The Theranos Story, ch. 32: 155 employees out in latest layoffs, 220 left to go

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Yak_52__G-CBSS_FLAT_SPIN.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Endlessly, flatly spinning, towards Ground Zero…. As a marketing person made redundant (US=laid off) for various reasons by companies (moving out of area, acquisition, dissolution, etc.), this Editor has zero joy in reporting that 155 Theranos employees will be discharged as it “re-engineers its operations” “towards commercialization of the miniLab testing platform and its related technologies” “aligned to meet product development, regulatory and commercial milestones.” Their Friday press release successfully buried itself on a weekend, aided by a tragic Heaping Helping of Bad News out of Fort Lauderdale. The rationale is that this is justified to better position itself to commercialize the miniLab and “related technologies”. The miniLab reportedly is a compact, microwave-sized lab that automates small volume samples by sending them for analysis to a central server which would do the full analysis, thus driving down cost and time.

Theranos is a company flailing. This Editor notes in its string of releases an endless emphasis on compliance, regulation and operational expertise, the kind of attitude and caution that should have been present years ago. The layoffs follow on last October’s involuntary exits of 340 employees and lab closings (Chapter 21). Run the numbers and there are 220 employees left to go. Will the miniLab, seemingly hastily concocted, be their salvation? Flip back to our Chapter 18 about the October AACC meeting.  Chemical laboratory professionals were distinctly underwhelmed by the miniLab and CEO Elizabeth Holmes’ presentation. Also not boding well was Theranos’ withdrawal of a miniLab Zika test FDA emergency clearance in late August, at the height of the crisis. What may be wafting is the aroma of performing seals on a hot day.

Speaking of leadership, is Ms Holmes among the fired or demoted? Highly unlikely as she controls all $9 of the company’s formerly $9 bn Unicorn Worth. Is she even taking a pay cut? Will you see her out in front of Palo Alto HQ mowing the long grass?

To nearly 500 people now wondering about their livelihood in one of the most expensive areas of the US, how damaged they will be by their association with Theranos? Despite the ‘fail fast’ mantra of Silicon Valley, there’s little tolerance by employers for those at the operational level having a failed company in their past. These people should have our empathy, not ‘guilt by association’, and as appropriate, respect for their skills which were badly used in their last situation.

One also wonders how long it will take before there is another Chapter in The Theranos Story, one that they will file via one of their multitudinous law firms–Chapter 11. Consumerist (Consumer Reports), Yahoo News.

See here for the 31 previous TTA chapters in this Continuing, Consistently Amazing Saga, including the resignation of General Mattis from the BOD (Ch. 31), Theranos’ annus horribilis (Ch. 30) and the law firm feeding frenzy (Ch. 29).

Common Services Agency awards feasibility study for over-75s telecare (Scotland)

Our Reader Susanne Woodman, who keeps an eye on UK award opportunities, has forwarded information for an Award of Telecare for over 75s Feasibility Study. This ‘mini tender’ was awarded by The Common Services Agency (NHS National Services Scotland) to Deloitte in Edinburgh. Value is £120,190. For more information, see the full notice text tab in Public Contracts Scotland. Note to companies–keep an eye on these sites!

The Theranos Story, ch. 31: subtract one Marine general from the Board

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/jim_mattis.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The Warrior Monk has left the building, to paraphrase what was said post-performance of Elvis (birthday, 8 January). Yes, James Mattis, General, USMC (ret.), has finally resigned from the Theranos Board of Directors, which was reorganized last month [TTA 3 Dec]. According to the Wall Street Journal relying on its usual ‘persons close to the matter’, he “left Theranos partly because he believed he was no longer a good fit after a broader board overhaul”.

In preparation for Senate hearings on his Secretary of Defense nomination, which begin 12 Jan, Gen. Mattis resigned from all corporate boards save General Dynamics, which was retained as to not be presumptuous of confirmation. His confirmation is more complicated than usual because he requires a Senate waiver of the seven years post-retirement requirement. Even with this, his confirmation is expected, and the resignation from the Theranos board mitigates a sticky set of questions.

The WSJ article rehashes in some detail the 2012 review of the Theranos lab which Gen. Mattis proposed while head of Central Command (CENTCOM), which ultimately was derailed at Fort Detrick, home of the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. However, reports are that little money was actually expended and Gen. Mattis accepted the decision.

Theranos, having shuttered its labs, is appealing the regulatory sanctions, including CMS’ ban on Elizabeth Holmes’ operating labs, and is reportedly cooperating with a myriad of civil and criminal investigations, both by an alphabet soup of Federal agencies (CMS, DOJ, FDA, SEC) and state regulators.

If the WSJ article is paywalled, search on the headline “Trump Defense Nominee James Mattis Resigns From Theranos Board”. Also MarketWatch. See here for the 30 previous TTA chapters in this Continuing, Consistently Amazing Saga, including Theranos’ annus horribilis (Ch. 30) and the law firm feeding frenzy (Ch. 29). Hat tip to reader Bill Oravecz.

Health execs’ wish list for 2017: security, analytics, pop health…and telehealth (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017-upgrade-HITN-survey.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]Healthcare IT News published the results of their October survey of 95 healthcare executives as to their forward plans (resolutions?) for 2017. It’s unsurprisingly centered on upgrades to the following areas:

  • Data security (52 percent)–definitely making up for lost time and spending due to the obvious threats from hacking and data breaches. In November alone, nearly two incidents a day (57) and over 458,000 records were reported by healthcare entities to HHS. (Protenus Breach Barometer)
  • Data analytics (51 percent)–figuring out what to do with all that patient data generated by….
  • Patient engagement and population health (44 percent each)–demanded by quality standards in CMS’ MACRA Quality Payment Program (QPP), including the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and the Advanced Alternative Payment Models (APMs)
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017-introduce-investigate-HITN-survey.jpg” thumb_width=”200″ /]The surprises come here–the technologies they expect to introduce or investigate. Analytics and workflow correspond to the last two points above, but what is compelling is an apparent tipping point for technology which links the patient to care monitoring and access: telehealth (44 percent), smart medical devices (41 percent) and remote patient monitoring (34 percent). These overlap (as in telehealth and RPM require smart medical devices), yet these are strong numbers if they accurately reflect these execs’ actual (or eventual) spending. (Does it point to more clinically validated use of trackers like Fitbit? The Magic 8 Ball does not tell here….)

The presence of 2016-17’s ‘It Girl’, precision medicine (21 percent), which applies both data analytics and genomics to improve patient outcomes, isn’t surprising with the emphasis on quality care.

One can quibble that the sample size is small N, and the report doesn’t confirm the selection details like title, location, and type of organization, but the direction has to be cheering on many fronts. HITN’s overview, survey results (16 slides)

Fitbit, Qualcomm Life get in step with UnitedHealthcare’s Motion

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/UHC-Motion-Qualcomm-Infographic-Short-12-06-2016.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Another step towards maturity in the fitness tracker and employee wellness business? Today’s news out of CES was the announcement by Qualcomm Life and UnitedHealthcare to expand the proprietary UHC employee wellness program, Motion. Qualcomm Life’s 2net is the platform that will eventually integrate with medical-grade connectivity multiple fitness trackers. The first will be Fitbit’s Charge 2.

The Motion program was tested in 12 states with select employers. It will expand to UnitedHealthcare’s self-funded employer health plans covering five or more eligible employees, plus companies with fully insured health plans with 101 or more eligible employees, in 40 states.

Employee incentives are up to $1,500 per year or $4 per day, but requirements are strict, based on Frequency, Intensity and Tenacity, or FIT.  The frequency requirement is six times per day with 300 steps within five minutes at least one hour apart; intensity of 3,000 steps within 30 minutes and tenacity of 10,000 total steps each day. The employers receive premium savings based on combined FIT results. Infographic above and left.

Through a Gimlet Eye…It gives a head start to Fitbit in a BYOD program, and a testing platform for a more clinical use of a new tracker, moving beyond the casual athlete who discards it in a few months and another sign confirming our 2017 View. For Qualcomm Life, it’s yet another pivot to stay in the Healthcare Game as apparently, their much-touted HealthyCircles care coordination platform has faded to black. For UHC, it’s a value-add for employers to sell a health plan. But employee wellness programs have yet to prove real health outcomes and real savings. The problem with all wellness programs, especially at the ‘frequency and intensity’ that UHC wants employees to achieve before they earn anything, is that they concentrate on making the well weller. How would it help the marginally fit or heaven forbid, those trying to regain their fitness with a chronic condition? One last point for employers: to get FIT, it involves a lot of employee time away from a desk or a station! ZDNet, UHC/Qualcomm release

Another bit(e) from Fitbit: Quietly at the end of year, Fitbit moved to terminate one of its multiple patent infringement-related suits against the now moribund Jawbone. (more…)

Welbeing’s expansion on BBC Norfolk, Tunstall’s #MarysVIPHome Christmas (UK)

We start the New Year off we hope in the right way with some good news on telecare expansion and media coverage, traditional and social, versus the gloominess that dominated 2016.

Welbeing, which has become one of the larger telecare providers in the UK from its Eastbourne and Wealden Council roots, was the subject of a feature on Nick Conrad’s breakfast show on BBC Radio Norfolk. This focused on their East Anglia expansion to 4,500 new customers acquired from Flagship Home, with phone-ins by an operator from their new call center in Dereham, a local Welbeing customer and a representative from Norfolk County Council. Welbeing has been on a recent tear with acquisitions in East Sussex, Cumbria, Stonewater and with Muir Housing, cresting their total users to more than 70,000. Of late there’s been a lot of downbeat feelings about the fate of telecare in the UK, so it’s refreshing to hear an upbeat local story for a change. News release. Hat tip to Charlene Saunders, marketing manager of Welbeing. 

Tunstall in UK has also developed a smart home type test bed in a sheltered housing flat to showcase how existing TECS kit, Tunstall’s and others, can be combined in everyday living. Smart home demos to interested parties may be old news, but Tunstall is cleverly using social media marketing to build it up. It’s hashtagged #MarysVIPHome with updates on Twitter. There are also has five demo videos on YouTube which show how a family can observe activity/ADLs without intrusion, plus connect the resident to care, improve their socialization and remotely control the home environment. This Editor saw it on a LinkedIn post before the holidays from Tunstall’s Adrian Scaife thanking their visitors and wishing us a Mary Christmas. Now we hope to see more of a narrative about a real Mary living there and using all that TECS. It’s a nice start to what we hope is an innovative 2017.

CES 2017

The Consumer Electronics Show is half a century old this year and it [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/CES_2016.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]is promising to be the biggest show yet. Here are some items that may be of interest to TTA readers.

The conference programme includes a Digital Health Summit and a Wearable Tech Summit (the organisers obviously haven’t been reading the TTA view on wearables so recently produced by Editor Donna). In the Digital Health Summit the top topics are going to be advances in genomics and precision medicine (not sure why this is digital health), Digital medicine and current trends such as “tele-everything”, wearables, aging, digital therapies (what’s that?) and VR. The wearable Summit top topics are the science of wearables, hottest wearable tech thus far and interactive jewelry.

There is a new “Sleep Tech Marketplace” presented by the National Sleep Foundation (no, really, I am not making this up) with 10 companies exhibiting everything from sleep tracking devices (Beddit), a system to mask noise during sleep (Cambridge Sound Systems), ultra thin earphones to wear in bed (Dubs Labs), a water mattress-topper to keep you cool while you sleep, an app to record your dream talking and snoring (Snail App) and a stress reducer.

If you are not attending between tomorrow and the 8th, then you could do worse than follow it on the official CES website or on engadget