Health IT Roundup—Facebook plans to launch blood donation tool in the U.S.; Healthcare coalition lays out AI policy recommendations

Facebook is gearing up to launch a feature, already available in four countries, in the U.S. market that will help coordinate blood donations. (Pinkypills/Getty Images)

New Facebook feature will help connect U.S. hospitals, blood banks with blood donors

Facebook is gearing up to launch a feature, already available in four countries, in the U.S. market that will help coordinate blood donations, according to Business Insider. Launched in 2017 in India, Facebook's blood donation tool has expanded to Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil. More than 35 million Facebook users have signed up.

The current version of the tool enables users to interact directly with one another to coordinate blood donations. Local experts in India raised serious concerns about the tool, including that it contributes to the black market for blood.

In the U.S., the tool will be available to organizations like hospitals, blood banks, and the American Red Cross to put out requests for donations on the social media platform. Facebook users who identify themselves as donors will be notified when there's a local need for blood. (Business Insider)

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Connected Health Initiative publishes policy principles for AI in healthcare

An artificial intelligence task force within the Connected Health Initiative (CHI), part of the trade group ACT | The App Association, has laid out broad recommendations (PDF) to guide policymakers forward in addressing the role of AI in healthcare. Given the significant role of the government in the regulation, delivery, and payment of healthcare, as well as its role as steward of significant amounts of patient data, a federal healthcare AI strategy will be “vital” to achieving the promise that AI offers to patients and the healthcare sector, the task force said.

Among its recommendations, the CHI task force said a national healthcare AI policy framework should utilize risk-based approaches to ensure that the use of AI in healthcare aligns with recognized standards of safety, efficacy, and equity, and should include strong privacy and security protections, including enhanced protection from discrimination based on pre-existing conditions or genomic information. CHI wants its policy principles to contribute to public debate on the role of AI in healthcare and plans to target policymakers with an education campaign through public briefings, events, and meetings. (Report—PDF)

CommonWell Health Alliance expanding on-ramp to data exchange network

Health IT vendors and healthcare providers that are not members of the CommonWell Health Alliance can now connect to the CommonWell interoperability network through intermediaries, or CommonWell members who provide integration platforms and services.

CommonWell announced this week the launch of its CommonWell Connector program, which enables electronic health records (EHRs) companies, health IT vendors, and healthcare providers that want to leverage the network and its services through a CommonWell Connector.

Those EHR companies that link up via a connector wouldn't be required to become a CommonWell member or certify their products on its network, because the member serving as the connector will have a certified product and act as an intermediary.

The first members to become CommonWell Connectors are Health Gorilla, which plans to begin offering the connection in early summer, and InterSystems, which plans to offer it later this year. (Announcement)

CHIME supports adoption of 5G networks to advance health IT

In comments to the Senate Commerce subcommittee on health, industry association CHIME (the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives) voiced strong support for the adoption of high-speed wireless networks, noting that removing today's bandwidth limitations would support telehealth and remote monitoring as well as augmented and artificial intelligence and big data.

Untethering patients from the capabilities of a traditional network will alter patient engagement and mitigate existing access challenges, CHIME wrote, and faster speeds combined with cloud-based storage will enable advanced digital networks to generate and leverage large quantities of data. "There's no question that the infusion of 5G into healthcare will enhance access to care while decreasing costs and improving efficiency," CHIME wrote.

96% of health systems plan to expand virtual care services

With recent changes in telemedicine reimbursement, health systems may be looking to ramp up virtual care services. A recent survey found that 96% of health systems are planning to expand their virtual care services in the next year, with only 3.5% stating they have no firm plans.

The survey, conducted by Zipnosis, found that health system leaders are interested in using virtual services to address behavioral health (40%), as well as chronic disease detection and management (16%). The vast number of respondents use virtual care to treat simple and more common conditions, with more than 50% reporting that they use their virtual care solutions to treat upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, cough, and pinkeye. (Survey)

Teladoc most popular healthcare app in 2018

Teladoc, the mobile app that connects consumers to a licensed doctor, takes the top spot as the most popular healthcare app, shooting up 280% in the past two years to blow past apps from household-name traditional providers, according to a report from Okta.

It’s the first time a telemedicine platform has taken the top spot among healthcare apps, according to the fifth annual report, which looks at the most popular and fastest-growing apps across multiple industries. The next most popular healthcare apps were Aetna Health Insurance, Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem, Delta Dental, and Blue Cross. Rounding out the bottom of the top 10 were Kaiser, Blue Shield, and Zocdoc. (Report)