News Blog

How Amazon, JPM and Berkshire could disrupt healthcare (or not)
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

News of three corporate giants forming an independent healthcare company “proves every business is a healthcare business,” David Vivero, CEO of the digital health startup Amino, told Healthcare Dive.

In a grand pronouncement Tuesday, Amazon, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway said they will take on the behemoth issue of rising healthcare costs.
The well-known titans leading the companies gave precious few details, but their combined market share and technological knowhow are formidable enough that disruption could be on the horizon.
The alliance has “tremendous potential,” according to Maulik Bhagat, managing director in the healthcare practice of global consultancy AArete, which specializes in data-informed performance improvement.
“At 1.1 million employees and growing, they are already a decent sized ‘health plan’ in themselves and could essentially operate as its own payer entity or possibly an ‘Accountable Care Organization’ for their employees,” Bhagat said in an email.
“At a minimum it gives the companies more power to hold existing payer vendors more accountable for health and cost outcomes for their employees. It gives them a chance to deliver better healthcare and reduced costs and change the market dynamics in the commercial healthcare space.”
All three firms also have tens of millions of customers, who could conceivably become among the those eventually privy to their new dynamics.
“Expand this to the number of captive and loyal customers these firms collectively touch and you suddenly have the possibility of this becoming a huge disrupting development,” according to Bhagat.
Luring three of the best known corporate chiefs outside healthcare illustrates the scale of the challenge,
according to Lyndean Brick, CEO of The Advis Group.


New Wearable Health Technology Devices & TeleHealth
Monday, January 29, 2018

Health and fitness wearable devices are a trend this year and are expected to quickly grow in the next few years. The growth of wearable technology market is promising but the estimates vary from different analyst firms. Berg Insight estimates that there will be 64 million worldwide shipments by 2017, Juniper Research reveals 130 million shipments by 2018, and ABI Research mentions an even higher estimate of 485 million global shipments by 2018. The global wearable technology market was $750 million in 2012 and is believed it will reach $5.8 billion in 2018. North America is expected to maintain 43% of revenue share in 2018 followed by Europe.
What are Wearable Health Devices?
Wearable devices are electronics or computers that can be worn as accessories or clothing on a person’s body. These devices have features similar to mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Wearable technology, especially devices focusing on health, are more advanced than other hand-held devices in the market today. They can offer scanning and sensory components to track physiological function such as blood pressure or heart rate. In addition to these features, wearable devices can notify users of phone calls and text messages. Data can also be inputted and stored. Wearable health devices are available in several forms and include watches, wristbands, earphones, or clothing. They can connect to mobile devices through applications.

Wearable Devices and Telehealth
Wearable health technology falls under the much larger picture of telehealth. Telehealth uses electronic information and technologies to support and provide health care across distances. The future of telehealth relies on the development of new technologies in maintaining health and wearable devices seem promising. The idea behind wearable health technology is to incorporate functional and portable devices into every day lives. Individuals that use these wearable devices are aware of their lifestyle which helps motivate them to maintain, track, and improve their overall health. They can also be more proactive in addressing their medical conditions by having more access to care and connecting with their health care providers. This technology facilitates delivery of care and can ultimately lower health care costs. Certain mobile applications can provide health care professionals and patients with medical records, lab test results, as well as reference materials.

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10 Apps that Can Save a Patient’s Life
Monday, January 29, 2018 presents the top 10 smartphone applications that can save a patient’s life … before they get to the emergency department.

No matter how skilled the emergency physician, or heroic his or her efforts, it is too often the case that the patient’s fate was decided before even entering the ED. The most heartrending times are when relatively minor interventions early on could have changed your patient’s future: an escharotomy to prevent compartment syndrome could have rescued a burned child’s legs, early CPR to restore perfusion could have spared a young athlete from a lifetime of brain damage, and a FAST ultrasound to detect an occult pneuomothorax could have saved a mother’s life. These preventable outcomes continue to occur on a daily basis in spite of increased societal awareness, education and resources (e.g. mandatory trainings and AEDs in public areas) and despite tremendous reductions in emergency response times (e.g. helicopter ambulances and real-time, en-route transmission of vital data).
Now there is renewed hope for bettering the emergency response thanks to cell phones that are virtually ubiquitous, even in rural and resource-poor settings. Smart phones and their apps take this one step further and offer unbelievable capabilities. This author combed the Medgadget archives and spoke with executives at Qualcomm, Verizon, Ford, and many other established or startup companies at this week’s mHealth Summit in DC to find the top new or emerging apps that could save your patient’s life before you even see them.
They have been grouped into the four primary categories: workflow, emergency response, vitals, and diagnosis.

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SwyMED – Loyola Project Uses Glass EE to Bring Back the House Call
Monday, January 29, 2018

The new simulation-based project will train medical students to use augmented reality when visiting patients at home.
A community RN enters the home of an elderly patient for a follow up visit, wearing a device that brings the full suite of hospital technology, specialists, and resources with her. The device she uses is small and almost invisible, and it’s compatible with any available source of connectivity from WiFi to cell to satellite, providing real-time telemedicine where the patient needs it. Associated bots test the carpet for dangerous molds, an artificial intelligence identifies which specialists should be consulted, and queues up their attention automatically.
Through the eyes and ears of the onsite provider, a pharmacist reviews medications checking for dangerous interactions against the contents of the medicine cabinet, and a dietitian provides recommendations based on the contents of the refrigerator. With the provider’s eyes and hands free to examine and talk with the patient, the full picture of the patient’s needs is seen, heard, and addressed efficiently, effectively, and with a caring human touch.
This vision of the future is closer than one might think. With the recent release of Google Glass Enterprise and integrated swyMed transport protocols and software, providers and students at Loyola University Hospital will soon lay the groundwork for this dramatic change in health care delivery. A pilot program beginning late this summer will use simulations to develop best practices and procedures for using the Glass Enterprise technology and swyMed software by bringing back the home visit with a high-tech twist.
“This program is really about connecting with our patients in ways greater than what we are doing now, exploring those new ways, leveraging the technology to do so,” explains Capers Harper, Manager of the Virtual Medicine Program at Loyola University. “We are studying combining the clinical communication technology of swyMed with the hardware of the Enterprise Edition Glass technology and how that works in our focus of providing the human touch to our patients.”

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Three Digital Health Tools for the Opioid Epidemic
Monday, January 29, 2018

The greatest health crisis of our generation is going to require that we use every innovative tool in our arsenal.   ...

Virtual Care Trend Watch
Monday, January 29, 2018

Market trends (and a few bold predictions) in the evolution of the telehealth and telemedicine landscape. In this series we will examine the current state of virtual healthcare and plot a few important trends to watch.
Value-based payment
The arrival of value-based payment is no longer something of the future. 2017 will finally bring on the true age of innovative payment models and performance-based payment adjustments/incentives. These changes will not only effect physicians accepting and billing medicare but also commercial payors. These payors have already started to initiate programs modeled after CMS’s MACRA. As I have written many times, telehealth tools will be critical in achieving these performance-based incentives by cutting costs for virtual visits while increasing patient engagement and access, which are pillars of value-based care. Many that will begin down the road of value-based payment will quickly learn that deploying a telehealth program will not only make reporting, measuring and attaining incentives in these alternative payment models easier, but a necessity to compete in the healthcare marketplace. Also, pending legislation such as the Connect 4 Health ACT (which we covered in issue #6) will provide reimbursement regulations and make it attractive for entities to utilize telehealth. Though a ton is up in the air in regards to an impending ACA repeal with our new administration, legal experts I’ve talked to in D.C. say that you can count on these value-based payment reforms to stay intact. A lot of the telehealth bills like the Connect 4 Health Act that still have strong bi-partisan support are likely to be reintroduced.
Demand for interoperability will create even more strategic partnerships
The days of telemedicine solutions existing alongside a health system or provider’s EMR – rather than being fully integrated – are coming to an end. Previously, a lot of telemedicine solutions separated the EMR to avoid the time and cost associated with having a true (HL7) interface completed, which is the type of file format necessary for clinical software programs to exchange health data securely. All certified EMRs have to be HL7 compliant to achieve Meaningful Use incentives and have the ability to support these interfaces. They all can be interfaced, but the cost of integration is still enormous, especially for large health systems that have already dished out millions for EMR implementations. The hospital is then asked to spend money on another interface for their telemedicine solution, which is projected to have low utilization early on. Not surprisingly, may hospital systems saw these additional integrations not as “must haves” but as features that they could grow into.

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I’m Glad You Asked, Ms. Verma: Five Ways to Make Healthcare More Efficient
Monday, January 29, 2018

Last year CMS solicited ideas from regular Americans on how to make healthcare more efficient. Here’s my five cents.

Recently, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma penned an op-ed casting a vision for a free-market, patient-centered healthcare system. In it, she echoes the Administration’s populist ideals, writing, “We will move away from the assumption that Washington can engineer a more efficient health-care system from afar,” adding, “Patients can define value better than the federal government can.”
I agree. In my opinion, individuals tend to make better, more informed decisions about their health than bureaucrats, and a system that esteems the doctor-patient relationship should ultimately improve health outcomes and reduce waste. Fortunately for Verma, despite its many flaws, the ACA’s explicit focus on patient-centered care leaves room for significant innovation in this space. That’s likely why, recognizing the long odds on the passage of Graham-Cassidy, Verma called on individuals and organizations to submit ideas for how CMS can embrace innovation and avoid its looming financial collapse while driving decision-making to the lowest levels of the system. Since she asked, here’s my take:

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When Should Physicians be Trained in the Practice of Telemedicine?
Monday, January 29, 2018

The philosophy of getting a medical student trained and prepared to care for patients independently is often simplified into the adage of, “see one, do one, teach one.”

The idea is both simple and effective. There is an observation period for the student, while they watch an experienced physician mentor deliver care. Then the observed skill is applied by the student, again under the close observation and support of an experienced physician. The cycle then ends as the student matures through their training cycle, mastering the needed skills and then teaching future generations of medical students, interns, residents and fellows. All along the way, refinements and enhancements, ideally based on best practices, are woven into this age-old tradition. The end result is a new generation of physicians ready to tackle the challenges of a complex medical practice. However, what happens when an entirely new practice model is introduced, such as telemedicine?
Although the term telemedicine was first introduced in the medical literature in 1974, its rate of adoption is still extraordinarily low. Estimates suggest that there were 800,000 online consults in the United States in 2015. In that same time period, there were over a billion visits to a physician. With over 950,000 actively practicing physicians in 2015, the United States did not even average one telemedicine visit per physician. How can this be, considering video-conferencing technology is far more advanced than it has ever been before, high-tech computers, phones and tablets are more affordable, patients are being exposed to video technologies in numerous other industries and broadband, satellite and cellular services cover almost the entire continental United States?

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More healthcare delivery services are using consumer telehealth
Monday, January 29, 2018


A new vision for digital patient care and practices
Monday, January 29, 2018


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