– Abbott launches new app, NeuroSphere myPath that will
allow patients to record their pain relief during the device trial period with
spinal cord stimulation or dorsal root ganglion therapy, simplify reporting
outcomes and connect patients to physicians who have real-time access to this
– NeuroSphere myPath will be available in the Apple App
Store in the coming weeks and will be compatible with the latest iOS operating
Abbott announced the
upcoming launch of NeuroSphere™ myPath™, a digital health app designed to track
and report on patient perceived pain relief and general well-being associated
with spinal cord stimulation (SCS) or dorsal root ganglion (DRG) therapy.
During the device trial period required before the permanent implant, the app
allows patients to record their outcomes on pain and well-being while trialing
their neurostimulation therapy.
NeuroSphere myPath Background
Abbott’s NeuroSphere myPath is a digital innovation
that will provide relief to the millions of Americans currently living with
chronic pain that are eligible for SCS or DRG therapy. This new digital health
app will allow patients to use their Apple mobile device to connect with Abbott support,
access educational resources and track the progress of their trial pain relief
Prior to committing to full implantation of a
neuromodulation device, patients undergo a trial period to test device
capabilities and capacity for pain relief. During the trial, temporary leads
are placed and connected to an external generator, allowing patients to
experience firsthand the impact of neuromodulation on their chronic pain and
Why It Matters
Chronic pain can negatively impact personal relationships,
work productivity and a person’s daily routine. Abbott is a global leader in
the development of chronic pain therapy solutions, offering radiofrequency
therapy and spinal cord stimulation therapy solutions, including radiofrequency
ablation generators and accessories, BurstDR™ stimulation, and dorsal root
ganglion stimulation in the portfolio of chronic pain treatments.
“The current digital healthcare landscape has revolutionized our ability to provide direct care for patients whenever they need,” said Shachi Patel, M.D., interventional pain management physician and owner of Delmarva Pain and Spine Center in Newark, Del. “By providing patients with a more seamless, easier way to record their progress during the trial period, Abbott’s NeuroSphere myPath app will enable an enhanced communication experience while providing patients with further insight on their overall outcomes and response to neuromodulation.”
The NeuroSphere myPath will be available on the Apple App
Store in the coming weeks and is expected to be available on Android devices in
Prior to the pandemic, telehealth was a limited ad-hoc service with geographic and provider restrictions. However, with both the pandemic restrictions on face to face interactions and a relaxation of governmental regulations, telehealth utilization has significantly increased from thousands of visits in a week to well over a million in the Medicare population. What we’ve learned is that telehealth allows patients, especially high-risk populations like seniors, to connect with their doctors in a safe and efficient way. Telehealth is valuable for many types of visits, mostly clearly ones that involve mental health or physical health issues that do not require a physical exam or procedure. It’s an efficient modality for both the member and provider.
With the growing popularity of telehealth services, we may see permanent changes in regulatory standards. Flexible regulatory standards, such as being able to use platforms like FaceTime or Skype, would lower the barrier to entry for providers to offer telehealth and also encourage adoption, especially among seniors. Second, it’s likely we’ll see an emergence of providers with aligned incentives around value, such as in many Medicare Advantage plans, trying very hard to encourage utilization with their members so that they get the right care at the right time. In theory, the shift towards value-based care will allow better care and lower costs than the traditional fee for service model. If we are able to evolve regulatory and payment environments, providers have an opportunity to grow these types of services into 2021 to improve patient wellness and health outcomes.
Dr. Salvatore Viscomi, Chief Medical Officer, GoodCell
2021 will be the year of patient controlled-health
The COVID-19 pandemic brought the realities of a global-scale health event – and our general lack of preparedness to address it – to the forefront. People are now laser-focused on how they can protect themselves and their families against the next inevitable threat. On top of this, social distancing and isolation accelerated the development and use of digital health tools, from wellness trackers to telehealth and virtual care, most of which can be accessed from the comfort of our homes. The convergence of these two forces is poised to make 2021 the year for patient-controlled health, whereby health decisions are not dictated by – but rather made in consultation with – a healthcare provider, leveraging insights and data pulled from a variety of health technology tools at people’s fingertips.
Anish Sebastian, CEO of Babyscripts
Telemedicine was the finger in the dyke at the beginning of pandemic panic, with healthcare providers grabbing whatever came to hand — encouraged by relaxed HIPAA regulations — to keep the dam from breaking. But as the dust settles, telemedicine is emerging as the commodity that it is, and value-add services are going to be the differentiating factors in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Offerings like remote patient monitoring and asynchronous communication, initially considered as “nice-to-haves,” are becoming standard offerings as healthcare providers see their value for continuous care beyond Covid.
Daniel Kivatinos, COO and Co-Founder of DrChrono
Telehealth visits are going to supersede in-person visits as time goes on.
Because of COVID-19, the world changed and Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other insurers, started paying out for telehealth visits. Telemedicine will continue to grow at a very quick rate, and verticals like mental health (psychology and psychiatry) and primary care fit perfectly into the telemedicine model, for tasks like administering prescription refills (ePrescribing) and ordering labs. Hyperlocal medical care will also move towards more of a telemedicine care team experience. Patients that are homebound families with young children or people that just recently had surgery can now get instant care when they need it. Location is less relevant because patients can see a provider from anywhere.
Dennis McLaughlin VP of Omni Operations + Product at ibi
Virtual Healthcare is Here to Stay (House Calls are Back)
This new normal however is going to put significant pressure on the data support and servicing requirements to do it effectively. As more services are offered to patients outside of established clinical locations, it also means there will be more opportunity to collect data and a higher degree of dependence on interoperability. Providers are going to have to up their game from just providing and recording facts to passing on critical insight back into these interactions to maximize the benefits to the patient.
Sarahjane Sacchetti, CEO at Cleo
Virtual care (of all types) will become a lasting form of care: The vastly accelerated and broadened use of virtual care spurred by the pandemic will become permanent. Although it started with one-off check-ins or virtual mental health coaching, 2021 will see the continued rise in the use and efficacy of virtual care services once thought to be in-person only such as maternity, postpartum, pediatric, and even tutoring. Employers are taking notice of this shift with 32% indicating that expanded virtual health services are a top priority, and this number will quickly rise as employers look to offer flexible and convenient benefits in support of employees and to drive productivity.
Omri Shor, CEO of Medisafe
Digital expansion: The pandemic has accelerated patient technology adoption, and innovation remains front-and-center for healthcare in 2021. Expect to see areas of telemedicine and digital health monitoring expand in new and novel ways, with increased uses in remote monitoring and behavioral health. CMS has approved telehealth for a number of new specialties and digital health tools continue to gain adoption among healthcare companies, drug makers, providers, and patients.
Digital health companions will continue to become an important tool to monitor patients, provide support, and track behaviors – while remaining socially distant due to the pandemic. Look for crossover between medical care, drug monitoring, and health and wellness – Apple
Watch has already previewed this potential with heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring. Data output from devices will enable support to become more personalized and triggered by user behavior.
Kelli Bravo, Vice President, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Pegasystems
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed and disrupted our lives, it has wreaked havoc on the entire healthcare industry at a scale we’ve never seen before. And it continues to alter almost every part of life across the globe. The way we access and receive healthcare has also changed as a result of social distancing requirements, patient concerns, provider availability, mobile capabilities, and newly implemented procedures at hospitals and healthcare facilities.
For example, hospitals and providers are postponing elective procedures again to help health systems prepare and reserve ICU beds amid the latest COVID-19 resurgence. While level of care is always important, in some areas, the inability to access a healthcare provider is equally concerning. And these challenges may become even more commonplace in the post-COVID-19 era. One significant transformation to help with the hurdle is telehealth, which went from a very small part of the care offering before the health crisis to one that is now a much more accepted way to access care. As the rise in virtual health continues to serve consumers and provide a personalized and responsive care experience, healthcare consumers expect support services and care that are also fast and personalized – with digital apps, instant claims settlements, transparency, and advocacy. And to better help serve healthcare consumers, the industry has an opportunity to align with digital transformation that offers a personalized and responsive experience.
Brooke LeVasseur, CEO of AristaMD
Issues pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be front-and-center in 2021. Every available digital tool in the box will have to be employed to ensure patients with non-COVID related issues are not forgotten as we try to free up in-person space and resources for those who cannot get care in any other setting. Virtual front doors, patient/physician video and eConsults, which connect providers to collaborate electronically, will be part of a broadening continuum of care – ultimately aimed at optimizing every valuable resource we have.
Bret Larsen, CEO and Co-Founder, eVisit
By the end of 2021, virtual care paths will be fairly ubiquitous across the continuum of care, from urgent care and EDs to specialty care, all to serve patients where they are – at home and on mobile devices. This will be made possible through virtualized end-to-end processes that integrate every step in patient care from scheduling, waiting rooms, intake and patient queuing, to interpretation services, referral management, e-prescribe, billing and analytics, and more.
Laura Kreofsky, Vice President for Advisory & Telehealth for Pivot Point Consulting
2020 has been the year of rapid telehealth adoption and advancement due to the COVID pandemic. According to CDC reports, telehealth utilization spiked as much as 154% in late March compared to the same period in 2019. While usage has moderated, it’s clear telehealth is now an instrumental part of healthcare delivery. As provider organizations plan for telehealth in 2021 and beyond, we are going to have to expect and deliver a secure, scalable infrastructure, a streamlined patient experience and an approach that maximizes provider efficiency, all while seeing much-needed vendor consolidation.
Jeff Lew, SVP of Product Management, Nextech
Earlier this year, CMS enacted new rules to provide practices with the flexibility they need to use telehealth solutions in response to COVID-19, during which patients also needed an alternative to simply visiting the office. This was the impetus to the accelerated acceptance of telehealth as a means to both give and receive care. Specialty practices, in particular, are seeing successful and positive patient experiences due to telehealth visits. Dermatology practices specifically standout and I expect the strong adoption will continue to grow and certainly be the “new normal.” In addition, innovative practices that have embraced this omni-channel approach to delivering care are also establishing this as a “new normal” by selectively using telehealth visits for certain types of encounters, such as post-op visits or triaging patients. This gives patients a choice and the added convenience that comes with it and, in some cases, increases patient volume for the practice.
Google rolled out a Health Studies app, a rival to Apple’s research app. To start, it will offer a study on respiratory illness in conjunction with Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital.
– CommonHealth has connected to 230
health systems in the United States, allowing patients to gather, manage and
share their health and test data, including COVID test and vaccination status. By
the end of this month, CommonHealth will connect to more than 340 health
– CommonHealth extends the health data
portability and interoperability model pioneered by Apple Health to the 55
percent of Americans with Android devices (85 percent globally)
The Commons Project, a nonprofit public trust established to build digital platforms and services for the public good, today announced that the CommonHealth app has now connected to 230 health systems in the United States, allowing patients using those health systems to gather, manage and share personal health information – including COVID test and vaccine status – on Android devices for free. CommonHealth enables broader and more equitable participation in remote consultations with doctors, telemedicine, innovative care models, next-generation health services, and research.
CommonHealth App Development Background
Developed in collaboration with UCSF, Cornell Tech, and Sage Bionetworks with a team of clinicians, public health experts, technologists, scientists and privacy advocates, CommonHealth is operated by The Commons Project. CommonHealth was first deployed at UCSF Health and underwent substantial testing and user experience research in multiple diverse populations in San Francisco. CommonHealth is the first and only platform designed to allow users of the Android operating system to collect and manage their health data on their mobile devices in a similar way that Apple Health Record operates on iOS.
Already integrated with LabCorp, which
operates one of the largest clinical laboratory networks in the world,
CommonHealth allows individuals to store their COVID test results and vaccination
status, in addition to any health record. CommonHealth plans to integrate with
an additional 110 health systems in December, connecting to more than 340
health systems before the year ends.
Earlier this year, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) rolled out new patient health record sharing rules that will require hospitals and physician offices to send standardized medical information, such as lab test results, vaccination records, and imaging tests, directly to third-party apps, like CommonHealth, by July 2021.
Why It Matters
“The COVID pandemic has accelerated the need for the safe sharing of health data as medical consultations go online and individuals are required to demonstrate COVID test and vaccination status in order to travel, work, study and undertake other social activities,” said JP Pollak, co-founder and chief architect at The Commons Project. “CommonHealth extends the privacy-centered data portability and interoperability model pioneered by Apple Health to the 55 percent of Americans who have Android devices.”
– UCB has selected Medisafe to develop branded digital
drug companions for antiepileptic medications, marking the company’s official
entry into the digital therapeutics space.
– The initial collaboration will primarily be focused on their antiepileptic medications, but they are exploring its use for additional brands.
a leading digital
therapeutics company specializing in digital companions, has been selected
by UCB to develop branded digital drug
companions for its antiepileptic medications, with greater capabilities to
expand across additional brands. The digital companions streamline support for
patients to access financial assistance, patient diaries, and doctor discussion
guides throughout their treatment journey.
UCB is launching both digital companions in November in
support of National Epilepsy Awareness Month and the more than 3.4 million
patients in the US who live with the neurological condition. 1 in 26 people in
the US will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives and UCB wants to make
managing medication therapies easier through new digital companions from Medisafe. UCB
is a leader in antiepileptic medications commonly used to treat epilepsy and
the new digital experience for users will deliver condition-specific
content to help support patients through any medication challenges. To
date, nearly 7MM users rely on Medisafe’s digital therapeutics platform,
which applies real-world evidence to build connected medication management
programs and influence patients’ behavior on therapy.
The collaboration will raise awareness and drive engagement
with a content-rich digital experience for patients to gain support and
community throughout the course of their treatment. The Medisafe app
is available to Android and iPhone users through both the Google play and Apple
app stores. Patients can experience the antiepileptic medication resource
centers within the Medisafe app, unlocking a world of advanced
patient support and guidance as a result of this collaboration.
“At UCB, we focus on fostering collaborations that deliver a purposeful impact to people living with epilepsy. As part of our ongoing digitalization efforts, the Medisafe app will allow us to continue supporting patients with new, innovative ways of navigating their health,” said Anita Moser, Head of Assets and Optimization for U.S. Neurology, UCB. “During the COVID crisis, the ability to support patients digitally is more important than ever, and we are pleased to deliver personalized and immediate support directly to epilepsy patients and their caregivers.”
Interoperability in healthcare is a national disgrace. After more than three decades of effort, billions of dollars in incentives and investments, State and Federal regulations, and tens of thousands of articles and studies on making all of this work — we are only slightly better off than we were in 2000.
Decades of failed promises and dozens of technical, organizational, behavioral, financial, regulatory, privacy, and business barriers have prevented significant progress and the costs are enormous. The Institute of Medicine and other groups put the national financial impact somewhere between tens and hundreds of billions of dollars annually. Without pervasive and interoperable secure communications, healthcare is missing the productivity gains that every other industry achieved during their internet, mobile, and cloud revolutions.
The Human Toll — On Both Patients and Clinicians
Too many families have a story to tell about the dismay or disaster wrought by missing or incomplete paper medical records, or frustration by the lack of communications between their healthcare providers. In an era where we carry around more computing power in our pockets than what sent Americans to the moon, it is mystifying that we can’t get our doctors digitally communicating.
I am one of the many doctors who are outraged that the promised benefits of Electronic Medical Records (EHRs) and Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) don’t help me understand what the previous doctor did for our mutual patient. These costly systems still often require that I get the ‘bullet’ from another doctor the same way as my mentors did in the 1970s.
This digital friction also has a profoundly negative impact on medical research, clinical trials, analytics, AI, precision medicine, and the rest of health science. The scanned PDF of a fax of a patient’s EKG and a phone call may be enough for me to get the pre-op done, but faxes and phone calls can’t drive computers, predictive engines, multivariate analysis, public health surveillance programs, or real-time alerting needed to truly enable care.
Solving the Surround
Many companies and government initiatives have attempted to solve specific components of interoperability, but this has only led to a piecemeal approach that has thus far been overwhelmed by market forces. Healthcare interoperability needs an innovation strategy that I call “Solving the Surround.” It is one of the least understood and most potent strategies to succeed at disruptive innovation at scale in complex markets.
“Solving the Surround” is about understanding and addressing multiple market barriers in unison. To explain the concept, let’s consider the most recent disruption of the music industry — the success of Apple’s iPod.
The iPod itself did not win the market and drive industry disruption because it was from Apple or due to its great design. Other behemoths like Microsoft and Philips, with huge budgets and marketing machines, built powerful MP3 players without market impact. Apple succeeded because they also ‘solved the surround’ — they identified and addressed numerous other barriers to overcome mass adoption.
Among other contributions, they:
– Made software available for both the PC and Mac
– Delivered an easy (and legal) way for users to “rip” their old CD collection and use the possession of music on a fixed medium that proved legal “ownership”
– Built an online store with a massive library of music
– Allowed users to purchase individual tracks
– Created new artist packaging, distribution, licensing, and payment models
– Addressed legalities and multiple licensing issues
– Designed a way to synchronize and backup music across devices
In other words, Apple broke down most of these barriers all at once to enable the broad adoption of both their device and platform. By “Solving the Surround,” Apple was the one to successfully disrupt the music industry (and make way for their iPhone).
The Revolution that Missed Healthcare
Disruption doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The market needs to be “ready” to replace the old way of doing things or accept a much better model. In the iPod case, the market first required the internet, online payment systems, pervasive home computers, and much more. What Apple did to make the iPod successful wasn’t to build all of the things required for the market to be ready, but they identified and conquered the “surround problems” within their control to accelerate and disrupt the otherwise-ready market.
Together, the PC, internet, and mobile revolutions led to the most significant workforce productivity expansion since WWII. Productivity in nearly all industries soared. The biggest exception was in the healthcare sector, which did not participate in that productivity revolution or did not realize the same rapid improvements. The cost of healthcare continued its inexorable rise, while prices (in constant dollars) leveled off or declined in most other sectors. Healthcare mostly followed IT-centric, local, customized models.
Solving the Surround for Healthcare Interoperability
‘Solving the Surround’ in healthcare means tackling many convoluted and complex challenges.
Here are the nine things that we need to conquer:
1. Simplicity — All of the basics of every other successful technology disruptor are needed for Health communications and Interoperability. Nothing succeeds at a disruption unless it is perceived by the users to be simple, natural, intuitive, and comfortable; very few behavioral or process changes should be required for user adoption.
Simplicity must not be limited to the doctor, nurse, or clerical users. It must extend to the technical implementation of the disruptive system. Ideally, the new would seamlessly complement current systems without a heavy lift. By implication, this means that the disruptive system would embrace technologies, workflows, protocols, and practices that are already in place.
2. Ubiquity — For anything to work at scale, it must also be ubiquitous — meaning it works for all potential players across the US (or global) marketplace. Interoperability means communicating with ease with other systems. Healthcare’s next interoperability disruptor must work for all healthcare staff, organizations, and practices, regardless of their level of technological sophistication. It must tie together systems and vendors who naturally avoid collaboration today, or we are setting ourselves up for failure.
3. Privacy & Security — Healthcare demands best-in-class privacy and security. Compliance with government regulations or industry standards is not enough. Any new disruptive, interoperable communications system should address the needs of different use cases, markets, and users. It must dynamically provide the right user permissions and access and adapt as new needs arise. This rigor protects both patients from unnecessary or illegal sharing of their health records and healthcare organizations in meeting privacy requirements and complying with state and federal laws.
4. Directory — It’s impossible to imagine ubiquitous national communications without a directory. It is a crucial component for a new disruptive system to connect existing technologies and disparate people, organizations, workflows, and use cases. This directory should maintain current locations, personnel, process knowledge, workflows, technologies, keys, addresses, protocols, and individual and organizational preferences. It must be comprehensive at a national level and learn and improve with each communication and incorporate each new user’s preferences at both ends of any communication. Above all, it must be complete and reliable — nothing less than a sub-1% failure rate.
5. Delivery — Via the directory, we know to whom (or to what location) we want to send a notification, message, fetch request or record, but how will it get there? With literally hundreds of different EHR products in use and as many interoperability challenges, it is clear that a disruptive national solution must accommodate multiple technologies depending on sender and recipient capabilities. Until now, the only delivery “technology” that has ensured reliable delivery rates is the mighty fax machine.
With the potential of a large hospital at one end and a remote single-doctor practice at the other, it would be unreasonable to take a one size fits all approach. The system should also serve as a useful “middleman” to help different parties move to the model (in much the same way that ripping CDs or iTunes gave a helping hand to new MP3 owners). Such a delivery “middleman” should automatically adapt communications to each end of the communication’s technology capabilities, needs, and preferences..
6. Embracing Push — To be honest, I think we got complacent in healthcare about how we designed our technologies. Most interoperability attempts are “fetch” oriented, relying on someone pulling data from a big repository such as an EHR portal or an HIE. Then we set up triggers (such as ADTs) to tell someone to get it. These have not worked at scale in 30+ years of trying. Among other reasons, it has been common for even hospitals to be reluctant to participate fully, fearing a competitive disadvantage if they make data available for all of their patients.
My vision for a disruptive and innovative interoperability system reduces the current reliance on fetch. Why not enable reliable, proactive pushing of the right information in a timely fashion on a patient-by-patient basis? The ideal system would be driven by push, but include fetch when needed. Leverage the excellent deployment of the Direct Trust protocol already in place, supplement it with a directory and delivery service, add a new digital “middleman,” and complement it with an excellent fetch capability to fill in any gaps and enable bi-directional flows.
7. Patient Records and Messages — We need both data sharing and messaging in the same system, so we can embrace and effortlessly enable both clinical summaries and notes. There must be no practical limits on the size or types of files that can easily be shared. We need to help people solve problems together and drive everyday workflows. These are all variations of the same problem, and the disruptor needs to solve it all.
8. Compliance — The disruptor must also be compliant with a range of security, privacy, identity, interoperability, data type, API, and many other standards and work within several national data sharing frameworks. Compliance is often showcased through government and vendor certification programs. These programs are designed to ensure that users will be able to meet requirements under incentive programs such as those from CMS/ONC (e.g., Promoting Interoperability) or the forthcoming CMS “Final Rule” Condition of Participation (CoP/PEN), and others. We also must enable incentive programs based on the transition to value-based and quality-based care and other risk-based models.
9. On-Ramp — The iPod has become the mobile phone. We may use one device initially for phone or email, but soon come to love navigation, music, or collaboration tools. As we adopt more features, we see how it adds value we never envisioned before — perhaps because we never dreamed it was possible. The healthcare communications disruptor will deliver an “On-Ramp” that works at both a personal and organizational scale. Organizations need to start with a simple, driving use case, get early and definitive success, then use the same platform to expand to more and more use cases and values — and delight in each of them.
So here we are, decades past the PC revolution, with a combination of industry standards, regulations, clinician and consumer demand, and even tens of billions in EHR incentives. Still, we have neither a ‘killer app’ nor ubiquitous medical communications. As a result, we don’t have the efficiency nor ease-of-use benefits from our EHRs, nor do we have repeatable examples of improved quality or lower errors — and definitively, no evidence for lower costs.
I am confident that we don’t have a market readiness problem. We have more than ample electricity, distributed computing platforms, ubiquitous broadband communications, and consumer and clinician demand. We have robust security, legal, privacy, compliance, data format, interoperability, and related standards to move forward. So, I contend that our biggest innovation inhibitor is our collective misunderstanding about “Solving the Surround.”
Once we do that, we will unleash market disruption and transform healthcare for the next generation of patient care.
About Peter S. Tippett
Dr. Peter Tippett is a physician, scientist, business leader, and technology entrepreneur with extensive risk management and health information technology expertise. One of his early startups created the first commercial antivirus product, Certus (which sold to Symantec and became Norton Antivirus). As a leader in the global information security industry (ICSA Labs, TruSecure, CyberTrust, Information Security Magazine), Tippett developed a range of foundational and widely accepted risk equations and models.
He was a member of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) under G.W. Bush, and served with both the Clinton Health Matters and NIH Precision Medicine initiatives. Throughout his career, Tippett has been recognized with numerous awards and recognitions — including E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce “Leadership in Health Care Award”, and was named one of the 25 most influential CTOs by InfoWorld.
Tippett is board certified in internal medicine and has decades of experience in the ER. As a scientist, he created the first synthetic immunoglobulin in the lab of Nobel Laureate Bruce Merrifield at Rockefeller University.
In a Thursday blog post, officials shared that the app’s “risk threshold” had been lowered to account for exposure to people when they are most infectious. The update was supposed to take place when the app was launched in late September.
Today, Apple announced
the Health Records feature within the Health app is now available for users in
the UK and Canada to securely view and store their medical records right on
their iPhone, with their privacy protected at all times. Oxford University
Hospitals and Women’s College Hospital has been selected the first healthcare
institutions in the UK and Canada to make this feature available to their
How Health Records Works
Health Records creates a direct connection between medical
institutions and a patient’s iPhone, allowing users to see a central view of
their allergies, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications,
procedures, and vitals across multiple institutions, and to be notified when
their data is updated. Apple utilizes a direct, encrypted connection between
the user’s iPhone and the healthcare organization to protect patient’s privacy.
All Health Records data is encrypted on device and protected
with the user’s iPhone passcode, Touch ID, or Face ID. Apple worked closely
with Cerner, Epic, Allscripts, and InterSystems to enable the FHIR (Fast
Healthcare Interoperability Resources) standards-based integration with the
Health app for their UK and Canadian customers.
To date, over 500 institutions currently support Health
Records on iPhone, listing more than 11,000 care locations. Previously,
patients’ medical records were held in multiple locations, requiring patients
to log in to each healthcare provider’s website to piece together their health
The Health Records feature in the Health app is available to
patients of the medical institutions listed below.
– Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – Oxford,
– Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust –
Milton Keynes, UK
– Women’s College Hospital – Toronto, Ontario
– St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton – Hamilton, Ontario
Amazon has launched a fitness band, app and subscription service – called Halo – that promises to look after both your body and mind.
The e-commerce giant’s entry into the health wearables market combines monitoring of physical data such as activity levels, sleep patterns and body fat with artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms that listen for the emotion in a user’s voice.
It also claims that the voice analysis tool can help them “understand how they sound to others, helping improve their communication and relationships.”
Halo doesn’t feature a screen or notifications like trackers from Apple and Fitbit – currently awaiting approval for a $2.1 billion takeover by Google – and will be sold at $99.99 for the device and $3.99 per month for a subscription – a substantial discount to its rivals such as the new Fitbit Sense.
The Halo Band device includes an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart-rate monitor and two microphones, with an LED indicator light. Amazon claims a battery life of seven days and charging in under 90 minutes, and will sell it for an introductory price of $64.99 including six months’ subscription.
“When we look at devices that track and measure our health, we’re hyper-focused on the physical elements like activity, weight, or sleep,” writes Amazon’s principal medical officer for the Halo project, Dr Maulik Majmudar, in a blog post.
“But while these are important, they don’t make up the full picture. The globally recognised definition of health includes mental and social well-being in addition to the physical,” he notes.
The Halo app suite includes Activity, Sleep and Body – the latter featuring a computer vision technology that Amazon claims can give an accurate body fat percentage measurement that is a better metric for health than body mass index (BMI).
The BFP measurement in Halo is as accurate as methods a doctor would use and nearly twice as accurate as leading at-home smart scales, according to Amazon.
The Tone app provides the voice analysis software that according to the company may reveal that a difficult work call leads to less positivity in communication with a customer’s family.
“I’ve seen team members use Tone to practice for big meetings or presentations, understand how they may sound over video conference calls, and make sure they’re conveying what they want during an important conversation,” says Majmudar.
The final app – called Labs – is a set of challenges, experiments, and workouts developed by Amazon and partner companies that Halo customers can use to build healthier habits, for example to check if having coffee in the afternoon affects sleep quality.
“Despite the rise in digital health services and devices over the last decade, we have not seen a corresponding improvement in population health in the US,” according to Majmudar.
“We are using Amazon’s deep expertise AI and machine learning to offer customers a new way to discover, adopt, and maintain personalised wellness habits.”
Halo is available on iOS and Android to customers in the US only for now. Without a subscription, the device can only be used for basic features such as measurements of steps, sleep time and heart rate.
Seniors have the lowest reported usage of telehealth of any age group. As many healthcare providers are increasing the use of telehealth, especially in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the implementation of new tools and technologies could impact seniors.
In my experience, this doesn’t indicate that older adults aren’t tech-minded, or that they are not using tech products currently. In fact, studies show that seniors use smartphones at the same rate as younger groups. Over 80 percent of Americans age 50 to 64 have smartphones, according to the AARP.
But, to make sure we are designing telehealth products with all users in mind, we’ll need to gain additional perspective on why seniors aren’t accessing telehealth resources at the same rate as other age groups and how to reduce their barrier to entry. Many providers will continue to use telehealth once the pandemic has passed, so understanding the current barriers to use for seniors, is important.
How can UI/UX design and technology help?
1. Enable Accessibility Feature on Devices – This is an easy fix. Most mobile devices have the ability to enable certain features for accessibility. Apple Accessibility Features are readily available for user settings, such as Display Accommodations for vision, General display accessibility for text size and boldness, Speech, and Magnifier and Live Listen.
2. Use Push Notifications and Alerts – This stimulates user engagement with simple reminders and improved engagement with users. These notifications are great to help the user take action on pressing medical issues or now about important information. Here’s one example, auto-reminder text: “It’s time to schedule your physical therapy appointment. The next appointment is Tuesday at 1 p.m. Would you like to schedule your appointment? Yes or No”
3. Limit the Need to Continuously Browse– Keep navigation simple by limiting the user’s ability to browse without guidance, reducing distractions, and user frustration with the UI. When tech companies develop a product they often think, “more features = happy user.” In some cases, this may be true, but for telehealth products, additional features may also add barriers to entry for some users. Consider simple solutions for complex issues when you can.
4. Guide your User through the Interface – For appointment scheduling, intake forms, conferencing, and more – step-by-step is the name of the game. To make usability even easier for people with disabilities, use voice activation to enhance their ability to answer questions.
5. Get Creative – Let’s be honest, some users need more motivation than others. When the health tech tool needs consistent user engagement to be useful, offering incentives like discounts, gift cards, or coupons can be just the push users need to get the most out of telehealth.
6. Gamification – Gamification is a complicated design technique which requires using various game mechanics referring to the interactive UI elements. It’s typically used to increase user engagement. Improving our health can be fun and using positive feedback loops can be stimulating.
7. Provide Custom Experiences – Using technology like Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to communicate test results simply and effectively, or to identify trends is always a plus. Let’s face it, most of us are not experts when it comes to our own health. This makes it a challenge to self-advocate or even to understand the long-lasting importance of staying healthy. An educated patient is an empowered telehealth user.
8. Make It Easy to Get Support – Being able to quickly get on the phone to get help is a MUST and knowing how to find this help on any application is essential for telehealth applications. Using large, visible design components, like buttons, icons, important text, etc, will increase usability and support use by seniors looking to improve their health outcomes and enhance the quality of life.
9. Support Groups and Engaged Communities – Don’t forget to design your application or telehealth platform to support groups and encourage community engagement. Older adults can feel isolated and alone, far away from family and loved ones. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping users find a supportive community can encourage them to get educated about their own health and feel empowered and supported by their peers. Humans learn better from peers who share similar stories, experiences, and world views.
While seniorsare using modern devices like smartphones and computers, telehealth usage rates could be improved with the implementation of specially-designed aspects of technology for seniors. We don’t need another viral crisis to start designing effective, efficient, and adaptable telehealth products. Especially when designing products for our most vulnerable patients, technology needs to be designed to alleviate the burden, not add to it.
This is where good healthcare design helps innovation meet empathy.
About Amy Oughton
Amy Oughton is the Founder and CEO of UI/UX design and development agency Dream in Color. An award-winning UI/UX designer herself, Amy is passionate about improving user experience in the healthcare and nonprofit sectors. As a type 1 diabetic, she is dedicated to using technology to improve lives. She specializes in humanity-driven technology products, data visualizations and dashboards, and complex web applications. For the past eight years, Amy has worked with global brands to improve access to healthcare data and information on public health issues. She is a graduate of the Art Institute of Washington.
– Healthcare Growth Partners’ (HGP) summary of Health IT/digital health mergers & acquisition (M&A) activity, and public company performance during the month of July 2020.
While a pandemic ravages the country, technology valuations are soaring. The Nasdaq hit an all-time high during the month of July, sailing through the 10,000 mark to post YTD gains of nearly 20%, representing a 56% increase off the low water mark on March 23. More notably, the Nasdaq has outperformed the S&P 500 (including the lift the S&P has received from FANMAG stocks – Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft, Apple, Google) by nearly 20% YTD.
At HGP, we focus on private company transactions, but there is a close connection between public company and private company valuations. While the intuitive reaction is to feel that companies should be discounted due to COVID’s business disruption and associated economic hardships facing the country, the data and the markets tell a different story.
While technology is undoubtedly hot right now given the thesis that adoption and value will increase during these virtual times, the other more important factor lifting public markets is interest rates. According to July 19 research from Goldman Sachs,
“Importantly, it is the very low level of interest rates that justifies current valuations. The S&P 500 is within 4% of the all-time high it reached on February 19th, yet since that time the level of S&P 500 earnings expected in 2021 has been pushed forward to 2022. The decline in interest rates bridges that gap.”
Additionally, Goldman Sachs analysts also estimate that equities will deliver an annual return of 6% over the next 10-years, lower than the long-term return of 8%. Future value has been priced into present value, and returns are diminished because the relative return over interest rates is what ultimately matters, not the absolute return. In short, equity valuations are high because interest rates are low.
What happens in public equities usually finds its way into private equity. To note, multiple large private health IT companies including WellSky, QGenda, and Edifecs, have achieved 20x+ EBITDA transactions based on this same phenomenon. From the perspective of HGP, this should also translate to higher valuations for private companies at the lower end of the market. As investors across all asset classes experience reduced returns requirements due to low interest rates, present values increase across both investment and M&A transactions.
As with everything in the COVID environment, it is difficult to make predictions with certainty. Because the stimulus has caused US debt as a percentage of GDP to explode, there is an extremely strong motivation to keep long-term interest rates low. For this reason, we believe interest rates will remain low for the foreseeable future. Time will tell whether this is sustainable, but early indications are positive.
Noteworthy News Headlines
A $10.2 million “sole source” contract to run a centralized Covid-19 database for the Trump administration drew sharp criticism from congressional Democrats, who demanded that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention be reinstated as the primary repository of coronavirus data. The contract drew scant public attention when it was awarded in April to TeleTracking Technologies, a Pittsburgh company whose core business is helping hospitals manage the flow of patients. But it drew scrutiny after the administration ordered hospitals, beginning on Wednesday, to report coronavirus information, including bed availability, to the new database, housed at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, instead of to the C.D.C.
With the CDC sidelines, some states lose access to timely COVID-19 hospital data. Just as the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 approaches new highs in some parts of the country, hospital data in Kansas and Missouri is suddenly incomplete or missing. Earlier this week, the Trump administration directed hospitals to change how they report data to the federal government and how that data will be made available. Missouri Hospital Association spokesperson Dave Dillon called the move “a major disruption.”
Hospital giant ACA makes $822 million profit off CARES Act stimulus money. HCA’s biggest profit driver and boost to surviving the pandemic and the influx of Covid-19 patients in the second quarter came from the federal government. In HCA’s second quarter, the government stimulus passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump turned into a windfall as of the end of the second quarter.
HIMSS pushes back 2021 conference to August. HIMSS canceled its 2020 global health conference in March just days before it was slated to start due to concerns about COVID-19. HIMSS officials are planning a press conference Friday to offer more details about the HIMSS21 conference.
Noteworthy M&A transactions during the month include:
Workflow optimization software vendor HealthFinch was acquired by Health Catalyst for $40mm.
Tempo, developer of smart at-home fitness platforms, raised $60mm.
Public Company Performance
HGP tracks stock indices for publicly traded health IT companies within four different sectors – Health IT, Payers, Healthcare Services, and Health IT & Payer Services. Notably, primary care provider Oak Street Health filed for an IPO, offering 15.6 million shares at a target price of $21/ share. The chart below summarizes the performance of these sectors compared to the S&P 500 for the month of July:
The following table includes summary statistics on the four sectors tracked by HGP for July 2020:
– Collective Health appoints Max Mancini
as its new Chief Technology Officer.
– Mancini, who previously held senior roles at Apple and
eBay, will lead the company’s exceptional engineering team- overseeing the
architecture, design and scaling of Collective Health’s core platform and suite
of products which help make health insurance work for everyone.
– He will also be responsible for continuing innovation,
initially bolstering the recent launch of Collective Go™, Collective Health’s
comprehensive solution for COVID-19 employer screening, testing, and
a San Francisco, CA-based simplifying employee healthcare with technology
solutions, today announced it has appointed Max Mancini as its Chief Technology
Officer (CTO). In his new role as CTO, Mancini will oversee the company’s
software development and technical operations while furthering Collective Health’s
mission to create the healthcare experience we all deserve.
“We are so thrilled to have world class talent like Max join our team,” said Ali Diab, CEO and Co-Founder of Collective Health. “With so many forms of care now taking place in a remote setting, businesses must adapt to support their people by adopting solutions that help them better understand and navigate healthcare. With Max’s expertise and guidance, Collective Health will continue to usher in a new era of forward-thinking technology when it comes to bringing the best experience to our members and expanding our offerings.”
Max joins Collective Health from Automation Anywhere which
transforms how people work by enabling the creation and discovery of digital
workers, which act as digital assistants to millions of information workers.
Max has been passionate about software since he was a teenager – he wrote code
at NASA Ames Research Center while in high school, and worked for a defense
contractor and Apple before graduating college. The common threads uniting
Max’s experiences and pursuits are the challenge of solving tough problems and
his passion for trying new things. The professional highlights from his tech
career include running the mobile commerce business unit, disruptive innovation
team and developers program at eBay, the global e-commerce engineering team at
Apple and the $500 million app ecosystem business at Atlassian.
Expanding Collective Health’s Key Offerings and
As Chief Technology Officer, Mancini will lead the company’s
exceptional engineering team while overseeing the architecture, design and
scaling of Collective Health’s core platform and suite of
products, which help make health insurance work for everyone. Max will also
be responsible for continuing to expand the company’s key offerings and
innovation, building upon the recent launch of Collective Go™, Collective
Health’s comprehensive solution for COVID-19 screening, testing, and monitoring.
“I’ve always loved applying technology to solve important problems and healthcare is an industry in dire need for technology to provide more transparency and understanding, while enhancing people’s experience,” said Mancini. “Technology has evolved and upleveled the experiential expectations of customers. This expectation creates the demand, from both employees and employers, for much better navigation, access to care, and ease of use, and I’m excited to be part building that experience in healthcare.”
Fundamentally, Max’s role is about building — building a web
scale technology system, expanding a world class engineering organization,
fostering an outstanding product development culture and continuing to build
out Collective Health as one of the most meaningful businesses of the next
Collective Health’s products and technology transform
employee healthcare for over a quarter of a million members across all 50
– The latest Chilmark Research report examines how data-oriented APIs are contributing to development and integration efforts across healthcare from the perspective of the developer.
– Reeling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and
seeking more effective ways to implement new functionality, healthcare
enterprises of all kinds are looking to alternatives for prevailing development
and integration practices.
Outside healthcare, the ascendance of
data access and integration facilitated by application programming interfaces
(APIs) is the culmination of decades of technology evolution and implementation
lessons with distributed applications. Across the SaaS landscape in particular,
APIs have become the preferred method for accessing data and conducting
transactions across applications and organizations. Developers recognize and
appreciate the value of loosely coupling their applications and data, wherever
each is located.
Inside healthcare, many enterprises are
hesitant on the topic of APIs, seeing them as too big a leap from established,
successful software practices. But they also recognize that eliminating the
need for hard-coded interfaces that must be re-implemented every time an
application or its underlying data changes will deliver higher programmer
productivity and more-responsive applications.
Traditional Integration Methods Fall
Conventional development and
integration approaches proved cumbersome and slow in efforts to contribute to
understanding or responding to the current health crisis. Unlocking more value
from the data scattered across healthcare communities is — post-COVID-19 —
a critical element in clinical and
“Enterprises across healthcare were already wrestling with challenging market forces and government mandates,” says Brian Murphy, the report’s lead author and analyst. “Open APIs will play a central role for providers, payers, or any healthcare enterprises that intend to better utilize their data and pursue development efforts that make them — and the broader healthcare community — more responsive and adaptable to the demands of a post-pandemic healthcare system.”
Developers Require Accessible Data
Developers find data wherever they can from among a large
and confusing mix of data holders and associated vendors. This report
identifies the sources where different kinds of health-related data are most
likely to be API-accessible. It shows how APIs are already contributing to
development and integration efforts across healthcare and estimates the much
larger potential of widespread adoption.
This report includes detailed profiles on 20 public and
private organizations and their offerings, including 1upHealth, 4Medica,
Allscripts, Apple, Athenahealth, Availity, Blue Button 2.0, Cerner, Change
Healthcare, Datica, Epic, Human API, Meditech, NextGen, NCPDP, Particle Health,
The Sequoia Project, Redox, Surescripts, and Validic.
Over 50% of US broadband households are willing to share smartphone data to aid in COVID-19 contact tracing, while another 20% could be convinced provided privacy protections are in place, according to Parks Associates’ new research, COVID-19: Impact on Telehealth Use and Perspectives. The research tracks changes in consumer attitudes and adoption of telehealth services as a result of COVID-19 and measure future interest in telehealth services beyond the pandemic.
Parks Associates’ COVID-19: Impact on Telehealth Use and
Perspectives also notes that those who experienced COVID-19 symptoms are more
willing to share smartphone data to aid in contact tracing than those who have
not experienced symptoms. Still, nearly half of those who have not experienced
symptoms are willing to share their smartphone data.
“Apple and Google have together developed an API and framework that developers, in partnership with public health officials and other stakeholders, can use to build contact-tracing apps,” Hanich said. “The industry can drive widespread uptake of these solutions by emphasizing the public benefits of this data sharing while also stressing the privacy protections in place for anyone who participates.”