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Breaking Healthcare Technology News

It was a busy March month in healthcare technology news as the entire healthcare industry continued to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Hospitals and healthcare systems are leveraging technology to test patients suspected of having the virus. While most of the healthcare industry is focusing on COVID-19, other healthcare technology news is happening.

This article highlights all you need to know in healthcare technology news this week.

HHS May Postpone Data-Sharing Rules due to COVID-19 Outbreak

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is considering postponing the rollout of new interoperability rules due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. Healthcare leaders are concerned they will be overburdened and need to pull staff away from the COVID-19 response to implement the new rules, which are expected to fundamentally change how healthcare providers, insurers and patients exchange health data. Once rules are fully implemented, patients will be able to access and download their health data with third-party apps. Hospitals, insurers and technology vendors need to adopt new capabilities to enable the rules. Some aspects of the rules are scheduled to go into effect in six months while others may take two years. Healthcare organizations are worried they may need to pull staff away from COVID-19 work to implement the rules and are asking for the delay. No final decision has been made.

Google and Facebook Consider Sharing Smartphone Data with Government to Address COVID-19

Google, Facebook and other tech companies are discussing the potential of using location and movement data from smartphones to help fight the coronavirus. The data would be used to help predict where the next major outbreak of the virus may occur. The proposal to use the location data was proposed by a task force made up of 60 technology companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, Uber, Apple and IBM as well as public health leaders from Harvard and other leading institutions. The task force is working with the White House Office of Science of Technology and the Office of American Innovation to provide recommendations and solutions in four key areas: location data, clinical data, social isolation and telehealth.

Some technology advocates have raised concerns about privacy in providing the location data to the government. No conclusions have been made yet and the task force considers to discuss ways to help the government combat the virus.

WHO Introduces Health Alert on WhatsApp

As COVID-19 continues to spread across the world, government and public health officials are also fighting misinformation. To help people to tell the difference between truth and myth, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a Health Alert on WhatsApp to provide trusted and reliable information and advice to the public. The service is free of charge and is available to answer questions about all aspects of the virus 24 hours a day. The information will be updated on a daily basis. Government officials can also use the service to obtain the latest statistics. Currently, the Health Alert is currently only offered in English but will be available in other languages in the next few weeks. For more information about the service, please visit whatsapp.com/coronavirus.

Medtronic Increases Ventilator Production to Meet Coronavirus Demand

Hospitals all over the world are facing a ventilator shortage for patients needing a breathing support due to the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. The Society of Critical Care predicts about 960,000 coronavirus patients in the U.S. may need ventilators but the country only has about 200,000 machines available. To help fill this urgent need, Medtronic, the world’s largest medical device manufacturer, is more than doubling its production of ventilators and adding more workers to manufacture the ventilators 24 hours a day. Other medical device manufacturers such as GE Healthcare, Getinge and Philips are also increasing ventilator production. Medtronic will distribute the new ventilators to areas with the highest risk or need. The company will monitor the demand on a weekly basis and make changes to the distribution plan as necessary.

Healthcare Startup Rivet Health Raises $8.25 Million in Series A Funding

In other healthcare technology news, Salt-Lake City-based Rivet Health raised $8.25 million from investors for its healthcare revenue cycle management and pricing transparency platform. Investors for the Series A Funding include Menlo Ventures, which headed the round, and prior investors Pelion Venture Partners and Lux Capital. The suite improves cost-transparency for both healthcare providers and patients. Rivet Health plans to use the new investment to grow its workforce, strengthen price-transparency capabilities and further bolster its end-to-end patient billing platform as a leader in the market.