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NCCN Shares Latest Expert Recommendations for Prostate Cancer in Spanish and Portuguese

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

Currently many biomedical texts and US government agency guidelines are only offered in English or only offered in different languages upon request. However Spanish is spoken in a majority of countries worldwide and medical text in that language would serve as an under-served need. In addition, Portuguese is the main language in the largest country in South America, Brazil.

The LPBI Group and others have noticed this need for medical translation to other languages. Currently LPBI Group is translating their medical e-book offerings into Spanish (for more details see https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/vision/)

Below is an article on The National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s decision to offer their cancer treatment guidelines in Spanish and Portuguese.

Source: https://www.nccn.org/home/news/newsdetails?NewsId=2871

PLYMOUTH MEETING, PA [8 September, 2021] — The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®)—a nonprofit alliance of leading cancer centers in the United States—announces recently-updated versions of evidence- and expert consensus-based guidelines for treating prostate cancer, translated into Spanish and Portuguese. NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) feature frequently updated cancer treatment recommendations from multidisciplinary panels of experts across NCCN Member Institutions. Independent studies have repeatedly found that following these recommendations correlates with better outcomes and longer survival.

“Everyone with prostate cancer should have access to care that is based on current and reliable evidence,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, Chief Executive Officer, NCCN. “These updated translations—along with all of our other translated and adapted resources—help us to define and advance high-quality, high-value, patient-centered cancer care globally, so patients everywhere can live better lives.”

Prostate cancer is the second most commonly occurring cancer in men, impacting more than a million people worldwide every year.[1] In 2020, the NCCN Guidelines® for Prostate Cancer were downloaded more than 200,000 times by people outside of the United States. Approximately 47 percent of registered users for NCCN.org are located outside the U.S., with Brazil, Spain, and Mexico among the top ten countries represented.

“NCCN Guidelines are incredibly helpful resources in the work we do to ensure cancer care across Latin America meets the highest standards,” said Diogo Bastos, MD, and Andrey Soares, MD, Chair and Scientific Director of the Genitourinary Group of The Latin American Cooperative Oncology Group (LACOG). The organization has worked with NCCN in the past to develop Latin American editions of the NCCN Guidelines for Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer, Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, Prostate Cancer, Multiple Myeloma, and Rectal Cancer, and co-hosted a webinar on “Management of Prostate Cancer for Latin America” earlier this year. “We appreciate all of NCCN’s efforts to make sure these gold-standard recommendations are accessible to non-English speakers and applicable for varying circumstances.”

NCCN also publishes NCCN Guidelines for Patients®, containing the same treatment information in non-medical terms, intended for patients and caregivers. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients: Prostate Cancer were found to be among the most trustworthy sources of information online according to a recent international study. These patient guidelines have been divided into two books, covering early and advanced prostate cancer; both have been translated into Spanish and Portuguese as well.

NCCN collaborates with organizations across the globe on resources based on the NCCN Guidelines that account for local accessibility, consideration of metabolic differences in populations, and regional regulatory variation. They can be downloaded free-of-charge for non-commercial use at NCCN.org/global or via the Virtual Library of NCCN Guidelines App. Learn more and join the conversation with the hashtag #NCCNGlobal.


[1] Bray F, Ferlay J, Soerjomataram I, Siegel RL, Torre LA, Jemal A. Global Cancer Statistics 2018: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin, in press. The online GLOBOCAN 2018 database is accessible at http://gco.iarc.fr/, as part of IARC’s Global Cancer Observatory.

About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of leading cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can live better lives. The NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) provide transparent, evidence-based, expert consensus recommendations for cancer treatment, prevention, and supportive services; they are the recognized standard for clinical direction and policy in cancer management and the most thorough and frequently-updated clinical practice guidelines available in any area of medicine. The NCCN Guidelines for Patients® provide expert cancer treatment information to inform and empower patients and caregivers, through support from the NCCN Foundation®. NCCN also advances continuing educationglobal initiativespolicy, and research collaboration and publication in oncology. Visit NCCN.org for more information and follow NCCN on Facebook @NCCNorg, Instagram @NCCNorg, and Twitter @NCCN.

Please see LPBI Group’s efforts in medical text translation and Natural Language Processing of Medical Text at

Standard Operating Procedures for Updating the Map of LPBI India

Author: Srinivas Sriram

Co-Author: Abhisar Anand 

To update the map of LPBI India, there are two major steps that are involved that use two different softwares. The softwares are:

  1. Zee Maps (For actually Creating the Map with Landmarks)
  2. Google Slides (For processing the map and making it look nice and downloadable as JPG). 

This SOP Article will delve into how to update the map of LPBI India that is currently created on these softwares in the case that the map needs to be updated for new members of LPBI India or members who leave LPBI India. 

  1. Go to https://www.zeemaps.com/
  2. Click on the “Sign In” button on the Top Right Corner:
  1. Sign in to Zee Maps with the following credentials:
    1. Email: lpbimap@gmail.com
    2. Password: (Get the Password from Dr. Lev-Ari)
  2. Once you are signed in, Click on the “MyMaps” page:
  3. Click on “LPBI India Map” to edit the Map:
  1. Now, you are in the Map. To see all the current landmarks of LPBI India Members, Click on the Side Bar at the very right of the page.

  1. Now, you can see all the current members of LPBI India who are on the Map. 
  2. To add a new person to the map, do the following:
    1. Click on the “Additions” section in the menu on the Left Side of the Page.
    2. Click on “Add Marker – Simple”.
    3. For Entry Name, Give the Name of the Person whom you are trying to add to the Map. 
    4. For Location, provide the Location of the Person whom you are trying to add (Just give the City Name and the Map should auto-complete a suggestion that is the correct location). 
    5. Then, you can click “Preview” to see how the new addition would look on the map, “Reset” to reset your changes, or “Close” to close the entry without saving it. If you are happy with the Entry, you can add the marker by clicking the “Submit” button at the bottom of the entry. 
    6. You have now added someone to the map, and you can see them on the table to the right. 
  1. To delete a person from the map, do the following:
    1. Click the person you would like to delete on the map, and then click the trash can button (as shown in the screenshot).
    2. Now, you have successfully removed someone from the Map, and they will no longer be visible on the table to the right. 
  2. Once you have updated the map per your liking, you now have to move on to the next step of the process. 
    1. First, take a screenshot of the updated map region similar to the example shown below and save it to your local computer. 
  1. You now need to access the Google Slide Document that makes the Map look better. Click on the link below to access the current LPBI India Map. 
    1. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Jszv7_v7_ObjCHdSRIeygr6U9EZ0AwF_8Ud1Mh9R33o/edit?usp=sharing
  2. This Google Slide has:
    1. A screenshot of the Zee Maps Map with text boxes to make the numbers easier to read. 
    2. A table (the same as the table seen on the Zee Maps Screen) that contains the name of the LPBI India Member and the number on the map that corresponds with that LPBI India Member. 
  3. Insert your new screenshot of the Map you just took into the Google Slide Document, and then change the table on the right to make sure that it matches the table shown on Zee Maps. Make sure that for the map, the text boxes that make the numbers look larger match up the locations of the individual people on the map. 
  4. Edge Case: If two people have the same location, you cannot see both of the markers at the same location. This is why in the current map, numbers 3 and 6 and numbers 7 and 9 are on the same marker. Make sure that all the numbers match up and put the multiple numbers on the map if necessary. 
  5. Once you are satisfied with the updated LPBI India Map, you can download the Map in a variety of formats. Follow the instructions below to download the Map in the format that suits your needs. 
    1. On the top left corner, click on “File” (as shown in the screenshot)
    2. Click on “Download”. A variety of formats show up. Click on the format that suits your needs (ex. .jpg, .png, .pptx, etc.). Then, the map should download on your local machine. 
  6. Now, you have successfully updated the map of LPBI India and downloaded it on your local machine! Send the updated map to Dr. Lev-Ari (if someone else is performing the map updates), and this can be used for LPBI India!

New avenues for research in membrane biology reveals the mobility of protein at work

Curator and Reporter: Dr. Premalata Pati, Ph.D., Postdoc

Membrane proteins (MPs) are proteins that exist in the plasma membrane and conduct a variety of biological functions such as ion transport, substrate transport, and signal transduction. MPs undergo function-related conformational changes on time intervals spanning from nanoseconds to seconds. Many MP structures have been solved thanks to recent developments in structural biology, particularly in single-particle cryo-Electron Microscopy (cryo-EM). Obtaining time-resolved dynamic information on MPs in their membrane surroundings, on the other hand, remains a significant difficulty.

OmpG (Open state) in a fully hydrated dimyristoylphosphatidylcholine (DMPC) bilayer. The protein is shown in light green cartoon. Lipids units are depicted in yellow, while their phosphate and choline groups are illustrated as orange and green van der Waals spheres, respectively. Potassium and chloride counterions are shown in green and purple, respectively. A continuous and semi-transparent cyan representation is used for water.
https://static-content.springer.com/esm/art%3A10.1038%2Fs41467-021-24660-1/MediaObjects/41467_2021_24660_MOESM1_ESM.pdf

Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM) researchers have found that they can record high-speed protein movements while linking them to function. The accomplishment should allow scientists to examine proteins in more depth than ever before, and in theory, it should allow for the development of drugs that work better by hitting their protein targets much more effectively.

The researchers utilized High-Speed Atomic Force Microscopy (HS-AFM) to record the rapid motions of a channel protein and published in a report in Nature Communications on July 16. Such proteins generally create channel or tube-like structures in cell membranes, which open to allow molecules to flow under particular conditions. The researchers were able to record the channel protein’s rapid openings and closings with the same temporal resolution as single channel recordings, a typical technique for recording the intermittent passage of charged molecules through the channel.

Senior author Simon Scheuring, professor of physiology and biophysics in anesthesiology at WCM, said,

There has been a significant need for a tool like this that achieves such a high bandwidth that it can ‘see’ the structural variations of molecules as they work.

Researchers can now produce incredibly detailed photographs of molecules using techniques like X-ray crystallography and electron microscopy, showing their structures down to the atomic scale. The average or dominant structural positionings, or conformations, of the molecules, are depicted in these “images,” which are often calculated from thousands of individual photos. In that way, they’re similar to the long-exposure still photos from the dawn of photography.

Many molecules, on the other hand, are flexible and always-moving machinery rather than fixed structures. Scientists need to generate videos, not still photos, to reveal how such molecules move as they work, to see how their motion translates to function to catch their critical functional conformations, which may only exist for a brief moment. Current techniques for dynamic structural imaging, on the other hand, have several drawbacks, one of which being the requirement for fluorescent tags to be inserted on the molecules being photographed in many cases.

Scheuring and his lab were early adopters of the tag-free HS-AFM approach for studying molecular dynamics. The technology, which can photograph molecules in a liquid solution similar to a genuine cellular environment, employs an extremely sensitive probe, similar to a record player’s stylus, to feel its way over a molecule and therefore build up a picture of its structure. Standard HS-AFM isn’t quick enough to capture the high-speed dynamics of many proteins, but Scheuring and colleagues have developed a modified version, HS-AFM height spectroscopy (HS-AFM-HS), that works much faster by collecting dynamic changes in only one dimension: height.

The researchers used HS-AFM-HS to record the opening and closing of a relatively simple channel protein, OmpG, found in bacteria and widely studied as a model channel protein in the new study, led by the first author Raghavendar Reddy Sanganna Gari, a postdoctoral research associate in Scheuring’s laboratory. They were able to monitor OmpG gating at an effective rate of roughly 20,000 data points per second, seeing how it transitioned from open to closed states or vice versa as the acidity of the surrounding fluid varied.

More significantly, they were able to correlate structural dynamics with functional dynamics in a membrane protein of this size for the first time in a partnership with Crina Nimigean, professor of physiology and biophysics in anesthesiology, and her group at WCM.

The demonstration opens the door for a wider application of this method in basic biology and drug development.

Sanganna Gari stated,

We’re now in an exciting period of HS-AFM technology, for example using this technique to study how some drugs modulate the structural dynamics of the channel proteins they target.

Main Source

Technique reveals proteins moving as they work. By Jim Schnabel in Cornell Chronicle, August 16, 2021.

https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2021/08/technique-reveals-proteins-moving-they-work

Other Related Articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

Cryo-EM disclosed how the D614G mutation changes SARS-CoV-2 spike protein structure.

Reporter: Dr. Premalata Pati, Ph.D., Postdoc

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/04/10/cryo-em-disclosed-how-the-d614g-mutation-changes-sars-cov-2-spike-protein-structure/

Proteins, Imaging and Therapeutics

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator, LPBI

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/10/01/proteins-imaging-and-therapeutics/

From High-Throughput Assay to Systems Biology: New Tools for Drug Discovery

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/07/19/from-high-throughput-assay-to-systems-biology-new-tools-for-drug-discovery/

Imaging break-through: Fusion of microscopy and mass spectrometry produces detailed map of protein distribution

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/03/18/imaging-break-through-fusion-of-microscopy-and-mass-spectrometry-produces-detailed-map-of-protein-distribution/

Advanced Microscopic Imaging

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator, LPBI

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/02/07/advanced-microscopic-imaging/

Can the Public Benefit Company Structure Save US Healthcare?

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

According to Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS.gov) healthcare spending per capita has reached 17.7 percent of GDP with, according to CMS data:

From 1960 through 2013, health spending rose from $147 per person to $9,255 per person, an average annual increase of 8.1 percent.

the National Health Expenditure Accounts (NHEA) are the official estimates of total health care spending in the United States. Dating back to 1960, the NHEA measures annual U.S. expenditures for health care goods and services, public health activities, government administration, the net cost of health insurance, and investment related to health care. The data are presented by type of service, sources of funding, and type of sponsor.

Graph: US National Healthcare Expenditures as a percent of Gross Domestic Product from 1960 to current. Recession periods are shown in bars. Note that the general trend has been increasing healthcare expenditures with only small times of decrease for example 2020 in year of COVID19 pandemic. In addition most of the years have been inflationary with almost no deflationary periods, either according to CPI or healthcare costs, specifically.

U.S. health care spending grew 4.6 percent in 2019, reaching $3.8 trillion or $11,582 per person.  As a share of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, health spending accounted for 17.7 percent.

And as this spending grew (demand for health care services) associated costs also rose but as the statistical analyses shows there was little improvement in many health outcome metrics during the same time. 

Graph of the Growth of National Health Expenditures (NHE) versus the growth of GDP. Note most years from 1960 growth rate of NHE has always been higher than GDP, resulting in a seemingly hyperinflationary effect of healthcare. Also note how there are years when this disconnect is even greater, as there were years when NHE grew while there were recessionary periods in the general economy.

It appears that US healthcare may be on the precipice of a transformational shift, but what will this shift look like? The following post examines if the corporate structure of US healthcare needs to be changed and what role does a Public Benefit Company have in this much needed transformation.

Hippocratic Oath

I swear by Apollo the physician, and Asclepius, and Hygieia and Panacea and all the gods and goddesses as my witnesses, that, according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this contract:

To hold him who taught me this art equally dear to me as my parents, to be a partner in life with him, and to fulfill his needs when required; to look upon his offspring as equals to my own siblings, and to teach them this art, if they shall wish to learn it, without fee or contract; and that by the set rules, lectures, and every other mode of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the art to my own sons, and those of my teachers, and to students bound by this contract and having sworn this Oath to the law of medicine, but to no others.

I will use those dietary regimens which will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.

I will not give a lethal drug to anyone if I am asked, nor will I advise such a plan; and similarly I will not give a woman a pessary to cause an abortion.

In purity and according to divine law will I carry out my life and my art.

I will not use the knife, even upon those suffering from stones, but I will leave this to those who are trained in this craft.

Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption, including the seduction of women or men, whether they are free men or slaves.

Whatever I see or hear in the lives of my patients, whether in connection with my professional practice or not, which ought not to be spoken of outside, I will keep secret, as considering all such things to be private.

So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate.

Translated by Michael North, National Library of Medicine, 2002.

Much of the following information can be found on the Health Affairs Blog in a post entitled

Public Benefit Corporations: A Third Option For Health Care Delivery?

By Soleil Shah, Jimmy J. Qian, Amol S. Navathe, Nirav R. Shah

Limitations of For Profit and Non-Profit Hospitals

For profit represent ~ 25% of US hospitals and are owned and governed by shareholders, and can raise equity through stock and bond markets.

According to most annual reports, the CEOs incorrectly assume they are legally bound as fiduciaries to maximize shareholder value.  This was a paradigm shift in priorities of companies which started around the mid 1980s, a phenomenon discussed below.  

A by-product of this business goal, to maximize shareholder value, is that CEO pay and compensation is naturally tied to equity markets.  A means for this is promoting cost efficiencies, even in the midst of financial hardships.

A clear example of the failure of this system can be seen during the 2020- current COVID19 pandemic in the US. According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, four large US hospitals were able to decrease their operating expenses by $2.3 billion just in Q2 2020.  This amounted to 65% of their revenue; in comparison three large NONPROFIT hospitals reduced their operating expense by an aggregate $13 million (only 1% of their revenue), evident that in lean times for-profit will resort to drastic cost cutting at expense of service, even in times of critical demands for healthcare.

Because of their tax structure and perceived fiduciary responsibilities, for-profit organizations (unlike non-profit and public benefit corporations) are not legally required to conduct community health need assessments, establish financial assistance policies, nor limit hospital charges for those eligible for financial assistance.  In addition to the difference in tax liability, for-profit, unlike their non-profit counterparts, at least with hospitals, are not funded in part by state or local government.  As we will see, a large part of operating revenue for non-profit university based hospitals is state and city funding.

Therefore risk for financial responsibility is usually assumed by the patient, and in worst case, by the marginalized patient populations on to the public sector.

Tax Structure Considerations of for-profit healthcare

Financials of major for-profit healthcare entities (2020 annual)

Non-profit Healthcare systems

Nonprofits represent about half of all hospitals in the US.  Most of these exist as a university structure, so retain the benefits of being private health systems and retaining the funding and tax benefits attributed to most systems of higher education. And these nonprofits can be very profitable.  After taking in consideration the state, local, and federal tax exemptions these nonprofits enjoy, as well as tax-free donations from contributors (including large personal trust funds), a nonprofit can accumulate a large amount of revenue after expenses.  In fact 82 nonprofit hospitals had $33 billion of net asset increase year-over-year (20% increase) from 2016 to 2017.  The caveat is that this revenue over expenses is usually spent on research or increased patient services (this may mean expanding the physical infrastructure of the hospital or disseminating internal grant money to clinical investigators, expanding the hospital/university research assets which could result in securing even larger amount of external funding from government sources.

And although this model may work well for intercity university/healthcare systems, it is usually a struggle for the rural nonprofit hospitals.  In 2020, ten out of 17 rural hospitals that went under were nonprofits.  And this is not just true in the tough pandemic year.  Over the past two decades multitude of nonprofit rural hospitals had to sell and be taken over by larger for-profit entities. 

Hospital consolidation has led to a worse patient experience and no real significant changes in readmission or mortality data.  (The article below is how over 130 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, creating a medical emergency in rural US healthcare)

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/history/article/appalachian-hospitals-are-disappearing

And according to the article below it is only to get worse

The authors of the Health Affairs blog feel a major disadvantage of both the for-profit and non-profit healthcare systems is “that both face limited accountability with respect to anticompettive mergers and acquisitions.”

More hospital consolidation is expected post-pandemic

Aug 10, 2020

By Rich Daly, HFMA Senior Writer and Editor

News | Coronavirus

More hospital consolidation is expected post-pandemic

  • Hospital deal volume is likely to accelerate due to the financial damage inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The anticipated increase in volume did not show up in the latest quarter, when deals were sharply down.
  • The pandemic may have given hospitals leverage in coming policy fights over billing and the creation of “public option” health plans.

Hospital consolidation is likely to increase after the COVID-19 pandemic, say both critics and supporters of the merger-and-acquisition (M&A) trend.

The financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic are expected to drive more consolidation between and among hospitals and physician practices, a group of policy professionals told a recent Washington, D.C.-based web briefing sponsored by the Alliance for Health Policy.

“There is a real danger that this could lead to more consolidation, which if we’re not careful could lead to higher prices,” said Karyn Schwartz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

Schwartz cited a recent KFF analysis of available research that concluded “provider consolidation leads to higher health care prices for private insurance; this is true for both horizontal and vertical consolidation.”

Kenneth Kaufman, managing director and chair of Kaufman Hall, noted that crises tend to push financially struggling organizations “further behind.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised at all if that happens,” Kaufman said. “That will lead to further consolidation in the provider market.”

The initial rounds of federal assistance from the CARES Act, which were based first on Medicare revenue and then on net patient revenue, may fuel consolidation, said Mark Miller, PhD, executive vice president of healthcare for Arnold Ventures. That’s because the funding formulas favored organizations that already had higher revenues, he said, and provided less assistance to low-revenue organizations.

HHS has distributed $116.2 billion from the $175 billion in provider funding available through the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. The largest distributions used the two revenue formulas cited by Miller.

No surge in M&A yet

The expected burst in hospital M&A activity has yet to occur. Kaufman Hall identified 14 transactions in the second quarter of 2020, far fewer than in the same quarter in any of the four preceding years, when second-quarter transactions totaled between 19 and 31. The latest deals were not focused on small hospitals, with average seller revenue of more than $800 million — far larger than the previous second-quarter high of $409 million in 2018.

Six of the 14 announced transactions were divestitures by major for-profit health systems, including Community Health Systems, Quorum and HCA.

Kaufman Hall’s analysis of the recent deals identified another pandemic-related factor that may fuel hospital M&A: closer ties between hospitals. The analysis cited the example of  Lifespan and Care New England, which had suspended merger talks in 2019. More recently, in a joint announcement, the CEOs of the two systems noted that because of the COVID-19 crisis, the two systems “have been working together in unprecedented ways” and “have agreed to enter into an exploration process to understand the pros and cons of what a formal continuation of this collaboration could look like in the future.”

The M&A outlook for rural hospitals

The pandemic has had less of a negative effect on the finances of rural hospitals that previously joined larger health systems, said Suzie Desai, senior director of not-for-profit healthcare for S&P Global.

A CEO of a health system with a large rural network told Kaufman the federal grants that the system received for its rural hospitals were much larger than the grants paid through the general provider fund.

“If that was true across the board, then the federal government recognized that many rural hospitals could be at risk of not being able to make payroll; actually running out of money,” Kaufman said. “And they seem to have bent over backwards to make sure that didn’t happen.”  

Other CARES Act funding distributed to providers included:

  • $12.8 billion for 959 safety net hospitals
  • $11 billion to almost 4,000 rural healthcare providers and hospitals in urban areas that have certain special rural designations in Medicare

Telehealth has helped rural hospitals but has not been sufficient to address the financial losses inflicted by the pandemic, Desai said.

Other coming trends include a sharper cost focus

Desai expects an increasing focus “over the next couple years” on hospital costs because of the rising share of revenue received from Medicare and Medicaid. She expects increased efforts to use technology and data to lower costs.

Billy Wynne, JD, chairman of Wynne Health Group, expects telehealth restrictions to remain relaxed after the pandemic.

Also, the perceptions of the public and politicians about the financial health of hospitals are likely to give those organizations leverage in coming policy fights over changes such as banning surprise billing and creating so-called public-option health plans, Wynne said. As an example, he cited the Colorado legislature’s suspension of the launch of a public option “in part because of sensitivities around hospital finances in the COVID pandemic.”

“Once the dust settles, it’ll be interesting to see if their leverage has increased or decreased due to what we’ve been through,” Wynne said.

About the Author

Rich Daly, HFMA Senior Writer and Editor,

is based in the Washington, D.C., office. Follow Rich on Twitter: @rdalyhealthcare

Source: https://www.hfma.org/topics/news/2020/08/more-hospital-consolidation-is-expected-post-pandemic.html

From Harvard Medical School

Hospital Mergers and Quality of Care

A new study looks at the quality of care at hospitals acquired in a recent wave of consolidations

By JAKE MILLER January 16, 2020 Research

Two train tracks merge in a blurry sunset.

Image: NirutiStock / iStock / Getty Images Plus       

The quality of care at hospitals acquired during a recent wave of consolidations has gotten worse or stayed the same, according to a study led by Harvard Medical School scientists published Jan. 2 in NEJM.

The findings deal a blow to the often-cited arguments that hospital consolidation would improve care. A flurry of earlier studies showed that mergers increase prices. Now after analyzing patient outcomes after hundreds of hospital mergers, the new research also dashes the hopes that this more expensive care might be of higher quality.

Get more HMS news here

“Our findings call into question claims that hospital mergers are good for patients—and beg the question of what we are getting from higher hospital prices,” said study senior author J. Michael McWilliams, the Warren Alpert Foundation Professor of Health Care Policy in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS and an HMS professor of medicine and a practicing general internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

McWilliams noted that rising hospital prices have been one of the leading drivers of unsustainable growth in U.S. health spending.   

To examine the impact of hospital mergers on quality of care, researchers from HMS and Harvard Business School examined patient outcomes from nearly 250 hospital mergers that took place between 2009 and 2013. Using data collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, they analyzed variables such as 30-day readmission and mortality rates among patients discharged from a hospital, as well as clinical measures such as timely antibiotic treatment of patients with bacterial pneumonia. The researchers also factored in patient experiences, such as whether those who received care at a given hospital would recommend it to others. For their analysis, the team compared trends in these indicators between 246 hospitals acquired in merger transactions and unaffected hospitals.

The verdict? Consolidation did not improve hospital performance, and patient-experience scores deteriorated somewhat after the mergers.

The study was not designed to examine the reasons behind the worsening in patient experience. Weakening of competition due to hospital mergers could have contributed, the researchers said, but deeper exploration suggested other potential mechanisms. Notably, the analysis found the decline in patient-experience scores occurred mainly in hospitals acquired by hospitals that already had a poor patient-experience score—a finding that suggests acquisitions facilitate the spread of low quality care but not of high quality care.

The researchers caution that isolated, individual mergers may have still yielded positive results—something that an aggregate analysis is not powered to capture. And the researchers could only examine measurable aspects of quality. The trend in hospital performance on these standard measures, however, appears to point to a net effect of overall decline, the team said.

“Since our study estimated the average effects of mergers, we can’t rule out the possibility that some mergers are good for patient care,” said first author Nancy Beaulieu, research associate in health care policy at HMS. “But this evidence should give us pause when considering arguments for hospitals mergers.”

The work was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (grant no. U19HS024072).

Co-investigators included Bruce Landon and Jesse Dalton from HMS, Ifedayo Kuye, from the University of California, San Francisco, and Leemore Dafny from Harvard Business School and the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Source: https://hms.harvard.edu/news/hospital-mergers-quality-care

Public Benefit Corporations (PBC)

     Public benefit corporations (versus Benefit Corporate status, which is more of a pledge) are separate legal entities which exist as a hybrid, for-profit/nonprofit company but is mandated to 

  1. Pursue a general or specific public benefit
  2. Consider the non-financial interests of its shareholders and other STAKEHOLDERS when making decision
  3. report how well it is achieving its overall public benefit objectives
  4. Have limited fiduciary responsibility to investors that remains IN SCOPE of public benefit goal

In essence, the public benefit corporations executives are mandated to run the company for the benefit of STAKEHOLDERS first, if those STAKEHOLDERS are the public beneficiary of the company’s goals.  This in essence moves the needle away from the traditional C-Corp overvaluing the needs of shareholders and brings back the mission of the company and in the case of healthcare, the needs of its stakeholders, the consumers of healthcare.

     PBCs are legal entities recognized by states rather than by the federal government.  So far, in 2020 about 37 states allow companies to incorporate as a PBC.  Stipulations of the charter include semiannual reporting of the public benefits bestowed by the company and how well it is achieving its public benefit mandate.  There are about 3,000 US PBCs. Some companies have felt it was in their company mission and financial interest to change incorporation as a PBC.

Some well known PBCs include

  1. Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream
  2. American Red Cross
  3. Susan B. Komen Foundation
  4. Allbirds (a shoe startup valued at $1.7 billion when made switch)
  5. Bombas (the sock company that donates extra socks when you buy a pair)
  6. Lemonade (a publicly traded insurance PBC that has beneficiaries select a nonprofit that the company will donate to)

Although the number of PBCs in the healthcare arena is increasing

  1. Not many PBCs are in the area of healthcare delivery 
  2. Noone is quite sure what the economic model would look like for a healthcare delivery PBC

Some example of hospital PBC include NYC Health + Hospitals and Community First Medical Center in Chicago.

Benefits of moving a hospital to PBC Status

  1. PBCs are held legally accountable to a predefined public benefit.  For hospitals this could be delivering cost-effective quality of care and affordable to a local citizenry or an economically disadvantaged population.  PBCs must produce at least an annual report on the public benefits it has achieved contrasted against a third party standard.  For example a hospital could include data of Medicaid related mortality risks, data neither the C-corp nor the nonprofit 501c would have to report on.  Most nonprofits and charities report their taxes on a schedule H or Form 990, which only has to report the officer’s compensation as well as monies given to charitable organizations, or other 501 organizations.  The nonprofit would show a balance of zero as the donated money for that year would be allocated out for various purposes. Hospitals, even as nonprofits, are not required to submit all this data.  Right now in US the ACA just requires any hospital that receives government or ACA insurance payments to report certain outcome statistics.  Although varying state by state, a PBC should have a “benefit officer” to make sure the mandate is being met.  In some cases a PBC benefit officer could sue the board for putting shareholder interest over the public benefit mandate.
  2. A PBC can include community stakeholders in the articles of incorporation thus giving a voice to local community members.  This would be especially beneficial for a hospital serving, say, a rural community.
  3. PBCs do have advantages of the for-profit companies as they are not limited to non-equity forms of investment.  A PBC can raise money in the equity markets or take on debt and finance it.  These financial instruments are unavailable to the non-profit.  Yet one interesting aspect is that PBCs require a HIGHER voting threshold by shareholders than a traditional for profit company in the ability to change their public benefit or convert their PBC back to a for-profit.

Limitations of the PBC

  1. Little incentive financially for current and future hospitals to incorporate as a PBC.  Herein lies a huge roadblock given the state of our reimbursement structure in this country.  Although there may be an incentive with regard to hiring and retention of staff drawn to the organization’s social purpose.  There have been, in the past, suggestions to allow hospitals that incorporate at PBC to receive some tax benefit, but this legislation has not gone through either at state or federal level. (put link to tax article).  
  2. In order for there to be value to constituents (patients) there must be strong accountability measures.  This will require the utmost in ethical behavior by a board and executives.  We have witnessed, through M&A by large health groups, anticompetitive and near monopoly behavior.
  3. There are no federal guidelines but varying guidelines from state to state.  There must be some federal recognition of the PBC status when it comes to healthcare, such as that the government is one of the biggest payers of US healthcare.

This is a great interview with ArcHealth, a PBC healthcare system.

Source: https://www.archealthjustice.com/arc-health-as-public-benefit-company-and-social-enterprise-what-is-the-difference/

Arc Health as a Public Benefit Company and Social Enterprise – What is the difference?

Mar 3, 2021 | Healthcare

Arc Health PBC is a public benefit corporation, a mission-driven for-profit company that utilizes a market-driven approach to achieving our short and long-term social goals. As a public benefit corporation, Arc Health is also a social enterprise working to further our mission of providing healthcare to rural, underserved, and indigenous communities through business practices that improve the recruitment and retention of quality healthcare providers.

What is a Social Enterprise?

While there is no one exact definition, according to the Social Enterprise Alliance, a social enterprise is an “organization that addresses a basic unmet need or solves a social or environmental problem through a market-driven approach.” A social enterprise is not a distinct legal entity, but instead, an “ideological spectrum marrying commercial approaches with social good.” Social enterprises foster a dual-bottom-line – simultaneously seeking profits and social impact. Arc Health, like many social enterprises, seeks to be self–sustainable. 

Two primary structures fall under the social enterprise umbrella: nonprofits and for-profit organizations. There are also related entities within both structures that could be considered social enterprises. Any of these listed structures can be regarded as a social enterprise depending on if and how involved they are with socially beneficial programs.

What is a Public Benefit Corporation?

Public Benefit Corporations (PBCs), also known as benefit corporations, are “for-profit companies that balance maximizing value to stakeholders with a legally binding commitment to a social or environmental mission.” PBCs operate as for-profit entities with no tax advantages or exemptions. Still, they must have a “purpose of creating general public benefit,” such as promoting the arts or science, preserving the environment, or providing benefits to underserved communities. PBCs must attain a higher degree of corporate purpose, expanded accountability, and expected transparency. 

There are now  over 3,000 registered PBCs, comprising approximately 0.1% of American businesses.

 As a PBC, Arc Health expects to access capital through individual investors who seek financial returns, rather than through donations. Arc Health’s investors make investments with a clear understanding of the balance the company must strike between financial returns (I.e., profitability) and social purpose. Therefore, investors expect the company to be operationally profitable to ensure a financial return on their investments, while also making clear to all stakeholders and the public that generating social impact is the priority. 

What is the difference between a Social Enterprise and PBC?

Social enterprises and PBCs emulate similar ideals that value the importance and need to invoke social change vis-a-vis working in a market-driven industry. Public benefit corporations fall under the social enterprise umbrella. An organization may choose to use a social enterprise model and incorporate itself as either a not-for-profit, C-Corp, PBC, or other corporate structure.  

How did Arc Health Become a Public Benefit Corporation?

Arc Health was initially formed as a C-Corp. In 2019, Arc Health’s CEO and Co-Founder, Dave Shaffer, guided the conversion from a C-Corp to a PBC, incorporated in Delaware. Today, Arc Health follows guidelines and expectations for PBCs, including adhering to the State of Delaware’s requirements for PBCs. 

Why is Arc Health a Social Enterprise and Public Benefit Corporation?

Arc Health believes it is essential to commit ourselves to our mission and demonstrate our dedication through our actions. We work to adhere to the core values of accountability, transparency, and purpose. As a registered public benefit company and a social enterprise, we execute our drive to achieve health equity in tangible and effective ways that the communities we work with, our stakeholders, and our providers expect of us.  

90% of Americans say that companies must not only say a product or service is beneficial, but they also need to prove its benefit.

When we partner with health clinics and hospitals, we aim to provide services that enact lasting change. For example, we work with healthcare providers who desire to contribute both clinical and non-clinical skills. In 2020, Arc Health clinicians developed COVID-19 response protocols and educational materials about the vaccines. They participated in pain management working groups. They identified and followed up with kids in the community who were overdue for a well-child check. Arc Health providers should be driven by a desire to develop a long-term relationship with a healthcare service provider and participate in its successes and challenges.   

Paradigm Shift in the 1980’s: Companies Start to Emphasize Shareholders Over Stakeholders

So earlier in this post we had mentioned about a shift in philosophy at the corporate boardroom that affected how comparate thought, value, and responsibility: Companies in the 1980s started to shift their focus and value only the needs of corporate ShAREHOLDERS at the expense of their  traditional STAKEHOLDERS (customers, clients).  Many movies and books have been written on this and debatable if deliberate or a by-product of M&A, hostile takeovers, and the stock market in general but the effect was that the consumer was relegated as having less value, even though marketing budgets are very high.  The fiduciary responsibility of the executive was now defined in terms of satisfying shareholders, who were now  big huge and powerful brokerage houses, private equity, and hedge funds.  A good explanation by Medium.com Tyler Lasicki is given below.

From the Medium.com

Source: https://medium.com/swlh/the-shareholder-v-stakeholder-contrast-a-brief-history-c5a6cfcaa111

The Shareholder V. Stakeholder Contrast, a Brief History

Tyler Lasicki

Follow

May 26, 2020 · 14 min read

Introduction

In a famous 1970 New York Times Article, Milton Friedman postulated that the CEO, as an employee of the shareholder, must strive to provide the highest possible return for all shareholders. Since that article, the United States has embraced this idea as the fundamental philosophy supporting the ultimate purpose of businesses — The Shareholders Come First.

In August of 2019, the Business Roundtable, a group made up of the most influential U.S CEOs, published a letter shifting their stance on the purpose of a corporation. Regardless of whether this piece of paper will actually result in any systematic changes has yet to be seen, however this newly stated purpose of business is a dramatic shift from the position Milton Friedman took in 1970. According to the statement, these corporations will no longer prioritize maximizing profits for shareholders, but instead turn their focus to benefiting all stakeholders — including citizens, customers, suppliers, employees, on par with shareholders. 

Now the social responsibility of a company and the CEO was to maxiimize the profits even at the expense of any previous social responsibility they once had.

Small sample of the 181 Signatures attached to the Business Roundtable’s letter

What has happened over the past 50 years that has led to such a fundamental change in ideology? What has happened to make the CEO’s of America’s largest corporations suddenly change their stance on such a foundational principle of what it means to be an American business?

Since diving into this subject, I have come to find that the “American fundamental principle” of putting shareholders first is one that is actually not all that fundamental. In fact, for a large portion of our nation’s history this ideology was actually seen as the unpopular position.

Key ideological shifts in U.S. history

This post dives into a brief history of these two contrasting ideological viewpoints in an attempt to contextualize the forces behind both sides — specifically, the most recent shift (1970–2019). This basic idea of what is most important; the stakeholder or the shareholder, is the underlying reason as to why many things are the way they are today. A corporation’s priority of shareholder or stakeholder ultimately impacts employee salaries, benefits, quality of life within communities, environmental conditions, even the access to education children can receive. It affects our lives in a breadth and depth of ways and now that corporations may be changing positions (yet again) to focus on a model that prioritizes the stakeholder, it is important to understand why.

Looking forward, if stakeholder priority ends up being the popular position among American businesses, how long will it last for? What could lead to its downfall? And what will managers do to ensure a long term stakeholder-friendly business model?

It is clear to me the reasons that have led to these shifts in ideology are rather nuanced, however I want to highlight a few trends that have had a major impact on businesses changing their priorities while also providing context as to why things have shifted.

The Ascendancy of Shareholder Value

Following the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression, stakeholder primacy became the popular perspective within corporate America. Stakeholder primacy is the idea that corporations are to consider a wider group of interested parties (not just shareholders) whose positions need to be taken into consideration by corporate governance. According to this point of view, rather than solely being an agent for shareholders, management’s responsibilities were to be dispersed among all of its constituencies, even if it meant a reduction in shareholder value. This ideology lasted as the dominant position for roughly 40 years, in part due to public opinion and strong views on corporate responsibility, but also through state adoption of stakeholder laws.

By the mid-1970s, falling corporate profitability and stagnant share prices had been the norm for a decade. This poor economic performance influenced a growing concern in the U.S. regarding the perceived divergence between manager and shareholder interest. Many held the position that profits and share prices were suffering as a result of corporation’s increased attention on stakeholder groups.

This noticeable divergence in interests sparked many academics to focus their research on corporate management’s motivations in decision making regarding their allocation of resources. This branch of research would later be known as agency theory, which focused on the relationship between principals (shareholders) and their agents (management). Research at the time outlined how over the previous decades corporate management had pursued strategies that were not likely to optimize resources from a shareholder’s perspective. These findings were part of a seismic shift of corporate philosophy, changing priority from the stakeholders of a business to the shareholders.

By 1982, the U.S. economy started to recover from a prolonged period of high inflation and low economic growth. This recovery acted as a catalyst for change in many industries, leaving many corporate management teams to struggle in response to these changes. Their business performance suffered as a result. These distressed businesses became targets for a group of new investors…private equity firms.

Now the paradigm shift had its biggest backer…. private equity!  And private equity care about ONE thing….. THEIR OWN SHARE VALUE and subsequently meaning corporate profit, which became the most important directive for the CEO.

So it is all hopeless now? Can there be a shift back to the good ‘ol days?  

Well some changes are taking place at top corporate levels which may help the stakeholders to have a voice at the table, as the following IRMagazine article states.

And once again this is being led by the Business Roundtable, the same Business Roundtable that proposed the shift back in the 1970s.

Andrew Holt

Andrew Holt

REPORTER

  •  
  •  

SHAREHOLDER VALUE

CORPORATE GOVERNANCE

Shift from shareholder value to stakeholder-focused model for top US firms

AUG 23, 2019

Business Roundtable reveals corporations to drop idea they function to serve shareholders only

Source: https://www.irmagazine.com/esg/shift-shareholder-value-stakeholder-focused-model-top-us-firms

Andrew Holt

Andrew Holt

REPORTER

n a major corporate shift, shareholder value is no longer the main objective of the US’ top company CEOs, according to the Business Roundtable, which instead emphasizes the ‘purpose of a corporation’ and a stakeholder-focused model.

The influential body – a group of chief executive officers from major US corporations – has stressed the idea of a corporation dropping the age-old notion that corporations function first and foremost to serve their shareholders and maximize profits.

Rather, the focus should be on investing in employees, delivering value to customers, dealing ethically with suppliers and supporting outside communities as the vanguard of American business, according to a Business Roundtable statement.

‘While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,’ reads the statement, signed by 181 CEOs. ‘We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.’

Gary LaBranche, president and CEO of NIRI, tells IR Magazine that this is part of a wider trend: ‘The redefinition of purpose from shareholder-focused to stakeholder-focused is not new to NIRI members. For example, a 2014 IR Update article by the late Professor Lynn Stout urges a more inclusive way of thinking about corporate purpose.’ 

NIRI has also addressed this concept at many venues, including the senior roundtable annual meeting and the NIRI Annual Conference, adds LaBranche. This trend was further seen in the NIRI policy statement on ESG disclosure, released in January this year. 

Analyzing the meaning of this change in more detail, LaBranche adds: ‘The statement is a revolutionary break with the Business Roundtable’s previous position that the purpose of the corporation is to create value for shareholders, which was a long-held position championed by Milton Friedman.

‘The challenge is that Friedman’s thought leadership helped to inspire the legal and regulatory regime that places wealth creation for shareholders as the ‘prime directive’ for corporate executives.

‘Thus, commentators like Mike Allen of Axios are quick to point out that some shareholders may actually use the new statement to accuse CEOs of worrying about things beyond increasing the value of their shares, which, Allen reminds us, is the CEOs’ fiduciary responsibility.

‘So while the new Business Roundtable statement reflects a much-needed rebalancing and modernization that speaks to the comprehensive responsibilities of corporate citizens, we can expect that some shareholders will push back on this more inclusive view of who should benefit from corporate efforts and the capital that makes it happen. The new statement may not mark the dawn of a new day, but it perhaps signals the twilight of the Friedman era.’

In a similarly reflective way, Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase & Co and chairman of the Business Roundtable, says: ‘The American dream is alive, but fraying. Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.’

Note:  Mr Dimon has been very vocal for many years on corporate social responsibility, especially since the financial troubles of 2009.

Other related articles published on this Open Access Online Scientific Journal on Healthcare Issues include the following:

Opportunity Mapping of the E-Health Sector prior to COVID19 Outbreak
mHealth market growth in America, Europe, & APAC
Ethics Behind Genetic Testing in Breast Cancer: A Webinar by Laura Carfang of survivingbreastcancer.org
The Inequality and Health Disparity seen with the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Similar to Past Pandemics
Live Notes from @HarvardMed Bioethics: Authors Jerome Groopman, MD & Pamela Hartzband, MD, discuss Your Medical Mind
COVID-related financial losses at Mass General Brigham
Personalized Medicine, Omics, and Health Disparities in Cancer:  Can Personalized Medicine Help Reduce the Disparity Problem?

Patients with type 2 diabetes may soon receive artificial pancreas and a smartphone app assistance

Curator and Reporter: Dr. Premalata Pati, Ph.D., Postdoc

In a brief, randomized crossover investigation, adults with type 2 diabetes and end-stage renal disease who needed dialysis benefited from an artificial pancreas. Tests conducted by the University of Cambridge and Inselspital, University Hospital of Bern, Switzerland, reveal that now the device can help patients safely and effectively monitor their blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of low blood sugar levels.

Diabetes is the most prevalent cause of kidney failure, accounting for just under one-third (30%) of all cases. As the number of people living with type 2 diabetes rises, so does the number of people who require dialysis or a kidney transplant. Kidney failure raises the risk of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, or unusually low or high blood sugar levels, which can lead to problems ranging from dizziness to falls and even coma.

Diabetes management in adults with renal failure is difficult for both the patients and the healthcare practitioners. Many components of their therapy, including blood sugar level targets and medications, are poorly understood. Because most oral diabetes drugs are not indicated for these patients, insulin injections are the most often utilized diabetic therapy-yet establishing optimum insulin dose regimes is difficult.

A team from the University of Cambridge and Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust earlier developed an artificial pancreas with the goal of replacing insulin injections for type 1 diabetic patients. The team, collaborating with experts at Bern University Hospital and the University of Bern in Switzerland, demonstrated that the device may be used to help patients with type 2 diabetes and renal failure in a study published on 4 August 2021 in Nature Medicine.

The study’s lead author, Dr Charlotte Boughton of the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science at the University of Cambridge, stated:

Patients living with type 2 diabetes and kidney failure are a particularly vulnerable group and managing their condition-trying to prevent potentially dangerous highs or lows of blood sugar levels – can be a challenge. There’s a real unmet need for new approaches to help them manage their condition safely and effectively.

The Device

The artificial pancreas is a compact, portable medical device that uses digital technology to automate insulin delivery to perform the role of a healthy pancreas in managing blood glucose levels. The system is worn on the outside of the body and consists of three functional components:

  • a glucose sensor
  • a computer algorithm for calculating the insulin dose
  • an insulin pump

The artificial pancreas directed insulin delivery on a Dana Diabecare RS pump using a Dexcom G6 transmitter linked to the Cambridge adaptive model predictive control algorithm, automatically administering faster-acting insulin aspart (Fiasp). The CamDiab CamAPS HX closed-loop app on an unlocked Android phone was used to manage the closed loop system, with a goal glucose of 126 mg/dL. The program calculated an insulin infusion rate based on the data from the G6 sensor every 8 to 12 minutes, which was then wirelessly routed to the insulin pump, with data automatically uploaded to the Diasend/Glooko data management platform.

The Case Study

Between October 2019 and November 2020, the team recruited 26 dialysis patients. Thirteen patients were randomly assigned to get the artificial pancreas first, followed by 13 patients who received normal insulin therapy initially. The researchers compared how long patients spent as outpatients in the target blood sugar range (5.6 to 10.0mmol/L) throughout a 20-day period.

Patients who used the artificial pancreas spent 53 % in the target range on average, compared to 38% who utilized the control treatment. When compared to the control therapy, this translated to approximately 3.5 more hours per day spent in the target range.

The artificial pancreas resulted in reduced mean blood sugar levels (10.1 vs. 11.6 mmol/L). The artificial pancreas cut the amount of time patients spent with potentially dangerously low blood sugar levels, known as ‘hypos.’

The artificial pancreas’ efficacy improved significantly over the research period as the algorithm evolved, and the time spent in the target blood sugar range climbed from 36% on day one to over 60% by the twentieth day. This conclusion emphasizes the need of employing an adaptive algorithm that can adapt to an individual’s fluctuating insulin requirements over time.

When asked if they would recommend the artificial pancreas to others, everyone who responded indicated they would. Nine out of ten (92%) said they spent less time controlling their diabetes with the artificial pancreas than they did during the control period, and a comparable amount (87%) said they were less concerned about their blood sugar levels when using it.

Other advantages of the artificial pancreas mentioned by study participants included fewer finger-prick blood sugar tests, less time spent managing their diabetes, resulting in more personal time and independence, and increased peace of mind and reassurance. One disadvantage was the pain of wearing the insulin pump and carrying the smartphone.

Professor Roman Hovorka, a senior author from the Wellcome Trust-MRC Institute of Metabolic Science, mentioned:

Not only did the artificial pancreas increase the amount of time patients spent within the target range for the blood sugar levels, but it also gave the users peace of mind. They were able to spend less time having to focus on managing their condition and worrying about the blood sugar levels, and more time getting on with their lives.

The team is currently testing the artificial pancreas in outpatient settings in persons with type 2 diabetes who do not require dialysis, as well as in difficult medical scenarios such as perioperative care.

The artificial pancreas has the potential to become a fundamental part of integrated personalized care for people with complicated medical needs,” said Dr Lia Bally, who co-led the study in Bern.

The authors stated that the study’s shortcomings included a small sample size due to “Brexit-related study funding concerns and the COVID-19 epidemic.”

Boughton concluded:

We would like other clinicians to be aware that automated insulin delivery systems may be a safe and effective treatment option for people with type 2 diabetes and kidney failure in the future.

Main Source:

Boughton, C. K., Tripyla, A., Hartnell, S., Daly, A., Herzig, D., Wilinska, M. E., & Hovorka, R. (2021). Fully automated closed-loop glucose control compared with standard insulin therapy in adults with type 2 diabetes requiring dialysis: an open-label, randomized crossover trial. Nature Medicine, 1-6.

Other Related Articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

Developing Machine Learning Models for Prediction of Onset of Type-2 Diabetes

Reporter: Amandeep Kaur, B.Sc., M.Sc.

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/05/29/developing-machine-learning-models-for-prediction-of-onset-of-type-2-diabetes/

Artificial pancreas effectively controls type 1 diabetes in children age 6 and up

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/10/08/artificial-pancreas-effectively-controls-type-1-diabetes-in-children-age-6-and-up/

Google, Verily’s Uses AI to Screen for Diabetic Retinopathy

Reporter : Irina Robu, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2019/04/08/49900/

World’s first artificial pancreas

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2019/05/16/worlds-first-artificial-pancreas/

Artificial Pancreas – Medtronic Receives FDA Approval for World’s First Hybrid Closed Loop System for People with Type 1 Diabetes

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/09/30/artificial-pancreas-medtronic-receives-fda-approval-for-worlds-first-hybrid-closed-loop-system-for-people-with-type-1-diabetes/

CNS immune interface

Reporter: Komal Ingle, BSc, MSc

Neuroimmunology is a field that investigates the bi-directional communication between the nervous system (CNS and PNS) and the immune system. While these two physiological systems were traditionally thought to act independently and that the brain was a privileged site protected by the blood–brain barrier (BBB), researchers now appreciate the highly organized cross talk between the immune and nervous systems in health and disease. The CNS communicates with the immune system via hormonal and neural pathways. The hormonal pathway is predominantly via the HPA axis, which is the primary stress center in rodents, primates, and humans. The neural pathway is mediated via the sympathetic and parasympathetic (the vagus nerve) response. In turn, the immune system signals the CNS via cytokines released by activated immune cells in the periphery but also through activated microglia and astrocytes in the spinal cord and brain. The peripheral inflammation can lead to central proinflammatory milieu and ultimately to sickness behaviour defined as a set of behavioural changes that develop in individuals during the course of systemic inflammation (i.e., fever, lethargy, hyperalgesia). The peripheral inflammation can lead to central proinflammatory milieu and ultimately to sickness behaviour defined as a set of behavioural changes that develop in individuals during the course of systemic inflammation (i.e., fever, lethargy, hyperalgesia), Signals, originating from cellular and molecular elements of the immune system itself, constitute a level of autoregulation. There is also evidence of another more integrative level of regulation mediated by neuroendocrine signals

Pathological pain and the neuroimmune interface    

The idea that pain and immunity might be associated beyond an acute response first arose from clinical observations in the 1970s that patients with chronic pain exhibited other symptoms, in addition to hyperalgesia, that parallel the classical systemic sickness response — including lethargy, depression and anxiety. The concomitance of sickness behaviors with chronic pain is therefore suggestive of underlying immune activity. Efforts to identify the origin and nature of the immune mediators involved soon followed, leading to the discovery that elevated peripheral levels of interleukin-1β (IL-1β) both induced hyperalgesia per se and mediated sickness-induced hyperalgesia1,2 . Although peripheral sensitization of pain fibers at local tissue sites of inflammation has a key role in heightening pain from those regions, these peripheral observations were soon extended with the discovery of a central nervous system (CNS) mechanism of action for IL-1β and other cytokines

Physiological pain processing  

Pain (either nociceptive pain or inflammatory pain) is protective and adaptive, warning the individual to escape the pain-inducing stimulus and to protect the injured tissue site during healing. The basic scientific understanding of sensory processing and modulation has been dramatically improved by the development of pain assays that recreate some elements of clinical pain syndromes (BOX 1). Painful stimuli (for example, mechanical, thermal and chemical) are initially transduced into neuronal electrical activity and conducted from the peripheral stimulus site to the CNS along a series of well-characterized peripheral nociceptive sensory neurons (first-order primary afferent neurons). The nociceptive signal is then transmitted at central synapses through the release of a variety of neurotransmitters that have the potential to excite second-order nociceptive projection neurons in the spinal dorsal horn or hindbrain (FIG. 1). This process of nociception can occur through several mechanisms involving glutamate and neuropeptides (for example, substance P or calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP)). Glutamate activates postsynaptic glutamate AMPA (α-amino-3 -hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole proprionic acid) and kainate receptors on second-order nociceptive projection neurons. Interestingly, these receptor systems are not all engaged equally in response to different types of pain. Modification of the nociceptive signal can occur at the level of the spinal cord through activation of local GABAergic (that produce γ-aminobutyric acid) and glycinergic inhibitory interneurons.

Reference

Other related articles published in this Open Access Scientific Journal include the following:

VOLUME 3The Immune System and Therapeutics

(Series D: BioMedicine & Immunology) Kindle Edition. On Amazon.com since September 4, 2017

Author, Curator and Editor: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075CXHY1B

Chapter 10: Neuro-Immunology

Introduction

This chapter is mainly concerned with Alzheimer’s Disease, but also a stress response pathway, neurotransmitters and signaling.

10.1 Alzheimer’s Disease: Novel Therapeutical Approaches — Articles of Note @PharmaceuticalIntelligence.com

Curators: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

10.2 BWH Researchers: Genetic Variations can Influence Immune Cell Function: Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s Disease, DM, and MS later in life

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

10.3 Drugs that activate this novel stress response pathway, which they call the mitochondrial-to-cytosolic stress response, protected both nematodes and cultured human cells with Huntington´s disease from protein-folding damage.

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

10.4 Role of Neurotransmitters and other such Neurosignaling Molecules

Curator: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP

3D printing: Improvising the Next-generation Batteries

Reporter: Vaishnavee Joshi BSc and MSc.

Batteries are the building blocks of 21st-century technology; it has been with us for a long time. The true significance of the batteries can be traced down to the 1800s when the first true battery was invented by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta. With the pace of time and invention, many great contributions were made in the production and advancement of batteries. The two great leaps that are a first great leap forward:

  • Lithium-ion batteries and second leap forward:
  • Nanotechnology, completely transformed the production.

What began as an experiment, developed as an indispensable item in our world.

Dawn of 3-D printing technology

Astonishingly, the rapid growth in high throughput computer-aided technology and the earliest 3D printing manufacturing equipment which was developed by Hideo Kodama increased the development of three broad types of 3D manufacturing technologies that is :

  • Sintering,
  • Melting
  • Stereolithography.

3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing is a method of creating a 3D object layer by layer using a computer created design since the last decade 3D printed batteries have been an area of interest for both consumer electronics and electric vehicles. The benefit of 3D printing of batteries are that the production of batteries is flexible, customizable for one particular application and printing can save weight or reduce mass, and even higher energy densities can be achieved by transforming the internal topologies. Production and research in 3D printing technologies are at their highest peaks in Asia and America many American firms considers battery 3D printing to be a publicly traded U.S branch.

Blackstone Resources AG(Swx: BLS) is a Swiss holding company focused on battery technology and metals they are creating processes tagged as Blackstone thick layer technology for 3D printing lithium-ion batteries. The patented process can fabricate both electrolyte and solid-state batteries and also cutting the expenditure by 70  percent the other demonstrated organizations that are located at Canada, Peru, Mongolia. It also claims to have begun exploring several minerals

https://www.blackstoneresources.ch/activities/battery-technology/lack

Sakuu Corporation

A bay area start up that developed a unique Blackstone thick layer technology that process and combines materials such as ceramics and metals for a variety of applications. It also claims that the production of lithium SSBs can be manufactured at scale using its multi-material multi-method (4M) technology. it uses standard cathode materials but in the future, it will also feature higher voltage cathodes with the potential of 25 % more energy the firms also states that “They are focused on finishing the platform that can do it.

We are working in parallel with all of the battery chemistry and everything else

Blackstone and Sakuu are some of many firms that are competing in re-creating and patenting the 3D printing methods. Nevertheless, the 4M technology of Sakuu holds a promising future in the world of lithium batteries with this elixir the applications are immense and beyond the scope.   

SOURCES

First Lithium Solid State Battery Produced by 3D Printing Startup Sakuu

2. Battery 3D printing firm considers publicly traded U.S. branch. June 22,20121, Michael Molitch-Hou, 3D printing. LIVE

3. 3D printed batteries: here comes the future. August 10, 2020, Jeff Butler.

4. The history and development of batteries. April 30, 2015, Jose Alarco and Peter Talbot

https://phys.org/news/2015-04-history-batteries.html

5. Sakuu to Release Multi-Material, Multi-Process Battery 3D Printer

3dprint.com/281555/sakuu-to-release-multi-material-multi-process-3d-printer-for-fabricating-e-mobility-batteries/

Other related articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

Series E, Volume Four: Medical 3D BioPrinting – The Revolution in Medicine, Technologies for Patient-centered Medicine: From R&D in Biologics to New Medical Devices

Editors: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

Available on Kindle Store @ Amazon.com since 12/30/2017

  • Volume 4: Medical 3D BioPrinting – The Revolution in Medicine, Technologies for Patient-centered Medicine: From R&D in Biologics to New Medical Devices. On Amazon.com since 12/30/2017

Novartis uses a ‘dimmer switch’ medication to fine-tune gene therapy candidates

Reporter: Amandeep Kaur, BSc., MSc.

Using viral vectors, lipid nanoparticles, and other technologies, significant progress has been achieved in refining the delivery of gene treatments. However, modifications to the cargo itself are still needed to increase safety and efficacy by better controlling gene expression.

To that end, researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have created a “dimmer switch” system that employs Novartis’ investigational Huntington’s disease medicine branaplam (LMI070) as a regulator to fine-tune the quantity of proteins generated from a gene therapy.

According to a new study published in Nature, the Xon system altered quantities of erythropoietin—which is used to treat anaemia associated with chronic renal disease—delivered to mice using viral vectors. The method has previously been licenced by Novartis, the maker of the Zolgensma gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy.

The Xon system depends on a process known as “alternative splicing,” in which RNA is spliced to include or exclude specific exons of a gene, allowing the gene to code for multiple proteins. The team used branaplam, a small-molecule RNA-splicing modulator, for this platform. The medication was created to improve SMN2 gene splicing in order to cure spinal muscular atrophy. Novartis shifted its research to try the medication against Huntington’s disease after a trial failure.

A gene therapy’s payload remains dormant until oral branaplam is given, according to Xon. The medicine activates the expression of the therapy’s functional gene by causing it to splice in the desired way. Scientists from CHOP and the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research put the dimmer switch to the exam in an Epo gene therapy carried through adeno-associated viral vectors. The usage of branaplam increased mice Epo levels in the blood and hematocrit levels (the proportion of red blood cells to whole blood) by 60% to 70%, according to the researchers. The researchers fed the rodents branaplam again as their hematocrit decreased to baseline levels. The therapy reinduced Epo to levels similar to those seen in the initial studies, according to the researchers.

The researchers also demonstrated that the Xon system could be used to regulate progranulin expression, which is utilised to treat PGRN-deficient frontotemporal dementia and neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis. The scientists emphasised that gene therapy requires a small treatment window to be both safe and effective.

In a statement, Beverly Davidson, Ph.D., the study’s senior author, said, “The dose of a medicine can define how high you want expression to be, and then the system can automatically ‘dim down’ at a pace corresponding to the half-life of the protein.”

“We may imagine scenarios in which a medication is used only once, such as to control the expression of foreign proteins required for gene editing, or only on a limited basis. Because the splicing modulators we examined are administered orally, compliance to control protein expression from viral vectors including Xon-based cassettes should be high.”

In gene-modifying medicines, scientists have tried a variety of approaches to alter gene expression. For example, methyl groups were utilised as a switch to turn on or off expression of genes in the gene-editing system CRISPR by a team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, San Francisco.

Auxolytic, a biotech company founded by Stanford University academics, has described how knocking down a gene called UMPS could render T-cell therapies ineffective by depriving T cells of the nutrition uridine. Xon could also be tailored to work with cancer CAR-T cell therapy, according to the CHOP-Novartis researchers. The dimmer switch could help prevent cell depletion by halting CAR expression, according to the researchers. According to the researchers, such a tuneable switch could help CRISPR-based treatments by providing “a short burst” of production of CRISPR effector proteins to prevent undesirable off-target editing.

Source: https://www.fiercebiotech.com/research/novartis-fine-tunes-gene-therapy-a-huntington-s-disease-candidate-as-a-dimmer-switch?mkt_tok=Mjk0LU1RRi0wNTYAAAF-q1ives09mmSQhXDd_jhF0M11KBMt0K23Iru3ZMcZFf-vcFQwMMCxTOiWM-jHaEvtyGOM_ds_Cw6NuB9B0fr79a3Opgh32TjXaB-snz54d2xU_fw

Other Related Articles published in this Open Access Online Scientific Journal include the following:

Gene Therapy could be a Boon to Alzheimer’s disease (AD): A first-in-human clinical trial proposed

Reporter: Dr. Premalata Pati, Ph.D., Postdoc

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/03/22/gene-therapy-could-be-a-boon-to-alzheimers-disease-ad-a-first-in-human-clinical-trial-proposed/

Top Industrialization Challenges of Gene Therapy Manufacturing

Guest Authors: Dr. Mark Szczypka and Clive Glover

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/03/29/top-industrialization-challenges-of-gene-therapy-manufacturing/

Dysregulation of ncRNAs in association with Neurodegenerative Disorders

Curator: Amandeep Kaur

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/01/11/dysregulation-of-ncrnas-in-association-with-neurodegenerative-disorders/

Cancer treatment using CRISPR-based Genome Editing System 

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021/01/09/59906/

CRISPR-Cas9 and the Power of Butterfly Gene Editing

Reporter: Madison Davis

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2020/08/23/crispr-cas9-and-the-power-of-butterfly-gene-editing/

Gene Editing for Exon 51: Why CRISPR Snipping might be better than Exon Skipping for DMD

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/23/gene-editing-for-exon-51-why-crispr-snipping-might-be-better-than-exon-skipping-for-dmd/

Gene Editing: The Role of Oligonucleotide Chips

Curators: Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP and Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2016/01/07/gene-editing-the-role-of-oligonucleotide-chips/

Cause of Alzheimer’s Discovered: protein SIRT6 role in DNA repair process – low levels enable DNA damage accumulation

Reporter: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2017/06/15/cause-of-alzheimers-discovered-protein-sirt6-role-in-dna-repair-process-low-levels-enable-dna-damage-accumulation/

Delineating a Role for CRISPR-Cas9 in Pharmaceutical Targeting

Author & Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/08/30/delineating-a-role-for-crispr-cas9-in-pharmaceutical-targeting/

Brain Science

Larry H Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2015/11/03/brain-science/

LPBI Group announces 5th Academic INTERNSHIP as a Verifiable Certificate in Financial Modeling & Econometrics as One Semester or as One Year Program open to Undergraduate and MBA students

Author: Aviva Lev-Ari, PhD, RN

5th Internship in FINANCE:

Open to College students 3rd year or MBA students that need a Project to submit like a Capstone or a Thesis that involve INDEPENDENT under supervision & mentorship CREATIVE research – Diving with a Mentor into dealing with unresolved problems in the topic of Intellectual Property Asset Valuation – rough waters, daring to do so by thinking out of the Box !!!!!!!

  • No existing solution fits our problem
  • We need to device a solution a new
  • Aviva will be the guide

Candidate had academic courses in college on Statistics, Economics, Accounting, Finance, Operations Research, Probability

  • Candidate masters FORMULAS in Excel
  • Candidate can code a computer program and use statistical packages
  • Candidate is savvy and agile, enjoys experiments with data and get needs experience with BIG DATA to become a Data Scientist in graduate School
  • Able to go to literature with guidance and fetch and use what was found in literature to apply and further the research agenda

As an example:

A perspective on the valuation of companies with significant Intangible assets, like LPBI is presented and analyzed in the following curation on the Intangible Asset of Firm’s Reputation. In the case of LPBI, the intangible assets it possesses are key determinants of its reputation and digital reputation on the Internet as is the case in the Media World.

The Digital Age Gave Rise to New Definitions – New Benchmarks were born on the World Wide Web for the Intangible Asset of Firm’s Reputation: Pay a Premium for buying e-Reputation

PROJECT DEFINITION: Develop a Valuation Model for an Intellectual Property Portfolio of Digital Assets in Pharmaceutical Media that includes Intangible assets as well.

Under development

· IP Valuation Model per IP asset class is needed to be compared with Master_Financials and to supplement it

· Pricing Model and Product Mix Models for the digital products to be generated by the process of Text Analysis with NLP are using a Product Price List already developed.

· The scenarios for a Probabilistic Product Mix for the B2B sector are work-in-progress. 

· Scenarios of Product Mix for $500,000 B2B engagements with NLP scaling up with NLP Alliances. The Alliances are the Labor component and LPBI is Materials as 25% of the contract price, on top of total, to be paid by the B2B customer as materials in use of the engagement.

· B2C on Blockchain will use the Price List for all Digital Products of LPBI 1.0 and LPBI 2.0 – pay per use

· Product list will be in use for B2C vs Engagements to be used for B2B


• LPBI’s Valuation of Intellectual Property does not correspond to the Discount Rate of Net Present Value (NPV) which is the difference between the present value of cash inflows and the present value of cash outflows over a period of time. NPV is used in capital budgeting and investment planning to analyze the profitability of a projected investment or project. It does not correspond because nor the innovation type or the rate of innovations are predictable by any set of assumptions that would under lie such models.

• LPBI’s Valuation of Intellectual Property does not correspond to its revenues derived from Royalties on Books. The Pay per View as practiced by Page Download is hindering books sales and Royalties are determined by Amazon.com have never been in favor of Authors. Our page download equate to 64 books not sold because of the option of Pay per View.

• LPBI’s Intellectual Property is a factor of production as input to the Drug discovery process, see Mission 4, below or Claims adjudication, see Mission 1, below.

• LPBI’s Intellectual Property is a critical component in information syndication of Pharmaceutical Media, see Mission 3, below

• LPBI’s Intellectual Property has the potential to become an input into the development process of software application development for Pharma and Biotech by IT Organizations like Apple Health, Intel Health, Google’s Verily, SAP, Oracle and IBM Watson.

• LPBI’s Intellectual Property is a formidable candidate for a Holding company with existing Online health publishing, Health Care Media, Web-Health and Health Information Markets, i.e., KKR

• LPBI’s Intellectual Property is an attractive candidate for the EDTech industry supplying education content for the the Global and very fast growing emerging Online Education sector including all tiers of the Academic ecosystem   getting blurred boundaries such as Ivy League institutions offering Certificates along the side of academic degrees. Certificates are coveted by employers. LPBI is running a One year Academic Certificate in NLP for Medical Text Analysis in Mission #1 and in Synthetic Biology Software in Mission #4.

LPBI Opportunities Map is comprehensive and includes 12 Economic Segments include the follwoing: Holding Companies; Investment Bankers and Private Equity; Information Technology Companies – Health Care; Scientific Publishers; Big Pharma; Internet Health Care Media & Digital Health; Online Education; Health Insurance Companies & HMOs; Medical and Pharma Associations; Medical Education; Information Syndicators; Global Biotech & Pharmaceutical Conference Organizer and CRO & CRA.

SOURCE: Opportunities Map in the Acquisition Arena

OTHER FOUR INTERNSHIPS at LPBI Group

LPBI Group runs FOUR ACADEMIC INTERNSHIPS as verifiable Certificate Programs a One Year long or a One Semester long: Volunteer base – you earn TRAINING and a CERTIFICATE Tuition FREE

LPBI has Students and their education goals in mind:

  • We Offer esteemed Affiliation, Mentorship by Scientists
  • NEW skills development in NLP, ML, AI applications to Medical Text Analysis
  • Skills in Synthetic Biology for Drug Discovery
  • References and Resume paragraph on accomplishments and goals during the INTERNSHIP
  • Opportunity to contribute to Publications and Podcasting
  • Explorations of opportunities in Life Sciences in the US

These are the FOUR ACADEMIC INTERNSHIPS as verifiable Certificate Programs One year or One semester: Volunteer base

  1. NLP – Medical Text Analysis https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/2021-medical-text-analysis-nlp/
  2. Synthetic Biology in Drug Discovery targeting Galectins https://pharmaceuticalintelligence.com/synthetic-biology-in-drug-discovery/
  3. IT Projects and Administration of IP Asset Classes. we developed a Plan for SOPs for LPBI Group’s IT & Data Science Management Projects

Informations technology & systems of LPBI: Journal, Books, e-Proceedings & Tweet Collections and GALLERY of +6,200 Biological Images. All the platforms: Authoring, publishing and portals. Business analytics for Internet platforms presence: Twitter Analytics +1,100 followers of two handles and LinkedIn ~8,000 1st degree connections of LPBI’s Founder, including +500 CEOs.

4. BLOCKCHAIN Architecture Design: Interface to NLP. The powerful aspect is hydrating a knowledge graph with NLP inferences so that they can be used for DISCOVERY. Storing those inferences on a blockchain have the value of committing the NLP inferences to a blockchain for purposes of provenance. However, the very important part is The INFRASTRUCTURE behind BurstIQ which is NOT JUST A BLOCKCHAIN. NLP-Blockchain IT Infrastructure is needed. The NLP inferences are part of a knowledge graph database In BurstIQ case is a LifeGraph – the larger architecture of the system functionality [the voice of Erich G., Chief Architect, LPBI Blockchain Mission #2].

For immediate consideration: Submit CV as MS Word file to:

AvivaLev-Ari@alum.berkeley.edu

617-775-0451

Boston, MA, USA

Science Policy Forum: Should we trust healthcare explanations from AI predictive systems?

Some in industry voice their concerns

Curator: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

Post on AI healthcare and explainable AI

   In a Policy Forum article in ScienceBeware explanations from AI in health care”, Boris Babic, Sara Gerke, Theodoros Evgeniou, and Glenn Cohen discuss the caveats on relying on explainable versus interpretable artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms to make complex health decisions.  The FDA has already approved some AI/ML algorithms for analysis of medical images for diagnostic purposes.  These have been discussed in prior posts on this site, as well as issues arising from multi-center trials.  The authors of this perspective article argue that choice of type of algorithm (explainable versus interpretable) algorithms may have far reaching consequences in health care.

Summary

Artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) algorithms are increasingly developed in health care for diagnosis and treatment of a variety of medical conditions (1). However, despite the technical prowess of such systems, their adoption has been challenging, and whether and how much they will actually improve health care remains to be seen. A central reason for this is that the effectiveness of AI/ML-based medical devices depends largely on the behavioral characteristics of its users, who, for example, are often vulnerable to well-documented biases or algorithmic aversion (2). Many stakeholders increasingly identify the so-called black-box nature of predictive algorithms as the core source of users’ skepticism, lack of trust, and slow uptake (3, 4). As a result, lawmakers have been moving in the direction of requiring the availability of explanations for black-box algorithmic decisions (5). Indeed, a near-consensus is emerging in favor of explainable AI/ML among academics, governments, and civil society groups. Many are drawn to this approach to harness the accuracy benefits of noninterpretable AI/ML such as deep learning or neural nets while also supporting transparency, trust, and adoption. We argue that this consensus, at least as applied to health care, both overstates the benefits and undercounts the drawbacks of requiring black-box algorithms to be explainable.

Source: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/373/6552/284?_ga=2.166262518.995809660.1627762475-1953442883.1627762475

Types of AI/ML Algorithms: Explainable and Interpretable algorithms

  1.  Interpretable AI: A typical AI/ML task requires constructing algorithms from vector inputs and generating an output related to an outcome (like diagnosing a cardiac event from an image).  Generally the algorithm has to be trained on past data with known parameters.  When an algorithm is called interpretable, this means that the algorithm uses a transparent or “white box” function which is easily understandable. Such example might be a linear function to determine relationships where parameters are simple and not complex.  Although they may not be as accurate as the more complex explainable AI/ML algorithms, they are open, transparent, and easily understood by the operators.
  2. Explainable AI/ML:  This type of algorithm depends upon multiple complex parameters and takes a first round of predictions from a “black box” model then uses a second algorithm from an interpretable function to better approximate outputs of the first model.  The first algorithm is trained not with original data but based on predictions resembling multiple iterations of computing.  Therefore this method is more accurate or deemed more reliable in prediction however is very complex and is not easily understandable.  Many medical devices that use an AI/ML algorithm use this type.  An example is deep learning and neural networks.

The purpose of both these methodologies is to deal with problems of opacity, or that AI predictions based from a black box undermines trust in the AI.

For a deeper understanding of these two types of algorithms see here:

https://www.kdnuggets.com/2018/12/machine-learning-explainability-interpretability-ai.html

or https://www.bmc.com/blogs/machine-learning-interpretability-vs-explainability/

(a longer read but great explanation)

From the above blog post of Jonathan Johnson

  • How interpretability is different from explainability
  • Why a model might need to be interpretable and/or explainable
  • Who is working to solve the black box problem—and how

What is interpretability?

Does Chipotle make your stomach hurt? Does loud noise accelerate hearing loss? Are women less aggressive than men? If a machine learning model can create a definition around these relationships, it is interpretable.

All models must start with a hypothesis. Human curiosity propels a being to intuit that one thing relates to another. “Hmm…multiple black people shot by policemen…seemingly out of proportion to other races…something might be systemic?” Explore.

People create internal models to interpret their surroundings. In the field of machine learning, these models can be tested and verified as either accurate or inaccurate representations of the world.

Interpretability means that the cause and effect can be determined.

What is explainability?

ML models are often called black-box models because they allow a pre-set number of empty parameters, or nodes, to be assigned values by the machine learning algorithm. Specifically, the back-propagation step is responsible for updating the weights based on its error function.

To predict when a person might die—the fun gamble one might play when calculating a life insurance premium, and the strange bet a person makes against their own life when purchasing a life insurance package—a model will take in its inputs, and output a percent chance the given person has at living to age 80.

Below is an image of a neural network. The inputs are the yellow; the outputs are the orange. Like a rubric to an overall grade, explainability shows how significant each of the parameters, all the blue nodes, contribute to the final decision.

In this neural network, the hidden layers (the two columns of blue dots) would be the black box.

For example, we have these data inputs:

  • Age
  • BMI score
  • Number of years spent smoking
  • Career category

If this model had high explainability, we’d be able to say, for instance:

  • The career category is about 40% important
  • The number of years spent smoking weighs in at 35% important
  • The age is 15% important
  • The BMI score is 10% important

Explainability: important, not always necessary

Explainability becomes significant in the field of machine learning because, often, it is not apparent. Explainability is often unnecessary. A machine learning engineer can build a model without ever having considered the model’s explainability. It is an extra step in the building process—like wearing a seat belt while driving a car. It is unnecessary for the car to perform, but offers insurance when things crash.

The benefit a deep neural net offers to engineers is it creates a black box of parameters, like fake additional data points, that allow a model to base its decisions against. These fake data points go unknown to the engineer. The black box, or hidden layers, allow a model to make associations among the given data points to predict better results. For example, if we are deciding how long someone might have to live, and we use career data as an input, it is possible the model sorts the careers into high- and low-risk career options all on its own.

Perhaps we inspect a node and see it relates oil rig workers, underwater welders, and boat cooks to each other. It is possible the neural net makes connections between the lifespan of these individuals and puts a placeholder in the deep net to associate these. If we were to examine the individual nodes in the black box, we could note this clustering interprets water careers to be a high-risk job.

In the previous chart, each one of the lines connecting from the yellow dot to the blue dot can represent a signal, weighing the importance of that node in determining the overall score of the output.

  • If that signal is high, that node is significant to the model’s overall performance.
  • If that signal is low, the node is insignificant.

With this understanding, we can define explainability as:

Knowledge of what one node represents and how important it is to the model’s performance.

So how does choice of these two different algorithms make a difference with respect to health care and medical decision making?

The authors argue: 

“Regulators like the FDA should focus on those aspects of the AI/ML system that directly bear on its safety and effectiveness – in particular, how does it perform in the hands of its intended users?”

A suggestion for

  • Enhanced more involved clinical trials
  • Provide individuals added flexibility when interacting with a model, for example inputting their own test data
  • More interaction between user and model generators
  • Determining in which situations call for interpretable AI versus explainable (for instance predicting which patients will require dialysis after kidney damage)

Other articles on AI/ML in medicine and healthcare on this Open Access Journal include

Applying AI to Improve Interpretation of Medical Imaging

Real Time Coverage @BIOConvention #BIO2019: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence #AI: Realizing Precision Medicine One Patient at a Time

LIVE Day Three – World Medical Innovation Forum ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, Boston, MA USA, Monday, April 10, 2019

Cardiac MRI Imaging Breakthrough: The First AI-assisted Cardiac MRI Scan Solution, HeartVista Receives FDA 510(k) Clearance for One Click™ Cardiac MRI Package