Some of the country’s most prominent health care organizations are launching a coalition dedicated to advancing digital health.

The Digital Health Collaborative will conduct a national purchasing survey, create grants and hold events to bring thought leaders together.

Who’s in? The lobby for older adults, AARP; the American Medical Association; the Consumer Technology Association; the American Telemedicine Association; and AHIP, the lobby for insurance companies, and nine others.

What’s up? The collaborative awarded its first grant to the Digital Medicine Society, a professional group for people who work in health tech, funding a project to help square health tech innovations with FDA regulatory requirements.

What they’re saying: “The Digital Health Collaborative is raising the bar for guidance, research and resources that can accelerate the adoption of solutions that work and are worth it,” Meg Barron, a managing director at the Peterson Health Technology Institute, a nonprofit supporting the coalition, said in a press release.

Vantage point: Venture capital funding for digital health companies plummeted in 2023, according to a Rock Health report, with just $10.7 billion raised across 492 deals. It’s a long way from the sector’s most recent heyday, when the shift to online medicine prompted by Covid-19 led to an investment of $29 billion in almost 750 deals in 2021.

This is where we explore the ideas and innovators shaping health care.

Scientists think they may have cracked the mystery of how whales sing: a specialized voice box not seen in other animals, AP reports.

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Artificial intelligence that can identify drugs which shouldn’t be taken together could improve the effectiveness and safety of care.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Duke University have built a machine-learning model that aims to do that.

Why it matters: After a drug is taken orally, it passes through the digestive tract lining with the help of transporter proteins. But scientists don’t know which transporter proteins different drugs use to pass through the lining. If two drugs use the same transporter, they could interfere with one another.

How so? The researchers built a model to measure how intestinal tissue absorbed certain commonly used drugs. They then trained a machine-learning algorithm based on their new data and existing drug databases, teaching the new algorithm to predict which drugs would interact with which transporter proteins.

They analyzed 28 commonly used and 1,595 experimental drugs using that new model, which predicted nearly 2 million potential drug interactions. When they tested the predictions against patient data, they confirmed one prediction about an antibiotic interacting with other drugs.

“These are drugs that are commonly used, and we are the first to predict this interaction using this accelerated in silico and in vitro model,” the study’s senior author, Giovanni Traverso, said in a statement. “This kind of approach gives you the ability to understand the potential safety implications of giving these drugs together.”

What’s next? In addition to checking for existing drug interactions, the researchers hope their model could one day help drug developers tweak their formulas to prevent interactions.

The National Institutes of Health-backed study was published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering this week.

A “widespread transition” to electric vehicles would reduce air pollution and cut the number of pediatric respiratory issues, according to a new report from the American Lung Association.

How so? For kids in the U.S., the report predicts a move to zero-emission vehicles could mean:

— 2.79 million fewer asthma attacks

— 147,000 fewer acute bronchitis cases

— 2.67 million fewer upper-respiratory symptoms

— 508 fewer infant mortality cases

Children are disproportionately affected by air pollution, the report says, because their bodies are still developing and they’re typically exposed to more outdoor air than adults.

Nearly 27 million kids live in places affected by unhealthy air quality, the group says.

Even so: To achieve the forecasted gains, the analysis suggests taking aggressive action over the next 10 to 15 years, including only selling new passenger vehicles with zero emissions and shifting to a noncombustion electric grid by 2035.

The group called for the EPA to roll out stronger rules limiting the pollution allowed from vehicles and government officials to push for a faster transition to electric vehicles.

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