Two NY area events: Mission Physician Transition and ‘Their Big Idea’

Tuesday, 26 June: Mission Physician Transition, hosted by Health 2.0 NYC and MedStartr, 6-9 pm, at McCarter & English, 825 Eighth Avenue, NYC

Physicians are increasingly dissatisfied with just being clinicians and want to get involved in healthcare innovation. Similarly, innovative companies need the clinician’s insight into how care actually works in order to create solutions that work for doctors, patients, and all stakeholders in the healthcare value chain. Speakers/panelists to be announced. To register, go through Meetup here.

Thursday, 28 June: Entrepreneur’s Forum–Their Big Idea. Hosted by BioInc@NYMC & iCANny, 5-7 pm, at NY Medical College’s The Café, 19 Skyline Drive, Hawthorne, NY 

Four entrepreneurs present the ideas which they believe could be The Next Big Thing. Moderated by Dan Potocki of Finis Ventures who is experienced in spearheading business development and strategic initiatives for industry-leading data analytics tech startups. Cost: $15 non-members; $12 members, and includes wine and cheese refreshments. Register in advance here.

Rounding up the news: Babylon’s Samsung Health UK deal, smartphone urine test debuts, a VA Home Telehealth ‘announcement’, Aging 2.0’s NY Happy Hour

click to enlargeHuge or Ho-Hum? Babylon’s ‘Ask an Expert’ feature is now available within the Samsung Health app as of the start of June. It will need to be activated at a cost of £50 per year, or £25 for a single consultation. Babylon’s service with over 200 GPs is now available on millions of Samsung Galaxy devices in the UK. Babylon now claims half a million users of its private GP services and 26,500 registered in London with its NHS-funded and controversial GP at Hand app.

Is it as our Editor Charles, quoting Niccolo Machiavelli writing in The Prince, “Nothing is more difficult to undertake, more perilous to conduct or more uncertain in its outcome than to take the lead in introducing a new order of things. For the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old and lukewarm defenders who may do well under the new”. The debate rages–see the comments below the Pulse Today article. 

Healthy.io is introducing a test of its urinalysis by smartphone test with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust’s new Virtual Renal Clinic. 50 patients will received the Dip.io kit to test their urine. Dip.io uses the standard urine dipstick test combined with a smartphone application that guides the user through scanning in the results with a smartphone camera and sends the result to their doctor. Healthy.io claims this is a first-of-kind technology and system. According to Salford Royal, chronic kidney disease (CKD) costs the NHS £1.45 billion in England alone. The company is part of the NHS Innovation Accelerator Programme. Digital Health News

In what has been the worst kept secret in US telehealth, 1Vision LLC and AMC Health finally announced they were partners in 1Vision’s over $258 million Home Telehealth award by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) [TTA 6 Feb 17]. The news here is that the AMCH release states that they have an “Authority to Operate (ATO)”, which means they can provide Home Telehealth services using AMC Health’s CareConsole to VA-enrolled veterans and their families. This last step is very important because it is a common post-award point of failure for new awardees. Earlier this year, the Iron Bow/Vivify Health award failed on the country of origin of Vivify’s kit, dooming the implementation [TTA 16 Jan] and Iron Bow’s award. (Vivify Health has gone on.) Medtronic, as a long-term incumbent, has few worries in this regard, though any new equipment has to be cleared. The mystery is if Intel-GE Care Innovations, the last new awardee, has passed the ATO bar. AMC Health/1Vision release. 

And on the social front for New Yorkers, raise a Pint 2.0 at Aging 2.0’s NYC Happy Hour, Tuesday 18 July at 310 Bowery Bar, 6pm. Aging 2.0 website, where you can check for a chapter and events near you.

CMS urged to further reimburse telehealth remote patient monitoring with three new CPT codes

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which controls payments to doctors for the Medicare and state Medicaid programs, has been urged by 49 healthcare organizations and technology vendors to further unbundle the controlling CPT code for remote patient monitoring (RPM), 99091. The 2018 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Final Rule finally separated RPM from telemedicine remote visits by permitting separate payment for remote physiological data monitoring by unbundling CPT 99091 to reimburse for patient-generated health data (PGHD)–a new term. The letter to Administrator Seema Verma proposes 2019 adoption of three additional American Medical Association CPT Editorial Panel-developed codes which further break down various aspects of RPM, while maintaining 99091. 

CPT codes for Medicare and Medicaid are important because they also influence private insurers’ reimbursement policies. Practices which get paid for RPM are more likely to adopt enabling technologies if they are affordable within how they are paid. 

CMS started to include telehealth RPM in 2015 in a chronic care management code, 99490, but specifically prohibited the use of CPT 99091 in conjunction with CCM. This created a lot of confusion after some brief moments of hope by tying technology to a complex CCM model.

It’s possibly a ‘light at end of the tunnel’ development for hungry tech companies, but one which won’t be determined till end of year when PFS rules are released. Also Healthcare Dive.

The Theranos Story, ch. 49: CEO Holmes reportedly raising funds for a new company–and feeling like Joan of Arc

click to enlargeHere’s the place where your money will go if you’re an investor. John Carreyrou has now compiled his reporting for the Wall Street Journal on Theranos into a new book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, and it is a Must Read for this Editor and anyone interested in the nexus of Tech, Healthcare, and Hype. (The link goes to AbeBooks, a worthy marketplace for independent booksellers.)

According to Mr. Carreyrou, the founder/CEO Miss Elizabeth Holmes–still leading the company despite settling with the SEC on fraud charges, surrendering her voting control, barred from serving as a public company director or officer for 10 years, and still fighting civil lawsuits–is raising fresh funds for a new venture.

Your eyes did not fool you.

Theranos was a Dogpile of Deceit. From hacking standard Siemens blood testing machines to work with tiny samples, falsifying test results, faking up the Edison test machine, to company financials, it was one lie on the other, chronicled for our Readers in nearly 50 chapters and multiple references. 

Mr. Carreyrou was asked by former Timesman and Vanity Fair reporter Nick Bilton whether, in this unmistakable pattern, Ms. Holmes was a sociopath. Mr. Carreyrou wisely refrained from diagnosis based on a used DSM-V, being a reporter and not her psychiatrist. From Mr. Bilton’s interview podcasted on ‘Inside the Hive’:

“At the end of my book, I say that a sociopath is described as someone with no conscience. I think she absolutely has sociopathic tendencies. One of those tendencies is pathological lying. I believe this is a woman who started telling small lies soon after she dropped out of Stanford, when she founded her company, and the lies became bigger and bigger,” Carreyrou said. “I think she’s someone that got used to telling lies so often, and the lies got so much bigger, that eventually the line between the lies and reality blurred for her.”

Mr. Carreyrou, and by inference anyone who doubted her, like her CFO, and especially those who went public with criticism–well, we are the Bad Guys:

“She has shown zero sign of feeling bad, or expressing sorrow, or admitting wrongdoing, or saying sorry to the patients whose lives she endangered,” he said. He explained that in her mind, according to numerous former Theranos employees he has spoken to, Holmes believes that her entourage of employees led her astray and that the bad guy is actually John Carreyrou. “One person in particular, who left the company recently, says that she has a deeply engrained sense of martyrdom. She sees herself as sort of a Joan of Arc who is being persecuted,” he said.

Mr. Carreyrou was set upon by this ‘martyr’s’ legal pitbulls, one David Boies, until he wisely exited stage left with a bushelful of worthless stock [TTA 21 Nov 16].

(And what is it about Stanford University that fosters people like Ron Gutman, recently ousted from HealthTap over employee abuse and intimidation charges in what may be a Silicon Valley First? [TTA 3 May] Here we have someone who plays with people’s lives and health in vital blood testing. Aren’t some ethics courses long overdue?) 

Mr. Bilton makes the extremely fine point that Silicon Valley will continue to be magnetically attracted to founders equipped with a ‘reality-distortion field’ (as he termed Steve Jobs). SV will relegate Theranos to a biotech outlier. Yet as long as Silicon Valley MoneyMen like Tim Draper will back the likes of Elizabeth Holmes as long as they have a good line of (stuff), despite being embarrassingly proven not just (and only) wrong, but now perpetrating fraud, the Jobsian Myth and black turtlenecks will rise again like Dracula. (Another analogy comes to mind, but precocious children might be reading this.)

We haven’t heard the last of her.

An excellent interview by Tom Dotan of Mr. Carreyrou is podcasted on The Information’s 411 in “You’re So Vein”, which gets the award for Title of the Week (trial signup required, or listen on SoundCloud). Starting at 15:00, interesting comments on the why of Sunny Balwani and Ms. Holmes’ series of ‘marks’ including George Shultz. Also Gizmodo and Politico’s Morning eHealth newsletter.

OnePerspective: Analogue telecare is a dead horse: stop flogging it

Editor’s Note: ‘OnePerspective’ articles are written by industry contributors on issues of importance to our Readers. They reflect the opinions of their authors and are archived under ‘Perspectives’.

click to enlargeBy: Tom Morton

Call failures to alarm receiving centres in the UK are rising but the reasons for this are currently the subject of hot debate.

The problem is linked to the roll out of the next generation network (NGN) replacing the UK’s analogue Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), a task which will be complete by 2025.

What is not debatable is that 1.7m of the most vulnerable in our society are being placed at risk as calls to alarm receiving centres (ARCs) increasingly fail or are delayed in their delivery due to incompatibilities of existing technologies.

At the Telecare Services Association (TSA) conference in November 2017, technology-enabled care services company Appello, with circa 100k telecare system users, identified a 7.5 percent call failure rate and announced the problem as “deeply worrying”.

At the same event, Communicare247 presented a report which highlighted a significant 12.3 percent spike in call failures identified by Falkirk Council. This was part of an ongoing analogue to digital assessment program operating across 12 percent of the existing Scottish telecare user base, and significantly this spike occurred in Falkirk within a short three month period. Both Falkirk Council and Appello have published their evidence of increasing call failures in a TSA whitepaper.

The TSA white paper, A Digital Future For Technology Enabled Care, highlights that the 1.7million people in the UK reliant on telecare need answers as their service is “threatened by disruption as UK telecommunications shift from analogue to digital”.

Yet the link to call failures and the rollout of NGN has been called into question by a major equipment provider. In a recent blog, they asked a very challenging question: Are network issues causing a greater number of alarm call failures?

Their answer delivered by the blog was, in essence, ‘maybe not yet’.

In a comparison between one ARC, where call failures were high versus another where they were low, the blog claimed that “while the use of NGN networks has grown in the last few years this cannot account for the increasing trend”.

As a potential compromise, the author also said that they could overcome any potential issues through the use of hybrid terminal adaptors (ATAs).

However, evidence both in the UK and Sweden plainly demonstrates call failures increase as the network switches to digital. (more…)

Rounding up more Events of Summer–plus speaker submissions closing soon!

click to enlargeTime flies and so does your calendar! In addition to the important RSM event next Wednesday (maybe more so than the G8 Summit or the NoKo talks, but neither are introduced by Editor Charles!), here are more for your consideration.

Wednesday, 13 June: New York State Chapter’s annual miniHIMSS, “Healthcare on Broadway,” has a full day of speakers in four acts with an emphasis on healthcare advances in NY State and technology applicability. New World Stages in Manhattan starting at 8am. More information here, registration here.

Tuesday, 26 June: Mission Physician Transition into healthcare tech hosted by Health 2.0 NYC and MedStartr, 6-8 pm. More information on Meetup.

Wednesday, 27 June: Newark Venture Partners hosts their 3rd annual Demo Day for their 2018 class at Prudential Center, Newark NJ. Doors open at noon, presentations start at 1:30pm. Investors in NVP span tech, financial, and healthcare with Amazon, Prudential Financial, Dun & Bradstreet, RWJ Barnabas, Horizon BCBSNJ, TD Bank, and Panasonic. Free registration and more details here

Saturday, 30 June: Deadline for speaker submissions for the Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers on 28-30 August in San Diego.  The online form is here. TTA is a media partner of the CHS.

Tuesday-Wednesday 10-11 July: The King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress. More information here. TTA is an event supporter of the Congress. 

Friday 10th August: Deadline for entries/nominations for the ITEC Awards 2018, to be awarded at the TSA’s annual International Technology Enabled Care Conference 2018 16-17 October in Birmingham. The winners in five categories will be announced on 16 October during the Gala Dinner. 

International acquisition roundup: Doro and Welbeing; Teladoc and Advance Medical

Two international telecare/telehealth/telemedicine M&A deals made the news this last week.

Sweden’s Doro AB acquired Welbeing, headquartered in Eastbourne UK. Welbeing (formally Wealden and Eastbourne Lifeline) is a telecare provider of home-based personal alarms which supports about 75,000 residents in local systems. Their revenue in last fiscal year (ending 9/17) was £7.6 million (SEK 90m). Doro operates in the UK and about 40 countries, with a core business in mobile phones specially designed for older adults. Their Doro Care solutions provide digital telecare and social services for older adults and the disabled in the home. Doro is paying SEK 130 million (£11.1 million) for the acquisition of Welbeing, equal to eight times estimated EBITDA for the financial year 2017/2018, with 85 percent cash and 15 percent in Doro shares with a bonus based on financial performance. Release 

Making a few headlines in the US is telemedicine leader Teladoc’s purchase of Barcelona’s Advance Medical for a hefty $352 million, giving Teladoc a major international footprint especially valuable for its corporate clients and major payers. Advance Medical provides complete telemedicine services in 125 countries in over 20 languages. Even more valuable is their knowledge of local healthcare delivery systems, global expert medical opinion, and chronic care. The acquisition also gives Teladoc an international network of offices and a significant entreé with international health insurance companies. Mobihealthnews, Seeking Alpha (Teladoc investor slideshow)

The most important event in two weeks’ time: the Future of Medicine on June 13th at the RSM!

In two weeks’ time, Donald Trump may meet Kim Jong-Un in Singapore and the World Cup will begin, though even more importantly the Royal Society of Medicine will be holding its fourth Future of Medicine event in partnership with the Institute of Engineering and Technology: on June 13th to be precise.

The full title is the Future of Medicine: the role of doctors in 2028.  The conference will explore just how far the delivery of health and care will be improved by the availability of new technology over the next decade, and what the latest predictions are by those working in the field of how this will change the way medicine will really be practised. It is aimed primarily at senior executives in the health and care world whose decisions today will hasten – or hinder – the arrival of improved technology-enabled care, though it’s relevant to anyone with an interest in knowing what’s happening at the cutting edge of how medical technology is changing medicine.

One area of focus will be training doctors to work in this new world: Professor Joanne Martin will describe how Barts are tackling this, and Dr Jean Nehme will describe how technology can specifically help train surgeons. Dr Harpreet Sood (not yet in the published programme) has kindly offered to talk about how the NHS Digital Academy fits into the picture. The future of the profession will be explored by Dr Will Cavendish, now at Arup,  and Professor Pali Hungin.

AI is a key topic running through the event, for which Dr Clare Novorol of Ada.com and Dr Richard Dybowski of Cambridge University will offer contrasting views and Dr Vishal Nangalia will look specifically at its impact on surgery. Promoting innovation is clearly key, and our distinguished ‘regular’, Professor Tony Young will give another of his high-intensity presentations on it.  Speakers on specific key relevant topics will include Professor Rachel McKendry on rapid diagnostic tests, Dr James Wollard on changing the way mental health is managed and Professor Ijeoma Uchegbu on the future of nanomedicine. Finally, wrapping it all up, Andy Wilkins, Consultant, and Chris Burghes, CEO, The Royal Free Charity, will describe the new vision they have been developing of the future of person-centred care. 

Another great day, in short, and at the usual very low cost RSM rates!

For more information, and to book, click here.

(Disclosure, this editor was involved in putting together this conference.)

CNET spotlights ‘comfort companions’ and therapy robots

CNET, generally a home for all things whiz-bang and techy, is unusually but admirably spotlighting tech that assists the disabled and older adults. The latest in its Tech Enabled series focuses on robotics and AI-assisted comfort companions to help the sick–children undergoing medical treatment and adults with dementia. 

We’ve previously covered the PARO therapeutic seal, here in use with dementia, PTSD, and TBI residents in a VA Hospital in Livermore, California, It’s now in its 13th year of distribution and on its ninth release. Our prior criticism was only that it could benefit far more people if production were higher and prices were lower. 

Insurer AFLAC has developed with Sproutel the ‘My Special Aflac Duck’, designed for children undergoing treatment for cancer. The stuffed duck has a microphone, sensors, and pre-programming to respond to the child. The child can place discs on the duck’s stomach which are “feeler cards” which reflect moods from sad to happy. It can also be taken care of with ‘feeding’ and bathing (the furry cover is removable). AFLAC is donating the $200 cost of the therapy duck for a wider release this fall. Sproutel previously designed Jerry the Bear for children diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, where they learn to monitor blood sugar levels and give insulin shots to the bear via an AR phone app.

The writer and videos attest to the comfort and control patients feel with these comfort companions (and plus). Where articles like this in CNET contribute is in increasing general awareness that these are available here and now. One only wishes they and research on them were more widely available. 

VA’s ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ telehealth initiative finalizes

VA Secretaries may come and go (or never get there), but their initiatives stay. With much fanfare last year, then-Secretary David Shulkin announced the ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ telehealth and telemedicine program [TTA 3 Aug]. This program will use VA practitioners to provide virtual patient care across state lines when a veteran cannot make it to a VA hospital or clinic. The Department of Veterans Affairs published the proposed rule last October [TTA 3 Oct 17] with the Final Rule published in the Federal Register on 11 May.

Technically, it preempts state and local regulations around telehealth. “VA is exercising Federal preemption of conflicting State laws relating to the practice of healthcare providers; laws, rules, regulations, or other requirements are preempted to the extent such State laws conflict with the ability of VA health care providers to engage in the practice of telehealth while acting within the scope of their VA employment.”

It was widely supported by ATA, the American Association of Family Physicians, American Medical Informatics Association, Federal Trade Commission, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), and many other industry organizations. It also enjoys wide Congressional support.

There is plenty of room for growth. Only 1 percent of VA’s veterans used Home Telehealth, while 12 percent used other forms of telehealth. They will be doing so with few suppliers: Medtronic, 1Vision/AMC Health, and Care Innovations. Iron Bow/Vivify Health was found to not have tablets which met the US production qualification. This Editor wonders how the current three suppliers will fare.

This telehealth program will be located in the apparently newly named Veterans Health Administration Office of Connected Care. mHealthIntelligence.com

Building Better Healthcare Awards 2018 open for entries (UK)

Our former Eye on Tenders, Susanne Woodman of BRE, has informed us that this year’s BBH Awards is seeking organizations which are implementing healthcare technologies and software. These can be either process-centered (e.g. information or workflow systems) or patient-centered (e.g. medication compliance, smoking cessation). The organizer, HPCI Media, is accepting entries until 30 June. 

There will be 27 awards across five classes: Building Design, Technology, Estates and Facilities, Staff and Patient Experience, and Special Awards. Last year’s awardees are here. Another theme is the 70th Anniversary of the NHS. 

This year’s awards will be on 31 October at The Brewery in Chiswell Street, London.

Our very best to Susanne as she sets out on new horizons!

The magic quadrant matrix strikes again for health tech and investment potential

click to enlargeDeceptively simple, the quadrant matrix can make sense out of actions and decisions. As a management tool, it can help you prioritize what is most urgent and important, or how to vary your supervisory/coaching style based on the person’s skill and will levels.

Here we see the magic box used by Krishna Yeshwant, MD, a doctor and investor with GV, Alphabet’s venture firm, to sort out all those Next Revolutions in Health Care. The factors that Dr. Yeshwant uses pertain to the end user’s medical and social needs, often called social determinants of health (SDH). Both are meshed, whether in an active older veteran who lives alone in a rural area but manages his diabetes well, or in a homeless substance user in a city with multiple medical conditions.

Most non-medical entrepreneurs prefer to develop tech and services for people like them with low medical/low social needs, such as virtual doctor apps, concierge primary care, and wellness apps. It’s a crowded quadrant and perhaps is over-served. Those with a medical background appear to gravitate to the diagonal quadrant–high medical/high social needs, such as those targeted to the ‘underserved’ with diabetes or high-need care model management, such as Aledade and Iora Health. Where does the investment money go? Their money goes to companies which have developed high medical need therapeutics such as expensive treatments for cancer, neatly avoiding those complex social factors.

What is missing: innovation in low medical/high social needs. This group is at high risk to move into high medical needs due to their lack of organization and access to/willingness for primary care. This Editor agrees, but if another factor is observed–profitability–this is likely the least potential of the four. So if you want to get Dr. Y’s attention and maybe some moolah from Alphabet…. From his presentation at the HLTH meeting last week in Las Vegas. CNBC.

Hungary’s burgeoning med and health tech scene comes to NYC

The NYC MedTech Medical Technology Forum has, for some years, presented programs which bring together the life science, biotech, medical device, and pharma industries. Attendees are always an eclectic mix of executives, reporters, scientists, academics, attorneys, and developers as well as representatives of trade organizations and international partners.

click to enlargeLast week’s presentation at the Consulate General of Hungary provided a view of global health tech rarely seen in the US–the view from Central Europe. It focused on Central European and in particular Hungarian health tech companies, ranging from Big Pharma (Janssen Pharmaceutical/J&J) and law firm Goodwin to six early-stage companies participating in the V4 Connects Global Tour business showcase. The Visegrad Group (the V4) are four Central European countries within the EU–Hungary (this year’s president), Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Slovak Republic–that have worked together since 1991 to promote their regional interests. 

The evening led off with a discussion panel led by Goodwin’s Frederick Rein, a partner in their IP Litigation Group, with Scott Lassman from their Technology & Life Sciences Group and Peter Takacs, Director Real World Evidence Partnership in the Global Market Access Organization of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. Most of the discussion was on the differences in drug regulation between the EU and the US, and the swing back in the latter to getting more innovative medical products to US consumers quickly. A hot area is biosimilars, branded drugs that are highly similar but not identical to other drugs, which are gaining FDA approval through the 351(k) pathway. Other topics: the US increasing pressure on pricing and the UK’s Brexit, which will present challenges to drug and device developers from staffing to markets.

Over Hungarian food, drink (excellent Hungarian red and white wines), and networking in adjacent rooms, the five tech-based early stage-companies had café table displays of their products. :

  • Insimu – Interactive medical case study education app with simulated patients for students to test their diagnostic and clinical skills on virtual patients. The founder, Gabor Toth MD, is targeting medical schools: currently in use in Hungary and 39 other countries. 
  • Vitrolink – Imaged-based tumor detection tool for pathology decision support. While the number of diagnostic tests is increasing, the number of pathologists worldwide is actually decreasing. Vitrolink is a free connecting platform for pathologists to share information which will eventually move to researchers and patients. Contact Dr. István Szarka.
  • Now Tech – The Gyroset is a smart wheelchair controller and proportional head controller, an unobtrusive band that contains an eye level camera.
  • click to enlargeNotch – Movements reconstructed in 3D for smartphones. The main use is in physical therapy. It captures position, motion, and acceleration through multiple sensors, calculating and graphically representing degrees of motion. Contact Stepan Boltalin, founder/CEO.
  • click to enlargeME3D – 3D CFD-based analysis system for vascular anastomosis (suturing). The co-founder, Balazs Gasz MD, is a vascular surgeon and the kit plus model offers a realistic recreation of the surgical vascular environment (left) for medical training.

(The sixth, Promobox, is a gift box for maternity/baby products available in Hungary’s hospitals.)

Many thanks to founder/organizer John Lieberman CPA/PFS, the Managing Director of Perelson Weiner LLP and Gábor Takács, Hungarian 1st Secretary for Science and Technology, who will shortly be moving to London.

Events roundup: The King’s Fund, SEHTA, RSM, VR4REHAB, Parks Associates, HealthIMPACT, Telemedicine SPS

click to enlargeIt’s spring into summer, prime time for healthcare and related conferences.

If you are in the UK, prime territory on your calendar will be marked for 10-11 July in London at The King’s Fund 2018 Digital Health and Care Congress. Content and case studies include creating the right culture for large-scale digital change, using digital technology to improve quality of care, prevention and changing behaviors, population health informatics, tools for self-management, and much more. Find out more here. It includes a drinks reception on Tuesday 11th. Follow The King’s Fund on Twitter here: #KFdigital18. TTA is a media partner of the Digital Health Congress.

Hacking for Solutions is the prior week (4-5 July). It’s part of the three-year VR4REHAB project, with partners including The Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust and Teesside University, with the objective of developing new VR applications that promote better function and outcomes for patients and children with disabilities. Find out more on the UK Hackathon here and the international program here. At Brunel University London, Department of Clinical Sciences, Mary Seacole Building, Kingston Lane. 

SEHTA’s 2018 AGM & Annual Conference is 13 June at the Mary Sumner House, 24 Tufton Street, London. More information here.

The RSM has two upcoming events presented by the Telemedicine and eHealth Section: The 4th Annual Future of Medicine: The Role of Doctors in 2028 on 13 June and the timely Health Data: Who Owns It and How to Keep It Safe on 24 September.

And last, the Digital Healthcare Show will be 27-28 June at ExCeL London as part of Health+Care, positioned as Europe’s largest integrated health and social care event. More information on their very flashy website here. The TSA will host their Summer Forum at the Technology Enabled Care Theatre including updates on key areas for TEC and why regulation and standards are so vitally important for TECS. TSA members can receive discounted passes. UK Telehealthcare will also have members’ activities during the show.

For more upcoming UK Telehealthcare events starting 7-8 June, click the advert at the upper right. 

In the US, Parks Associates’ 2018 Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers will be held 28-30 August at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in San Diego, California. This year will analyze the role of innovative connected health solutions in driving changes in consumer behaviors as well as how healthcare systems, insurers, and hospital networks interact with consumers.  Speaker submissions are open until 1 June–more information is hereEarly registration is open. TTA is a media partner of the Connected Health Summit and there will be more on this as we move closer to the event.

HealthIMPACT East moves to Washington, DC’s National Union Building 18-20 July with deep dives, re-think tanks, and re-boot camps. Their goal is to improve healthcare through technologies making a meaningful impact on patient outcomes and experience through honest and candid best practice sharing. The new format provides a TED-like experience to senior health system leadership. Register before 1 June with promo code HIEEB2018 to save 30%. The Digital Medicine Conference will return to NYC on 5-7 December. TTA is a past media partner of HealthIMPACT.

The Telemedicine & Telehealth Service Provider Summit (SPS) is annually organized by the Arizona Telemedicine Program, one of the pioneering organizations of practitioners in the US. This year the meeting is 8-9 October in Glendale, AZ, but abstracts for poster presentations are still open till 30 June. 

WannaCry’s anniversary: have we learned our malware and cybersecurity lessons?

Hard to believe that WannaCry, and the damage this malware wreaked worldwide, was but a year ago. Two months later, there was Petya/NotPetya. We’ve had hacking and ransomware eruptions regularly, the latest being the slo-mo malware devised by the Orangeworm hackers. What WannaCry and Petya/NotPetya had in common, besides cyberdamage, was they were developed by state actors or hackers with state support (North Korea and–suspected–Russia and/or Ukraine).

The NHS managed to evade Petya, which was fortunate as they were still repairing damage from WannaCry, which initially was reported to affect 20 percent of NHS England trusts. The final count was 34 percent of trusts–at least 80 out of 236 hospital trusts in England, as well as 603 primary care practices and affiliates. 

Has the NHS learned its lesson, or is it still vulnerable? A National Audit Office report concluded in late October that the Department of Health and the NHS were warned at least a year in advance of the risk.  “It was a relatively unsophisticated attack and could have been prevented by the NHS following basic IT security best practice.” There was no mechanism in place for ensuring migration of Windows XP systems and old software, requested by April 2015, actually happened. Another basic–firewalls facing the internet–weren’t actively managed. Worse, there was no test or rehearsal for a cyberdisruption. “As the NHS had not rehearsed for a national cyber attack it was not immediately clear who should lead the response and there were problems with communications.” NHS Digital was especially sluggish in response, receiving first reports around noon but not issuing an alert till 5pm. It was fortunate that WannaCry had a kill switch, and it was found as quickly as it was by a British security specialist with the handle Malware Tech. 

Tests run since WannaCry have proven uneven at best. While there has been reported improvement, even head of IT audit and security services at West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust and a penetration tester for NHS trusts, said that they were “still finding some real shockers out there still.” NHS Digital deputy CEO Rob Shaw told a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in February that 200 NHS trusts tested against cyber security standards had failed. MPs criticized the NHS and the Department of Health for not implementing 22 recommendations laid out by NHS England’s CIO, Will Smart. Digital Health News

Think ‘cyber-resilience’. It’s not a matter of ‘if’, but ‘when’. Healthcare organizations are never going to fix all the legacy systems that run their world. Medical devices and IoT add-ons will continue to run on outdated or never-updated platforms. Passwords are shared, initial passwords not changed in EHRs. Add to firewalls, prevention measures, emphasizing compliance and best practices, security cyber-resilience–more than a recovery plan, planning to keep operations running with warm backups ready to go, contingency plans, a way to make quick decisions on the main functions that keep the business going. Are healthcare organizations–and the NHS–capable of thinking and acting this way? WannaBet? CSO, Healthcare IT News. Hat tip to Joseph Tomaino of Grassi Healthcare Advisors via LinkedIn.

Blockchain deployment not matching the hype–so far. 34% of CIOs have ‘no interest’.

A Gartner study confirms blockchain’s Peak of Inflated Expectations position on the Hype Curve. Despite all the chatter, blockchain isn’t being deployed in a commensurate way. Among over 3,100 CIOs surveyed, only 1 percent reported “any kind of blockchain adoption” in their organization. On the other hand, 34 percent have ‘no interest.’ 8 percent said they were conducting short-term testing with blockchain, 14 percent had graduated to medium or long-term planning, and 43 percent said it was on the radar, but they had no plans to test or develop or deploy it. A major reason is a dearth of skills; 23 percent said the effort requires the “most new skills to implement” of any IT tool.

But spending on blockchain technology is geometrically increasing: estimates for 2018 are $2.1 bn, a 122 percent increase over 2017’s $945 million. More information in Gartner’s press release and blockchain page. Also Angus Loten in The Wall Street Journal.

As our Editor in Chief Emeritus Steve Hards explained in his recent must-read article on blockchain, especially in healthcare, “distributed ledger technologies are not just in their infancy, they are still at a baby stage. Many are still gestating. It may be worth waiting to see which ones thrive.” In healthcare, we have a far greater problem with interoperability and secure data exchange which blockchain can only partially address.