Your morning summary of digital health news, information and events to know about if you want to be “in the know”.   

👇 News  

🤝Helios, a global healthcare communications group, backed by NorthEdge since 2021, has acquired Cogentia, a leading health economics and outcomes research and market access firm, to further expand its specialist services and increase its global talent base. Cogentia undertakes research and data-led health analysis for a range of global pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, supporting them in getting their products to market and ensuring patient uptake.  

❗ Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has started a trial of a new non-hormonal drug trial that will investigate whether it can reverse the debilitating symptoms of endometriosis and reduce the need for surgery. The chronic condition affects one in 10 women in the UK and occurs when the cells that normally line the womb are found elsewhere in the body and can cause painful symptoms including heavy periods, pelvic pain and in extreme cases scarring and damage to the pelvic organs. The Gynaecology and Research and Development team at NNUH are playing a key role in leading a Phase II research study, which will evaluate an antibody designed to reduce inflammation and endometriosis symptoms. 

🧠 AI may help psychiatrists predict whether antidepressants will be effective, according to a new study, which could save time for patients and improve their psychiatric care. While antidepressants can be prescribed to treat moderate to severe depression, health professionals have to wait six to eight weeks to see if there’s an improvement and change the treatment if that’s not the case. Using AI, researchers from the Amsterdam University Medical Centre (Amsterdam UMC) and Radboud University Medical Centre in the Netherlands found a way to reduce this delay. They focused on sertraline, also known under the brand name Zoloft, which is one of the most prescribed first-line treatments for depression.  

💷 Bupa Ventures has announced the launch of its new Bupa Ventures Fund, with a total of $20 million in funding available for start-ups focusing on innovative models of healthcare across a variety of areas and early focuses including predictive and preventative healthcare, genomics, home care, and remote monitoring. Designed to support early funding rounds of start-ups in the Seed – Series A stage of development, it is hoped that the new fund will allow Bupa to identify, invest in and partner with start-ups “at the forefront of technology and market trends”, in order to support Bupa’s ambitions of becoming “the most customer-centric healthcare company in the world”. 

👩‍👩‍👧‍👧 Persistent Systems, a global provider of digital engineering and enterprise modernisation solutions, today launched an innovative generative AI-powered population health management (PHM) solution in collaboration with Microsoft. Aligned with value-based care models, the solution identifies social determinants of health to determine patients’ non-clinical needs and better predict the cost of care driven by clinical conditions. It helps patients receive quality care at the right time and in the right place, while optimising capacity and cost-effectiveness for healthcare providers and organisations. Leveraging Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service and Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, Persistent’s PHM Solution identifies SDoH based on electronic health records data. Since up to 80% of key patient information within an EHR is in the form of unstructured clinical notes, Persistent accurately extracts this information, unlike other PHM solutions in the market, which are solely dependent on third-party data sources or survey data

❓ Did you know that 

A study by the European Migraine & Headache Alliance and The Migraine Trust in the UK has looked at the stigma surrounding migraine and its impact on people affected by the condition. Among the insights: 

  • 26% of respondents who did not have a migraine believe that the condition is nothing more than a strong headache. 
  • 35% of people affected by migraines admit to delaying or avoiding seeking medical advice due to the feelings of embarrassment and the fear of judgment from healthcare professionals. 
  • 74% of those affected by migraines felt that medical professionals do not take their condition seriously. 
  • In the workplace, around 43% of those surveyed have chosen not to disclose their conditions to their employers, despite many acknowledging difficulties in completing work tasks. 

📖 What we’re reading  

From AI algorithms that pick up early cancers, to the ‘doctor-in-your-pocket’ smartphone video consultation, a string of next-generation healthcare technologies are being unveiled. Such innovations have brought huge benefits to millions of patients. But the advantages of such digitisation are not distributed equally. According to a 2023 Ofcom report, one household in 13 has no access to the Internet and a similar proportion has no home computer. Yet even within connected households, the so-called ‘digital skills gap’ means many people could still struggle, as BBC Science reports here. 

🚨 This week’s events 

15 February, online – Reuters Webinar: Breaking Barriers: Advance Health Data Interoperability for Seamless Collaboration in Care Delivery

15-16 February, London – International Conference on Digital Healthcare 2024