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Brainstorm Health: Final Obamacare Numbers, Blood Flow Smartphone App, Lilly’s Diabetes Play

Hello, readers! This is Sy.

There are many ways in which mobile and computing technology is changing the face of medicine. And one significant advantage our potential robot overlords have on us is better sight. In fact, that precise characteristic is why a smartphone app may one day be able to beat doctors at a critical medical process: measuring blood flow for heart patients.

Or at least that’s one takeaway from a small recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Doctors often use something called an “Allen test” to figure out if a patient’s artery is healthy enough for certain kinds of major cardiac surgery. But this process requires medical professionals to cut off blood flow and then observe the changes to the color of patients’ fingertips as a test.

And that’s where mobile technology may prove useful.

“Using a smartphone to monitor changes in color in the fingertips is much more accurate in detecting subtle changes as opposed to the doctors’ general opinion of the color of the hand,” senior study author Dr. Benjamin Hibbert said.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


That fatal brain freezing company just lost its MIT link.  Startup Nectome made some waves this year for its…unusual business proposition: Freezing brains in a process that the company itself says is 100% lethal. A major partner is reportedly leaving. “MIT Media Lab terminated a subcontract with Nectome following a report by MIT Technology Review that described the company’s promotion of its technology. Nectome’s brain storage service is not yet for sale. But it has taken deposits, including one from investor and Y Combinator president Sam Altman,” writes my colleague Kirsten Korosec. (Fortune)


Engineered stem cells for treating diabetes? American drug giant Eli Lilly has struck a deal with Sigilon Therapeutics as the company strives to outshine its numerous U.S. competitors with new, exciting technology. Lilly’s $63 million (upfront) Sigilon partnership would give it access to a technology platform that involves engineered, stem cell-producing cells. (BioPharma Dive)


Obamacare enrollment was surprisingly high despite Trump’s thousand cuts. 11.8 million Americans signed up for Obamacare this year. That’s just a 3% drop from last year, and the pretty much the entirety of the decline stems from states that rely on the federal website. The numbers are also striking given the severely curtailed open enrollment period and widespread confusion about the health law this year. (Fortune)


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Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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