TTA’s Summer Kickoff Week Five: FCC connects its rural telehealth, Finland’s hot health tech, teledentistry debuts, is TV telehealth too retro for older adults?

 

The FCC finally gets its Connected Care going, Finland’s hot health tech, teledentistry startups. Spinoffs, events and new CEOs–but is TV telehealth a little too retro even for older adults?

News roundup: The state of Finland’s health tech, American Well-Cisco team for TV consults, Tech for Quality Care in Manchester 9 July
FCC’s $100M Connected Care Pilot Program for rural areas up for July vote
Comings & goings: The TeleDentists go DTC, gains Reis as CEO; University of Warwick spinoff Augmented Insights debuts (UK); a new CEO leads GrandCare Systems

Best Buy increases its telehealth footprint with CST buy. But CVS-Aetna is apparently going to be a long time in court.

Best Buy buys Critical Signal Technologies, increasing telehealth footprint (More chips on their big bet on health tech)
CVS-Aetna merger will run off the tracks in Federal court: reports (Not looking good for them or other companies involved, but there’s always appeals)

Digital health’s promise to democratize and commoditize health remains elusive. CVS-Aetna finally has its days–three–in court, and the implications.

Digital health: why is it a luxury good in a world crying for health as a commodity? (Three big reasons)
The CVS-Aetna hearing is on the move–finally (Day 1 of a 3-day hearing)

If you’ve missed behavioral and predictive telecare, IBM may be on The Road To Revival with its LiDAR pilot. And Call9 may be just the savings number for SNFs–and a life-saving one for patients.

IBM gives sensor-based in-home behavioral tracking a self-driving car ‘spin’ in the UK with Cera Care (LiDAR powered, just like AV cars)
Call9 and an ’embedded’ approach to emergency response in nursing homes (A cost and life-saving area, ignored till recently)

Leading up to the official start of summer (both US and UK), Teladoc gets ‘corrected’, Epic adds Tyto Care to patient portal, Bayer’s G4A and Yorkshire & Humber accelerate, GSK awards. Digital health goes to summer school in Florence 24-27 June, but you’ll be back for DHACA Day in London 9 July.

Global news roundup: Italy’s digital health summer school, GSK Impact Awards, Propel@YH for Yorkshire & Humber digital health, Aging 2.0 engages seniors
Bayer 2019 G4A Partnerships now open for applications through 31 May (An accelerator with international impact–apply quickly!)
Tyto Care telehealth integrates with Epic EHR MyChart patient app (A digital exam integrates with the big, bad EHR)
Breaking News–Teladoc: while accredited by NCQA, placed on ‘under corrective action’ status (updated) (Not good short term, but this 9,000 lb elephant is not going anywhere)
Next DHACA Day 9th July, London – seeking new members (psst–it’s free) (Get help to develop your UK digital health products and services)

CVS and Aetna await their hearing on how their merger isn’t anti-competitive, but others ‘spring’ ahead with acquisitions, fresh funding, FDA clearances, and interesting events. And Jawbone makes the case for resurrection.

News, events roundup: FDA clears AliveCor’s first 6 lead ECG, Jawbone Health rises from ashes, Let’s Get Checked’s $30M check, Health Wildcatters’ $35M ‘how to’ breakfast
CVS-Aetna hearing starts June 4; now only 6 witnesses called, for and against (updated) (The drama continues for the 9th month)
Harris Healthcare acquires in-hospital workflow tech pioneer Uniphy Health (A NJ innovation success bringing better communications to hospitals)
Events, dear friends, events in London from painting to leadership (From Arts in Health to HealthChats and The King’s Fund in summer)

Psychiatry goes ‘hybrid’, health tech gets NICE, events both coming up and future, and in long-running shows, CVS-Aetna and Theranos keep packing them in.

Telepsychiatry improves time to care plus frequency of care for behavioral health patients: study (Now it’s hybrid psychiatry)
CVS-Aetna hearing now June; 12 witnesses called, for and against (Another long-running DC show in its ninth month)
It’s NICE to HealthTech Connect with the NHS (A health tech matchmaking service)
The Theranos Story, ch. 60: becoming a Cautionary Tale of Silicon Valley Ethics (Will SV change its ways? Not likely.)
Events coming up soon–and in the autumn: Hunter College 13 May, Aging 2.0 London 21 May; NYeC’s November Gala, Connected Health Summit (16-18 Oct) poster call


Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? Free listings available to match our Readers with the right opportunities. Email Editor Donna.


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Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. See our advert information here. 


Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Thanks for asking for update emails. Please tell your colleagues about this news service and, if you have relevant information to share with the rest of the world, please let me know.

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief
donna.cusano@telecareaware.com

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News roundup: The state of Finland’s health tech, American Well-Cisco team for TV consults, Tech for Quality Care in Manchester 9 July

Finland shows its sisu in health tech startups. It’s a country you wouldn’t think of readily as hospitable to startups, but they’ve leveraged their tech skills (think the pivots that Nokia has accomplished) to create patient outcome and remote patient monitoring companies that are making an impact in Europe. Some which are making an impact are Meru, Kaiku, and Navigil. Venture capital is ‘thinnish’ which leads to companies seeking seed and development funding from government sources and later on, foreign investors. Mobihealthnews is profiling these companies in conjunction with Business Finland, a government entity. HIMSS and Health 2.0 also had their European conference in Helsinki, and this article discusses how their national health service, Kanta Services, leverages digital health in e-prescribing, they have a national database called the Patient Data Repository that collect patient data records to make them accessible to providers and patients, and the My Kanta patient portal.

Back to the 1990s? Tech device maker Cisco is teaming up with American Well to convert TVs to a video portal via a set-top unit. This is targeted to older adults and those with multiple chronic conditions who may not be comfortable with laptops, tablets, or smartphones, but wouldn’t mind using their TV to connect to a doctor. How it work seems to require a ‘smart TV’–the patient would activate the device on the TV, connect it to Wi-Fi, and initiate the video consult with the doctor and caregiver. No information on timing, markets, or pricing at this time. CNBCWhy does this sound like a klutzy non-starter to this Editor, who went through the fad of interactive TV in the Mad ’90s? It seems to need more than just consults.  Mobihealthnews notes that Quil Health, a Comcast-Independence Blue Cross joint venture, is targeting pre- and post-care support through the TV. Comcast is also rumored to be working on an Alexa-like ambient sensor based device to monitor basic vital signs and fall detection.

Using Technology for Quality Care on 9 July is a free half-day conference/workshop at Kings House Conference Centre, Manchester. It is the first of a series of regional workshops in the North West region to learn from local areas where councils, care providers, and suppliers work together using technology to support care. More information is on this PDF and on the Local Government Association website. Hat tip to Reader Adrian Scaife who just recently joined Alcuris Ltd. as Business Development Manager.

FCC’s $100M Connected Care Pilot Program for rural areas up for July vote

Finally, a big boost for rural telehealth comes to the ‘yea or nay’ stage. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Connected Care Pilot Program, which was approved to proceed last August [TTA 9 Aug 18] with comments on the creation of the program, now moves to the next stage with a formal FCC vote on 10 July on the program itself. The FCC vote was announced by FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr, the co-proposer of the program with Mississippi’s Senator Roger Wicker, during a visit on Tuesday to a rural health clinic in Laurel Fork, Virginia.

The three-year program increases support for telehealth efforts aimed at low-income Americans in underserved regions and who are veterans, to increase their access to health technologies. Providers would be assisted in securing both technology and broadband resources needed to launch remote patient monitoring and telehealth programs. 

Commissioner Carr quoted, in his rural health clinic visit, stats from multiple studies including the VA‘s long experience (since the early 2000s) with remote patient monitoring:

  • A study of 20 remote patient monitoring trials found reductions of 20 percent in all-cause mortality and 15 percent in heart failure-related hospitalizations.
  • A remote patient monitoring initiative (not attributed) reduced ER visits by 46 percent, hospital admissions by 53 percent, and in-patient stay length by 25 percent.
  • The Veterans Health Administration’s remote patient monitoring program had reductions of 25 percent in days of inpatient care and a 19 percent in hospital admissions.
  • In savings, a diabetes trial run by the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) saved nearly $700,000 annually in hospital readmissions. This extrapolated, based on 20 percent of Mississippi’s diabetic population, that Medicaid would save $189 million per year.

HealthLeaders Media also noted that at the July meeting, the FCC will vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking to seek comment on funding to defray the cost of healthcare providers joining the telehealth initiative and innovative pilot programs aimed at responding to critical health crises including diabetes management and opioids. Also mHealth Intelligence

Comings & goings: The TeleDentists go DTC, gains Reis as CEO; University of Warwick spinoff Augmented Insights debuts (UK); a new CEO leads GrandCare Systems

The TeleDentists leap in with a new CEO. A year-old startup, The TeleDentists, has announced it will be going direct-to-consumer with teledentistry consults. This will permit anyone with a dental problem or emergency to consult with a dentist 24/7, schedule a local appointment in 24-48 hours. and even, if required, prescribe a non-narcotic prescription to a local pharmacy. Cost for the DTC service is not yet disclosed. Currently, the Kansas City-based company has provided their dental network services through several telehealth and telemedicine service providers such as Call A Doctor Plus as well as several brick-and-mortar clinic locations.

If dentistry sounds logical for telemedicine, consider that about 2 million people annually in the US use ERs for dental emergencies; 39 percent didn’t visit a dentist last year. Yet teledentistry is just getting started and is unusually underdeveloped, if you except the retail tooth aligners. Several US groups are piloting it to community health and underserved groups, with Philips reportedly considering a trial in Europe (mHealth Intelligence). This Editor notes that on their advisory board is a co-founder of Teladoc.  Release

The TeleDentists’ co-founder, Maria Kunstadter, DDS, last week announced the arrival of a new company CEO, Howard Reis. Mr. Reis started with health tech back in the 1990s with Nynex Science and Technology piloting telemedicine clinical trials at four Boston hospitals, which qualifies him among the most Grizzled Pioneers. He also was business development VP for Teleradiology Specialists and founding partner of The Castleton Group, a LTC telehealth company, and has worked in professional services for Accenture, Telmarc and SAIC/Bellcore. Most recently, he started teleradiology/telehealth firm HealthePractices. Over the past few years, Mr. Reis has also been prominent in the NY metro digital health scene. Congratulations and much success!  

In the UK, the University of Warwick has unveiled a spinoff, Augmented Insights Ltd. AI will be concentrating on machine learning and AI services that analyze long term health and care data, automating the extraction in real time of personalized, predictive and preventative insights from ongoing patient data. It will be headed by Dr. James Amor, whom this Editor met last summer in NYC. Long term plans center on marketing their analytics services to tech providers. Interested parties or potential users may contact Dr. Amor in Leamington Spa at James@augmentedinsights.co.uk |Congratulations to Dr. Amor and his team! 

And in more Grizzled Pioneer news, there’s a new CEO at GrandCare Systems who’s been engaged with the company since nearly their start in 1993 and in its present form in 2005. Laura Mitchell takes the helm as CEO after various positions there including Chief Marketing Officer and several years leading her own healthcare and marketing consulting firm. Nick Mitchell rejoins as chief technology officer and lead software developer. Founders Charlie Hillman remain as an advisor and Gaytha Traynor as COO. Their offices have also moved to the Kreilkamp Building, 215 N Main Street, Suite 130, in downtown West Bend Wisconsin. GrandCare remains a ‘family affair’ as this profile notes. Congratulations–again!

TTA’s Summer Kickoff Week Four: CVS-Aetna looks like a loser in court, Best Buy’s buy of CST may be a winner

 

 

Best Buy increases its telehealth footprint with CST buy. But CVS-Aetna is apparently going to be a long time in court.

Best Buy buys Critical Signal Technologies, increasing telehealth footprint (More chips on their big bet on health tech)
CVS-Aetna merger will run off the tracks in Federal court: reports (Not looking good for them or other companies involved, but there’s always appeals)

Digital health’s promise to democratize and commoditize health remains elusive. CVS-Aetna finally has its days–three–in court, and the implications.

Digital health: why is it a luxury good in a world crying for health as a commodity? (Three big reasons)
The CVS-Aetna hearing is on the move–finally (Day 1 of a 3-day hearing)

If you’ve missed behavioral and predictive telecare, IBM may be on The Road To Revival with its LiDAR pilot. And Call9 may be just the savings number for SNFs–and a life-saving one for patients.

IBM gives sensor-based in-home behavioral tracking a self-driving car ‘spin’ in the UK with Cera Care (LiDAR powered, just like AV cars)
Call9 and an ’embedded’ approach to emergency response in nursing homes (A cost and life-saving area, ignored till recently)

Leading up to the official start of summer (both US and UK), Teladoc gets ‘corrected’, Epic adds Tyto Care to patient portal, Bayer’s G4A and Yorkshire & Humber accelerate, GSK awards. Digital health goes to summer school in Florence 24-27 June, but you’ll be back for DHACA Day in London 9 July.

Global news roundup: Italy’s digital health summer school, GSK Impact Awards, Propel@YH for Yorkshire & Humber digital health, Aging 2.0 engages seniors
Bayer 2019 G4A Partnerships now open for applications through 31 May (An accelerator with international impact–apply quickly!)
Tyto Care telehealth integrates with Epic EHR MyChart patient app (A digital exam integrates with the big, bad EHR)
Breaking News–Teladoc: while accredited by NCQA, placed on ‘under corrective action’ status (updated) (Not good short term, but this 9,000 lb elephant is not going anywhere)
Next DHACA Day 9th July, London – seeking new members (psst–it’s free) (Get help to develop your UK digital health products and services)

CVS and Aetna await their hearing on how their merger isn’t anti-competitive, but others ‘spring’ ahead with acquisitions, fresh funding, FDA clearances, and interesting events. And Jawbone makes the case for resurrection.

News, events roundup: FDA clears AliveCor’s first 6 lead ECG, Jawbone Health rises from ashes, Let’s Get Checked’s $30M check, Health Wildcatters’ $35M ‘how to’ breakfast
CVS-Aetna hearing starts June 4; now only 6 witnesses called, for and against (updated) (The drama continues for the 9th month)
Harris Healthcare acquires in-hospital workflow tech pioneer Uniphy Health (A NJ innovation success bringing better communications to hospitals)
Events, dear friends, events in London from painting to leadership (From Arts in Health to HealthChats and The King’s Fund in summer)

Psychiatry goes ‘hybrid’, health tech gets NICE, events both coming up and future, and in long-running shows, CVS-Aetna and Theranos keep packing them in.

Telepsychiatry improves time to care plus frequency of care for behavioral health patients: study (Now it’s hybrid psychiatry)
CVS-Aetna hearing now June; 12 witnesses called, for and against (Another long-running DC show in its ninth month)
It’s NICE to HealthTech Connect with the NHS (A health tech matchmaking service)
The Theranos Story, ch. 60: becoming a Cautionary Tale of Silicon Valley Ethics (Will SV change its ways? Not likely.)
Events coming up soon–and in the autumn: Hunter College 13 May, Aging 2.0 London 21 May; NYeC’s November Gala, Connected Health Summit (16-18 Oct) poster call


Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? Free listings available to match our Readers with the right opportunities. Email Editor Donna.


Read Telehealth and Telecare Aware: http://telecareaware.com/  @telecareaware

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

We thank our present and past advertisers and supporters: Tynetec, Eldercare, UK Telehealthcare, NYeC, PCHAlliance, ATA, The King’s Fund, DHACA, HIMSS, Health 2.0 NYC, MedStartr, Parks Associates, and HealthIMPACT.

Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. See our advert information here. 


Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Thanks for asking for update emails. Please tell your colleagues about this news service and, if you have relevant information to share with the rest of the world, please let me know.

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief
donna.cusano@telecareaware.com

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Best Buy buys Critical Signal Technologies, increasing telehealth footprint

Late last month, Best Buy with little fanfare bought Critical Signal Technologies (CST) of Novi, Michigan. CST is a device-agnostic telehealth monitoring and social work services platform through its Care Center, covering services such as PERS monitoring, medication management, and remote patient monitoring. Terms were not disclosed for this private company founded in 2006, but CST cares for 100,000 patients and has partnerships with 1,500 payers, including many Medicare Advantage plans. 

For those seeking the sunnier uplands of digital health, it’s surprising but gratifying to see Best Buy place another sizable bet in the home health area. The recent acquisition of GreatCall for $800 million is larger, but GreatCall is a turnkey, profitable company. The partnership with Tyto Care [TTA 17 April] to retail their system is relatively low risk, limited in scope, and follows their Midwest intro pattern (followed over 12 years ago with, believe it or not, QuietCare when owned by Living Independently).

Best Buy has gained kudos for moving into specialty areas in healthcare when its fellow retailers have been falling by the wayside. It covers both their bricks-and-mortar–where older adults still like to shop–and online, delivering a large slice of health tech directly to consumers. One asset, the tech-oriented Geek Squad, is a ready made unit for installing and walking older adults through using home tech. MedCityNews, MarketWatch

CVS-Aetna merger will run off the tracks in Federal court: reports

Reports emerging this past Monday after the close of last week’s DC Federal District Court hearings in indicate that the CVS-Aetna merger may be nixed by Judge Richard Leon. This may result in the full unwinding of the already-closed merger, a derailing of the settlement which involved selling the Aetna Medicare Part D business to government-plan insurer WellCare, or something in between.

The original report was in Monday’s New York Post. A source working with CVS and Aetna stated “I think Leon rules against us. If he rejects the settlement, we would have to figure out the next steps.” That settlement is significant because it represents the only major overlap between the CVS and Aetna businesses. In other words, there’s nothing left to divest or concede.

Judge Leon, based on reports, was consistently irritated with the Department of Justice, questioning everything from the Part D divestiture to the effects of adding 21 million Aetna customers to CVS’s pharmacy benefits management (PBM) business not being revealed in DOJ documents to him. Conversely, the sale of the Part D business to WellCare was batted one way–as not enough to reduce CVS’ market control and not competitive–and then the other, as WellCare remains a CVS PBM customer for 2.2 million members in its health plans. What was also clear from his selection of expert witnesses that Judge Leon was more interested in the anti-competitive effects of the merger than any of the benefits.

It is obvious both from Judge Leon’s in-court actions (such as not permitting DOJ attorneys to cross-examine any witnesses), assorted remarks, and delay for now over six months, that this merger is coming to a pre-ordained conclusion, at least by this judge. This is already a first under the Tunney Act enacted in 1974. A negative decision will certainly be appealed by CVS-Aetna and DOJ, which will drag out any finalization even if successful–and the sale of the Part D business, important to WellCare as part of its own pending acquisition by Centene–to the end of the year and possibly beyond.

With this background and oral arguments delayed until 17 July, according to Judge Leon, the legal teams on all sides won’t have much of a summer.  Also Barrons, video on NBR.

Digital health: why is it a luxury good in a world crying for health as a commodity?

Why digital health still struggles to find its stride. Those of us in the healthcare field, especially Grizzled Pioneers, have been wondering for the past decade why Digital Health’s Year is always Next Year. Or Next Decade. 

Looking back only to 2000, we’ve had 9-11, a dot-com bust, a few years in between when the economy thrived and the seed money started to pollinate young companies, a prolonged recession that killed off many, and now finally a few good economic years where money has flooded into the sector, to good companies and those walking the fine line of mismanagement or fraud. We’ve seen the rise/fall/rise of sensors, wearables, and remote monitoring, giants like Google and Microsoft out and back in, the establishment of EHRs, acceptance by government and private payers, quite a bit of integration, and more. All one has to look is at the investment trends breaking all records, with funding rounds of over $10 million raising barely a notice–enough to raise fears of a bubble. Then there’s another rising tide–that of cyberattack, ransomware, insider and outsider hacking.

Is it this year? It may not be. Despite the sunshine, interoperability holds it all back. Those giant EHRs–Cerner, Epic, Athenahealth, Allscripts–are largely walled gardens and so customized by provider application that they barely are able to talk to their like systems. There are regional health exchanges such as New York’s SHIN-NY, Maryland’s CRISP, and others, but they are limited in scope to their states. The VA’s VistA, the granddaddy of the integrated system, died of old age in its garden. Paul Markovich, CEO of Blue Shield of California cites the lack of interoperability and being able to access their personal health data as a major barrier to both patients and to the large companies who want to advance AI and need the data for modeling. (China and its companies, as we’ve noted, neatly solve this problem by force. [TTA 17 Apr]) Apple is back in with Health Records, but Mr. Markovich estimates it may take 10 years to gather the volume of data it needs to establish AI modeling. Some wags demand that Apple buy Epic, as if Epic was up for sale. BSC, like others, is testing interoperability workarounds like Notable, Ooda Health, and Manifest MedEx. Mr. Markovich cites interoperability and scaling as reasons why healthcare is expensive. CNBC

And what about those thriving startups? Hold on. During the Google Cloud/Rock Health 3 June event, one of the panelists–from Partners HealthCare, which works both side of the street with Pivot Labs–noted that hospitals have figured out their own revenue models, and co-development with hospitals is key. Even if validated, not every tech is commercially ready or lowers cost. And employers are far worse than hospitals at buying in because they ultimately look at financial value, even if initially they adopt for other reasons. In addition, the bar moved higher. The new validation standard is now provider-centric–workload, provider satisfaction, and implementation metrics, because meeting clinical outcomes is a given. Mobihealthnews

And still another barrier–data breaches and cyberattack–is still with us, and growing. Quest Diagnostics’ data breach affects nearly 12 million patients. It was traced to an individual at a vendor, American Medical Collection Agency, and it involved Optum360, a Quest contractor and part of healthcare giant Optum. The unauthorized person had access to the network for eight months – between 1 August 2018, and 30 March 2019–and involved both financial and some health records. Quest now is in the #2 slot behind the massive 79 million person Anthem breach, which, based on a Federal grand jury indictment in Indianapolis in May, was executed by a Chinese group in 2015 using spearfishing and backdoors that gathered data and sent it to China. There were three other US businesses in the indictment which are not identified. Securing health data is expensive — and another limitation on the cost-lowering effects of interoperability. Healthcare IT News

Digital Health’s Year, for now, will remain Next Year–and digital health for now will remain fractional, unable to do much to commoditize healthcare or lower major costs.

The CVS-Aetna hearing is on the move–finally

The train that is the CVS-Aetna hearing, in the courtroom presided over by Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, is at long last chugging down the tracks. And Pauline is still tied up. Tuesday 4 June was Day 1 of this hearing. Early reports are just being filed. The issue is whether Judge Leon will authorize the Department of Justice’s approval of the merger or dissolve a closed merger, based on his authority under the Tunney Act and his own repeated intent to search for harm that the merger might do to the public. 

Today’s hearing focused on Aetna’s divestiture of its Medicare Part D business as a prelude to the merger, and whether it was quite enough. Much of the discussion was on the relative strength of the buyer, WellCare (itself in the early stages of being acquired), and whether it could be truly competitive in the Part D market. The other factor is that CVS as a dominant pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) could undermine WellCare in several ways. PBMs operate opaquely and are highly concentrated, with CVS, Optum (UnitedHealthcare), and Cigna-Express Scripts accounting for 70 percent of the market. Modern Healthcare

Other issues for Days 2 and 3 will cover the effects on competition in health insurance, retail pharmacy and specialty pharmacy.

Healthcare Dive discusses how these hearings are already setting precedent on how Tunney Act hearings are conducted, their scope (Judge Leon has ruled against every attempt by CVS-Aetna to limit it), and the unprecedented live testimony.  There is the good possibility that Judge Leon will decide to dissolve the merger for competitive reasons, which DOJ likely would appeal. Add to this the cost of the delayed integration and the precedent set by the District Court on scrutiny of any healthcare merger, and this tedious hearing along with Judge Leon’s actions leading to it hold major consequences.