– Tyto Care announces the launch of its fingertip Pulse
Oximeter device, allowing users to measure their own blood oxygen saturation
level and heart rate from the comfort and safety of home.
– Expanding its clinic-quality remote capabilities, TytoCare users will be able to perform a remote blood oxygen exam, allowing clinicians to better monitor patients with COVID-19 and chronic lung or heart conditions.
Tyto Care, a New York City-based all-in-one modular device and examination platform for AI-powered, on-demand, remote medical exams, today announced the release of its FDA-cleared fingertip Pulse Oximeter (SpO2) medical device. The Pulse Oximeter enables TytoCare users to check blood oxygen saturation levels and heart rate, which are crucial for the monitoring of chronic conditions and COVID-19.
Fingertip At-Home Pulse Oximeter Measures Blood Oxygen and Heart Rate
The Pulse Oximeter connects by cable to the TytoCare device.
Users who choose to perform the blood oxygen exam are prompted to place their
finger in the SpO2 device for 15 seconds. Upon completion of the
exam, the blood oxygen and heart rate results appear immediately on the
handheld TytoCare device and the Pulse Oximeter adaptor itself and are also
recorded within the TytoCare platform for review by the clinician and sent to
the patients’ EHR
(Electronic Health Record). If the examination is performed in real-time
during a live telehealth visit, the clinician will see the results immediately
in the TytoCare Clinician Dashboard. Clinicians are able to assess the
reliability of the results recorded by viewing the heart rhythm graph generated
during the exam.
Why It Matters
This expansion of Tyto Care’s virtual examination solution
is bringing the company even closer to full remote, clinic-level testing
capabilities from the comfort of home. The Pulse Oximeter is a key tool for
monitoring high-risk or infected individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, as
well as for post-discharge care and home hospitalization. The company’s Pulse
Oximeter device also enables seamless monitoring of patients with chronic lung
and heart conditions, critical during routine times as well.
“We’re excited to announce the release of our Pulse Oximeter, providing patients with more tests that bring the clinic directly to them,” said Dedi Gilad, CEO and Co-Founder of Tyto Care. “The COVID-19 pandemic thrust telehealth into the spotlight, and we are constantly enhancing the TytoCare platform to ensure users have access to the most comprehensive telehealth solution available. The pandemic will eventually be behind us, yet telehealth will remain a key component in the future of healthcare, providing patients with the best possible remote care and clinicians with actionable insights into their patients’ health.”
The SpO2 device is available in the
United States and Israel through partnering health systems. In the future, the
device will also be available in Europe, South Africa, and Asia.
There is almost no profession that technology hasn’t improved or changed in some way. At the touch of a button, we can order our groceries for delivery to our door. In the near future, drones may become commonplace for mail delivery. Every small change is making a significant difference. Therefore, it makes sense for the nursing profession and medical industry to see dramatic technological advancements, as well. However, some stand out from the crowd more than others, such as the following:
1. Portable Monitors
It doesn’t seem like all that long ago that you could only monitor a patient’s vitals while they were in bed. With the invention of portable monitors, that has all changed. Nurses can hook up a monitor on wheels to a patient to check their respiratory rates, oxygen saturation levels, and ECG while they are on the move. This information is then sent to a central monitor. If an emergency occurs, nurses receive an alarm notification.
Every nurse and nurse-in-training through a school like rntobsnprogram.com learns how to use a portable monitor early in their education. This piece of technology can save lives while also ensuring a patient can remain mobile with far more convenience.
2. Smart Beds
It almost seems like every piece of technology we own these days is labeled as ‘smart.’ We can control smart ovens from our mobile devices, turn on the dishwasher when we’re not home, and even use our voices to turn the lights on and off.
It was only a matter of time before smart technology hit the medical ward, and it did it in a big way with smart beds. These beds can carry out several functions that may have previously been left up to a nurse to manage. They can weigh patients, monitor vitals, and even track movement. Given how innovative they are, nurses can even receive communications and updates from the bed to inform them of a patient’s activities.
3. Automated IV Pumps
Nurses are required to be in several places at once in a busy medical facility. Fortunately, technological advancements have meant that machines can take on some of the tasks that take up much of a nurse’s precious time.
Automated IV pumps are something that nurses learn about early on in their training. However, it’s important to note that the style and usage instructions for each pump type can differ from one hospital or clinic to the next. Generally, though, they control the dosage given to patients with software. Nurses can then change the drip amount and dosage to cut down the wait time between changes.
In the wake of COVID-19, telehealth took off as a useful healthcare tool for nurses and doctors to utilize. It allowed people to access the help they needed, but without having to visit a medical facility in person. While a nurse or doctor still has to take the call, the digital meeting means medical resources like beds and seats are left free for more critical cases. Telehealth and apps are expected to supersede in-person visits in the future.
When you start your training to become a nurse, you’ll quickly discover just how much technology is now included in the role. While it might seem daunting at first, these advancements may ultimately make a medical professional’s day-to-day tasks much more manageable.
What You Should Know:
– Aledade raises $100 Million in Series D funding to help
more primary care practices thrive in value-based care.
– The new funding will power the growth of a nationwide network of more than one million patients by further expanding into Medicare Advantage Contracts.
a Bethesda, MD-based provider of value-based primary care, today announced it
has closed a $100 million Series D funding round following a year of
significant growth for its national network of risk-taking primary care
practices. Returning investor Meritech Capital led the round, which included new growth
Global Management and IVP,
and returning investor OMERS Growth Equity. The latest round of funding brings the
company’s valuation to over $2.1 billion dollars.
Delivering Value-Based Primary Care
Founded in 2014 by former National Coordinator for Health IT, Farzad Mostashari, Aledade began building ACO networks for independent physicians through the Medicare Shared Savings Program, but now also partners with commercial payers across the country. Aledade now partners with nearly 800 independent primary care practices, including more than 100 federally-qualified health centers, comprising more than 7,800 providers in 31 states. Through this nationwide network of independent practices, Aledade practices manage roughly $12 billion in health care spending through 35 Medicare and 51 other value-based contracts and care for nearly 1.2 million patients.
Why It Matters
As the healthcare system continues to be strained by the
COVID-19 pandemic, these value-based
practices are keeping patients healthy, at home, and out of the hospital with
proactive, coordinated primary care. Aledade technology helps practices
identify and better manage their most at-risk patients. Patients of practices
engaged with Aledade have fewer emergency department visits, inpatient stays
and readmissions; in the most recent year with public results from the Medicare
Shared Savings Program, Aledade practices reduced hospital stays by an average
of 9 percent, avoiding more than 10,000 unnecessary hospitalizations.
Aledade’s growth has been driven by the success of its
physician-led model, in which the company shares in the risk and reward of both
government and commercial value-based contracts with participating independent
practices. Aledade practices have improved the quality of care and health
outcomes while controlling costs in all types of public and private payer
contracts. To date, Aledade’s participating practices have received more than
$115 million in shared savings revenue.
Funding Will Support Strategic Partnerships with Medicare
Aledade will use this infusion of capital to expand its value-based care model with health plans across the country, with a particular focus on growing its strategic partnerships with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to improve outcomes and quality for more seniors. Already, Aledade works with all of the largest MA payers and multiple Blue Cross plans to give Aledade practices access to Medicare Advantage value-based contracts. In 2020, Aledade more than doubled the number of patients served in these MA contracts, bringing the total to about 100,000.
As the company expands into more MA plan partnerships and
welcomes more practices to its national network of ACOs, Aledade will continue
to invest heavily in its cutting-edge technology platform to ensure primary
care physicians have a world-class operating system for population health.
Aledade also plans to launch several initiatives in 2021 to extend this
These include initiatives to extend the use of integrated
telehealth, predict and prevent the occurrence of unplanned dialysis, reduce
racial disparities in hypertension control, and enable even the smallest
primary care practices in the country to join value-based contracts with
What You Should Know:
– Conversa Health raises an additional
$8M, expanding its Series B round to $20M for its automated virtual care
platform, totaling $34M in funding to date.
– The Series B round, first announced at $12 million in
June, was co-led by Builders VC and Northwell Ventures, the corporate venture
arm of Northwell Health, New York’s largest healthcare provider with 23
hospitals and 800 outpatient facilities.
– Founded in 2014, Conversa enables health systems to
virtually engage, monitor and manage patients more effectively and efficiently
than ever before—for chronic care, acute discharge, perioperative, oncology,
OBGYN, prevention and wellness, and more. Conversa’s automated care platform
engages patients at high frequency and scale while triaging to
higher-touch/cost care venues when necessary, optimizing and improving the use
of telehealth e-visits, phone calls, and in-person consults.
– Conversa will use the additional Series B funds to
continue to scale its technology platform, expand its library of automated
virtual care digital pathways, and fuel growth with new and existing
What You Should Know:
– Philips announces the acquisition of Capsule, a leading vendor-neutral Medical Device Integration Platform with a software-as-a-service business model
– The Capsule acquisition is a strong fit with Philips’
strategy to transform the delivery of healthcare along the health continuum
with integrated solutions.
Philips, today announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire Capsule Technologies, Inc., an Andover, MA-based provider of medical device integration and data technologies for hospitals and healthcare organizations. Capsule’s Medical Device Information Platform – comprised of device integration, vital signs monitoring, and clinical surveillance services – connects almost all existing medical devices and EMRs in hospitals through a vendor-neutral system. Capsule’s platform captures streaming clinical data and transforms it into actionable information for patient care management to enhance patient outcomes, improve collaboration between care teams, streamline clinical workflows and increase productivity.
Founded in 1997, Capsule is the leading global provider of medical device integration (MDI) and information solutions for healthcare providers. Capsule maximizes the value of live streaming medical device data by analyzing and synthesizing it across multiple sensors and devices attached to the patient to advance insight-driven, proactive care.
the company serves over 2,800 hospitals and healthcare organizations in 40
countries across the world. Capsule’s innovations are developed by strong
R&D teams in the U.S. and France. In 2020, the company achieved sales of
over USD 100 million with strong double-digit sales growth. The majority of
sales is related to recurring software-as-a-service and licensing revenues. The
acquisition will be accretive to Philips sales growth and Adjusted EBITA margin
Acquisition Underscores Philips Strategy to Scale Its
Patient Care Management Solutions
The acquisition of Capsule is a strong fit with Philips’
strategy to transform the delivery of care along the health continuum with integrated
solutions. Philips’ current portfolio already includes real-time patient
monitoring, therapeutic devices, telehealth, informatics and interoperability
solutions. The combination of Philips’ industry-leading portfolio with
Capsule’s leading Medical Device Information Platform, connected through
Philips’ secure vendor-neutral cloud-based HealthSuite digital platform, will
greatly enrich and scale Philips’ patient care management solutions for all
care settings in the hospital, as well as remote patient care. As part of the acquisition, Capsule and
its approximately 300 employees will become part of Philips’ Connected Care
“Integrated patient care management solutions supported by essential real-time patient data and AI are core to our strategy to improve patient outcomes and care provider productivity by seamlessly connecting care,” said Roy Jakobs, Chief Business Leader Connected Care at Royal Philips. “The acquisition of Capsule will further expand our patient care management offering. We look forward to integrating our strengths, adding a vendor-neutral medical device integration platform that further unlocks the power of medical device data to enhance patient monitoring and management, improve collaboration and streamline workflows in the ICU, as well as other care settings in the hospital and beyond its walls.”
will acquire Capsule for $635M (approximately EUR 530 million) in cash. The
transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory
clearances in relevant jurisdictions outside of the U.S. The transaction is expected to be completed in the first quarter
In the face of COVID-19, healthcare witnessed how crises can become the long-awaited push for creativity and innovation that the industry needs. When our healthcare infrastructure’s weaknesses were exposed, telehealth helped to stitch them up, with the number of telehealth claims increasing 8,336% nationally from April 2019 to April 2020. Out of need, patients quickly turned to telehealth as a new model of care delivery; clinicians adapted to a new avenue for engaging with patients, policymakers began to improve incentives for its use; and home became our hospital.
As we continue the fight to control the virus in 2021, the industry is at a pivotal moment in ensuring this year’s telehealth momentum continues post-pandemic. Healthcare organizations should take time now to strategize how best to hardwire telehealth, so it is embedded into care delivery models long-term. In order to achieve this, leaders need to consider their collaboration with other stakeholders, longitudinal integration strategies that go beyond piecemeal solutions and transform the perception of what “home” means in healthcare to meet consumers where they are.
Step 1: Collaborate to advance technology
If we’ve learned anything from healthcare’s digitization over the years, it’s that technology for technology’s sake is not enough – solving healthcare’s issues is a systems problem, not a disease problem. For telehealth to last, there needs to be a clinical transformation where workflows are rewritten, policies strongly incentivize its use and companies and hospitals partner on outcome-based models that support its scalability.
In the last six months, we have seen more innovation and adoption in healthcare than we’ve seen in the last decade, with typical innovation timelines of years becoming weeks or days. In many ways, this creativity and open innovation saved the U.S. healthcare system from collapsing and helped us survive the initial surge. We also saw the collaboration of all sorts reach new heights, with organizations, federal agencies, private and public companies from different industries coming together to manage surge capacity while maintaining quality care. Another benefit of these partnerships is the emphasis on long-term policy changes that will empower lasting change and adoption of these innovative approaches. Industry efforts, like ours with the ATA, aim to promote telehealth’s growth and support hospitals, payers, and patients across care settings. The pandemic’s productive collaboration cannot stop here. Instead, we should continue to bring dimensions of policy, clinical experience, and consumer voices to imbed telehealth into our everyday systems.
Step 2: Determine avenues for seamless data integration across settings
Telehealth’s power is not in its technical claims, but in the power of presenting caregivers with actionable, meaningful patient data so they can make data-driven care decisions with confidence. This is only made possible with interoperable, cloud-based solutions that collect, digest, and analyze data to inform care. With constant transfer of key patient data through connected devices, such as hospital-grade wearables and biosensors, and translating the data into useable insights, remote patient monitoring empowers care teams with the knowledge needed to intervene earlier and keep patients healthy at home.
Telehealth’s power expands beyond the home, supporting a continuum of care no matter what setting a patient is in. Remote monitoring within the hospital is the crux of minimizing infection risk, handling sudden increases in patient volumes and allocating resources appropriately. These include solutions such as centralized clinical command centers to achieve remote, holistic patient views, or technology that activates scalable patient monitoring for ICU ramp-ups. The solutions we deploy need to be enablers of seamless data transfer – from the ED to ICU, to post-acute and home setting. We now must ensure our informatics backbones mature with these solutions, eliminating gaps in care while ensuring a secure flow of data where and when it’s needed. Deploying cloud-based platforms that bring together the right information across the care continuum will make for a powerful, integrated system that enhances patient and staff safety improves outcomes, and reduces costs.
Step 3: Transforming what “home” means in healthcare
2020 has transformed how we view “home.” Home has become the center of life operations for people across the globe – we work from home, we educate our children at home and we exercise at home. Healthcare is now becoming another cornerstone of the home. With a growing volume of telehealth offerings and household names providing care services, consumer behavior is changing to expect customization, convenience, and instant gratification. The consumer’s voice is loud, and tomorrow’s healthcare will move it from a whisper to a shout – We must be prepared to deliver care when and where patients want to receive it, increasingly let go of healthcare’s brick-and-mortar blueprint, and enable healthcare to match the ease and convenience of other areas of a patient’s life.
However, just like all these other ‘at-home’ activities that require getting used to or training, we need to support health literacy and engagement for all users. The pandemic has made the inequalities in our health system raw. Even before the pandemic, 5% of the patients account for about half of U.S. healthcare spending. This is a sign that they are not receiving the proactive care and support they need. We have an opportunity to change this equation with virtual care and bridge the digital divide by tailoring solutions to meet each patient’s needs and ensuring equitable availability to all patients.
Transforming telehealth into a standard of care
Technology isn’t the answer to telehealth’s success alone – it is virtualizing care where it is needed most and ensuring it is fully integrated across an institution. Healthcare organizations should reflect on where their greatest challenges and populations are, and look for systematic solutions for telehealth so that virtualization can scale efficiently and build from existing technology and workflows. With productive collaboration across sectors, robust data integration infrastructures, and an evolved perception of how we view healthcare, these tools have the power to influence how patients view and engage with their health, pushing the industry toward more proactive care that will have long-term benefits on outcomes and cost.
About Karsten Russell-Wood
Karsten Russell-Wood, MBA, MPH is the Portfolio Leader for Post-Acute and Home at Philips where he is responsible for Innovation and cross-business platform strategy and portfolio optimization. Prior to joining Philips, Karsten held global product management roles within GE’s healthcare businesses with an orientation to targeted patient populations and continues to be active in venture capital and startups in the digital health space.
What You Should Know:
– The virtual primary care plan will allow patients access
to physicians with low or no co-pays for routine care via phone or computer.
– The virtual primary care program will be available for employers in 11 states including Colorado, Texas, and Maryland, as well as Washington, DC.
The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is changing the face of healthcare and has the potential to significantly improve patient access as well as system efficiencies. The adoption of telemedicine, for example, spurred on by the Covid-19 pandemic, has spread rapidly. Forrester revised its forecasts to predict that virtual care visits in the United States will soar to more than one billion this year—including 900 million visits related to Covid-19 specifically. Likewise, in the United Kingdom, 40% of doctor’s appointments now consist of phone or video calls.
Even before the pandemic, the adoption of IoMT was already growing rapidly, with the market valued at US$44.5 billion in 2018 and predicted to reach US$254 billion in 2026. There are more than 500,000 medical devices on the market, helping to diagnose, monitor, and treat patients – and more and more of these can, and are, becoming connected – not to mention innovations yet to enter the market. The connected medical devices segment specifically is expected to exceed $52 billion by 2022.
The COVID-19 Effect
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the healthcare landscape more than any other single event in recent memory. The urgent and widespread need for care, coupled with the challenge of physical distancing, has accelerated the creation and adoption of new digital technologies as well as new processes to support their adoption and implementation across healthcare. The MedTech industry is emerging as a key apparatus to combat the virus and provide urgent support.
A simple example demonstrating the potential benefits of IoMT can be seen even within a hospital setting, where monitoring COVID-19 patients is costly in terms of time and PPE (personal protective equipment) consumption, since simply walking into a patient’s room becomes a complex process. IoMT technologies enable medical devices to send data to medical practitioners who can monitor a patient’s condition without having to take readings at the bedside. The same technologies can enable patients who do not require hospitalization to be safely monitored while remaining at home or in a community setting.
From the patients’ perspective, many are embracing virtual healthcare as an alternative to long waits or having to go to a clinic or hospital altogether. And given the growing number and scope of connected medical devices and services, such as remote patient monitoring, therapy, or even diagnosis, there will be even more options in the future.
Catalyzed by the pandemic, the IoMT genie is fully out of the bottle, and it is unlikely to go back.
This is good news for healthcare and good news for patients and families. Patient access is improving as telehealth, supported by connected devices to enable the collection of health-related data remotely, is helping to lift barriers. This increase in accessibility has the potential to improve the convenience, timeliness, and even safety of access to healthcare services for more people in more places.
IoMT is lifting geographic barriers that have impeded access to healthcare since its very inception. Individuals with transportation or mobility challenges will no longer need to travel to receive routine care if they can be safely monitored while at home. Historically underserved rural or remote communities can gain access to medical specialists without needing to fly or drive great distances, while services can be delivered more cost-effectively.
Furthermore, with fewer clinic or hospital-based appointments required for routine monitoring of patients who are otherwise doing well, doctors would be able to concentrate their in-person time and clinic resources on those most in need of care.
The capacity for specialized medicine enabled by IoMT could also have a dramatic impact. The vast quantities of health data becoming available (with the requisite permissions in place), can enable sophisticated AI-driven health applications that can, for example, predict complications before they occur, better understand the health needs of specific populations, or enable stronger patient engagement and self-care. These models can also equip healthcare practitioners with better sources of information, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes.
That said, while technology capabilities expand, innovation must take into consideration the needs of all the stakeholders within healthcare – from patients and caregivers to healthcare practitioners to administrators and payors/funders. Internet access, infrastructure, and comfort with technology, for example, can pose significant barriers for patients and health practitioners alike.
One approach is to minimize the technological burden facing end-users. Devices should be user friendly and “ready to go” right out of the box, taking into consideration the circumstances and abilities of the potential range of users (patients and practitioners alike). Relying on the patient’s home Wi-Fi to provide connectivity is not ideal from either a usability or security perspective – not to mention availability and affordability. It is better for medical devices to have a cellular connection that can be immediately and securely connected to the network from any location, while also being remotely manageable to avoid burdening the user with network and setup requirements, or apps to download.
Another barrier is the concern that both patients and healthcare providers have about security and data privacy risks. According to the 2016 edition of Philips’ Future Health Index, privacy/data security is second only to cost in the list of top barriers to the adoption of connected technology in healthcare across the countries surveyed.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, FBI, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have warned of cybercrime threats against hospitals and healthcare providers. The WannaCry ransomware attacks affected tens of thousands of NHS medical tools in England and Scotland. The enthusiasm in rolling out new digital health solutions must not overlook security principles or create systems that rely on ad hoc patches.
One way of meeting the stringent security requirements of healthcare is to ensure that connected medical devices have security literally built into their hardware, following the most recent guidelines set out by the GSMA for IoT security, including the GSMA IoT SAFE specifications. In accordance with this globally relevant approach, connected devices have a specially designed SIM that serves as a mini “crypto safe” inside the device to ensure that only authorized communication can occur.
Similarly, new medical devices and software that are difficult to implement or cannot communicate with other systems such as electronic health/medical records risk being “orphaned” in the system or simply not used. The latter is a matter of both developing the necessary integrations and ensuring the appropriate access and permissions are managed. More easily said than done, fully integrated systems take time, and some of the pieces may be added incrementally – the key is that the potential to do so is there from the beginning so future resources can be invested in enhancements rather than replacements.
Early Collaboration is Key
Accessibility and usability must be designed right into IoMT solutions from the outset, and the best way of ensuring that is for developers and healthcare stakeholders to have plenty of interaction long before the product enters the market. Stakeholders are many and healthcare systems are complex, so innovators can look to startup accelerators and other thought leaders to help navigate the territory. The time and effort spent by innovators and healthcare stakeholders in collaborating is a sound investment in the future, ensuring that technology is designed and then applied in meaningful and equitable ways to address the most pressing issues.
The telehealth genie, powered by IoMT, is indeed out of the bottle and is set to revolutionize healthcare. By ensuring that IoMT technologies are developed and implemented with security, accessibility, and ease of use for all stakeholders as priorities, we can make sure that the full benefits of this new dawn can be enjoyed by all.
Heidi Sveistrup, Ph.D. Bio
As the current CEO of the Bruyère Research Institute and VP, Research and Academic Affairs at Bruyère Continuing Care, Heidi Sveistrup, Ph.D. is focusing on increasing the research and innovation supporting pivotal transitions in care; meaningful, enjoyable and doable ways to support people to live where they choose; and creating opportunities to discover and create new approaches to identify, diagnose, treat and support brain health with individuals with memory loss. Fostering new and supporting existing collaborations among researchers, policymakers, practitioners, civil society and industry continues to be a priority.
Elza Seregelyi Bio
Elza Seregelyi is the Director for the TELUS L-SPARK MedTech Accelerator program, which offers participants pre-commercial access to a secure telehealth platform. L-SPARK is currently working with its first cohort of MedTech companies. Elza has an engineering and entrepreneurship background with extensive experience driving collaborative initiatives.
The majority of industries have decreased or eliminated their use of the traditional fax machine over the past decade, including aviation, retail, and even finance. While the healthcare industry is at the forefront of disease research and treatment, however, it is still heavily reliant on this aging technology.
Traditional fax has become ubiquitous in healthcare. It worked for health systems for many years, but the overwhelming volume of patient data and paper documents the healthcare industry is now processing makes traditional faxing more challenging. In today’s environment, fax is no longer the most convenient, safe, or secure communications format but it is still an ingrained part of practice workflows. The good news is, there is no need to “axe the fax” in order to improve office communications and alleviate paper overload. By transitioning to electronic fax, healthcare providers can maintain their workflows and the benefits of fax, while incorporating it into their overall virtual communications strategy – further simplifying the business of healthcare.
The Traditional Fax Challenge
The challenge with traditional fax isn’t new. In fact, in 2008 the Obama administration allocated nearly $30 billion to incentivize American hospitals and doctor offices to switch from paper to electronic systems. Since then, the industry has made small steps towards a more digitized system via fax servers and virtual patient communications such as secure text and broadcast messaging. While this solved part of the problem by making documents electronic and streamlining communications, it did not address the issue of inefficiency at its core, as practices are still printing, signing, and scanning paper documents. This inefficiency is causing a bottleneck when it comes to getting information transferred quickly, creates unnecessary costs for practices, and causes a lack of integration between health technologies across our healthcare system.
A recent poll by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) found that 89% of healthcare organizations still use a fax machine, primarily to:
- Share patient records and lab and/or test results
- Payer communication
- Pharmacy communication
This fragmented, outdated way of communication is not only inefficient and costly, it also impacts patient privacy and safety. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one Texas health department received so many test results via fax in one day that it simply couldn’t keep up with the amount of paper being spit out – resulting in hundreds of confidential results being dumped on the floor. In addition, the vast differences between old and new technology being blended together are making it difficult to keep track of patient records, share data between practices or report to the government, and more, including important racial, ethnic and geographic data that the Trump administration required for COVID tests. In addition to these challenges, traditional fax eats up staff time that could instead be spent on patient care.
Addressing Outdated Systems and Driving Transformation
While on the surface the solution seems simple, actually addressing this challenge at its core is not as easy as it seems. Many providers and large health systems face barriers when it comes to implementing this technology, such as:
- Compatibility between systems
- Fear of competition and/or losing patients to other health systems if e-fax enables patients to easily share data with other physicians
- Cost considerations
- Regulatory issues around the transfer of data between providers/EHRs through electronic fax
Despite these challenges, the pandemic has highlighted the delayed, disjointed communications that exist within our healthcare system – and underscored the need for practices and health systems to adopt electronic fax technology. For example, a CNBC survey found that due to COVID-19 tests results coming in via fax in such large amounts, almost 40% of Americans had to wait more than three days for their results, which was too late to be clinically meaningful.
It’s time to address this challenge industry-wide. Last year’s MGMA 2020 virtual conference theme, Rise Above, focused on giving providers actionable tools to navigate through the challenges COVID-19 has presented. The importance of virtual care solutions, including communications tools like electronic fax and forms, are unprecedented. Electronic fax technology can help alleviate the bottlenecks and inefficiencies that currently exist in healthcare. These solutions can:
- Reduce costs spent on traditional fax hardware, such as paper, ink, toner, etc.
- Increase accessibility, allowing providers to view documents via mobile, etc. at their convenience
- Improve practice workflow and efficiency, allowing practices to edit, organize, assign and complete patient forms online
Additionally, electronic fax should integrate seamlessly with other patient management solutions that practices are leveraging, such as video chat, SMS text, electronic forms, and a virtual waiting room, ultimately streamlining the entire patient experience.
Healthcare has transformed dramatically this year and will continue to do so — there’s a new expectation of patient care post-COVID. In order to improve patient communications, practice efficiency, system interoperability, and data sharing, practices must adopt an entire virtual care strategy, including electronic fax. Offering telehealth but still communicating via traditional fax will hold your practice back. It’s time for our healthcare system to ditch outdated systems and go completely paperless. This is how we will tap into the true power of the inbox, drive practice profitability and efficiency, and better serve patients.
About Michael Morgan, CEO of Updox
With a successful track record in helping organizations use technology to transform the way healthcare is delivered, Mike has more than 25 years of healthcare leadership within software, behavioral health, and HIT organizations. Updox was named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies in America for the past six consecutive years.
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
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:
broadband Internet access services
2. health care
provider broadband data connections
connected care information services
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
Duke University Health System, Durham,
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,
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
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,
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.
As healthcare spending continues to rise, so too does the inherent risk for bad actors to take advantage. Today, the United States is estimated to spend nearly 18 percent of its GDP, or $3.6 trillion, on healthcare, and is expected to increase to one-fifth of GDP within the next decade, according to the latest data. This alone provides ample motivation for fraud and abuse. While the full extent of healthcare fraud is difficult to measure,
The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) conservatively estimates that 3 percent – $68 billion – of all healthcare spending is lost to fraud each year. Others, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), estimate fraud accounts for up to 10 percent of healthcare expenditures.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the motivation for fraud and abuse amid the increased fear, confusion, and a relaxed regulatory environment. From fake cures to malware and illegitimate charities, fraudsters are taking advantage. Telehealth, which has experienced exponential growth aided by regulatory accommodations to facilitate its widespread adoption, is an area of particular concern. In turn, states and healthcare organizations must optimize their program integrity operations and telehealth strategy to stay protected amid healthcare’s new normal.
Greater Access Brings Greater Risk
The pandemic-driven expansion of telehealth has been profound in terms of enabling care access and continuity while reducing the risk of infection. When the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) temporarily expanded telehealth coverage at the start of the pandemic, adoption soared to unprecedented levels.
According to a McKinsey report, providers have seen 50 to 175 times more patients through telehealth appointments compared to any year prior. At the same time, once-strict regulations governing telehealth services have been relaxed during the COVID-19 emergency, and the federal government has proposed to make permanent many of the regulatory changes initially meant to temporarily increase access to telehealth.
In parallel and perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a growing sentiment that telehealth is here to stay. According to a recent CynergisTek survey, 70 percent of consumers plan to continue using telehealth post-pandemic. From a provider perspective, new research from Bain & Company found that more than 80 percent of providers will continue to use telehealth as much or more than they do now.
All this considered, we must acknowledge the inherent risks of this technology. Telehealth has a poor track record for fraud, waste and abuse, with some of the largest healthcare fraud schemes involving telehealth providers. This September, for example, the Department of Justice announced the largest case of healthcare fraud in history, involving more than 300 individuals who submitted over $6 billion in fraudulent claims, with telehealth accounting for $4.5 billion of those claims.
With providers struggling to meet fluctuating demand amid unprecedented revenue shortfalls, improper billing practices — both intentional and inadvertent — are, to some degree, inevitable. Factor in hundreds of new telehealth codes and coding considerations as well as the overall stress on the healthcare system, and it is clear we must examine existing risk mitigation measures through a new, post-pandemic lens.
Strategies for Mitigating Telehealth Fraud & Abuse
For healthcare organizations and, specifically, special investigation units (SIUs) tasked with combatting fraud and abuse, the shift to telehealth adds an additional layer of complexity. Fortunately, there are strategies healthcare organizations can implement to successfully navigate the evolving landscape while strengthening the integrity of their operations for healthcare’s new normal.
Data visualization is a key component of an effective fraud investigation. Charts and graphs provide a clear representation of trends and outliers, including connections that could indicate a kickback or collusion scheme. Critical to the success of these tools, however, is the quality of the data that underlies them. Collecting sample data based on the appropriate modifiers and conducting thorough background research provides an accurate portrayal of events from which SIUs can clearly identify and pursue potential fraud schemes.
Integrating qualitative research into telehealth strategies is a great way to capture fraud at the source. When appropriate, conducting interviews with patients can validate whether services were in fact rendered as billed. For instance, a provider may bill for audio-only services as if they were delivered in an audio-visual capacity, resulting in an unjustifiably higher reimbursement rate. Similarly, using data visualization techniques to identify suspect trends, such as blanket billing or an implausibly high volume of services during a known low-demand period, can inform pointed questions for patients.
As we traverse this unprecedented territory, being on high alert for potential indicators of fraud and abuse is critical to protecting healthcare organizations and consumers. If something doesn’t make sense, whether clinically or in the context of the larger healthcare landscape, it is worth investigating. Understanding the limitations of telehealth and other key considerations surrounding its use will help to ensure we are maximizing the benefits of these services while mitigating their inherent risks.
Healthcare providers and patients alike have embraced telehealth during the COVID-19 crisis and, in doing so, confirmed what advocates have been saying for years — that telehealth promotes greater access to care. While ultimately good news for stakeholders across the healthcare spectrum, the environment we find ourselves in today has also created new avenues for fraudsters to take advantage. As telehealth becomes an inseparable part of the healthcare ecosystem, we are quickly learning how to identify telehealth fraud schemes, and, more importantly, strategies to mitigate the risks they post to integrity and security in the space.
About Gary Call, M.D.
Gary Call, M.D., is senior vice president and Chief Medical Officer at HMS, where he leads the company’s clinical program development and execution. Dr. Call has more than 25 years of experience in the practice of medicine and managed care. Dr. Call graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine and completed his residency training at the University of Utah. He is a board-certified family physician.
What You Should Know:
– NRC Health today released its 2021 Healthcare Consumer
Trends Report, which surveyed 2 million healthcare consumers against the
backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
– The latest report highlights the major trends that came to light last year, and how they will continue to impact the healthcare industry in 2021 and beyond – from declining brand loyalty, increased care deferment, the fast adoption of telehealth, a rise in wearable tech, and a broader focus on social media marketing.
– Hospital leaders will also find value in learning how
to recapture patient volumes lost in 2020 and how to bring more human
understanding into the care experience.
NRC Health, a provider of in-depth
customer intelligence in healthcare, today released its 2021 Healthcare Consumer Trends Report. For its
third-annual industry review, NRC Health surveyed millions of healthcare
consumers against the backdrop of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. From
declining brand loyalty, increased care deferment, the fast adoption of
telehealth, a rise in wearable tech and a broader focus on social media
marketing, NRC Health’s latest report shines a light on consumers’ evolving
preferences and behaviors related to key healthcare trends and offers insight
into how provider organizations can recapture patient volumes in 2021.
COVID-19 Accelerated the Trajectory of Consumerism in
“It cannot be overstated just how dramatically COVID-19 has accelerated the trajectory of consumerism in healthcare,” said Helen Hrdy, Chief Growth Officer, NRC Health. “The onus falls on healthcare leaders to move the industry forward by ensuring patient safety, building consumer trust and bringing more human understanding into every care experience. Those organizations that are willing and able to evolve with the times will be best-positioned for success in the aftermath of COVID-19.”
“For years, consumers have made consistent appeals for autonomy, convenience, and freedom of choice,” said Hrdy. “As unsettling as it’s been, COVID-19 has brought some of these consumerist-driven measures to the forefront. While healthcare leaders have proven they can be nimble and adaptable, even in the face of crisis, consumers want a partnership with their providers and a care experience that exceeds their expectations moving forward. But only with the right data and the right understanding, can we ensure that healthcare is capable of adapting.”
4 Key Healthcare Consumerism Trends to Know in 2021
1. Consumers favor convenience, provider rapport over brand loyalty
Consumer loyalty is a major driver of health system
profitability, but unfortunately for hospitals and health systems, overall
brand preference among healthcare consumers continues to decline, from 31% in
2018 to 36% in 2020. More than a third of consumers expressed no particular
preference for a healthcare brand, when compared against independent
practitioners, and 62% anticipate their brand preferences to change after the
Ironically, providers themselves are in the best position to
earn back consumer trust. An analysis from NRC Health’s Real-time Feedback
database shows that consumers report an overwhelming fondness for their
providers, especially since the outbreak began. To capitalize on that goodwill
and bring patients back into the healthcare fold, all evidence points to
convenience. Almost half of consumers say a convenient location is the number
one factor in their healthcare decision-making.
2. Patient deferment rates will continue to rise
Prior to the pandemic, healthcare deferral rates were
approaching a five-year low. But with consumer anxiety at an all-time high due
to the pandemic, those rates rose significantly in 2020, up from 22.4% at the
end of March to 30.4% by the end of June. Forty percent of patients who delayed
care in 2020 cited the coronavirus as the reason, while 17.2% said they prefer
to manage their care on their own for now.
Delaying care can have a number of repercussions, from
threatening hospital revenue streams in the near term to causing far more
serious outcomes for consumers in the long term. Patients 75 and older
accounted for nearly 68% of all care delays, revealing a huge challenge for
health systems as they try to recruit this generation back into regular care.
3. Future of care delivery looks
uncertain after rapid telehealth adoption
Lagging in widespread adoption for years, the pandemic fast
tracked virtual care delivery from optional luxury to operational necessity.
Fortunately, consumers have been receptive to the shift, with an overwhelming
92% reporting positive telehealth experiences during this time. However, only
27% of consumers say they will consider telehealth as a potential alternative
for future visits, underscoring what is still an uncertain future for virtual
health and overall care delivery beyond the pandemic. Prioritizing provider
time and attentiveness, as well as financial transparency, will be key as
healthcare organizations work to cultivate effective telehealth practices long
4. Patients and providers still disconnected over digital
may have brought healthcare into consumers’ homes, but it is by no means the
only avenue to reach customers outside of the healthcare facility. By and
large, consumers are enthusiastic about digital innovations that bring them
closer to their provider — even as these innovations are underutilized by
tech, for example, has become a huge part of the average consumer’s daily
life in regards to how they manage their health and wellness from home. Yet
only 50% of providers are asking about wearable tech data during appointments,
despite the fact that 57% of consumers believe this data would be useful in
conversations with their healthcare providers.
Social media is another under-used digital venue for patient
interaction. Even though 72% of Americans have some kind of social media
profile, many health systems have not yet found an optimal strategy for
engagement. And while currently, only 23% of Internet users are actively
seeking health information on social media, that number is likely to soon rise
as 70% percent of consumers expressed interest in getting healthcare
information via social channels. Another 62% said they trust the health information
they get on social media, so long as it comes directly from their provider.
This was especially true during the worst of the pandemic, when consumers
trusted news from local healthcare organizations more than any other sources.
What You Should Know:
– NeuroFlow raises $20M to expand its technology-enabled behavioral
health integration platform, led by Magellan Health.
– NeuroFlow’s suite of HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based tools
simplify remote patient monitoring, enable risk stratification, and facilitate
collaborative care. With NeuroFlow, health care organizations can finally
bridge the gap between mental and physical health in order to improve outcomes
and reduce the cost of care.
NeuroFlow, a Philadelphia-based digital health startup supporting technology-enabled behavioral health integration (tBHI), announces today the initial closing of a $20M Series B financing round led by Magellan Health, in addition to a syndicate including previous investors. Magellan is a leader in managing the fastest growing, most complex areas of health, including behavioral health, complete pharmacy benefits and other specialty areas of healthcare.
NeuroFlow for Digital Behavioral Health Integration
NeuroFlow works with leading health plans, provider systems,
as well as the U.S. military and government to enhance virtual health programs
by delivering a comprehensive approach to whole-person care through digital
behavioral health integration – an evidence-based model to identify and treat
consumers with depression, anxiety and other behavioral health conditions
across all care settings.
Key features of the behavioral health platform include:
– Interoperability: Seamless EHR and system integrations minimize administrative burden and optimize current IT investments.
– Measurement-based Care & Clinical Decision Support: NeuroFlow enables MBC at scale, keeps the patient in the center of care, and continuously monitors for a consistent connection to critical data and clinical decision support.
– Performance Management & Reporting: Recognize
the impact of your BHI program, monitoring the impact of clinical interventions
on quality and cost of care while recognizing outliers requiring program
– Consumer Engagement & Self-Care: personalized
experience that encourages, rewards and recognizes continuous engagement and
Maximize Efficiency, Revenue and Reimbursements
By integrating behavioral health into the primary care setting, increasing screening and self-care plans – NeuroFlow’s BHI solution can reduce ED utilization by 23% and inpatient visits by 10%. 80% of NeuroFlow users self-reported a reduction in depression or anxiety symptoms and 62% of users with severe depression score improve to moderate or better.
Telehealth Adoption Underscores Need for Behavioral
With record growth in telehealth adoption and historic spikes in depression and anxiety due to the ongoing pandemic, workflow augmentation solutions and the delivery of effective behavioral health care have been identified as top priorities in the industry. NeuroFlow’s technology increases access to personalized, collaborative care while empowering primary care providers, care managers, and other specialists to most effectively support patient populations by accounting for and addressing behavioral health.
“Behavioral health is not independent of our overall health — it affects our physical health and vice versa, yet most underlying behavioral health conditions go unidentified or are ineffectively treated. Most healthcare providers are overburdened, so introducing the concept to account for a person’s mental health in addition to their primary specialty can be overwhelming and lead to inconsistent and inadequate treatment,” said NeuroFlow CEO Chris Molaro. “Technology, when used strategically, can enhance and augment providers, making the concept of holistic and value-based care feasible at scale and easy to implement.”
Strategic Partnership with Magellan
Magellan Health’s network of more than 118,000 credentialed
providers and health professionals are now poised to join NeuroFlow customers
across the country by leveraging the best-in-class integrated data and
analytics platform to meet the rising demand for enhanced mental health
services and support. By partnering with and investing in NeuroFlow, Magellan
has the opportunity to drive further adoption of NeuroFlow’s behavioral health
integration tools and drive collaborative care initiatives with its customers
as well as its vast network of credentialed providers and health professionals
across the country.
NeuroFlow will use the Series B proceeds to scale its
operations and support its growth in data analytics, artificial intelligence,
and direct health record integrations. NeuroFlow’s contracted user base has
grown 10x to over 330,000 in support of almost 200 commercial health systems,
payers, accountable care organizations, independent medical groups, and federal
agencies to provide technology-enabled care solutions.
What You Should Know:
– Telehealth adoption for behavioral health services
jumped sharply during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown,
according to a new RAND Corporation study.
Telehealth adoption increased sharply during the first
months of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown, with the approach being used more
often for behavioral health services than for
medical care, according to a new RAND Corporation study. Prior to the pandemic, patients
frequently were reluctant to use telehealth because it often meant seeing a provider
other than their own physician. According to researchers, sustaining the
ability to see one’s own doctor through telehealth may be critical to making
telehealth a permanent part of routine healthcare.
The study conducted between mid-March and
early May 2020 reveals telehealth was used by more than 40% of patients with a
chronic physical health condition and by more
than 50% of those with a behavioral health condition,
according to findings published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. Overall,
almost half of the people who were undergoing treatment when the pandemic
shutdown began reported using some form of telemedicine.
RAND researchers examined
the increase in telehealth by surveying 2,052 adults who are a part of the RAND
American Life Panel, a nationally representative internet panel. The
questions about use of telehealth were part of a larger survey about life
during the pandemic that was fielded between May 1 and May 6.
Researchers found that the use of telehealth
for behavioral health conditions was lower
among women and among people over the age of 60. Use of telehealth also was
lower among Non-Hispanic Whites relative to Non-Hispanic Blacks and was lower
among those with less than a high school education relative to those with a
When the pandemic began, nearly 40% of the Americans
surveyed were being treated for a chronic physical health condition, while 15%
were being treated for a behavioral health condition. Since the pandemic
started, 16% had considered seeking care for a new or recurrent condition.
The study found that among patients who were receiving
care when the pandemic began, 11% had
used telehealth that included video conferencing from the middle of March to
early May, a period of less than two months. In contrast, a survey conducted
with the same panel in 2019 found that fewer than 4% had ever used video
conferencing with a doctor.
Among people who used telehealth services, researchers
found that the use of video telehealth was less common for physical health care
(14% of patients) than for behavioral health care (30% of patients).
Lack of insurance was associated with lower telehealth
use for new conditions, while use of telehealth was more common in the
Northeast than other parts of the nation.
“While the increased use of telehealth was widespread, some groups of Americans reported using the services less often than others,” said Dr. Shira H. Fischer, the study’s lead author and a physician researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “If telehealth use is going to remain high, we need to ensure equity of access, particularly for behavioral health care where education, age and gender were all associated with levels of use.”
“There is a wide expectation that telehealth will continue after the pandemic ends. Lessons from the use of telehealth during this period should inform policy for the post-COVID-19 era,” Fischer said.
2020 was the year that changed everything, and as the new year begins many are wondering what awaits the world in 2021. Impetus Digital co-founder and CEO Natalie Yeadon reflects on the last 12 months and shares her views on the healthcare, research and digital changes that could be here to stay.
I think it is fair to say that 2020 will not be particularly missed by anyone. Many started the year with big plans, whether for overseas trips, weddings, or industry events, and then the unthinkable happened. While the world first heard of the novel coronavirus in late 2019, it was not until 11 March 2020 that it was declared a global pandemic and it finally sank in just how serious of a threat it was. But how will the world continue to change in 2021?
Major global events
COVID-19 has amplified many of the issues that society was already facing. Although the pandemic has largely taken the media’s focus away from the climate crisis, it has given us a preview of what is to come if we do not stop exploiting the planet and our wildlife. Indeed, 2020 brought new record forest fires and extreme weather events.
In addition, 2020 was the year where social justice (not least in the form of Black Lives Matter protests) was brought into focus. Racial discrimination and bias were also uncovered in healthcare, with stark differences in COVID-19 rates and mortality between different ethnicities in many countries.
COVID-19 has widened the already large class divides seen between white-collar and service workers, with the former typically having the option of working from home and taking the recommended social distancing precautions. Conversely, the latter group is largely being forced to carry on with their work with little protection and low compensation, if they even have a job to go to after many smaller businesses closed their doors.
Public health has been politicised
Somehow, in 2020, wearing a mask to prevent the spread of a highly contagious disease became a controversial and political issue. People were asked to stay home, watch Netflix, and bake sourdough bread to protect those who are vulnerable, yet photos of packed bars and sports stadiums soon emerged and anti-masking protests were held across the world.
Epidemiologists, researchers, and clinicians are now household names, with people like Dr Anthony Fauci and Sweden’s Anders Tegnell drawing their fair share of both praise and criticism domestically and internationally. Countries’ strategies to contain the spread of the virus have been debated and criticised, and it will likely be years before we will be able to say which approaches were “right” and “wrong”.
“On the upside, the pandemic has brought enhanced focus to mental health issues and innovative approaches on how to best address these. If we can keep the momentum going and retain this focus post-COVID, perhaps the stigma around mental health can be lifted and better treatment strategies can emerge”
Mental health focus
The secondary effects on mental health during the pandemic are vast. We are already seeing increased rates of depression and anxiety because of the pandemic, and there are no signs of this slowing down. Women are especially impacted, disproportionately having to take on childcare or home-schooling compared to their male counterparts.
On the upside, the pandemic has brought enhanced focus to these issues and innovative approaches on how to best address mental health. If we can keep the momentum going and retain this focus post-COVID, perhaps the stigma can be lifted and better treatment strategies can emerge.
United global research
Another positive note is that the pandemic has accelerated laboratory and clinical trial collaboration far beyond what has ever been seen before. From the onset of the pandemic, scientists have been openly sharing their data with investigators from other centres or countries. It has also shown that the time it takes to get a drug to market can be substantially reduced when there is enough funding and political will. How this will affect clinical trials and regulatory approvals in the future remains to be seen, but there is reason to be optimistic.
Healthcare goes virtual
Before 2020, telehealth appointments were few and far between, with many clinics not set up for these services. Since then, the growth of telemedicine has been exponential. Another aspect of healthcare that has had to adapt is the way we monitor chronic conditions. Older patients or those with co-morbidities are at higher risk of severe COVID-19, so frequent clinic visits for routine blood pressure measurements are not always feasible. As a result, we have seen a dramatic increase in the interest and uptake of remote monitoring devices such as wearables and mobile health apps. I predict that this is just the beginning of healthcare’s virtualisation and am excited to see what the new year has in store.
Remote work is the future
Another major change in 2020 was of course the sudden move to remote work. For many, it was a 180-degree shift from business as usual. Interestingly, in a Canadian survey, the majority of respondents (55%) expected at least some of the workforce to remain remote in a substantial way after the pandemic is over, while only 17% expected all staff to be onsite five days a week. Further, major companies like Twitter have announced that employees will be able to work from home permanently, signalling a clear change in the way that we do work. While not without challenges, I see remote work becoming a mainstay due to its greater flexibility and convenience for workers.
Virtual events are rapidly improving
Finally, the ways that pharmaceutical and scientific communities attend meetings and events completely changed in 2020. Virtual meetings such as advisory boards and steering committees were already popular before this year but were often accompanied by in-person meetings. We have now seen without a doubt that it is possible to meet the same objectives virtually, often more effectively and at a lower cost.
The biggest change, however, is the way we now attend larger events such as conferences, congresses, and medical education events. There is no shortage of online conference solutions available, but there is still much to improve on. For example, some aspects of in-person events are not always there or are poor substitutes for the real thing.
Ideally, virtual event platforms should be comprehensive so that everything you need is in the same place. The layout, branding, and inclusions should be completely customisable to your needs, and it should come with all aspects of in-person events such as networking, breakout workshops, exhibitor booths, and poster sessions. The good news is that these types of platforms are getting better by the day, and so are the virtual events that they host.
What have we learned from the last year?
The past 12 months have shown that firstly, we live in a highly polarised world where science and public health are up for debate. Secondly, crisis leads to innovation and finally digital health technologies are the future with remote work and virtual meetings here to stay.
Wishing you all a safe, happy, and healthy 2021.
About the author
Natalie Yeadon is the CEO and co-founder of Impetus Digital, where she helps life science clients virtualise their meetings and events and create authentic relationships with their customers.
The post 2021 – The healthcare changes here to stay appeared first on .
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals and health systems have pushed forward with innovative technology solutions with great expediency and proficiency. Healthcare organizations were quick to launch telehealth solutions and advance digital health to maintain critical patient relationships and ensure continuity of care. Behind the scenes, hospitals and health systems have been equally adept at advancing technology solutions to support and enhance clinical care delivery. This includes adopting clinical surveillance systems to better predict and prevent an escalation of the coronavirus.
Clinical surveillance systems use real-time and historical patient data to identify emerging clinical patterns, allowing clinicians to intervene in a timely, effective manner. Over time, these clinical surveillance systems have evolved to help healthcare organizations meet their data analytic, surveillance, and regulatory compliance needs. The adaptability of these systems is evidenced by their expanded use during the pandemic. Healthcare organizations quickly pivoted to incorporate COVID-19 updates into their clinical surveillance activities, providing a centralized, global view of COVID-19 cases.
To gain insight into the COVID-19 crisis, critical data points include patient age, where the disease was likely contracted, whether the patient was tested, and how long the patient was in the ICU, among other things. Surveillance is also able to factor in whether patients have pre-existing conditions or problems with blood clotting, for example. This data trail is helping providers create a constantly evolving coronavirus profile and provides key data points for healthcare providers to share with state and local governments and public health agencies. In the clinical setting, the data are being used to better predict respiratory and organ failure associated with the virus, as well as flag COVID-19 patients at risk for developing sepsis.
What’s driving these advancements? Clinical surveillance systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI). By refining the use of AI for clinical surveillance, we can proactively identify an expanding range of acute and chronic health conditions with greater speed and accuracy. This has tremendous implications in the clinical setting beyond the current pandemic. AI-powered clinical surveillance can save lives and reduce costs for conditions that have previously proven resistant to prevention.
Eliminating healthcare-associated infections
Despite ongoing prevention efforts, healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) continue to plague the US healthcare system, costing up to $45 billion a year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in 31 hospitalized patients will have at least one HAI on any given day. AI can analyze millions of data points to predict patients at-risk for HAIs, enabling clinicians to respond more quickly to treat patients before their infection progresses, as well as prevent spread among hospitalized patients.
Building trust in AI
While the benefits are clear, challenges remain to the widespread adoption and use of AI in the clinical setting. Key among them is a lack of trust among clinicians and patients around the efficacy of AI. Many clinicians remain concerned over the validity of the data, as well as uncertainty over the impact of the use of AI on their workflow. Patients, in turn, express concerns over AI’s ability to address their unique needs, while also maintaining patient privacy. Hospitals and health systems must build trust among clinicians and patients around the use of AI by demonstrating its ability to enhance outcomes, as well as the patient experience.
3 keys to building trust in AI
Building trust among clinicians and patients can be achieved through transparency, expanding data access, and fostering focused collaboration.
1. Support transparency
Transparency is essential to the successful adoption of AI in the clinical setting. In healthcare, just giving clinicians a black box that spits out answers isn’t helpful. Clinicians need “explainability,” a visual picture of how and why the AI-enabled tool reached its prediction, as well as evidence that the AI solution is effective. AI surveillance solutions are intended to support clinical decision making, not serve as a replacement.
2. Expand data access
Volume and variety of data are central to AI’s predictive power. The ability to optimize emerging tools depends on comprehensive data access throughout the healthcare ecosystem, no small task as large amounts of essential data remain siloed, unstructured, and proprietary.
3. Foster focused collaboration
Clinicians and data scientists must collaborate in developing AI tools. In isolation, data scientists don’t have the context for interpreting variables they should be considering or excluding in a solution. Conversely, doctors working alone may bias AI by telling it what patterns to look for. The whole point of AI is how great it is at finding patterns we may not even consider. While subject matter expertise should not bias algorithms,
it is critical in structuring the inputs, evaluating the outputs, and effectively incorporating those outputs in clinical workflows. More open collaboration will enable clinicians to make better diagnostic and treatment decisions by leveraging AI’s ability to comb through millions of data points, find patterns, and surface critically relevant information.
AI-enabled clinical surveillance has the potential to deliver next-generation decision-support tools that combine the powerful technology, the prevention focus of public health, and the diagnosis and treatment expertise of clinicians. Surveillance is poised to assume a major role in attaining the quality and cost outcomes our industry has long sought.
John Langton is director of applied data science at Wolters Kluwer, Health, where artificial intelligence is being used to fundamentally change approaches to healthcare. @wkhealth
One of the biggest challenges for biopharmaceutical companies of rare and orphan disease patient populations is optimizing disease management in a way that enhances the patient journey and improves outcomes. As these companies seek innovative solution partners, a patient-first approach that offers specialty Rx pharmacist expertise is critical for securing insurance coverage, coordinating care, ensuring compliance, and, ultimately, minimizing the daily impact of rare and orphan diseases.
In today’s challenging healthcare environment, biopharma companies need to feel confident that their products are properly and promptly distributed, and reimbursements processed quickly and correctly. The best approach is to partner with a pharmacy, distribution, and patient management organization that offers a patient-first strategy for rare and orphan disorders, as well as personalized care programs designed to maximize the benefit of the therapies prescribed for patients. The goal is to improve the quality of life for both patient and caregiver with a dedicated support system for positive outcomes and long-term well-being.
The right patient-first partner can tailor IT, technology, and data-based upon client needs, combined with a high-touch approach designed to improve patient engagement from clinical trials to commercialization and compliance.
High Touch Meets Technology
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 in a patient-first partner. The idea 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 in siloes. This strategy improves continuity of care, strengthens communication, yields rich data for more informed decision making, and improves the overall patient experience. It manages issues related to collecting data, maintains frequent communication with patients and their families, and ensures compliance and positive outcomes. A patient-first model also hastens time to commercialization and provides continuity of care to avoid lapses in therapy – across the entire life cycle of a product.
Key Components for Effective Patient-First Strategy
A patient-first strategy means that the specialty Rx pharmacist works directly with the patient, from initial consultation, and across the entire patient journey, providing counseling, guidance, and education-based upon individual patient needs. They also develop an individualized care plan based on specific labs and indicators related to patient behavior to help gauge the person’s level of motivation and identify adherence issues that may arise.
The best patient-first partners enable patients to contact their pharmacist 24/7 and offer annual reassessments that ensure that goals of therapy are on track and every challenge is addressed to improve the patient’s quality of life. These specialty pharmacists also play a critical role on behalf of biopharmaceutical partners, providing ongoing regulatory and operations support and addressing each company’s particular challenges.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wanes on, it’s also important to find a patient-first partner that offers 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 addressing patient challenges and 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 should have a care plan. For example, 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.
Capturing information in a standardized way ensures that every pharmacist and patient receives 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 patient’s story.
Ideally, one phone call with a patient can begin the process of optimizing medication delivery, insurance reimbursement, compliance, and education based on a plan tailored for each patient’s specific needs.
About Dr. Brandon Salke, PHARM.D
Dr. Brandon Salke serves as the pharmacist-in-charge and General Manager at Optime Care in Earth City, MO. He previously served as a team pharmacist for Dohmen Life Science Services, where he helped launch several new care programs and assisted in the management of clinical trial activities.
He is specialized in specialty pharmaceuticals, particularly ultra-orphan, orphan, and rare disease. Dr. Salke has been involved in all aspects of operations (planning, process integration, project management, etc.) for pharmaceutical manufacturers. This includes clinical trials to commercialization and assisting in commercial launches (and relaunch) of specialty pharmaceuticals.
HIT Consultant sat down with Mike McSherry, CEO, and co-founder of Seattle-based digital prescription platform Xealth to discuss digital health lessons learned in 2020 and what we can expect in 2021. As Xealth’s CEO, Mike also works with Duke Health, UPMC, Atrium Health, and The Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network where he uses his background in digital health to connect patients and care teams outside of traditional care settings.
HITC: In 2021, How can digital health reduce race and minority disparities in healthcare?
McSherry: The U.S. has struggled with health disparities, which this pandemic has widened. Many of these disparities can be linked to access, which digital health can assist with – telehealth makes care virtual from any location, clinical decision support can reduce human errors, remote patient monitoring helps keep patients home while linked to care.
Digital health removes hurdles related to transportation, taking time off work, or finding childcare in order to travel in-person for an appointment. It brings care to the patient instead of the other way around, making access simpler. Care through these pathways is also more cost-efficient.
There are still hurdles to overcome. Broadband is widespread but not everywhere and inclusive design of these tools should be considered. How digital tools, including wearables, are built should address differences in gender and ethnicity, especially as these tools are used more frequently in clinical trials, so as not to inadvertently perpetuate disparities.
HITC: Why some hospitals are offering digital health tools to staff but not patients?
McSherry: There are a few factors at play when hospitals offer digital health tools to staff but not patients. One, most health systems are not currently deploying system-wide digital health initiatives, leaving the decisions to individual departments or providers. This can lead to inconsistent patient experiences and more data siloes as solutions are brought in as one-offs.
The second issue is reimbursement. A hospital acting as an employer offering digital health tools as part of its benefits package is different than a patient, who must rely on their health insurance, whether it is a public or private plan. The fact healthcare organizations see digital health tools as a perk shows their value. Now, it is time for CMS and commercial payers to consistently enable their use to help providers care for patients and incorporate digital health as clinicians see fit.
HITC: How hospitals can remain competitive in 2021, especially after tighter margins from COVID-19?
McSherry: Large tech companies, like Google and Amazon, and huge retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy, are looking to deliver the promise of health care that has so far eluded the industry. Venture capital money has been pouring in for funding innovation, with digital health funding hitting a new high in 2020.
These initiatives are all racing to control health care’s front door and if hospitals don’t innovate as well, they run a very real risk of having patients turn elsewhere for care. Payers are also building digital front doors and telling members to go there. People have long expressed their desire to have the same consumer experience in health care that they receive in other industries. The technology is there. It needs to be incorporated with the correct care pathways.
One silver lining during the COVID-19 pandemic is that it showed fast-moving innovation can happen in health care. We worked with hospitals to stand up workflows around telehealth in four days and remote patient monitoring in seven days – an amazing pace. The key is to keep this stride going once we are on the other side of this crisis.
Providers are becoming more digitally savvy to engage patients and deliver holistic care. Hospitals should support this.
HITC: What will be Biden’s impact on COVID-19, how hospital leaders should respond, and what it means that we have a divided congress?
McSherry: Under the current administration, telehealth rules have been relaxed, at least temporarily, along with cross-state licensure so providers are better able to build a front door strategy, helping organizations roll out remote patient monitoring and chronic care management apps. Biden has been a proponent of digitalization in health care and will have a broader engagement. This could lead toward more funding and more covered lives.
A divided Congress will not make much easy for the Biden administration, however, getting on the other side of this pandemic as quickly and as safely as possible is best for everyone. Biden has shown he will make fighting COVID-19 a top priority.
HITC: Will remote patient monitoring become financially viable for hospital leaders in 2021?
McSherry: Why does a diabetic patient need to have every check-in be in-person or a healthy, pregnancy met every few weeks with an in-person visit as opposed to remote monitoring for key values and a telehealth check-in in place of a couple of those visits? Moving forward, hospitals will see the benefit of remote monitoring in terms of lower overhead, along with better patient engagement, outcomes and retention.
To make this work, providers must share risk, and determine digital strategies around attracting patients and then manage them in a capitated way with more digital tools because of the cost efficiencies.
HITC: How do we foster tighter physician-patient relationships?
McSherry: Patients trust their doctors, period. The struggle is going to be more obvious as more people do not have a PCP and turn to health care with a bandage approach to take care of an immediate concern. That will lead to entire populations without that trusted bond who are sicker when they finally do seek care, due to the lack of continuity and engagement early on.
By connecting with people now, where they are comfortable, there is a tighter physician-patient relationship by making it more accessible and reciprocal.
Dr. Paul Hain, Chief Medical Officer of GoHealth
Telehealth is Here to Stay in 2021
Prior to the pandemic, telehealth was a limited ad-hoc service with geographic and provider restrictions. However, with both the pandemic restrictions on face to face interactions and a relaxation of governmental regulations, telehealth utilization has significantly increased from thousands of visits in a week to well over a million in the Medicare population. What we’ve learned is that telehealth allows patients, especially high-risk populations like seniors, to connect with their doctors in a safe and efficient way. Telehealth is valuable for many types of visits, mostly clearly ones that involve mental health or physical health issues that do not require a physical exam or procedure. It’s an efficient modality for both the member and provider.
With the growing popularity of telehealth services, we may see permanent changes in regulatory standards. Flexible regulatory standards, such as being able to use platforms like FaceTime or Skype, would lower the barrier to entry for providers to offer telehealth and also encourage adoption, especially among seniors. Second, it’s likely we’ll see an emergence of providers with aligned incentives around value, such as in many Medicare Advantage plans, trying very hard to encourage utilization with their members so that they get the right care at the right time. In theory, the shift towards value-based care will allow better care and lower costs than the traditional fee for service model. If we are able to evolve regulatory and payment environments, providers have an opportunity to grow these types of services into 2021 to improve patient wellness and health outcomes.
Dr. Salvatore Viscomi, Chief Medical Officer, GoodCell
2021 will be the year of patient controlled-health
The COVID-19 pandemic brought the realities of a global-scale health event – and our general lack of preparedness to address it – to the forefront. People are now laser-focused on how they can protect themselves and their families against the next inevitable threat. On top of this, social distancing and isolation accelerated the development and use of digital health tools, from wellness trackers to telehealth and virtual care, most of which can be accessed from the comfort of our homes. The convergence of these two forces is poised to make 2021 the year for patient-controlled health, whereby health decisions are not dictated by – but rather made in consultation with – a healthcare provider, leveraging insights and data pulled from a variety of health technology tools at people’s fingertips.
Anish Sebastian, CEO of Babyscripts
Telemedicine was the finger in the dyke at the beginning of pandemic panic, with healthcare providers grabbing whatever came to hand — encouraged by relaxed HIPAA regulations — to keep the dam from breaking. But as the dust settles, telemedicine is emerging as the commodity that it is, and value-add services are going to be the differentiating factors in an increasingly competitive marketplace. Offerings like remote patient monitoring and asynchronous communication, initially considered as “nice-to-haves,” are becoming standard offerings as healthcare providers see their value for continuous care beyond Covid.
Daniel Kivatinos, COO and Co-Founder of DrChrono
Telehealth visits are going to supersede in-person visits as time goes on.
Because of COVID-19, the world changed and Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other insurers, started paying out for telehealth visits. Telemedicine will continue to grow at a very quick rate, and verticals like mental health (psychology and psychiatry) and primary care fit perfectly into the telemedicine model, for tasks like administering prescription refills (ePrescribing) and ordering labs. Hyperlocal medical care will also move towards more of a telemedicine care team experience. Patients that are homebound families with young children or people that just recently had surgery can now get instant care when they need it. Location is less relevant because patients can see a provider from anywhere.
Dennis McLaughlin VP of Omni Operations + Product at ibi
Virtual Healthcare is Here to Stay (House Calls are Back)
This new normal however is going to put significant pressure on the data support and servicing requirements to do it effectively. As more services are offered to patients outside of established clinical locations, it also means there will be more opportunity to collect data and a higher degree of dependence on interoperability. Providers are going to have to up their game from just providing and recording facts to passing on critical insight back into these interactions to maximize the benefits to the patient.
Sarahjane Sacchetti, CEO at Cleo
Virtual care (of all types) will become a lasting form of care: The vastly accelerated and broadened use of virtual care spurred by the pandemic will become permanent. Although it started with one-off check-ins or virtual mental health coaching, 2021 will see the continued rise in the use and efficacy of virtual care services once thought to be in-person only such as maternity, postpartum, pediatric, and even tutoring. Employers are taking notice of this shift with 32% indicating that expanded virtual health services are a top priority, and this number will quickly rise as employers look to offer flexible and convenient benefits in support of employees and to drive productivity.
Omri Shor, CEO of Medisafe
Digital expansion: The pandemic has accelerated patient technology adoption, and innovation remains front-and-center for healthcare in 2021. Expect to see areas of telemedicine and digital health monitoring expand in new and novel ways, with increased uses in remote monitoring and behavioral health. CMS has approved telehealth for a number of new specialties and digital health tools continue to gain adoption among healthcare companies, drug makers, providers, and patients.
Digital health companions will continue to become an important tool to monitor patients, provide support, and track behaviors – while remaining socially distant due to the pandemic. Look for crossover between medical care, drug monitoring, and health and wellness – Apple
Watch has already previewed this potential with heart rate and blood oxygen monitoring. Data output from devices will enable support to become more personalized and triggered by user behavior.
Kelli Bravo, Vice President, Healthcare and Life Sciences, Pegasystems
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed and disrupted our lives, it has wreaked havoc on the entire healthcare industry at a scale we’ve never seen before. And it continues to alter almost every part of life across the globe. The way we access and receive healthcare has also changed as a result of social distancing requirements, patient concerns, provider availability, mobile capabilities, and newly implemented procedures at hospitals and healthcare facilities.
For example, hospitals and providers are postponing elective procedures again to help health systems prepare and reserve ICU beds amid the latest COVID-19 resurgence. While level of care is always important, in some areas, the inability to access a healthcare provider is equally concerning. And these challenges may become even more commonplace in the post-COVID-19 era. One significant transformation to help with the hurdle is telehealth, which went from a very small part of the care offering before the health crisis to one that is now a much more accepted way to access care.
As the rise in virtual health continues to serve consumers and provide a personalized and responsive care experience, healthcare consumers expect support services and care that are also fast and personalized – with digital apps, instant claims settlements, transparency, and advocacy. And to better help serve healthcare consumers, the industry has an opportunity to align with digital transformation that offers a personalized and responsive experience.
Brooke LeVasseur, CEO of AristaMD
Issues pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to be front-and-center in 2021. Every available digital tool in the box will have to be employed to ensure patients with non-COVID related issues are not forgotten as we try to free up in-person space and resources for those who cannot get care in any other setting. Virtual front doors, patient/physician video and eConsults, which connect providers to collaborate electronically, will be part of a broadening continuum of care – ultimately aimed at optimizing every valuable resource we have.
Bret Larsen, CEO and Co-Founder, eVisit
By the end of 2021, virtual care paths will be fairly ubiquitous across the continuum of care, from urgent care and EDs to specialty care, all to serve patients where they are – at home and on mobile devices. This will be made possible through virtualized end-to-end processes that integrate every step in patient care from scheduling, waiting rooms, intake and patient queuing, to interpretation services, referral management, e-prescribe, billing and analytics, and more.
Laura Kreofsky, Vice President for Advisory & Telehealth for Pivot Point Consulting
2020 has been the year of rapid telehealth adoption and advancement due to the COVID pandemic. According to CDC reports, telehealth utilization spiked as much as 154% in late March compared to the same period in 2019. While usage has moderated, it’s clear telehealth is now an instrumental part of healthcare delivery. As provider organizations plan for telehealth in 2021 and beyond, we are going to have to expect and deliver a secure, scalable infrastructure, a streamlined patient experience and an approach that maximizes provider efficiency, all while seeing much-needed vendor consolidation.
Jeff Lew, SVP of Product Management, Nextech
Earlier this year, CMS enacted new rules to provide practices with the flexibility they need to use telehealth solutions in response to COVID-19, during which patients also needed an alternative to simply visiting the office. This was the impetus to the accelerated acceptance of telehealth as a means to both give and receive care. Specialty practices, in particular, are seeing successful and positive patient experiences due to telehealth visits. Dermatology practices specifically standout and I expect the strong adoption will continue to grow and certainly be the “new normal.” In addition, innovative practices that have embraced this omni-channel approach to delivering care are also establishing this as a “new normal” by selectively using telehealth visits for certain types of encounters, such as post-op visits or triaging patients. This gives patients a choice and the added convenience that comes with it and, in some cases, increases patient volume for the practice.
As we re-examine the healthcare system in the wake of the pandemic, we are continually identifying opportunities to rebuild parts of the system to new and improved specifications. One critical facet is digital health, where we continue to struggle with what should really be table stakes: the ability to integrate data from disparate organizations and systems into a unified view of the whole person and take action.
During the height of the pandemic, telehealth made it possible to deliver care that was personal yet socially responsible. As a direct benefit, the use of digital health tools on both the clinical and consumer side picked up a tremendous and timely head of steam. But what will become of these innovations once we make our eventual return to normal?
Today, many healthcare consumers can talk to a therapist or a counselor through text, monitor glucose levels through a diabetes app and meet with their primary care provider over videoconference. The challenge is that a lot of this patient data is still landlocked in electronic medical record (EMR) systems that do not communicate or coordinate with one another or with payer systems or consumer apps.
The sustainability and applicability of digital health tools are still often questioned despite reports that investors had poured a staggering $5.4 billion into the digital health industry just by June of this year (Rock Health). The key to success is to seamlessly connect these tools with legacy systems and siloed access points to create a truly integrated healthcare continuum. Jumping between systems, each holding only its own limited slice of patient data, and then trying to take action on this data, is neither scalable nor sustainable.
Healthcare consumers have long looked at the seamless nature of apps in other areas of life and asked for a similar level of accessibility and on-demand, high-quality information from the healthcare system. Accenture found in its 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey that although consumers are interested in virtual services, a cumbersome digital experience turns them off. Additionally, the survey found that concerns over privacy, security, and trust remain, along with difficulty integrating new tools and services into day-to-day clinical workflows.
The good news is that the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) has made several major data exchange rulings this year that will push providers and payer organizations to update legacy systems to make consumer health data more assessable and sharable across all parties, all for the benefit of the patient.
The Stage is Set: Healthcare Leaders Must Act, Now
The incredible investments in the industry, increasing consumer demand, and data sharing regulation show that healthcare connectivity and interoperability have never been more essential. To ensure that the digital health transformation and remote healthcare delivery models progress optimally beyond the current environment, we must support healthcare organizations in evolving their infrastructure and software capabilities to support this kind of strategy. This is where health tech has a critical role to play in building flexible pipes to connect the full spectrum of repositories and players, including doctors, specialists, nurses, care managers, health coaches, caregivers, and, of course, the healthcare consumer.
What does this look like in practice? Imagine if an unusually high heart rate warning was triggered by a patient’s smartwatch, which then alerted the patient’s care manager to check-in. With a comprehensive view of that patient, the care manager calls the patient to assess if they are okay and learns the patient ran out of their prescription which helps lower the heart rate. Knowing that patient does not have access to a car and is afraid to take public transportation due to COVID-19, the care manager then sets up a prescription delivery straight to that patient’s doorstep.
Through this process, digital health tools, patient data, and social determinants of health all came together to equip that care manager to deliver personalized care to the patient. Sound like sci-fi? This innovative approach can actually be a reality for organizations that manage large populations. The key is educating more healthcare leaders about the benefits of a comprehensive healthcare platform that improves health outcomes, lowers costs and increases member satisfaction.
This all starts with a platform that coordinates and aggregates the siloes of data and tools (clinical and digital) into a central hub. that allows providers to oversee the access points, plans, and processes in a patient’s healthcare journey without the task of building or maintaining the system themselves. This can be a game-changer in the way we assess and treat patients and help the industry to fully realize the dream of truly comprehensive, coordinated care.
About Adam Sabloff
Adam Sabloff is the founder and CEO of VirtualHealth, provider of HELIOS, the leading SaaS care management platform, serving more than 9 million members across the U.S. Prior to VirtualHealth, Sabloff served as VP of Development and Chief Marketing Officer for Midtown Equities, a $7 billion real estate, media and aviation conglomerate, where he also oversaw its technology subsidiary, Midtown Technologies.
The pandemic has shed light on inefficiencies in healthcare systems, and provided an opportunity to adjust how we manage care in the future. Jennifer Haas, executive vice president of Noteworth, shares her 2021 predictions surrounding the future of telehealth and big data.
Healthcare providers are grappling with the task of scaling digital care delivery operations for ambulatory patients in response to the cost dynamics of effectively treating large populations with limited resources, especially in a post-COVID-19 world. At the heart of this challenge is how to secure, aggregate, analyse, and action the data necessary to make proactive patient care decisions and diagnoses.
In the coming year, there will be a renewed focus on healthcare providers needing to shift their business models to highlight the new need to make healthcare accessible and effective, regardless of geography, location, and mobility.
This will need to be done while also engaging and empowering patients in their own wellness. A recent report highlighted that over 40% of US adults had delayed seeing a doctor during the pandemic. Powering digital medicine platforms with big data and IoT devices ensures clinicians receive access to the entire scope of a patient’s health information while reducing the need for in-person visits and improving patient outcomes.
The ability to use big data in healthcare through digital medicine will prove to be invaluable for healthcare organisations as they work through the pandemic and the new world it has created. Having access to relevant data through digital medicine is helpful because it provides more opportunities for proactive intervention and a more accurate view of the patients’ health with consolidated real-time information.
When it comes to digital medicine, big data can improve communication and strengthen relationships between patients and their various healthcare providers. This is largely because the use of digital medicine platforms feel much more comfortable and personalised for many patients. It not only allows them to take a more active approach in their own healthcare, but gives them access to their clinicians more freely and frequently. It also allows the care team to be much more connected to the patients’ day to day progress and highlights potential intervention needs before they become critical. Risk modeling and stratification will continue to evolve, allowing clinicians to collaborate with AI and Big Data to make more accurate predictions of where a patient’s health is trending.
One of the focuses of digital medicine is remote patient monitoring. This technology is especially helpful during the current pandemic as it gives providers the information needed in order to track the patient’s health statuses and react quickly when a patient has an urgent need for proactive care. Remote patient monitoring can alert patients and their healthcare teams when intervention, including seeking in-person medical attention on a scheduled or emergency basis, is needed. Having this data is vital to the future of how patients and their healthcare providers work together. By combining the power of big data within healthcare, digital medicine platforms can help reduce the number of unnecessary visits patients take to the doctor or hospital and alert providers, caregivers, and patients when their status requires in-person care.
Another key benefit to big data incorporated into digital medicine platforms is the healthcare providers’ ability to connect with healthcare apps to track and monitor patient health. As we see within numerous apps or smartphones, they allow users to track health factors such as physical activity, heart rate, breathing rate, and diet. These data points can be transmitted directly to a doctor and be factored into any treatment decisions. Being able to bring this data together creates more insight into a patient’s preventive and personalised care.
The benefits of big data analytics range across the board in healthcare. Most, if not all, healthcare sectors stand to benefit from the implementation of big data analytics within digital medicine. The providers (hospitals or private practices) will be able to provide better care to their patients to make more accurate data-driven decisions more efficiently. The biggest winner will be the patients themselves who can utilise telemedicine and remote patient monitoring to their advantage in order to enjoy more flexible and convenient access to care which in turn helps them to live healthier lives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the once-niche telemedicine industry into the mainstream, creating a lasting shift in care delivery. In 2021 and beyond, we will see the healthcare industry shift even more towards digital medicine, specifically AI and risk stratification modeling.
If 2020 has taught the healthcare industry anything, it is that patients want choices and control over their own healthcare. Healthcare providers and insurers need to listen. Leveraging digital medicine platforms allows providers the ability to draw on the desire for personalized, proactive care by utilising actionable data to proactively monitor a patient’s health status between visits while driving down care costs and improving patient outcomes.
About the author
Jennifer Haas is executive vice president of sales for Noteworth, where she leads sales, channel partnerships, business development, marketing and social media including profit and loss management.
The post How Big Data will accelerate the future of digital medicine in 2021 appeared first on .
The combination of Teladoc Health and Livongo creates a
global leader in consumer-centered virtual care. The combined company is
positioned to execute quantified opportunities to drive revenue synergies of
$100 million by the end of the second year following the close, reaching $500
million on a run-rate basis by 2025.
Price: $18.5B in value based on each share of Livongo
will be exchanged for 0.5920x shares of Teladoc Health plus cash consideration
of $11.33 for each Livongo share.
Siemens Healthineers Acquires Varian Medical
On August 2nd, Siemens Healthineers acquired
Varian Medical for $16.4B, with the deal expected to close in 2021. Varian is a
global specialist in the field of cancer care, providing solutions especially
in radiation oncology and related software, including technologies such as
artificial intelligence, machine learning and data analysis. In fiscal year 2019,
the company generated $3.2 billion in revenues with an adjusted operating
margin of about 17%. The company currently has about 10,000 employees
Price: $16.4 billion in an all-cash transaction.
Gainwell to Acquire HMS for $3.4B in Cash
Veritas Capital (“Veritas”)-backed Gainwell Technologies (“Gainwell”),
a leading provider of solutions that are vital to the administration and
operations of health and human services programs, today announced that they
have entered into a definitive agreement whereby Gainwell will acquire HMS, a technology, analytics and engagement
solutions provider helping organizations reduce costs and improve health
Price: $3.4 billion in cash.
Philips Acquires Remote Cardiac Monitoring BioTelemetry for $2.8B
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.
Price: $2.8B ($72 per share), to be paid in cash upon
Hims & Hers Merges with Oaktree Acquisition Corp to Go Public on NYSE
Telehealth company Hims & Hers and Oaktree Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merge to go public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol “HIMS.” The merger will enable further investment in growth and new product categories that will accelerate Hims & Hers’ plan to become the digital front door to the healthcare system
Price: The business combination values the combined
company at an enterprise value of approximately $1.6 billion and is expected to
deliver up to $280 million of cash to the combined company through the
contribution of up to $205 million of cash.
SPAC Merges with 2 Telehealth Companies to Form Public
Digital Health Company in $1.35B Deal
Blank check acquisition company GigCapital2 agreed to merge with Cloudbreak Health, LLC, a unified telemedicine and video medical interpretation solutions provider, and UpHealth Holdings, Inc., one of the largest national and international digital healthcare providers to form a combined digital health company.
Price: The merger deal is worth $1.35 billion, including
WellSky Acquires CarePort Health from Allscripts for
WellSky, global health, and community care technology company, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Allscripts to acquire CarePort Health (“CarePort”), a Boston, MA-based care coordination software company that connects acute and post-acute providers and payers.
Price: $1.35 billion represents a multiple of greater
than 13 times CarePort’s revenue over the trailing 12 months, and approximately
21 times CarePort’s non-GAAP Adjusted EBITDA over the trailing 12 months.
Waystar Acquires Medicare RCM Company eSolutions
On September 13th, revenue cycle management
provider Waystar acquires eSolutions, a provider of Medicare and Multi-Payer revenue
cycle management, workflow automation, and data analytics tools. The
acquisition creates the first unified healthcare payments platform with both
commercial and government payer connectivity, resulting in greater value for
Price: $1.3 billion valuation
Radiology Partners Acquires MEDNAX Radiology Solutions
Radiology Partners (RP), a radiology practice in the U.S., announced a definitive agreement to acquire MEDNAX Radiology Solutions, a division of MEDNAX, Inc. for an enterprise value of approximately $885 million. The acquisition is expected to add more than 800 radiologists to RP’s existing practice of 1,600 radiologists. MEDNAX Radiology Solutions consists of more than 300 onsite radiologists, who primarily serve patients in Connecticut, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, and Texas, and more than 500 teleradiologists, who serve patients in all 50 states.
PointClickCare Acquires Collective Medical
PointClickCare Technologies, a leader in senior care technology with a network of more than 21,000 skilled nursing facilities, senior living communities, and home health agencies, today announced its intent to acquire Collective Medical, a Salt Lake City, a UT-based leading network-enabled platform for real-time cross-continuum care coordination for $650M. Together, PointClickCare and Collective Medical will provide diverse care teams across the continuum of acute, ambulatory, and post-acute care with point-of-care access to deep, real-time patient insights at any stage of a patient’s healthcare journey, enabling better decision making and improved clinical outcomes at a lower cost.
Teladoc Health Acquires Virtual Care Platform InTouch
Teladoc Health acquires InTouch Health, the leading provider of enterprise telehealth solutions for hospitals and health systems for $600M. The acquisition establishes Teladoc Health as the only virtual care provider covering the full range of acuity – from critical to chronic to everyday care – through a single solution across all sites of care including home, pharmacy, retail, physician office, ambulance, and more.
Price: $600M consisting of approximately $150 million
in cash and $450 million of Teladoc Health common stock.
AMN Healthcare Acquires VRI Provider Stratus Video
AMN Healthcare Services, Inc. acquires Stratus Video, a leading provider of video remote language interpretation services for the healthcare industry. The acquisition will help AMN Healthcare expand in the virtual workforce, patient care arena, and quality medical interpretation services delivered through a secure communications platform.
CarepathRx Acquires Pharmacy Operations of Chartwell from
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.
Cerner to Acquire Health Division of Kantar for $375M in
Cerner announces it will acquire Kantar Health, a leading
data, analytics, and real-world evidence and commercial research consultancy
serving the life science and health care industry.
This acquisition is expected to allow Cerner’s Learning
Health Network client consortium and health systems with more opportunities to
directly engage with life sciences for funded research studies. The acquisition
is expected to close during the first half of 2021.
Cerner Sells Off Parts of Healthcare IT Business in
Germany and Spain
Cerner sells off parts of healthcare IT business in Germany and Spain to Germany company CompuGroup Medical, reflecting the company-wide transformation focused on improved operating efficiencies, enhanced client focus, a refined growth strategy, and a sharpened approach to portfolio management.
Price: EUR 225 million ($247.5M USD)
CompuGroup Medical Acquires eMDs for $240M
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. 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.
Price: $240M (equal to approx. EUR 203 million)
Change Healthcare Buys Back Pharmacy Network
back pharmacy unit eRx Network
(“eRx”), a leading provider of comprehensive, innovative, and secure
data-driven solutions for pharmacies. eRx generated approximately $67M in
annual revenue for the twelve-month period ended February 29, 2020. The
transaction supports Change Healthcare’s commitment to focus on and invest in
core aspects of the business to fuel long-term growth and advance innovation.
Price: $212.9M plus cash on the balance sheet.
Walmart Acquires Medication Management Platform CareZone
Walmart acquires CareZone, a San Francisco, CA-based smartphone
service for managing chronic health conditions for reportedly $200M. By
working with a network of pharmacy partners, CareZone’s concierge services
assist consumers in getting their prescription medications organized and
delivered to their doorstep, making pharmacies more accessible to individuals
and families who may be homebound or reside in rural locations.
Verisk Acquires MSP Compliance Provider Franco Signor
Verisk, a data
analytics provider, announced today that it has acquired Franco Signor, a Medicare Secondary Payer
(MSP) service provider to America’s largest insurance carriers and employers.
As part of the acquisition, Franco Signor will become part of Verisk’s Claims
Partners business, a leading provider of MSP compliance and other analytic
claim services. Claims Partners and Franco Signor will be combining forces to
provide the single best resource for Medicare compliance.
Rubicon Technology Partners Acquires Central Logic
Private equity firm Rubicon Technology Partners acquires
Central Logic, a provider of patient orchestration and tools to accelerate
access to care for healthcare organizations. Rubicon will be aggressively driving Central Logic’s
growth with additional cash investments into the business, with a focus
on product innovation, sales expansion, delivery and customer support, and
the pursuit of acquisition opportunities.
Price: $110M – $125 million, according to sources
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
What You Should Know:
– Service commerce platform EverCommerce acquires Dublin,
OH-based Updox, a healthcare communication platform for in-person and virtual
– The acquisition
expands EverCommerce’s health services portfolio and enables the companies to
further their shared goal of simplifying the business of healthcare and
facilitating the growth of healthcare practices.
Today, EverCommerce, a leading service commerce platform, completed the acquisition of Updox, a Dublin, OH-based complete healthcare communication platform for in-person and virtual care. The company will join EverCommerce’s portfolio of health services companies, enabling it to provide customers with faster access to more products, a broader suite of solutions, and more resources.
The acquisition comes on the heels of a breakout year for
virtual care. Digital health is on track to hit over $12 billion in investments
by the end of 2020 – the largest funding year for the sector yet – and over 60
acquisitions through the end of Q3, including other telehealth breakouts like
Teladoc, which recently completed its acquisition of Livongo in a deal valued
at over $18B.
Deliver the Best in Virtual & In-Person Care
Updox provides next-generation virtual care, patient engagement, and office productivity solutions that enable practices to reduce costs and drive revenue. Based on increasing demand for solutions that seamlessly work together to improve practice efficiency and provide an engaging patient experience, Updox has continuously brought new functionality to market. Additional solutions are planned for 2021.
Updox serves more than 560,000 users across healthcare practices, health systems and pharmacies, and more than 210 million patients. Updox has experienced rapid growth and adoption this year, as healthcare providers sought to quickly implement telehealth and other patient engagement solutions that enabled them to acquire new patients, operate more efficiently, and engage their patients as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, Updox facilitated over 3.5 million telehealth visits since March and continues to support more than 15,000 visits per day.
The EverCommerce health services portfolio includes a
diverse mix of solutions including cloud-based medical billing, specialty EHR,
practice management, RCM software, lead generation, marketing solutions and
retention services for healthcare practices. With this acquisition,
EverCommerce will advance its mission to provide end-to-end mission-critical
solutions that enable healthcare practices to accelerate growth, streamline
operations and increase patient retention.
“Now more than ever, healthcare providers need a one-stop-shop to acquire new patients, operate more efficiently and engage their patients. They also need one single place to communicate with patients where they are – on their mobile phones,” said Michael Morgan, president of Updox. “We’re thrilled to join the EverCommerce team, which shares our vision for advancing healthcare. We look forward to accelerating innovative solutions that enable healthcare practices to more effectively market to patients, simplify payments, and effectively interact with patients both in and outside the practice.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Reviewing 2019’s key digital health stories last year I suggested that, while big strides continued to be made, any definitive ‘coming of age’ moment for the sector was unlikely.
But that was before the first reports emerged of a highly contagious coronavirus and 2020 will be forever associated with COVID-19 and the global devastation and disruption it has wrought.
Now, after a year that feels like it had many more than the usual 12 months, ‘digital’ has most certainly come of age across all aspects of our lives, including communication, commerce, working life and, yes, health.
So, what were the standout changes for digital health, and digital pharma for that matter, in this most unusual of years?
I suppose I could just answer ‘COVID’ and be done with it.
Nevertheless, the pandemic was clearly the biggest change-agent for digital health and digital pharma in 2020.
1. Digital transformation moved front and centre
COVID-19 brought rapid, deep and likely lasting changes to healthcare and the pharmaceutical sector, as both scrambled to respond to unprecedented demands.
Consequently, what might previously have looked upon as a 3, 5 or even 10 year plan suddenly required progress within just days or weeks.
As I noted earlier this year, healthcare companies went from being lost in a ‘digitalisation jungle’ in 2019, to this year making huge progress thanks to the ‘digital accelerant’ of COVID, with many channels being used for the first time as a result of the pandemic.
2. Telehealth reached a tipping point
The rapid digitalisation of life during COVID-19’s acute phase also had a huge impact on healthcare delivery.
If you, or someone you know, has had to see a doctor since March, the chances are the health service tried to avoid an in-person visit to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Here in the UK, as elsewhere, directives from the top made adopting telehealth a vital part of the pandemic response.
Questions certainly remain about how far the use of telemedicine will return to pre-COVID times, but the sustained focus on changing healthcare models this year looks to have put in place a lasting transformation.
3. AI made historical progress
Moving away from COVID, up to a point, and artificial intelligence (AI) in pharma and healthcare looked to be everywhere this year, having already made significant moves towards centre stage in 2019.
The year began with Exscientia moving the world’s first AI-created drug into clinical trials in January and there were also signs of the technology’s potential in drug pricing and spotting COVID-19 in chest x-rays.
Google’s AI company DeepMind grabbed many headlines in November when it solved the 50-year-‘protein folding problem’, but there was less theoretical progress made too with the announcement in Nature Medicine of new standards for clinical trials that involve AI.
The CONSORT-AI reporting guideline should help determine the difference between hype and useful data when AI is used in medical studies – a small, but growing area.
Meanwhile, just one of the big pharma companies expanding its focus on AI was GlaxoSmithKline, which opened a new AI hub in London in September and hopes to end 2020 with a nearly 100-strong AI team.
4. The FDA took a strategic approach to digital health
The creation of the FDA’s Digital Health Center for Excellence in September marked a major step forward for the US regulator’s approach to new technology.
Although a few years in the making, the new centre should accelerate the FDA’s responses to new mobile health devices, software as a medical device, wearables and a range of other types of health tech, particularly when coupled with the September update to its digital health pre-certification programme.
It wasn’t the only major body taking steps to advance digital health this year, with the WHO publishing in February its draft global strategy on digital health for the next five years, in which it noted:
“Digital technologies are an essential component and an enabler of sustainable health systems and universal health coverage. To realise their potential, digital health initiatives must be part of the wider health needs and the digital health ecosystem and guided by a robust strategy that integrates leadership, financial, organisational, human and technological resources.”
5. Record-breaking digital health investments
Investor interest in digital health has been running high for some time but, with all of the above going on this year, 2020 is looking like being a banner year for deals.
Indeed, the first six months of the year saw unprecedented digital health activity, with venture funding reaching $5.4 billion led by standout deals such as Teladoc Health’s $18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo.
With fragmentation still an issue in the sector, further consolidation is expected if the current lack of scale among some companies is to be overcome, and well-placed observers see large amounts of private equity waiting in the wings to support this.
Looking back on this year, we can see digital health increasingly becoming a necessity for ensuring patients have the best outcomes.
Consequently, the advances seen in 2020 should provide solid foundations for pharma companies – and others in the digital health ecosystem – to continue to make further progress in the new year, and beyond.
About the author
Dominic Tyer is a journalist and editor specialising in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. He is currently pharmaphorum’s interim managing editor and is also creative and editorial director at the company’s specialist healthcare content consultancy pharmaphorum connect.
The post 5 ways digital health, and digital pharma, changed in 2020 appeared first on .
In 2019, 41 million patient records breached in 572 reported incidents at an average cost of $1.8 million per breach. These statistics are far from surprising with healthcare records selling for a reported average of $45 on the dark web. Unfortunately, the year 2020 aggravated these issues as COVID-19 exposed the true vulnerability of the healthcare infrastructure. Organizations not only had to manage the medical and financial impacts of the pandemic but also the security risks inherent in the work-from-home (WFH) model and the increasingly sophisticated attacks of cybercriminals intent on exploiting these vulnerabilities. In this article, we’ll dive into some of these growing threats.
The Bare Minimum of EDR
Although most organizations have now provided WFH employees with secure computers using endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions or mandated the use of virtual private networks (VPNs), this does not fully solve the security problem.
These solutions may protect the user and network from future attacks, but if network infiltration has already occurred, threats in the form of advanced persistent threats (APTs) may be lying dormant for weeks, months, or maybe even years, on an apparently secure network. To respond to these threats, a network detection and response (NDR) capability is required. This capability looks for activity or patterns of behavior from users or network servers that indicate attacks may be in progress may have taken place or may be developing.
Ideally, EDR and NDR need to be integrated and used together to provide end-to-end network visibility and security.
Cybercriminals and other bad actors were quick to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic with, for example, phishing attacks. These exploited the fears of healthcare consumers and healthcare workers who, in the early days of WFH, were often accessing corporate networks on secured mobile phones and personal computers from their home networks.
This led to a variety of security issues; for example, Mirai botnet–type attacks that exploited WFH practices to infect healthcare organizations’ networks or dropper-based attacks that loaded malware to steal users’ credentials and ultimately lead to ransomware attacks. While these attacks still continue, most healthcare organizations have taken the measures necessary to secure their networks and their patient and organizations’ data.
A Spike in State-Sponsored Attacks
Beyond threats from financially motivated cybercriminals looms the threat from highly sophisticated and well-resourced state-sponsored attackers. As widely reported in the media, there has been a spike in state-sponsored security attacks on lab and research facilities working on COVID-19 treatments. For example, the Wall Street Journal cited U.S. officials as suggesting that Chinese and Iranian hackers are targeting universities and pharmaceutical and other healthcare firms that are working to find a vaccine for COVID-19, in an attempt to disrupt this research and slow its development.
In addition to direct attacks on research institutions, software vendors that develop the tools used by these institutions are also at risk. Security is becoming a “supply chain” issue that touches not only all of the network users and assets but also all the precursors to these assets, including the network carriers and software vendors on which network users rely.
Lack of Trust
Who can you trust in this expanded threat environment? To take proper precautions, nobody. As healthcare consumers and the workforce want or need to operate on an “access anywhere, anytime” model, adopting what’s called a Zero Trust security architecture not only makes sense, it is close to an imperative for healthcare organizations.
Zero Trust means that, because the network is under constant attack from a huge array of external and internal threats, all users, devices, applications, and resources on the network must be treated as being hostile. These users and devices need to be rigorously and continuously authenticated, while patient, research, and other data and network assets need to be protected at a much granular level than traditional perimeter-based security models allow.
The Rise of IoMT Devices
Healthcare organizations must also find new, more cost-effective ways to deliver high-quality healthcare to their increasingly tech-savvy consumers – and the use of Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) devices is critical to this process. IoMT devices, ranging from simple telehealth and remote patient monitoring to surgical robots and augmented reality technologies, can reduce operating costs and increase the quality of patient care.
COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of IoMT technology, a process that will further accelerate with the availability of 5G networks over the coming one to three years. Many of the simpler IoMT devices don’t support traditional security models, so their adoption poses significant new threats unless healthcare institutions act to enhance security by, for example, ensuring that their network detection and response tools are ready for this challenge.
Looking ahead, it’s clear that the world is evolving towards a new normal, which will pose more threats and concerns for the healthcare industry. Recognizing this and preparing for the threats discussed, will create a better game plan for what’s to come and allow for necessary growth within healthcare infrastructure.
About Matyn Crew
Martyn Crew is Director of Solutions Marketing at Gigamon. He brings a 30-year background in all aspects of enterprise IT to his role where he focuses on a number of initiatives and products including Gigamon’s Application Visibility and Intelligence solutions.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
once an intriguing proposition struggling to reach its potential, became an
absolute necessity in 2020. In the early days of COVID-19, as medical centers
labored to deal with an influx of patients while also trying to mitigate
coronavirus spread, telemedicine was urgently needed as an option for providing
healthcare to others at a safe distance. In the U.S., the government and
providers quickly started to take measures to facilitate its use during the
crisis of the pandemic.
In some ways it’s
hard to understand why telemedicine wasn’t already in widespread use,
though, considering that people are increasingly preferring to do everything
from banking to grocery shopping online. Why not healthcare as well?
A new webinar, Emerging Trends in Telemedicine, offers some insight. Moderated by Elsevier’s Ann Gabriel, the webinar includes an international panel featuring Dr. Amol Navathe (Philadelphia VA Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania), Dr. Heather Ross (Toronto General Hospital, University of Toronto), and Dr. Robin Ohannessian (Public Health specialist, Director of Télémédecine 360).
In this fascinating
discussion, the panelists talk about the many challenges of telemedicine, which
include hurdles like regulatory standards, privacy and security concerns, the
need for political buy-in, insurance coverage and pricing for telemedicine
visits, and technology requirements. These issues and more have contributed to
the relatively sluggish rate of adoption of telemedicine prior to the pandemic.
The good news is
that is changing – and while those hurdles are still high, they are hardly
insurmountable. The panelists reveal some of the ways that they have seen
governments, doctors, patients and the healthcare system as a whole start to
embrace telemedicine and they offer some thoughts as to how it can be most
The webinar also
includes the presentation of some fascinating data and polling results that
offer further insight into the latest trends around telemedicine and its
To learn more, watch the webinar here.
The plain truth is that rural America has always had a market failure problem.
In the 1930s, the problem manifests as woefully inadequate telephone and electrical service. The spaces were just too wide open, the potential customers too few, for companies to invest in America’s in-between places.
In response to this market inefficiency, a federal government led by Franklin Roosevelt stepped in and created the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). Within 20 years, phone service was available to 65 percent of rural residents, and electricity extended to 96 percent. With the help of Washington, DC, modernity was extended to the heartland.
And now, when market orthodoxy is almost an unassailable truth and the federal government is less trusted than ever, another market failure stares us in the face. This time the technology is fast internet service (broadband), which was a concern before Covid-19 and is now a need arguably on par with electricity in 1936.
“The strength of High-Performance Broadband is that it will—if fully accessible to all in America—help solve some of our most critical challenges and help people overcome key barriers regardless of where they live and who they are,” reads an editorial published by the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society this past October.
It’s not that the federal government has simply entrusted rural internet service to companies that don’t provide it, though there is some of that. Since 1995, the Rural Utilities Service (successor to the REA) and Federal Communications Commission have doled out billions in subsidies. What the feds have not done is replace stop-gap funding mechanisms with a comprehensive plan that solves particular problems associated with inadequate rural broadband almost all urban dwellers never have to face.
At the time of the Benton Institute editorial, the most obvious critical challenge was Covid-19 and it remains so, even with the prospect of a vaccine on the horizon. It’s worth looking specifically at the ways Covid-19 has elevated the importance of broadband, particularly with regard to healthcare.
Most obviously and importantly, the pandemic has boosted the importance of telehealth as a means of bringing clinicians and patients safely together. What was an industry experiencing modest growth is now a healthcare sector boosted by rocket fuel.
“Between April 2019 and April 2020, national privately insured telehealth claims’ increased by 8,336 percent (as a proportion of total medical claims),” says the Health Affairs Blog. “While those ratios eventually tapered in the proceeding months as in-person visits rebounded, there’s no doubt that more patients and providers are relying on telehealth than ever before.”
Of course, safety is only the most pressing concern when it comes to telehealth. Before the pandemic, remote patient visits were driven by the pursuit of lower costs and greater convenience—factors that will once again rise to the top when Covid-19 is managed. The difference, when we arrive at that longed-for future date, will be that telehealth will have proliferated and wormed its way more deeply into common clinical practice.
All of that seems like progress, except that true progress doesn’t exclude millions of Americans. With limited broadband in rural areas, the blessings of telehealth will currently not fall on a large segment of the population.
According to Health Affairs, “The lack of broadband in rural areas is one of the most striking inequalities in US society. Due to the lack of broadband availability, tens of millions of rural Americans aren’t able to ‘see’ their doctor over the internet in the same way urban Americans can. Making matters worse, financially strapped rural hospitals are being shuttered by the dozens.”
It would be a mistake to see the failure of rural hospitals as uniquely a healthcare issue on either the cause or effect side of the technology equation. On the one hand, slow internet makes telehealth visits more difficult and sometimes impossible. On the other, slow internet also makes living in rural areas and earning a decent living very challenging, which dramatically limits the rural hospital’s potential patient base.
According to Alex Marre, a regional economist for the Federal Reserve, access to broadband improves wages, lowers unemployment, grows the population, and boosts home values, all of which creates a more stable base of support for local hospitals.
So, is there a market solution for what to date is a market failure? In a word, no. Well, not yet, at least. While the government may not be the broadband provider in the short or long term, some government involvement is probably a necessary component of the overall solution, especially with regard to money.
Another solution might be cooperatives, which helped extend the reach of electricity in the 1930s and have seen some broadband success in the modern era.
As CEO of Oklahoma Electric Cooperative, Patrick Grace leads an effort started in 2018 to extend fiber broadband to cooperative members. Working toward providing broadband to all 43,000 members, OK Fiber currently offers 100 Mbps speeds for $55 a month and 1 Gbps speeds for $85.
But what was true of electricity access also holds for broadband. Absent sufficient dollars, fiber networks take a long time to implement, regardless of how well managed the cooperative. For rural areas, time is of the essence, and concerted action may create a rural renaissance where there is currently a steady decline.
Returning to the Health Affairs Blog:
“Federal investment in rural electrification helped ignite investment across the country. Manufacturers didn’t have to locate near big cities, instead, they could build factories in rural areas where land was cheaper. Electric machinery and refrigeration made farms and ranches more productive. Today, in an era where remote work is increasingly common, rural and urban Americans alike need broadband to stay connected and productive.”
Again and again, we see that public health is an interrelated web of contributing factors. It’s education, and it’s housing, and it’s family support, and it’s job security. In the 1930s public health could undoubtedly be tied to electricity. In modern times, the equivalent is access to high-speed internet. The market has had sufficient time to provide a solution. Time for the public sector to come up with a comprehensive plan that includes private industry.
What You Should Know:
– With ICU beds near capacity across the United States,
GE Healthcare announced a strategic partnership with Oregon Health and Science
University (OHSU) that will allow OHSU to oversee and help provide care to ICU
patients across eight hospital sites via a “Virtual ICU” (VICU), using the GE
Healthcare Mural Virtual Care Solution.
– The VICU provides critical care specialists at OHSU
with digital tools to deploy hospital defined care protocols to remotely
identify changes in patient status, respond in real-time, and support local
clinicians caring for patients in their local communities. The VICU will also
extend OHSU’s critical care expertise to patients in rural communities, where
specialists are not otherwise available.
Healthcare today announced a multi-year agreement with Oregon
Health & Science University (OHSU), Oregon’s only
academic health center, that will allow OHSU to oversee and help provide care to ICU patients
across eight hospital sites via a “Virtual ICU” (VICU), using the GE
Healthcare Mural Virtual Care Solution.
COVID-19 Underscores Shortage of Critical Care
pandemic is highlighting a pre-existing shortage of critical care specialists,
nurses and other clinicians across the United States and around the
world, according to a recent
report from the RAND Corporation. Furthermore, a 100-bed hospital may
have only one intensivist who can care for patients requiring
In response to the critical care shortage and in
collaboration with OHSU, GE Healthcare developed a customized solution of care workflows
that powers the OHSU VICU. The VICU benefits patients by keeping them in their
local communities near family and friends; supports local economies by
maintaining resources, such as ambulances and revenue, in the immediate area;
and improves efficiency by allocating hospital beds, resources and staff for
the most critical patients.
“Through the Virtual ICU, we can supplement the
local expertise in a variety of ways and durations – from a single shift to
several a week – bringing much-needed relief and support to the clinicians on
the ground,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of OHSU
Healthcare Joe E. Ness, M.H.A., R.Ph. “The VICU allows us to execute our vision
of increasing the level of care in community hospitals, allowing
patients across the state of Oregon to receive the care they need
closer to home while reducing unnecessary transfers and optimizing ICU capacity
in the area.”
Providing Actionable Data
Healthcare platform that enables the OHSU VICU is called the “Mural Virtual Care Solution
(Mural),” which integrates data from multiple systems and devices to digitize
the hospital’s best practices and clinical protocols, and provide a
comprehensive, real-time view of patient status that is scalable
across a selected care area, hospital, or entire health system.
“I can fully focus on the patient – who may be
physically hundreds of miles away — in real time, by watching vital signs, lab
values, waveforms and other parameters,” said OHSU Associate Professor of
Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine and TeleICU Medical Director Marshall
Lee, M.D. “And by enabling audio and visual support in the patient room,
I can virtually visit and collaborate with the local, bedside team.”
Mural will also support the OHSU goal of enhancing the
quality of care throughout the system by providing analytics on
clinical information, such as minutiae ventilation data and metrics on clinical
and operational best practices, including pain, delirium and agitation
management. Data tracked and generated by the VICU translates into metrics –
such as length of stay and average ventilation days per patient —
that hospitals can use to refine operations to support improved patient outcomes
and increased efficiency.
Based on Specific Clinical Workflows
GE Healthcare’s Mural can be customized based on specific
clinical workflows, enabling intensivists and advanced nurses in a central
location to support bedside teams as they care for patients in their
communities. Mural can also support compliance documentation on healthcare
associated infections (HAIs), and prevention measures such as
thromboprophylaxis, stress ulcer prophylaxis and glucose management.
Enabled by Edison, GE Healthcare’s intelligence platform,
Mural can be deployed on-premise via GE Healthcare’s Edge infrastructure or on
the cloud, depending on customer preference and need.
Currently available in the United States, Canada, China,
Korea, U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, Mural is designed to help reduce the time for
clinical teams to deliver responsive, timely, and compliant care by
digitizing hospital defined protocols, care pathways, and Early
Warning Scores (EWS).
What You Should Know:
– GoodRx Gold Savings Program members can now receive
exclusive discounts on online doctor visits and free mail delivery via the
GoodRx app, in addition to the exclusive lower prices on prescription drugs
that are already available.
– Using the 5-star rated GoodRx app, GoodRx Gold members can
now see a licensed healthcare provider to receive treatment in the comfort and
safety of their own home.
– Visits for members start at just $10 (55% off non-member
rates) and patients can be seen for over 150 conditions, including cold and
flu, UTI, cold sores, acne, birth control, COVID-19 screenings, refills for
common medications and more. If the patient is prescribed medication, they can
use a GoodRx Gold discount of up to 90% at pharmacies near them or have it sent
directly to their house via free mail delivery.
– GoodRx Gold now offers more than 1,000 common, low-priced
medications via mail delivery, with nearly 300 of them priced under $10.
Some of the biggest legal stories of the year include patients attempting to mount a class action lawsuit against Mayo Clinic after an employee improperly viewed more than 1,600 health records and the Supreme Court hearing opening arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate.
A global health crisis has thrust us into a scenario in which lives quite literally depend on the ability to virtually connect. Telehealth has rapidly emerged as a vital tool, enabling continuity of care, allowing vulnerable individuals to access their physician from home, and freeing up resources for providers to treat the most critical patients. The acceptance of telehealth and expansion of covered services for the senior population demonstrate that this technology will endure long after COVID-19 subsides.
Prior to the pandemic, just 11% of Americans utilized telehealth compared to 46% so far this year, and virtual healthcare interactions are expected to top 1 billion by year’s end. While the technology has been a life-saver for many, usage depends heavily on the availability of audio-video capabilities, internet access, and technological prowess – potentially leaving vulnerable patients behind.
Seniors Face Physical, Technical and Socioeconomic Barriers to Telehealth
Despite telehealth’s surge, there is growing concern that the rapid shift to digitally delivered care is leaving seniors behind. Telehealth is not inherently accessible for all and with many practices transitioning appointments online, it threatens to cut older adults off from receiving crucial medical care. This is a significant concern, considering older adults account for one-quarter of physician office visits in the United States and often manage multiple conditions and medications, and have a higher rate of disability. This puts an already vulnerable population at a higher risk of severe complications from COVID-19.
Research published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine found that more than a third of adults over age 65 face potential difficulties accessing their doctor through telehealth. Obstacles include familiarity using mobile devices, troubleshooting technical issues that arise, managing hearing or vision impairments, and dealing with cognitive issues like dementia. Many of these difficulties stem from the natural aging process; it is imperative for provider organizations employing telehealth and telehealth vendors to improve offerings that consider vision, hearing, and speaking loss for this population.
While barriers associated with aging are a key factor within the senior population, perhaps the greatest challenges in accessing telehealth are socioeconomic. The rapid shift to digital delivery of care may have left marginalized populations without access to the technological tools needed to access care digitally, such as high-speed internet, a smartphone or a computer.
According to the JAMA study, low-income individuals living in remote or rural locations faced the greatest challenges in accessing telehealth. A second JAMA study, also released this summer indicated that “the proportion of Medicare beneficiaries with digital access was lower among those who were 85 or older, were widowed, had a high school education or less, were Black or Hispanic, received Medicaid, or had a disability.”
These socioeconomic factors are systemic issues that existed prior to the pandemic, and the crisis-driven acceleration of telehealth has magnified these pre-existing challenges and widened racial and class-based disparities. Recent initiatives at the federal level, such as the FCC’s rural telehealth expansion task force, are a step in the right direction, though more sustained action is needed to address additional socioeconomic challenges that are deeply rooted within the healthcare system.
Fortunately, Telehealth Hurdles Can Be Overcome
Recognizing that telehealth isn’t a “one-size fits all” solution is the first step towards addressing the barriers that disproportionately impact seniors and work is needed on multiple levels. Telemedicine consults are impossible without access to the internet, so the first step is to provide and expand access to broadband and internet-connected devices. With more than 15% of the country’s population living in rural areas, expanding broadband access for these individuals is especially crucial. In addition, older adults in community-based living environments need greater access to public wi-fi networks.
Access to mobile and other internet-connected devices is also essential. Products designed with large fonts and icons, closed captioning, and easy set-up procedures may be easier for older adults to use. For example, GrandPad is a tablet designed specifically for seniors and has an intuitive interface that includes basic video calling, enabling seniors to virtually connect with their caregivers.
To address affordability, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) allowed for mid-year benefit changes in 2020 to allow for payment or provision of mobile devices for telehealth. Many Medicare Advantage organizations are enhancing plans’ provisions of telehealth coverage and devices for 2021.
In addition to increasing access to broadband and internet-connected devices, providing seniors with proper educational resources is another crucial step. Even if older adults are open to using technology for telehealth visits, many will need additional training. Healthcare organizations may want to connect older patients with community-based technology training programs. Some programs take a multi-generational approach, pairing younger instructors with older students.
For example, Papa is an on-demand service that pairs older adults with younger ‘Papa Pals’ who provide companionship and assistance with tasks such as setting up a new smartphone or tablet.
From a socioeconomic perspective, careful consideration is needed to address the concerns that telehealth may reinforce systemic biases and widen health disparities. Providers may be less conscious of systemic bias toward patients based on race, ethnicity, or educational status.
In turn, providers must address implicit bias head-on, such as offering workplace training and incorporating evidence-based tools to adequately measure and address health disparities. This includes pushing for policies that enable widespread broadband access funding to better connect communities in need.
Health plans can support expanded access to care through benefit design, reducing costs for plan members. To match members and patients with the right resources and assistance, health plans and providers should launch outreach campaigns that are segmented by demographic group. Outreach initiatives could include assessments to determine each person’s ability and comfort level with telehealth.
The Path Forward
Without question, telehealth is playing a central role in delivering care during the current pandemic, and many of its long-touted benefits have been accentuated by the current demand. Telehealth, along with other digital monitoring technologies, have the potential to address several barriers to care for seniors and other vulnerable populations for whom access to in-person care may not be viable, such as those based in remote locations or with mobility issues.
In the post-pandemic era, telehealth can provide greater access and convenience, but if not implemented carefully, the permanent expansion of telehealth may worsen health disparities. Careful consideration and collaboration will be essential in embracing the value of telehealth while mitigating its inherent risks.
If implemented correctly, telehealth can provide continued access to care for our vulnerable aging population and can significantly improve care as well. Enhancing the ability to connect with healthcare providers anytime, anywhere can give seniors the freedom to gracefully age in place.
About Anne Davis
Anne Davis is the Director of Quality Programs & Medicare Strategy at HMS, a healthcare technology, analytics, and engagement solutions company, where she’s focused on the company’s Population Health Management product portfolio.
What You Should Know:
– DispatchHealth launches Clinic Without Walls, a new service line offering patients a telemedicine visit with in-person assistance for more complex medical visits.
– The initial service line will be available in a pilot to MultiCare patients in the Tacoma and Spokane areas in an effort to its senior patients’ alternative visits during the pandemic.
DispatchHealth, a provider of in-home high-acuity medical care, today announced
the launch of Clinic Without Walls. The new service line expands access to care
for vulnerable patients by offering enhanced virtual visits with hands-on
support. Clinic Without Walls is initially being offered to MultiCare patients
in the Tacoma and Spokane areas.
Meeting the Growing Needs of In-Home Medical Care Options
visits have become an increasingly popular option to help decrease a patient’s
risk of exposure to COVID-19. More
advanced capabilities are often required for vulnerable patients who are facing
chronic disease or require medically complex care. The Clinic Without Walls
model offers these patients hands-on support with an emergency medical
technician (EMT) to help guide them through a telemedicine presentation and
connect them with a physician.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need for more in-home medical care options during the pandemic and beyond,” said Dr. Mark Prather, chief executive officer and co-founder of DispatchHealth. “Our unique model continues to expand and meet the growing needs of patients, payers, and provider partners. We are excited to continue to grow our partnership with MultiCare to help their most vulnerable patients by treating medically complex issues through hands-on support and tele-presentation.”
How It Works
During a Clinic Without Walls visit, an EMT from DispatchHealth will visit a patient where they live. The EMT comes equipped with a handheld, telehealth exam kit developed by TytoCare, manufacturer of the hand-held telehealth device DispatchHealth uses. The kit allows them to assist a guided medical exam including assessment of the lungs, ears, throat, skin, and abdomen. In addition, comprehensive vital signs, social determinants of health intervention, and moderate-complexity lab work are available in the home. If additional lab work or imaging is required, the service will be coordinated by DispatchHealth.
“The goal of this program is to keep MultiCare’s vulnerable patients safe and healthy”, said Christi McCarren, senior vice president of retail health and community based care at MultiCare. “Many of these patients have been deferring care due to the fear of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, this program helps patients facing significant mobility and transportation issues receive the care they need.”
Clinical Without Models Care Model
DispatchHealth’s Clinic Without Walls model complements the organization’s additional service lines, which include Advanced Care, Extended Care, and Acute Care. Combined, DispatchHealth is able to reduce avoidable ER visits, hospital admissions, or a stay at a skilled nursing facility. The company has experienced a period of rapid expansion and record growth and has more than doubled its national footprint in 2020, with services available in 28 cities across the United States. DispatchHealth is open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including holidays. For more information, including market hours and areas of service, visit DispatchHealth.com
What You Should Know:
– Cerner Corporation today announced with Xealth new
centralized digital ordering and monitoring for health systems, starting with
Banner Health, to foster digital innovation.
– Health systems can prescribe digital therapeutics, smartphones, and internet apps directly within the EHR to address areas such as chronic disease management, behavioral health, maternity care, and surgery prep.
Cerner, today announced it’s building on the recent collaboration with Xealth to offer health systems new centralized digital ordering and monitoring for clients. These capabilities are designed to help health systems choose, manage, and deploy digital tools and applications while offering clinicians access to remote monitoring and more direct engagement with patients. Phoenix-based Banner Health, one of the country’s largest nonprofit hospital systems, is one of the first Cerner clients to use the new capabilities to benefit its clinicians and patients.
Prescribe Digital Therapeutics Via EHR
With the new capabilities, health systems can prescribe digital therapeutics, smartphones, and internet applications to address areas such as chronic disease management, behavioral health, maternity care, and surgery prep. This access to a more holistic view of the organization’s digital health solutions supports the clinical decisions doctors make every day and provides real opportunities to improve medical outcomes and enhance efficiency, meet the increasing demand for telehealth and offer remote patient monitoring.
For example, the new capabilities can help simplify how
clinicians prescribe tools such as mobile mental health apps to monitor anxiety
triggers or a glucose device to help trace blood sugar levels for diabetes
Digital solutions will be available in a single location in
the electronic health record where health systems can use apps based on
clinical and financial metrics. A wide array of digital health tools is
integrated with Xealth’s offering today and the list is ever-growing. Early
examples of companies that have previously deployed in health systems using
Xealth include Babyscripts, Glooko, SilverCloud Health, Welldoc, as well as
Healthwise Inc., GetWellNetwork and ResMed that have existing relationships
“As digital tools are increasingly included in care plans, health systems seek a way to organize and oversee their use across the health system. We anticipate the emergence of digital and therapeutic committees to govern digital tool selection similar to how pharmacy and therapeutic committees have historically governed medication formularies,” said David Bradshaw, senior vice president, Consumer and Employer Solutions, Cerner. “Digital health has extraordinary potential to reshape the way we care for patients and, working with Xealth, we are answering the need and helping providers create more engaging and effective patient experiences.”
Why It Matters
Digital health has great potential to make an immediate difference, especially as it relates to automating patient education, delivering virtual care, supporting telehealth, and offering remote patient monitoring. Health systems with a digital health program and strategy in place have the ability to respond faster and more efficiently.
“Now, more than ever, extending care teams to meet patients where they are is critical,” said Mike McSherry, CEO and co-founder, Xealth. “As digital health programs roll out, they should elevate both the patient and provider experience. Cerner building out a digital formulary, with Xealth at its core, is listening to its strong clinician base by delivering tools to enhance patient care, without adding additional steps for the care team.”
What You Should Know:
– Elation Health, which provides an easy-to-use and
affordable clinical technology platform for more than 7 million independent primary
care clinicians serving 14M+ patients – including an EHR raises $40M in Series
C funding from Al Gore’s sustainable investment firm, Generation Investment
– Elation’s API-enabled platform also allows
organizations to transform the patient and provider experience and implement
their own models of data-driven, value-based care.
– Company will surpass a milestone this year of
delivering more than 20 million in-office and virtual visits through their
Health, a clinical-first technology company powering the future of
independent primary care, today announced a Series C financing round of $40
million led by Al Gore’s Generation Investment
Management, a firm that invests in sustainable businesses accelerating the
transition to a more healthy, fair, safe, and low-carbon society. The round
also included participation from existing investors, including Threshold Ventures and Kapor Capital.
Clinical-First Commitment to Independent Primary Care
Independent primary care is one of the few areas in healthcare where upfront investment leads to significant savings in the long term. For every dollar spent on primary care, studies suggest that as much as $13 in downstream healthcare costs are avoided. Increased spending on primary care is also associated with fewer emergency department visits and reduced total hospitalizations and specialty interventions for chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure
Elation Health was founded in 2010 after siblings Kyna and
Conan Fong struggled to help their father transition his solo primary care
practice from paper charts to a digital system. Born from that experience,
today Elation Health powers the largest network for independent primary care,
with 14,000 independent clinicians caring for seven million patients. The
company offers an EHR
solution, enterprise APIs, revenue cycle services, patient engagement app, and
access to interoperability partners.
The company surpassed a milestone this year of delivering more than 20 million in-office and virtual visits through its provider network. In addition to serving small practices, Elation has partnered with primary care innovators such as Crossover Health and Cityblock Health to provide the underlying clinical platform for technology-enabled, team-based care.
Helping Intendent Practices Shift to Virtual Care Amid The
In 2020, Elation Health’s customer base of independent
practices has faced significant business challenges as primary care shifts to
virtual settings and the pace of insurance and government policy change has
accelerated. The company has responded by expanding its role as a critical
technology partner — including adding HIPAA-compliant telehealth to its core
offering, deepening support for Medicare and Medicaid quality programs, and
delivering new patient engagement capabilities for patients to schedule
appointments and interact with practices. Elation’s API-enabled platform also
allows organizations to transform the patient and provider experience and
implement their own models of data-driven, value-based care.
In the year ahead, Elation Health will continue to invest in
its core platform, while adding new capabilities to support business operations
for independent primary care. The company has plans to develop solutions in
billing and payment collection, patient population management, interoperability,
and quality reporting — ensuring practices have the tools to drive high-quality
patient outcomes and business success.
What You Should Know:
– LA-based Scanwell Health announced today that its at-home UTI test kits – featuring the first FDA-cleared urinalysis app that lets people test for a UTI without having to visit a lab or doctor – is now available on Amazon.com.
– The kits are priced at 3 for $15. Happy to send a graphic or answer any questions you have. Until now, the kits have been available only directly through the Scanwell Health web site.
– Scanwell enables clinical-grade testing, instant results, and professional guidance for comprehensive healthcare from the safety of your home. Once people have their Scanwell test results (which takes two minutes), they can receive a prescription by connecting directly to telehealth providers via their smartphone for treatment. The whole process can take place from the safety of their home and they do not have to visit a doctor’s office.
– The company is also working on tests for chronic kidney disease, malaria, and the virus that causes COVID-19.
What You Should Know:
– Publicly traded logistics company ArcBest announced its
deal with Doctor On Demand to introduce its virtual-first health plan to its
13,000 employees, who are largely “essential workers” as long-haul
– Employees appreciated the convenience and safety of 24/7 virtual care – from their homes, from the road – and ArcBest is now doubling down on virtual care for 2021 – and offering a holistic, virtual-first primary care health plan – one where patients see the same PCP time and time again virtually and can receive many of the same services virtually that they’d typically receive in-person.
On Demand, the nation’s leading virtual care provider,
and ArcBest, a
multibillion-dollar leader in supply chain logistics, announced a partnership
to offer a new Virtual Primary Care health plan benefit to its employees and
their dependents nationwide. The partnership expands on the existing urgent
care and behavioral health services that Doctor On Demand has been providing to
ArcBest since 2017.
Virtual Primary Care Benefit
ArcBest is getting creative in how they deliver healthcare benefits to their thousands of field employees – many of whom are on the road or reside in rural areas throughout the country. As the pandemic hit, it became increasingly difficult or unsafe to seek in-person medical or mental health care, so ArcBest promoted the use of its telemedicine offering of urgent care and mental healthcare.
The new Virtual Primary Care benefit will be available to all 8,000 members who are covered under ArcBest’s medical plan starting December 1st. This benefit comes at a critical time as COVID-19 cases are spiking again, and as the country simultaneously heads into cold and flu season. As a provider of essential freight and logistics services, ArcBest has a large field employee population that operates 24/7, making it challenging to access routine in-person care.
Virtual Primary Care Improves Access to Care
ArcBest believes that investing in this new virtual health
plan upfront will have a major impact on employees’ health long term –
promoting preventative healthcare and driving down long-term costs associated
with employees waiting until their chronic back pain or chronic disease
warrants more costly interventions.
“At ArcBest, we have a unique set of healthcare benefit needs, and Doctor On Demand’s existing urgent and behavioral health care services have been invaluable, especially this year,” said Rich Krutsch, Vice President, People Services at ArcBest. “The pandemic has also prompted us to double-down on our investments in virtual care, and we’re excited to expand our program with Doctor On Demand to include much more holistic, integrated virtual care for our employees.”
Employees Can Select Primary Care Doctor Through Doctor
Eligible ArcBest employees and their dependents will now be able to select a primary care provider through Doctor On Demand and access a comprehensive set of services to support whole-person health, including preventive wellness check-ups, vaccination referrals, nutrition consultations, chronic condition management, and more. Additionally, members are able to continue to see the same physician over time, allowing them to build a consistent, trusted relationship via video.
Telehealth and virtual care are not brand-new phenomena suddenly cobbled together as a rapid response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the average US patient could be forgiven for thinking that it is. Indeed, virtual visits to care providers and remote patient monitoring have been available for quite some time, delivering two key benefits:
– Providing a platform to address cost-efficiencies and accessibility to quality healthcare for the populace at large
– Playing a key role in managing a growing population of chronically ill seniors.
Prior to 2020, however, the rules of reimbursement and implementation for associated telehealth services were difficult to navigate, wildly differing at the state and federal level with a host of regulations further complicating matters. Federal reimbursement policies are centered on Medicare, via the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) – the single largest payer for seniors and chronically ill patients. Additionally, compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) dictated rigorous standards for direct and monitoring communications between care providers and patients. Complicating matters further, US states offered a patchwork of individual telehealth laws dictating separate Medicaid policies.
The result was a lack of clarity of how healthcare providers could overcome regulatory and financial reimbursement barriers to implement effective telehealth programs as well as a lack of parity in coverage services and payments for patients. To address this at the federal level, CMS released new guidance in 2020 to relax reimbursement restrictions for providers. Now, we’re at the cusp of a new era of telemedicine where providers could widely offer:
– Virtual office visits that address traditionally in-person services such as primary care, behavioral health, and specialty care (e.g. pulmonary or cardiac health rehabilitation)
– On-demand virtual urgent care to address pressing concerns and urgently needed consultations
– Virtual broader home health services such as remote patient monitoring, outpatient disease management, and various forms of therapy (e.g. physical, speech)
– Tech-enabled home medication administration helping patients receive injectable or consumable medication via monitored self-administration
This is all, of course, dependent upon the mobile technology (e.g. tablets, wearables, etc.) and associated services that telehealth providers will rely upon to make these services happen at parity and scale for their patients. Even more importantly, virtual care programs being scaled up to cover a larger percentage of patients will fall apart if providers don’t have the resources to offer robust support and maintenance options for these devices and services. Quality of virtual care is highly dependent on persistent device and service availability and dependability.
Whether providers have already begun purchasing the mobile devices needed or are still struggling with the choice of what devices and services they need and/or can afford, however, they now face a different quandary: How to stand up these virtual care services at scale in a sustainable way that works within current budget resources and doesn’t pass on ballooning costs to your patients?
One way to make complex mobile technology deployments financially manageable is opting for a mobile device as a service (mDaaS) model which allows you to shift from a CapEx-based spending model to an OpEx spending model for purchasing hardware and allows telehealth providers to bundle or roll up a range of devices, accessories, services, maintenance and support into a single, predictable monthly per-device price. With mobile device technology rapidly evolving, telemedicine providers will need the operational agility to pivot to different solutions and quick technology refreshes as the need arises.
When done with the right third-party partner, it offers the additional advantages of outsourcing end-to-end support and lifecycle management to highly trained agents, who can free up precious IT resources. Most importantly, it creates a level of control over technology and spend that makes standing up virtual care programs convenient and stress-free.
There are many options to consider when expanding telemedicine services rapidly to larger patient bases, whether during disruptive events such as the COVID-19 pandemic or in the years to come. The key to making these services sustainable is finding a financing model that will free up internal resources, offer greater spending flexibility, and offer end-to-end support for your healthcare mobile technology ecosystem.
About Don Godbee Senior Mobile Solutions Architect at Stratix
Don brings a unique perspective to mobility in the Healthcare Vertical with over 25 years of consulting and delivery of critical solutions. Don has delivered various solutions from OEM integration of sensors in medical devices to mobile point of care solutions and services with major EHR software solution providers such as Epic, Cerner, GE Healthcare, Allscripts, and McKesson.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on the shortcomings of today’s hospital and healthcare IT infrastructure, with many healthcare organizations quickly adopting the latest and greatest technology to support remote operations. However, in the scramble to adapt, many IT leaders did not ensure that the acquired technology integrated well with legacy systems – resulting in underused components and wasted costs. As we enter into a new era in healthcare, it is paramount that these organizations adopt technologies that support overall digital transformation and are fiscally responsible. The IT acquisition journey has taken us from focusing on the speed of components to the speed of the cloud, but we must work to innovate further. To adopt infrastructure that works at the speed of the business, healthcare IT providers must evaluate legacy IT acquisition efforts, the current models, and how they can evolve in the future.
The historic view of acquiring healthcare IT has been to move at the speed of the components. This lifecycle management approach was born out of the perception that acquiring new IT systems were too expensive for the return on investment. The focus was on the management of equipment, licenses, and contracts, causing IT leaders to spend the majority of their time patching and updating existing systems. The inability to predict a system’s capacity for computing, storage, and data meant less time spent on security, which left health systems vulnerable to outside threats.
Today’s Operating Model
Today, the focus has shifted to ensuring IT infrastructure moves at the speed of the cloud. Many hospitals and healthcare organizations have adopted an on-premise cloud and consolidated their licenses, equipment, and contracts to streamline service and reduce maintenance interruptions. This allows IT departments to proactively manage infrastructure capacity while also gaining security hardened systems. The technology management approach provides application-based cost management for healthcare organizations that require a variety of different needs, adjusting the perception of IT to that of service providers. Healthcare organizations that embrace this model are able to move and house their applications based on need, rather than pre-existing equipment constraints, which was unattainable before.
The Future of IT Acquisition
Looking ahead, there is no doubt that hospitals and healthcare organizations need to continue to evolve to maintain seamless operations. With COVID-19 highlighting infrastructure vulnerabilities, it is paramount that IT adjusts for increased technology, network traffic, and security weaknesses. Healthcare organizations that are working through issues with tools, cloud skills, and other obstacles that impede hybrid cloud adoption believe these problems will soon be resolved. With that in mind, it is likely that within the next decade there will be aggressive hybrid cloud adoption across the healthcare industry.
Additionally, in response to shifting priorities, subscription and consumption-based service models are growing in popularity because of their ability to flex up or down to optimize costs and efficiencies. In the future, healthcare organizations must move at the speed of the business as well as meeting community needs, like COVID-19 data reporting and analytics.
Instead of investing in legacy solutions that have proven difficult to manage, healthcare organizations looking to adjust their IT infrastructure can consider adopting numerous “as-a-service” models. For organizations that have specific software, application management, and full system infrastructure needs, Software-as-a-service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) are top considerations. Some organizations may only need access to software for a set number of users, rather than full support for the entire system, pointing them to subscription-based software instead of the as-a-service options. Conversely, consumption-based software models are growing in popularity.
Organizations that prefer to pay for applications or devices based on actual usage of the product may prefer this model because it often implies the user pays a certain amount in advance and then draws down against the pre-payment based on their use (“consumption”) of the application. This option allows systems to better budget from the onset, rather than determining costs as the year progresses.
Historically, projects and supporting product offerings are based on yearly budget and funding allotments. That is until the product offerings changed. Software subscriptions, software-as-a-service (anything-as-a-service), and consumption-based services are dramatically impacting the way that IT is purchased, which helps reduce costs.
When looking at healthcare IT spending more broadly, organizations allocate millions of dollars each year, even though they often have mixed experiences in the success of implementations. Since companies usually pay based on project implementation milestones, there are rarely performance clauses. With this in mind, organizations need to hold vendors accountable for successful implementations and first-year operations. In the future, many healthcare organizations will pursue shared risk cost models as they allow the provider to develop system improvements while mitigating costs for the organization.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed how health systems assess and acquire IT infrastructure. With unprecedented amounts of network traffic, telehealth needs, and sensitive patient data, organizations need to prioritize IT planning and acquisition to avoid procurement delays and exorbitant costs. As 2021 budgets are being determined, hospital decision-makers should consider adopting subscription and consumption-based models to help them the best support and protect their data and meet the demands of tomorrow.
About Cheryl Rodenfels
Cheryl Rodenfels is the Healthcare Strategist for Nutanix. She is a seasoned technology executive, responsible for improving customer success and experience across the entire portfolio of Nutanix products and services. Cheryl’s responsibilities include developing the healthcare practice at Nutanix by identifying market opportunities, creating industry-specific training and documentation, enabling sales, and improving technology adoption and solution delivery. Cheryl can be found on LinkedIn.
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.
The US government has introduced a scheme to allow hospitals to reduce the number of inpatients they see through a telehealth platform that would helps deliver acute care at home.
The move comes as the number of new cases of COVID-19 have been climbing to around 180,000 a day, with deaths since the start of the pandemic now rising above 260,000, and concerns that some hospitals could become overwhelmed over the winter months.
The Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the plans as part of broad plan to free up hospital capacity amid the COVID-19 surge, although it stressed patients won’t have to use the service unless they want to, and the first assessment by a physician must take place in person.
It said that treatment for more than 60 different acute conditions, including asthma, heart failure, pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), can be carried out “appropriately and safely in home settings with proper monitoring and treatment protocols.”
The new telehealth scheme applies to patients with conditions that require at least daily visits by a physician and ongoing medical team monitoring.
Six health systems across the country have already been approved to participate in the programme, getting the necessary Medicare waivers to allow them to treat patients at home.
They are Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, Massachusetts General Hospital, Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah, Mount Sinai Health System in New York City, Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico, and Iowa’s UnityPoint Health.
Participating hospitals must have screening protocols in place before care at home begins, to assess that patients have access to working utilities, ensure there are no other physical barriers to care, and rule out welfare concerns such as a risk of domestic violence.
The US healthcare system has rapidly adopted telehealth and remote patient monitoring during the response to the coronavirus pandemic, with some suggesting it will transform the future of health care delivery, although there are dissenting voices.
In March 13, President Trump made an emergency declaration that empowered the CMS to issue waivers to Medicare programme requirements to support healthcare providers and patients during the crisis.
Since then, the CMS has added dozens of services to the list of telehealth services it will reimburse during the public health emergency, including emergency department visits, initial nursing facility and discharge consultations, home visits, and physical, occupational and speech therapy services.
Some of the changes have found their way into the proposed 2021 Physician Fee Schedule, which will make reimbursement for some telehealth and digital services permanent.
“We’re at a new level of crisis response with COVID-19 and CMS is leveraging the latest innovations and technology to help healthcare systems that are facing significant challenges to increase their capacity to make sure patients get the care they need,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma.
“With new areas across the country experiencing significant challenges to the capacity of their health care systems, our job is to make sure that CMS regulations are not standing in the way of patient care for COVID-19 and beyond,” she added.
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CVS Health Corporation names Neela Montgomery Executive Vice President and President of CVS Pharmacy/Retail, effective November 30, 2020. Montgomery will oversee the company’s 10,000 pharmacies across the United States. Montgomery, currently a Board Partner at venture capital firm Greycroft, most recently served as chief executive officer of furniture retailer Crate & Barrel and has nearly 20 years of global retail experience.
The Cleveland Clinic and Amwell joint venture appoint Egbert van Acht as Executive Vice Chairman to the Board of Directors and Frank McGillin as CEO. Formed one year ago as a first-of-its-kind company to provide broad access to comprehensive, high-acuity care via telehealth, the company has made great progress scaling digital care through its MyConsult® offering. With an initial focus on clinical second opinions, the organization also offers health information and diagnosis on more than 2,000 different types of conditions including cancer, cardiac, and neuroscience issues.
Healthcare industry veteran Dana Gelb Safran, Sc.D. has joined Well Health Inc. as Senior Vice President, Value-Based Care, and Population Health. In her new role, Dr. Safran will expand WELL’s uses to improve healthcare quality, outcomes, and affordability through partnerships with payers and Accountable Care Organization (ACO) providers.
Talkdesk®, Inc., the cloud contact center for innovative enterprises appoints Cory Haynes to lead Talkdesk’s strategy for the financial service industry and Greg Miller to lead the strategy for healthcare and life sciences. Haynes and Miller are key members of the Talkdesk industries team led by Andrew Flynn, senior vice president of industries strategy for Talkdesk.
Imprivata appoints Mark McArdle to Senior Vice President of Products and Design. Mr. McArdle has more than two decades of experience in software development, Software-as-a-Service (Saas), in Cybersecurity, and advanced products for the enterprise, SMB, and consumer markets.
Eden Health names Jack Stoddard as executive chairman of its board of directors. Formerly serving in COO roles for Accolade and Haven, Stoddard brings two decades of healthcare innovation and operating experience to the board position, providing leadership, wisdom, and counsel during a time of monumental growth and adoption for the company.
Augmedix names Saurav Chatterjee Chief Technology Officer. Prior to joining Augmedix, he most recently served as Vice President of Engineering at Lumiata, Inc., where he led the engineering team that built a leading AI platform, focusing specifically on transforming, cleaning, enriching, featurizing, and visualizing healthcare data, and on building, deploying and operationalizing machine learning and deep-learning models at scale.
Tridiuum, the nation’s premier provider of digital behavioral health solutions names Philip Vecchiolli has joined the company as Chief Growth and Strategy Officer. Vecchiolli, who brings over 30 years of experience to the new role, has a successful track record of leading business development for large and mid-size healthcare companies.
Connect America appoints Janet Dillione as its new chief executive officer (CEO). Prior to joining Connect America, Dillione worked in the healthcare information services industry as CEO of Bernoulli Enterprise, Inc., GM of Nuance Healthcare, and CEO of Siemens Healthcare IT.
Health Catalyst, Inc. announces that current Chief Financial Officer Patrick Nelli has been named President, effective January 1, 2021. Following Nelli’s promotion to the President role, Health Catalyst has named Bryan Hunt, current Senior Vice President of Financial Planning & Analysis, Chief Financial Officer, also effective January 1, 2021.
Two additional promotions, also effective January 1, 2021, include Jason Alger, Senior Vice President of Finance, to Chief Accounting Officer, and Adam Brown, Senior Vice President of Investor Relations, to Senior Vice President of Investor Relations and Financial Planning & Analysis.
Apervita hires health IT veteran Rick Howard as Chief Product Officer. In his role, Rick will oversee product vision, innovation, design, and delivery of Apervita’s digital platform, which enables digital quality measurement, clinical intelligence, as well as value-based contract monitoring and performance measurement.
Conversion Labs, Inc. appoints Roberto Simon to its board of directors and as the chair of its audit committee. Following his appointment, the board now has eight members, with six serving as independent directors. Mr. Simon currently serves as CFO of WEX (NYSE: WEX), a $6+ billion fintech services provider.
PRA Health Sciences, Inc. appoints senior FDA official Isaac Rodriguez-Chavez, Ph.D., MHS, MS, as Senior Vice President, Scientific and Clinical Affairs. He will lead the company’s Global Center of Excellence for Decentralized Clinical Trial (DCT) Strategy. Dr. Rodriguez-Chavez’s responsibilities will involve the continued growth and development of PRA’s industry-leading decentralized clinical trial strategy, regulatory framework creation, and clinical trial modernization.
Proprio appoints three global thought leaders to its Medical Advisory Board. Dr. Sigurd Berven, Orthopedic Surgeon and Professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Dr. Charles Fisher, Professor and Head of the Combined Neurosurgical & Orthopedic Spine Program at Vancouver General Hospital and the University of British Columbia, and Dr. Ziya Gokaslan, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Brown University and Neurosurgeon-in-Chief at Rhode Island Hospital and The Miriam Hospital will apply their globally respected surgical and research expertise to the development of the Proprio navigation platform.
Kaiser Permanente names Andrew Bindman, MD Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. In this role, Dr. Bindman will collaborate with clinical and operational leaders throughout the enterprise to help lead the organization’s efforts to continue improving the high-quality care provided to members and patients throughout Kaiser Permanente. Dr. Bindman will report directly to Kaiser Permanente chairman and CEO Greg A. Adams.
Greenway names Dr. Michael Blackman Chief Medical Officer at Greenway. Dr. Blackman will further support the company’s ambulatory care customers, ensuring providers are equipped with the solutions and services they need to improve patient outcomes and succeed in value-based care.
Suki expands its leadership team with six key hires to support the company’s rapid commercial growth. Tracy Rentz, formerly Vice President of Implementation at Evolent Health, joins Suki as the Vice President of Customer Success and Operations to lead all customer operations, with a particular focus around deploying new Suki customers. Brian Duffy brings over 20 years of sales experience to Suki, joining the team as Director of Sales-East, after having most recently served as Regional Director at Qventus, Inc. Brent Jarkowski will also join Suki’s sales team this November as the Director of Sales-West, bringing over 15 years of experience in strategic relationship management. Brent joins Suki after serving as Senior Client Development Director at Kyyrus. Together, Brian and Brent will head the company’s efforts in building new partnerships across the country. And Josh Margulies, who previously served as the Director of Integrated Brand Marketing for the Jacksonville Jaguars, will serve as Suki’s new Senior Director of Field Marketing.
Healthcare can achieve optimum efficiency when patients are at the center of care. When patients have the necessary information to navigate their care journey, they will choose the path to high-quality care at the lowest costs. Cost-sharing and insurance premiums are rising consistently since the last decade for employer plans, which covers nearly half of the country’s population. Plan members are shouldering a part of the healthcare cost burden, so they want to keep it as low as possible. At the same time, they want maximum value for their money with access to quality care.
CMS identified this as an opportunity and issued the Final Interoperability and Patient Access rule. The rule allows patients to access electronic health data through any third-party application of their choice. The rule intends to allow patients to take control of their data and determine who can see which data. It will also make transferring data from provider to provider easier. So that patients can be ensured that their provider is fully aware of their medical history.
The Challenge of Providing Members Access to Healthcare Data
The biggest challenge that health plans will face is to extract data from multiple sources in-house, clean and scrub it, and ensure it is in the appropriate format as required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Some health plans have been in business for a really long time. Patient data has been accumulating through these years in legacy systems. Providing access to that data through certified third-party applications will require a lot of effort on the part of health plans. The health plans also have to ensure tight authentication standards so that only the people requested by the members have access to their healthcare data.
In addition, there are multiple problems associated with provider data. Incorrect data in the provider database costs close to $3 billion annually. CMS has also issued warnings for inaccurate provider directories, high claim-reprocessing volumes, and substantial encounter-data rejection rates. Payers have been addressing the data issues with short term solutions. But now they have to resolve the provider data problems for good and make health data readily available to the members.
The COVID Crisis Upended The Payer Compliance Initiatives
Payers are in solidarity with providers and patients in this time of crisis. While providers work tirelessly to help an increased number of patients access the required care, payers are providing support through fast track reimbursements and reduced utilization management.
Many health plans are focused on ensuring that their members have access to resources to fight COVID, which is why CMS extended the deadline for the Final Interoperability rule. Utilization patterns are witnessing a significant change. Many members are not receiving scheduled care as some elective surgeries are rescheduled and some provider offices are shut down. There has been a drop in certain kinds of utilization. Conversely, there has been a dramatic surge in telehealth office visits and behavioral health services.
The Road Ahead for Health Plans
Healthcare payers have endured significant claims-based, economic, and operational challenges during the pandemic. While they battle those bottlenecks, they also have to ascertain and prepare for the future and devise ways to ensure that their members have access to quality care.
Health plans will have to try to anticipate what utilization patterns will look like in the future, especially in the next year. Telehealth utilization will not be the same as it was pre-COVID. They will also have to ensure that members have access to care. They will have to reach out to members, especially those who are the most vulnerable. They will have to make sure members are not suffering from social isolation, they are taking their medication and they have access to transportation to get to the doctor.
Provider Alliance for CMS Compliance
CMS is handing over the reins of the care journey to the patients to improve care delivery through the Interoperability rule. Providers will play a key role in enabling access to healthcare data to patients by streamlining data and closing coding gaps. Payers must assist providers with their data needs to ensure compliance with the CMS rules.
As the pandemic ends and CMS comes out with more definitive long term rules and coverages, it is going to be important to ensure that providers are on the same page with payers. Health plans can partner with providers to educate them about the acceptable telehealth codes and what type of services are to be performed using those codes. Providers want to take care of their patients and they want to do it well. They want to leverage technology to ensure patient access to care and ensure their safety, especially for patients who suffer from multiple comorbidities.
About Elizabeth Bierbower
Elizabeth Bierbower is a strategic leader with more than thirty years of executive experience in the health insurance industry. She has experience scaling cost-effective and profitable growth strategies through internal innovation, and a reputation as being one of the industry’s most fiscally responsible and progressive leaders. Bierbower currently serves on the Boards of Iora Health, the American Telemedicine Association, and is on Innovaccer’s Strategic Advisory.
Previously Beth was a member of Humana’s Executive Management Team and held various roles including Segment President, Group and Specialty Benefits, and was an Enterprise Vice President leading Humana’s Product Development and Innovation teams.
A merger involving two US digital health specialists and a blank cheque company has created a telemedicine player, called UpHealth, that is valued at more than $1.3 billion.
The three-way deal combines UpHealth – which provides patient care management, telemedicine and digital pharmacy services and gives its name to the new group – with CloudBreak, which provides a video consultation platform for doctors and patients.
The blank cheque company or ‘special purpose acquisition company’ (SPAC) that provides funding is GigCapital2, which raised $150 million in its public offering in June 2019.
The merger is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021, subject to the usual closing conditions. Once completed, UpHealth will continue to be listed on the NYSE but with a new ticker symbol (UPH).
The combined company will cover a broad swathe of the digital health landscape, bringing together population health software, telehealth services, digital pharmacy delivering compounded and manufactured medicines, and tech enabled behavioural health services for people with mental health and substance abuse issues.
It will have pro forma 2020 revenues of around $115 million, rising to $194 million next year, coming from established contracts with health providers, insurers and payors from all 50 states in the US as well as nine international markets, according to the prospectus for the merger.
The new UpHealth will have two co-chief executives – Al Gatmaitan and Ramesh Balakrishnan – with Chirinjeev Kathuria of UpHealth and Avi Katz of GigCapital2 serving as co-chairman.
The elements of its digital health portfolio included integrated care management unit Thrasys – whose SyntraNet health information exchange platform is used to organise patient health records and workflows.
Telehealth will be split into a US division – consisting mainly of CloudBreak – and an international division centred on Glocal Healthcare Systems that is operating in India, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
The digital pharmacy business will be provided by MedQuest, which is licensed in all 50 states and pre-packages and ships medicines direct to patients, serving a network of 13,000 providers.
Finally, behavioural health will be provided by two subsidiaries – TTC Healthcare and Behavioural Health Services – which provide both onsite and telehealth services.
The increased reliance on telemedicine services during the coronavirus pandemic has sparked a flurry of M&A and fundraising activity among providers trying to broaden and expand their businesses.
The largest by far was the $18.5 billion merger between Teladoc and Livongo to create a digital health giant with pro forma sales of $1.3 billion, which came shortly after Teladoc bought InTRouch Health for $600 million.
Other sizeable deals include Veritas Capital’s acquisition of the health and human services assets of DXC Technology for $5 billion, Align Technology’s buyout of digital dentistry specialist exocad for $417 million, and Google’s $100 million investment in telehealth player Amwell on the same day the Boston-based company announced its IPO.
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What You Should Know:
– GigCapital2 Inc has agreed to merge with UpHealth Holdings Inc and Cloudbreak Health LLC to create a public digital healthcare company valued at $1.35 billion, including debt, the blankcheck acquisition company said on Monday.
– The combined company will be named UpHealth, Inc. and
will continue to be listed on the NYSE under the new ticker symbol “UPH”.
Blank check acquisition
company GigCapital2 agreed to merge
with Cloudbreak Health, LLC, a unified telemedicine and video medical
interpretation solutions provider and UpHealth
Holdings, Inc., one of the largest national and international digital
healthcare providers to form a combined digital health company. The deal is valued
at $1.35 billion, including debt. the combined company will be named UpHealth, Inc. and will continue to be
listed on the NYSE under the new ticker symbol “UPH”.
Following the merger, UpHealth will be a leading global
digital healthcare company serving an entire spectrum of healthcare needs and
will be established in fast growing sectors of the digital health industry.
With its combinations, UpHealth is positioned to reshape healthcare across the
continuum of care by providing a single, integrated platform of best-in-class
technologies and tech-enabled services essential to personalized, affordable,
and effective care. UpHealth’s multifaceted and integrated platform provides
health systems, payors, and patients with a frictionless digital front door
that connects evidence-based care, workflows, and services.
“We are excited to partner with UpHealth and Cloudbreak through our Private-to-Public Equity (PPE)™ platform. The combined UpHealth has all the hallmarks we look for in a successful partnership, including a world-class executive team and an exceptional business model with scale, strong growth, and profitability margins in the digital healthcare industry. We are particularly excited about the opportunity to provide our Mentor-Investor™ discipline in partnership with an exceptional global leadership team, as well as participate in a high-tech integrated platform that comprises a variety of cutting edge disciplines, such as the Artificial Intelligence platform being developed by Global Telehealth in conjunction with the tech-enabled Behavioral Health divisions. We are confident UpHealth is at the inflection point and positioned for accelerated growth.” – Dr. Avi Katz – Founder and Executive Chairman of GigCapital2
Combined Company Offerings
Upon closing the pending mergers and the combination with Cloudbreak, UpHealth will be organized across four capabilities at the intersection of population health management and telehealth:
1. Integrated Care Management: Thrasys Inc. (“Thrasys”) has reinvested $100M of customer revenue to
develop its innovative SyntraNet Integrated Care technology platform. The
platform integrates and organizes information, provides advanced
population-based analytics and predictive models, and automates workflows
across health plans, health systems, government agencies, and community
organizations. The platform plans to add at least 40 million lives to UpHealth
in the next 3 years to support global initiatives to transform healthcare.
2. Global Telehealth: will consist of a U.S. division and an international division
that, together, are anticipated to grow revenues by an additional $47 million
The U.S. division of
Global Telehealth following the combination, Cloudbreak, is a leading unified
telemedicine platform performing more than 100,000 encounters per month on over
14,000 video endpoints at over 1,800 healthcare venues nationwide. The
Cloudbreak Platform offers telepsychiatry, telestroke, tele-urology, and other
specialties, all with integrated language services for Limited English Proficient
and Deaf/Hard-of-Hearing patients. Cloudbreak’s innovative, secure platform
removes both distance and language barriers to improve patient care,
satisfaction, and outcomes.
division of Global Telehealth following the combination, Glocal Healthcare
Systems Pvt. Ltd (“Glocal”), is a global provider of virtual consultations and
local care spanning the care continuum. It has designed proven, affordable and
accessible solutions for the delivery of healthcare services globally. The
platform provides a full suite of primary and acute care services, including an
app-based telemedicine suite, digital dispensaries, and hospital centers. The
platform has signed several country-wide contracts with government ministries
across India, Southeast Asia, and Africa.
3. Digital Pharmacy: MedQuest Pharmacy (“MedQuest”) is a leading full-service manufactured and compounded pharmacy licensed in all 50 states that pre-packages and ships medications direct to patients. The company also offers lab services and testing, nutraceuticals, nutritional supplements, education for medical practitioners, and training for organizations, associations, and groups. MedQuest serves an established network of 13,000 providers. The MedQuest platform is poised for strong growth via targeted product expansion and expansive eCommerce capabilities for the entire provider network. UpHealth and MedQuest have mutually executed a merger agreement, the closing of which is awaiting regulatory approval for the transfer of licenses expected by the end of 2020 or early 2021.
4. Tech-enabled Behavioral Health: TTC Healthcare, Inc. (“TTC Healthcare”) and
Behavioral Health Services LLC (“BHS”) offer comprehensive services
specializing in acute and chronic outpatient behavioral health, rehabilitation
and substance abuse, both onsite and via telehealth. UpHealth’s Behavioral
Health capabilities have dramatically expanded use of telehealth for medical
and clinical services and are leveraging UpHealth’s platform to increase
volumes across its services. UpHealth and TTC Healthcare have mutually executed
a merger agreement, the closing of which is awaiting regulatory approval for
the transfer of licenses expected prior to the end of 2020.
Global Financial Impact and Reach
UpHealth will have agreements
to deliver digital healthcare in more than 10 countries globally. These various
companies are expected to generate approximately $115 million in revenue and
over $13 million of EBITDA in 2020 and following the combination, UpHealth
expects to generate over $190 million in revenue and $24 million in EBITDA in
Razor-thin operational margins coupled with substantial and ongoing losses related to COVID-19 are culminating in a perfect storm of bottom-line issues for U.S. hospitals and health systems. A study commissioned by the American Hospital Association (AHA) found that the median hospital margin overall was just 3.5% pre-pandemic, and projected margins will stay in the red for at least half of the nation’s hospitals for the remainder of 2020.
The reality is that an increase in COVID-19 cases will not overcome the pandemic’s devasting financial impact. An internal analysis found that, in the first half of 2020, client organizations documented more than 1.2 million COVID-19 related cases. At least one study suggests that $2,500 will be lost per case–despite a 20% Medicare payment increase. And notably, a positive test result is now required for the increased inpatient payment.
The healthcare industry must face its own “new normal” as the current path is unsustainable, and the future stability of hospitals in communities across the nations is uncertain. If financial leaders do not act now to implement systems and embrace sound revenue integrity practices, they will face unavoidable revenue cycle bottlenecks and limit their ability to capitalize on all appropriate reimbursement opportunities.
The COVID-19 Effect: A Bird’s Eye View
The financial impact of COVID-19 is far-reaching, impacting multiple angles of operations from supply chain costs to lost billing opportunities and compliance issues. Findings from a Physician’s Foundation report released in August suggest that U.S. healthcare spending dropped by 18% during the first quarter of 2020, the steepest decline since 1959.
Already vulnerable 2020 Q1 budgets were met with substantial losses when elective procedures—a sizeable part of income for most health systems—were halted for more than a month in many cases. Many hospitals continue to lose notable revenue associated with emergency care and ancillary testing as patients choose to avoid public settings amid ongoing public safety efforts.
Outpatient visits also dropped a whopping 60% in the wake of the pandemic. While a recent Harvard report suggests that numbers are back on track, the reality is that a resurgence of cases could make consumers wary of both doctor visits and elective procedures again.
In addition, the supply chain quickly became a cost risk for health systems by Q2 2020 as the ability to acquire drugs and medical supplies came at a premium. Meeting cost-containment goals flew out the window as did the ability to create value in purchasing power.
Further exacerbating the situation is an expected increase in denials as healthcare organizations navigate a fluid regulatory environment and learn how to interpret new guidance around coding and billing for COVID-19 related care. For example, while telehealth has proved a game-changer for care continuity across the U.S., reimbursement for these visits remains largely untested. History confirms that in times of rapid change, billing errors increase—and so do claims denials.
While there is little that can be done to minimize the impact of revenue losses and supply chain challenges, healthcare organizations can take proactive steps to identify all revenue opportunities and minimize compliance issues that will undoubtedly surface when auditors come knocking to ensure the appropriate use of COVID-19 stimulus dollars.
Holistically Addressing Revenue
Getting ahead of the current and evolving revenue storm will require healthcare organizations to elevate revenue integrity strategies. Hospitals and health systems should take four steps to get their billing and compliance house in order by addressing:
1. People: Build a cross-functional steering committee that will drive revenue integrity goals through better collaboration between billing and compliance teams.
2. Processes: Strategies that combine the strengths of both retrospective and prospective auditing will identify the root cause of errors and educate stakeholders to ensure clean, timely filed claims from the start.
3. Metrics: Best practice key performance indexes are available and should be used. Clean claim submission, denial rate, bad debt reduction and days in AR are a few to consider.
4. Technology: The role of emerging technologies that use artificial intelligence cannot be understated. Their ability to speed identification of risks, perform targeted audits, identify and address root causes and most importantly, monitor the impact of process improvements is changing current dynamics. For one large pediatric health system in the Southwest, technology-enabled coding and compliance processes resulted in $230 million in reduced COVID-related denials and a financial impact of $2.3 million.
Current manual processes used by many healthcare organizations to assess denials and manage revenue cycle will not provide the transparency needed to both get ahead of problems and identify areas for process improvement and corrective action in today’s complex environment.
About Vasilios Nassiopoulos
Vasilios Nassiopoulosis the Vice President of Platform Strategy and Innovation at Hayes, a healthcare technology provider that partners with the nation’s premier healthcare organizations to improve revenue, mitigate risk and streamline operations to succeed in an evolving healthcare landscape. Vasilios has over 25 years of healthcare experience with extensive knowledge of EHR systems and PMS software from Epic, Cerner, GE Centricity and Meditech. Prior to joining Hayes, Vasilios served Associate Principal at The Chartis Group.
What You Should Know:
– Cerner launches new Video Visit platform for CommunityWorks clients at no cost through 2021 to support rural health organizations.
Today in honor of National Rural Health Day, Cerner has announced the launch of their new telehealth offering to support rural health organizations through these tough times. The Video Visit platform will be offered to Cerner CommunityWorks℠ clients at no cost through 2021. The platform, which was announced at a virtual event for community and critical access hospitals earlier this week, aims to help make it easier for those living in rural areas to see providers. Initial sites have already started to go-live and are seeing strong adoption.
The CDC estimates about 46 million Americans live in rural
areas, which face distinctive challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Key
features of Cerner’s NEW CommunityWorks Video Visit Trial Program
• Video visits are part of a comprehensive suite
of virtual healthcare solutions that enable organizations to provide near
real-time, interactive communications between consumers and clinicians from any
• Delivers a comprehensive, integrated experience
that empowers consumers to be active participants in their health and care.
• Consumers receive convenient, quality care
using their modality of choice.
• FREE and rapid implementation and trial
of Cerner Video Visits until 12/31/21.
• Expedited implementation taking place in days,
not weeks or months.
“Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen a significantly increased desire from both consumers and health care providers for virtual health solutions and rapid innovation and adoption of existing products. One of those products is Cerner’s Virtual Visit solution that we are now offering free of charge to our eligible CommunityWorks clients through the end of 2021. This trial program delivers a comprehensive, integrated experience that empowers consumers to be active participants in their health and care. I am excited to formally launch this on the 10th annual National Rural Health Day as we celebrate the Power of Rural and I look forward to helping our clients provide another way to adapt to, and overcome, challenges presented by this pandemic in order to provide the best care and experience for their patients,” said Mitchell Clark, President, Cerner CommunityWorks, Senior Vice President at Cerner in a release statement.
In the past few months, we’ve seen huge shifts in how people are working. This naturally extends to the healthcare industry, where care delivery continues to be a priority, even amidst social distancing and shifts in the workplace.
Earlier this spring, the Webex UX Research team conducted an extensive qualitative study with healthcare providers and patients who use telehealth services. The study unearthed the challenges, opportunities and patterns of behavior when using video in healthcare settings. It also served as the foundation for developing healthcare personas, among the first industry-specific personas to be created and used at Webex.
In the world of product development, personas are a common tool to help surface deep research findings and build alignment across multiple teams. While personas used to be synonymous with stereotypes, the practice has transitioned towards more behavioral, “psychographic” personas. The Webex UX Research team builds personas directly from qualitative research and these artifacts are referenced across the entire product organization to build more clinically relevant voice and video tools.
The initial research study was made up of one-hour interviews (with each participant being interviewed over Webex Meetings), which produced an enormous amount of data. By identifying patterns across this massive amount of data, we developed personas for both providers and patients.
Instead of devolving into typical demographics, the personas center on specific patterns of behaviors and beliefs to understand the telemedicine landscape. For example, healthcare providers tended to be time-strapped and juggled multiple technology platforms. They often used video to help alleviate a patient’s concern, and their main priority was providing relief to patients. Providers chose very easy to use video platforms, ideally ones that their patients had used before and didn’t require downloads. Providers tended to complain about technical shortcomings during telehealth appointments, like pixelation or poor audio, making it difficult to consult with patients.
Patients, on the other hand, demonstrated different beliefs and behavior. They often expressed trepidation prior to using telemedicine services for the first time and were more likely than doctors to describe themselves as not very tech savvy. However, after their initial video appointment, patients had an overwhelmingly positive view of telemedicine. This was especially true for people who had encountered difficulties in the past to make it to an in-person appointment due to factors like illness or injury, traffic or distance, and extreme weather events.
These personas have been used across the Webex organization to help our own teams reach alignment on the needs of this critical industry, during an especially critical time. The healthcare personas provided an essential window into our user’s world, building empathy and keeping their needs front and center. With this data, our teams have been able to continue to make improvements in our Webex technology, helping to provide a better virtual care experience for patients and providers alike.
We’d love to hear what you think. Comment below and stay tuned for the next blog in our #HealthcareNow series.
Many in the healthcare industry are keeping an eye on the rollout of 5G wireless, which promises to connect people and things at higher speed and lower latency. In the healthcare realm, this means high-resolution images such as CT scans and X-rays can be taken and transmitted instantaneously to doctors. But it also means good things for lower-bandwidth applications, such as the volumes of rich data found in home healthcare applications.
One of the beneficiaries of 5G will be remote patient monitoring (RPM), which helps seniors live independently and transforms their care. With RPM solutions, vital statistics such as blood pressure, oxygen level, blood glucose, weight, temperature, and other metrics are consistently monitored. Reliable connectivity is required to transmit data between the patient and the physician’s office or hospital. RPM solutions can also be two-way, with voice communications-enabled between doctors and patients. Some RPM solutions can also track data over time and spot abnormalities in readings such as low or high blood pressure or oxygen levels and can connect the patient to the doctor to explore solutions. The goal: Keeping patients healthy and allowing them to take a greater role in their healthcare.
By being able to take these vital signs at home and delivering them to their provider automatically and in real-time, the paradigm of care is shifted from episodic to preventative. This gives senior patients and their doctors much more flexibility in patient care and helps to reduce the need to visit the doctor’s office or hospital. With RPM, healthcare providers can:
– Speak in real-time with a patient who might not be feeling well
– Discuss a patient’s status and review their statistics in real-time
– Proactively care for patients so they don’t end up at the doctor’s office or emergency room
– Intervene in the patient’s care to get their health back to normal
RPM solutions usually connect to the internet via WiFi or cellular. As we move towards 5G, which is the best solution to provide connectivity to RPM solutions?
WiFi is the defacto home connectivity option for many people. It is relatively inexpensive, upload and download speeds have been consistently upgraded by service providers, and, in general, it works when needed. But it faces some challenges for home healthcare:
– Lack of ubiquity: According to Pew Research Group, as of 2019, only 59 percent of people over 65 have access to broadband connectivity at home. That makes it challenging to utilize WiFi in RPM solutions, which require a continuously reliable 24×7 data connection.
– Limited ease of use: Wi-Fi can be strongly protected, but that protection comes at a price: the use of complex, multi-variable passwords and other configuration steps, which some seniors may struggle with.
– Lack of 24/7 reliability: WiFi signals drop frequently. If Wi-Fi has a weak signal, loses power, or goes offline for another reason—even if it’s infrequently—it impacts the ability to deliver consistent patient results back to healthcare professionals—and vice versa.
Cellular is a more reliable option for home care providers and the patients they serve. Some of the benefits of using cellular connectivity include:
Ubiquity: People understand how cellular works. For patients aged 65 and older, 91 percent own a cellphone and of those, 53 percent own a smartphone, according to Pew Research Group.
Simplicity of set-up: For many RPM devices, complicated configuration is not required. While some solutions providers retrofit tablets, others have purpose-built RPM solutions that simply need to be turned on.
Consistent real-time data sets: Gathering data sets developed in real-time and over time allows healthcare providers to see trends and take preventative action. Cellular is a stronger fit for this type of application.
Upgrade path to 5G, when available: Some vendors are building 5G capabilities into their devices today to prepare for its arrival. RPM solutions that use cellular have a clear upgrade path to 5G’s high-bandwidth connectivity.
The use of open standards and existing infrastructure. Cellular is well-proven, and RPM can use existing infrastructure as the underlying medium to connect patients and their healthcare providers and help patients take a greater role in their healthcare.
The ability to cover hundreds of devices simultaneously. Cellular macrocells are able to cover a wide area, ensuring connectivity is always available for the patient
Doctors and healthcare providers can now gather patients’ rich health data by including real-time and daily readings. This allows patients to get more involved with their care, assess situations in real-time, and speak with a physician when they are not feeling well, and generally to keep patients healthy and out of the doctors’ office or emergency room. RPM solutions are becoming increasingly easier to use and more feature-rich making connectivity choice imperative. Cellular connectivity will ensure solutions are available 24/7 to help keep seniors safe, and when 5G is more readily available at scale, there is a clear upgrade path for RPM solutions.
About Mark Dennissen
Mark Denissen serves as the president and chief executive officer of Anelto. He has a storied career in the technology sector. Mr. Denissen worked for more than three decades with Texas Instruments (TI), serving in various roles before becoming the Vice President of Worldwide Strategic Marketing. In this role, he was responsible for the startup of businesses such as Medical Devices, LED lighting solutions, and motor control solutions. Additionally, he was responsible for the commercialization of breakthrough technologies developed in Kilby Labs, TI’s long-range research and development center, and worked directly with TI’s Chief Technical Officer to move numerous projects towards commercialization. He holds a BSEE degree from the University of California Los Angeles.
Over the past few months, primarily as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has gone from a “nice-to-have” to a “must-have” for healthcare providers. The surge of COVID-19 patients in the spring, coupled with “stay-at-home” orders in many states, meant that many patients in need of care for chronic conditions and other non-emergent health issues were unable to visit their providers face-to-face.
Telehealth became the emergency solution, aided by relaxation of government regulations and improved reimbursement from health payers, led by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). But then a funny thing happened.
As COVID-19 restrictions eased, many patients and providers found they liked telehealth and wanted to keep it around. Patients liked it because they didn’t have to take hours out of their day to travel to an appointment, go through COVID-19 protocols, wait to be called, wait to see their provider, then travel home again.
Providers liked it because they could work more efficiently and, if they were incorporating remote patient monitoring, obtain a more complete view of their patients’ day-to-day health. Both sides also liked telehealth because, quite frankly, it helped them reduce their risk of contracting a highly contagious virus.
While we are not out of the woods yet – many experts are predicting a fall and winter surge that will make the spring surge look like a warm-up act – there are already discussions about whether telehealth was simply a stopgap measure in a crisis or should be viewed as a standard option for care going forward. In order to make telehealth permanent, however, healthcare organizations will want to know exactly what it can contribute once it’s safe to venture to the office once again.
Advanced analytics can help. They can show what worked, and what didn’t, so providers can make data-driven decisions about where, how, and whether to continue using telehealth. The following are eight ways analytics can contribute to present and future telehealth success.
1. Find the patients for whom telehealth visits offer the greatest benefits. Normally, these will be patients who can be diagnosed or assessed without direct laying-on of hands. They may have a condition such as a rash that can be inspected visually or may be able to use consumer-grade devices to take and report biometric readings. Advanced analytics can help discover them, enabling providers to close care gaps while improving Star ratings and HEDIS scores.
2. Prioritize patients by need. Analytics can help identify patients who are most at-risk of deterioration if they do not follow-up after preventive or elective procedures or are not closely monitored. They can also help providers make the appropriate adjustments to those priorities as patient health changes.
3. Get ready for additional surges. The next surge has already begun, and there are likely to be others before the pandemic is fully behind us. Providers need to have measures in place to keep staff safe and avoid the risk of more lockdowns or other changes that will disrupt their operations. Analytics can help them determine how much to invest in additional telehealth equipment and training to ensure uninterrupted service to their patients.
4. Measure telehealth’s impact on patient outcomes and reimbursement. Telehealth is so new, and the pandemic has caused so many shifts in reimbursement, that it can be difficult to determine exactly what effect it has had on outcomes and revenue. Analytics can uncover which changes have been positive and should be continued, and which should either be discontinued or adjusted to produce better health and/or financial result.
5. Uncover and rectify possible coding errors. As the pandemic took hold in March, CMS launched its “patients over paperwork” initiative. The goal was to ensure providers focused on care rather than worrying about coding accuracy, especially as the path to telehealth opened up. At some point, however, accurate coding will again be required. Analytics can help providers uncover and rectify any coding issues to ensure claims are paid fairly and completely.
6. Enable more effective remote patient monitoring. The presence of a global pandemic doesn’t halt chronic or other conditions affecting patient health. These conditions must continue to be managed to prevent them from deteriorating, which will place more of a health burden on patients while increasing long-term costs. Remote patient monitoring delivers the day-to-day data on these conditions. Analytics use that data to spot trends and update providers on the condition of all those patients, making it easier to ensure successful treatment for all of them.
7. Manage timed events more effectively. Risk-adjustment capture of previously documented conditions, which comes through CMS sweeps, retrospective reviews, and other means, can be disruptive to provider operations. Analytics can take the burden off an already exhausted staff by automating and simplifying the process.
8. Use trend and outcome data to inform the future. There is still much we don’t know about the effectiveness – and cost-effectiveness – of telehealth. This type of forward-looking analysis can be used to deliver policy and regulatory guidance for permanent reimbursement and best practices for telehealth-related visits.
As we continue to battle the global pandemic, telehealth does more each day to demonstrate its value. But what happens when the battle is finally won? Should it go back to the background or become fully integrated into a healthcare organization’s standard offerings?
Advanced analytics can be used to answer these questions and many others, helping providers make the decision that best fits their organization.
About Prasad Dindigal
Prasad Dindigal serves as Vice President, Healthcare & Life Sciences, with EXL, a leading operations management and analytics company that helps our clients build and grow sustainable businesses.
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.
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,
Tablet software, and the C500
telemedicine cart to help health systems and other healthcare organizations
easily leverage telehealth as a safe, quality care option.
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:
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
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
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
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.”
Looking for more proof that telehealth has truly become a global trend in healthcare delivery? Our “man-on-the-street” in Italy, Roberto Ascione, CEO of Healthware Group, offers a detailed state-of-play on virtual care uptake across Europe, including how policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and investors are playing much more significant roles in spurning an increasingly “digital friendly” healthcare ecosystem in the wake of covid-19. On the eve of Frontiers Health 2020 — one of Europe’s leading health innovation conferences, of which Roberto is Chairman — we find out how those backing healthcare’s quickly evolving “tele-everything” revolution are planning to come together to push this agenda even further.
Note: Frontiers Health takes place THIS WEEK, on Thursday November 12 and Friday November 13. Check out the full agenda at www.frontiers.health. Fans of WTF Health get a discount! Just use code FH20WTF25 for 25% off registration fees. See you there!
What You Should Know:
– The Veterans Health Administration has selected Ontrak
in collaboration with Harvard Medical School and Brown University to transform
suicide prevention care for veterans.
– Leveraging AI developed by a Harvard Medical School
professor and the core analytics of the Ontrak platform, the three-year study
will look at the effect of intensive care coaching in addition to the standard
of care for veterans at high risk of suicide after inpatient hospitalization at
a psychiatric hospital. The trial will include 850 patients at six VA
– Suicide prevention is a focus for the military as well
as for the population as a whole as the U.S. grapples with the COVID-19
Ontrak, Inc., an AI-powered
virtualized healthcare company, announced a cooperative research and
development agreement with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) to conduct
a 3-year research study on the effect of intensive care coaching in addition to
the standard of care for Veterans at high risk of suicide-related behaviors
after psychiatric hospital.
Research Study Details
The study will leverage AI developed by Dr. Ronald Kessler
of the Harvard Medical School, as well as the core analytics of the Ontrak
platform. Dr. Kessler is the McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy at
Harvard Medical School and a principal in the STARRS Longitudinal Study of
suicide prevention among US Army soldiers. “We are excited to have Ontrak
helping us evaluate the effects of an intensive intervention to prevent
suicidal behaviors among Veterans at very high risk,” stated Dr. Kessler.
Why It Matters
Suicidal ideation has been elevated since the pandemic and
the CDC reported on August 14 that a survey of U.S. adults in June 2020
indicated that 11% had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days, which
was twice as high as in the previous 12 month period.
Addressing Veteran suicide is a top VHA priority and Ontrak is proud to apply their AI and virtual care coaching model in a trial of 850 patients at 6 VHA hospitals selected from a total of 98 in the country. This study has the potential to not only reduce suicide risk but also to produce secondary reductions in risk through interventions that address co-occurring medical conditions.
Dr. Judy Feld, Medical Director of Ontrak, stated, “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. with rates steadily increasing over the past decade and worsening during the Covid-19 pandemic. We know that individuals with behavioral health conditions such as depression, substance use disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are at higher risk for suicidal ideation or attempt. Importantly, the rate of suicide among our country’s military Vets is double that of non-Veterans. As a pioneer in the development of evidence-based interventions for engaging individuals in care for anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders, Ontrak is honored to partner with the VHA healthcare system and collaborators from Harvard Medical School and Brown University to advance the medical community’s understanding of the most impactful case management for Veterans at high risk of suicide after inpatient hospitalization.”
What You Should Know:
– Cardiopulmonary digital health company Eko raises $65M
in Series C funding to close the gap between virtual and in-person heart and
– The latest round of funding will enable Eko to expand
in-clinic use of its platform of telehealth and AI algorithms for disease
screening and to launch a monitoring program for cardiopulmonary patients at
today announced $65 million in Series C funding led by Highland Capital
Partners and Questa Capital, with participation from Artis Ventures, DigiTx
Partners, NTTVC, 3M Ventures, and other new and existing investors. The new
funding will be used to expand in-clinic use of the company’s platform of telehealth
algorithms for disease screening, and to launch a monitoring program for
cardiopulmonary patients at home.
Eko was founded in 2013 to improve heart and lung care for
patients through advanced sensors, digital technology, and novel AI algorithms.
The company reinvented the stethoscope and introduced the first combined
handheld digital stethoscope and electrocardiogram (ECG). Eko’s FDA-cleared AI
analysis algorithms help detect heart rhythm abnormalities and structural heart
disease. Eko seeks to make AI analysis the standard for every physical exam. The
company recently launched Eko AI and Eko Telehealth to combat the needs of the COVID-19
Eko Telehealth delivers:
– AI-powered and FDA-cleared identification of heart murmurs
and atrial fibrillation (AFib), assisting providers in the detection and
monitoring of heart disease during virtual visits
– Lung and heart sound live-streaming for a thorough virtual
– Single-lead ECG live-streaming, enabling providers to
assess for rhythm abnormalities
– Embedded HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, or can work
alongside the video conferencing platform a health system has in place
Symptoms of valvular heart disease and AFib often go
undiagnosed during routine physical exams. With the development of Eko’s AI
screening algorithms, clinicians are able to harness state-of-the-art machine
learning to detect heart disease at the earliest point of care regardless if
the patient visit is in-person or remote.
“We are thrilled that our new investors have joined our journey and our existing investors have reaffirmed their support for Eko,” said Connor Landgraf, CEO and co-founder at Eko. “The explosion in demand for virtual cardiac and pulmonary care has driven Eko’s rapid expansion at thousands of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and we are excited for how this funding will accelerate the growth of our cardiopulmonary platform.”
COVID-19 terms such as quarantine, flatten the curve, social distance, and personal protective equipment (PPE) have dominated headlines in recent months, but what hasn’t been discussed in length are the hidden costs of COVID-19 as it relates to patient adherence.
The coronavirus pandemic has amplified this long-standing issue in healthcare as patients are delaying routine preventative and ongoing care for ailments such as mental health and chronic disease. Emergency care is also suffering at alarming rates. Studies show a 42 percent decline in emergency department visits, measuring the volume of 2.1 million visits per week between March and April 2019 to 1.2 million visits per week between March and April 2020. Patients are not seeking the treatment they need – and at what cost?
When the SARS outbreak occurred in 2002, particularly in Taiwan, there was a marked reduction in inpatient care and utilization as well as ambulatory care. Chronic-care hospitalizations for long-term conditions like diabetes plummeted during the SARS crisis but skyrocketed afterward. Similar to the 2002 epidemic, people are currently not venturing en masse to emergency rooms or hospitals, but if history repeats itself, hospital and ER visits will happen at an influx and create a new strain on the healthcare system.
So, if patients aren’t going to the ER or visiting their doctors regularly, where have they gone? They are staying at home. According to reports from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 28 percent of Americans polled said they or a family member delayed medical care due to the pandemic, and 11 percent indicated that their condition worsened as a result of the delayed care. Of note, 70 percent of consumers are concerned or very concerned about contracting COVID-19 when visiting healthcare facilities to receive care unrelated to the virus. There is a growing concern that patients will either see a relapse in their illness or will experience new complications when the pandemic subsides.
Rather than brace for a tidal wave of patients, healthcare systems should proactively take steps (or act now) to drive patient access, action, and adherence.
1. Identify Who Needs to Care The Most
Healthcare providers should consider risk stratifying patients. High-risk people, such as an 80-year-old male with comorbidities and recent cardiac bypass surgery, may require a hands-on and frequent outreach effort. A 20-year-old female, however, who comes in annually for her physical but is healthy, may not require that level of engagement. Understanding which patients are at risk for the potential for chronic conditions to become acute or patients who have a hard time staying on their care plan may need prioritized attention and a more thorough engagement effort.
For example, patients with a history of mental health issues may lack motivation or momentum to seek care. Their disposition to be disengaged may require greater input to push past their disengagement.
Especially important is the ability to educate and guide patients to the appropriate venue of care (ER, telehealth visit, in-person primary care visit, or urgent care) based on their self-reported symptoms. Allowing patients to self-triage while scheduling appointments helps them make more informed decisions about their care while reducing the burden on over-utilized emergency departments.
2. Capture The Attention of The Intended Audience and Induce Action
Once you’ve identified who needs care the most, how do you break through the “information clutter” to ensure healthcare messages resonate with the intended audience? The more data points, the better. It is important to understand the age of the patient, their preferred communication channel, and the intended message for the recipient, but effective communication exceeds those three data points. Consider factors like the presence of mental health conditions, comorbidities, or health literacies. Then, think beyond the patient’s channel of choice and select the appropriate channel of communication (text, phone call, email, paid social media advertisement, etc.), that will most likely induce action. As an organization, also consider running A/B tests to detect and analyze behavior. As you collect more data, determine what exactly is inducing patient action.
Of note, don’t underestimate the power of repetition. Patients may need to be reminded of the intended action a few times in a few different ways before moving forward with seeking the care they need. Repetition is also shown to decrease no-show rates, a critical metric. Proactive, prescriptive, and tailored communication will help increase engagement. Moving past the channel of choice and toward the channel of action is key.
3. Engage Patients Through Personalized and Tailored Communication
In addition to identifying the right communication channel, it’s also important to ensure you deliver an effective message. Communication with patients should be relevant to their particular medical needs while paying close attention to where each person is in their healthcare journey. Connecting with patients on both an emotional and rational level is also important. For example, sending a positive communication via phone, email, or text to lay the foundation for the interaction shows interest in the patient’s wellbeing.
A “Hey, here’s why you need to come in” note makes a connection in a direct and personalized way. At the same time, and in a very pointed manner, sharing ways providers and health systems are keeping patients safe (e.g., telehealth, virtual waiting rooms, separate entrances, and mandating masks), also provides comfort to skittish patients. Additionally, consider all demographic information when tailoring communications. And don’t forget to analyze if changes in content impact no-show rates. Low overall literacy may impact health literacy and may require simpler and more positive words to positively impact adherence.
It may sound daunting, especially for individual health systems, to personalize patient communication efforts, but the use of today’s data tools and technological advancements can relieve the burden and streamline efforts for an effective communication approach.
4. Use Technology to Your Advantage (With Caution)
Once you have developed your communication strategy, don’t stop there. Consider all aspects of the patient journey to drive action. A virtual waiting room strategy, for example, can help ease patient concerns and encourage them to resume their care. Health systems can help patients make reservations, space out their arrival times, and safeguard social distancing measures—all while alleviating patient fears. Ideally, the patient would be able to seamlessly book an appointment and receive a specific arrival time, allowing ER staff to prepare for the patient’s arrival while minimizing onsite wait time.
When implemented properly, telehealth visits can also improve continuity of care, enhance provider efficiency, attract and retain patients who are seeking convenience, as well as appeal to those who would prefer not to travel to their healthcare facility for their visit. Providers need to determine which appointments can successfully be resolved virtually. Additionally, some patients might not have the means for a successful telehealth visit due to a lack of internet access, a language barrier, or a safe space to talk freely.
To ensure all patients receive quality care, health systems should make plans to serve patients who lack the technology or bandwidth to participate in video visits in an alternative manner. For example, monitor patients remotely by asking them to self-report basic information such as blood sugar levels, weight, and medication compliance via short message service (SMS). This gives providers the ability to continuously monitor their patients while enhancing patient safety, increasing positive outcomes, and enabling real-time escalation whenever clinical intervention is needed.
It is important we ensure all patients stay on track with their health, despite uncertain and fearful times. Health systems can enhance patient adherence and induce action through the implementation of tools that increase patient engagement and alleviate the impending strain on the healthcare system.
About Matt Dickson
Matt Dickson is Vice President of Product, Strategy, and General Manager of Stericycle Communication Solutions, a patient engagement platform that seamlessly combines both voice and digital channels to provide the modern experience healthcare consumers want while solving complex challenges to patient access, action, and adherence. . He is a versatile leader with strong operational management experience and expertise providing IT, product, and process solutions in the healthcare industry for nearly 25 years. Find him on LinkedIn.
KLAS recently issued a Spotlight on Zoom for healthcare. KLAS Spotlights are first looks at new and emerging technology. Everyone knows Zoom, but how well does the solution perform for healthcare organizations looking to handle the immediate demands created by COVID-19 as well as develop long-term strategic initiatives? In this Spotlight, KLAS examines the early outcomes and satisfaction of some of Zoom’s healthcare customers.
Zoom Key Strengths & Challenges for Healthcare
– Works as promoted
– Clients see value
in the solution
– Quick implementations, easy initial setup
– Phone/web support less responsive due to extreme growth
– Lacks some bells and whistles other telemedicine products
– Security is a concern for some
KLAS outlines four key points to ponder for healthcare
organizations considering Zoom:
1. The Solution’s Long-Term Viability in Healthcare
In order to remain competitive in healthcare, Zoom will need
to improve the solution’s integration with EHRs and medical devices and also
make it easier for patients to connect to a telehealth session.
2. Impacts and Tradeoffs of the Underlying Technology
Zoom recently adopted Oracle Cloud and also maintains the
use of AWS and Azure cloud services. The mobile apps are developed in Java
(Android) and Swift (iOS). The Zoom environment accommodates both failover and
load-balancing services to support effective and reliable service response
Governance is a key factor in driving success with both
telehealth and teleconference capabilities. Guidance for how these capabilities
will be used internally and externally will need to be established.
4. Telehealth vs. Teleconference
Healthcare organizations require both telehealth and teleconference capabilities to effectively communicate with their staff and patients. Zoom must improve its enterprise application integration and medical device connectivity to compete in the exploding telehealth market.
For more information about the report visit https://klasresearch.com/report/zoom-health/1810
What You Should Know:
– Ontrak acquires LifeDojo Inc, a San Francisco, CA-based
comprehensive, science-backed behavior change platform.
– The acquisition broadens Ontrak’s addressable market
and footprint to lower acuity populations enabling new interventions and remote
Ontrak, Inc., a
virtualized healthcare company, today announced that it has acquired
LifeDojo Inc, a comprehensive, science-backed behavior change platform.
Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.
Behavior Change Platform for Consumers and Employers
Founded in 2013, LifeDojo is a platform that makes
transformative life changes possible for members in over 16 countries.
Supported by decades of public health research, the LifeDojo approach to
member-centric behavior change delivers lasting health improvement outcomes,
high enrollment, and better engagement than traditional programs. Clients
include Fortune 500 companies and high-tech, high-growth organizations who use
LifeDojo’s 32 behavior change modules.
COVID-19 Spawns Mental Health Surge
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) this month reported accumulating evidence of a “second wave” mental health surge that will present monumental challenges for an already greatly strained mental health system and individuals at high risk for mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress. A June 2020 survey from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of 5,412 US adults found that 40.9% of respondents reported “at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition,” including depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress, and substance abuse, with rates that were three to four times the rates one year ago.
4 Ways LifeDojo Acquisition Advances Ontrak’s Growth
With the coronavirus pandemic rapidly increasing demand for
“telemental” health solutions, the acquisition of LifeDojo is expected to
advance the Ontrak growth strategy in four ways:
First, the acquisition adds a technology-first,
digital business deployed by blue chip customers in the employer space.
Second, LifeDojo enhances Ontrak’s market-leading
behavioral health engagement capabilities for new and existing customers, with
the addition of the LifeDojo digital tools that drive member value and lower
cost. The combination of behavioral health coaching and digital app-based
solutions meets accelerated payer demand for a comprehensive suite of
behavioral health services and solutions.
Third, the LifeDojo platform increases the company’s
addressable market by enabling the creation of lower cost, digital
interventions across behavioral health and chronic disease populations.
Fourth, LifeDojo’s member-facing apps enable remote
patient monitoring capabilities, initially focused on member reported data,
that will feed Ontrak AI capabilities and further personalize Ontrak’s
“As a public company and leader in virtualized healthcare, Ontrak is uniquely positioned to attract companies, products and technologies that expand our value proposition and footprint with health plan and employer partners. We will endeavor to make additional strategic purchases that expand our addressable market and maximize customer value. LifeDojo and these other intended acquisitions can possibly expand our total addressable $33.7 billion market by up to 100%,” said Mr. Terren Peizer, Chairman and CEO of Ontrak.
Change. It’s constantly redefining the healthcare landscape, whether triggered by technology innovations, cultural shifts, or world events.
Healthcare organizations understand this and plan for it, putting continuity and recovery plans in place to help them maintain normal operations as much as possible in times of change.
However, with the recent pandemic many healthcare organizations were faced with changes so great and so fast, there was no “normal” to return to.
The industry is quickly changing, and healthcare organizations are pivoting their services and work environments to be more flexible and resilient.
According to this recent PwC Pulse Survey, 90% of healthcare executives are prioritizing changing workplace safety measures and requirements as their employees transition back into the clinical space. 67% plan to make remote work a permanent option for roles that allow it, and 70% are actively working to improve the remote work experience.
Healthcare organizations are managing the acceleration of existing trends such as overnight increases in remote workforce, increased security concerns and exponential growth in telehealth and virtual care.
Couple that with the appearance of new dynamics such as prioritization of worker safety and wellness in the care facility, patient consumerism, shifts in care delivery sites and disruption of business and patient-care models, and organizations have a lot to consider when it comes to balancing acceleration and disruption to become future ready.
With these massive shifts in prioritizes, we believe it’s time to look beyond “normal” or even the “new normal” and embrace the ever-changing reality of our future with new levels of resilience. Not to just recover and adjust in the face of change, but to thrive.
This is where Cisco makes a difference. You need secure, healthcare solutions designed and built for change at scale across your organization.
With unmatched healthcare expertise that spans networking, security, cloud, data center and collaboration, Cisco and our ecosystem of partners can deliver a complete healthcare solution that empowers your workforce to triage and care for patients remotely and allows administrative staff to work from home.
We’d love to hear what you think. Comment below and stay tuned for the next blog in our #HealthcareNow series.
leader Teladoc Health today announced
it has completed its merger with Livongo
in just under three months. Here are things to know about the completion: Under
the terms of the merger,
Livongo shareholders will receive 0.5920x shares of Teladoc Health plus cash of
$11.33 for each Livongo share (including the special dividend declared by
The company expects to directly deliver more than 10 million
virtual visits this year and has reported an additional three million enabled
visits for its health system clients so far in 2020.
“Both Teladoc Health and Livongo were founded with the same mission: to create a new kind of healthcare experience, one that empowers people everywhere to live their healthiest life. Today’s news dramatically accelerates our ability to make this a reality for the tens of millions of consumers and healthcare professionals we serve around the world,” said Jason Gorevic, chief executive officer of Teladoc Health. “Together, our team will achieve the full promise of whole-person virtual care, leveraging our combined applied analytics, expert guidance and connected technology to deliver, enable and empower better health outcomes.”
What You Should Know:
– XRHealth announce it will launch a new virtual reality telehealth clinic in Israel, slated to open on November 1st.
– The VR-driven telehealth clinic treats patients in
Israel for symptoms related to Stress & Anxiety, ADHD, Motor &
Cognitive Rehabilitation, post-COVID-19, Parkinson’s, Brain Injury, and more.
XRHealth, a Boston, MA-based provider of extended reality therapeutic applications, today announced a new virtual reality telehealth clinic in Israel, opening on November 1, 2020. The virtual reality telehealth clinic treats patients in Israel for symptoms related to Stress & Anxiety, ADHD, Motor & Cognitive Rehabilitation, post-COVID-19, Parkinson’s, Brain Injury, and more.
The Israeli-based clinic will provide patients with a VR headset at home to access different virtual treatment rooms with various therapeutic exercises. Patients are paired with a licensed clinician who evaluates them, creates a treatment plan, monitors their progress, and adjusts the treatment plan based on the patients’ actual outcomes. Patients can communicate with their clinicians and track their progress using the XRHealth mobile app.
The clinic will be powered by leading medical centers in
Israel and around the world and employs licensed clinicians who are trained in
VR treatment, including physical therapists, occupational therapists,
psychologists, and more.
“In the era of COVID-19, there’s an essential need to provide healthcare services remotely and VR technology enables us to offer a wide variety of telehealth treatments that far exceed a simple video call,” says Eran Orr, CEO of XRHealth. “Now, patients in Israel have access to the highest-quality healthcare treatments, all from the comfort of their homes.”
The company’s medical applications are approved by the
Ministry of Health and the treatments are reimbursable through insurance
providers and HMOs (based on individual coverage).