Google's medically focused artificial intelligence (AI) model received an "expert" level score on a U.S. Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) practice test, in today's bite-sized hospital and health industry news from California, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
- California: The Google Health AI team shared preliminary results showing that its medically focused AI model scored an 85% on a USMLE practice test, the highest score ever achieved by an AI model. The Pathways Language Model, called Med-PaLM 2, consistently performed at an "expert" physician level on the sample of USMLE practice questions, according to Alan Karthikesalingam, a surgeon-scientist who leads the healthcare machine learning research group at Google Health. The model was able to answer multiple choice and open-ended questions. It also provided written explanations for its responses and evaluated its answers. Karthikesalingam added that the result demonstrates a notable improvement on previous AI models' attempts to achieve human proficiency on a USMLE practice test. "If you look through the history of medicine, there have always been useful new tools that give clinicians what seemed like superpowers at the time," Karthikesalingam said. "If AI can give caregivers back the gift of time, if AI can enable doctors and other caregivers to spend more time with their patients and bring time and humanity to medicine, and if it can increase accessibility and availability for people, that's our goal," he added. (DePeau-Wilson, MedPage Today, 3/14)
- Connecticut: Covenant Health announced its decision to withdraw its application to merge with Day Kimball Healthcare — a decision that came just weeks before the state's Office of Health Strategy was set to hold a public hearing on the merger. "As part of our due diligence as we prepared for the public hearing, we became aware of new and updated information that resulted in our decision to not move forward," said Karen Sullivan, VP of marketing and chief communications officer for Covenant Health. In particular, the planned merger raised concerns about reproductive health and other services in rural Connecticut that potentially deviated from the Ethical and Religious Directives set by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. However, Sullivan said that Covenant's decision to withdraw its application "had nothing to do with" the directives. (AP/Modern Healthcare, 3/14)
- New Jersey: Sanofi announced plans to acquire Provention Bio for $2.9 billion — a move that will expand the drugmaker's portfolio of diabetes medications. The acquisition, which is expected to close during the second quarter, marks Sanofi's largest deal since it purchased Principia Biopharma for over $3 billion in 2020. Once the deal is finalized, Sanofi will acquire a newly approved drug that will complement several of its existing diabetes medications. In November, Provention's Tzield gained FDA approval to delay the onset of type 1 diabetes in adults and children over the age of eight who have not yet received a clinical diagnosis. While the high-priced medication is not a cure, FDA said it could provide patients "with months to years without the burdens of disease." (Loh, Yahoo Finance, 3/13)