howard University, AARP launch pilots addressing diabetes through tech

In Washington, D.C., the life-expectancy gap between neighborhoods is as large as 27 years, according to the Department of Population Health at the New York University School of Medicine. 

For Nigel Smith, director of the AARP Innovation Labs, this enormous divide – which is strongly linked with racial and ethnic segregation – presented a question: “Can some of these emerging technologies potentially be a [solution] for massive health issues?”

“When we look at the big health challenges – coronary disease, hearing loss … the current solutions just weren’t addressing them enough,” said Smith. “It was not an even playing field.”

As part of exploring those solutions, the AARP recently partnered with the Howard University College of Medicine to pilot two new programs aimed at addressing diabetes and medication management in people older than 50. 

“We recognize a significant need in our patient population,” said Michael Crawford, associate dean for strategy, outreach and innovation at Howard University College of Medicine. The pilots are being conducted under Howard’s 1867 Health Innovations Project, which collaborates with stakeholders such as the AARP to foster initiatives aimed at addressing health challenges among medically underserved communities.

“The innovation that has been occurring in healthcare hasn’t trickled down to these populations,” said Crawford.

For the two clinical pilot projects, which start this week, Howard recruited a total of approximately 30 individuals from its existing patient population to participate over a period of 90 days. The first tool, as Crawford described it, is a facial and voice-recognition device manufactured by the artificial intelligence vendor Pillo that enables video calls to the provider and reminds patients to take their medication.

The second program is a digital online-health community, where patients are paired with other individuals struggling with diabetes.

“The real thing we’re trying to evaluate in that scenario is peer support groups,” Crawford said, whether online-only models are more efficacious than in-person education groups, or “should they work together in parallel?”

The research team will use the Morisky Medication Adherence Scale and measurements of hemoglobin A1C levels to track the success of the project. Patients will also be given a survey about whether the technology helped with their diabetes management.

Subsequent pilots, said Crawford, will involve virtual and mixed augmented reality, artificial intelligence, passive and active monitoring, and music therapy, among other digital tools. They will aim to address other conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, genetic disorders, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

“We have a pipeline of different things we want to look at over the next year,” said Smith.

Smith said that, overall, he’s optimistic about the opportunity to improve health outcomes among vulnerable communities – particularly given the glaring inequities spotlighted by COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black and brown people. 

“I am so hopeful about the impact this can have,” he said. 

As a Howard alumnus himself, he said, “It feels like if anyone is gonna do this the right way, it feels like Howard is the right organization to do this with. I’m excited about the collaboration.”

Through these kinds of projects, Crawford said, “we believe we will help improve access to care, improve outcomes and hopefully be able to reduce the cost of care.”


Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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Hasty rush to cloud hosting during COVID-19 crisis could set stage for 'cyberpandemic'

“The COVID-19 pandemic is spurring adoption of cloud services across all industries as they rapidly pivot to support remote work and collaboration. This is particularly true for healthcare providers at the front line as they leverage remote access and cloud analytics to scale operations. While the pandemic will likely dissipate, the long-term impact for healthcare providers is likely to be profound – leaving business leaders and security professionals tasked with protecting an attack surface that to date has been uncharted.”

That’s according to the new 2020 Spotlight Report on Healthcare, a study from security vendor Vectra, which develops network threat-detection and response technology.

According to the report, the rush to scale up cloud services in order to manage the myriad new demands imposed by pandemic carries risks, given healthcare providers’ “sudden and rapid” shift toward remote hosting as they seek to support big telehealth expansions and work-from-home accommodations.

“Healthcare providers have been tasked with quickly leveraging remote access and cloud analytics to scale their operations,” explained Chris Morales, head of security analytics at Vectra, in a statement.

“While cloud computing better optimizes the use of resources in healthcare, it also creates significant risks. This is especially true when cloud adoption happens faster than proper due diligence can be applied by information security personnel. This trend will persist well after the pandemic.”

The quick shift toward cloud hosting, often done in a hurry, without enough due diligence around vendors and configurations, means IT and infosec teams now have a much larger threat surface to safeguard, according to the Vectra report.

Going forward, even as the pandemic hopefully one day subsides, that will require heightened levels of vigilance and cross-enterprise collaboration, and may demand new strategies for ensuring adequate visibility into where health data resides.

In a quote from the Vectra report, UK-based David Willis, head of cyber, governance and assurance at the NHS Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, noted that his organization had seen a “stark and sudden growth in data movement outside of our organization’s traditional boundaries.”

That increase, he said, is “most likely due to how the NHS has traditionally worked in siloed data centers behind a firewall and has now shifted to the COVID-19 world of cloud-based collaboration.”

In its new report, Vectra took a close look at potentially threatening network behaviors such as command and control, internal reconnaissance, lateral movement and data exfiltration – and found these threats often to be connected to advantageous exploitation of cloud migration activities, rather than from pointed attacks, according to researchers.

Among some specific findings, they found a 38% increase in command-and-control behaviors from January to May, indicating remote access of internal systems by the remote workforce.

Researchers also noted a doubling of data exfiltration behaviors, pointing to data leaving internal healthcare networks to external destinations like cloud services. So-called smash-and grab behaviors, meanwhile, also increased significantly, which can occur with a medical device that sends large amounts of data to a hosted cloud site. Data-smuggler activity, which can occur when patient medical records are transferred to cloud storage, has also seen an uptick.

“While the use of cloud computing to optimize resources in the healthcare sector has great potential, there are also risks,” said Vectra researchers. “This is especially true when cloud adoption happens faster than proper due diligence can be applied by information security.”

“COVID-19 has accelerated the roadmap for cloud adoption faster than most organizations can ensure the secure transition data to cloud services,” said Morales in a blog post. “This leaves healthcare security teams in a reactive mode as they try to identify new vulnerabilities and stop new threats rather than staying proactive to head-off the spread of potential attacks.

“The healthcare attack surface of unmanaged medical IoT devices is now compounded with an attack surface of unmanaged cloud services,” he added. “This is incredibly risky and represents a future cyberpandemic just waiting to happen.”

In a crisis, the “need for immediate response outweighs the normal policy oversight to ensure secure data-handling processes,” said Morales. But even once the coronavirus emergency has hopefully subsided, he suggested, healthcare security pros will still “likely struggle with managing the need for availability of patient information with the policy and controls required for securing and protecting that data in the cloud.”

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media

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Medical AI solutions company VUNO obtains CE Mark for five of its solutions

Founded in South Korea in 2014, medical AI solutions development company VUNO announced that they have received the Class IIa CE markings for five of their AI solutions. 

The five CE marked solutions are: 

  • VUNO Med –BoneAge – VUNO’s first regulatory approved product, which assists in assessing bone age based on a child’s left-hand X-ray image, reducing diagnosis time and improving accuracy.
  • VUNO Med -DeepBrain, which segments brain regions using brain MRI data and quantifies the volumes of each region to provide atrophy volumetrics against normative database and also generates an analysis report.
  • VUNO Med -Chest X-Ray, which greatly enhances the screening function of chest X-rays by detecting the most common thoracic findings and diseases through chest X-ray images that are difficult to be identified at an early stage.
  • VUNO Med –Fundus AI – it automatically detects a variety of lesions from the fundus image and quickly classifies them for diagnosis.
  • VUNO Med –LungCT AI, which detects and quantifies early on pulmonary nodules that can progress to lung cancer, and automatically categorizes Lung-RADS to efficiently manage multiple pulmonary nodules.

According to Vuno, these products can now be commercialized and sold in 27 member states of the European Union, the Acceding countries as well as EFTA states. They can also make inroads into countries that recognize the European CE mark such as those in the Middle East, Asia, South and Central America, and Africa.

Of the five MFDS (Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, South Korea) approved products, four products (VUNO Med-Fundus AI, VUNO Med-Chest X-ray, and VUNO Med – BoneAge and VUNO Med Lung CT AI) received regulatory approval based on the proven effectiveness of performance through clinical trials.


Earlier this month, Lunit, a South Korea-founded medical AI company which specializes in developing AI solutions for radiology and oncology said that its AI solution for breast cancer, Lunit INSIGHT MMG, has been CE certified, Healthcare IT News reported. 


“We have been taking proper measures to ensure that VUNO’s products obtain classification commensurate with their intended purposes as medical diagnostic supporting tools. In this sense, obtaining CE certification for all five products holds a great significance, and this will be able to accelerate our push for much anticipated global supply of VUNO Med series all around the world,” explained Hyun-Jun Kim, CEO, VUNO. 

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