DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Microsoft developing health chatbot platform – Lifespan aims to cut $182 million in costs with GE partnership – Hitachi working to reduce hospital readmissions

The tech giant is developing the platform as a part of its Healthcare NExT program and has partnered with Aurora Health Care to create the Aurora Digital Assistant, a new chatbot service that aims to demonstrate how digital assistants can benefit not only patients but healthcare providers and networks, too. Currently, the platform is being privately previewed to Microsoft’s new partners. Microsoft hopes the service will help make it easier for users to access medical info from their smartphones. Aurora patients can “text” the digital assistant in a conversational manner via an app,…

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Online Education Costs More, Not Less

The myth that online education courses cost less to produce and therefore save students money on tuition doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, a survey of distance education providers found. The survey, conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), found that most colleges charge students the same or more to study online. And when additional fees are included, more than half of distance education students pay more than do those in brick-and-mortar classrooms. The higher prices — what students pay — are connected to higher production costs, the survey…

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Seizing on Rising Costs, Trump Says Health Law Is ‘Over’

Donald J. Trump, desperate for a winning political issue in the final two weeks of the presidential race, fiercely attacked Hillary Clinton on Tuesday over sharp premium increases that will hit some Americans covered under the Affordable Care Act. “The rates are going through the sky,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in Sanford, Fla., referring to double-digit increases in battleground states like North Carolina and Iowa. “Repealing Obamacare and stopping Hillary’s health care takeover is one of the single most important reasons that we must win on Nov. 8.”…

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Producer prices flat in August with food costs falling

WASHINGTON — U.S. producer prices were unchanged last month as the biggest decline in wholesale food costs in more than three years helped to keep a lid on inflation. The Labor Department says its producer price index, which measures cost pressures before they reach the consumer, was flat in August after a 0.4 percent decline in July which was the biggest drop in 10 months. Food prices at the wholesale level fell 1.6 percent in August, the largest drop since a similar decline in April 2013. Core inflation, which excludes the…

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