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

👇 News 

📲 A smartphone app under development at Dartmouth College uses image processing and AI to detect when a user might be sliding into depression — even before the person knows it. Campbell and his colleagues recruited 177 people to respond to questions about feeling down, depressed or hopeless who agreed to let the app sporadically capture images of them while they answered. The users, primarily white women, didn’t know when the app would snap photos. The researchers trained the app, called MoodCapture, to correlate self-reports of feeling depressed with facial expressions such as gaze, eye movement, head position and muscle rigidity, as well as ambient elements like dominant colours, lighting, photo location and the number of people in the picture. It correctly identified early symptoms of depression with 75 percent accuracy, the researchers said. They will present their results at the Association of Computing Machinery conference in Hawaii in May. 

🔎 AI programs have recently acquired widespread popularity in dermatology for assessing, diagnosing, and treating skin conditions. As reported in the International Journal of Dermatology, investigators recently analysed all published studies from the last 10 years to evaluate current AI programs in use for dermatologic purposes, uncovering significant shortcomings when applied to skin of colour (SOC). The researchers identified various challenges when this technology is applied to SOC, mainly stemming from the underrepresentation of SOC in datasets and issues with image quality and standardization. Results indicate that current AI programs inevitably do worse at identifying skin lesions in SOC. Also, only 30% of the programs identified in this analysis had data specifically in SOC. 

💰 Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) has been awarded almost £2.5m to investigate the effectiveness of new airways devices to transform care and outcomes for seriously ill patients in hospital Intensive Care Units (ICUs) who need help to breathe. Funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the six-year, MFT-led “PROTECT Airways*” study will investigate if new advanced airway protection systems, that connect critically ill patients to breathing machines (ventilators), will reduce serious side effects and shorten the duration of ICU care. 

👁 An AI technology can accurately and independently detect 100% of severe cases of a blindness-causing condition that affects prematurely born babies, according to new research from Oregon Health & Science University and collaborators, published in JAMA Ophthalmology. The technology has the potential to expand worldwide screening—and ultimately sight-saving treatment—for retinopathy of prematurity, or ROP, the condition that caused musician Stevie Wonder to go blind. For this study, the AI system analysed nearly 12,000 images of more than 4,000 babies’ retinas. The photos were taken by nurses at neonatal intensive care units in US and Indian hospitals. Ophthalmologists had previously reviewed the images as part of telemedicine programs in both countries and found that about 1.2% of the babies had severe forms of ROP, while about 5.8% had more-than-mild cases. The AI system correctly identified all of the severe cases and accurately detected 80% of the cases with more-than-mild ROP. 

👏 An internationally significant, innovative health technology project based in Moray has recently been shortlisted for the ITEC (International Technology Care) 2024 Awards. The ‘pilot’ project, delivered by the Rural Centre of Excellence (RCE) and digital health firm Archangel under the auspices of the Scotland-based Digital Health & Care Innovation Centre (DHI), focused on the generation and collation of holistic data of social determinants of health. The collation and analysis of the data is internationally unique and offers the potential for significant citizen and service impact through its capability to generate individual and population level insights, enabling enhanced self-management, early intervention and targeted resources. The ITEC Awards will be held at the Gala Dinner for this year’s ITEC conference on the evening of the 18 March 2024 at the ICC Birmingham. 

Did you know that? 

Up to 4.2 million people in England could be living with undiagnosed high blood pressure, according to the NHS. The ‘silent killer’ often has no symptoms but if left untreated, can lead to fatal heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease and vascular dementia. New survey data shows that despite most high blood pressure cases being asymptomatic, only one in 14 respondents (7 per cent) thought the condition had no symptoms. 

📖 What we’re reading 

Biometrics are the missing link in healthcare digital transformation – by Vito Fabbrizio managing director, Biometrics Business Unit, HID. 

🚨 This week’s events 

12-13 March, The NEC, Birmingham – Digital Health Rewired 2024 – You can still register to attend on site!