The Theranos Story, ch. 19: the dramatic denouement, including human tragedy

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Yak_52__G-CBSS_FLAT_SPIN.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The deconstruction of Theranos continues, con il dramma, rounding back to those who touted it. There isn’t all that much new in Nick Bilton’s Vanity Fair article, but it adds context and color to this (literally) Bloody House of Smoke and Mirrors. (Ah, where’s Christopher Lee when you need him?–Ed.) There’s the usual Inside Baseball of closed-door meetings in ‘war rooms’, G150 jetting to awards, bodyguards, threatening lawyers, crisis managers, COO ‘enforcers’ (Sunny Balwani) and playing the Silicon Valley investor game (with Google Ventures taking a very smart pass). Where this gets unusual is the portrait of Elizabeth Holmes as an obsessive, secretive, blondined Steve Jobs knockoff from the age of 19, with a hot idea that never matched scientific reality from the start, but with a great line of ‘making the world a better place’ magnified by Silicon Valley’s incessant, We’re The Top And You’re Not narcissism.

Even Narcissus ultimately saw a fool in that pool. Played and tarred to a greater or lesser degree were: the only major SV VC lured in, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and off-SV investors like mutual funds and private equity have lost it all; Fortune, Forbes, CNN plus much of the tech and financial press; and respected people lured to the board like Marine Gen. James Mattis, who had initiated the pilot program in DOD, Henry Kissinger and former Senator Bill Frist MD. Then the alphabet agencies marched in after the author: FDA, CMS, SEC and DOJ.

Oh yes, that Zika test announced in early August? Withdrawn at end of August. Ms Holmes is appealing her two year lab ban. But she still has absolute control of what’s left of the business. Business Insider

Finally, the lede in many articles is the suicide of British chief scientist Ian Gibbons and Ms Holmes reaction. Already ill with cancer, (more…)

A hybrid telehealth/telemedicine model for health systems

Your Editors have been projecting that the Big Future of telecare-telehealth-telemedicine lies in integrating services, not the Big Data backend (though there’s a Big Role there). These three have to be more tightly aligned with health systems, whether ACOs/IDNs (US) or the NHS. Most of our consideration has been where they go at the end of acute care–transitional care (post-discharge/post-acute–those bed-blockers)–but here’s a different approach that puts them at the start of the care continuum. Minneapolis-based Zipnosis [TTA 13 May] has an asynchronous platform that is ‘white labeled’ for a health system and carries their branding. Their model uses pre-screening/assessment first–an ‘adaptive questionnaire’ taken online or on mobile, compiles the information, then depending on the result, returns to the patient to schedule a virtual (video/audio) consult, lab visit or referral to a physician. The smart parts are that this is completely within the the health system and integrates with their EHR, making it reimbursable. It also can be used to expand the patient base even if the care is short term or episodic.

Zipnosis currently has 17 health system clients. The latest is Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis where the system test is first with their 22,000-plus employee workforce. The focus is on early detection of diabetes and heart disease. Also recently announced were two Nebraska health systems, Bryan Health and Memorial Health Care. Somebody likes the model as their Series A back in January was $17 million led by Safeguard Scientifics with participation from Ascension Ventures, the investment arm of Ascension, a large Catholic health system. mHealth Intelligence, Becker’s Health ITHealthcareITNews,

A review of digital health patent slugfests and Unintended Consequences

Mobihealthnews provides a recap of the past four years of patent actions pitting company against company in the hushed but deadly rings of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the US International Trade Commission. On the fight card: the never-ending American Well-Teladoc bout (Teladoc winning every decision so far by a knockout [TTA 18 June]–a second American Well patent being invalidated on 25 August); CardioNet vs MedTel, which the former won but has had to chase the latter out of the arena and down the street to collect; Fitbit-Jawbone which has gone both ways [TTA 27 July]; and the long trail of blood, sweat and Unintended Consequences around Bosch Healthcare’s heavyweight IP pursuit against mainly flyweight early-stage companies (not noting, as we did, their apparent ‘draws’ vs Philips and Viterion, then owned by Bayer).

The Reader will note our tracking Bosch’s activities go back to 2012 (here, here and here). Moreover, with Mr Tim Rowan of Home Care Technology, we broke the news of Bosch’s demise in June 2015, drawing the conclusion that their offense versus Cardiocom’s patents (now in Medtronic’s cardiac division) directly led to the invalidation of their key patents, IP–and the very basis of the company’s existence. See the 19 June 2015 article and our recap one year later in reviewing AW-Teladoc. (Any similar phrasing or conclusions within the Mobihealthnews article, we will leave to our Readers to decide!)

The ‘right package of care’ sought for ‘bed-blockers’, home care (UK/US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Thomas.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]’Bed-blocking’ as a signal failure of transitional care. Here is a term that may be unique to the UK, but not the problem: older people who cannot be discharged after an illness because there is no plan and no suitable place for transitional care and/or a safe return home with care. According to the Guardian, the term originated among UK healthcare managers and economists as early as the late 1950s as a marker of system inefficiency. The writer, Johnny Marshall, director of policy for the NHS Confederation, correctly notes that it should be a marker of “(a) system that has failed to move quickly enough to put together the right package of care to enable the person in the bed to return home” and that unfairly blames the patient. He gives examples of programs across Britain with home assessment and care, particularly for older people post-fall injury, that reduce or eliminate hospital days.

In the US, transitional care is pointing to a blend of home care tech/services. Some of the indicators for LTC support that Laurie Orlov points out in Tech-enabled home care — what is it, what should it be?

  • Assisted living growth is flat as this past weekend’s open can of soda–housing is chasing residents (though cost doesn’t seem to be following the usual supply/demand curve), the average resident is 87 years old and staying 22 months, and their net worth can’t afford present AL
  • There’s a huge and growing shortage of home care workers for an ever-increasing number of old and old-old
  • Yet finally big investment is taking place in tech-facilitated home care locating and matching: Honor.com, Care.com and ClearCare–a total of just under $150 million for the three

But can technology–front and back end–make up for the human shortage? And there’s a value in wearing the Quantitative Self hat here. (more…)

Contact lenses as sight-saving drug delivery system

A drug-dispensing contact lens has shown success in effectively lowering eye pressure in monkeys with induced glaucoma. In what is termed a ‘pre-clinical model’, the study found that the medication, latanoprost, usually administered by the patient in conventional eye drops, in the contact lens form had equal or better intraocular pressure reduction. To quote the study’s first author, “We found that a lower-dose contact lens delivered the same amount of pressure reduction as the latanoprost drops, and a higher-dose lens, interestingly enough, had better pressure reduction than the drops in our small study,” said Joseph B. Ciolino, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and an Assistant Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School. The design of the lens does double duty: the periphery contains the thin film of drug-encapsulated polymers that slowly releases the drug; the center of the lens is clear and breathable, thus usable for standard vision correction.

Contact lenses for drug delivery have been for decades intriguing to researchers, but the embedded drug delivery has been too rapid to be effective in most cases; thus the polymers and the design are critical in slowing delivery. (more…)