FCC Unveils 14 Initial Projects Selected for $100M Connected Care Pilot Program

FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program Providers

What You Should Know:

– FCC announces initial 14 pilot project selected for $100M Connected Care Pilot Program that will support connected care service across the country and focus on low-income and veteran patients.


The Federal Communications
Commission (FCC)
today announced an initial set of 14 pilot projects with
over 150 treatment sites in 11 states that have been selected for the Connected
Care Pilot Program
.  A total of $26.6 million will be awarded to these
applicants for proposed projects to treat nearly half a million patients in
both urban and rural parts of the country. 


Connected Care Pilot Program Background

Overall, this Pilot Program will make available up to $100
million over a three-year period for selected pilot projects for qualifying
purchases necessary to provide connected care services, with a particular
emphasis on providing connected care services to low-income and veteran
patients.  

The Pilot
Program will use Universal Service Fund monies to help defray the costs of
connected care services for eligible health care providers, providing support
for 85% of the cost of eligible services and network equipment, which include:

1. patient
broadband Internet access services

2. health care
provider broadband data connections

3. other
connected care information services

4. certain
network equipment

These pilot projects will address a variety of critical
health issues such as high-risk pregnancy, mental health conditions, and opioid
dependency, among others. Here is the list initial list of healthcare providers
that were selected into the Pilot Program:

Banyan Community Health Center, Inc.,
Coral Gables, FL.
 
Banyan Community Health Center’s pilot project seeks $911,833 to provide
patient-based Internet-connected remote monitoring, video visits or consults,
and other diagnostics and services to low-income and veteran patients who are
suffering from chronic/long-term conditions, high-risk pregnancy, infectious
disease including COVID-19, mental health conditions, and opioid
dependency.  Banyan Community Health Center plans to serve an estimated
20,847 patients in Miami, Florida, 85% of which are low-income or veteran
patients.

Duke University Health System, Durham,
NC.
  Duke
University Health System’s pilot project seeks $1,464,759 to provide remote
patient monitoring and video visits or consults to a large number of low-income
patients suffering from heart failure, cancer, and infectious diseases. 
Duke University Health System’s pilot project plans to serve an estimated
16,000 patients in North Carolina, of which 25% are low-income.

Geisinger, consortium with sites in
Lewiston, PA; Danville, PA; Jersey Shore, PA; Bloomsburg, PA; Coal Township,
PA; and Wilkes-Barre, PA.
 
Geisinger’s pilot project seeks $1,739,100 in support to provide connected care
services and remote patient monitoring to low-income patients in rural
communities in Pennsylvania.  Geisinger’s pilot project would serve an
estimated 1,000 patients and would focus on chronic disease management and
high-risk pregnancies, while also treating infectious disease and behavioral
health conditions.  Through its pilot program, Geisinger plans to directly
connect all participating patients, 100% of whom are low-income, with broadband
Internet access service. 

Grady Health System, Atlanta, GA.  Grady Health System’s pilot
project seeks $635,596 to provide Internet connectivity to an estimated 1,896
primarily low-income and high-risk patients who are unable to utilize video
telemedicine services due to lack of a reliable network connection in
Atlanta.  The program will focus on using connected care services such as
patient remote monitoring and video visits/consults to treat vulnerable
patients with conditions such as congestive heart failure, COVID19,
hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, and HIV. 

Intermountain Centers for Human
Development, consortium with sites in Casa Grande, AZ; Nogales, AZ; Coolidge,
AZ; and Eloy, AZ. 
 Intermountain
Centers for Human Development’s pilot project seeks $237,150 in support to
treat mental health conditions, opioid dependency, and other substance abuse
disorders.  The pilot project plans to serve 3,400 patients in Arizona,
including rural areas, of which 90% are low-income.

MA FQHC Telehealth Consortium,
consortium with 76 sites in Massachusetts.
  MA FQHC Telehealth Consortium’s pilot project
seeks $3,121,879 in support to provide mental health and substance abuse
disorder treatment through remote patient monitoring, video visits, and other
remote treatment to patients in Massachusetts, including significant numbers of
veterans and low-income patients.  The pilot project will expand access to
these services by leveraging program funding to increase bandwidth at its
sites, and to provide patients with mobile hotspots.  This project would
serve 75,000 patients through 76 federally qualified health centers in
Massachusetts, including rural areas, with an intended patient population of
61.5% low-income or veteran patients.

Mountain Valley Health Center,
consortium with 7 sites in Northeastern California.
  Mountain Valley Health Center’s
pilot project seeks $550,800 in support to provide telehealth capabilities and
in-home monitoring of patients with hypertension and diabetes.  Mountain
Valley’s pilot project plans to serve an estimated 200 patients in rural
Northeastern California, of which at least 24% will be low-income patients and
10% will be veteran patients.

Neighborhood Healthcare – Escondido,
Escondido, CA, Neighborhood Healthcare – Valley Parkway, Escondido, CA,
Neighborhood Healthcare – El Cajon, El Cajon, CA, Neighborhood Healthcare –
Temecula, Temecula, CA, Neighborhood Healthcare – Pauma Valley, Pauma Valley,
CA.
  Neighborhood
Healthcare’s pilot project seeks $129,744 to provide patient broadband access
to primarily low-income patients suffering from chronic and long-term
conditions (e.g., diabetes and high blood pressure).  Neighborhood
Healthcare’s collective project plans to serve an estimated 339 patients, 97%
of which are low-income patients, in five sites serving Riverside and San Diego
counties.

OCHIN, Inc., consortium with 15 sites in
Ohio, 16 sites in Oregon, and 13 sites in Washington.
  OCHIN’s pilot project seeks
$5,834,620 in support to lead a consortium of 44 providers in Ohio, Oregon, and
Washington, encompassing 8 federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) serving
rural, urban, and tribal communities.  OCHIN’s pilot project will provide
patient broadband Internet access service and wireless connections directly to
an estimated 3,450 low-income patients to access connected care services,
including video visits, patient-based Internet-connected patient monitoring,
and remote treatment and will deliver care to treat high-risk pregnancy,
maternal health conditions, mental health conditions, and chronic and long-term
conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. 

Phoebe Worth Medical Center – Camilla
Clinic, Camilla, GA; Phoebe Physicians Group Inc – PPC of Buena Vista, Buena
Vista, GA; Phoebe Physicians Group – Ellaville Primary Medicine Center,
Ellaville, GA; Phoebe Physicians dba Phoebe Family Medicine & Sports
Medicine, Americus, GA; Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Albany, GA; Phoebe
Putney Memorial Hospital dba Phoebe Family Medicine – Sylvester, Sylvester, GA.
  The Phoebe Putney Health System
projects seek $673,200 to provide patient-based Internet-connected remote
monitoring, video visits, and remote treatment for low-income patients
suffering from chronic conditions or mental health conditions.  These projects
plan to serve an estimated 4,007 patients, approximately 1,000 of which will be
low-income patients in six sites serving southwest Georgia. 

Summit Pacific Medical Center, Elma, WA.  Summit Pacific Medical Center’s
pilot program seeks $169,977 in support to provide patient-based
Internet-connected remote monitoring, other monitoring services, video visits,
diagnostic imaging, remote treatment and other services for veterans and
low-income patients suffering from chronic conditions, infectious diseases,
mental health conditions, and opioid dependency.  Summit Pacific Medical
Center’s pilot project would serve an estimated 25 patients in Elma,
Washington, 100% of which would be low-income or veteran patients.

Temple University Hospital,
Philadelphia, PA.
 
Temple University Hospital’s pilot project seeks $4,254,250 to provide
patient-based Internet connected remote monitoring and video visits to
patients, including low-income patients, suffering from chronic/long-term
conditions and mental health conditions.  This pilot project plans to
serve an estimated 100,000 patients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 45% of which
are low-income patients. 

University of Mississippi Medical
Center, Jackson, MS.
 
The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s (UMMC) pilot project seeks
$2,377,875 in support to provide broadband Internet access service to patients,
enabling remote patient monitoring technologies and ambulatory telehealth
visits to low-income patients suffering from chronic conditions or illnesses
requiring long-term care.  UMMC’s pilot project would impact an estimated
237,120 patients across Mississippi and serve up to 6,000 patients
directly.  Of these patients, UMMC estimates that 52% would be low-income.

University of Virginia Health System,
Charlottesville, VA. 
 The
University of Virginia (UVA) Health System’s pilot project seeks $4,462,500 in
support to expand the deployment of remote patient monitoring and telehealth
services to an estimated 17,000 patients across Virginia, nearly 30% of whom
will be low-income.  The UVA Health System pilot project will support
patient broadband and information services, including systems to capture,
transmit, and store patient data to allow remote patient monitoring, two-way
video, and patient scheduling. 

YouTube teams up with providers, healthcare groups to combat health misinformation

The video-sharing giant is partnering with providers and groups, like Mayo Clinic and the American Public Health Association, to create evidence-based health content. YouTube has also added CVS Health’s former chief community health officer to lead those efforts.

Modernizing Medicine Acquires Orthopedic EHR Platform Exscribe – M&A

Modernizing Medicine Acquires Orthopedic EHR Platform Exscribe – M&A

What You Should Know:

– Modernizing Medicine announced it has acquired
orthopedics EHR vendor Exscribe bringing together two of the healthcare
industry’s leading, all-in-one orthopedic EHR vendors.

– As part of the acquisition, Exscribe Founder and CEO,
Dr. Sachdev and other members of the Exscribe team will be joining Modernizing
Medicine.


Specialty-specific EHR provider Modernizing Medicine announced it has acquired
orthopedics electronic
health records (EHR)
vendor Exscribe.
The acquisition brings together two of the healthcare industry’s leading,
all-in-one orthopedic EHR vendors with a shared mission of increasing practice
efficiency by transforming how healthcare information is created, consumed and
utilized. Modernizing Medicine and Exscribe will work together to accelerate
innovation and bring to market advanced EHR, practice management, and
technology solutions intended to improve physician efficiency, reduce burnout,
and support value-based care.

“Exscribe and Modernizing Medicine have a shared commitment to customer success and improving patient outcomes and we are excited to work together to leverage our combined orthopedics expertise to move the industry forward,” said Dan Cane, CEO of Modernizing Medicine. “Both companies were founded on the belief that the best EHRs are built specialty specific ‘by physicians, for physicians,’ and that product excellence is a direct reflection of the strength of our team. With that, we are excited to welcome the talented individuals at Exscribe to the Modernizing Medicine family and are confident that we can leverage our combined expertise to enhance and grow our solutions to meet the needs of customers of virtually any size and orthopedic specialization.”

Orthopedic Healthcare Solutions

Exscribe was founded in 2000 by nationally-renowned
orthopedic surgeon Ranjan Sachdev, MD, MBA, CHC, who was looking for a better
way to manage his orthopedic practice. Working with a team of orthopedists and
IT professionals, Dr. Sachdev developed the Exscribe Orthopaedic EHR, which today
is among the leading specialty-specific healthcare technology solutions
available. Leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence, Exscribe’s
EHR is intuitive, enabling orthopedists to use one-click treatment plans for
specific conditions, including orders for surgery and therapy, prescriptions,
patient education, referral letters, and more.

Post-Acquisition Plans

Exscribe Founder and CEO, Dr. Sachdev and other members of
the Exscribe team will be joining Modernizing Medicine, and through the
increased scale and combined expertise, both companies intend to continue
providing world-class technology solutions and support to orthopedic customers.
Modernizing Medicine’s top-rated specialty-specific orthopedic electronic
health records (EHR) system, EMA® Orthopedics, has been named the number one
EHR in orthopedics for three consecutive years by Black Book™.

“Modernizing Medicine is known for its state of the art web based offerings, growing presence in the orthopedics space and commitment to working with customers to build solutions that meet the needs of orthopedists and their office staff,” said Dr. Sachdev. “Existing Exscribe customers will experience very few immediate changes. In the long term, we look forward to leveraging the decades of expertise from both companies to build fully interoperable EHR technologies that solve administrative inefficiencies and promote orthopedic excellence.”

Financial detail of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Why Hospitals Should Act Now to Create Clinical AI Departments

Why Hospitals Should Act Now to Create Clinical AI Departments
John Frownfelter, MD, FACP, Chief Medical Information Officer at Jvion

A century ago, X-rays transformed medicine forever. For the first time, doctors could see inside the human body, without invasive surgeries. The technology was so revolutionary that in the last 100 years, radiology departments have become a staple of modern hospitals, routinely used across medical disciplines.

Today, new technology is once again radically reshaping medicine: artificial intelligence (AI). Like the X-ray before it, AI gives clinicians the ability to see the unseen and has transformative applications across medical disciplines. As its impact grows clear, it’s time for health systems to establish departments dedicated to clinical AI, much as they did for radiology 100 years ago.

Radiology, in fact, was one of the earliest use cases for AI in medicine today. Machine learning algorithms trained on medical images can learn to detect tumors and other malignancies that are, in many cases, too subtle for even a trained radiologist to perceive. That’s not to suggest that AI will replace radiologists, but rather that it can be a powerful tool for aiding them in the detection of potential illness — much like an X-ray or a CT scan. 

AI’s potential is not limited to radiology, however. Depending on the data it is trained on, AI can predict a wide range of medical outcomes, from sepsis and heart failure to depression and opioid abuse. As more of patients’ medical data is stored in the EHR, and as these EHR systems become more interconnected across health systems, AI will only become more sensitive and accurate at predicting a patient’s risk of deteriorating.

However, AI is even more powerful as a predictive tool when it looks beyond the clinical data in the EHR. In fact, research suggests that clinical care factors contribute to only 16% of health outcomes. The other 84% are determined by socioeconomic factors, health behaviors, and the physical environment. To account for these external factors, clinical AI needs external data. 

Fortunately, data on social determinants of health (SDOH) is widely available. Government agencies including the Census Bureau, EPA, HUD, DOT and USDA keep detailed data on relevant risk factors at the level of individual US Census tracts. For example, this data can show which patients may have difficulty accessing transportation to their appointments, which patients live in a food desert, or which patients are exposed to high levels of air pollution. 

These external risk factors can be connected to individual patients using only their address. With a more comprehensive picture of patient risk, Clinical AI can make more accurate predictions of patient outcomes. In fact, a recent study found that a machine learning model could accurately predict inpatient and emergency department utilization using only SDOH data.

Doctors rarely have insight on these external forces. More often than not, physicians are with patients for under 15 minutes at a time, and patients may not realize their external circumstances are relevant to their health. But, like medical imaging, AI has the power to make the invisible visible for doctors, surfacing external risk factors they would otherwise miss. 

But AI can do more than predict risk. With a complete view of patient risk factors, prescriptive AI tools can recommend interventions that address these risk factors, tapping the latest clinical research. This sets AI apart from traditional predictive analytics, which leaves clinicians with the burden of determining how to reduce a patient’s risk. Ultimately, the doctor is still responsible for setting the care plan, but AI can suggest actions they may not otherwise have considered.

By reducing the cognitive load on clinicians, AI can address another major problem in healthcare: burnout. Among professions, physicians have one of the highest suicide rates, and by 2025, the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services predicts that there will be a shortage of nearly 90,000 physicians across the nation, driven by burnout. The problem is real, and the pandemic has only worsened its impact. 

Implementing clinical AI can play an essential role in reducing burnout within hospitals. Studies show burnout is largely attributed to bureaucratic tasks and EHRs combined, and that physicians spend twice as much time on EHRs and desk work than with patients. Clinical AI can ease the burden of these administrative tasks so physicians can spend more time face-to-face with their patients.

For all its promise, it’s important to recognize that AI is as complex a tool as any radiological instrument. Healthcare organizations can’t just install the software and expect results. There are several implementation considerations that, if poorly executed, can doom AI’s success. This is where clinical AI departments can and should play a role. 

The first area where clinical AI departments should focus on is the data. AI is only as good as the data that goes into it. Ultimately, the data used to train machine learning models should be relevant and representative of the patient population it serves. Failing to do so can limit AI’s accuracy and usefulness, or worse, introduce bias. Any bias in the training data, including pre-existing disparities in health outcomes, will be reflected in the output of the AI. 

Every hospital’s use of clinical AI will be different, and hospitals will need to deeply consider their patient population and make sure that they have the resources to tailor vendor solutions accordingly. Without the right resources and organizational strategies, clinical AI adoption will come with the same frustration and disillusionment that has come to be associated with EHRs

Misconceptions about AI are a common hurdle that can foster resistance and misuse. No matter what science fiction tells us, AI will never replace a clinician’s judgment. Rather, AI should be seen as a clinical decision support tool, much like radiology or laboratory tests. For a successful AI implementation, it’s important to have internal champions who can build trust and train staff on proper use. Clinical AI departments can play an outsized role in leading this cultural shift.  

Finally, coordination is the bedrock of quality care, and AI is no exception. Clinical AI departments can foster collaboration across departments to action AI insights and treat the whole patient. Doing so can promote a shift from reactive to preventive care, mobilizing ambulatory, and community health resources to prevent avoidable hospitalizations.

With the promise of new vaccines, the end of the pandemic is in sight. Hospitals will soon face a historic opportunity to reshape their practices to recover from the pandemic’s financial devastation and deliver better care in the future. Clinical AI will be a powerful tool through this transition, helping hospitals to get ahead of avoidable utilization, streamline workflows, and improve the quality of care. 

A century ago, few would have guessed that X-rays would be the basis for an essential department within hospitals. Today, AI is leading a new revolution in medicine, and hospitals would be remiss to be left behind.


About  John Frownfelter, MD, FACP

John is an internist and physician executive in Health Information Technology and is currently leading Jvion’s clinical strategy as their Chief Medical Information Officer. With 20 years’ leadership experience he has a broad range of expertise in systems management, care transformation and health information systems. Dr. Frownfelter has held a number of medical and medical informatics leadership positions over nearly two decades, highlighted by his role as Chief Medical Information Officer for Inpatient services at Henry Ford Health System and Chief Medical Information Officer for UnityPoint Health where he led clinical IT strategy and launched the analytics programs. 

Since 2015, Dr. Frownfelter has been bringing his expertise to healthcare through health IT advising to both industry and health systems. His work with Jvion has enhanced their clinical offering and their implementation effectiveness. Dr. Frownfelter has also held professorships at St. George’s University and Wayne State schools of medicine, and the University of Detroit Mercy Physician Assistant School. Dr. Frownfelter received his MD from Wayne State University School of Medicine.


Frenova Begins Patient Enrollment to Build World’s Largest Genomics Registry for Kidney Disease

Frenova Begins Patient Enrollment to Build World’s Largest Genomics Registry for Kidney Disease

What You Should Know:

– Frenova Renal Research, a global division of Fresenius
Medical Care
, announced today that it has started to enroll patients in its
new endeavor to build the world’s largest genomics registry targeting kidney
disease.

– The registry will be used to help advance understanding
of the genetic drivers of kidney disease and shape more precise, individualized
therapies.


Fresenius
Medical Care,
the world’s leading provider of products and services for
people with chronic kidney failure, announced today that the company’s Frenova division has enrolled the first
participants in its new initiative to develop the largest renal-focused genomic
registry in the world. In addition, the company announced that Ali Gharavi, MD,
Chief of the Division of Nephrology at Columbia University Irving Medical
Center and Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of
Physicians and Surgeons, will lead the project and provide scientific guidance
as Principal Investigator.

Why It Matters

Nephrology has been under-represented in clinical research,
even as rapid progress in gene sequencing and analysis has led to advances in
precision medicine and individualized care in oncology, cardiology and other
medical areas. Frenova’s new genomic registry will contain genetic sequencing
data from chronic kidney disease patients worldwide, which will be used by
researchers to improve the understanding of kidney disease. Frenova developed
the registry after researchers identified the lack of a large-scale,
renal-focused registry of genomic and clinical data as a major impediment to
kidney disease research.

As a contract clinical development services company
dedicated exclusively to medicines and medical products in renal research,
Frenova orchestrates studies within the clinical footprint of Fresenius Medical
Care, which provides dialysis treatments to about 350,000 patients around the
globe. The renal-focused genomic registry represents a new business line within
Frenova, which is based in Fresenius Medical Care’s Global Medical Office. As
part of its growth strategy 2025, Fresenius Medical Care is using digital
technologies and the capability to analyze huge amounts of data to develop
new forms of renal therapy.

“The new Frenova registry will close this gap by generating data that adds a clinical and genetic backbone to help support and fuel scientific innovation,” said Franklin W. Maddux, MD, Global Chief Medical Officer of Fresenius Medical Care. “The evidence for genetic drivers in kidney diseases is substantial, but much larger data sets will be needed to untangle the complex interactions that lead to kidney injury. By combining clinical and genetic sequencing data from ethnically and pathologically diverse participants, this genomic and phenotypic research resource will help scientists better understand how genetic variations in patients can lead to more precise diagnoses and therapies that help improve outcomes by individualizing care.”

4 Quick Tips for Getting COVID-19 Claims Paid Promptly

4 Quick Tips for Getting COVID-19 Claims Paid Promptly
Lillian Phelps, Sr. Director of Product Management, Availity

As the COVID-19 pandemic has gripped the world, many providers have adopted an all-hands-on-deck approach and mentality for treating COVID-19 patients, stretching their resources to the breaking point. 

We have heard about the frontline heroes who have sacrificed their own health and safety to treat patients and, in less-fortunate scenarios, comfort patients in their last moments as they were quarantined from loved ones. 

What has been less recognized is the work and sacrifice put forth by providers’ back-office staff. Many back-office workers have had to transform their operational practices after shifting to “work-from-home” mode to avoid potential exposure and minimize traffic to hospitals and physicians’ offices. 

In addition to working in new environments, some of these back-office administrators who help process claims, receive reimbursements, check eligibility and manage denials are also seeing a higher volume of claims that are more complicated in nature due to the severity and complexity of managing COVID-19 symptoms in patients. Others are working with bare-bones staff as elective procedure volumes have decreased. 

The biggest challenges with COVID-19 claims
While many aspects of the pandemic are beyond providers’ control, proper coding of COVID-19 claims is one area they can focus on to help ensure efficient operations and revenues. Of course, that is easier said than done. The following are just a few challenges providers have been facing with COVID-19 claims.

Increased complexity: Due to the complexity of COVID-19 cases, which affect many elderly patients and those patients with chronic conditions and comorbidities, associated claims often take longer to code, file and process compared to more straightforward cases. More complex COVID-19 cases lead to longer hospital stays, which can create delays in submitting claims, resulting in delays in receiving reimbursements.

Continued shift to electronic transactions: While many hospitals and provider groups have shifted to submitting claims electronically, many processes, including prior-authorizations, eligibility and estimation requests and grievances, and appeals, rely heavily on manual intervention. These processes frequently require access to faxed or paper documents. Administrative staff members have had to quickly learn new systems and processes.

Difficulties with reimbursement for the uninsured: Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (also known as the CARES Act) and other legislation, the federal government has appropriated funding earmarked for providers that deliver COVID-19 testing and treatment to the uninsured. While this was certainly a welcome gesture at a time when many have lost their health insurance due to unemployment, the support has come with some administrative strings attached that lead to challenges for providers. 

For example, before submitting a claim, providers must show they have gone through an attestation process and document their efforts to find other medical coverage for the patient. Then providers essentially have just one shot at submitting a clean claim, as there is no appeals process for denials deemed inappropriate or unjustified. In cases of denials, providers themselves have little recourse for obtaining reimbursement and end up with a loss in revenue and increased costs. Although the efforts to help uninsured patients with COVID-19 testing and treatment are well-intentioned, providers must follow specific steps to realize the benefits.

Processing COVID-19 claims more efficiently
It has become clear that COVID-19 claims, though in many ways similar to traditional claims, have unique impediments that create difficulties for hospital and provider administrators. We have observed this in our own data. When comparing COVID-19 claims to non-COVID-19 claims, the COVID-19 claims have demonstrated a greater error rate (9-12% compared with 5-7%) and a longer time to submit (45 days compared to 30 days).

Despite these challenges, providers can implement the following steps to manage the workload, process COVID-19 claims efficiently, and work within the constraints of their new “work-from-home” offices.

1. Leverage technology that identifies errors and provides upfront edits to all COVID-19 claims. Automated revenue cycle solutions should contain updated functionality to properly review claims and flag potential issues prior to the claim being submitted to a payer.

2. Move coverage discovery to the front end of the billing process and ensure it is performed for all patients. There are many solutions that will search for insurance coverage across both commercial and government payers. When identified, the payer information can be reviewed and added to a patient’s billing information.

3. Review analytics within the revenue cycle management system to identify COVID-19 claims. Analyze these claims by payer, claim amount, and number and severity of services rendered. Scrubbing and editing claims in advance will ensure accuracy while also highlighting anomalies to review and fix prior to submitting the claim.

4. Constantly review claims for inpatient stays to ensure that all charges are recorded and all medical records are updated and attached. Getting all documentation ready and prepared in advance will save time on the backend.

Though we all hope that the pandemic winds down and we soon return to some sense of normalcy, it takes more than hope for providers to get their COVID-19 claims reimbursed accurately and quickly. Following the tips above will help keep administrative processes running smoothly and alleviate burdens that will inevitably occur once patients are treated and the billing cycle continues. 


About Lillian Phelps

Lillian Phelps is the senior director of product management for Availity, the nation’s largest health information network.


UnitedHealth Group Acquires Change Healthcare to Combine with OptumInsight for $13B

Change Healthcare Acquires Credentialing Tech Docufill to Improve Administrative Efficiency

What You Should Know:

– UnitedHealth Group has reached an agreement to acquire
Change Healthcare in a deal valued at more than $13 billion, marking the first
major acquisition of 2021.

– Change Healthcare will be combined with OptumInsight to
advance a more modern, information, and technology-enabled healthcare platform.


UnitedHealth Group’s
has reached an agreement to acquire
healthcare technology leader Change
Healthcare
for more than $13B. As part of the acquisition, Change
Healthcare will be combined with OptumInsight
to provide software and data analytics, technology-enabled services and
research, advisory and revenue cycle management offerings to help make health
care work better for everyone. The acquisition marks one of the largest deals
for UnitedHealth Group as it continues to expand it’s health services under the
Optum division.

Financial Details of Acquisition

UnitedHealth will pay $25.75 a share in cash, the companies said in a joint statement, a 41% premium over Change Healthcare’s closing price Tuesday of $18.24. The $13 billion valuation includes more than $5 billion in debt owed by Change Healthcare. Shares of Change Healthcare were up 31.72% at $24.02 in trading on Wednesday. UnitedHealth shares were up 0.6% at $346.67.

“Together we will help streamline and inform the vital
clinical, administrative and payment processes on which health care providers
and payers depend to serve patients,” said Andrew Witty, President of
UnitedHealth Group and CEO of Optum. “We’re thrilled to welcome Change
Healthcare’s highly skilled team to create a better future for health care.”

Acquisition Impact for Providers and Patients

The combination of OptumInsight and Change Healthcare is expected to simplify services around medical care to improve health outcomes and lower costs

– help clinicians make the most informed and clinically
advanced patient care decisions, more quickly and easily. Change Healthcare
brings widely adopted technology for integrating evidence-based clinical
criteria directly into the clinician’s workflow, while Optum’s clinical
analytics expertise and Individual Health Record can strengthen the evidence
base needed to deliver effective clinical decision support at the point of
care. This can ensure appropriate sites of care and consistently achieve the
best possible health, quality and cost outcomes.

– well-positioned to make health care simpler, more efficient and more effective. A key opportunity is to enhance with insights drawn from billions of claims transactions using Change Healthcare’s intelligent health care network, combined with Optum’s advanced data analytics. This will support significantly faster, more informed and accurate services and processing.

– Change Healthcare’s payment capacities combined with
Optum’s highly automated payment network will simplify financial interactions
among care providers, payers and consumers and accelerate the movement to a
more modern, real-time and transparent payment system. This will ensure
physicians get paid more quickly, accurately and reliably, and provide
consumers the same simplicity and convenience managing their health care
finances they experience with other transactions.

“This opportunity is about advancing connectivity and accelerating innovations and efficiencies essential to a simpler, more intelligent and adaptive health system. We share with Optum a common mission and values and importantly, a sense of urgency to provide our customers and those they serve with the more robust capacities this union makes possible,” said Neil de Crescenzo, President and CEO of Change Healthcare.  Upon closing, Mr. de Crescenzo will serve as OptumInsight’s chief executive officer, leading the combined organization.

UCHealth Taps Conversa Health to Track COVID-19 Vaccine Effects on Frontline Healthcare Workers

12-Available-COVID-19-Vaccine-Management-Solutions-to-Know-In-Depth-1

What You Should Know:

– Conversa Health’s COVID-19 programs now include patient monitoring pre- and post-vaccination, education on vaccines, and appointment reminders.

– Healthcare workers at UCHealth in Colorado are
receiving 24/7 monitoring of vital signs two days before and seven days after
receiving their vaccinations courtesy of Conversa Health.


Conversa Health, a Portland, OR-based automated virtual care and triage platform, has expanded its suite of COVID-19 programs with tools to help the vaccine effort. As part of its expansion, Conversa has partnered with BioIntelliSense to monitor healthcare workers at UCHealth in Colorado before and after receiving COVID-19 vaccinations. UCHealth physicians, nurses, and other front-line staff members wear BioIntelliSense’s BioButton medical device two days before and seven days after vaccination. The BioButton continuously monitors temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate at rest. Conversa collects information from the BioButton and integrates the vital signs data with insights from a daily interactive vaccination health survey developed by Conversa.

“Automated vaccine monitoring for our frontline healthcare workers is an important step toward scaling the program for the larger population, particularly vulnerable patient populations and seniors in long-term care environments,” said Dr. Richard Zane, UCHealth chief innovation officer and professor and chair of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “We are working closely with partners like Conversa and BioIntelliSense to navigate the ever-changing healthcare landscape and transform the way patients receive care.”

Vaccine education, tracking and screening

Conversa also is assisting health systems across the country
with the challenge of vaccinating millions of patients. This effort begins with
educating patients on the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. Patients want to
know when they will be eligible to receive vaccines and what their experience
will be like, including potential side effects. And patients need an easy way
to set up vaccine appointments and get reminders to follow through on their
visits. Health systems also want to monitor potential side effects, both to
ensure patients get needed follow-up care and to report any side effects to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“With millions of people needing to be vaccinated, we cannot have a manual, paper process to track who received a vaccine and who experienced side effects,” said Dr. Nick Patel, chief digital officer at Prisma Health, an 18-hospital system serving South Carolina. “We have to automate this process to track information accurately and at scale. With Conversa, we will be able to do that for the 1.2 million patients that Prisma Health serves annually. Digital tracking also allows us to provide vaccinated individuals with a digital badge for entering an airplane, a public building or an entertainment venue. That will be a key to allowing life to return to something close to pre-COVID normal.”

Quality in Healthcare: Cultural Competence, Diagnostic Accuracy or Patronizing Insensitivity?

By HANS DUVEFELT

I sometimes tell patients “I work for the government”, but sometimes I say the opposite, “I work for you”.

Herein lies a dichotomy that is eating away at primary care in this country, like a slow growing cancer. I suspect everybody is aware of it, but it seems nobody has the inclination to deal with it.

2020 exposed how differently Americans view and prioritize things like personal freedom and public safety. We have also seen how vastly different perceptions of reality suddenly exist about what constitutes medical facts. Alternative facts and fake news are suddenly household concepts.

For years, American healthcare has paid lip service to ethnic and cultural sensitivity, as long as minority opinions or practices don’t clash too badly with the holy cows of western society. We tolerate circumcision in men, but not genital mutilation in women, for example. But we don’t even pay lip service to the majority’s right to direct their own healthcare.

Some people want to be screened for everything and some don’t. How heavy-handed should the healthcare system or individual providers be? If you buy a car and never bring it in for routine maintenance, isn’t that your personal choice, your personal freedom? Why should healthcare be completely different?

In bread and butter primary care, we are squeezed every day between patients’ requests for healthcare and the American quasi-religious medical quality dogma. The possibly well-meaning principles were set forth by CMS, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and turned into business opportunities for private health insurers and the many middlemen of the healthcare industry.

We disagree on whether mask wearing decreases the spread of the coronavirus and whether, even if it does, you can legally mandate it.

Yet medical providers have been routinely measured and financially rewarded for things like recommending aspirin use in middle aged people until it turned out that was faulty science. We have been mandated to do all kinds of things that have nothing to do with why people come to see us, because Uncle Sam (in the broadest sense of America’s paternalistic healthcare system) knows best what people need.

A patient smokes, feels depressed, has an elevated blood pressure and hasn’t had a screening colonoscopy. They also have this gnawing pain in the belly that six months later will turn out to be an inoperable pancreatic cancer. I can get 4 quality brownie points for clicking EMR boxes for smoking cessation counseling, scoring degree of depression and suggesting a behavioral health referral, advising salt and alcohol restriction and arranging for a blood pressure followup as well as referring my patient for a screening colonoscopy.

But there are no quality parameters or incentives for paying attention to this patient’s main concern, “Chief Complaint”, for making an early and correct diagnosis and saving the patient’s life.

Medical providers are disincentivized from listening to their patients because the screening opportunities have become the dominating purpose of primary care in the eyes of those in power.

People with new symptoms may have long waits to see their primary care providers, who are overburdened with screening and housekeeping duties. Doctors went to medical school, residencies and fellowships to learn how to diagnose and treat disease. We were never selected for or trained for the bookkeeping duties that are becoming the bulk of our work.

So much of what we do could be done by others, even digitally and remotely. It’s a new year in a shaken-up healthcare system in a shaken-up nation. It’s time to think about what we really need doctors to do.

Hans Duvefelt is a Swedish-born rural Family Physician in Maine. This post originally appeared on his blog, A Country Doctor Writes, here.

30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

As we close out the year, we asked several healthcare executives to share their predictions and trends for 2021.

30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Kimberly Powell, Vice President & General Manager, NVIDIA Healthcare

Federated Learning: The clinical community will increase their use of federated learning approaches to build robust AI models across various institutions, geographies, patient demographics, and medical scanners. The sensitivity and selectivity of these models are outperforming AI models built at a single institution, even when there is copious data to train with. As an added bonus, researchers can collaborate on AI model creation without sharing confidential patient information. Federated learning is also beneficial for building AI models for areas where data is scarce, such as for pediatrics and rare diseases.

AI-Driven Drug Discovery: The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on drug discovery, which encompasses microscopic viewing of molecules and proteins, sorting through millions of chemical structures, in-silico methods for screening, protein-ligand interactions, genomic analysis, and assimilating data from structured and unstructured sources. Drug development typically takes over 10 years, however, in the wake of COVID, pharmaceutical companies, biotechs, and researchers realize that acceleration of traditional methods is paramount. Newly created AI-powered discovery labs with GPU-accelerated instruments and AI models will expedite time to insight — creating a computing time machine.

Smart Hospitals: The need for smart hospitals has never been more urgent. Similar to the experience at home, smart speakers and smart cameras help automate and inform activities. The technology, when used in hospitals, will help scale the work of nurses on the front lines, increase operational efficiency, and provide virtual patient monitoring to predict and prevent adverse patient events. 


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Omri Shor, CEO of Medisafe

Healthcare policy: Expect to see more moves on prescription drug prices, either through a collaborative effort among pharma groups or through importation efforts. Pre-existing conditions will still be covered for the 135 million Americans with pre-existing conditions.

The Biden administration has made this a central element of this platform, so coverage will remain for those covered under ACA. Look for expansion or revisions of the current ACA to be proposed, but stalled in Congress, so existing law will remain largely unchanged. Early feedback indicates the Supreme Court is unlikely to strike down the law entirely, providing relief to many during a pandemic.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Brent D. Lang, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Vocera Communications

The safety and well-being of healthcare workers will be a top priority in 2021. While there are promising headlines about coronavirus vaccines, we can be sure that nurses, doctors, and other care team members will still be on the frontlines fighting COVID-19 for many more months. We must focus on protecting and connecting these essential workers now and beyond the pandemic.

Modernized PPE Standards
Clinicians should not risk contamination to communicate with colleagues. Yet, this simple act can be risky without the right tools. To minimize exposure to infectious diseases, more hospitals will rethink personal protective equipment (PPE) and modernize standards to include hands-free communication technology. In addition to protecting people, hands-free communication can save valuable time and resources. Every time a nurse must leave an isolation room to answer a call, ask a question, or get supplies, he or she must remove PPE and don a fresh set to re-enter. With voice-controlled devices worn under PPE, the nurse can communicate without disrupting care or leaving the patient’s bedside.

Improved Capacity

Voice-controlled solutions can also help new or reassigned care team members who are unfamiliar with personnel, processes, or the location of supplies. Instead of worrying about knowing names or numbers, they can use simple voice commands to connect to the right person, group, or information quickly and safely. In addition to simplifying clinical workflows, an intelligent communication system can streamline operational efficiencies, improve triage and throughput, and increase capacity, which is all essential to hospitals seeking ways to recover from 2020 losses and accelerate growth.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Michael Byczkowski, Global Vice President, Head of Healthcare Industry at SAP,

New, targeted healthcare networks will collaborate and innovate to improve patient outcomes.

We will see many more touchpoints between different entities ranging from healthcare providers and life sciences companies to technology providers and other suppliers, fostering a sense of community within the healthcare industry. More organizations will collaborate based on existing data assets, perform analysis jointly, and begin adding innovative, data-driven software enhancements. With these networks positively influencing the efficacy of treatments while automatically managing adherence to local laws and regulations regarding data use and privacy, they are paving the way for software-defined healthcare.

Smart hospitals will create actionable insights for the entire organization out of existing data and information.

Medical records as well as operational data within a hospital will continue to be digitized and will be combined with experience data, third-party information, and data from non-traditional sources such as wearables and other Internet of Things devices. Hospitals that have embraced digital are leveraging their data to automate tasks and processes as well as enable decision support for their medical and administrative staff. In the near future, hospitals could add intelligence into their enterprise environments so they can use data to improve internal operations and reduce overhead.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Curt Medeiros, President and Chief Operating Officer of Ontrak

As health care costs continue to rise dramatically given the pandemic and its projected aftermath, I see a growing and critical sophistication in healthcare analytics taking root more broadly than ever before. Effective value-based care and network management depend on the ability of health plans and providers to understand what works, why, and where best to allocate resources to improve outcomes and lower costs. Tied to the need for better analytics, I see a tipping point approaching for finally achieving better data security and interoperability. Without the ability to securely share data, our industry is trying to solve the world’s health challenges with one hand tied behind our backs.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

G. Cameron Deemer, President, DrFirst

Like many business issues, the question of whether to use single-vendor solutions or a best-of-breed approach swings back and forth in the healthcare space over time. Looking forward, the pace of technology change is likely to swing the pendulum to a new model: systems that are supplemental to the existing core platform. As healthcare IT matures, it’s often not a question of ‘can my vendor provide this?’ but ‘can my vendor provide this in the way I need it to maximize my business processes and revenues?

This will be more clear with an example: An EHR may provide a medication history function, for instance, but does it include every source of medication history available? Does it provide a medication history that is easily understood and acted upon by the provider? Does it provide a medication history that works properly with all downstream functions in the EHR? When a provider first experiences medication history during a patient encounter, it seems like magic.

After a short time, the magic fades to irritation as the incompleteness of the solution becomes more obvious. Much of the newer healthcare technologies suffer this same incompleteness. Supplementing the underlying system’s capabilities with a strongly integrated third-party system is increasingly going to be the strategy of choice for providers.


Angie Franks, CEO of Central Logic

In 2021, we will see more health systems moving towards the goal of truly operating as one system of care. The pandemic has demonstrated in the starkest terms how crucial it is for health systems to have real-time visibility into available beds, providers, transport, and scarce resources such as ventilators and drugs, so patients with COVID-19 can receive the critical care they need without delay. The importance of fully aligning as a single integrated system that seamlessly shares data and resources with a centralized, real-time view of operations is a lesson that will resonate with many health systems.

Expect in 2021 for health systems to enhance their ability to orchestrate and navigate patient transitions across their facilities and through the continuum of care, including post-acute care. Ultimately, this efficient care access across all phases of care will help healthcare organizations regain revenue lost during the historic drop in elective care in 2020 due to COVID-19.

In addition to elevating revenue capture, improving system-wide orchestration and navigation will increase health systems’ bed availability and access for incoming patients, create more time for clinicians to operate at the top of their license, and reduce system leakage. This focus on creating an ‘operating as one’ mindset will not only help health systems recover from 2020 losses, it will foster sustainable and long-term growth in 2021 and well into the future.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

John Danaher, MD, President, Global Clinical Solutions, Elsevier

COVID-19 has brought renewed attention to healthcare inequities in the U.S., with the disproportionate impact on people of color and minority populations. It’s no secret that there are indicative factors, such as socioeconomic level, education and literacy levels, and physical environments, that influence a patient’s health status. Understanding these social determinants of health (SDOH) better and unlocking this data on a wider scale is critical to the future of medicine as it allows us to connect vulnerable populations with interventions and services that can help improve treatment decisions and health outcomes. In 2021, I expect the health informatics industry to take a larger interest in developing technologies that provide these kinds of in-depth population health insights.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Jay Desai, CEO and co-founder of PatientPing

2021 will see an acceleration of care coordination across the continuum fueled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Interoperability and Patient Access rule’s e-notifications Condition of Participation (CoP), which goes into effect on May 1, 2021. The CoP requires all hospitals, psych hospitals, and critical access hospitals that have a certified electronic medical record system to provide notification of admit, discharge, and transfer, at both the emergency room and the inpatient setting, to the patient’s care team. Due to silos, both inside and outside of a provider’s organization, providers miss opportunities to best treat their patients simply due to lack of information on patients and their care events.

This especially impacts the most vulnerable patients, those that suffer from chronic conditions, comorbidities or mental illness, or patients with health disparities due to economic disadvantage or racial inequity. COVID-19 exacerbated the impact on these vulnerable populations. To solve for this, healthcare providers and organizations will continue to assess their care coordination strategies and expand their patient data interoperability initiatives in 2021, including becoming compliant with the e-notifications Condition of Participation.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Kuldeep Singh Rajput, CEO and founder of Biofourmis

Driven by CMS’ Acute Hospital at Home program announced in November 2020, we will begin to see more health systems delivering hospital-level care in the comfort of the patient’s home–supported by technologies such as clinical-grade wearables, remote patient monitoring, and artificial intelligence-based predictive analytics and machine learning.

A randomized controlled trial by Brigham Health published in Annals of Internal Medicine earlier this year demonstrated that when compared with usual hospital care, Home Hospital programs can reduce rehospitalizations by 70% while decreasing costs by nearly 40%. Other advantages of home hospital programs include a reduction in hospital-based staffing needs, increased capacity for those patients who do need inpatient care, decreased exposure to COVID-19 and other viruses such as influenza for patients and healthcare professionals, and improved patient and family member experience.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Jake Pyles, CEO, CipherHealth

The disappearance of the hospital monopoly will give rise to a new loyalty push

Healthcare consumerism was on the rise ahead of the pandemic, but the explosion of telehealth in 2020 has effectively eliminated the geographical constraints that moored patient populations to their local hospitals and providers. The fallout has come in the form of widespread network leakage and lost revenue. By October, in fact, revenue for hospitals in the U.S. was down 9.2% year-over-year. Able to select providers from the comfort of home and with an ever-increasing amount of personal health data at their convenience through the growing use of consumer-grade wearable devices, patients are more incentivized in 2021 to choose the provider that works for them.

After the pandemic fades, we’ll see some retrenchment from telehealth, but it will remain a mainstream care delivery model for large swaths of the population. In fact, post-pandemic, we believe telehealth will standardize and constitute a full 30% to 40% of interactions.

That means that to compete, as well as to begin to recover lost revenue, hospitals need to go beyond offering the same virtual health convenience as their competitors – Livango and Teladoc should have been a shot across the bow for every health system in 2020. Moreover, hospitals need to become marketing organizations. Like any for-profit brand, hospitals need to devote significant resources to building loyalty but have traditionally eschewed many of the cutting-edge marketing techniques used in other industries. Engagement and personalization at every step of the patient journey will be core to those efforts.


Marc Probst, former Intermountain Health System CIO, Advisor for SR Health by Solutionreach

Healthcare will fix what it’s lacking most–communication.

Because every patient and their health is unique, when it comes to patient care, decisions need to be customized to their specific situation and environment, yet done in a timely fashion. In my two decades at one of the most innovative health systems in the U.S., communication, both across teams and with patients continuously has been less than optimal. I believe we will finally address both the interpersonal and interface communication issues that organizations have faced since the digitization of healthcare.”


Rich Miller, Chief Strategy Officer, Qgenda

2021 – The year of reforming healthcare: We’ve been looking at ways to ease healthcare burdens for patients for so long that we haven’t realized the onus we’ve put on providers in doing so. Adding to that burden, in 2020 we had to throw out all of our playbooks and become masters of being reactive. Now, it’s time to think through the lessons learned and think through how to be proactive. I believe provider-based data will allow us to reformulate our priorities and processes. By analyzing providers’ biggest pain points in real-time, we can evaporate the workflow and financial troubles that have been bothering organizations while also relieving providers of their biggest problems.”


Robert Hanscom, JD, Vice President of Risk Management and Analytics at Coverys

Data Becomes the Fix, Not the Headache for Healthcare

The past 10 years have been challenging for an already overextended healthcare workforce. Rising litigation costs, higher severity claims, and more stringent reimbursement mandates put pressure on the bottom line. Continued crises in combination with less-than-optimal interoperability and design of health information systems, physician burnout, and loss of patient trust, have put front-line clinicians and staff under tremendous pressure.

Looking to the future, it is critical to engage beyond the day to day to rise above the persistent risks that challenge safe, high-quality care on the frontline. The good news is healthcare leaders can take advantage of tools that are available to generate, package, and learn from data – and use them to motivate action.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Steve Betts, Chief of Operations and Products at Gray Matter Analytics

Analytics Divide Intensifies: Just like the digital divide is widening in society, the analytics divide will continue to intensify in healthcare. The role of data in healthcare has shifted rapidly, as the industry has wrestled with an unsustainable rate of increasing healthcare costs. The transition to value-based care means that it is now table stakes to effectively manage clinical quality measures, patient/member experience measures, provider performance measures, and much more. In 2021, as the volume of data increases and the intelligence of the models improves, the gap between the haves and have nots will significantly widen at an ever-increasing rate.

Substantial Investment in Predictive Solutions: The large health systems and payors will continue to invest tens of millions of dollars in 2021. This will go toward building predictive models to infuse intelligent “next best actions” into their workflows that will help them grow and manage the health of their patient/member populations more effectively than the small and mid-market players.


Jennifer Price, Executive Director of Data & Analytics at THREAD

The Rise of Home-based and Decentralized Clinical Trial Participation

In 2020, we saw a significant rise in home-based activities such as online shopping, virtual school classes and working from home. Out of necessity to continue important clinical research, home health services and decentralized technologies also moved into the home. In 2021, we expect to see this trend continue to accelerate, with participants receiving clinical trial treatments at home, home health care providers administering procedures and tests from the participant’s home, and telehealth virtual visits as a key approach for sites and participants to communicate. Hybrid decentralized studies that include a mix of on-site visits, home health appointments and telehealth virtual visits will become a standard option for a range of clinical trials across therapeutic areas. Technological advances and increased regulatory support will continue to enable the industry to move out of the clinic and into the home.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Doug Duskin, President of the Technology Division at Equality Health

Value-based care has been a watchword of the healthcare industry for many years now, but advancement into more sophisticated VBC models has been slower than anticipated. As we enter 2021, providers – particularly those in fee-for-service models who have struggled financially due to COVID-19 – and payers will accelerate this shift away from fee-for-service medicine and turn to technology that can facilitate and ease the transition to more risk-bearing contracts. Value-based care, which has proven to be a more stable and sustainable model throughout the pandemic, will seem much more appealing to providers that were once reluctant to enter into risk-bearing contracts. They will no longer be wondering if they should consider value-based contracting, but how best to engage.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Brian Robertson, CEO of VisiQuate

Continued digitization and integration of information assets: In 2021, this will lead to better performance outcomes and clearer, more measurable examples of “return on data, analytics, and automation.

Digitizing healthcare’s complex clinical, financial, and operational information assets: I believe that providers who are further in the digital transformation journey will make better use of their interconnected assets, and put the healthcare consumer in the center of that highly integrated universe. Healthcare consumer data will be studied, better analyzed, and better predicted to drive improved performance outcomes that benefit the patient both clinically and financially.

Some providers will have leapfrog moments: These transformations will be so significant that consumers will easily recognize that they are receiving higher value. Lower acuity telemedicine and other virtual care settings are great examples that lead to improved patient engagement, experience and satisfaction. Device connectedness and IoT will continue to mature, and better enable chronic disease management, wellness, and other healthy lifestyle habits for consumers.


Kermit S. Randa, CEO of Syntellis Performance Solutions

Healthcare CEOs and CFOs will partner closely with their CIOs on data governance and data distribution planning. With the massive impact of COVID-19 still very much in play in 2021, healthcare executives will need to make frequent data-driven – and often ad-hoc — decisions from more enterprise data streams than ever before. Syntellis research shows that healthcare executives are already laser-focused on cost reduction and optimization, with decreased attention to capital planning and strategic growth. In 2021, there will be a strong trend in healthcare organizations toward new initiatives, including clinical and quality analytics, operational budgeting, and reporting and analysis for decision support.


Dr. Calum Yacoubian, Associate Director of Healthcare Product & Strategy at Linguamatics

As payers and providers look to recover from the damage done by the pandemic, the ability to deliver value from data assets they already own will be key. The pandemic has displayed the siloed nature of healthcare data, and the difficulty in extracting vital information, particularly from unstructured data, that exists. Therefore, technologies and solutions that can normalize these data to deliver deeper and faster insights will be key to driving economic recovery. Adopting technologies such as natural language processing (NLP) will not only offer better population health management, ensuring the patients most in need are identified and triaged but will open new avenues to advance innovations in treatments and improve operational efficiencies.

Prior to the pandemic, there was already an increasing level of focus on the use of real-world data (RWD) to advance the discovery and development of new therapies and understand the efficacy of existing therapies. The disruption caused by COVID-19 has sharpened the focus on RWD as pharma looks to mitigate the effect of the virus on conventional trial recruitment and data collection. One such example of this is the use of secondary data collection from providers to build real-world cohorts which can serve as external comparator arms.

This convergence on seeking value from existing RWD potentially affords healthcare providers a powerful opportunity to engage in more clinical research and accelerate the work to develop life-saving therapies. By mobilizing the vast amount of data, they will offer pharmaceutical companies a mechanism to positively address some of the disruption caused by COVID-19. This movement is one strategy that is key to driving provider recovery in 2021.


Rose Higgins, Chief Executive Officer of HealthMyne

Precision imaging analytics technology, called radiomics, will increasingly be adopted and incorporated into drug development strategies and clinical trials management. These AI-powered analytics will enable drug developers to gain deeper insights from medical images than previously capable, driving accelerated therapy development, greater personalization of treatment, and the discovery of new biomarkers that will enhance clinical decision-making and treatment.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Dharmesh Godha, President and CTO of Advaiya

Greater adoption and creative implementation of remote healthcare will be the biggest trend for the year 2021, along with the continuous adoption of cloud-enabled digital technologies for increased workloads. Remote healthcare is a very open field. The possibilities to innovate in this area are huge. This is the time where we can see the beginning of the convergence of personal health aware IoT devices (smartwatches/ temp sensors/ BP monitors/etc.) with the advanced capabilities of the healthcare technologies available with the monitoring and intervention capabilities for the providers.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Simon Wu, Investment Director, Cathay Innovation

Healthcare Data Proves its Weight in Gold in 2021

Real-world evidence or routinely stored data from hospitals and claims, being leveraged by healthcare providers and biopharma companies along with those that can improve access to data will grow exponentially in the coming year. There are many trying to build in-house, but similar to autonomous technology, there will be a separate set of companies emerge in 2021 to provide regulated infrastructure and have their “AWS” moment.


Kyle Raffaniello, CEO of Sapphire Digital

2021 is a clear year for healthcare price transparency

Over the past year, healthcare price transparency has been a key topic for the Trump administration in an effort to lower healthcare costs for Americans. In recent months, COVID-19 has made the topic more important to patients than ever before. Starting in January, we can expect the incoming Biden administration to not only support the existing federal transparency regulations but also continue to push for more transparency and innovation within Medicare. I anticipate that healthcare price transparency will continue its momentum in 2021 as one of two Price Transparency rules takes effect and the Biden administration supports this movement.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Dennis McLaughlin VP of Omni Operations + Product at ibi

Social Determinants of Health Goes Mainstream: Understanding more about the patient and their personal environment has a hot topic the past two years. Providers and payers’ ability to inject this knowledge and insight into the clinical process has been limited. 2021 is the year it gets real. It’s not just about calling an uber anymore. The organizations that broadly factor SDOH into the servicing model especially with virtualized medicine expanding broadly will be able to more effectively reach vulnerable patients and maximize the effectiveness of care.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Joe Partlow, CTO at ReliaQuest

The biggest threat to personal privacy will be healthcare information: Researchers are rushing to pool resources and data sets to tackle the pandemic, but this new era of openness comes with concerns around privacy, ownership, and ethics. Now, you will be asked to share your medical status and contact information, not just with your doctors, but everywhere you go, from workplaces to gyms to restaurants. Your personal health information is being put in the hands of businesses that may not know how to safeguard it. In 2021, cybercriminals will capitalize on rapid U.S. telehealth adoption. Sharing this information will have major privacy implications that span beyond keeping medical data safe from cybercriminals to wider ethics issues and insurance implications.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Jimmy Nguyen, Founding President at Bitcoin Association

Blockchain solutions in the healthcare space will bring about massive improvements in two primary ways in 2021.

Firstly, blockchain applications will for the first time facilitate patients owning, managing, and even monetizing their personal health data. Today’s healthcare information systems are incredibly fragmented, with patient data from different sources – be they physicians, pharmacies, labs, or otherwise – kept in different silos, eliminating the ability to generate a holistic view of patient information and restricting healthcare providers from producing the best health outcomes.

Healthcare organizations are growing increasingly aware of the ways in which blockchain technology can be used to eliminate data silos, enable real-time access to patient information, and return control to patients for the use of their personal data – all in a highly-secure digital environment. 2021 will be the year that patient data goes blockchain.

Secondly, blockchain solutions can ensure more honesty and transparency in the development of pharmaceutical products. Clinical research data is often subject to questions of integrity or ‘hygiene’ if data is not properly recorded, or worse, is deliberately fabricated. Blockchain technology enables easy, auditable tracking of datasets generated by clinical researchers, benefitting government agencies tasked with approving drugs while producing better health outcomes for healthcare providers and patients. In 2021, I expect to see a rise in the use and uptake of applications that use public blockchain systems to incentivize greater honesty in clinical research.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Alex Lazarow, Investment Director, Cathay Innovation

The Future of US Healthcare is Transparent, Fair, Open and Consumer-Driven

In the last year, the pandemic put a spotlight on the major gaps in healthcare in the US, highlighting a broken system that is one of the most expensive and least distributed in the world. While we’ve already seen many boutique healthcare companies emerge to address issues around personalization, quality and convenience, the next few years will be focused on giving the power back to consumers, specifically with the rise of insurtechs, in fixing the transparency, affordability, and incentive issues that have plagued the private-based US healthcare system until now.


Lisa Romano, RN, Chief Nursing Officer, CipherHealth

Hospitals will need to counter the staff wellness fallout

The pandemic has placed unthinkable stress on frontline healthcare workers. Since it began, they’ve been working under conditions that are fundamentally more dangerous, with fewer resources, and in many cases under the heavy emotional burden of seeing several patients lose their battle with COVID-19. The fallout from that is already beginning – doctors and nurses are leaving the profession, or getting sick, or battling mental health struggles. Nursing programs are struggling to fill classes. As a new wave of the pandemic rolls across the country, that fallout will only increase. If they haven’t already, hospitals in 2021 will place new premiums upon staff wellness and staff health, tapping into the same type of outreach and purposeful rounding solutions they use to round on patients.


30 Executives Share Top Healthcare Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Kris Fitzgerald, CTO, NTT DATA Services

Quality metrics for health plans – like data that measures performance – was turned on its head in 2020 due to delayed procedures. In the coming year, we will see a lot of plans interpret these delayed procedures flexibly so they honor their plans without impacting providers. However, for so long, the payer’s use of data and the provider’s use of data has been disconnected. Moving forward the need for providers to have a more specific understanding of what drives the value and if the cost is reasonable for care from the payer perspective is paramount. Data will ensure that this collaboration will be enhanced and the concept of bundle payments and aligning incentives will be improved. As the data captured becomes even richer, it will help people plan and manage their care better. The addition of artificial intelligence (AI) to this data will also play a huge role in both dialog and negotiation when it comes to cost structure. This movement will lead to a spike in value-based care adoption


Patient-First Model: High Tech Meets High Touch for Individuals with Rare Disorders

Patient-First Model: High Tech Meets High Touch to Optimize Data, Inform Health Care Decisions, Enhance Population Health Management for Individuals with Rare Disorders
Donovan Quill, President and CEO, Optime Care

Industry experts state that orphan drugs will be a major trend to watch in the years ahead, accounting for almost 40% of the Food and Drug Administration approvals this year. This market has become more competitive in the past few years, increasing the potential for reduced costs and broader patient accessibility. Currently, these products are often expensive because they target specific conditions and cost on average $147,000 or more per year, making commercialization optimization particularly critical for success. 

At the same time precision medicine—a disease treatment and prevention approach that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person—is emerging as a trend for population health management. This approach utilizes advances in new technologies and data to unlock information and better target health care efforts within populations.

This is important because personalized medicine has the capacity to detect the onset of disease at its earliest stages, pre-empt the progression of the disease and increase the efficiency of the health care system by improving quality, accessibility, and affordability.

These factors lay the groundwork for specialty pharmaceutical companies that are developing and commercializing personalized drugs for orphan and ultra-orphan diseases to pursue productive collaboration and meaningful partnership with a specialty pharmacy, distribution, and patient management service provider. This relationship offers manufacturers a patient-first model to align with market trends and optimize the opportunity, maximize therapeutic opportunities for personalized medicines, and help to contain costs of specialty pharmacy for orphan and rare disorders. This approach leads to a more precise way of predicting the prognosis of genetic diseases, helping physicians to better determine which medical treatments and procedures will work best for each patient.

Furthermore, and of concern to specialty pharmaceutical providers, is the opportunity to leverage a patient-first strategy in streamlining patient enrollment in clinical trials. This model also maximizes interaction with patients for adherence and compliance, hastens time to commercialization, and provides continuity of care to avoid lapses in therapy — during and after clinical trials through commercialization and beyond for the whole life cycle of a product. Concurrently, the patient-first approach also provides exceptional support to caregivers, healthcare providers, and biopharma partners.


Integrating Data with Human Interaction

When it comes to personalized medicine for the rare orphan market, tailoring IT, technology, and data solutions based upon client needs—and a high-touch approach—can improve patient engagement from clinical trials to commercialization and compliance. 

Rare and orphan disease patients require an intense level of support and benefit from high touch service. A care team, including the program manager, care coordinator, pharmacist, nurse, and specialists, should be 100% dedicated to the disease state, patient community, and therapy. This is a critical feature to look for when seeking a specialty pharmacy, distribution, and patient management provider. The key to effective care is to balance technology solutions with methods for addressing human needs and variability.  

With a patient-first approach, wholesale distributors, specialty pharmacies, and hub service providers connect seamlessly, instead of operating independently. The continuity across the entire patient journey strengthens communication, yields rich data for more informed decision making, and improves the overall patient experience. This focus addresses all variables around collecting data while maintaining frequent communication with patients and their families to ensure compliance and positive outcomes. 

As genome science becomes part of the standard of routine care, the vast amount of genetic data will allow the medicine to become more precise and more personal. In fact, the growing understanding of how large sets of genes may contribute to disease helps to identify patients at risk from common diseases like diabetes, heart conditions, and cancer. In turn, this enables doctors to personalize their therapy decisions and allows individuals to better calculate their risks and potentially take pre-emptive action. 

What’s more, the increase in other forms of data about individuals—such as molecular information from medical tests, electronic health records, or digital data recorded by sensors—makes it possible to more easily capture a wealth of personal health information, as does the rise of artificial intelligence and cloud computing to analyze this data. 


Telehealth in the Age of Pandemics

During the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond, it has become imperative that any specialty pharmacy, distribution, and patient management provider must offer a fully integrated telehealth option to provide care coordination for patients, customized care plans based on conversations with each patient, medication counseling, education on disease states and expectations for each drug. 

A customized telehealth option enables essential discussions for understanding patient needs, a drug’s impact on overall health, assessing the number of touchpoints required each month, follow-up, and staying on top of side effects.

Each touchpoint has a care plan. For instance, a product may require the pharmacist to reach out to the patient after one week to assess response to the drug from a physical and psychological perspective, asking the right questions and making necessary changes, if needed, based on the patient’s daily routine, changes in behavior and so on. 

This approach captures relevant information in a standardized way so that every pharmacist and patient is receiving the same assessment based on each drug, which can be compared to overall responses. Information is gathered by an operating system and data aggregator and shared with the manufacturer, who may make alterations to the care plan based on the story of the patient journey created for them. 

Just as important, patients know that help is a phone call away and trust the information and guidance that pharmacists provide.


About Donovan Quill, President and CEO, Optime Care 

Donovan Quill is the President and CEO of Optime Care, a nationally recognized pharmacy, distribution, and patient management organization that creates the trusted path to a fulfilled life for patients with rare and orphan disorders. Donovan entered the world of healthcare after a successful coaching career and teaching at the collegiate level. His personal mission was to help patients who suffer from an orphan disorder that has affected his entire family (Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency). Donovan became a Patient Advocate for Centric Health Resources and traveled the country raising awareness, improving detection, and providing education to patients and healthcare providers.


Gaps in Clinical Communication, Document Exchange Lead to Gaps in Care

Gaps in Clinical Communication, Document Exchange Lead to Gaps in Care
John Harrison, Chief Commercial Officer of Concord Technologies

Communication problems and inadequate information flow are two of the most common root causes of medical errors. The potential for miscommunication and faulty exchange of information in healthcare is substantial. 

Consider: patient information is dispersed among multiple providers and payers along the continuum of care. Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and other clinical systems do not capture patient information or format medical documentation in a standardized manner. In an environment with incompatible systems, the easiest way for healthcare organizations to exchange records is to generate those records in a document format. It is not surprising then that many healthcare organizations are still heavily dependent on traditional, paper-based fax, which adds its own challenges to the process. Fax hardware and communication equipment are often unreliable, resulting in document delivery failures and delays. 

As a result, an inadequate information flow can cause problems that impact the availability of essential knowledge needed for prescribing decisions, timely and reliable delivery of test results, and coordination of medical orders. The ensuing administrative and medical errors raise healthcare costs and may lead to poor health outcomes, including patient harm and readmissions.

The reality of mundane, manual processes 

Document-based information exchange processes are highly inefficient. Staff often print and copy documents, creating a risk of accidental exposure of protected health information and resulting in needless costs. Moreover, documents – whether printed or stored on a workstation or server – still require manual data entry into EHRs and practice management systems. The tasks are tedious, prone to error, and negatively impact workflow, staff efficiency, physicians, and patients, and may lead to the following: 

– Patient record errors, including filing or documenting information in the wrong patient file, and data entry errors;

– Poorly documented or lost test results; and

– Gaps in communication during transitions of care from one healthcare provider or setting to another. 

In addition to these areas of concern that threaten patient safety, inbound documents often contain a lot of information on clinical, administrative, and financial matters that aren’t necessarily relevant to an intended recipient. That means a recipient must review all pages of the document and separate needed information from extraneous ones, which can further delay processing and patient transitions of care.

Smarter, faster document processing with AI

Healthcare providers need a document exchange and processing strategy that enables fully digital, secure, and efficient communication among numerous, highly customized EHRs, each with its own workflows and document processing preferences. 

Such a strategy needs to include moving away from paper to fully digital documents. Healthcare organizations can accomplish this easily and without the need to overhaul the entire existing health IT infrastructure. The two main ways of transitioning from paper to digital are using digital fax instead of traditional fax and document imaging when documents are simply scanned into the system. In many cases, the resulting document format will be a TIFF image; and while it is not machine-readable, it enables paperless filing of clinical documents to the EHR

Alternatively, converting the document into a readable format, such as a searchable PDF, will allow the healthcare organization to add value in document processing at every subsequent step. Making the document readable enables automatic identification of the type of document, data extraction, including patient name, medical record, date of birth, and physician name, as well as more effective management of the overall lifecycle of the document.

This step requires the utilization of AI and natural language processing techniques. Automatic extraction of data replaces the human labor required to manually index the information, which streamlines the triaging of documents to correct systems, teams, or recipients. 

For example, if a digital document is clearly labeled as a discharge summary for John Harrison, a staff member can process it much easier and faster than when she has to open and read it to understand the type of the document and the identity of the patient. By mostly automating the receiving, reading, classifying, and triaging of medical documentation, providers are able to save time and ensure information is received and processed quickly by the right person, which typically means that the patient can be better served.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only driven home the need for seamless, 100%-digital exchange of patient information. If healthcare administrators depend on the physical fax machine to do their jobs, they won’t be able to work remotely. Most people don’t have fax machines at home, and especially fax machines routed to the hospital’s number, to be able to print information and then manually scan and enter that information into the patient’s health record. A fully digital document processing approach enables agility and flexibility necessary in the modern healthcare environment. 

Moreover, recent ransomware attacks in the form of malware embedded into email attachments sent to users in hospitals lead to providers blocking inbound email attachments altogether. That means providers could not access their own patient data, let alone data from other institutions. As a result, emergency patients may have to be taken to other hospitals, and surgeries and other procedures delayed. Cloud-based platforms enable users to securely access patient information outside of the hospital’s network.

Small steps lead to big results 

It’s essential from both a patient safety perspective and provider efficiency perspective that the exchange and processing of medical documentation be digitized. The benefits of digital document processing are significant, enabling fluid information exchange among all stakeholders.  

By transitioning to fully digital document exchange, providers can significantly streamline administrative and clinical processes. The key to realizing the benefits of this approach is to take the first step by moving away from paper and then build on that by harnessing the power of AI to fully support the daily work of clinicians and administrators. Outbound and inbound documents can be prioritized, addressed, processed, and delivered appropriately, facilitating timely information exchange for processing prescriptions, medical orders, billing, reporting, analytics, research, and much more. 


About John Harrison

As Chief Commercial Officer at Concord Technologies, John is responsible for the company’s revenue growth and brand development, ensuring Concord continues to create the right products to meet the needs of its customers. John brings more than 25 years of document communication and automation experience to the team. Prior to joining Concord, John held executive management positions at OpenText, Captaris, and Goaldata, overseeing business operations across multiple continents.


Catching up on care post Covid-19 requires ‘digital compassion’

In addition to human empathy, we are also seeing a new “digital compassion” emerging as healthcare providers work to support patients in need during this uncertain time. Showing this kind of compassion has become easier as technology becomes more advanced and patient-centric in response to the pandemic.

3 Patient Lessons: What Cancer Patients Teach Me

By YASMIN ASVAT

An estimated 1.8 million people in this country may face a cancer diagnosis this year, in what has already been a bleak year of isolation and loss.  

While news of the COVID-19 vaccine rolling out across the U.S. offers hope in a year of 311,000 deaths,  11 million  people face the financial pressure of unemployment, and, approximately 43 percent of the nation reports some symptoms of anxiety or depression.  

It is understandable that a cancer diagnosis now may be too much to bear. And yet, somehow, many patients cope with the diagnosis and the associated uncertainty, fragility, and the threat of mortality with remarkable resilience.  

As a clinical psychologist in the Supportive Oncology program at a major Midwestern cancer center, I witness these quiet heroics every day. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic earlier this year, I have been striving to listen, empathize, support, and help cancer patients cope as their lives have been disrupted by both a cancer diagnosis and COVID-19. These are lessons these patients have taught me. 

Courage is being faced with doing something that utterly terrifies you, and you do it anyway. One of my patients described that leading up to the day of chemotherapy treatment, she is highly anxious, has racing thoughts and worries, and has trouble concentrating and sleeping. The morning of treatment, she vents to her partner about how she doesn’t want to go to the clinic. During the drive, she braces herself repeating, “I don’t want to do this” over and over again. 

Once in the clinic, she tells some of her nurses that she doesn’t want to be there because she worries about COVID-19 exposure, despite all the precautions the clinics have in place. She tells another set of nurses that she is scared of the side-effects of treatment – the disabling fatigue, the nausea, the suppressed immune system. 

And yet, despite her fears and her protests, she stays. The nurses hook her up to the needle, attached to a tube, attached to a bag, attached to an infusion pump that delivers the toxic and cancer-fighting chemotherapy. 

She stays for her children and grandchildren and the desire to see them grow, for her partner, for the hope of a cancer-free future, for her eagerness to live.  She goes home relieved that one more treatment is completed and anxiously anticipates the next round. From this remarkable woman I have learned what it means to live the adage credited to Nelson Mandela, that “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” You may be terrified – and yet you do what needs to be done, anyway.

When you have clarity about what matters, even impossible, heart-breaking decisions are clear. Few decisions in life are more poignant, heartbreaking, and difficult than deciding how to die. Many spend most of their lives conveniently shoving the reality of mortality to the back of their minds, necessarily so, in order to continue persevering through the expected and unexpected challenges of living. Many patients make decisions about their deaths with certainty and acceptance. 

One of these patients was a Latina in her early 50s, Spanish-speaking who battled a particularly aggressive form of metastatic colorectal cancer for two years, with extensive surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy. All the while, her priorities were beautifully simple – to spend time with her husband of three decades, enjoy the company of her three children, dance to her favorite music, play with her beloved dog, and find comfort in her faith. 

For as long as her body was able to sustain itself, she did exactly that – she lived, laughed, danced and tolerated all the side-effects of treatment with dignity. And when the day came that saw herself spending her time lying in bed because moving was too painful, sleeping because without medication the pain was so unbearable it would make her scream, she knew what she had to do because she knew what mattered. She said she was living a half-life where she was a shell of herself, breathing but not really living, seeing her family but not really participating in their lives, listening to music but not being able to dance.  

Her doctor suggested yet another round of chemo, with no assurances that it would help, and she declined. She resolved to speak with her family about hospice care. There was sadness, naturally, but no despair. There was wishing she had more time, and there was gratitude for the time she did have. She said there were no regrets, and there was comfort in knowing her family would lean on each other to heal. Knowing what mattered made her choice crystal clear – in the words of German philosopher Nietzsche, she chose to “die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.” 

Being flexible is mandatory for our survival. One of my patients said she was crushed to realize that she would likely be spending the Christmas holiday without her grandchildren. She faced a particularly grueling treatment that knocked her down for eight days, unable to eat, severely fatigued, and spending most of her days sleeping. 

By the ninth day, she started feeling a little better and was able to do a few things around the house and in her beloved garden, and another two weeks later she was back in clinic for the next round of chemotherapy.  She handled this ordeal with the utmost grace and willingness to sacrifice six months of her life for the hope of the rest of her life. 

But faced with the prospect of sacrificing her cherished Christmas season, she almost broke. We talked about safe options to celebrate the holidays, and we philosophized about her values and what brings meaning to her life. In the midst of circumstances that are unprecedented, uncertain, and threating to her physical health and emotional wellbeing, she chose to adapt to survive. 

So she rallied, creatively and flexibly, and planned a virtual baking session — she would make the dough, her husband would drop it off to the grandchildren, and they would Facetime while the grandkids baked and decorated the cookies. She also planned to have gifts and a holiday meal delivered to her daughter’s home. And her daughter adapted by planning a holiday drive-by so her mother could see her family briefly and from a safe distance. 

In true Darwinian fashion, “it is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.” 

Cancer patients adapt so that they may yet hold on to a slice of what brings their lives joy and meaning. It is a lesson everyone can learn. 

Yasmin Asvat, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist at Rush University Medical Center with eight years of experience providing mental health services to chronically ill patients, primarily cancer patients. She is a Public Voices Fellow through The OpEd Project.

For Better Patient Care Coordination, We Need Seamless Digital Communications

A recent Advisory Board briefing examined the annual Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Readmission penalties.  Of the 3,080 hospitals CMS evaluated, 83% received a penalty for payments to be made in 2021, based on expected outcomes for a wide variety of treated conditions. While CMS indicated that some of these penalties might be waived or delayed due to the impacts of the Covid pandemic on hospital procedure volumes and revenue, they are indicative of a much larger issue. 

For too long, patients discharged from the hospital have been handed a stack of papers to fill prescriptions, seek follow-up care, or take other steps in their journey from treatment to recovery. More recently, the patient is given access to an Electronic Health Record (EHR) portal to view their records, and a care coordinator may call in a few days to check-in. These are positive steps, but is it enough? Although some readmissions cannot be avoided due to unforeseen complications, many are due to missed follow-up visits, poor medication adherence, or inadequate post-discharge care. 

Probably because communication with outside providers has never worked reliably, almost all hospitals have interpreted ‘care coordination’ to mean staffing a local team to help patients with a call center-style approach.  Wouldn’t it be much better if the hospital could directly engage and enable the Primary Care Physician (PCP) to know the current issues and follow-up directly with their patient?

We believe there is still a real opportunity to hold the patient’s hand and do far more to guide them through to recovery while reducing the friction for the entire patient care team.  

Strengthening Care Coordination for a Better Tomorrow

Coordinating and collaborating with primary care, outpatient clinics, mental health professionals, public health, or social services plays a crucial role in mitigating readmissions and other bumps along the road to recovery.  Real care coordination requires three related communication capabilities:  

1. Notification of the PCP or other physicians and caregivers when events such as ED visits or Hospitalization occur.

2. Easy, searchable, medical record sharing allows the PCP to learn important issues without wading through hundreds of administrative paperwork.

3. Secure Messaging allows both clinicians and office staff to ask the other providers questions, clarify issues, and simplify working together.  

There are some significant hurdles to improve the flow of patient data, and industry efforts have long been underway to plug the gaps. EHR vendors, Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), and a myriad of vendors and collaboratives have attempted to tackle these issues. In the past few decades, government compliance efforts have helped drive medical record sharing through the Direct Messaging protocol and CCDAs through Meaningful Use/Promoting Interoperability requirements for “electronic referral loops.”  Kudos to the CMS for recognizing that notifications need to improve from hospitals to primary care—this is the key driver behind the latest CMS Final Rule (CMS-9115-F) mandating Admission, Discharge, and Transfer (ADT) Event Notifications. (By March 2021, CMS Conditions of Participation (CoPs) will require most hospitals to make a “reasonable effort” to send electronic event notifications to “all” Primary Care Providers (PCPs) or their practice.) 

However, to date, the real world falls far short of these ideals: for a host of technical and implementation reasons, the majority of PCPs still don’t receive digital medical records sent by hospitals, and the required notifications are either far too simple, provide no context or relevant encounter data, rarely include patient demographic and contact information, and almost never include a method for bi-directional communications or messaging.

Delivering What the Recipient Needs

PCPs want what doctors call the “bullet” about their patient’s recent hospitalization.  They don’t want pages of minutia, much of it repetitively cut and pasted. They don’t want to scan through dozens or hundreds of pages looking for the important things. They don’t want “CYA” legalistic nonsense. Not to mention, they learn very little from information focused on patient education.  

An outside practitioner typically doesn’t have access to the hospital EHR, and when they do, it can be too cumbersome or time-consuming to chase down the important details of a recent visit.  But for many patients—especially those with serious health issues—the doctor needs the bullet: key items such as the current medication list, what changed, and why.

Let’s look at an example of a patient with Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), which is a condition assessed in the above-mentioned CMS Readmission penalties. For CHF, the “bullet” might include timely and relevant details such as:

– What triggered the decompensation?  Was it a simple thing, such as a salty meal? Or missed medication?

– What was the cardiac Ejection Fraction?  

– What were the last few BUN and Creatinine levels and the most recent weight?  

– Was this left- or right-sided heart failure? 

– What medications and doses were prescribed for the patient? 

– Is she tending toward too dry or too wet?

– Has she been postural, dizzy, hypotensive?

Ideally, the PCP would receive a quick, readable page that includes the name of the treating physician at the hospital, as well as 3-4 sentences about key concerns and findings. Having the whole hospital record is not important for 90 percent of patients, but receiving the “bullet” and being able to quickly search or request the records for more details, would be ideal. 

Similar issues hold true for administrative staff and care coordinators.  No one should play “telephone tag” to get chart information, clarify which patients should be seen quickly, or find demographic information about a discharged patient so they can proactively contact them to schedule follow-up. 

Building a Sustainable, Long-Term Solution

Having struggled mightily to build effective communications in the past is no excuse for the often simplistic and manual processes we consider care coordination today.  

Let’s use innovative capabilities to get high-quality notifications and transitions of care to all PCPs, not continue with multi-step processes that yield empty, cryptic data. The clinician needs clinically dense, salient summaries of hospital care, with the ability to quickly get answers—as easy as a Google search—for the two or three most important questions, without waiting for a scheduled phone call with the hospitalist.  X-Rays, Lab results, EKGs, and other tests should also be available for easy review, not just the report.   After all, if the PCP needs to order a new chest x-ray or EKG how can they compare it with the last one if they don’t have access to it?

Clerical staff needs demographic information at their fingertips to “take the baton” and ensure quick and appropriate appointment scheduling. They need to be able to retrieve more information from the sender, ask questions, and never use a telephone.  Additionally, both the doctor and the office staff should be able to fire off a short note and get an answer to anyone in the extended care team. 

That is proper care coordination. And that is where we hope the industry is collectively headed in 2021. 


About Peter Tippett MD, PhD: Founder and CEO, careMESH

Dr. Peter S. 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.

About Catherine Thomas: Co-Founder and VP, Customer Engagement, careMESH

Catherine Thomas is Co-Founder & VP of Customer Engagement for careMESH, and a seasoned marketing executive with extensive experience in healthcare, telecommunications and the Federal Government sectors. As co-founder of careMESH, she brings 20+ years in Strategic Marketing and Planning; Communications & Change Management; Analyst & Media Relations; Channel Strategy & Development; and Staff & Project Leadership.

A Christmas Message to All Physicians From a Swedish-American Country Doctor in Maine

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

Growing up in Sweden without a Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas has been a time for me to reflect on where I am and where I have been and New Year’s is when I look forward.

I have written different kinds of Christmas reflections before: sometimes in jest, asking Santa for a better EMR; sometimes filled with compassion for physicians or patients who struggle during the holidays. I have also borrowed original sentences from Osler’s writings to imagine how he would address physicians in the present time.

This year, with the pandemic changing both medicine and so many aspects of life in general, and with a gut wrenching political battle that threatens to erupt in anarchy or civil war within the next few weeks or months, my thoughts run deep toward the soul of medicine, the purpose of being a good doctor, even being a good human being.

We live in ideological silos, protected from dissenting opinions. News is not news if it is unpopular. Fake news and fake science are concepts that seemed marginal before but have now entered the mainstream.

As a physician, I serve whoever comes to see me to the best of my ability. But this year I have had to pay extra attention to the fact that so many people have already made up their minds about the nature and severity of the pandemic we are living with. If they don’t believe the country’s top experts, they are not likely to believe in me. Still, I try to gently state that we are still trying to figure this thing out and until we do, it’s better to be cautious.

I am starting to read about what some are now calling the Fourth Wave of the pandemic, the mental health crisis this winter may see in the wake of the physical illness we are surrounded by.

With this raging pandemic and the pandemonium it has created in our personal lives and the lives of those around us, we as doctors need to keep our priorities straight:

  • A physician’s mission is to ease suffering.
  • We save lives when we can.
  • But sometimes, all we can do is help inevitable death happen with dignity and without unnecessary suffering.
  • Because we have seen suffering and death in our work, our words of experience and our empathy can help others.
  • We are all mental health workers in the eyes of our patients.
  • We must work hard to the best of our abilities.
  • But we cannot sacrifice our own health in the process.
  • We must put our own oxygen mask on first, as during in-flight emergencies.
  • We must accept that bad things happen in spite of our efforts.
  • We must accept that in life, there is no light without darkness, no joy without sorrow, and no good without evil.
  • We must recognize that we need to make every day count, because time, and life itself, is a finite resource.

Life is certainly messy, confusing and unpredictable. And while scientists and politicians may be using their brains for thinking of ways out of the situation the world is now in, the rest of us, doctors on the frontlines, are hunkering down in our shrunken worlds – reconnecting with the soulful, inconsistent underpinnings of who we really are but were perhaps too busy to really think about, recommitting to easing suffering, one patient at a time.

Remember Hippocrates: “Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile” — “Life is short, the art is long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult.”

Hans Duvefelt is a Swedish-born rural Family Physician in Maine. This post originally appeared on his blog, A Country Doctor Writes, here.

M&A: Philips Acquires Remote Cardiac Monitoring BioTelemetry for $2.8B

M&A: Philips Acquires Remote Cardiac Monitoring Platform BioTelemetry for $2.8B

What You Should Know:

– Philips acquires BioTelemetry, a U.S. provider of
remote cardiac diagnostics and monitoring for $72.00 per share for an implied
enterprise value of $2.8 billion (approx. EUR 2.3 billion).

– With $439M in revenue in 2019, BioTelemetry annually monitors over 1 million cardiac patients remotely; its portfolio includes wearable heart monitors, AI-based data analytics, and services.

– BioTelemetry business is expected to deliver double-digit growth and improve its Adjusted EBITA margin to over 20% by 2025; the acquisition will be sales growth and adjusted EBITA margin accretive for Philips in 2021.


Philips, today
announced it has entered in an agreement to acquire
BioTelemetry, Inc., a U.S.-based provider
of remote cardiac diagnostics and monitoring for $2.8B ($72 per share), to be
paid in cash upon completion.

 USD 72.00 per share, to be paid in cash upon
completion. The board of directors of BioTelemetry has approved the transaction
and recommends the offer to its shareholders. The transaction is expected to be
completed in the first quarter of 2021.


BioTelemetry Background

Founded in 1995, BioTelemetry primarily focuses on the diagnosis and monitoring of heart rhythm disorders, representing 85% of its sales. BioTelemetry’s clinically validated offering includes wearable heart monitors (e.g. a mobile cardiac outpatient telemetry patch and extended Holter monitor) that detect and transmit abnormal heart rhythms wirelessly, AI-based data analytics, and services.

With over 30,000 unique
referring physicians per month, BioTelemetry provides services for over one
million patients per year. Additionally, BioTelemetry has a clinical research
business that provides testing services for clinical trials. The total
addressable market is USD 3+ billion, growing high-single-digits driven by an
increasing prevalence of chronic diseases, and the adoption of remote
monitoring and outcome-oriented models.


Acquisition Strengthens Philips’ Cardiac Care Portfolio

The acquisition of BioTelemetry is a strong fit with Philips’ cardiac care portfolio, and its strategy to transform the delivery of care along the health continuum with integrated solutions. The combination of Philips’ leading patient monitoring position in the hospital with BioTelemetry’s leading cardiac diagnostics and monitoring position outside the hospital, will result in a global leader in patient care management solutions for the hospital and the home for cardiac and other patients. Philips’ current portfolio includes real-time patient monitoring, therapeutic devices, telehealth, and informatics. Moreover, Philips has an advanced and secure cloud-based Philips HealthSuite digital platform optimized for the delivery of healthcare across care settings. Every year, Philips’ integrated solutions monitor around 300 million patients in hospitals, as well as around 10 million sleep and respiratory care patients in their own homes.

“The acquisition of BioTelemetry fits perfectly with our strategy to be a leading provider of patient care management solutions for the hospital and the home,” said Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips. “BioTelemetry’s leadership in the large and fast growing ambulatory cardiac diagnostics and monitoring market complements our leading position in the hospital. Leveraging our collective expertise, we will be in an optimal position to improve patient care across care settings for multiple diseases and medical conditions.”


Post-Acquisition Plans

Upon completion of the transaction, BioTelemetry and its
approximately 1,900 employees will become part of Philips’ Connected Care
business segment. The acquisition is projected to be sales growth and adjusted
EBITA margin accretive for Philips in 2021. Philips targets significant
synergies driven by cross-selling opportunities (especially in the U.S.),
geographical expansion, and portfolio innovation synergies, such as Philips’
Health Suite digital platform. Additionally, Philips will drive operational
performance improvements through its proven productivity programs. The
BioTelemetry business is expected to grow double-digits and to improve its
Adjusted EBITA margin to more than 20% by 2025.


Two Surgeons—a Veteran and a Newcomer—Talk Fighting COVID Burnout

By MICHAEL E. LIPKIN and RUSSELL S. TERRY, JR.

Burnout has always been a concern in medicine, and that concern has been amplified by the added stress of COVID-19. Many months into an unpredictable and distressing situation, we have both hung on to our mental health and professional passion by seeking out strategies that work for us. We offer them in two perspectives: veteran and relative newcomer.  

Dr. Lipkin: A Veteran’s Perspective

When lockdown began in March, we slowed down my practice for about 6 to 8 weeks, and then returned to full pre-COVID levels. It feels like the uncertainty has affected me most, since it has not been clear if and when things will get substantially better. Everyone is both experiencing and projecting persistent anxiety, stress and uncertainty. Isolation is a problem as well. I no longer have the time or ability to sit down with colleagues and vent over a beer, which was an outlet I counted on to mitigate burnout. At the same time, on a more concrete level, the pandemic has made everything we do incrementally more difficult, which is grindingly stressful. These tips are helping me cope and avoid burnout.

There are so many changes—just accept them. As COVID affects so many areas of practice, there’s a kind of low-grade stress that fluctuates with events. It seems like everything is a little bit harder. We have to shift some patient visits to telehealth and make sure they get COVID tests before surgery. We’re all looking over our shoulders, wondering who’s going to get us sick. There’s always the specter of more shutdowns and how they might affect our livelihoods. Budgets have been cut back, so hiring is frozen and there’s virtually no incremental spending. Everything will stay this way for now, so the best thing to do is accept that we’re going through a tough period and focus on the big picture, rather than the list of irritations.

Look forward to something. The day-to-day grind can get dreary, so plan something to look forward to professionally. You might sign up for a virtual meeting. I like to speak and teach, so I’ve done some industry webinars and an asynchronous course at the American Urological Association. New technology is something to look forward to as well. I’m looking forward to soon trialing the MOSES 2.0 holmium laser for kidney stones. Surgical technologies can make our jobs faster, easier, more enjoyable, and less stressful, so I’m excited to try this new 120Hz holmium laser, which promises to make my work more efficient. We might have a trial for single-use ureteroscopes to look forward to in the future as well.

Get moving—preferably outdoors. I started running during this crisis, and getting outside by myself to exercise has helped me clear my head. Running helps make me feel relaxed. Sometimes it’s hard to garner the motivation to actually do something different, but it pays off if you find something that works for you.

Be thankful. When you’re feeling bogged down in the midst of this crisis, it helps to be thankful for day day-to-day victories. We’re all fortunate to have the opportunity to impact people’s lives in a positive way. It can be wearying at times, but it’s worth being thankful for our work. And the appreciation patients are showing for their physicians right now frankly feels pretty good.

My son now has us do something called “roses, thorns and blooms” at dinner every night, where each of us names something positive that happened that day, something that bothered us, and something we’re looking forward to. It’s been a good reminder for me that good things happen every day, even if they’re small.

Dr. Terry: The Newcomer’s View

In March and April, when everything ground to a halt, I was a second-year fellow at Duke University working on my robotics training. They had to limit staffing to one trainee per OR, so residents covered the reduced caseload and fellows like me worked from home on research and remote tasks like reviewing patient charts. It was a very strange transition. I’d been going in early and staying late through years of college, med school, internship, residency, and fellowship, and then all of a sudden I had to figure out how to fill these quiet, no-structure, work-from-home days.  

On the positive side, I got to stay home and spend more time with my 9-month-old daughter than I ever thought would be possible. The downside was the aimlessness, which felt very stressful. I returned to Duke in May and finished my fellowship in mid-August, and then we moved to Gainesville, Florida, where I’ve been settling into new positions at University of Florida and the VA Medical Center during the pandemic. Throughout all this upheaval, a few tips have helped me stay balanced instead of burnt out.

Turn off the news—and call your family. Early in this pandemic, I had to stop watching the news because the overwhelming negativity was stressing me out. I lived and worked in a bubble, and it actually helped a lot. I replaced that focus on the outside world not only with my work and my wife and child, but also with loved ones I suddenly had time to catch up with via phone, text or FaceTime. It’s something I’ve continued because nurturing those close family relationships has been beneficial for my mental health and boosted my resilience, as well as helped my family get through the crisis.

Enjoy your coworkers. During lockdown, isolation from coworkers was tough. Whether we’re venting, telling jokes, or talking about our families, it’s energizing to be around people that are like-minded and enjoy working hard on the team that supports you. One of the most enjoyable parts of coming back to the hospital was getting into the OR with our familiar circulator nurses, scrub nurses and residents. Now I appreciate the people I work with more than ever.

Say no when you need to. One of the most consistent pieces of advice I’ve gotten from mentors is not to feel pressured to say “yes” to everything people ask of me as the new guy. That’s even more important now, when COVID makes many things take longer and require more resources. In addition to my responsibilities with patients, I’m now onboarding at two institutions and moving into a new house, so I’ve tried to restrict extra activities. I was asked to help screen residency applications this year, which is something I normally love to do, but I surprised myself by saying no. It’s the right decision because stretching myself too far could affect the quality of my work and certainly would add to my stress. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I’m trying to treat it that way for now.

Focus on the good you’re doing. When we came out of lockdown, a triage system moved acute cases to the front. Virtually all of our first cases were high-risk cancers. As an endourologist who does a lot of stone surgery, I was also doing kidney stone procedures on patients whose severe stones had resulted in serious infections. Instead of procedures that improve quality of life, we were doing mostly life-saving surgeries. Operating on people in acute physiological distress felt very meaningful, and it helped create urgency about our work. We were eager to get there every day. The experience has also given me a greater appreciation for all the people and the actions it takes to get our patients to surgery and care for them postoperatively. I see the good we’re all doing as a team.

Michael E. Lipkin, MD, is Urology Clinic Chief and Associate Professor of Surgery at Duke University, Durham, North Carolina.

Russell S. Terry, Jr., MD, is an Assistant Professor and Director of MIS Education and New Technologies at University of Florida in Gainesville.

Medical Device Design: 4 Ways Designers Can Create Medical Devices That Work for Everyone

Karten Design: Design Must Play a Larger Role in Healthcare
Stuart Karten, Founder/President, Karten Design

Medical device design has been going through sweeping
changes over the last decade.  Ten years ago,
medical device companies weren’t concerned with delivering consumer-level
design: Devices that are both attractive and intuitively easy to use by a wide
variety of users.  Then the Affordable Care
Act
was passed, and adherence and healthy behavior change became a
regulatory requirement.  

Our firm, which has been a long-time proponent of the
“consumerization” of medical product design, saw a steady uptick in business
based on our ability to deliver product experiences that a consumer expects
while also meeting regulatory requirements of the FDA.  And yet we still had to do a fair amount of
convincing to engineering teams about the importance of design that not only
works for physicians, but also makes life easier for caregivers and
patients. 

Our goal has always been to make design a priority for and
deliver great experiences to every voice in the ecosystem.  As tragic as COVID-19 has
been for millions of people, it has accelerated the consumerization of medical
device design:  the pandemic has
radically changed medical products for the better, forever. 

In the last six months, we have had many traditional device
companies and startups approach us to design COVID-19 testing products.  They want clinically effective medical
devices that are as easy to use as at-home pregnancy tests.  Companies are also coming to us with
non-COVID medical device ideas, and even the conversations around those
products have changed:  there is a
realization that medical devices must address a multi-layered audience. 

While all medical products must integrate the emotional,
physical and cognitive needs of the health consumer to create a holistic
experience, to really achieve consumer-level design companies need to go well
beyond human factors and useability studies and truly push the design
boundaries.  Medical device companies
that can’t integrate these four elements into their medical products are not
making scalable products, and will underachieve in today’s marketplace:

1. Improve Convenience:  Consumers today are accustomed to
convenience. We expect the world to operate at the speed of a Google search,
with the customizability of meal planning on sites like Plated or Blue Apron,
and the responsiveness of booking a ride on Uber. Healthcare rarely works this
way so a medical device must integrate it into the design.  In the medical world, the laws of consumer
design also apply:  with Axonics
Modulation Technology system, we
transformed
an innovative technology into a complete ecosystem of physical
and digital products that improve the experience and work hard in the background
to return normal daily lives to people suffering from incontinence.

2. Aim to Delight: 
Creating delight can transform an experience and build relationships
that keep customers engaged with your brand. 
Most medical solution providers look at users in terms of physical and
cognitive usability. But this is only the beginning. We believe there are four
additional dimensions that will help companies develop a qualitative
understanding of health consumers and their motivations—emotional, social,
contextual, and developmental. Exploring these dimensions at the front end of
the product development process will reveal what patients need and desire from
a health experience and enable companies to respond with meaningful innovation
that gains adoption and changes health outcomes.  We use these motivations to create delight in
the medical device.

3. Provide Personalized Experiences: Personalization
is a growing trend in the consumer product world, and it needs to become one in
healthcare. Those at the forefront are using data to make predictions that
anticipate customers’ needs and desires. Entertainment platforms, like Netflix,
make recommendations that introduce users to new content based on their
previous consumption. Virgin America’s in-flight screens address their
passengers by name and provide personalized information about their itinerary,
in addition to personalized dining and entertainment recommendations. In
healthcare, targeted, personal experiences can be a tipping point to meaningful
behavior change. Information has the power to engage health consumers in
moments where their decisions have a direct impact on their health and
wellbeing. With a majority of people carrying or wearing smart devices, it’s
possible to have continuous data about their location. This data can be used to
generate relevant, real-time recommendations. 
With COVID-19 or any future pandemic, real-time information can save
countless lives.

4. Be Emotional: 
The goal of consumer-driven product innovation is to create an emotional
connection between users and brands—a delightful experience or perception that
keeps people coming back. This is an important goal in healthcare as well, as
more complex factors start to influence choice, and continued engagement plays
a growing role in health outcomes. Although the medical product development
process is more burdened by engineering, technology, and regulation, medical
solution providers can adopt some best practices from consumer companies to
help their products connect. Consumer giants apply numerous resources toward
developing a deep understanding of their user. To capture health consumers’
interest and loyalty, it’s necessary for medical device makers to develop a
knowledge that goes deeper than a medical record or hospital survey. This
holistic understanding of consumers and their health journeys will breed
empathy—something that only comes from first-hand emotional transactions—and
help companies uncover many opportunities for meaningful innovation and
differentiation.


About Stuart Karten

Stuart Karten is the principal of Karten Design, a
product innovation consultancy creating positive experiences between people and
products specializing in health technology. 


Getting the right data to doctors is next hurdle for precision medicine

dna, genomics

The future of precision medicine will come only as quickly as doctors can pick out clinically useful information from the genetic data being gathered on their patients.

CityBlock, a primary care startup focused on underserved communities, passes $1 billion valuation

CityBlock Health, a startup focusing on providing care to Medicaid and dual-eligible patients, raised $160 million in funding. The Alphabet-spinout plans to use the funds to reach more patients and build out its digital care offerings.  

Banner Health, WellSpan, Others Invest in Virtual Maternity Care Platform Babyscripts

Banner Health, WellSpan, Others Invest in Virtual Maternity Care Platform Babyscripts

What You Should Know:

– Virtual maternity care platform Babyscripts announced a
new round of investments from Banner Health, CU Healthcare Innovation Fund, The
Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network, and WellSpan
Health

– Using internet-connected devices for remote monitoring,
Babyscripts offers risk-specific experiences to allow providers to manage up to
90% of pregnancies virtually, allowing doctors to detect risk more quickly and
automate elements of care.


Babyscripts,
the leading virtual care
platform for managing obstetrics, today announced a new round of
investments through their Strategic Partners Program,
a unique investment bloc composed of health systems interested in
forwarding Babyscripts’ cutting-edge digital solutions for pregnant
populations. Partners include Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the largest
nonprofit health care systems in the country; the CU Healthcare Innovation Fund, located on
the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, Colorado; the Froedtert & the Medical College of
Wisconsin health network
, an integrated health care system based in
Wisconsin; and WellSpan Health, an
integrated health system serving central Pennsylvania and northern
Maryland. 

This investment round is structured to leverage the input
and support of clinical and health system partners, ensuring that Babyscripts’
product development and future roadmap aligns with customer needs. 

Babyscripts has spent the last six years building a
clinically-validated, virtual care platform to allow OBGYNs to deliver a new
model of prenatal care. Using internet-connected devices for remote monitoring,
Babyscripts offers risk-specific experiences to allow providers to manage up to
90% of pregnancies virtually, allowing doctors to detect risk more quickly and
automate elements of care.

3-Tier Approach Virtual Maternity Care

Banner Health, Health Systems Make Strategic Investment in Virtual Maternity Care Platform Babyscripts

Babyscripts’ three-tiered approach to virtual maternity care
allows providers to deliver risk-specific care to pregnant mothers at any time,
in any place, through a mobile app and internet-connected monitoring devices:

Maternal Digital Education: Virtually connect with expectant and new mothers between visits with a custom mobile app.

Maternal Health Monitoring: Virtual management of
pregnant patients through remote monitoring for blood pressure, weight, blood
sugar, social determinants of health (SDOH)

Maternal Population Health: Improve patient/member
care through a unique collaboration between the care team and the payer.

The solution is powered by a robust set of vetted user
experiences, integrations, workflows, and best practices.

“From the beginning, we’ve set ourselves apart from other tech companies by partnering with physicians to make sure that we’re developing solutions that will actually be useful and improve outcomes, not just look and feel ‘cutting-edge’,” said Juan Pablo Segura, co-founder and President of Babyscripts. “This investment is validation that health systems see the value of our solution — and they’re willing to put their money on it.

CRAZY AMERICA: Health Insurance Covers Testing When You Are Well But Not When You Are Sick

By HANS DUVEFELT

Insurance is the wrong word for what we have here. Our private health insurance system’s prioritization of sometimes frivolous screenings but non-coverage for common illnesses and emergencies is a travesty and an insult to typical American middle class families.

State Medicaid insurance for the underemployed has minimal copays of just a few dollars for doctor visits and medications. From my vantage point as a physician, it is the best insurance a patient can have. They cover almost everything and it is clear to me how to apply for exceptions or follow their step care requirements. I cannot say that about most other insurers.

Most employed people have the kind of commercial health “insurance” that covers an annual physical and certain screening tests at no cost, but requires people to pay the first several thousand dollars of actual sick care expenses out of pocket. This is, in my opinion, insane. It causes delays and omissions in diagnosis and treatment.

A shining example of this bizarre arrangement is the screening colonoscopy. It is free as long as it is normal. If a patient has a polyp removed, which if unchecked could turn cancerous, future health care costs for treating colon cancer are eliminated. But the patient gets billed for the early cure.

The pandemic we live under has demonstrated the thin financial margins many Americans live with. A couple of months of missed paychecks and suburban families are lining up at food pantries.

The high deductibles and the high and often undisclosed cost of health care tests and procedures can be more than enough to destabilize an average American family’s economy. Under such circumstances people hesitate seeking care for new symptoms, even if they seem serious.

Historically, the word insurance is derived from the Old French ensurer, meaning “make safe”. The word assure is an even older word, long used specifically for providing a guarantee against loss in exchange for money. American health insurance has drifted into higher and higher deductibles and people now feel less and less safe for having health insurance.

I have many patients who, because of the cost, hesitate getting the lab work to monitor their chronic conditions and to ensure that their medications aren’t causing adverse effects. At the same time, I have patients who are perfectly healthy and take advantage of the “free” physical and random blood tests year after year. But if you feel fine and your weight and lifestyle never change, chances are your blood count, chemistries or lipid profile won’t change much from year to year either.

In fact, annual screening blood tests and even routine “complete physicals” have little or no proven value, depending on exactly who you listen to, including the US Public Health Service Taskforce on Prevention. However, an annual review and conversation around specific health screenings, immunizations and disease prevention, such as the no-touch Medicare “Wellness Visit” has been shown to improve compliance with preventive care guidelines (often called quality).

The whole concept of health insurance is confusing because it is so different from other types of insurance.

My car insurance only pays for accidents. They don’t pay for my state inspection, scheduled maintenance or normal wear and tear, and certainly not for mechanical failures. A brand new or certified used car, on the other hand, may be covered by a “bumper-to-bumper” warranty for a few years, but never for its entire useful life.

There is complete disagreement about how health care should be paid for. Socialized medicine and insurance medicine are two very different models. Americans seem to intuitively, emotionally, want to think of commercial health insurance as something a lot closer to free health care or a car warranty than it actually is. Commercial health insurance is a for profit enterprise that happens to be in the health care field. Their ultimate reason for existing is to make money. They do that by paying out as little as possible and keeping as much as possible of our premiums without looking unacceptably greedy.

I left Sweden with the insight that its socialized healthcare system had many inefficiencies and much bureaucracy. I live in America with the insight that a government bureaucracy, like our Medicaid, is easier to understand and navigate than a hodgepodge of federal, state and commercial payers. And it saddens me to see the insecurity of my fellow Americans who risk getting bankrupted by health care expenses and inadequate sick time benefits or disability income protections – many of them, just like health care, provided by for profit insurance companies.

Hans Duvefelt is a Swedish-born rural Family Physician in Maine. This post originally appeared on his blog, A Country Doctor Writes, here.

Cerner Invests in Elligo to Make Clinical Trials Accessible for Health Systems of All Sizes

Cerner Invests in Elligo to Make Clinical Trials Accessible for Health Systems of All Sizes

What You Should Know:

– Cerner announced a strategic investment in Elligo
Health Research, a leading research organization that enables clinical trials
with nationwide community-based health care practices.

– Cerner plans to expand the data and tools available in
the Cerner Learning Health Network to offer additional clinical trial resources
to community and rural hospitals and physician practices.

– Financial terms of strategic investment were not disclosed.


Cerner Corporation today announced an undisclosed strategic investment in Elligo Health Research, a leading integrated research organization that enables clinical trials with nationwide community-based health care practices. As part of the strategic investment, Cerner will enter into a commercial agreement to expand the data and tools available in the Cerner Learning Health Network to offer additional clinical trial resources to community and rural hospitals and physician practices.

Single Platform to Accelerate Clinical Research

Founded by John Potthoff, Ph.D., and Chad Moore in 2016, Elligo
Health Research Since 2016, Elligo Health Research, founded by John Potthoff,
Ph.D., and Chad Moore, has accelerated the development of new pharmaceutical,
biotechnology, medical device, and diagnostic products using its novel clinical
technology and its Goes Direct® approach. As one of the largest health networks
for clinical research, Elligo works to bring research as a care option to as
many participants as possible by offering innovative, patient-centric solutions
within the practices of trusted physicians.

Collaboration Will Accelerate Clinical Research
Timeframes

Health systems face significant obstacles such as patient recruitment, costs, and access to clinical trial resources. Today, for example, the drug development process takes more than 17 years and costs approximately $2.5B. Cerner and Elligo will focus on helping reduce those obstacles health systems face to make clinical trials become more of a reality – no matter the size, location, or academic standing.

Additionally, most clinical trials are executed in large,
urban areas with homogenous trial populations, which offer insights that may
not be broadly applicable to all patients in need of the therapies. Clinical trial
resources can offer funded research opportunities for health care organizations
as well as access to trial therapies for patients who need it most, including
those in minority populations and rural communities. This could result in
outcomes that are more representative of diverse populations and a potential
increase in drug safety through post-market surveillance capabilities.

This collaboration is expected to help accelerate clinical
research timeframes, make clinical trials more broadly and easily accessible
and reduce the costs associated with bringing a therapy to market. In addition,
Cerner representatives will also join Elligo’s board of directors.

“At the beginning of the year, we launched a bold push with our provider clients to change the pace and cost of clinical trials. Today, 51 health systems are part of our Learning Health Network,” said Donald Trigg, president, Cerner. “Elligo shares our passion for making clinical trial opportunities accessible to every provider and patient. Our collaboration will accelerate that shared mission in the quarters ahead.”

Level Ex pitches gaming as a tool for reaching doctors

Interactive, cloud-based video games are designed to tackle pharma’s current challenge: engaging doctors virtually during a pandemic. But the tools are likely to outlive the circumstances in which they were born.

4 Actions to Elevate the Patient Experience and Spark Growth

4 Actions to Elevate the Patient Experience and Spark Growth

What You Should Know:

– According to a new report from Accenture, 2 out of 3 patients are likely to switch to a new healthcare provider if their expectations for managing COVID-19 are not met, including sanitary and safety protocols, access to up-to-date information, and the availability of virtual care options.

–  Accenture identified four ways to improve the patient experience, and therefore your path to recovery, during, and after the pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic forced hospitals, providers, and payer networks to drastically overhaul and restructure their systems to accommodate virtual care models. As a result, health systems’ revenue and patient volume plummeted, made worse by the industry’s slow-to-adopt virtual care practices that deprioritized the importance of patient experiences.

Elevating the Patient Experience to Fuel Growth

According to a new report from Accenture, 2 out of 3 patients are likely to switch to a new healthcare provider if their expectations for managing COVID-19 are not met, including sanitary and safety protocols, access to up-to-date information, and the availability of virtual care options. Based on a survey of more than 4,600 U.S. respondents, the report, “Elevating the Patient Experience to Fuel Growth,” notes that patients are looking for a safer, more secure, and convenient healthcare experience — including strict sanitary and safety protocols as well as virtual care options. In addition, those who believe their healthcare providers handled COVID-19 poorly were three times more likely than satisfied patients to say they will either delay seeking services for at least a year or never return to that healthcare provider.

By prioritizing consumer experience and delivering new
virtual expectations, providers can maintain their patient base and
grow market share by capturing switchers ready to leave competitors –
potentially increasing their revenues by 5% to 10% pre-COVID levels within
12 months. For a $5 billion health system, this could be between $250
million and $500 million in additional annual revenues.

“Our research clearly shows that the patient experience matters now more than ever,” said Jean-Pierre Stephan, managing director, Accenture Health. “This should be interpreted as positive news because it means the future is in the hands of healthcare providers to embrace change and provide better healthcare experiences. We’re advising providers take this opportunity to offer a holistic, digital approach that centers on the patient’s access to quality care and post-care services; this will better position healthcare providers for long-term growth.”

In turn, Accenture recommends four actions that healthcare providers can
take to improve the patient experience.

1. Address patient concerns in a personalized manner

Communicate specific actions taken to protect patients —
such as offering separate entrances, allowing contactless payment and online
paperwork, or even describing the advanced level of protective gear used by
staff. When possible, physicians should deliver the message directly.

2. Meet people at the front door

Address unique patient needs and ease COVID-19 concerns before
a patient steps foot into the office or enters a virtual waiting room. Embed
new safety and wellness protocols and practices throughout every interaction,
from finding a doctor to scheduling an appointment or completing registration
in advance of a visit. In fact, the survey found that 74% of patients are now
likely to use online chat or texting to provide check-in information before
their appointment if such a service is available.

3. Enhance virtual care capabilities

Develop new models that use more virtual care, from bookings
to meetings, so that those who remain wary of in-person care have more options.
Patients have indicated a strong desire for this to happen. In a survey of 2,700 patients that Accenture conducted
in May, 60% said that based on their experience using virtual care and
devices during the pandemic, they want to use technology more for communicating
with healthcare providers and managing their conditions in the
future. 

4. Listen through social channels

Actively monitor local and national social channels to
gather real-time insight into patient perceptions and community sentiment. This
enables quick operational pivots to address consumer needs and measure progress
along the way.

“While many health systems have improved safety protocols in light of COVID-19, they must also make the patient experience a top priority, not just to convince people to return, but also to lead the way in re-imagining the future of healthcare,” Stephan said. “In this new future of care, health systems need to provide effective, trusted, reliable care—both in person and virtually—while instilling confidence and demonstrating safety and respect. Otherwise, patients are likely to switch to other providers who are reinventing how healthcare services are delivered.”

MEDITECH Launches New Subscription-Based Cloud Platform Built on Google Cloud

MEDITECH Launches New Subscription-Based Cloud Platform Built on Google Cloud

What You Should Know:

– Today, MEDITECH announced MEDITECH Cloud Platform—a
suite of solutions available to healthcare organizations of all sizes that
further extend the possibilities of the Expanse EHR.

– This offering includes: Expanse NOW, High Availability
SnapShot, and Virtual Care solutions, all created to work naturally in the
cloud, and available through a subscription model.


Today MEDITECH
introduced MEDITECH Cloud Platform—a suite of solutions available to healthcare
organizations of all sizes that further extend the possibilities of the Expanse
Electronic Health Record
(EHR)
.  Multiple MEDITECH Cloud
Platform solutions are built on Google Cloud, enabling healthcare organizations
to further personalize their EHR in a way that is secure, reliable, and easy to
maintain.

Subscription-Based Cloud Model

Healthcare organizations can select one or a combination of
the solutions from MEDITECH Cloud Platform. The flexibility of the subscription
model enables a quick setup as well as the ability to add solutions as needed.
Additionally, the cloud combined with the subscription model provides
opportunities to add solutions in the future.

MEDITECH Cloud Platform Offerings

The all-new MEDITECH Cloud Platform offering includes: Expanse NOW, High
Availability SnapShot
, and Virtual Care
solutions, all created to work naturally in the cloud, and available through a
subscription model:

Expanse NOW is a mobility app that empowers
physicians to manage everyday tasks and coordinate care on their smartphone
device. Integrated with Expanse, tasks and messages can flow between workload
and the app in real time.

High Availability SnapShot provides healthcare
organizations with immediate access to key patient data in the event of
unexpected or planned downtime. Patient information such as medications,
allergies, orders, and more is backed up securely and accessible via
cellular-connected devices.

Virtual Care gives new and existing patients access
to urgent virtual care on demand through the healthcare organization’s website,
as well as the ability to schedule virtual visit appointments. New patients who
request Virtual Care are automatically enrolled in the Patient Portal,
connecting them to the organization and in turn, enabling organizations to grow
their business.

Leveraging Google Cloud’s Capabilities

The Expanse NOW and High Availability SnapShot solutions
leverage Google Cloud’s core capabilities including compute and storage (as
well as their healthcare-specific data, analytics, security, and identity
management solutions) alongside existing on-prem solutions to provide high
availability and continuity of care in a secure and scalable service. They can
be easily accessible to critical care staff to improve healthcare continuity
across MEDITECH-powered healthcare organizations.

For more information about the MEDITECH Cloud platform,
visit here.

Virtual Engagement During COVID Pushes Paradigm Shift for Physician Training and Patient Care

Virtual engagement during COVID pushes paradigm shift for physician training and patient care
Shalini Shah, MD is Vice-Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care, and Enterprise Director of Pain Services, UC Irvine Health

The dominant presence of COVID-19 has not meant the absence of cancer, ear infections, heart attacks, chronic pain, or other illnesses that need attention and care. Physicians have continued treatment for all types of maladies, and physician training has continued as well. But this treatment and this training look much different these days. Despite the challenges that came with major COVID shutdowns and changing requirements, the healthcare system and patients have been both creative and resilient in finding robust “temporary” solutions to these challenges. It is now looking like some of these COVID-era transitional steps will be preserved and play a lasting role in the future of medical education and telemedicine. What must be sacrificed to reap the benefits of these new protocols?

The rapid adoption of technology and virtual engagement tools has been both impressive and interesting to watch – Zoom meetings between medical association boards of directors, FaceTime calls between isolated patients and their family members at home, telehealth phone appointments with family practice physicians, or virtual medical conferences through Webex – the increasing reliance on these tools has pushed boundaries and exposed both opportunities and challenges with technology use for the future of healthcare.

As COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the feasibility and acceptance of telehealth care by physicians, patients, and payors, we now see healthcare systems navigating in real-time the complex issues with cybersecurity and patient privacy. Due to waivers, everyday technologies can be utilized right now, including FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts, and Zoom, but new regulatory guidance may be needed to develop safe, secure, and patient-friendly telehealth applications for the future. Cyber-security, already an important priority in the healthcare information space, is going to become that much more essential as doctor’s offices and clinics implement even more telehealth protocols faster than they ever would have normally planned or budgeted for.

These changes in practice and patient care have also impacted how controlled substances are prescribed. The Drug Enforcement Agency has modified policies to allow for the remote prescribing of controlled substances during the pandemic. Online counseling, informed consent, and follow-up with patients can be done in a virtual setting. Pill counts can be done in a video call and patients can still have their questions answered regarding their pain therapy, although it is likely that after the crisis, prescribing certain controlled substances may return to in-person visits.   It is important that the regulatory climate continues to evolve at the pace needed to address the changing needs and realities of telehealth in the time of COVID.

While we have all become more comfortable on telehealth platforms, there continues to be an important role for in-person visits. Patients may appreciate the convenience of telemedicine; however, they must understand that it can limit a physician’s ability to perform a thorough examination and possibly reduce the chances of a physician detecting an unexpected complication or condition. 

Moving forward, I expect there will be much greater reliance on telehealth strategies even post-COVID, but it will always have to be balanced with old-fashioned office visits.

Residency training has also experienced a profound shift this year. Conventional teaching approaches have either been cut back or have been canceled due to COVID risks, and reduced access to personal protective equipment (PPE) has limited the amount of time spent with patients being cared for during residency and fellowship programs. But we can’t stop training for the next generation of physicians or providing quality Continuing Medical Education (CME) for practicing physicians. E-learning techniques, such as webinars and online skills training, certainly play a role – and these may offer ways to actually enhance cross-departmental or multidisciplinary collaborative educational sessions. E-learning may be more cost-effective and easier to participate in than traveling to conferences or symposia, but the hands-on learning and deep discussions that can occur in breakout sessions or clinical training modules will need to be replaced somehow. And there must be careful vetting of online content in order to avoid a proliferation of commercially biased information, plagiarized materials, or simply false information. As we all adjust to new settings and styles for learning, there must be purposeful strategies to ensure online lectures are still supported with opportunities for learning from direct patient contact and collegial support.

Despite these concerns and challenges, new models for CME activities actually pose a great opportunity for increased access, cost-effectiveness, and practicality for busy clinicians.

Even before the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed, technological innovation had already begun to change education, healthcare, and even social relationships. The COVID-19 crisis has simply accelerated the drive and interest in these new tools. But while the technological tools and platforms to a large extent existed years before COVID-19, they have never been used as purposefully, as rapidly, or with such intentionality as they are being used now.

I am sure the shift toward technology and virtual engagement in medicine will not go away when we finally get past the COVID-19 crisis. There will likely be lasting changes with the reliance on distance-medicine techniques for both patient care and physician training. But we must keep a close eye on regulatory frameworks that need to be updated, and make extra efforts to build and maintain patient-physician relationships.


About Shalini Shah, MD

Shalini Shah, MD is Vice-Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Anesthesiology & Perioperative Care, and Enterprise Director of Pain Services, UC Irvine Health.  Dr. Shah completed her residency in Anesthesiology from NYP-Cornell University and a combined fellowship in Adult and Pediatric Chronic Pain at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Beth Israel Deaconess and Children’s Hospital of Boston, Harvard Medical School. 

AI system detects Covid-19 in lungs faster than radiologists, study finds  

Northwestern University researchers developed an AI system that analyzes patients’ chest X-rays to identify Covid-19. A study shows it can classify the images faster and with slightly higher accuracy than radiologists.

M&A: CarepathRx Acquires Pharmacy Operations of Chartwell from UPMC for $400M

CarepathRx Acquires Specialty Pharmacy Operations of Chartwell for $400M

What You Should Know:

CarepathRx will
acquire the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s pharmacy operations in a
$400M deal.

The company fully
integrates pharmacy operations, expands healthcare services, improves
ambulatory access, minimizes clinical variation and creates new health system
revenue streams.

– CarepathRx serves more than 15 health systems and 600
hospitals, with more than 1,500 employees nationwide, 400 payor contracts.
Already CarepathRx has treated more than 100,000 patients.

CarepathRx, a leader in pharmacy and medication management
solutions for vulnerable and chronically ill patients, announced today a
partnership with UPMC’s Chartwell subsidiary that will expand patient access to
innovative specialty pharmacy and home infusion services. Under the $400M landmark
agreement, CarepathRx will acquire
the management services organization responsible for the operational and
strategic management of Chartwell while UPMC becomes a strategic investor in CarepathRx. 

This new partnership expands CarepathRx’s specialty and home infusion capabilities. “Our partnership with UPMC and Chartwell is an important step for CarepathRx. We set out to create a new approach to pharmacy care in the market—one that is centered on the patient and that works collaboratively with both the provider and the payor of health care,” said Figueroa, chief executive officer of CarepathRx. “We welcome the team at Chartwell to the CarepathRx family and are thrilled to partner with UPMC to help us achieve our mission.”

Optimize Your Hospital Pharmacy
Operations

Founded in 2019 by seasoned health care executive John Figueroa and middle-market private equity firm Nautic Partners LLC, CarepathRx has rapidly become a leader in delivering comprehensive pharmacy solutions to patients undergoing complicated medication therapies. By focusing on the most vulnerable patients, CarepathRx is seeking to break down the barriers of typical pharmacy care and medication management. Its suite of solutions caters to patients undergoing specialty and infusion therapies, often for a variety of chronic conditions. CarepathRx works closely with partners across the health care spectrum—including health systems, community physicians, home health agencies and payors. Today, CarepathRx delivers its services to more than 600 hospitals across the country.

The transaction is expected to close
within 30 days. Cantor Fitzgerald & Co. served as financial advisor to
Chartwell in the formation of the management services organization and
partnership with CarepathRx.

M&A: CompuGroup Medical Acquires eMDs for $240M

M&A: CompuGroup Medical Acquires eMDs for $240M

What You Should Know:

– CompuGroup Medical (CGM) acquires eMDs, Inc. (eMDs), a
leading provider of healthcare IT with a focus on doctors’ practices in the US,
reaching an attractive size in the biggest healthcare market worldwide.

– CGM is building an attractive platform for future
growth through complementary product portfolios and the ability to provide
comprehensive solutions for doctors’ practices.


CompuGroup
Holding USA, Inc.,
a 100 % subsidiary of CompuGroup Medical SE &
Co. KGaA announced it has acquired
eMDs, an Austin, TX-based provider of electronic health records
(EHRs),
practice management software, revenue cycle
management
solutions, and credentialing services for physician practices
and enterprises. The acquisition is structured as a reverse triangular merger
under U.S. law. eMDs’ key products are Ambulatory Information Systems and
outsourcing services for medical accounting.

Financial Details

With this acquisition, the US subsidiary of CGM
significantly broadens its position and will become the top 4 providers in the
market for Ambulatory Information Systems in the US. The consideration to be
paid to the current shareholders of eMDs is based on an enterprise value of $240M
(equal to approx. EUR 203 million), which will be adjusted inter alia for
amounts of cash, financial debt and net working capital (compared to a
reference amount) as of the closing date. In the fiscal year 2019/2020 (ended
03/31/2020), eMDs had revenues of approximately EUR 81 million and an adjusted
EBITDA of approximately EUR 12 million with more than 60,000 healthcare
providers.

Founded by physicians, the company is an industry leader for
usable, connected software that enables physician productivity and a superior
clinical experience. eMDs’ customer base today consists of more than 60,000
providers in more than 70 disciplines. eMDs is operating in the highly
attractive US healthcare IT market that shows a high equipment rate with IT
solutions for healthcare professionals. eMDs has more than 1,400 employees at
locations in the United States and India.

“The fit with our existing product portfolio is perfect. We have established a solid foundation in the United States in recent years and are already number 2 in the important field of Laboratory Information Systems for Physician Owned Labs (POLs) and Reference Labs,” said Frank Gotthardt, founder and CEO of CompuGroup Medical SE & Co. KGaA. The Germany-based corporation is one of the leading providers for eHealth solutions worldwide. “We are firmly convinced that both CGM and eMDs customers will benefit from this transaction through complementary product strengths.”

3 Key Solutions to Fighting Stress In the Medical Field

As you read this, doctors are on the frontlines fighting a global pandemic. Lives depend on their skills and expertise, but what often gets overlooked is the fact that doctors are still prone to stress. Sure enough, according to a report by Medscape, more than 42% of physicians across various specialties say they are burnt out. Burnout is still a common occurrence among physicians and it's a matter that practitioners and healthcare institutions should take seriously. After all, doctors are human like us and they deserve a break from their daily challenges. The issue of stress and burnout in the medical field continues to be a critical topic in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it's important to explore the options that are currently available to people in the medical field. Here are a few key solutions: 1. Creating a culture of collaboration At the organizational level, administrators will need to establish a robust program for engaging the needs of physicians and specialists. Initiatives such as mental health interventions and counselling not only encourages productivity but improves personnel retention. These should also involve physicians in the decision-making mechanisms of the organization. Not all policies are reflective of what's happening on the ground, so giving physicians a place in "higher up" conversations creates a culture of trust and collaboration. This, in turn, simplifies complex processes and leads to better outcomes for the whole organization. 2. Training for bigger roles Indeed, much of the occupational stress that doctors experience stems from a lack of professional support. When you have multiple specialists doing the same tasks without giving them an opportunity to expand their horizons, you risk creating an avenue where job dissatisfaction is rampant. One way to correct this is to invest in job enrichment and build an environment where constant learning is emphasized. This keeps the organization from thinning itself out with only a few specialists capable of handling certain tasks such as administering anesthesia or handling data security. In addition, providing doctors with enough autonomy to apply newly-acquired skills helps enhance productivity and bring innovation to the fore. Through skill development programs and participation in workshops, conferences, and team-building should be considered along these lines. 3. Developing a stress engagement program Work stress interventions are critical to any organization, and that goes for hospitals and clinics. There is always a need to draft a game plan for knowing how to keep physicians and other practitioners engaged and prevent the onset of stress. There are a number of ways you can go about this. For one, you may opt for a more workable shift-rotation scheme. Psycho-physiological needs should also be met, so if your organization is based in Washington, you may recommend a Seattle pain relief clinic or pain management center that’s capable of addressing stress-induced conditions such as fibromyalgia. Stress is rampant in the medical field because practitioners are committed to providing quality life-saving services. Organizations will only need to confront the reality that doctors, nurses, attendants and everyone else down the line require enough support, especially now as healthcare systems are met by unprecedented challenges.

As you read this, doctors are on the frontlines fighting a global pandemic. Lives depend on their skills and expertise, but what often gets overlooked is the fact that doctors are still prone to stress. Sure enough, according to a report by Medscape, more than 42% of physicians across various specialties say they are burned out. 

Burnout is still a common occurrence among physicians and it’s a matter that practitioners and healthcare institutions should take seriously. After all, doctors are human like us and they deserve a break from their daily challenges. The issue of stress and burnout in the medical field continues to be a critical topic in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s important to explore the options that are currently available to people in the medical field. Here are a few key solutions:

1. Creating a culture of collaboration

At the organizational level, administrators will need to establish a robust program for engaging the needs of physicians and specialists. Initiatives such as mental health interventions and counseling not only encourages productivity but improves personnel retention. These should also involve physicians in the decision-making mechanisms of the organization. 

Not all policies are reflective of what’s happening on the ground, so giving physicians a place in “higher up” conversations creates a culture of trust and collaboration. This, in turn, simplifies complex processes and leads to better outcomes for the whole organization. 

2. Training for bigger roles

Indeed, much of the occupational stress that doctors experience stems from a lack of professional support. When you have multiple specialists doing the same tasks without giving them an opportunity to expand their horizons, you risk creating an avenue where job dissatisfaction is rampant. One way to correct this is to invest in job enrichment and build an environment where constant learning is emphasized. 

This keeps the organization from thinning itself out with only a few specialists capable of handling certain tasks such as administering anesthesia or handling data security. In addition, providing doctors with enough autonomy to apply newly-acquired skills helps enhance productivity and bring innovation to the fore. Through skill development programs and participation in workshops, conferences, and team-building should be considered along these lines.

3.  Developing a stress engagement program 

Work stress interventions are critical to any organization, and that goes for hospitals and clinics. There is always a need to draft a game plan for knowing how to keep physicians and other practitioners engaged and prevent the onset of stress. 

There are a number of ways you can go about this. For one, you may opt for a more workable shift-rotation scheme. Psycho-physiological needs should also be met, so if your organization is based in Washington, you may recommend a Seattle pain relief clinic or pain management center that’s capable of addressing stress-induced conditions such as fibromyalgia.

Stress is rampant in the medical field because practitioners are committed to providing quality life-saving services. Organizations will only need to confront the reality that doctors, nurses, attendants and everyone else down the line require enough support, especially now as healthcare systems are met by unprecedented challenges. 


New study ties pharma payments to prescription practices

Recent efforts to improve transparency haven’t made much of a difference, one author noted. But earlier reforms made a dent the “most egregious” practices.

The Art of Listening: Beyond the Chief Complaint

By HANS DUVEFELT

A doctor’s schedule as typical EMR templates see it only has “Visit Types”: New Patient, 15 minute, 30 minute. But as clinicians we like to know more than that.

One patient may have a brand new worrisome problem we must start evaluating from scratch, while another is just coming in for a quick recheck. Those are diametrically opposite tasks that require very different types of effort.

Some visits require that test results or consultant reports are available, or the whole visit would be a waste of time. How could you possibly plan your day or prioritize appointment requests without knowing more specifically why the patient needs to be seen?

So, as doctors, we usually want our daily schedules to have “Chief Complaints” in each appointment slot, like “3 month diabetes followup”, “knee pain” or “possible dementia”. That helps everybody in the office plan their day.

I always bristled at “not feeling well” because that is too nonspecific. After all, that could be something that would have been better handled with a 911 call. But there is also a danger in being too simplistic when classifying what people come in for. We like to pigeon hole clinical concerns a little too quickly sometimes.

I had such a situation recently. It hinged on the patient’s choice of one common word over another.

A middle aged woman wanted to be seen for “throat pain”. It was halfway into a busy afternoon and between the three providers in our office, we had no openings to offer her.

Autumn asked me, “can we fit in a throat pain today? I’ve got Nicole Bamford on hold”.

“What kind of throat pain?” I asked. “You mean just a sore throat?” I was working on refills between patients. Autumn asked the patient to elaborate while I continued to work.

“She says she can swallow all right but for the last few days she gets this pain in her throat every time she does anything heavy.”

“Does she have pain right now?” I asked.

Autumn checked. “No.”

“Have her come right over.”

Nicole had no cold symptoms. She had normal vital signs. She had a two week history of throat and occasionally jaw or ear pain after minor exertion, never more than a few minutes. Sometimes she felt a little short of breath at the same time.

Her exam and her EKG were normal. She was a smoker with a family history of heart disease.

“Call the ambulance, 54 year old woman with new angina, no pain right now. I’m calling the ER”, I told Autumn after I explained my assessment to Nicole. She had seemed to accept my diagnosis of unstable angina without questioning and also my recommendation that we get her to the hospital by ambulance without expressing any sign of surprise or emotion.

When I saw her in followup after her ER visit, transport to the tertiary care center and successful stenting of a 95% blockage of one of her coronary arteries, she told me “I thought you were crazy”.

I thought to myself that this could have played out very differently if the nuance between “throat pain” and “sore throat” had gone unnoticed.

It’s nice to know what a patient is coming in for, but that isn’t necessarily the diagnosis they leave with.

Hans Duvefelt is a Swedish-born rural Family Physician in Maine. This post originally appeared on his blog, A Country Doctor Writes, here.

Gates Foundation Awards Caption Health $4.95M Grant to Develop AI-Guided Lung Ultrasound System

Caption Health AI Awarded FDA Clearance for Point-of-Care Ejection Fraction Evaluation

What You Should Know:

– Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awards Caption
Health a $4.5M grant to support the development of an AI-guided lung ultrasound
system.

– The grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
will be leveraged to create new AI technology that allows medical professionals
without prior ultrasound experience to perform lung ultrasounds, expanding
access to quality medical care.


Caption Health, a leading medical
artificial intelligence (AI)
company, today announced that it has received
a grant from the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation
in the amount of $4.95 million to support the development
of innovative AI technology for lung ultrasound. The grant was awarded to
Caption Health by the foundation due to the need to further develop solutions
that enable timely and accurate diagnosis of pneumonia, the leading killer of
children under 5, in resource-limited settings with a shortage of highly
trained physicians. 

Caption Health already has the first and only FDA cleared AI
platform that enables medical professionals without prior ultrasound experience
to perform cardiac ultrasound exams (Caption
AI
). Like cardiac ultrasound, performing lung ultrasound requires a high
level of clinical skill and specific expertise, which has limited its broad
adoption. With this grant, Caption Health will be able to expand its
first-in-class AI technology to lung ultrasound, providing healthcare workers with
real-time guidance to acquire diagnostic-quality images for each lung zone and
automated interpretation to detect key lung pathologies.

Why It Matters

“Ultrasound can be challenging for clinicians without prior experience because it requires skill in both obtaining and interpreting images. Caption Health is the leader in developing artificial intelligence that combines image acquisition and interpretation to enable clinicians to perform ultrasound regardless of skill level,” said emergency medicine physician Dr. Chris Moore, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Chief of the Section of Emergency Ultrasound, and Director of the Emergency Ultrasound Fellowship at Yale. “Expanding this AI to lung ultrasound and putting it in the hands of clinicians could have profound implications for the diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia, a leading cause of death in our youngest global citizens, as well as for COVID-19 and other lung conditions.”

Lung ultrasound enables the detection of a range of
pulmonary pathologies such as pneumonia and other consolidations, pulmonary
edema, pleural effusions and pneumothorax. Furthermore, it is non-invasive,
portable and does not expose recipients to harmful radiation. As the cost of
miniaturizing ultrasound hardware decreases, Caption Health’s AI technology
solves the remaining challenge currently limiting ultrasound’s widespread use:
enabling clinicians without lengthy specialized training to acquire and interpret
diagnostic-quality ultrasound images. 

As COVID-19 cases rise, lung ultrasound is playing a
critical role in the triage and monitoring of these patients. When patients
arrive in the Emergency Department with suspicion of COVID-19, lung ultrasound
can be used for early detection of pulmonary involvement, offering higher sensitivity than chest x-rays. For those who are
diagnosed with COVID-19, lung ultrasound can be used to grade the degree of
pulmonary involvement, and to monitor changes over time. Caption Health’s AI
technology will expand access to this powerful diagnostic tool by enabling
medical professionals without prior experience in lung ultrasound to perform
these exams, and could eventually lead to lung ultrasound becoming a routine
part of point-of-care assessments.

 “Pulmonary health and cardiovascular health are closely intertwined,” said cardiologist Dr. Randolph Martin, FACC, FASE, FESC, Chief Medical Officer of Caption Health. “Abnormalities or disease states in the lungs can directly cause prominent abnormalities of cardiac function, just as disease states in the heart can lead to marked abnormalities in the lungs. By taking our unique methodology for developing breakthrough AI for cardiac imaging and applying it to lungs, we will continue to broaden the impact we can have in helping with the management of patients with conditions affecting these two vital systems.”

Future Research Plans

Having demonstrated extensive clinical validation for its
cardiac ultrasound technology, including a multi-center prospective clinical
study and numerous published abstracts, Caption Health intends to seek similar
validation for its AI lung ultrasound technology to demonstrate the ability of
the technology to equip non-specialists to perform lung ultrasound exams.

Providence Taps Nuance to Develop AI-Powered Integrated Clinical Intelligence

Nuance Integrates with Microsoft Teams for Virtual Telehealth Consults

What You Should Know:

– Nuance Communications, Inc. and one of the country’s
largest health systems, Providence, announced a strategic collaboration,
supported by Microsoft, dedicated to creating better patient experiences and ease
clinician burden.

– The collaboration centers around Providence harnessing
Nuance’s AI-powered solutions to securely and automatically capture
patient-clinician conversations.

– As part of the expanded partnership, Nuance and
Providence will jointly innovate to create technologies that improve health
system efficiency by reducing digital friction.


Nuance® Communications, Inc. and Providence, one of the largest health systems in the
country, today announced a strategic collaboration to improve both the patient
and caregiver experience. As part of this collaboration, Providence will
build on the long-term relationship with Nuance to deploy Nuance’s cloud
solutions across its 51-hospital, seven-state system. Together, Providence and
Nuance will also develop integrated clinical intelligence and enhanced revenue cycle
solutions
.

Enhancing the Clinician-Patient Experience

In partnership with Nuance, Providence will focus on the clinician-patient experience by harnessing a comprehensive voice-enabled platform that through patient consent uses ambient sensing technology to securely and privately listen to clinician-patient conversations while offering workflow and knowledge automation to complement the electronic health record (EHR). This technology is key to enabling physicians to focus on patient care and spend less time on the increasing administrative tasks that contribute to physician dissatisfaction and burnout.

“Our partnership with Nuance is helping Providence make it easier for our doctors and nurses to do the hard work of documenting the cutting-edge care they provide day in and day out,” said Amy Compton-Phillips, M.D., executive vice president and chief clinical officer at Providence. “The tools we’re developing let our caregivers focus on their patients instead of their keyboards, and that will go a long way in bringing joy back to practicing medicine.”

Providence to Expand Deployment of Nuance Dragon Medical
One

To further improve healthcare experiences for both providers
and patients, Providence will build on its deployment of Nuance Dragon
Medical One with the Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX). Innovated by Nuance and
Microsoft, Nuance DAX combines Nuance’s conversational AI technology with
Microsoft Azure to securely capture and contextualize every word of the patient
encounter – automatically documenting patient care without taking the
physician’s attention off the patient.

Providence and Nuance to Jointly Create Digital Health
Solutions

As part of the expanded partnership, Nuance and Providence
will jointly innovate to create technologies that improve health system
efficiency by reducing digital friction. This journey will begin with the
deployment of CDE One for Clinical Documentation Integrity workflow management,
Computer-Assisted Physician Documentation (CAPD), and Surgical CAPD, which
focus on accurate clinician documentation of patient care. Providence will also
adopt Nuance’s cloud-based PowerScribe One radiology reporting solution to
achieve new levels of efficiency, accuracy, quality, and performance.

Why It Matters

By removing manual note-taking, Providence enables deeper
patient engagement and reduces burdensome paperwork for its clinicians. In
addition to better patient outcomes and provider experiences, this
collaboration also serves as a model for the deep partnerships needed to
transform healthcare.

Amwell Launches New Offerings to Increase Doctor-to-Patient Virtual Connectivity

Amwell Launches New Offerings to Increase Doctor-to-Patient Virtual Connectivity

What You Should Know:

– Amwell just announced some new offerings Amwell Now, Touchpoint
Tablet software, and C500 to help increase doctor-to-patient virtual
connections as patient and doctor preferences change in light of the pandemic.

– The new solutions (a quick-to-deploy video visit offering, new tablet software, and a telemedicine cart) are designed to be easy-to-use but fully integrated in the provider’s systems and secure.


Amwell, a
national telehealth
leader, today announced new connectivity, device and cart offerings, all
tailored to meet the evolving needs of care teams and patients. Spurred by the
impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amwell is introducing Amwell Now,
new Touchpoint
Tablet software
, and the C500
telemedicine cart to help health systems and other healthcare organizations
easily leverage telehealth as a safe, quality care option.

Amwell Now
and Amwell’s latest Carepoint tablets and carts are designed to make it easier
for providers to quickly onboard patients and use virtual care. These tools can
be integrated within and scaled across organizations’ current systems and
devices, making it simple to embed and launch telehealth across various
specialties and serve an entire care organization. New offerings include:

Amwell Now

Amwell Now

Amwell Now
enables a simple connectivity experience for patients and providers,
streamlining entry to the Amwell platform, which is purposefully designed for
healthcare interactions. Amwell Now addresses physicians’ needs for easy, fast
video visits, all on Amwell’s HIPAA compliant, clinically tailored platform. It
delivers simple reporting functionality and the ability for organizations to
put forward their own brand versus that of Amwell. Providers can deploy Amwell
Now with only a few clicks, invite patients by text or email, launch an instant
video connection, and experience an adaptable video visit workflow that is easy
for both themselves and their patients.

Touchpoint Tablet Software

Connect Patients to Remote Providers & Family

Amwell’s Touchpoint Tablet software offers a new and simple
way to connect remote providers to on-site patients and providers. With it,
health systems can use (existing or new) iPads to facilitate bedside video
connectivity and collaboration in a secure, reliable, HIPAA-compliant way. The
Touchpoint Tablet software is integrated with Amwell Fleet Monitoring, enabling
health systems to track their tablets as part of their Carepoint fleet.

C500: Lightweight Telemedicine Cart

Performance that Lasts

The C500
is Amwell’s latest-generation, lightweight telemedicine cart that empowers providers
to conduct efficient, high-quality remote exams across a variety of
specialties. Featuring an embedded 4K camera that responds immediately to user
commands and smart sensors that make the cart environment-aware, the C500
provides a seamless care experience that is fully integrated with the Amwell
telehealth platform.

Why It Matters

“Amid COVID-19, healthcare organizations’ needs for and expectations surrounding telehealth have fundamentally changed,” said Ido Schoenberg, Chairman and Co-CEO, Amwell. “Increasingly, virtual care is being used as core to all types of care delivery, whether it’s to safeguard care teams, limit unnecessary exposure for patients, or to prioritize the home as a go-to care setting. Our latest offerings are responsive to industry calls for simplicity, integration, and quality, and in service to the evolving landscape of healthcare and our lives overall.”

Mobile Point-of-Care Ultrasound Is Now A Frontline Warrior in Pandemic

Point-of-Care Ultrasounds is Now a Frontline Warrior in Battling The Pandemic
Diku Mandavia, M.D., SVP, Chief Medical Officer at FUJIFILM Sonosite

Health authorities need to prioritize delivery and the repurposing of mobile point-of-care ultrasound machines which have proven to be reliable, affordable, and effective in saving the lives of coronavirus patients.  


Most Americans are familiar with ultrasound technology from the scans done to check on the status of the fetus during pregnancy.  

But far fewer are aware of how valuable mobile versions of these units have also become in America’s emergency rooms where they almost instantly detect and record everything from internal bleeding, abdominal pain to life-threatening infections. 

In recent days, mobile units have suddenly become a critical global technology for scanning the chests of coronavirus victims to precisely monitor the condition of their lungs.  

We now need to raise the status of these life-saving diagnostic machines, finding and rushing them to the frontlines of hospitals where coronavirus patients are triaged and cared for.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been elevated global demand for these mobile – called “point of care” – units that can be brought to the bedside.  Some are small handheld devices that instantly connect to a smartphone.  

International relief organizations and national health authorities have issued urgent calls to manufacturers in the last few days for any surplus or underutilized ultrasound equipment capable of performing lung scans.  They are also seeking point-of-care ultrasound units that are underutilized or are in “retired” inventory at clinics and hospitals around the world, units that can be adapted for use in lung ultrasound (LU) diagnosis.  

Sales and maintenance records from manufacturers may also be used to track down operational LU machines that are already in-country and can be drafted into urgent service during the pandemic.

Because the most desired devices are mobile and move from patient to patient, very strict hygienic procedures must be carefully monitored and managed.  

As with so many technical innovations over the past half-century, taking the technology mobile was originally funded by one of the smallest but most consequential units in our U.S. military arsenal: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).  

DARPA didn’t invent ultrasound, but it did help shrink the technology to mobile size so that frontline military physicians could take the technology closer to the battlefield and save the lives of wounded warriors.  These mobile units, now ubiquitous in ICUs and in emergency rooms around the world, are much cheaper and lower risk than radiography (x-ray) units which are difficult to maneuver to the bedside of the critically ill especially with diseases as transmittable as a coronavirus.  

It turns out that these popular mobile units provide particularly precise views of distressed lungs – important tools to have when doctors need to see the exact progression of the COVID-19 virus in infected patients who are quarantined and unable to be safely moved to a remote radiology suite.  COVID-19 often presents as a respiratory invader that causes acute inflammation in the lungs, primarily as a patchy, interstitial infiltrate – a condition recognized with ultrasound imaging.  

A small but important study was just published in Radiology by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) on March 13 which comes from other doctors also on the coronavirus frontlines in Italy.  

That report – covering the records of emergency physicians at Ospedale Guglielmo da Saliceto in Piacenza, Italy – claims a “strong correlation” between lung ultrasound and CT findings in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia, leading the investigators to “strongly recommend the use of bedside [ultrasound] for the early diagnosis of COVID-19 patients who present to the emergency department.”

Pneumonia and respiratory failure are a principal cause of death among COVID-19 patients.  What we can assess in a lung ultrasound right now in these patients is the involvement of both lungs with basically patchy findings.  Distinctive to the disease is typically ultrasonographic B lines – wide bands of hyperechoic artifacts that are often compared to the beam of a flashlight being swung back and forth.  

If there is a significant consolidation, diagnostics may also capture imagery of hepatization of the lung.  This information is critical to monitoring, addressing, and curing pneumonia.

For these patients and hospitals in crisis, mobile lung-ultrasound units are also scanning far more patients in a short period of time than more elaborate diagnostic imaging technologies, while delivering an accurate, actionable answer on the presence and degree of infection.  

Lung ultrasound is a critical application of the point-of-care mobile units in the emergency rooms battling COVID-19 around the world, but these patients very sick with COVID-19 may also need venous access under ultrasound guidance to administer fluids and medications.  Or they may be in shock and need a shock assessment, for which point-of-care ultrasound in COVID-19 resuscitation bays and ICUs are also very useful.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to get worse in the U.S. before it gets better.  New York, California, and the State of Washington have set up military-style hospitals  – 250-bed infirmaries that will be fully functional hospitals for COVID-19 patients – and will be placing point-of-care ultrasound there and elsewhere where it would be much more difficult to put a CT scanner.

The challenge in meeting that urgent goal is whether we can find and deploy enough functional lung ultrasound devices to COVID-19 responders in the next several weeks to save lives that are already in danger and restore COVID-19 patients alive and well to families desperate for medical rescue.  I believe we can and will.


About Diku Mandavia, M.D.

Diku Mandavia, M.D. is the Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Officer, at FUJIFILM Sonosite Inc., and FUJIFILM Medical Systems U.S.A., Inc.  He completed his residency in emergency medicine at LAC+USC Medical Center in Los Angeles where he still practices part-time. He is a Clinical Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Southern California.


Tampa General to Launch Healthcare Innovation Venture Fund in Q1 2021

Tampa General to Launch Healthcare Innovation Venture Fund in Q1 2021

What You Should Know:

– Tampa General Hospital announces its plan to launch a new
healthcare innovation venture fund to improve the quality and access to care
across the Tampa/St. Pete metro area in Q1 2021.

– Through TGH InnoVentures, Tampa General will partner
with Embarc Collective, Tampa Bay’s innovation hub and education nonprofit
dedicated to helping startups grow into scalable, thriving businesses.


Today, Tampa General Hospital
President and Chief Executive Officer John Couris announced the creation of
Tampa General Hospital’s InnoVentures, a venture capital healthcare innovation fund
focused on early-stage startups
and direct investments. With the inauguration of TGH InnoVentures, Tampa
General will join an elite group of the nation’s leading medical centers
engaged in venture capital investing.

“TGH InnoVentures is a critical ingredient in our strategic vision to become the safest and most innovative academic health system in America,” said Couris. “It has the potential to be a game-changer for both the organization and the health care industry.  First and foremost, TGH InnoVentures will allow us to develop innovative solutions to improve the quality and access to care right here at Tampa General. At the same time, TGH InnoVentures will provide us a platform to invest both resources and funds into emerging companies and technology that will have the ability to significantly improve the delivery of health care within our region, state, and even nationally.”

TGH InnoVentures Investment Approach

TGH InnoVentures will be comprised of three primary vehicles:

1. The TGH Innovation Lab will serve as an onsite program
designed to support team members and physicians in improving operational
efficiencies and solving problems within the organization. Through the TGH
Accelerator program, the organization will invest and nurture early-stage
health care or health care delivery companies as they prepare their business
for the market.

2. Function as a living-learning laboratory engaging team
members and physician-scientists, as well as emerging companies, providing
space, expertise, and access to organizational resources in addition to direct
capital.

3. Directly invest in health care and healthcare-related
companies.

Partnership with Embarc Collective

Through TGH InnoVentures, Tampa General will partner with Embarc Collective, Tampa Bay’s
innovation hub and education nonprofit dedicated to helping startups grow into
scalable, thriving businesses. TGH InnoVentures will serve as Embarc
Collective’s healthcare partner, taking up residence in their 32,000 square
foot facility, located at 802 E Whiting St in Tampa, Florida.

TGH InnoVentures is the latest site to be located in Tampa’s developing medical district, which is comprised of research, clinical care, and educational buildings clustered together to create an environment that will spur innovation and collaboration, and further attract private equity, venture capital, and biosciences.

Official Launch Date

TGH InnoVentures will officially launch in the first quarter
of 2021.

How RPA Can Help Get COVID-19 Vaccines to High-Risk Patients First

How RPA Can Help Get COVID-19 Vaccines to High-Risk Patients First
Ram Sathia, VP of Intelligent Automation at PK

While most of the public’s attention is focused on the horse race for an approved COVID-19 vaccine, another major hurdle lies just around the corner: the distribution of hundreds of millions of vaccine doses. In today’s highly complex and disconnected health data landscape, technologies like AI, Machine Learning, and robotic process automation (RPA) will be essential to making sure that the highest-risk patients receive the vaccine first.  


Why identifying at-risk patients is incredibly difficult 

Once a vaccine is approved, it will take months or years to produce and distribute enough doses for the U.S.’ 330 million residents. Hospital systems, primary care physicians (PCPs), and provider networks will inevitably need to prioritize administration to at-risk patients, potentially focusing on those with underlying conditions and comorbidities. That will require an unimaginable amount of work by healthcare employees to identify patient cohorts, understand each patient’s individual priority level, and communicate pre- and post-visit instructions. The volume of coordination required between healthcare systems and the pressing need to get the vaccine to high risks groups makes the situation uniquely different than other nationally distributed vaccinations, like the flu. 

One key challenge is that there’s no existing infrastructure to facilitate this process – all of the data necessary to do so is locked away in disparate information silos. Many states have legacy information systems or rely on fax for information sharing, which will substantially hamper efforts to identify at-risk patients. Consider, in contrast, the data available in the U.S. regarding earthquake risk– you can simply open up a federal geological map and see whether you’re in a seismic hazard zone. All the information is in one place and can be sorted through quickly, but that’s just not the case with our healthcare system due to its fragmentation as well as HIPAA and patient privacy laws. 

There are several multidimensional barriers that make it nearly impossible for healthcare workers employed by providers and state healthcare organizations to compile patient cohorts manually: 

– Providers will need to follow CDC guidelines on prioritization factors, which based on current guidelines for those with increased risk could potentially include specific conditions, ethnicities, age groups, pregnancy, geographies, living situations (such as multigenerational homes), and disabilities. Identifying patients with these factors will require intelligent analysis of patient profiles from existing electronic health record data (EHR) used by a multitude of providers. 

– Some hospital networks use multiple EHR and care management systems that have a limited ability to share and correlate data. These information silos will prevent providers from viewing all information about patient population health data. 

– Data on out-of-network care that could require prioritization, like an emergency room visit, is often locked away in payer data systems and is difficult to access by hospital systems and PCPs. That means payer data systems must be analyzed as well to effectively prioritize patients. 

– All information must be shared and analyzed in accordance with HIPAA laws, and the mountain of scheduling communications and pre- and post-visit guidance shared with patients must also follow federal guidelines.  

– Patients with certain conditions, like heart disease, may need additional procedures or tests (such as a blood pressure reading) before the vaccine can be administered safely. Guidelines for each patient must be identified and clearly communicated to their care team. 

– Providers may not have the capacity to distribute vaccines to all of their priority patients, so providers will need to coordinate care and potentially send patients to third-party sites like Walgreens, Costco, etc.

All of these factors create a situation in which it’s extremely difficult – and time-consuming – for healthcare workers to roll out the vaccine to at-risk patients at scale. If the entire process to analyze, identify, and administer the vaccine takes only two hours per patient in the U.S., that’s 660 million hours of healthcare workers’ time. A combination of analytics, AI, and machine learning could be a solution that’s leveraged by healthcare workers and chief medical officers in identifying the priority of patients supplemented with CDC norms.

How RPA can automate administration to high-risk patients 

Technology is uniquely poised to enable health workers to get vaccines into the hands of those who need them most far faster than would be possible using humans alone. Robotic process automation (RPA) in the form of artificial intelligence-powered digital health workers can substantially reduce the time spent prioritizing and communicating with at-risk patients. These digital health workers can intelligently analyze patient records and send communications 24 hours a day, reducing the time needed per patient from hours to minutes. 

Consider, a hypothetical situation in which the CDC prioritizes certain risk profiles, which would put patients with diabetes among those likely to receive the vaccine first. In this scenario, RPA offers significant benefits in the form of its ability to: 

Analyze EHR and population health data: 

Thousands of intelligent digital health workers could prepare patient data for analysis and then separate patients into different cohorts based on hemoglobin levels. These digital health workers could then intelligently review documents to cross-reference hemoglobin levels with other CDC prioritization factors (like recent emergency room admittance or additional pre-existing or chronic conditions ), COVID-19 testing and antibody tests data to identify those most at risk, then identify a local provider with appointment availability.

Automate patient engagement, communications and scheduling: 

After patients with diabetes are identified and prioritized, communications will be essential to quickly schedule those at most risk and prepare them for their appointments, including making them feel comfortable and informed. For example, digital health workers could communicate with diabetes patients about the protocol they should follow before and after their appointment – should they eat before the visit, what they should expect during their visit, and is it safe for them to return to work after. It’s also highly likely that widespread vaccine administration will require a far greater amount of information than with other health communications, given that one in three Americans say they would be unwilling to be vaccinated if a vaccine were available today. At scale, communications and scheduling will take potentially millions of hours in total, and all of that time takes healthcare employees away from actually providing care. 

While the timeline for approval of a COVID-19 vaccine is unclear, now is the time for hospitals to prepare their technology and operations for the rollout. By adopting RPA, state healthcare organizations and providers can set themselves up for success and ensure that the patients most critically in need of a vaccine receive it first.  


 About Ram Sathia

Ram Sathia is Vice President of Intelligent Automation at PK. Ram has nearly 20 years of experience helping clients condense time-to-market, improve quality, and drive efficiency through transformative RPA, AI, machine learning, DevOps, and automation.

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

Abbott recently released global research on vascular patient care, designed to shine a light on the vascular patient journey. The report called “Beyond Intervention” uncovers the universal challenges faced by physicians who deliver vascular care, their patients, and the hospital administrators who support them. It also explores how the right use of technology and data could potentially enable more precise diagnoses and better treatment strategies to ensure the best possible patient outcomes. 

To establish what the state of vascular care looks like around the world today, Abbott surveyed over 1,400 patients, physicians, and health system administrators from nine countries. 

The research revealed how important personalized care is for patients. This was a sentiment that came through loud and clear from all the patients surveyed, regardless of geography. Patients desire more of a “tailored for me” approach from their physicians. This includes more face-to-face interaction and time with their doctor, with the ability to have all of their questions addressed.

Likewise, doctors sighted a scarcity of time spent with their patients as well as their limited visibility into patient adherence to treatment and lifestyle changes and challenges with other key factors that influence the quality of care they can provide.

What exactly does more personalized care look like? Here are some of the ideas that resonated with the vascular patients who responded to the survey:

– A consultative, two-way patient-doctor relationship, with the patient playing an active role in informed decision-making

– An individualized treatment plan based on the doctor’s ability to review relevant data pertaining to successes achieved with similar patients (“How did patients like me get better?”)

– Effective and seamless information-sharing among the primary care provider, hospital specialists, and healthcare systems, as well as with individual patients themselves via computer or smart applications.

– The ability for the doctor to monitor the patient’s progress remotely and provide information to verify that the personalized treatment is working, and to pick up early warning signs of relapse or deterioration

If more personalized care is what patients desire, then how can the use of technology and data enable this? We already see signs of this in the form of telemedicine and personalized care plans used to treat patients with chronic disease. We have also seen remote patient monitoring become a necessity and, in the age of COVID-19, a new standard of care, keeping patients “connected” with their physicians. This suggests that health care is moving in the right direction. Rather than simply treating the patient at a point in time for an illness, technology has the potential to harness the power of data to optimize care across the entire patient journey – before, during, and after the intervention. By focusing on the whole patient, and by placing him or her at the center of the healthcare world, providers can see beyond the intervention alone. 

The survey also revealed that hospital administrators’ top priority focused on patient satisfaction; successful outcomes that boost the number of satisfied and healthy patients while reducing hospital readmissions and costs. The results showed that administrators place a greater priority on plugging data gaps pertaining to outcomes than the total cost of care.

If the intention is to build data-driven technological solutions that see the whole patient, that could shift the focus from illness and intervention to wellness and prevention, potentially lightening the burden on providers, and delivering a higher quality of life for patients, also at a lower cost. 

The existing model of care is clearly not working to its full potential, to the detriment of everyone who must navigate it. But overhauling a healthcare system that is so entrenched in structure and institutional practices is not something that can happen overnight. Change will happen incrementally with the input of all stakeholders. It is up to us in the world of medical devices and technology to take our cues from the medical community, patient advocates, and healthcare systems big and small.

The research motivates us to continuously improve upon what we have already delivered and ask ourselves how we can make our products even better. Without knowledge of their pain points or insights into the challenges they face daily, we would not be able to effectively meet patients’ needs. This research also reinforces what Abbott is consistently striving to achieve: building life-changing technologies to improve the patient’s quality of life and help them live their best lives.

How Data-Driven Technology Holds The Promise of Better Outcomes for Vascular Patients

AI Leads Way to Less False Positives on Remote Cardiac Monitoring Devices, Improved Results

What You Should Know:

– Cardiac patients and their cardiologists are
experiencing a high number of false positives with remote patient monitoring
devices as a result of signal artifact providing inaccurate data, which can
lead to many complications—other than medical, such as unnecessary tests and
increased medical costs.

– Ambulatory cardiac monitoring provider InfoBionic has devised a way to decrease false positives and increase efficiency.


Remote cardiac monitoring’s false positives—especially on atrial fibrillation (Afib)—hurt everyone, from the patient to the boss who will have to go without an employee when he or she has to go in for unnecessary tests. An estimated 12.1 million people in the United States will have Afib by 2030; Afib increases the risk of stroke, heart failure, and death, and is one of the few cardiac conditions that continue to rise.(1) “We must give the clinician more effective diagnoses, while at the same time increasing confidence in our healthcare technology systems with respect to the accuracy of the same patient data,” expressed Stuart Long, CEO of InfoBionic, a provider of ambulatory cardiac monitoring services.

Impact of Remote
Patient Monitoring on Afib

Afib is a “fluttering feeling that can point to a quivering heart muscle, a notable skipped beat as the mark of a palpitation, and a racing heart rate that sparks other discomforts.” (2) With the rise of remote patient monitoring (RPM) as an effective and economical modality to treat and monitor patients, false positives continue to rise to generate a lack of confidence in the accurate clinical data captured through RPM. False positives can overwhelm the clinician and result in the increased use of resources and downstream costs, and false negatives could have detrimental clinical consequences.(3) 

Without a reliable RPM supported by powerful AI solutions, healthcare payers experience higher costs. Heart disease takes an economic toll, as well, costing the nation’s healthcare system $214 billion per year and consuming $138 billion in lost productivity on the job. (4) The cascading effect of false positives run the gamut of the human experience—from the physical and emotional health of the patient to the added out-of-pocket expenses of unnecessary and avoidable tests.

The increased risks of hospital readmissions at a time when healthcare systems are overtaxed and understaffed adds another factor of what could have been an unneeded situation. “InfoBionic AI has all but eliminated the need for physicians to deal with false positives. In fact, 100% of Atrial Fibrillation events longer than 30 seconds are detected accurately (true positive) by InfoBionic’s AI system(6),” said Long.

By
leveraging cloud computing with continuous arrhythmia monitoring to create a
reliable platform with accurate data collection, an ambulatory cardiac monitor,
such as the MoMe® Kardia device, optimizes AI solutions,
allowing for consistency in the treatment. Integrated sensor measures have been
shown to predict heart failure and might have the potential to
empower patients to participate in their own care.(5) Offering
24-hour monitoring through RPM technology that reduces false positives leads to
the patient becoming more comfortable with the RPM service, which increases the
likelihood the patient will adopt the practice of self-care well into the
future. Cardiac patients with pulmonary or electrolyte problems may need
continuous cardiac monitoring to screen for arrhythmias.

A primary feature of our MoMe® Kardia is its ability to leverage technology in a way that makes physicians feel more confident via analysis precision that verifies detected cardiac episodes through the algorithm,” said Long. Another distinct advantage is the ability to provide 6 lead analysis instead of the 1 or 2 leads provided by other systems. This affords the physician a much better view of each heartbeat, thereby increasing physician confidence in the accuracy of diagnosis.

The
AI
provides valuable clinical statistics that guide treatment with the best
patient outcomes. As the leading provider to collect every heartbeat and
transmit it to the cloud in near real time, explains Long, InfoBionic’s AI
algorithms are informed by over 15 million hours of electrocardiogram (ECG)
collected from the entire patient population. With full disclosure transmission
that allows AI algorithms to run on powerful servers in the cloud, the system
utilizes much more intensive processing than could be accomplished on other
patient-worn devices. Multiple patented algorithms are run concurrently on the
ECG stream, each with superior performance on a variety of clinical conditions.

Mayo Clinic Launches Vocal Biomarker Study for Pulmonary Hypertension Detection

Mayo Clinic Launches Vocal Biomarker Study for Pulmonary Hypertension Detection

What You Should Know:

– Mayo Clinic announced a collaboration with Vocalis
Health to to research and develop new voice-based tools for screening, detecting
and monitoring patient health, beginning with a study to identify vocal
biomarkers to detect pulmonary hypertension (PH).

– The clinical validation study will utilize Vocalis
Health’s proprietary software, which can operate on any connected voice
platform (mobile, computer, tablet, etc.) to analyze patients’ health based on
voice recordings.

– Following this initial phase, researchers will work to
identify vocal biomarkers targeting additional diseases, symptoms and
conditions.


Mayo Clinic and Vocalis Health, Inc., a company
pioneering AI-based
vocal biomarkers for use in healthcare, today announced a collaboration to
research and develop new voice-based tools for screening, detecting and
monitoring patient health. The collaboration will begin with a study to
identify vocal biomarkers for pulmonary hypertension (PH) which could help
physicians detect and treat PH in their patients.

Impact of Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is a severe condition causing high blood pressure in the lungs, but
as the symptoms are similar to other heart and lung conditions, it is often not
detected in routine physical exams. While traditional blood tests can sometimes
detect pulmonary hypertension, it frequently goes undiagnosed. This
strategic collaboration aims to provide an
alternative and highly scalable method to check patients for PH, using only a recording of the patient’s voice, to understand their health and the progression of the disease. 

Study Establishes Relationship Between Certain Vocal Biomarkers
& Pulmonary Hypertension

In a previous trial with Vocalis Health, the Mayo research
team established a relationship between certain vocal characteristics and PH.
In this new collaboration, Mayo will conduct a prospective clinical validation
study to further develop PH vocal biomarkers. The clinical validation study
will utilize Vocalis Health’s proprietary software, which can operate on any
connected voice platform (mobile, computer, tablet, etc.) to analyze patients’
health based on voice recordings. Following this initial phase, researchers
will work to identify vocal biomarkers targeting additional diseases, symptoms
and conditions.

Vocalis Health Background

Vocalis Health is an AI healthtech company pioneering the
development of vocal biomarkers – where health-related information is derived
from analysis of people’s voice recordings – to screen, detect, monitor and
predict health symptoms, conditions and diseases.  Vocalis Health is currently focused on
screening users for COVID-19 and on monitoring patients with chronic diseases
such as COPD.

“We have seen the clinical benefits of voice analysis for patient screening throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and this collaboration presents an opportunity for us to continue broadening our research, beginning with pulmonary hypertension,” said Tal Wenderow, CEO of Vocalis Health. “Voice analysis has the potential to help physicians make more informed decisions about their patients in a non-invasive, cost-effective manner. We believe this technology could have important clinical implications for telemedicine and remote patient monitoring in the very near future. We are excited to work with Mayo Clinic and have already started planning clinical trials for additional indications.”

Human API Raises $20M+ to Scale User-Controlled Health Data Ecosystem

Human API Raises $20M+ to Scale User-Controlled Health Data Ecosystem

What You Should Know:

– Human API, the consumer-controlled health data platform
announced it has closed a Series C round of $20M+ this week.

– Human API’s consumer-controlled platform gives users a
streamlined means of accessing and sharing their personal health records with
physicians, trusted startups and enterprises, and insurers.

– The platform harnesses a machine learning-powered data pipeline
that structures health data into a consistent format, making it easier for
medical researchers and scientists to use actionable data more quickly and
efficiently while ensuring that patients remain in full control of who their
personal data is being shared with.


Human API, a San
Mateo, CA-based company empowering consumers to connect and share electronic
health data with companies they trust, announced today that it has raised over
$20 million in Series C funding. The round includes participation from Samsung
Ventures, CNO Financial Group, Allianz Life Ventures, and Moneta VC, as well as
from existing investors BlueRun Ventures, SCOR Life and Health Ventures, and
Guardian Life Insurance Company. 

The capital will be used to scale new products and services
that enable new product design, granular risk stratification, optimize clinical
trial recruitment, support population health management, automate patient
monitoring, and digitize chronic disease management.

The Next Generation of Health Data Exchange

Human API’s consumer-controlled platform gives users a
streamlined means of accessing and sharing their personal health records with
physicians, trusted startups and enterprises, and insurers. The platform
harnesses a machine learning-powered data pipeline that structures health data
into a consistent format, making it easier for medical researchers and
scientists to use actionable data more quickly and efficiently while ensuring
that patients remain in full control of who their personal data is being shared
with. 

However, going one step further than just solving the data
portability issue, the Human API platform offers users various options to make
their data actionable, such as:

– Sharing their information with specific researchers who can put it to good use 

– Enlisting to take part in medical trials or pharma trials 

– Speeding up insurance processes to less than 24 hours

– Taking part in wellness programs provided by their employers.

“By facilitating these transactions,” explains Sean Duffy,
Co-Founder & CEO at Omada Health, “Human API is bringing into being a new
consumer health ecosystem driven by consumer-centric health apps and services.”

Appoints New Chief Commercial Officer

To drive forward this period of growth, Human API has
brought on Richard Dufty as Chief Commercial Officer. Having spearheaded
AppDirect’s growth from early stage startup to Unicorn status in just 4 years,
and having led Symantec’s $1B US Consumer and Cloud business, Dufty brings
extensive experience launching and growing software ecosystems.

Kettering Health to Deploy Nuance’s AI-Driven Physician Documentation for ED

What You Should Know:

– Nuance Communications, Inc. announced the Kettering
Health Network has selected ED Guidance for Nuance Dragon Medical Advisor.

– This AI-powered computer-assisted physician
documentation (CAPD) solution will help reduce physicians’ administrative
burden while lowering the risk of adverse safety events, missing diagnoses, and
malpractice litigation – priorities for all physicians, especially in the ED
where the nature of care presents special challenges and risks.


Nuance
Communications, Inc.,
today announced that Kettering Health Network has
selected ED Guidance for Nuance Dragon Medical Advisor, an AI-powered computer-assisted
physician documentation (CAPD) solution
that gives emergency room
physicians workflow-integrated diagnostic and clinical best practices advice at
one of the earliest and most critical points of care.

Kettering Health is deploying ED Guidance for Nuance Dragon
Medical Advisor to improve patient safety, alleviate the administrative burden
on clinicians, and reduce the risk of missing diagnoses by:

– Extending the Nuance CAPD solution to physicians in its 12
full-service emergency centers through its existing use of the Nuance Dragon
Medical One HITRUST CSF-certified conversational AI platform for documenting
care in the electronic health record (EHR).

– Empowering physicians with integrated real-time,
evidence-based emergency medical guidance from The Sullivan Group.

– Supporting best-practices-based clinical decision-making
and accurate documentation of the severity of illness and acuity of each
patient at the point of care within clinician’s standard EHR workflows.

– Using Nuance conversational AI to automatically identify
and add critical details that may impact patient treatment in real-time.

Sullivan Group Outcomes/Results

The Sullivan Group’s content has been shown to decrease the
occurrence of adverse safety events and reduce diagnosis-related malpractice
claims by up to 70 percent, and with the integration into Nuance Dragon Medical
Advisor, this guidance can be delivered in real-time while the patient is still
in the ED. ED Guidance for Nuance Dragon Medical Advisor also provides powerful
analytics for assessing ED performance and improving care quality and financial
outcomes.

“We see Nuance Dragon Medical One and Dragon Medical Advisor as essential tools that help physicians use the EHR efficiently for delivering high-quality patient care,” said Dr. Charles Watson, DO, Chief Medical Information Officer at Kettering Health. “Patient safety and reducing the administrative burdens of documentation and compliance are priorities for all physicians, especially in the ED, where the nature of care presents special challenges and risks. The ability to add those tools and data analytics via the cloud will help us align our clinical and compliance practices with diagnostic drivers more quickly and accurately.”

CareLinx, Doctor on Demand Partner to Bring In-Home Virtual Care to Seniors

CareLinx, Doctor on Demand Partner to Bring In-Home Virtual Care to Seniors

What You Should Know: 

– Doctor On Demand and CareLinx, one of the largest professional networks for in-home care, have announced a collaboration to bring in-home virtual care services to CareLinx clients. 

– At a time when seniors have been encouraged to stay home to avoid exposure to COVID, Doctor On Demand’s partnership with CareLinx will vastly improve their opportunity to receive comprehensive healthcare while remaining safe. 


After being the first and only telemedicine provider to roll out medical care for Medicare Part B beneficiaries, Doctor On Demand is doubling down on their efforts to support seniors in their homes. Doctor On Demand, the nation’s leading virtual care provider, and CareLinx, a nationwide, professional network for in-home care, today announced a partnership to bring in-home virtual care services to CareLinx clients. 

Supporting High-Risk Patients at Home

The partnership aims to expand CareLinx’s in-home care offerings and improve health outcomes for their clients, geriatric and high-risk patients who need support at home. Today, CareLinx tech-enabled caregivers have digital care plans on their smartphones — enabling quality delivery of everyday care services such as bathing and meal prep, as well as direct communication to a patient’s family. 

Doctor On Demand will augment these existing services by connecting CareLinx clients with virtual care providers in real-time. CareLinx caregivers will support the Doctor On Demand registration process and assist with in-home follow-ups and care coordination recommended by Doctor On Demand’s board-certified physicians as well. 

CareLinx Clients Receive Access to Virtual Visits, Powered by Doctor on Demand

Eligible CareLinx clients will receive initial visits with board-certified physicians through Doctor On Demand at no cost. These virtual visits can be used to treat a spectrum of health issues, including diagnosis and testing of COVID-19, typical ailments like infections, rashes, cold and flu, and ongoing chronic diseases like asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid issues. Doctor On Demand physicians can also fill prescriptions and order lab work, and patients can see the same physician time and time again, building a trusted, personal relationship via video.

Why It Matters

“Now more than ever, finding high-quality, in-home care is pivotal during a time when seniors and high-risk patients are being encouraged to stay at home to minimize risk and exposure to COVID-19. Our partnership with Doctor On Demand enables CareLinx to continue equipping caregivers with digital tools and technologies to make caregiving easier, more transparent, and higher quality,” said Sherwin Sheik, CEO, CareLinx. “Additionally, this partnership is helping to supplement in-home activities of daily living with a telehealth option for our clients, who may not otherwise realize they have the option to see a provider virtually for medical ailments.  Combined with the in-home care they are receiving, these services can help provide an expanded continuum of care to help them stay healthy and safe where they want to be — at home.”

Humana Taps Cohere Health to Modernize Prior Authorizations for Musculoskeletal Treatment

Cohere Health Launches with $10M to Increase Transparency Across Care Journey

What You Should Know:

– Cohere Health partners with health insurer Humana to modernize
the prior authorization process for musculoskeletal treatment across 12 states.

– In addition, the company has closed an additional $10M
in funding led by Flare Capital Partners and Define Venture, bringing the
company’s total funding to $20M.


Health insurer Humana has signed an agreement with healthcare collaboration company Cohere Health to improve the prior authorization process for musculoskeletal treatment across 12 states, starting Jan. 1, 2021. Cohere aligns physicians, patients, and health plans on a patient’s optimal healthcare experience—enabling access to higher quality care while at the same time minimizing administrative burden and siloed decision-making.

The partnership leverages CohereNext Platform’s prior authorization capability which grants authorizations across an entire episode of care, in effect pre-authorizing a complete treatment regimen from the initial diagnosis to treatment plan selection, and, ultimately, to the patient’s return to good health. Cohere’s approach aims to expedite evidence-based treatment plans to improve the healthcare experience for doctors and patients alike.

Humana to Leverage CohereNext Platform to Streamline
Prior Authorizations

As part of the partnership, Humana will employ the CohereNext Platform to streamline prior authorizations in musculoskeletal treatment in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The platform will initially serve approximately 2 million members and more than 3,500 physician practices.

This partnership supports Humana’s vision to reimagine and modernize processes for prior authorization by reducing approval times and improving the delivery of care, all while preserving important benefits such as safety, predictability, and cost containment.

Cohere’s solution will initially focus on prior
authorization; the company is developing additional use cases such as
value-based contract performance, improving physician and patient engagement,
and optimizing health plan clinical programs. By facilitating physician and
health plan collaboration, Cohere’s technology will help accelerate the
evolution to value-based care models.

“Through this strategic initiative and collaboration with Cohere Health, Humana is building on its commitment to reduce the complexity and friction of prior authorization for our physicians and members,” said William Shrank, MD, MSHS, Chief Medical Officer, Humana and Board Member, Cohere Health. “Cohere’s solution was co-designed with physicians and represents a major leap forward in improved physician experience and the adoption of evidence-based medicine.”


Cohere Health Closes Additional $10 Million in Funding to
Accelerate Delivery of Patient Journey Platform

In addition, the company announced it closed an additional
$10 million in funding led by Flare
Capital Partners
and Define Ventures,
bringing the company’s total funding to $20 million. The funding will be used
to enhance the company’s scalable CohereNext® platform that is built on
next-generation cloud and data technologies and provides interoperability to
existing healthcare infrastructure as well as the emerging digital health
economy.

This
Series A extension comes just two months after Cohere Health’s initial $10 million Series
A funding, which was also led by Flare
Capital Partners with Define Ventures contributing as an investor and partner,
as well as participation from a leading national strategic partner.

The CohereNext Platform improves the physician experience
and quality by:

– Authorizations that begin with diagnoses and not billing
codes

– Facilitating and auto-approving evidence-based treatment plans

– Delivering a peer review process with a true peer
specialist or sub-specialist

– Sharing quality performance relative to peers for specific
care paths and patient cohorts

– Providing tools, data and technology that optimizes
value-based payment

“The tragedy of COVID-19 has reinforced that the basic infrastructure supporting healthcare innovation is fundamentally broken. The shift from fee-for-service to value-based-care requires enabling interoperable capabilities to facilitate care around the interests of patients, and as a result, Cohere Health continues to rapidly grow and attract additional investments,” said Siva Namasivayam, CEO and founder of Cohere Health. “The additional funding will enable us to expand the CohereNext platform to impact more failure points across patient journeys so that physicians can deliver better outcomes and we can continue building our team, which has grown by more than 95 people this year.”

5 Trends Driving The Future of Healthcare Real Estate in 2020 & Beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed patient expectations for healthcare delivery, including offered services and health office operations. Although health systems have remained dynamic in adopting telehealth capabilities, their long-term capital, like real estate and supply chain management (SCM) protocols, have not adapted to match these expectations. Health systems must be aware of current trends in both areas to inform their future decisions. 

Divesting in healthcare real estate is also key to reducing unnecessary costs to a health system, especially if optimal use of these spaces is already lacking. The overwhelming costs of ownership and management lock money away in underutilized and obsolete real estate spaces. Divesting provides more capital liquidity, and frees capital to go towards investment in telehealth, diagnostic technology, and emerging specialties, assets that go towards increasing patient and workforce engagement and satisfaction. In addition, eliminating unused real estate assets allows freedom from liabilities and human capital investments, like facility maintenance and upkeep, not to mention the increased frequency of deep cleaning necessary in the post-COVID-19 bi-lateral operations era.

Further, years of mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry have left many health systems with the unwanted result of increases in real estate assets. This has led to increased consolidation of these assets, a trend that has been exacerbated by the pandemic pressure on health system funds. Future consolidation and reevaluation of assets should be informed by trends in patient expectations as well as trends in the market.

Here are five emerging trends driving the future of healthcare real estate and assets. Each encourages divestment out of health system real estate ventures or restructuring of existing spaces in order to better cater to forever changed patient expectations.

1. Rise of Telehealth

According to the Department of Health & Human Services, telehealth use is up around 50% in primary care settings since the beginning of the public health emergency and is projected to remain high in the time following. Most recently, in-person visits have increased and as a result, telehealth visits have declined due to the state’s reopening, and thereby some critics posit that this trend may not continue. However, that could not be further from the truth.

Moving forward, despite health system fear regarding long-term reimbursement may be lacking from federal, state, and commercial health plan payers for virtual care delivery, leveraging telehealth to augment traditional healthcare delivery will become a necessity because consumers will demand it and physicians in some studies have shown satisfaction with their video visit platforms. This will no doubt have an impact on office layout and services.

2. Convenience of Outpatient Services

Motivated in part by telehealth utilization, patients seek convenience and accessibility in their healthcare now more than ever. Health system expansion may therefore mean satellite offices in high traffic areas to cater to the patient’s need for accessibility, marking a movement away from the traditional, centralized hospital campuses.

3. Value-Based Care Transitions

As legislation and CMS regulation moves more towards a value-based care system, trends show a natural move towards lower-cost facilities that provide preventive care. These could also contribute to continued trends to more off-campus real estate and planning for alternative care delivery options, for example, mobile vans reaching more vulnerable, at-risk populations for care such as life-saving vaccinations. 

4. Pandemic Precautions

Bilateral operations are likely to be maintained for some time even after more normal operations return, and healthcare real estate, especially with consolidation, will need to accommodate this precaution, and others like it in all locations.

5. Technology

New diagnostic and testing tools are constantly being released, forcing health systems to reevaluate their current assets and make room for new ones which contributes to wasted space. Furthermore, remote monitoring apps will continue to proliferate in the market and become more affordable and accessible to consumers while advancing interoperability standards and federal information blocking requirements will allow information to flow more freely.  

Strategies to Optimize Healthcare Real Estate & Strategy

In order to unlock money trapped in assets, health systems should look to make their assets work better in response to current trends and patient expectations. To accommodate patient demands and changes to health industry regulation and reimbursement, it makes sense to ensure efficient use of all facilities and optimize real estate and assets using the following strategies:

– Divest underutilized assets of any kind: Begin with real estate and move smaller to reduce unneeded capital investment.

– Remove or reduce administrative spaces: Transition non-clinical workforces to partial or complete work from home status, including finance, legal, marketing, revenue cycle, and other back-office functions. Shared space or “hotel” workspaces are popular.

– Reconfigure medical office or temporary care buildings: As these are often empty several days a week, they must be consolidated. 

– Get out of expensive leases for care that can be given remotely or in lower-cost options or by strategic partners: Take full advantage of telehealth capabilities and eliminate offices that have become obsolete. 

Integrate telehealth into real estate only where it makes sense: Telehealth is more applicable to some services and care modalities than others. Offices should reconfigure to meet these novel needs where necessary, even if it means forgoing leases for the near term. 

– Assess other expensive assets: Appraise assets like storage and diagnostic tools. Those not supportive of the new post-COVID-19 care model or prioritized service lines and are otherwise not producing revenues should be sold or outsourced to strategic partners.

– Diversify with off-campus offices: Provide convenient access to outpatient care and new outpatient procedures by investing in outpatient medical offices in high foot traffic locations. 

– Create space for services in high demand: Services like preventive care and behavioral health should be given physical or virtual space in the system to cater to patient needs. 


About Moha Desai

Moha Desai is a Principal of Healthcare Strategy and Transformation where she focuses on driving forward strategic, planning, financial, revenue cycle, operational improvement, and patient engagement healthcare projects for providers, federal government health agencies, and various firms requiring growth, business development, and project implementation and management. She has previously served in leadership roles at Partners HealthCare, Deloitte Consulting, Bearing Point, etc. Moha received her B.A. in Economics and her M.B.A. at Yale University.

Blue Cross NC Launches No-Cost Virtual Programs to Quit Smoking and Reverse Diabetes

What You Should Know:

– Today, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina partners
with Carrot Inc. and Virta Health to help address two of the largest ongoing
health issues facing Americans today – smoking and type 2 diabetes.

– Virta and Carrot’s programs will be available to
individual under-65 members and fully insured group members beginning November
2020.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), today announced it is teaming up with Carrot Inc. and Virta Health to launch no-cost virtual programs to help members quit smoking and reverse type 2 diabetes. Virta and Carrot’s programs will be available to individual under-65 members and fully insured group members beginning November 2020 at no cost. They support Blue Cross NC’s commitment to make health care better, simpler and more affordable by providing members easy access to care through digital technology

“We resolve to make whole person care a priority, and that means we have to think beyond treating conditions, and work to prevent and reverse them,” said Von Nguyen, vice president of clinical operations and innovations at Blue Cross NC. “We are excited to team up with Carrot and Virta and bring their innovative, life-changing programs directly to the homes of our members and address some of North Carolina’s most pressing health issues.”

Carrot’s Clinically-Proven Program Empowers People to
Quit Smoking 

In addition to being the leading cause of preventable death in the U.S., smoking remains a tremendous burden on our nation’s health care system. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking, and for every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious, smoking-related illness such as diabetes, COPD, heart disease, or cancer. Smoking-related illness costs the State of North Carolina over $13 billion every year.  

Carrot’s clinically-proven, app-based program Pivot, combines innovative technology, human-centered design, and behavioral science to empower people to quit smoking and remain non-smokers. In a recent clinical study 42 percent of participants achieved a successful quit over the course of the study, and seven months after the onset of the study, 86 percent of those who quit were smoke-free.

Pivot’s digital solution includes text-based access to
trained tobacco experts, a first-of-its-kind personal breath sensor to track
progress, nicotine therapy products, and access to Pivot’s online community for
collective wisdom and inspiration.  

“Carrot is excited to collaborate with Blue Cross NC to ease the burden smoking has long placed on the state of North Carolina and the American health care system,” said David S. Utley, M.D., CEO of Carrot Inc. “Quitting smoking is hard – every year, millions try to stop smoking. We’re proud to bring Pivot to the hundreds of thousands of Blue Cross NC members who want to live life tobacco free and help them prevent or reverse the severity of chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and COPD.”

Diabetes Reversal with Virta Health
More than 3.7 million people in North Carolina—nearly half of the adult
population—have either prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.  According to the
CDC, diabetes increases the risk for severe illness for those with COVID-19.

Virta Health, the leader in type 2 diabetes reversal, uses an innovative virtual care model that helps patients achieve normal blood sugar while eliminating the need for diabetes-specific medications. Patients receive near-real-time access to board-certified physicians and health coaches who provide expert, individualized guidance on nutrition and behavioral change through the Virta app. Virta also serves as a partner to Primary Care Providers, integrating its specialized diabetes reversal treatment into existing care plans.

In Virta’s peer-reviewed clinical outcomes, at one year 94
percent of participants reduced or eliminated the need for insulin. The
majority of patients eliminated all diabetes-specific prescriptions while
achieving normal blood sugar. Results also include 12 percent (30lbs) weight
loss, and improvement in over 20 markers of cardiovascular health, including
blood pressure.

“This is a massive opportunity to change the direction of health of an entire state, save lives, and significantly reduce healthcare spend along the way,” said Sami Inkinen, Virta Health co-founder and CEO. “Our collaboration with Blue Cross NC provides strong optimism that we can solve the type 2 diabetes crisis our nation is facing.” 

Making the Case: Why Pagers and Smartphones Should Wed

Making the Case: Why Pagers and Smartphones Should Wed
Fred Lizza, CEO at Statum Systems

Clinicians in healthcare settings typically have information coming at them from all directions, at all times, and often with little distinction as to the level of urgency. It makes for inefficiency and confusion for today’s busy doctor.

In today’s hospital setting, that disjointed communication creates dissonance and distraction. Even though the world has gravitated to the ubiquitous use of smartphones, that’s not the dominant form of connection for physicians. The vast majority of hospitals still depend on paging systems to quickly reach doctors as they circulate through a facility and even outside it.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine in 2017 found that hospitals provided pagers to 80 percent of hospital-based clinicians, and more than half of all physicians in the survey reported that they received patient care-related communication most commonly by pager. Other information sources reported in the study included unsecured standard text messaging (53 percent of clinicians), and 27 percent used a secure messaging application.

While paging systems seem like a throwback form of technology, they have a history of providing reliable connections between clinicians in hospital settings. They operate on a frequency that is less prone to interference, and they travel significantly farther than messages traveling on cellular networks or Wi-Fi. That means pager signals reach hospital areas that are likely to have bad reception, such as radiology departments or basements. In addition, pager signals are not susceptible to surges in demand or network overload situations, which may occur during emergencies.

However, many hospitals are taking steps to resolve some of these issues. For example, a variety of technologies, such as repeaters, range extenders, or boosters, can improve coverage to challenge areas for both Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Even so, pagers – a technology that was patented in 1949 and first used in New York City’s Jewish Hospital – are now a duplicative device that does not match the capability of the smartphones that physicians rely on. Many report that it’s frustrating to have to carry a separate paging device that does not fully meet their communication needs.

Pagers don’t work like physicians need them to. For example, it’s frustrating to receive a page, then return the call as requested, only to find that the doctor or nurse who initiated the page is no longer on duty or otherwise inaccessible. That typically requires a message to voicemail or further calls to find out how to reach the other clinician. Communication that could be handled in two minutes with a smartphone could take as much as half an hour to complete with a pager-based system. And that interferes with other work that a clinician should be accomplishing during hospital rounds.

Here’s one real-life example from a surgeon at a major Boston-area hospital. The doctor needed to reach a radiology technologist after regular work hours to get post-surgery X-ray images of a patient uploaded to another EHR system. The physician eventually calls the technologist’s pager number, but there are no instructions for how to ensure the message was left or even if the page went through. The physician calls a nurse to have her call the technologist’s page number on his behalf, but still has no assurance that the call went through. Finally, the technologist returned the call after 35 minutes and multiple phone calls.

Paging systems also have security shortcomings. Many pagers are not fully secure, exposing messages sent over a system to anyone who can tap into the frequency being used. As a result, many pagers and pager messaging systems are not HIPAA compliant, exposing hospitals to potential liability or even hacking or service attacks that could impact communications.

To improve efficiency and security, healthcare organizations need to look to gravitate toward an all-encompassing medical communications system that captures all pager-like messages and seamlessly incorporates them into a collaboration platform that does not rely on store-and-forward functionality. 

Over recent years, clinicians have come to accept and widely use smartphones as a form factor, and their multi-tasking capability also enables clinicians to do more than one task – for example, communicate via text messages, consult an electronic health records system and engage in verbal communication with one or more clinicians.

While the utility of the pager network remains and pager systems are likely to stay in use for the foreseeable future, it is important for healthcare systems to keep the technology but get away from the pager form factor. Transforming the system won’t get rid of pagers completely but will enable physicians to get pager messages in a different way, connecting the current highly accessible pager network directly to a medical professional’s smartphone.

Such a strategy combines the ease of use and convenience of a smartphone with the advantages of a pager network.


About Fred Lizza

Fred Lizza is CEO of Statum Systems , a developer of advanced mobile collaboration platforms geared to caregivers. He was previously CEO of StrategicClaim, an insurance claims platform, and Freestyle Solutions, an e-commerce leader. Fred earned his MBA from Harvard University.

The Future of the ICU? How Clinical Decision Support Is Advancing Care

The Future of the ICU? How Clinical Decision Support Is Advancing Care
Kelly Patrick, Principal Analyst at Signify Research

Without a doubt 2020 has been a devastating year for many; the impact of COVID-19 on both personal lives and businesses has had long-term consequences. At the end of September, the number of COVID-19 cases fell just short of 350 million, with just over 1 million deaths reported. The expectation of a second peak in many countries exposed to the deadly illness is being handled with care, with many governments attempting to minimize the impact of an extreme rise in cases.  

COVID-19 the aftermath will be the new normal?

Despite the chaotic attempts to dampen the impact of a second peak, it is inevitable that healthcare facilities will be stretched once again. However, there are key learnings to be had from the first few months of the pandemic, with several healthcare providers opting to be armed with as much information to tackle the likely imminent surge of patients with COVID-19 head-on. The interest in solutions that offer support to clinicians through data analysis is starting to emerge with several COVID-19 specific Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms filtering through the medical imaging space. 

Stepping into the ICU, the use of analytics and AI-based clinical applications is drawing more attention. Solutions that collect relevant patient information, dissect the information, and offer clinical decision support are paving the way to a more informed clinical environment. Already, early-warning scoring, sepsis detection, and predictive analytics were becoming a focus. The recent COVID-19 outbreak has also driven further interest in COVID-19 specific applications, and tele-ICU solutions, that offer an alternative way to ensure high-risk patients are monitored appropriately in the ICU. 

What does the future hold?

Signify Research is currently in the process of assessing the uptake of clinical decision support and AI-based applications in the high acuity and perinatal care settings. An initial assessment has highlighted various solutions that help improve not only the efficiency of care but also improve its quality. Some of the core areas of focus include:

Clinical Decision Support & Predictive Analytics

Due to the abundance of patient data and information required to be regularly assessed and monitored, the high-acuity and perinatal care settings benefit from solutions offering clinical decision support. 

The ICU specifically has been a focus of many AI solution providers, with real-time analysis and support of data to provide actionable clinical decision support in time-critical situations. Clinical decision support solutions can collate data and identify missing pieces of information to provide a complete picture of the patient’s status and to support the treatment pathway. Some of the key vendors pathing the way for AI in clinical decision support in the ICU include AiiNTENSE; Ambient Clinical Analytics; Etiometry; BetterCare; AlertWatch; and Vigilanz Corp.

Early-warning

Early-warning protocols are commonly used in hospitals to flag patient deterioration. However, in many hospitals this is often a manual process, utilizing color coding of patient status on a whiteboard in the nurse’s station. Interest in automated early-warning systems that flag patient deterioration using vital signs information is increasing with the mounting pressure on stretched hospital staff.

Examples of early-warning software solutions include the Philips IntelliVue Guardian Solution and the Capsule Early Warning Scoring System (EWSS). Perigen’s PeriWatch Vigilance is the only AI-based early-warning scoring system that is developed to enhance clinical efficiency, timely intervention, and standardization of perinatal care.

The need for solutions that support resource-restricted hospitals has been further exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many existing early-warning vendors have updated their surveillance systems to enable more specific capabilities for COVID-19 patients, specifically for ventilated patients. Companies such as Vigilanz Corp’s COVID Quick Start and Capsule Tech’s Clinical Surveillance module for ventilated patients enables healthcare professionals to respond to COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses with customizable rules, reports, and real-time alerts.

Sepsis Detection

Sepsis is the primary cause of death from infection, accounting for 20% of global deaths worldwide. Sepsis frequently occurs from infections acquired in health care settings, which are one of the most frequent adverse events during care delivery and affect hundreds of millions of patients worldwide every year. As death from Sepsis can be prevented, there is a significant focus around monitoring at-risk patients.

Several health systems employ their own early-warning scoring protocol utilizing in-house AI models to help to target sepsis. HCA Healthcare, an American for-profit operator of health care facilities, claims that its own Sepsis AI algorithm (SPOT) can detect sepsis 18-hours before even the best clinician. Commercial AI developers are also focusing their efforts to provide supporting solutions.

The Sepsis DART™ solution from Ambient Clinical Analytics uses AI to automate early detection of potential sepsis conditions and provides smart notifications to improve critical timeliness of care and elimination of errors. Philips ProtocolWatch, installed on Philips IntelliVue bedside patient monitors, simplifies the implementation of evidence-based sepsis care protocols to enable surveillance of post-ICU patients. 

Tele-ICU

The influx of patients into the ICU during the early part of 2020 because of COVID-19 placed not only great strain on the number of ICU beds but also the number of healthcare physicians to support them. Due to the nature of the illness, the number of patients that were monitored through tele-ICU technology increased, although the complex nature of implementing a new tele-ICU solution has meant the increase has not been as pronounced as that of telehealth in primary care settings.

However, its use has enabled physicians to visit and monitor ICU patients virtually, decreasing the frequency and need for them to physically enter an isolation room. As the provision of healthcare is reviewed following the pandemic, it is likely that tele-ICU models will increase in popularity, to protect both the patient and the hospital staff providing direct patient care. Philips provides one of the largest national programs across the US with its eICU program.

Most recently, GE Healthcare has worked with Decisio Health to incorporate its DECISIOInsight® into GE Healthcare’s Mural virtual care solution, to prioritize and optimize ventilator case management. Other vendors active within the tele-ICU space include Ambient Clinical Analytics, Capsule Health, CLEW Med, and iMDsoft.

Figure 1 Signify Research projects the global tele-ICU market to reach just under $1 billion by 2024.

Interoperable Solutions

More and more solutions are targeted toward improving the quality of patient care and reducing the cost of care provision. With this, the requirement for devices and software to be interoperable is becoming more apparent. Vendors are looking to work collaboratively to find solutions to common problems within the hospital. HIMMS 2020 showcased several collaborations between core vendors within the high acuity market. Of note, two separate groups demonstrated their capabilities to work together to manage and distribute alarms within a critical care environment, resulting in a quieter experience to aid patient recovery. These included:

– Trauma Recovery in the Quiet ICU – Ascom, B Braun, Epic, Getinge, GuardRFID, Philips

– The Quiet Hospital – Draeger, Epic, ICU Medical, Smiths Medical, Spok​


About Kelly Patrick, Principal Analyst at Signify Research

The Future of the ICU? How Clinical Decision Support Is Advancing Care
Kelly Patrick, Principal Analyst at Signify Research

Kelly Patrick is the Principal Analyst at Signify Research, a UK-based market research firm focusing on health IT, digital health, and medical imaging. She joined Signify Research in 2020 and brings with her 12 years’ experience covering a range of healthcare technology research at IHS Markit/Omdia. Kelly’s core focus has been on the clinical care space, including patient monitoring, respiratory care and infusion.


From Virtual Care to Hybrid Care: COVID-19 and the Future of Healthcare

From Virtual Care to Hybrid Care: COVID-19 and the Future of Healthcare

Amwell,
a national telehealth leader, released the results of its annual Physician and Consumer Survey. The results show physicians
and consumers expect to use telehealth more often following COVID-19 than they
did before the pandemic. Telehealth usage is up considerably in 2020, with 22%
of consumers and 80% of physicians having a virtual visit this year, up from 8% and 22%, respectively, in 2019. This adoption is largely driven
by a shift to scheduled visits across all specialties, whereas prior to
COVID-19 the majority of visits were for on-demand urgent care.


Report Background/Overview

Amwell commissioned Dynata to conduct an online study among
more than 2,000 adults, and commissioned M3 Global Consulting to conduct an
online survey of 600 physicians—300 primary care physicians and 300
specialists—to measure consumer and physician perceptions and usage of
telehealth. Both surveys were fielded in June 2020.

Read the findings from Amwell’s
2020 Physician and Consumer Survey
for a deeper look into what happened
during the pandemic—including how consumer and physician experiences,
behaviors, and expectations shifted—and to better understand the quickly
evolving role virtual care will play in healthcare. In addition to new survey
data, the eBook covers:

How COVID-19 has accelerated hybrid care models that combine
in-person and virtual care

– The importance of usability in provider and consumer
adoption of telehealth technology

– How consumer access to virtual care and the know-how to
leverage it remain highly uneven

– How, when, and how much consumers and providers plan to
use virtual care in the future

– Strategic questions organizations should consider to
influence the future direction of virtual care


For more information on this report, click the download now button below:


Consumers Cite Trump as Leading Driver of COVID-19 Vaccine Skepticism

Consumers Cite President Trump as Key Driver of Skepticism of COVID-19 Vaccine

What You Should Know:

– 65% of patients say they will wait to receive the
forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine even if it becomes available before the end,
according to a new Medisafe survey.

– Consumers cited greater trust in Dr. Anthony Fauci and established protocols as a leading factor in determining whether to take the vaccine, and listed President Trump as the leading detractor in driving COVID-19 vaccine skepticism and hesitancy in its effectiveness.


Real-world results show users prefer to wait on COVID-19 vaccine dose, refer to a physician for guidance on timing, according to a new survey from Medisafe, a digital therapeutics platform that supports users with advanced medication management. The survey reveals sixty-five percent of patients say they will wait to receive the forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine even if it becomes available before the end of 2020. The majority of survey participants cited uncertainty in its overall effectiveness and potential side-effects from the vaccine as top reasons for the delay.


Report Background

The survey, conducted from Sept. 27 – Oct. 2, 2020, included more than 16,000 U.S. patients who use Medisafe’s digital therapeutics platform to regularly manage their medication therapy. This new survey is the latest in a series of reports conducted by Medisafe on users’ viewpoints and insights in adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, measuring elements such as changes in medication habits, virtual doctor visits, increased use of digital health tools, and trust in pharmaceutical companies. The company is a leading digital therapeutic platform with more than seven million users who utilize the system to help manage their medication therapy, stay engaged on their medication therapy, and engage with other users to create a virtual support system in living healthier lives while managing acute and chronic conditions.


COVID-19 Vaccine & Patients

Sixty percent of respondents say they don’t expect a COVID-19 vaccine to be available before the end of 2020. While 21% said they would receive the vaccine as soon as it becomes available, 11% of respondents said they would never take the vaccine. Forty-nine percent believe the COVID-19 vaccine is being rushed to market, side-stepping normal regulations and testing, creating additional concern and hesitancy to become vaccinated. Many respondents also cited confusion over the handling of the pandemic in the U.S. as a primary reason to resist taking the vaccine.


Political Uncertainty Drives Mistrust of COVID-19 Vaccine

In open-ended responses, users cited greater trust in Dr. Anthony Fauci and established protocols as a leading factor in determining whether to take the vaccine and listed President Trump as the leading detractor in driving skepticism and hesitancy in its effectiveness. Survey participants prefer to obtain recommendations from their own physicians to determine if the vaccine is suitable for them and their families, and when it’s appropriate to take the vaccine.

“Despite the apolitical nature of the survey, the open-ended responses and results clearly show that users feel many issues surrounding the vaccine have been politicized, created additional challenges in driving utilization of the vaccine once it becomes available,” said Medisafe Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Butler.  “This survey provides greater visibility into users’ concerns with taking the vaccine and its potential interaction with chronic conditions and medication therapy, creating opportunities to build awareness and support throughout their journey. Medisafe aims to help manufacturers in creating personalized guidance in formats that are beneficial and accessible to patients, whenever any new challenges arise.”


Veterans Affairs Expands Telehealth Services Using Nuance Dragon Medical One

Veterans Affairs Expands Telehealth Services Using Nuance Dragon Medical One

What You Should Know:

– Nuance Communications, Inc. announced the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using the Nuance Dragon Medical One
speech recognition cloud platform and its mobile app, PowerMic Mobile.

– The solution helps VA doctors better document patient
care in-person, and now remotely through expanded telehealth services necessary
in the COVID-19 era.


Nuance® Communications, Inc. today announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is using the Nuance Dragon® Medical One speech recognition cloud platform and PowerMic Mobile microphone app to help physicians document patient care provided through dramatically expanded VA telehealth services since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Helping Physicians Document Care During Virtual Visits

The cloud-based technology allows VA physicians to use their voices to capture and document patient stories securely, accurately, and more efficiently during virtual visits conducted by phone and the widely deployed VA Video Connect platform. Nuance Dragon Medical One is the leading medical speech recognition solution today used by over 550,000 physicians. Compatible with the VA CPRS and Cerner Millennium, it is a key productivity component in EHR solutions throughout the Federal Government, including Veterans Affairs and the Military Health System. Because the VA first standardized on Nuance cloud-based Dragon Medical solutions system-wide in 2014, physicians could readily adopt the added capabilities and mobile flexibility of Dragon Medical One for telehealth services.

“Helping frontline clinicians at the VA and other major health systems has been our highest priority since the pandemic began,” said Diana Nole, executive vice president and general manager of healthcare, Nuance. “The combination of our cloud-based platforms, organizational agility and deep experience working with the VA health system made it possible for us to act quickly and deliver the technology solutions needed to protect and assist physicians treating patients remotely. While our strong sense of mission and purpose in serving critical healthcare organizations and businesses already is very clear, it becomes amplified knowing that our technology solutions are playing a role in caring for our nation’s Veterans.”

98point6 Lands $118M to Expand Text-Based Primary Care Platform

98point6 Lands $119M to Expand Text-Based Primary Care Platform
98point6 App

What You Should Know:

– On-demand text-based primary care platform 98point6
raises $118M in Series E funding to further invest in research and development
and expand its robust medical practice.

– 98point6 offers patients easy access to primary care in the same way they’ve grown accustomed to receiving the majority of services today—on their schedule and via a mobile app.


98point6, an on-demand digital primary care service that delivers personalized consultation, diagnosis, and treatment to patients across the country, today announced a $118 million Series E fundraising round to further invest in its success. Funding was led by L Catterton and Activant Capital, with additional investment from new and returning investors, including Goldman Sachs.


Get-Text-Based Primary Care Anywhere

Primary care is a necessity for all, serving as the front
line for healthcare and disease prevention. However, seeing a doctor is
increasingly difficult with an average wait time of 24 days just for an
appointment. 98point6 offers patients easy access to primary care in the same
way they’ve grown accustomed to receiving the majority of services today—on
their schedule and via a mobile app. Pairing artificial
intelligence (AI)
and machine learning with the expertise of
board-certified physicians, its patient-focused and technology-augmented
solution makes primary care more accessible and affordable, leading to better
health and total cost-of-care savings.

Rather than having doctors ask administrative questions, gather patient history, or chart information, 98point6’s AI technology does it for them. Patient profiles are automatically built and the 98point6 system learns from each visit, avoiding redundancy.


Recent Traction/Milestones

In just the past year, the company has grown 274 percent and serves more than three million members through more than 240 commercial partnerships with brands like Premera, Banner|Aetna, Boeing, Circle K, Sam’s Club, and others. The platform continues to see usage across age groups: pediatrics ages 1–17 (7%), 18–35 (47%), 36–50 (28%) and 50+ (18%), and 90% of patients surveyed say they would use the service again.

On average, 98point6’s commercial partners report 8x higher utilization than traditional telemedicine solutions as more people are choosing the convenience of on-demand care over higher-cost options like urgent care or the emergency room—or delaying care altogether. The round allows 98point6 to further invest in research and development and expand its robust medical practice. Last month the company announced a national rollout of its platform available to every Sam’s Club member.


“We’ve created an experience that patients use and love,” said Robbie Cape, chief executive officer and co-founder of 98point6. “98point6 has experienced accelerated growth over the last year, due in part to the pandemic, as more organizations recognized the existing and undeniable desire for on-demand, digitally enabled care. The increased interest in 98point6 put us in a unique position to serve many in a time of need. Our approach to care replaces the high cost and complexities of navigating the healthcare system while meeting the expectations and preferences of today’s healthcare consumer. This investment is a testament to the strength of our platform, and I am confident we will benefit from the deep expertise of both the L Catterton and Activant teams.”


Health Professionals Are Tomorrow’s Health Journalists. Here is a Code of Ethics to Guide Us and Trump’s White House Doctor.

By MIKE MAGEE

The patient/health-professional relationship is fundamentally grounded in science and trust, and involves the exchange of compassion, understanding and partnership. The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged this relationship by acutely increasing the nation’s burden of disease, creating new barriers to face-to-face contact, and injecting high levels of fear and misinformation.

Dr. Sean Conley, Trump’s White House physician, in his dodgy and evasive management of legitimate questions from the White House press corps regarding the President’s health, has made matters worse.

As this week’s report on an analysis of 38 million articles on the pandemic revealed, much of the misinformation our citizens have experienced can be traced to a single individual who lacks any health credentials – our own President Trump. Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and lead author of the report stated, “The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid. That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”

The solution to that specific problem is only one month away – vote him out. But if Trump can be successfully sent packing, how prepared are our health professionals, in the face of these new and complex challenges? A President Biden health reform package will likely include expansion of health care teams, exponential growth of telemedicine, and increasing dependence on reliable information to advance personal health planning.

Today’s modern health professionals are tomorrow’s health journalists. What principles should guide them in their new and expanded role. As a guide, I offer the following:

Health Professional Information Code of Ethics

I. ACCURACY: 

We believe our highest responsibility is to provide clear, concise, current, and accurate health information to the public in support of participatory health care.

1. Information provided should always be truthful ad well substantiated.

2. Sources of information should be fully disclosed.

3. Never extend beyond the borders of our knowledge base.

4. Areas of medical doubt or controversy should be clearly defined and communicated.

5. Where appropriate, conflicting points of view should be represented.

II. CONTINUITY:

Dedication to patient involvement in health care, a family-centered emphasis, and support of social activism based in sound public health policy are central to our mission and reflect a strong commitment to continuity of care.

1. Providing diagnosis and treatment in the absence of physical examination and consultation is to be avoided.

2. General therapeutic advice when provided to support healthy behaviors or encourage further evaluation is appropriate.

3. Thorough definition of the risks versus gains of differing modalities of care is essential.

4. Complete delineation of the possible repercussions of various approaches to care should be well defined.

5. Clear definition of the importance of face-to-face evaluations with health providers and proper follow-up should be reinforced.

III. CONTENT:

As health professionals and communicators, we accept the responsibility to distribute information that will best serve the needs of the American public.

1. Content selection should be based on its potential positive impact on health.

2. Content based on sensationalism or ratings appeal unaccompanied by redeemable positive health impact should be avoided.

3. Evaluation of the cost and quality of health care should be integral to the content development process.

4. Emphasis should be placed on educational and instructional design with clearly defined health missions.

5. Whenever possible, activities should be linked to the existing community health resources.

IV. INDEPENDENCE:

In the pursuit of accuracy and truth, we recognize the need to function in a fully credible and independent manner.

1. We affirm the constitutional right of freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.

2. Gifts or special privileges that would compromise personal independence should not be accepted.

3. Participation in organizations that would compromise personal objectivity should be avoided.

4. Editorial comments and other statements of opinion should be clearly labeled as such.

5. All sources of funding should be fully disclosed with content presentation.

V. PERSONAL RIGHTS:

We acknowledge and support the inalienable rights of people in a free society and our responsibility to support those rights.

1. We acknowledge the right of people to question and challenge actions and ideas of individuals and organizations.

2. We acknowledge the right of each individual to privacy, dignity and confidentiality.

3. We acknowledge that people and institutions are innocent until proven guilty.

4. We acknowledge a special responsibility to protect our personal patients from any practice that might be viewed as exploitive.

5. We acknowledge the right of our audience, as extensions of our own patients, to a standard of interaction that is respectful, courteous and consistent with the teachings of our health professions.

Mike Magee MD is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex (Grove Atlantic/2009). From 1992 to 1996, he served as president of the National Association of Physician Broadcasters.

Health Professionals Are Tomorrow’s Health Journalists. Here is a Code of Ethics to Guide Us and Trump’s White House Doctor.

By MIKE MAGEE

The patient/health-professional relationship is fundamentally grounded in science and trust, and involves the exchange of compassion, understanding and partnership. The Covid-19 pandemic has challenged this relationship by acutely increasing the nation’s burden of disease, creating new barriers to face-to-face contact, and injecting high levels of fear and misinformation.

Dr. Sean Conley, Trump’s White House physician, in his dodgy and evasive management of legitimate questions from the White House press corps regarding the President’s health, has made matters worse.

As this week’s report on an analysis of 38 million articles on the pandemic revealed, much of the misinformation our citizens have experienced can be traced to a single individual who lacks any health credentials – our own President Trump. Sarah Evanega, the director of the Cornell Alliance for Science and lead author of the report stated, “The biggest surprise was that the president of the United States was the single largest driver of misinformation around Covid. That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”

The solution to that specific problem is only one month away – vote him out. But if Trump can be successfully sent packing, how prepared are our health professionals, in the face of these new and complex challenges? A President Biden health reform package will likely include expansion of health care teams, exponential growth of telemedicine, and increasing dependence on reliable information to advance personal health planning.

Today’s modern health professionals are tomorrow’s health journalists. What principles should guide them in their new and expanded role. As a guide, I offer the following:

Health Professional Information Code of Ethics

I. ACCURACY: 

We believe our highest responsibility is to provide clear, concise, current, and accurate health information to the public in support of participatory health care.

1. Information provided should always be truthful ad well substantiated.

2. Sources of information should be fully disclosed.

3. Never extend beyond the borders of our knowledge base.

4. Areas of medical doubt or controversy should be clearly defined and communicated.

5. Where appropriate, conflicting points of view should be represented.

II. CONTINUITY:

Dedication to patient involvement in health care, a family-centered emphasis, and support of social activism based in sound public health policy are central to our mission and reflect a strong commitment to continuity of care.

1. Providing diagnosis and treatment in the absence of physical examination and consultation is to be avoided.

2. General therapeutic advice when provided to support healthy behaviors or encourage further evaluation is appropriate.

3. Thorough definition of the risks versus gains of differing modalities of care is essential.

4. Complete delineation of the possible repercussions of various approaches to care should be well defined.

5. Clear definition of the importance of face-to-face evaluations with health providers and proper follow-up should be reinforced.

III. CONTENT:

As health professionals and communicators, we accept the responsibility to distribute information that will best serve the needs of the American public.

1. Content selection should be based on its potential positive impact on health.

2. Content based on sensationalism or ratings appeal unaccompanied by redeemable positive health impact should be avoided.

3. Evaluation of the cost and quality of health care should be integral to the content development process.

4. Emphasis should be placed on educational and instructional design with clearly defined health missions.

5. Whenever possible, activities should be linked to the existing community health resources.

IV. INDEPENDENCE:

In the pursuit of accuracy and truth, we recognize the need to function in a fully credible and independent manner.

1. We affirm the constitutional right of freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.

2. Gifts or special privileges that would compromise personal independence should not be accepted.

3. Participation in organizations that would compromise personal objectivity should be avoided.

4. Editorial comments and other statements of opinion should be clearly labeled as such.

5. All sources of funding should be fully disclosed with content presentation.

V. PERSONAL RIGHTS:

We acknowledge and support the inalienable rights of people in a free society and our responsibility to support those rights.

1. We acknowledge the right of people to question and challenge actions and ideas of individuals and organizations.

2. We acknowledge the right of each individual to privacy, dignity and confidentiality.

3. We acknowledge that people and institutions are innocent until proven guilty.

4. We acknowledge a special responsibility to protect our personal patients from any practice that might be viewed as exploitive.

5. We acknowledge the right of our audience, as extensions of our own patients, to a standard of interaction that is respectful, courteous and consistent with the teachings of our health professions.

Mike Magee MD is the author of CODE BLUE: Inside the Medical Industrial Complex (Grove Atlantic/2009). From 1992 to 1996, he served as president of the National Association of Physician Broadcasters.

Curation Health Raises Series A Funding for Clinical Decision Support Platform

Curation Health Raises Series A Funding for Clinical Decision Support Platform

What You Should Know:

– Curation Health raises an undisclosed Series A round of funding to accelerate the adoption of its advanced clinical decision support platform.

– Curation Health provides an advanced clinical decision
support platform for providers and health plans that aids in managing risk
contracts and improving quality performance.


Curation Health, an Annapolis, MD-based advanced clinical decision support platform for value-based care, today announced the completion of Series A financing round for an undisclosed amount led by Deerfield Management Company, including participation from existing investor WindRose Health Investors.

Founded in 2018 by a team of healthcare veterans and clinicians, Curation Health helps providers and health plans effectively navigate the transition from fee-for-service to value-based care. The company’s advanced clinical decision support platform for value-based care drives more accurate risk adjustment and improved quality program performance by curating relevant insights from disparate sources and delivering them in real-time to clinicians and care teams. With Curation Health, clinicians enjoy a streamlined, comprehensive clinical documentation process that enables better clinical and financial outcomes while simultaneously reducing clinical administrative burdens on providers.

Helping Clients Battle Challenges of COVID-19

Curation Health’s solutions are proving especially helpful
to clients as COVID-19 intensifies several long-standing challenges: clinician
burnout and frustration with administrative tasks, difficulty identifying
highest-risk patients, and multiple standards and workflows that prevent
efficiencies across teams. To provide even more robust client assistance during
this time of need, Curation Health has continued to focus on expanding their
integration partnerships with leading electronic health record vendors (EHRs)
and introduced an array of platform enhancements over the last six months,
including:

– 20 percent expansion of the platform’s clinical rule set
to identify additional performance opportunities hidden within patient records
and provider information systems;

– Deployment of an accelerated implementation program,
enabling provider adoption of the platform and workflows in as few as 30 days;
and

– Multiple new features and functionality that further
expedite point-of-care clinical documentation and engage physicians in
compliance and workflow best practices

Recent Traction/Milestones

In just the last six months, Curation Health has also
experienced 125% customer growth as providers and health plans have continued
to prioritize risk management and quality amid COVID-19. New provider and
health plan customers have been compelled by Curation Health’s track record of
helping health plans and providers identify and address undiagnosed and
unmanaged chronic clinical conditions in as many as 1 out of 3 patients, while
also eliminating up to 10 minutes of provider time per patient on unnecessary
clinical administrative tasks. Curation Health will use this latest funding for
strategic hires to support continued customer growth, as well as expansion of
services to clients that rely on the company’s platform to successfully manage
risk contracts and improve quality.

“Our team at Curation is focused on helping customers drive more accurate and compliant risk adjustment and quality performance by enabling efficient pre-visit reviews, integrated point-of-care guidance, and post-visit documentation workflows. This latest infusion of funding will be used to further empower our customers’ value-based care teams with even stronger tools and support,” said Kevin Coloton, founder and CEO of Curation Health.

Getting Beyond the Telehealth ‘Stop-Gap’ Mentality

Getting Beyond the Telehealth's ‘Stop-Gap’ Mentality
Roland Therriault, President, InSync Healthcare Solutions

Since COVID-19 emerged as a major health threat, virtual care has taken off. As many as 46% of patients reported in late April that they had used telehealth to replace a canceled healthcare visit in 2020, while 48% of physicians said they had started using telehealth to treat patients.  

While a shift in care models was necessary to address business continuity amid the pandemic, these trends also represent positive movements as a growing body of evidence supports the real-life benefits of telehealth. Remote models of care are connected to safe and effective consultations across many use cases, low exposure to viruses, and much-needed access to care.  

Yet the fact that physician adoption isn’t higher suggests two things:

1) Physicians may be taking a ‘wait and see’ approach in the hopes that patients will want to return to in-person care as economies reopen; or

2) Some physicians haven’t yet figured out their long-term telehealth strategy. In truth, many providers are treating telehealth as a “stop-gap” — or temporary — solution until life returns to normal.

But given the increasingly positive data around telehealth as a safe alternative to in-person care, as well as its track record in successfully treating patients, it’s time for providers to reframe their thinking. In the future, practices will need a healthcare strategy that balances virtual with in-person care.

Rethinking Telehealth 

As recently as ten years ago, telehealth reimbursement was largely limited to patients in rural areas, as payers didn’t yet see the value of compensating doctors for virtual encounters. 

Today, most payers and providers recognize the value of telehealth on some level amid rising demand for services and severe professional shortages. In particular, remote care models have proven their worth during the pandemic as an effective means of preventing the spread of disease. Greater acceptance of telehealth is further demonstrated by the recent decision to relax HIPAA requirements by HHS’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR), allowing more providers and patients to virtually connect through FaceTime, Zoom, or other two-way communications systems during the current pandemic. 

This is an important first step, although many providers remain resistant to change for a variety of valid reasons. Some of these include discomfort with remote care models, reimbursement concerns, and the cost of deploying telehealth. 

Performing medicine in a way that doesn’t align with one’s training feels unnatural, and some providers have said that virtual encounters feel less personal. The fact is that most clinicians weren’t trained to diagnose patients remotely or engage over a screen and are simply hesitant to embrace this approach to care.

Also, providers may have trepidation about not getting paid. While CMS and private payers have expanded coverage, multiple healthcare providers have reported that bills are being delayed or only partially paid by health plans. 

With limited insight into the potential return on that investment, concerns over the cost of implementing telehealth are also reasonable. A physician who is consulting with patients remotely through FaceTime, for example, might wonder if the investment in a more secure, robust telehealth platform will make sense in 12 months, should a COVID-19 vaccine materialize. 

Yet by not adopting a more permanent telehealth solution, providers may be hurting themselves down the road. Patients increasingly believe virtual care is highly effective, and some even prefer it. According to a SYKES consumer survey administered in March, 60% of 1,441 respondents said the COVID pandemic has increased their willingness to try telehealth.  

Also, while HHS has relaxed HIPAA enforcement at the moment, there’s no indication this will continue. Healthcare organizations will need to ensure that the platform or program they’re using is designed to keep protected health information (PHI) safe.  

Investing in the Future

Given the upward trajectory of telehealth, it benefits providers to thoughtfully invest in the right strategies and solutions now to extract the greatest value and return on investment down the road. Here are four steps to take, when shifting to a long-term telehealth strategy:  

– Identify needs. Many primary-care practices may have seen a bump in interest in telehealth due to COVID-19, while specialty practices may see increases stay steady, even when fears of the coronavirus fade. When planning long-term, put patient needs first: In what ways can telehealth improve care delivery, going forward? Look at data, such as virtual-visit utilization patterns, to see where there are opportunities to grow telemedicine (e.g., expanding chronic care management) based on needs.

– Consider workflows. The ideal telehealth program doesn’t interrupt clinical workflows – it enhances them. If you’re using a ‘stop-gap’ video conferencing solution to provide telemedicine, is it easy to integrate practice notes with your EHR? Or, do you have to take extra steps to document patient encounters for clinical and billing departments? 

Seek supportive partners. You can use any number of technology platforms to conduct telemedicine encounters, but not all platforms are created equal. When looking at implementing a telehealth platform, consider not only ease of use, and interoperability, but also what a particular vendor is offering: How well the telehealth platform in question can accommodate the needs of a particular specialty? What are existing clients are saying about things like training, vendor support, and the patient experience?

– Proactively engage. Your patients have most likely heard of telehealth, but they may not realize that telehealth is multifaceted and can be used to diagnose conditions such as skin disorders or allergies and can be just as effective as in-person visits. Educating patients about telehealth’s benefits, and making it easy for them to try telehealth, is essential to success.  

Expanding telehealth’s role in the medical practice benefits everyone, from physicians to patients to payers. Moving past the “stop-gap” mentality now will reap greater benefits in the future, regardless of whether we’re in the midst of a pandemic, or simply trying to provide excellent care on a day-to-day basis.


About Roland Therriault

Roland Therriault
is the President and Executive Vice President of Sales at InSync Healthcare Solutions, a provider
of integrated EHR and practice management software, revenue cycle management
services and medical transcription to thousands of healthcare professionals
throughout the United States. Roland Therriault manages all operations of the
company, driving its go-to-market strategy and overseeing all sales activities.
His experience in healthcare and technology includes more than 20 years of
direct and channel sales, strategic planning and business development. Prior to
joining InSync, Roland served as Vice President of Sales for MD On-Line, a
provider of acute and ambulatory clinical and practice management solutions.


NVIDIA Develops AI Model to Accurately Predict Oxygen Needs for COVID-19 Patients

NVIDIA Develops AI Model to Accurately Predict Oxygen Needs for COVID-19 Patients

What You Should Know:

– NVIDIA and Massachusetts General Brigham Hospital
researchers develop an AI model that determines whether a person showing up in
the emergency room with COVID-19 symptoms will need supplemental oxygen hours
or even days after an initial exam.

– The ultimate goal of this model is to predict the
likelihood that a person showing up in the emergency room will need
supplemental oxygen, which can aid physicians in determining the appropriate
level of care for patients, including ICU placement.


Researchers at NVIDIA
and Massachusetts General Brigham
Hospital
have developed an artificial
intelligence (AI)
model that determines whether a person showing up in the
emergency room with COVID-19
symptoms will need supplemental oxygen hours or even days after an initial
exam.

The original AI model, named CORISK, was developed by scientist Dr. Quanzheng Li at Mass General Brigham. It combines medical imaging and health records to help clinicians more effectively manage hospitalizations at a time when many countries may start seeing the second wave of COVID-19 patients.

EXAM (EMR CXR AI Model) & Results

To develop an AI model that doctors trust and that
generalizes to as many hospitals as possible, NVIDIA and Mass General Brigham
embarked on an initiative called EXAM (EMR CXR AI Model) the largest,
most diverse federated
learning
 initiative with 20 hospitals from around the world.

In just two weeks, the global collaboration achieved a model
with .94 area under the curve (with an AUC goal of 1.0), resulting in excellent
prediction for the level of oxygen required by incoming patients. The federated
learning model will be released as part of NVIDIA
Clara on NGC
 in the coming weeks.

Leveraging NVIDIA’s Clara Federated Learning Framework

Using NVIDIA Clara
Federated Learning Framework
, researchers at individual hospitals were able
to use a chest X-ray, patient vitals and lab values to train a local model and
share only a subset of model weights back with the global model in a
privacy-preserving technique called federated learning.

The ultimate goal of this model is to predict the likelihood
that a person showing up in the emergency room will need supplemental oxygen,
which can aid physicians in determining the appropriate level of care for
patients, including ICU placement.

Dr. Ittai Dayan, who leads the development and deployment of AI at Mass General Brigham, co-led the EXAM initiative with NVIDIA and facilitated the use of CORISK as the starting point for the federated learning training. The improvements were achieved by training the model on distributed data from a multinational, diverse dataset of patients across North and South America, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Participating Hospitals in EXAM Initiative

In addition to Mass Gen Brigham and its affiliated
hospitals, other participants included: Children’s National Hospital in Washington,
D.C.; NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre; The Self-Defense Forces
Central Hospital in Tokyo; National Taiwan University MeDA Lab and MAHC and
Taiwan National Health Insurance Administration; Kyungpook National
University Hospital in South Korea; Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn
University in Thailand; Diagnosticos da America SA in Brazil; University of
California, San Francisco; VA San Diego; University of Toronto; National
Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland; University of Wisconsin-Madison
School of Medicine and Public Health; Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in
New York; and Mount Sinai Health System in New York.

Each of these hospitals used NVIDIA Clara to
train its local models and participate in EXAM. Rather than needing to pool
patient chest X-rays and other confidential information into a single location,
each institution uses a secure, in-house server for its data. A separate
server, hosted on AWS, holds the global deep neural network, and each
participating hospital gets a copy of the model to train on its own dataset.

NVIDIA Announces Partnership with GSK’s AI-Powered Lab
for Discovery of Medicines and Vaccines

In addition, the new AI model, NVIDIA today announced a
partnership with global healthcare company GSK and its AI group, which is
applying computation to the drug and vaccine discovery process. GSK has
recently established a new London-based AI hub, one of the first of its kind,
which will leverage GSK’s significant genetic and genomic data to improve the
process of designing and developing transformational medicines and vaccines.

Located in London’s rapidly growing Knowledge Quarter, GSK’s hub will utilize biomedical data, AI methods, and advanced computing platforms to unlock genetic and clinical data with increased precision and scale. The GSK AI hub, once fully operational, will be home to its U.K.-based AI team, including GSK AI Fellows, a new professional training program, and now scientists from NVIDIA.


NVIDIA Building UK’s Most Powerful Supercomputer,
Dedicated to AI Research in Healthcare

NVIDIA Building UK’s Most Powerful Supercomputer, Dedicated to AI Research in Healthcare

NVIDIA today announced that it is building the United
Kingdom’s most powerful supercomputer, which it will make available to U.K.
healthcare researchers using AI to solve pressing medical challenges, including
those presented by COVID-19.

Expected to come online by year end, the “Cambridge-1”
supercomputer will be an NVIDIA DGX SuperPOD™ system capable of delivering more
than 400 petaflops of AI performance and 8 petaflops of Linpack performance,
which would rank it No. 29 on the latest TOP500 list of the world’s most powerful
supercomputers. It will also rank among the world’s top 3 most energy-efficient
supercomputers on the current Green500 list.

NIH Funds First Nationwide Rare and Atypical Diabetes Network

 NIH Funds First Nationwide Rare and Atypical Diabetes Network

What You Should Know:

– NIH awards funding for Rare and Atypical Diabetes
Network, or RADIANT
that will seek to discover the cause of
several unusual forms of diabetes.

– RADIANT plans to screen about 2,000 people with unknown
or atypical forms of diabetes that do not fit the common features of type 1 and
type 2 diabetes.


The National Institute of
Health (NIH),
announced this week it is funding a nationwide study with The Rare and Atypical Diabetes
Network (RADIANT)
that will seek to discover the cause of several unusual
forms of diabetes. For years, doctors and researchers have been stymied by
cases of diabetes that differ from known types. Through research efforts at 20
U.S. research institutions, the study aims to discover new forms of diabetes,
understand what makes them different, and identify their causes.


Why It Matters

Most forms of diabetes are classified as type 1 or type 2. A greater range of unrecognized types of diabetes likely exists. Most patients with rare forms of diabetes remain undiagnosed and often inappropriately treated. Precise genetic diagnosis of diabetes enables targeted therapy, leads to improved quality of life, and aids in the diagnosis of diabetes in other family members. Currently, patients with atypical diabetes are seen throughout the country, but in a random manner. This makes it challenging for providers and patients to learn from each other.

“It’s extremely frustrating for people with atypical diabetes when their diabetes seems so different and difficult to manage,” said the study’s project scientist, Dr. Christine Lee of NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). “Through RADIANT, we want to help patients and the broader healthcare community by finding and studying new types of diabetes to shed light on how and why diabetes can vary so greatly.”


What is RADIANT?

RADIANT aims to discover and define rare and atypical forms of diabetes. These refined diagnoses will be used by diabetes researchers, physicians, and patients to accurately explain their disease. RADIANT plans to screen about 2,000 people with unknown or atypical forms of diabetes that do not fit the common features of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.


RADIANT Study Approach

RADIANT researchers will build a comprehensive resource of
genetic, clinical, and descriptive data on previously unidentified forms of
diabetes for the scientific and healthcare communities. The study’s researchers
will collect detailed health information using questionnaires, physical exams,
genetic sequencing, blood samples, and other tests. People found to have
unknown forms of diabetes may receive additional testing. Some participant
family members may also be invited to take part in the study.


RADIANT Network Partners

University of South Florida (USF) is the study’s coordinating center, and the lead centers include Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the University of Chicago. The Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Baylor serves as the genomic sequencing centers for the project. University of Florida, Gainesville, provides the study’s laboratory services. Other participating centers are:

– Columbia University, New York City

– Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

– Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pennsylvania

– Indiana University, Indianapolis

– Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston

– NorthShore University Health System, Chicago

– Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle

– SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University, Brooklyn

– University of Colorado, Denver

– University of Maryland, Baltimore

– University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

– University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

– University of Washington, Seattle

– Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

– Washington University in St. Louis

“The RADIANT study will further clarify diabetes as a disease that has many different forms, and for which diagnosis and management for some of those forms remain a challenge,” said NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers. “The discoveries of the study should provide critical understanding of the spectrum of diabetes and improve lives of people with rare forms of diabetes and everyone who cares for them.”  

Physicians’ Communication Skills are Overlooked and Undervalued

By HANS DUVEFELT

Interviewing celebrities can make you a celebrity yourself, and it can make you very rich. So there’s got to be something to it or it would be a commodity. The world of media certainly recognizes the special skill it takes to get people to reveal their true selves. 

At the other end of the spectrum of human communication lies our ability to explain and also our ability to influence. These three aspects of what we do—elicit, explain and influence—are far from trivial, and in my opinion quite fundamental aspects of practicing medicine. 

Eliciting an accurate patient history or administering standardized depression, anxiety, domestic abuse, smoking and alcohol screenings are commoditized activities in today’s healthcare. There is little time allotted and these tasks are usually delegated to non-clinicians. 

A complicated patient’s clinical history seldom lends itself to straightforward, structured EHR formats. It can be more like a novel, where seemingly unrelated subplots converge and suddenly make complete sense in a surprising last chapter. 

Explaining something well requires more than knowing your subject. First of all, sometimes we may have a very limited understanding, like a draft horse with blinders: He may know every turn of his route, but not know much of the potential distractions on either side. Second, if we are too entrenched in the scientist’s world view, we may not be able to explain things well at all to someone who lacks our frames of reference: Translating, or finding parallels on the fly, between biological processes and everyday human experiences requires a broader view of the biological facts than book knowledge gives us. 

I keep coming back to the semantic link between doctor, docere, and teacher. Just lately, I have read many articles that challenge traditional teaching methods all across our educational system: Memorization may be good again; we learn more from our mistakes than our successes; listening to a speaker while also watching slides may be counter effective.

Influencing someone to change their beliefs, attitudes or habits is clearly valued very highly in other venues than the medical office visit. But in my work, all that is required of me is that I click the box that pops a sentence in my office note that I spent a certain number if minutes educating my patient on the dangers of smoking. 

Probably the most rewarding aspect of primary care, for me, is being able to help a patient see something in their life in a new light, and to watch them resolve to change their ways for better health. That may seem vague, but compare that to a business gaining a customer for life, or a political movement gaining a convert. Such things are no small feats. 

In my opinion, EHRs and the whole quality quest in medicine are paralyzing, disillusioning and dumbing down our profession: Click the box that says you did it; run the blood test once a year—nobody cares if the numbers get better or not; do the perfunctory screenings just because they’re required; accept that there is no time left to get close to your patient. And move on, just get through your day, because nobody understands what it is you could really do to help that individual. 

I believe it is possible to move EHRs and quality measurements to higher levels. EHRs are in many ways collections of self reported sillywork. They could extract the percentage of patients who quit smoking on my watch, which would be worth more than if I remembered to check off that I counseled them. Of course, people are people, and far from every smoker will quit. But if in one practice, one town, one doctor’s patients are quitting at a higher rate than another’s, that is more likely to reflect our ability to influence health habits than counting check marks ever could. 

The problem with our work environment is that all the technology and all the well meaning efforts we are subjected to have, ironically, conspired to distance us from our patients and made us less effective than we could be. Medicine, on the primary care level, is a relationship based endeavor. Our fundamental  communication skills—eliciting, explaining and influencing—are at least as important as our book knowledge. We need some space to use them. 

Hans Duvefelt is a Swedish-born rural Family Physician in Maine.

Why Hasn’t A More Holistic Approach to Patient Care Become The Norm?

Why Holistic Healthcare Is Worth the Cost

When food production technology made it possible, wheat flour processors started to eliminate the tough exterior (bran) and nutrient-rich core (germ) of the kernel to get at the large, starchy part (the endosperm) only. The bread produced from this process is white and fluffy, and it makes great PB&Js and takes forever to grow mold, but it is almost totally lacking nutritional value.

Nutrition experts eventually pointed this out, of course, after which commercial bakers tried fortifying their bread by adding back essential nutrients stripped out by processing. It didn’t work. While white bread from refined flour is still available, nutrition experts strongly recommend whole grain products as the healthier alternative.

Opposition to this reductionist approach to nutrition is perhaps best captured by the idea of the sum being the whole of its parts: If inputs are lacking, the end result will fall short also.

Each human being is also a sum of parts, and the reductionist approach to healthcare is essential when it comes to advancing many aspects of medicine and healthcare.

“Historically, the invention of the microscope, the defining of Koch’s four infectious disease postulates, the unraveling of the human genome, and even intelligent computers are salient examples of the dramatic benefits of biomedical reductionism,” explained Dr. George Lundberg.

These successes, however, may have convinced many in both the medical community and society at large that reductionism is a necessary, if not sufficient, approach. The numbers say otherwise.

“Classical medical care interventions contribute only about 10 percent to reducing premature deaths compared to other elements such as genetic predisposition, social factors, and individual health behaviors,” Lundberg goes on to say. “Most contemporary medical researchers have concluded that the chronic degenerative diseases of modern Western humans have multiple contributory causes, thus not lending themselves to the single agent-single outcome model.”

Paging Dr. House. It turns out your particular form of genius just isn’t frequently that useful.

And nowhere is the single agent-single outcome model arguably less effective than in behavioral health and chronic disease management. What many in medicine and healthcare now realize is that a vicious cycle of alternating physical and mental ailments are the norm with both chronic illness and long-term mental health challenges.

“Depression and chronic physical illness are in a reciprocal relationship with one another: not only do many chronic illnesses cause higher rates of depression, but depression has been shown to antedate some chronic physical illnesses,” says Professor David Goldberg of the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

It’s an unsurprisingly intuitive conclusion to reach. A man with depression lacks the desire to eat well, exercise, often practice necessary daily hygiene. As his untreated depression deepens, his physical health declines as well. A woman with chronic, untreated pain feels like it will never end and her life is over. Faced with a seemingly unmanageable challenge, she falls into a funk that eventually metastasizes into full-blown depression.

A reductionist approach to these scenarios might be to encourage more exercise or prescribe antidepressants. While both are necessary, neither will likely be sufficient.

So why hasn’t a more holistic approach to patient care become the norm? In a nutshell, because it’s expensive. Chronic illnesses, generally, are the most expensive component of healthcare.

According to a New England Journal of Medicine study, patients “with three or more chronic conditions (43 percent of Medicare beneficiaries) account for more than 80 percent of Medicare health care costs.”

For this expensive, highly at-risk group, holistic care is what actually works.

The NEJM articles conclude that “an intervention involving proactive follow-up by nurse care managers working closely with physicians, integrating the management of medical and psychological illnesses, and using individualized treatment regimens guided by treat-to-target principles improved both medical outcomes and depression in depressed patients with diabetes, coronary heart disease, or both.”

Of course, the regimen included in the NEJM study is expensive—perhaps more so than what qualifies as holistic care now.

But it requires a certain type of twisted logic to argue for holding down costs by rationing care inputs—by reductively treating only just the most obvious health concerns—when this approach invariably leads to readmissions, more office visits, more disability payments, more days of work missed.

Indeed, a reductive approach to accounting—silos of financial impact across the continuity of a life lived—hides the fact that specific healthcare costs are not alone the measure of how chronic illness detracts from both individual life satisfaction and broader societal efficiencies.

The key, then, is to make holistic health both the norm and affordable. How can that be done? By creating initiatives designed to achieve a core set of goals:

Incentivize primary care: In the last two decades, the number of primary care providers (PCPs) available to patients in the United States has decreased by about 2 percent. This may not sound like a lot, but the decline comes as the population has increased, naturally, which means fewer patients have a PCP. As healthcare shifts to pay for performance, not services, the PCP is the natural quarterback of patient care. The country needs many more PCPs, not fewer, and the federal government has an opportunity to use loan forgiveness incentives and other tools to nudge medical school students in that direction.

Embrace technology: Arguably, holistic care only became possible with the digital age. Chronic disease management requires frequent measurement of patient vitals, which is very expensive without wearables and similar digital age technologies. Now, patients can regularly provide data with no clinical intervention, that data can automatically upload to an electronic health record, and that EHR can alert the clinician when results are alarming.

Make poor choices expensive: Perhaps only because smoking has become so socially unacceptable can the cost of cigarettes be so high ($7.16 per pack in Chicago with all taxes) without creating significant protests. But the data is clear that higher costs equal fewer smokers. The same types of behavioral economics programs can also apply to fast food, soda, etc. Yes, people will get upset and complain about the nanny state, but absent some attempt to change behavior, we may want to consider changing the name to the United States of Diabetes.

Reward smart choices: Healthy people use healthcare and insurance less often, which drives down costs. Duh. Combining technology and incentives (avoiding diabetes), Utah’s Intermountain Healthcare engaged almost 1,500 pre-diabetic employees in a program through Omada Health that collectively yielded 9,162 pounds lost. Omada billed Intermountain based on the level of success, and without speaking to specific numbers, Intermountain felt the cost of the program was a wise investment when compared with the costs of diabetes treatment.

These four bullets are probably just the most obvious suggestions, of course. They don’t account for the complexities of the American healthcare system focused on payment models, the profit motive, or what to do with the uninsured, homeless, and devastatingly mentally ill.

But the benefits of holistic thinking when reductionism is inadequate applies to both individual care and the healthcare system as a whole. Public health, for example, takes a holistic approach to communities by looking at how housing, transportation, and education impact general overall health. Where this approach is done well, the benefits are obvious.

Reductionist isolation will always be necessary when identifying specific genes or determining which natural elements are effective in treating disease. But it’s wise to always bring the right tools for the job.

Talking Politics in the Exam Room: A Physician’s Obligation to Discuss the Political Ramifications of Science with Patients

By HAYWARD ZWERLING

I walked into my exam room to see a patient I first met two decades ago. On presentation, his co-morbidities included poorly controlled DM-1, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and a substance abuse disorder. Over the years our healthcare system has served him well as he has remained free of diabetic complications and now leads a productive life. Watching this transformation has been both professionally rewarding, personally enjoyable, and I look forward to our periodic interactions.

At this visit, he was sporting a MAGA hat. I was confused. How can my patient, who has so clearly benefited from America’s healthcare system, support a politician who has tried to abolish the Affordable Care Act, used the bully pulpit to undermine America’s public health experts, refused to implement healthcare policies which would mitigate COVID-19’s morbidity and mortality, and who minimizes the severity of the coronavirus pandemic every day. Why does he support a politician whose healthcare policies are an immediate threat to his health and longevity?

My brain says, “You are the physician this patient trusts to take care of his medical problems. You must teach him that COVID-19 is a serious risk to his health and explain how the President’s public health policies threatens his health. You must engage in a political conversation.”

It is currently taboo for physicians to discuss politics in the exam room, especially when political opinions are discordant as it risks creating a rift in the patient-physician relationship. Reflexly, I answer myself “Do not engage in a political discussion, you need to deal with his immediate health issues.”

During the visit, we reviewed his medicines and test results and agreed on a treatment plan. At the end of the visit, I told him that it is in his best health interest to wear a mask, socially distant, wash his hands frequently, and defer visiting his favorite bar and gym. I consciously decided not to address his support for the President. 

Back in my office, I reviewed the encounter and immediately had misgivings about my decision to avoid discussing the health ramifications of his political proclivities. I knew he was mistakenly informed about the science of COVID-19, as his primary source of information was Fox News and his peers. I was concerned that this misunderstanding led him to support a politician whose public health policies will adversely impact his health.

Every day physicians teach their patients the scientific truths they must understand to enable them to make informed healthcare decisions. Is it not also a physician’s responsibility to teach their patients the science underlying relevant public health policy and explain that there is a linear connection between political choices, public health policies, and their health and longevity? Would not a more comprehensive understanding of this relationship enable our patients to make more informed political decisions, including the option to choose political leaders who will implement better healthcare policies?

While politics has become hyperpolarized, most patients still believe their physicians tell the truth about science and medicine; thus physicians are in a unique position to educate their patients about the ramifications of science.

By selecting me as his physician, he was implicitly telling me that he had confidence in my judgment. In return, I should have emphasized that the coronavirus is an immediate risk to his health, I should have explained how COVID-19 spreads and how he can reduce his risk. I probably should have breached the “no politics in the exam room” taboo and told him that the President’s refusal to implement public health measures recommended by every public health expert has resulted in the needless death of tens of thousands of Americans and is part of the reason that 1,000 Americans die from COVID-19 every day. I should have explicitly connected the dots and stated that the President’s COVID-19 public health policy is an immediate threat to his health.

The medical profession now understands that social determinants of health are probably the most important driver of a patient’s overall health and these determinants are largely the result of political decisions. Clearly, we have a professional responsibility to teach our patients the science underlying their health issues. Don’t we also have a professional obligation to ensure that our patients understand the health ramifications of their political choices? If that is the case, do we not have a professional obligation to initiate a conversation about the political issues which impact our patients’ health?

If we fail to breach the taboo of “talking politics” in the exam room, are we not shirking our professional responsibilities to our patients and society?

Hayward Zwerling is an endocrinologist with an interest in health information technology, health care policy, woodworking, and politics.

Measuring the Effectiveness of Cost-of-Care Conversations

By NELLY GANESAN, JOSH SEIDMAN, MORENIKE AYOVAUGHAN, and RINA BARDIN

With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Avalere assesses opportunities to normalize cost-of-care conversations through measurement.

Cost continues to pose a barrier to accessing healthcare for millions of Americans. Research has shown that conversations addressing costs among patients, caregivers, and the clinical team can help build a more trusted relationship between patients and clinicians.

Avalere has partnered with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) since 2015 to work toward normalizing cost-of-care (CoC) conversations in clinical settings, including identifying barriers and facilitators to engaging in conversations about cost. CoC conversations can be defined as discussions that address any costs patients and families might face, from out-of-pocket (OOP) to non-medical costs (e.g., transportation, childcare, lost wages). To that end, Avalere collaborated with the National Patient Advocate Foundation to explore the feasibility of patient-centered measure concepts to support quality improvement, increase satisfaction, and improve outcomes. This issue brief highlights the challenges associated with measurement in this space alongside alternative solutions to encourage CoC conversations in practice.

Avalere thoroughly evaluated clinician and patient needs and developed a set of measure concepts and improvement activities to improve the frequency and quality of CoC conversations. Based on the gaps identified, Avalere assessed the following individual concepts and improvement activities:

  • Concept 1: Discussion of a CoC with patient during a clinic visit
  • Concept 2: Assignment of a case worker to address financial concerns
  • Concept 3: Documentation of treatment plan modification based on a CoC conversation
  • Concept 4: Patient-reported assessment of a CoC conversation during a clinic visit
  • Activity 1: Use of a patient-facing tool to prepare patients for CoC conversations
  • Activity 2: Use of a discharge-planning tool to outline costs of prescriptions post-discharge

Concepts identified through this work can move the needle toward normalizing these conversations. However, more research is needed to transform them into quality measures that could be used for accountability and improvement purposes. Our findings indicate the following research opportunities for consideration:

  • Accessibility of Data: Many clinicians are doing the best they can to address cost concerns in the absence of OOP cost information. To optimize conversations, clinicians need access to more data to feel comfortable engaging in meaningful and productive CoC conversations. There are opportunities to collaborate with public and private payers to determine the operations and functionality of accessing this data in a timely manner.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: CoC conversations are a newer concept to healthcare; thus, there is no clear role within the care team as to who should lead these conversations—and the right role may depend on the type of cost concern and on who is capable of working to address the concern. Team-based care is about meeting patients where they are by aligning the appropriate clinical team member to varying patient needs during the care episode. Having the right conversation at the right time could have a significant impact on how the patient engages with the care team and their long-term outcomes.
  • Validating the Needs of Patients: Patients—particularly low-income and vulnerable patients—may feel they are subject to unintended consequences as a result of CoC conversations (this includes lack of access to treatments as a result of a patients’ financial status). A patient’s assessment of the quality of a conversation and whether they have the information they need to make a decision about their care signals the need for more patient-reported outcome measures to ensure patients’ needs are met and that they are being heard throughout their care journey.

Thoughtful, sensitive CoC conversations can facilitate a more trusted partnership between clinicians and patients and prevent missed opportunities to address cost concerns that may have not been raised otherwise. Normalizing these conversations has the potential to reduce stigma and help to reduce disparities in outcomes. This issue brief highlights specific strategies for encouraging clinicians to talk to their patients about costs of care. Future testing and validation should ensure the measures introduced in this Issue Brief are feasible in practice to facilitate integration into existing or novel payment models. In addition, CoC measure development efforts should address the varied priorities and needs of all patients, including financial issues and barriers to equitable outcomes.

Download the issue brief.

Nelly Ganesan, MPH, is a Principal at Avalere Health. Josh Seidman, PhD, is a Managing Director at Avalere Health. Morenike AyoVaughan, MPH, is a Consultant II at Avalere Health. Rina Bardin is a Senior Associate at Avalere Health.

This post originally appeared on Avalere here.

Meaningful U’s

By HANS DUVEFELT

Meaningful Use was a vision for EMRs that in many ways turned out to be a joke. Consider my list of Meaningful U’s for medical providers instead.

When electronic medical records became mandatory, Federal monies were showered over the companies that make them by way of inexperienced, ill-prepared practices rushing to pick their system before the looming deadline for the subsidies.

The Fed tried to impose some minimum standards for what EMRs should be able to do and for what practices needed to use them for.

The collection of requirements was called Meanaingful Use, and by many of us nicknamed “Meaningless Use”. Well-meaning bureaucrats with little understanding of medical practice wildly overestimated what software vendors, many of them startups, could deliver to such a well established sector as healthcare.

For example, the Fed thought these startups could produce or incorporate high quality patient information that we could generate via the EMR, when we have all built our own repositories over many years of practice from Harvard, the Mayo Clinic and the like or purchased expensive subscriptions like Uptodate for. As I have described before, I would print the hokey EMR handouts for the Meaningful Use credit and throw them in the trash and give my patients the real stuff from Uptodate, for example.

I’d like to introduce an alternative set of standards, borrowing the hackneyed phrase, with a twist. MEANINGFUL U’S for medical providers:

Unbiased, Understanding, Unflappable, Unhurried

Like the software Meaningful Use items, these may be hard to attain, but especially in today’s healthcare environment, they seem worthy of striving for.

Unbiased: Able to fairly represent alternative approaches to allow patients to make up their own mind about their care.

Understanding: Able to listen to patients concerns and reflect back that you “get it” and will work to help address them.

Unflappable: Able to, in Osler’s words, maintain equanimity in the face of the challenges of medical practice.

Unhurried: Able to use time wisely, therapeutically, without frenzy, to make the most of the most valuable resource we all have.

Now, isn’t that more inspiring?


Hans Duvefelt is a Swedish-born rural Family Physician in Maine. This post originally appeared on his blog, A Country Doctor Writes, here.

Validic Launches New Remote Patient Monitoring Solution, Requires No EHR Integration

What You Should Know:

– Validic launches the newest version of its remote
patient monitoring (RPM) offerings, Validic Impact: Rapid Deployment.

– This new standalone version of Validic Impact requires
no EHR integration and can be used as a fully standalone solution.


Validic, a Durham,
NC-based provider of health data platforms and solutions for scaling remote
patient monitoring (RPM), has announced the release of a major update to its
remote patient monitoring solution, Validic
Impact
. This new release offers the ability to deploy an end-to-end
technology solution for chronic and acute condition monitoring, rapidly.

Validic Impact: Rapid Deployment Features

Validic
Impact: Rapid Deployment 
offers providers a standalone, web-based
application to manage device-driven RPM programs. The solution is designed for
scale and offered with an ease of use that allows provider groups to quickly
purchase and launch.

Validic’s RPM solutions offer the alerting, visualization
and analytics capabilities needed to engage and manage patients from their
home. The Validic Impact solutions can support the management of acute and
chronic conditions, such diabetes, hypertension, heart failure, and COVID-19
(coronavirus). This new version of Validic Impact requires no EHR integration
and can be used as a fully standalone solution.

– Set up and launch rapidly – with no technology
integration and minimal configuration requirements, providers can deploy
comprehensive RPM programs rapidly.

– Create protocol templates – standardize
templates for the conditions you want to manage with default programmed alerts,
consent language, etc.

– Enroll patients quickly – invite a patient to
a program within seconds – enabling them to consent and connect their device(s)
from any browser.

– Personalize and monitor – easily adjust and
personalize goals and alerts for each patient; automate outreach to patients
who are not submitting readings, trending in the wrong direction, or flag
readings of concern for timely interventions.

Validic’s RPM model allows physicians to tap into the
devices their patients already own and use. The solution can integrate over 480
consumer and clinical health devices via Validic’s core health data
platform. In addition to supporting a bring-your-own-device (BYOD), Validic
Impact also supports kitted device fulfillment and 24/7 device support through
strategic relationships with device logistics companies.

Why It Matters

“COVID-19 was a call to action for healthcare,” Drew Schiller, CEO of Validic said. “Our platform-first RPM approach enhances virtual visit offerings. Right now, that means quickly replacing clinical data usually gathered during in-person visits, such as weight and blood pressure, with home health data.”

Schiller added, “Beyond improving the quality of care delivered through telehealth, RPM will continue to serve as a staple of virtual care and extend in-person care offerings.”

The Coronavirus Crisis’ Silent Death Toll: Chronically Ill Patients

The Coronavirus Crisis’ Silent Death Toll: Chronically Ill Patients
Dr. Kayur Patel, Chief Medical Officer of Proactive MD

The impact of the coronavirus crisis is shining a bright light on many of the challenges facing the U.S. healthcare system. 

So much more than a lack of primary care physicians and hospital beds, the all-hands-on-deck approach to combating the spread of COVID-19 has forced patients fearful of engaging with the healthcare system for needs unrelated to the virus to put elective procedures, routine care and timely treatment for chronic or critical conditions on the back burner.

Compounding these issues, fears surrounding visiting the doctor’s office have forced primary care facilities to lay off or furlough clinicians and staff, deferring or skipping clinician salaries in some cases. When it comes to epidemic illness, primary care professionals serve as the first line of defense, preventing patients from flooding emergency rooms and hospitals when they don’t actually need to be there. However, in spite of the need for access to affordable primary care, many primary care practices will not survive the pandemic. 

Despite new CDC guidance showing people with underlying medical conditions like diabetes or hypertension are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, most regular wellness check-ups, cancer screenings, and nonemergency procedures have been put on hold. While COVID-19 is responsible for more than 140,000 deaths in the U.S. alone, experts predict this delay in care for chronically ill patients has resulted in a “silent” death-toll — and one that continues to climb as the world waits for a vaccine.

In the meantime, what can hospitals and clinics in the U.S. do to better serve chronic care patients and ensure no one else falls through the cracks during the pandemic?

Data Analysis

Healthcare generates a lot of data for patient records. It’s crucial that hospitals and medical clinics have the ability to analyze that data to identify and categorize vulnerable patients who are either: 

– high-risk due to potential coronavirus-related complications or

– require regular check-ups because of care related to chronic illness, mental health, or addiction. 

Facing the aforementioned barriers to primary care and treatments, many chronic and crisis care patients are exponentially more vulnerable to the impact of the virus. Even if these patients do not contract COVID-19, the regression that can happen when a condition is not properly managed can be equally dangerous.

Data analysis that allows healthcare providers to stratify patient population risk and engage patients based on care needs provides caretakers the information they need to create personalized treatment plans that ensure the needs of chronic and crisis care patients are not neglected. 

Safe and Continuous Outreach

Healthcare clinics that traditionally rely on in-office visits are now scrambling to provide access to their patients through telemedicine and virtual visits while navigating the challenging new landscape of billing codes and payment rules for these services. Previously derided as less than effective medicine, telemedicine, and virtual visits have become necessary to reduce staff exposure, preserve personal protective equipment (PPE) and minimize the impact of patient surges on facilities.

Because systems have had to adjust the way they triage, evaluate and care for patients through the use of methods that do not depend on in-person services, telehealth, and virtual care services are helping provide necessary care to at-risk patients while minimizing the transmission risk of the virus that causes COVID-19 to healthcare personnel and other patients.

From phone calls and telemedicine appointments to apps, surveys, and regular check-ins, advances in technology empower hospitals and clinics to prioritize relationships that build the foundation enabling continuity of care, even using a new channel to communicate. Through proactive communication with patients about helpful resources and the option for virtual visits, providers can see significant success in their commitment to continued engagement with — and care for — patients.

Dedicated Patient Advocacy

Good patient-provider relationships foster better communication, which drives improved health and wellness. As such, it’s important that hospitals and clinics have ongoing and dedicated patient advocates to reach out to high-risk and chronic care patients. 

By serving as the link between a patient’s care provider and the real world, patient advocates strive to ensure that patients have access to the care and resources they need. Whether that involves access to prescriptions, medical supplies, food, financial assistance, mental health programs, or workforce navigation, care coordination needs to extend beyond simple community referrals. 

In the face of a global pandemic, patients often face complicated decisions concerning their health and overwhelming obstacles to receiving care. Ongoing, dedicated patient advocacy offers guidance that helps patients navigate the complicated health system, ensuring they get the care and support they need throughout the continuing COVID-19 outbreak.

Despite efforts to safely reopen businesses and get employees back to work, the virus itself has not gone away. With practitioners fearing the spread of the disease, patients afraid to keep their in-person appointments and clinicians being redirected to emergency rooms or coronavirus test sites, primary care doctors are seeing their patients far less frequently, and patients are struggling to effectively maintain their health. 

That strain on the primary care system will continue. However, by moving to value-based care models, such as advanced primary care, that leverage data, and analytics to identify and categorize vulnerable patients, facilitate safe and continuous outreach to these patients through telemedicine and other virtual means and have dedicated patient advocates reaching out to high-risk and chronic care patients, hospitals and clinics can continuously serve their most vulnerable patients throughout the duration of the coronavirus crisis.


About Dr. Kayur Patel

Dr. Kayur Patel serves as Chief Medical Officer of Proactive MD. A practicing physician with extensive experience in internal and emergency medicine, his specialty lies in bringing physicians and hospital leadership together in order to convert healthcare challenges into opportunities for growth. He is a nationally-recognized authority and a national speaker on the subject of quality in healthcare. 

Designing A Digital Experience to Drive Revenue and Patient Engagement

 Designing A Digital Experience to Drive Revenue and Patient Engagement
Bill Krause, VP and GM, Digital Experience and Consumer Engagement at Change Healthcare

With the rise of healthcare consumerism, people are looking to hospitals, health systems, and physician practices to deliver the same user-friendly, digital experiences they receive from other industries. A recent survey found that more than 80% of consumers surveyed believe “shopping for healthcare should be as easy as shopping for other common services.” Specifically, they want streamlined access points online where they can shop for and purchase healthcare, easily make appointments, understand what they need to pay, make payments, and set up payment plans – or even obtain financing for care if the estimated costs exceed their budgets. 

These types of digital experiences help providers recruit new patients and keep them engaged, which leads to better outcomes for both the health of the patient and the financial health of the practice. Unfortunately, most healthcare organizations aren’t ready to provide this level of convenience. In part, this is because they have relied on patient portals as their main digital engagement tool to date.

The problem with portals

There are a few reasons why patient portals underdeliver. First, portals are only for patients that have an existing relationship with a provider. However, the patient experience begins when consumers start shopping for care. Relying on a portal alone is a missed opportunity to generate new patient business.  

Second, portals don’t mirror what consumers expect from digital solutions. The interfaces are clunky, the functionality is limited, and the technology only supports a pull strategy, meaning that it waits for the patient to come to it rather than periodically reaching out and prompting the individual to take action.

Third, a patient must be logged into a portal before they can do anything with it. This makes it harder to schedule appointments with new physicians because there is not an established connection. In these cases, the patient must pick up the phone, wait on hold, set up an account, possibly wade through insurance approval and pre-authorization, and then make the appointment. 

Finally, portals aren’t ideal for communicating costs. While some allow the patient to pay co-pays, they aren’t designed to give realistic cost estimates, offer payment plans, suggest alternative funding sources, and so on.

Taken together, these challenges result in low, inconsistent portal use. Even if a hospital indicates that 50% of its patients access the portal, one-time or limited use should not be viewed as patient engagement. Instead, to realize true engagement, organizations should be thinking about ways to foster two-way conversations to keep new and existing patients focused on their health and how the hospital, health system, or physician practice can meet their needs. This improves patients’ experience and builds loyalty, while also reducing leakage and growing revenue. 

What are the risks of poor digital engagement? 

Without a well-considered plan for providing a retail-like shopping experience that includes transparent cost information, healthcare organizations run the risk of losing patients. This is especially important as the marketplace becomes more competitive and focused on patient experience, and retail clinics continue to pop-up around the country. 

In addition to market changes, regulatory pressures are also making patient-centric financial communications a necessity. Several states are implementing price transparency regulations, and a federal requirement is right around the corner. To meet these standards, organizations will need effective tools that reliably determine and share prices with patients in advance of their appointments.

So where do organizations go from here? 

It’s clear that patient portals are not the answer. But how can organizations do a better job of giving patients the convenience they seek? Here are four best practices to consider.

1. Evaluate your organization’s digital tools.

The first step is to take a hard look at the digital solutions you currently provide and compare them to those available from other industries, such as travel, retail, and financial services. Consumers want a digital, retail-like shopping experience where they can search local providers, compare reviews and costs, schedule their treatment, and even pay – all in one intuitive place.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that only younger people want these tools. Research shows that more and more older adults are embracing mobile activities like online banking. In fact, The Harris Poll found that 80% of Baby Boomers (individuals between 56-76 years old) “wish there was a single place to shop for and purchase care.” 

Digital tools designed to improve access and transparency while making it easier to pay create more engaged consumers and provide a better patient experience. Achieving this dual dynamic requires digital tools are part of a comprehensive end-to-end solution.  

2. Streamline access to shoppable services

These are elective procedures and screening tests that an individual can schedule in advance and include things like planned joint replacements, colonoscopies, and mammograms. Healthcare organizations offer standardized pricing for these services, allowing patients to shop around for the best price, location, and experience. 

When patients are able to use a digital tool to research a service, set an appointment, and make a payment, it can drive patient satisfaction and increase the chances the individual will choose to have the procedure with the organization supplying the tool. With 67% of consumers stating they would “shop for healthcare entirely online, like any other products and services,” streamlining access to shoppable services will drive engagement and revenue. 

3. Adopt tools that help people understand their care costs.

More than half of consumers surveyed for The Harris Poll said they have “avoided seeking care because they weren’t sure what the price would be.” The biggest hurdle to accessing care is price transparency, resulting in patients not getting the treatment they need and in poor revenue management for a practice. 

Patients are more likely to pay their portion up front when they understand what they owe and feel confident that the cost information provided has taken into consideration their current insurance, deductibles, and co-pays. A key to accurate estimates is an automated solution that checks the patient’s insurance digitally, determines the benefits, reviews the amount of any deductible, and verifies whether the individual has already met their deductible. When a patient financial tool also offers the ability to make payments or set up a payment plan, it can increase patients’ propensity to pay, boost the amount of self-pay funds the organization collects, and substantially reduce the cost-to-collect.

4. Enable digital appointment scheduling

Consumers view scheduling and rescheduling appointments as a very difficult task.  Digital solutions can address this pain point. Mobile tools and apps that patients can use to schedule appointments monitor wait times, digitally complete forms, and check-in for appointments are essential to breaking down some of the barriers to patient access. 

Before onboarding a tool like this, organizations must think through the change management challenges in getting all stakeholders on board. Historically, physicians have been hesitant to open up their calendars to permit digital scheduling. However, transparency and standardization are becoming increasingly important to meet patient demand and are necessary to make these types of tools work smoothly.

Although digital tools are gaining popularity among all generations, there are still people who prefer to pick up the phone to price, schedule, and pay for care. In addition to digital solutions, organizations should have service-oriented call centers to work with these patients. Such centers should have well-trained professionals who are available during and outside of traditional business hours so patients can access the information they need when they need it.

Relying on the status quo is not wise

Healthcare is only going to become more consumer-driven as high-deductible health plans continue to disrupt the industry. Hospitals, health systems, and physician practices cannot afford to rely on outdated technologies that don’t facilitate two-way conversations or the digital experience patients expect. To compete today and in the future, organizations need a comprehensive, retail-like solution that offers a seamless user experience and spans the entire patient journey. Tools and technologies used in combination with putting the patient first will build loyalty while also improving an organization’s clinical and financial outcomes.


About Bill Krause

Bill Krause is the Vice President of Experience Solutions at Change Healthcare. Serving the healthcare industry for over 12 years, Bill leads innovation and solution development for patient experience management at Change Healthcare. In this role, he is responsible for the development and execution of strategies that enable healthcare organizations to realize value through leading-edge consumer engagement capabilities.

Previously, Bill provided insights and direction into new product and service strategies for McKesson and Change Healthcare. He also managed business development planning, partnerships, and corporate development across a variety of healthcare services and technology lines of business for those companies.

Prior to McKesson, Bill worked at McKinsey & Company as a strategy consultant, serving a variety of clients in healthcare and other industries.  He received his MBA from Harvard Business School and his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. He also served as a lieutenant in the United States Navy.

Nuance Advances Virtual Assistant Tech for Customers Using Epic EHR

Nuance Advances Virtual Assistant Tech for Customers Using Epic EHR

What You Should Know:

– Nuance advances conversational AI with Dragon Medical virtual
assistant for Hey Epic! virtual assistant in Epic Hyperspace.

– Building upon Nuance’s Dragon Medical solution already
used by more than 550,000 physicians, this integration with Hey Epic! enables
clinicians to conversationally navigate the EHR, search for information, place
orders, and seamlessly switch hands-free between voice assistant and dictation.


Nuance®
Communications, Inc.,
today announced the advancement of Nuance’s
virtual assistant technology
for customers using the Epic electronic health record (EHR). Built
upon Nuance’s leading Dragon Medical solution already used by more than 550,000
physicians, Nuance’s virtual assistant integration with Hey Epic! enables
clinicians to conversationally navigate the EHR, search for information, place
orders, and seamlessly switch hands-free between voice assistant and dictation.

Why It Matters

Virtual assistant technology is viewed as essential to
enable clinicians to complete administrative and clinical tasks more
efficiently and easily during in-person and virtual visits – to improve both
physician and patient experiences before, during, and after each encounter.
 The Nuance virtual assistant technology for Hey Epic! in Hyperspace is
available through Dragon Medical One, Nuance’s leading cloud-based solution for
clinical documentation.

To date, nearly 80,000 physicians and nurses using Epic have
licensed access to Nuance virtual assistant technology in Epic Haiku and Epic
Rover mobile apps to conversationally navigate the EHR more efficiently, while
conveniently retrieving information such as schedules, patient information,
laboratory results, medication lists and visit summaries.

“I have been using Nuance virtual assistant technology with Hey Epic! in the Haiku mobile application to quickly navigate the EHR, access and dictate clinical notes, and complete other tasks simply by using my voice. This saves time that can be dedicated to patients instead of searching through documentation. Now, having access to this technology in Hyperspace will further our ability to gain situational awareness and access to accurate, timely information that helps us treat the patient to the best of our ability in the moment,” said Dr. Patrick Guffey, CMIO, Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Change Healthcare Acquires Cloud-Native Imaging Platform Nucleus.io

Change Healthcare Acquires Cloud-Native Imaging Platform Nucleus.io

What You Should Know:

– Change Healthcare acquires Nucleus.io to create the first of its kind end-to-end, cloud-native Enterprise Imaging to integrate Change Healthcare’s next-generation medical imaging platform.

– The acquisition will accelerate Change Healthcare’s
timeline to implement a complete cloud-based, end-to-end Enterprise Imaging
solution with customers by leveraging the 7,500+ organizations Nucleus.io
currently serves.


Change Healthcare (Nasdaq: CHNG) today announced the acquisition of Nucleus.io, a leader in the development of advanced, fully enabled, cloud-native imaging, and workflow technology. Nucleus.io’s state-of-the-art, cloud-native imaging technology, including a zero-footprint diagnostic viewer with patented streaming technology, workflow, and image sharing solutions, completes Change Healthcare’s next-generation medical imaging platform.

Medical Image Exchange Solution

Nucleus.io ingests, stores, routes, and provides lightning-fast access – from just about anywhere – to all medical images regardless of file size. Nucleus.io’s market-leading medical image exchange solution is utilized by over 7,500 organizations across the U.S., with approximately 150 new organizations onboarding each month. Their advanced, fully enabled, cloud-native imaging technology includes a zero-footprint diagnostic viewer with patented streaming technology, workflow, and image sharing solutions, and more.

“We began our journey eight years ago with the goal of improving patient care by using the power of the web to make medical imaging instantly accessible to patients, providers, and hospitals,” said Dr. Vishal Verma, chief executive officer, NucleusHealth. “Change Healthcare was the clear choice when searching for an organization to deliver our technology to the world. We couldn’t be happier about the opportunity to have Change Healthcare bring our unified vision to light.”

Acquisition Creates Complete Cloud-based, End-to-End
Enterprise Imaging Solution

Today’s acquisition supports Change Healthcare’s commitment
to focus on and invest in core aspects of the business to fuel long-term growth
and advance innovation. This will accelerate Change Healthcare’s timeline to
implement a complete cloud-based, end-to-end Enterprise Imaging solution with
customers. Nucleus.io expands Change Healthcare’s addressable market by
leveraging the over 7,500 organizations Nucleus.io currently serves.

Change Healthcare’s Enterprise Imaging Network (EIN) is the
first of its kind, fully managed, cloud-native platform. The foundations of the
platform, including its Archive and Analytics applications, have been
successfully delivered to the market as a cloud-native solution. The
combination of both companies’ technologies and experienced teams will enable
physicians to read, diagnose, and collaborate from anywhere, reduce IT
complexities, and leverage data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve
outcomes.

Why It Matters

“Now more than ever, customers are seeking ways to lower cost, reduce complexity, protect their patient data, and deliver the best care possible. Our next-generation Enterprise Imaging Network platform helps meet those needs in ways not previously possible and delivers exceptional value to our customers,” said Tracy Byers, senior vice president and general manager, Enterprise Imaging, Change Healthcare. “This transaction will accelerate the realization of our vision and the innovation our industry has been waiting for.”

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Cerner Technology to Support COVID-19 Testing for HBCUs Nationwide

Cerner Technology to Support COVID-19 Testing for HBCUs Nationwide

What You Should Know:

– Cerner announces a commitment to help expand COVID-19 testing at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across the U.S through a partnership with Testing for America.

– As part of the partnership, Cerner will serve as the national technology partner for a return to school effort led by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and The United Negro College Fund (UNCF). The strategic initiative aims to support HBCUs in their COVID-19 testing of students, faculty, and staff to help safely reopen campuses.

– Cerner recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need for people of all races, colors, and socio-economic backgrounds to have access to quality health care and is proud to partner in this important initiative.


Cerner Corporation® announced it will serve as the technology partner in partnership with non-profit Testing for America and others, including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and The United Negro College Fund (UNCF), to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ (HBCUs) efforts to offer rapid, consistent and affordable COVID-19 testing for students, faculty, and staff. Testing for America and its collaborators are helping these academic institutions develop comprehensive reopening safety strategies and linking them to lab partners and other support in the hopes of helping them safety return to classes.

Why It Matters

The effort to support HBCUs comes as communities of color
around the nation are disproportionately impacted by the economic and health
effects of the novel coronavirus. Testing of everyone on campus is one tool in
an overall safety plan to help identify and contain the virus, often spread by
asymptomatic carriers, and to help the campuses of HBCUs, which will serve a
vital role in our nation’s recovery.

Cerner’s interoperable technology can be employed to make sure each COVID-19 test result is reported directly to the student, faculty, and staff member, as well as their physicians, for better, seamless medical care coordination and guidance and to all required public health agencies.

Importance of HBCUs Talent Infrastructure

This country’s HBCUs are a vital part of our national talent infrastructure. Our 101 HBCUs are responsible for 23% of all black college graduates, 60% of engineers, and 70% of doctors. Notably, they also have just one-eighth of the endowment of their non-HBCU counterparts. Cerner recognizes the COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need for people of all races, colors, and socio-economic backgrounds to have access to quality health care and is proud to partner in this important initiative.

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the need for innovative
solutions to deliver equitable care across all populations, and Cerner has
vowed to use its technologies and leverage data to build a better,
healthier world for us all
. Cerner’s commitment to diversity and inclusion
has been recognized for the past two years by Forbes naming
the company as a leading Diversity Employer
. Last year, Cerner CEO Brent
Shafer signed
the CEO Action Pledge for Diversity and Inclusion
, uniting leaders from
more than 900 companies in a common commitment to advancing diversity and
inclusion in the workplace.

“The nationwide effort to provide access to COVID-19 testing
holds the promise to be a key pillar of the safe return to campus for these
essential institutions. We are excited to have Cerner’s technology help scale
this important initiative.”

“Robust testing protocols will help give the university community more confidence in coming back and will support our comprehensive approach to reopening,” said Tony Allen, president, Delaware State University. “We want to ensure that the kind of space so many of our students call home is perceived as a safe one, so that they can continue their education without pause.”

Fighting COVID-19 Pandemic: It Starts With Cleaning Our Devices

Fighting COVID-19 Pandemic: It Starts With Cleaning Our Devices
Rikki Jennings, Chief Nursing Informatics Officer, Zebra Technologies

The importance of handwashing has never been more obvious than in recent months, but as experts continue to share information on the spread of the virus, there’s a need to disinfect more than just our hands. In healthcare settings where the spread of infectious diseases is not just a possibility, but a likelihood on any given day, healthcare leaders are examining the best methods to clean devices, such as mobile computers.

According to a recent study by the Healthcare Infection Society, almost all (99.2%) hospital staff smartphones were contaminated with potential pathogens and thought to pose an infection risk. As mobile devices become even more prominent in everyday care settings, this number shows just how crucial it is for facilities to implement device cleaning protocols. Without a policy in place, the chance of disease spreading in healthcare environments is exponentially higher, putting both patients and providers at risk. In some instances, nurses have been known to have as many as 10 patients in one shift, showing just how many points of contact there are during each nurse’s workday. 

Where to Start

As healthcare facilities look to implement their own device cleaning policy, one of the most important factors to remember is that not every device is the same, and as such, not every device will have the same cleaning regimen. The best way for organizations to determine which cleaning agents are safe to use is to refer to the device user guide from the manufacturer. These guidelines typically include the purity or formulation levels for each ingredient, including the types of cleaning agents to avoid. Failure to follow these protocols could result in device damage if the wrong cleaning agents or ingredients are used to wipe it down.

To ensure an optimal cleaning policy and disinfection schedule, it will also be important to consider the environment in which the devices will be used.  Devices that are used in patient rooms will need to be disinfected more frequently compared to other locations within a hospital. Determining the number of patients being helped by each practitioner and the reason they are each being cared for can also help facilities develop an appropriate schedule for device disinfection.

Disinfecting Versus Cleaning

Although the terms “cleaning” and “disinfecting” are often used interchangeably in healthcare settings, the two processes are significantly different and suited for very different use cases. When cleaning a device, most facilities are referring to the steps taken to wipe the dirt and other grime from the surface of a mobile device or barcode scanner. This process helps remove visible debris from the device that can be seen by the human eye.

However, this does not remove bacteria and potential pathogens that could be sitting on the device. In order to properly remove bacteria, healthcare workers need to disinfect their devices with the correct cleaning agents. This is where a regular cleaning schedule with guidelines is necessary because routine device cleaning does not always eliminate the dangerous bacteria that can pose a risk to patients and clinicians.  

Considering the Right Technologies

One of the biggest limitations holding some organizations back from implementing a proper device wipe down protocol is the durability of the devices in use. Unfortunately, not all mobile devices are purpose-built for healthcare environments and capable of withstanding the rigorous cleaning and disinfection needed to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and bacteria. This is most commonly seen when physicians are using their own consumer-grade devices during patient care. These devices can’t hold up to disinfectant procedures and the chemicals used in these solutions can lead to cracks and breaks in the material. Not only does this pose a risk for cross-contamination and the spread of bacteria from one patient to another, but providers using these devices outside of healthcare facilities can take the bacteria and pathogens home with them. 

In order for mobile devices to meet a hospital’s cleaning policies, the right ingress protection (IP) sealing is needed to prevent damage from chemical cleaning solutions. For hospitals allowing physicians to use their own devices, the right sealing will need to be added to their devices to reduce the damage from cleaning agents. Many hospitals though utilize durable or rugged enterprise-class mobile devices that are purpose-built for healthcare environments and can withstand harsher cleaning protocols during their long lifecycle.

As healthcare organizations continue to evolve to meet the needs of today’s environment, having proper device wipe down protocols in place will become a priority to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases in their facilities. 


About Rikki Jennings, BSN, RN, CPN

Rikki Jennings, BSN, RN, CPN is the Chief Nursing Informatics Officer (CNIO) at Zebra Technologies where she is responsible for combining her knowledge of patient care, informatics concepts, and change management to effectively address the information and knowledge needs of healthcare professionals and patients to promote safe, effective, and efficient use of IT in clinical settings.  She also serves as the strategic liaison for health IT efforts representing nursing and clinician needs.

Memorial Health Deploys Chatbots to Virtualize Waiting Room Experience

Memorial Health System Deploys Mobile Chatbots to Virtualize Waiting Room Experience

What You Should Know:

– Memorial Health System selects LifeLink Conversational
AI technology to virtualize the waiting room experience for patients

– Mobile chatbots to automate intake for telehealth and
in-person visits, while maintaining COVID-19 social distancing and safety
protocols.


Memorial Health System
, a community-based, not-for-profit corporation serving the people and
communities of central Illinois through five hospitals has selected LifeLink to deploy advanced conversational
technology that virtualizes the waiting room experience for every
patient who has an appointment with their physicians. LifeLink-powered AI chatbots
communicate through natural language-based messaging to help patients confirm
appointments, screen for COVID symptoms,
complete their intake forms, provide timing updates, and check in for their
visits. The mobile solution supports both in-person and telehealth visits.

Virtualize the Waiting Room Experience for
Patients

The virtual waiting room chatbot solution
digitizes processes that were previously handled through manual, one-off phone
calls, paper forms, and in-person interactions. Now patients simply converse
with a digital agent on any smartphone or personal device. Key capabilities
include:

–  Reminder and
confirmation messages are sent ahead of appointments

–  Intake and consent
forms are digitized into conversational workflows and completed before arrival

–  Chatbots educate
patients about COVID-19 protocols and conduct a risk assessment

 – On the day of
appointment, the bot provides timing updates and alerts patients when it is
time to enter the office and go directly to the exam room

 – Integration into
EMR and scheduling systems for full process automation

Why It Matters

As patients get back to seeing their physicians for care, we
must find ways to virtualize that experience to keep everyone safe, but there’s
a bigger opportunity at hand,” said Jay Roszhart, president of MHS’ ambulatory
group.  “We’re always looking for ways to improve our patient experience.
LifeLink chatbots virtualize the entire intake process on mobile devices, which
will ultimately do away with the need for waiting rooms and will
make the patient’s visit more efficient.”

“We were among the first providers to successfully launch conversational chatbot screeners from LifeLink as the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread,” Roszhart added. “Now it’s time to take patient engagement innovation to the next level. The waiting room presents a significant opportunity to reduce costs and streamline operations, all in the context of delivering a better, safe patient experience.”

I Cured My Patient, But What Was His Diagnosis?

By HANS DUVEFELT

He cancelled his followup appointment because he was feeling fine. He didn’t see the point in wasting a Saturday to come to my clinic when he had lawns to mow and chores to do.

Less than two weeks before that he was sitting on the exam table in my office, again and again nodding off, waking up surprised every time his wife prodded him. The stack of printouts from the emergency room illustrated all the normal testing they had done.

He had experienced a brief episode of numbness in the left side of his face and felt tired with just a slight headache. When I saw him the headache was a bit more severe in the back of his head and down the right side of his neck. But his neck wasn’t stiff.

His blood sugar was 87, normal for most people, but this man had a history of diabetes although his blood sugars had steadily improved over the past year. I told him to stop all his diabetic medications although I don’t think he took notice. His wife said she would make sure he stopped them.

He had had all kinds of bloodwork and both a CT scan and an MRI of his brain. I couldn’t help worrying that he might have an aneurysm so we ordered an MRA as well. Until then my only hope of making him feel better was to make sure he wasn’t in relative hypoglycemia.

A few days later he was back, not the least bit drowsy and with a blood sugar of 138. His MRA was scheduled for the following day.

This time he had swelling, redness and extreme pain around his lower right jaw. It was an oblong, one inch induration (“bump”) and next to it, closer to his neck, there was an area of redness with a few small papules (“pimples”), none of them an actual blister. On his neck there were several small, tender lymph nodes just where I listened to his carotid artery. There was no bruit (“swishing”) to indicate a partial blockage.

The headache on the right side of the back of his head was now severe and he said his right arm hurt and felt heavy, although he didn’t have decreased sensation or strength in it – just pain when he used it.

“The right sided arm pain probably has nothing to do with the left sided facial weakness”, I explained. “The right carotid artery feeds the right side of the brain which controls the left side of the body.”

Testing his sensitivity to light touch, he winced when I touched the lowest portion of his skull and upper neck on the right and also the reddened areas on the right neck and jaw.

I minimized my EMR and pulled up a picture of the nerve supply to the face, neck and arms. I showed them that C2 and C3, the second and third cervical nerves, supply both the back of the head and lower jaw area.

“I see three or four things going on”, I started. “I’m thinking out loud here. You’re not so drowsy and your blood sugar is higher, so that could mean something. The redness and swelling by your jaw could be a bacterial infection. I don’t see where it would come from in your mouth or on your skin, but I want to give you an antibiotic. The pimples we see could be the very beginning of shingles, which can be extremely painful even before the rash and sometimes also without any blisters, so I’m going to give you an antiviral medication. And the pain in the C2-C3 region could either be shingles pain or a pinched nerve in your neck, so I’ll give you some prednisone, which could make you hungry or hyper and raise your blood sugar. Then, tomorrow, call me after the MRA, okay?”

They thanked me and left.

The following day I was busy as usual and never got a call asking for the MRA, but later I saw that the results were normal and that they had made a Saturday followup appointment, so maybe he was feeling better, I presumed.

Then, Saturday, his wife called to cancel and told me how he was feeling completely back to normal without any kind of pain, rash, redness, fatigue or drowsiness, too busy to come in.

I was left wondering exactly what was what, not an unusual situation in primary care. Was there a cellulitis? Did he have shingles with a mild encephalitis? Does he have a disc problem in his neck that might flare up again when he is off the prednisone? And did his blood sugar play any part in his altered mentation? I’ll probably never really know.

I keep coming back to the famous quote by Sir Willam Osler, “Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability”.

Hans Duvefelt is a Swedish-born rural Family Physician in Maine. This post originally appeared on his blog, A Country Doctor Writes, here.

Cone Health to Merge with Sentara Healthcare Totaling $11B in Assets

Cone Health to Merge with Sentara Healthcare Totaling $11B in Assets

What You Should Know:

– Cone Health has signed a letter of intent to merge with
Norfolk, Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare for a combined $11B in assets.

– The merger creates one large health system totaling of
17 hospitals – 11 Sentara hospitals in Virginia and one in Elizabeth City,
N.C., and five Cone Health hospitals in the area surrounding Greensboro.


Cone Health has signed a letter of intent to merge with Norfolk, Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare. The merger will create a combined organization with a unique value-based approach that is focused on keeping people healthy and well, while providing high-quality, accessible and affordable health care in more ways and in more places. The Cone Health Board of Trustees voted unanimously to move forward with this letter of intent.

Cone Health, a not-for-profit integrated healthcare network
consists of five hospitals in North Carolina. The system employs more than
13,000 people, including nearly more than 600 physicians and advanced practice
providers, and operates more than 100 care sites. Its Medicare Advantage health
plan, HealthTeam Advantage serves 15,000 members.

“Cone Health is among the highest-quality health care organizations in the nation, and we are financially strong. With the right partner, we can build on what we’ve created and do even more for those we are privileged to serve,” says Terry Akin, CEO, Cone Health. “We have long said that Cone Health doesn’t intend to grow simply for the sake of growth. Instead, we are partnering for inspiring possibilities.”

Sentara Healthcare is an integrated, not-for-profit system
comprised of 12 hospitals in Virginia and Northeastern North Carolina. The
health system employs more than 1,200 physicians and advanced practice
clinicians, 30,000 team members and operate hundreds of sites of care. Our
Optima Health Plan and Virginia Premier Health Plan serve 858,000 members in
Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio.

Merger Impact for Community

The resulting organization would have a combined $11B in
assets, with Sentara representing about $8.7 billion in assets and Cone Health
representing $2.8B in total assets, according to 2019 audited statements.

The communities served by Cone Health and Sentara do not
overlap. As a result, the combined organization will ensure that consumers have
more choices for healthcare and insurance plans, not fewer. The merger will
deliver healthcare in more ways and more places with more options to pay for
it.

“This rapidly changing healthcare environment requires tremendous transformation and innovation to ensure the long-term success of each respective health system and, most importantly, the very best for those we are privileged to serve,” said Howard P. Kern, president and chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare. “We can either react to change, or we can shape it. We are choosing to shape change and will lead this transformation of healthcare together.”

Next Steps

Howard P. Kern will oversee the combined organization and
the corporate headquarters will remain in Norfolk, Va., and Greensboro, N.C.,
will serve as the regional headquarters for the Cone Health division. Terry
Akin will remain in Greensboro as the president of the Cone Health division. Cone
Health representatives will join the Sentara Healthcare board, with membership
on all board committees and meaningful roles in all aspects of governance.
Additionally, there will continue to be a Cone Health Regional Board that will
be composed of community members, medical staff and Sentara representation.

The combined organization is subject to state and federal
regulatory review and customary closing conditions and is anticipated to close
in mid-2021. Following that, it is expected to take up to two years to fully
combine and integrate.

4 Ways Businesses Will Adapt Their Healthcare Landscape

 Four ways businesses will adapt their healthcare landscape
Dr. Donald Brown, CEO and founder of LifeOmic

The coronavirus pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, from how we work to how we get our health care. The crisis has put the creativity of many small businesses to the test after being forced to move operations online once social distancing became the norm. As economies reopen, many aspects of our life that changed in response to the virus will likely return to the way they were.

However,  we have the opportunity to emerge stronger from this crisis if the salient shortcomings from our economic system are addressed. Regarding health care, the virus has exposed deep flaws in the way services are provided and has shown us how businesses and people can be better prepared when the next pandemic hits.

1. The way companies insure their workers will change 

One trend we will likely see occurring is the decentralization of healthcare. Before the pandemic, there had been growing signs of American businesses becoming tired of a rigged system where costs to keep employees insured often spiraled out of control. One example of this dissatisfaction was the partnership between Amazon, JP Morgan, and Berkshire Hathaway, who more than 2 years ago announced the formation of their own joint venture to provide healthcare coverage to their employees. 

The pandemic is going to introduce a long term change in healthcare and especially the relationship between companies and healthcare providers. More companies will make the switch to self-funded insurance and assume the healthcare expenses of their employees while being reimbursed for claims that exceed a certain amount through stop-loss insurance. Businesses will also start to hire their own physicians to offer services to their employees directly to reduce their dependence on the healthcare system.

Given our early struggle to increase our virus testing capabilities, companies may take steps to avoid waiting for the federal or local governments to step in during a pandemic.  Businesses may start partnering with local labs to design their own diagnostic tools and serological tests which would allow them to react more quickly and successfully to an outbreak. Businesses will value knowing which of their employees have been exposed, how many might be immune, and which might be more susceptible to infection based on parameters such as BMI or blood pressure readings.  

2. Businesses and people will take charge of their own health

Although the United States spends close to 20% of its GDP on healthcare, diseases that put people at higher risk for severe COVID-19 illness, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, are still prevalent in the population. 

This crisis exposed the need for businesses to help employees maintain a healthy lifestyle in order to protect themselves and their jobs. Businesses may start promoting behaviors proven to strengthen the immune system and improve overall health, including taking active breaks at work to increase physical activity or encouraging healthy eating by offering healthy food choices. Companies may also start to offer testing equipment in office locations to help employees keep track of their health. Businesses may start investing in mini-physiology lab stations that include equipment to measure blood pressure, lung function, and heart health. They may also invest in blood tests that measure important biomarkers that allow employees to make better health choices that reduce their risk of disease.

3. Telehealth solutions will become widely available 

The pandemic has amplified the need for a technology-driven transformation of healthcare. Companies can invest in built-in telemedicine capabilities so that employees have an easy way to get online care when they need it.  The regulatory barriers that have delayed widespread use of telehealth should start to disappear. Hospitals can benefit from offering these services and implementing them now will better equip them for future crises. Doctors can remotely provide care to vulnerable patients so they don’t have to be exposed by going to a hospital, and physicians and nurses who have to quarantine themselves can still see patients through telehealth means so that hospitals don’t have to face staff shortages when they believe they might have been exposed. 

4. Artificial Intelligence will change everything

The use of AI in healthcare will combine with the trends described above to completely disrupt healthcare, especially in terms of corporate wellness. Skyrocketing costs and disillusionment with the governmental response to COVID-19 will convince organizations of all sizes to take more direct responsibility for the health and wellness of their employees. Cloud-based systems can aggregate everything from electronic medical records to whole-genome sequences. Fitness trackers and other inexpensive devices can add real-time physiologic data that can be tracked over time.

All this data would be overwhelming for human physicians, but it’s perfect for AI-based systems. For example, an AI can continuously calculate the probabilities of dozens of diseases for each employee and generate automatic recommendations when a probability exceeds a certain threshold. Such systems can also give employees personalized advice to help them reduce such probabilities and return to a healthy state. The advice can range from lifestyle changes (nutrition, exercise, etc.) to supplements or further testing. These AI-based systems will grow in sophistication over time to rival – and even exceed – the capabilities of human physicians.

Summary

The American healthcare system was clearly dysfunctional even before COVID-19. However, the pandemic has put the flaws into sharp relief and will almost certainly push companies and other organizations to seek better solutions. Those solutions will leverage many recent developments including:

  • Cloud platforms with nearly limitless storage and compute capacity
  • Engaging mobile apps
  • Direct-to-consumer molecular and genetic testing
  • Fitness trackers and other medical devices
  • Artificial intelligence

Together, these trends will usher in lasting change that will transform the healthcare landscape for all businesses.


About Dr. Don Brown

Don is a serial software entrepreneur (founder of 4 companies), life-long learner (4 degrees: a bachelor’s in physics, a master’s in computer science +  biotechnology and an MD) and philanthropist (donated  $30 million for the establishment of the Brown Immunotherapy Center at the Indiana University School of Medicine).  Prior to LifeOmic, Don founded Software Artistry which became the first software company in Indiana ever to go public and was later acquired by IBM for $200 million. Don then founded and served as CEO of Interactive Intelligence which went public and was acquired by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories in 2016 for $1.4 billion.

Philips Launches Virtual Care Station to Deliver Personalized Telehealth

Philips Delivers Personalized Telehealth to Local Communities with Virtual Care Station

What You Should Know:

– Philips announced the launch of Virtual Care Station, a
telehealth environment delivering virtual care services to patients in
convenient neighborhood locations, such as retail settings, libraries, town
halls and universities.

– Using proven Philips technology developed for the ATLAS
program (Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations), which was created
to serve healthcare needs of U.S. Veterans, Virtual Care Station provides all
patients, including those in underserved rural or urban areas, with a low-cost,
community-based option to improve patient outcomes while minimizing infection
exposure.


Philips, today announced the launch of Virtual Care Station, a telehealth environment that delivers virtual care services in convenient neighborhood locations such as retail settings, libraries, town halls, and universities. The pod-based solution connects provider and insurance networks, allowing health providers and patients to have a local, community-based choice for care.

Whether in underserved rural or urban areas, Virtual Care
Station helps deliver on the Quadruple Aim by giving patients access to virtual
face-to-face care, and is designed to help improve clinical outcomes, lower
costs and increase patient and staff satisfaction. Virtual Care Station is
based on Philips technology developed for the ATLAS program (Accessing
Telehealth through Local Area Stations), which was created to serve the
healthcare needs of U.S. veterans.

Why It Matters

With the COVID-19 pandemic came a boom in the telehealth
industry, serving as a viable way to reduce staff and patient exposure to
infection, preserve PPE and lessen the impact of patient surges. However, at-home
telehealth isn’t always an option for those without reliable internet access,
or private areas to have sensitive clinical conversations.

Built with insights from patients, physicians and
caregivers, and designed to emulate traditional face-to-face visits, the
Virtual Care Station pod-based solution promises:

– Camera, lighting and speakers designed for enhanced
patient assessments

– Spacious layouts to accommodate the needs of patients in
wheelchairs or with service dogs

– Supplemental in-home virtual telehealth check-ins to track
patients between visits, allowing clinicians the opportunity to manage health
escalations

“By expanding our telehealth solution, we hope to give providers an option to engage in population health and support patients closer to home in lower cost settings that can lead to the potential for more follow-up visits, and the opportunity for clinicians to identify at-risk patients earlier and manage health escalations,” said Vitor Rocha, Chief Market Leader for Philips North America.  “Not only does it mean the convenience of shorter drive times for patients, it could mean better health outcomes and a safer environment for providers as people benefit from getting the quality care they need in the right place at the right time.”

Blue Shield of CA Taps Cricket Health to Offer AI-Driven, Personalized Kidney Care Plans for Members At No Cost

Blue Shield of CA Taps Cricket Health to Offer AI-Driven, Personalized Kidney Care Plans for Members At No Cost

What You Should Know:

– Blue Shield of CA and kidney care provider Cricket
Health announced a partnership to offer a personalized, virtual,
multidisciplinary care available for members with kidney disease or kidney
failure at no extra cost

– By offering remote care, via phone or virtually online,
Cricket Health’s approach to kidney care is designed to keep Blue Shield
members living with kidney disease healthy at home, and out of clinics or
hospitals whenever possible. 


Health insurer Blue Shield of
California
and kidney care provider Cricket
Health
today announced a new innovative, personalized and comprehensive
care coordination program for members who have late-stage chronic kidney
disease or end-stage renal disease at no additional cost to them.

As part of the long-term collaboration, Cricket Health will offer a multidisciplinary care team that includes nurses, pharmacists, social workers, dieticians, and trained patient mentors to provide an evidence-based approach to help patients better manage chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease.

How It Works

The team, available online and by phone, work closely with the participating member’s medical providers including primary care physicians, nephrologists, and other specialists to ensure that, as much as possible, the patient remains healthy, at home, and out of the hospital. The program is especially relevant in today’s COVID-19 environment and is available to members enrolled in Blue Shield’s fully insured Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) benefit plans. 

Blue Shield’s claims data and Cricket’s advanced data analytics capabilities are used to identify members with or at risk for chronic kidney disease, and Cricket invites them to participate in the program. Once enrolled, Cricket Health will deploy a multidisciplinary care team and virtual programs with the goal of slowing the progression of the disease, reducing health complications, and avoiding emergency room visits or hospitalizations.

By intervening well before kidney failure, Cricket Health can deliver an evidence-based, personalized kidney care plan for each patient that improves health outcomes. For members whose kidney disease does progress, Cricket Health will help them understand their treatment options — such as in-center dialysis or transplant — and empower them to make their preferred choice.

 Why It Matters 

This offering comes at a critical time, as those living
with chronic kidney disease or end-stage renal disease have
an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19. By offering remote care, via
phone or virtually online, Cricket Health’s approach to kidney care is designed
to keep Blue Shield members living with kidney disease healthy
at home, and out of clinics or hospitals whenever possible.

This innovative kidney care is the latest example of Blue Shield of
California’s Health Reimagined initiative to transform the
healthcare system for individuals, families and communities, and also address
health inequities often found among minority communities. Kidney disease
impacts communities of color disproportionately and Blue Shield’s
collaboration with Cricket Health seeks to expand access to quality kidney
care.

“We recognize that for too long, the healthcare system in the U.S. has fallen short of providing patients who suffer from kidney disease – an estimated 37 million Americans – with the highest quality health care at an affordable cost,” said Seth Glickman, M.D., chief health officer, Blue Shield of California. ”By working with Cricket Health, we can reimagine kidney care and expand health care options for members with late-stage chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease so they can live the healthiest lives possible.”

How Times of Crisis Spur Needed Change in Healthcare Delivery

How Times of Crisis Spur Needed Change in Healthcare Delivery

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change healthcare operations in the world, foundational systems are being adapted to meet these new demands. Sometimes it takes extreme circumstances to see the cracks in a system. COVID-19 has exposed areas with more room for improvement in the healthcare system, such as optimizing operational efficiency. Organizations and individuals have changed their interactions, processes, ways of working, treatment plans, and even foundational technology. As the United States is beginning to reopen, many questions arise – namely, are these changes temporary fixes during the pandemic, or are they here to stay?

Physicians have been inundated during this time of crisis, and their ongoing main priorities amplified: saving as many lives as possible and providing the best patient care. Recent estimates from the beginning of July say, worldwide there have been more than 10.7 million COVID-19 cases and at least 516,000 deaths from the disease, according to Johns Hopkins University (JHU). JHU also revealed that in the United States, there have been 128,000 deaths out of a total of over 2.6 million cases. To say this has been a time of great stress and pressure for physicians who are on the frontlines is an understatement.

This pandemic has increased providers’ already heavy workload, amplifying where physicians need support. Patients need to remain the top priority, even in the first generations of the digital age where the list of backend administrative tasks and paperwork can feel endless, thus reducing the number of patients physicians can see each day. Finding a way to streamline administrative tasks with advanced technology can bring physicians back to why they went to medical school in the first place: to help patients.

One example of an important, and time-sensitive task is communicating with payers around treatment plans and reimbursement. Using technology to streamline this process to get the patient the optimal treatment and maximize use of their insurance coverage is essential, especially in this time of crisis where there is an increased number of patients in need and a depressed economy. Whether processing prior authorizations or checking eligibility, hospitals and health systems need technology to keep operations efficient, including smooth payer-provider communication to ease physicians’ workload, help to ensure providers will be reimbursed for care, and optimize business operations, ultimately providing an improved patient experience.

Three foundational ways in which payer-provider information exchange technology provides immense value to healthcare organizations are:

– Creating Administrative Efficiency: To help physicians stay focused on patients, administrative efficiency is key. Solutions can come in many shapes and sizes – technology can help to automate workflows and avoid care delays. Modernizing the prior authorization workflow can shorten average time to care, reduce the risk of treatment abandonment, and improve the quality of care. With changing legislation, updated laws encourage the use of technology to increase efficiency while keeping data secure in near real-time exchanges.

– Streamlining Exchange of Information: Interoperability and the technology standards needed to achieve it is an ongoing discussion in healthcare. Technologies that provide efficient, secure, and near real-time and even automated exchange of information are in high demand and will bring about the next era of healthcare. For example, technology has the power to align providers and payers efficiently and consistently, create an open exchange of information, centralize information, provide rapid and organized data transfer, ensure appropriate reimbursement by treatment plan, show pre-authorized treatment plans for the most successful and affordable care and aid health plans’ adaptability in health crises, like COVID-19.

– Increasing Value-Based Care: Optimizing the quality and cost of patient care is a leading principle of healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed areas of healthcare where improvements in patient experience and provider reimbursement desperately need to be accelerated. Using technology with built-in normative databases of accepted treatment paths allows for evidence-based treatment decisions, which in conjunction with efficient payer-provider communication to ensure reimbursement, allows for optimal patient outcomes – creating value for all stakeholders.

Adopting technology to provide administrative efficiency, streamline information exchange and increase the value of all aspects of care will continue to be a fundamental pillar of healthcare; the pandemic has ignited a critical need for even faster change. COVID-19 has brought with it increased stress and uncertainty across the healthcare industry, amplifying the burden on physicians and their staff. Organizations have moved quickly to adopt technologies, such as those that provide a more efficient way to organize and analyze massive amounts of treatment plan decision inputs and aid communication between stakeholders, in order to better support physicians, and ultimately patients.

Tools and technology that automate processes, streamline communications and provide dynamic solutions have proven their value and are now “need to have” rather than “nice to have” for providers. These technologies are foundational to the healthcare system, providing the base from which all stakeholders operate. The pandemic has helped to realize the true value of efficiency technologies, galvanizing the adoption of these tools. Ultimately, more operational efficiency can bring the focus of care back to the patient.

About Christina Perkins

Christina Perkins is VP of Product Management and Strategy for NaviNet at NantHealth. She joined NaviNet in 2003 and has spent the last 17 years expanding the company’s products and services. Prior to joining NaviNet Christina spent seven years designing and building web-based solutions for Partners Healthcare and other hospitals in the Northeast U.S. and Ontario, Canada. Christina on LinkedIn.