HIMSS17 dispatches: Mayo maps neonate telemedicine, Amwell-Samsung, Samsung-T-Mobile

Mayo maps out an enterprise telehealth (telemedicine) support structure. Here’s how the Mayo Clinic deployed neonatology remote telemedicine to their sites in Minnesota, Arizona, and Florida. There’s plenty of flow charts and summary points in this presentation deck around team building, staffing consistently and reporting that improves processes. Hat tip to our HIMSS correspondent on the scene, Bill Oravecz of Stone Health Innovations. Update: If you are using Chrome, you may have difficulty downloading session handouts from the HIMSS17 website Schedule pages. Try another browser. If you are interested, you may be able to obtain through contacting the two session presenters, Susan Kapraun and Jenna A. Beck, MHA, directly.

American Well and Samsung are partnering on integrating care delivery. Their joint release is low on details, but towards the end there’s an indication that American Well, its partners, and other providers and payers will be able to offer their services to Samsung customers. Other reports (Healthcare Dive) indicate the partnership is destined to enhance Amwell’s Exchange platform between payers and providers. Partners listed are Cleveland Clinic, New York-Presbyterian Medical Center and Anthem (undoubtedly resting after sparring with Cigna). Also Healthcare IT News.

Separately, Samsung also announced a partnership with T-Mobile for developing IoT in the senior care space. This would pair Samsung’s ARTIK Cloud with T-Mobile’s cellular network for Breezie, a social engagement for seniors interface built on a Samsung tablet which has apps and connects to various peripherals for post-acute care and daily living. It sounds interesting, but once again the release hampers the reporter by being as clear as mud in what it’s all about. See if you can decipher this: ARTIK Cloud permits “Amazon Alexa, Samsung SmartThings, iHealth Feel Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor and the Pulse Oximeter – to intelligently communicate with each other.” “Each Breezie interface has more than 40 preconfigured accessibility settings and sensor driven analytics to adjust for different levels of digital literacy, as well as physical and cognitive ability.” The Breezie website is far more revealing. Healthcare Dive also takes a whack at it towards the end of the above article.

The growth of telehealth, and the confusion of terminology (US)

Becker’s Health IT and CIO Review has written up a US-centric review of recent advances in telehealth and telemedicine but kicks it off with the confusion level between the two terms. Internationally, and in these pages, they are separate terms; telehealth referring primarily to vital signs remote monitoring, and telemedicine the ‘virtual visit’ between doctor and patient, between two clinical sites, or ‘store and forward’ asynchronous exchange (e.g. teleradiology). Somehow, in US usage, they have been conflated or made interchangeable, with the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) admitting to same, and American Well simply ‘just doing it’ in relabeling what they provide. On top of it, the two are incorporating elements of each into the other. Examples: TytoCare vital signs measurement/recording into American Well’s video visit; Care Innovations Health Harmony also providing video capability.

Of particular interest to our international readers would be the high rate of US growth in telemedicine utilization from 7 to 22 percent (Rock Health survey). Teladoc, the largest and publicly traded provider, passed the milestone of 100,000 monthly visits in November and the ATA estimates 1.25 million from all providers for 2016 (Teladoc release). Other US competitors include the aforementioned American Well, MDLive, and Doctor on Demand, the latter two also selling direct to consumer. They also compete against doctor-on-house call services like Pager and Heal. Reimbursement remains an issue both privately and publicly (Medicare and Medicaid) on a state-by-state level, with telehealth experiencing significant difficulties, as well as internet access, speed, and usage by older adults.

Telemedicine’s ‘missing link’ found? American Well adds Tyto Care remote diagnostics. (US)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Mom_using_on_child_ear.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Telemedicine leader American Well and telehealth newcomer Tyto Care announced a new partnership that (finally) pairs up remote diagnostics to the virtual doctor visit. Patients (or parents) can use the Tyto Care device before or during the online visit to take guided exams of the heart, lungs, abdomen, ears, throat, skin and temperature which is then shared with the doctor. The releases indicate that the American Well-Tyto Care combination will be introduced first to health systems and employers. The Tyto Care examination platform and clinical data are being integrated into American Well’s telehealth platform. Timing and pricing are not disclosed, but the retail price of Tyto Care’s home model is $299.  Tyto Care, American Well releases.

Tyto Care recently obtained FDA 510(k) Class II clearance for its digital stethoscope snap-on to the main device to monitor heart and lung sounds. [TTA 2 Nov] The all-in-one type device also includes attachments for a digital imaging otoscope for ear exams, a throat scope, a skin camera and thermometer swipe. A new and quite comprehensive demo video of Tyto Care on its own platform is viewable on YouTube, which includes how a doctor can review the information during a live video visit, or as a store-and-forward exam. Tyto Care is also introducing a professional version of its device and platform.

Tyto Care has also made it to the finals of The Best of Baby Tech (a/k/a The Bump) Awards, which include a new version of the awww-worthy Owlet smart sock baby monitor, the Edwin the Duck child learning tool, TempTraq’s continuous temperature monitor and the SNOO smart sleeper. They will be exhibited with 13 other finalists at CES 2017 in the Bump Pavilion at the Baby Tech Showcase 5-8 January, with winners in six categories on the 5th. #babytechces

‘Chief Health Officer’ moms want 24/7 connected health for the family: survey (US)

A just-released survey by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and telemedicine provider LiveHealth Online indicates a near-total desire for–and ability to access–on-demand, 24/7 healthcare and virtual visits. The key motivations are economic, convenience and educational: 71 percent cited the loss of at least two hours of time at work and school due to taking their child to the doctor’s office.

Given their age (starting at 18 and up to 59), the 500+ moms surveyed not surprisingly felt confident using health technology, with 82 percent believing themselves to be the most ‘health-tech savvy’ in the family.

  • 64 percent stated that having access to healthcare on-demand was more important than having streaming video or food delivery
  • 64 percent (64%) of women surveyed said they found it challenging to take their kids to the doctor during office hours during the school year
  • 79 percent said they would be interested in trying or learning more about telemedicine to help themselves and/or their family when faced with a non-emergency medical issue

Over half–54 percent–believed that online video doctor visits would improve their confidence in attending to family health, “like having a health security blanket”.

The survey apparently did not test for price sensitivity; for instance, per visit fees and amount subsidized by the payer.

It was conducted earlier this year by EmpowHER, an online health community for women. BCBSGa’s interest is that it offers coverage for online visits to many of its health plan members via LiveHealth Online, which uses the American Well network but is a separate company. BCBSGa release, EmpowHER/LiveHealth infographic, Internet Health Management

An interesting adjunct to this survey would have been to ask about ideal healthcare tools used in conjunction with that online doctor visit. This is anticipated to be a major market for advanced ‘all-in-one’ telehealth diagnostic units such as those developed by Tyto Care, Scanadu Scout or MedWand [TTA 2 Nov]. These are not only capable of taking standard vital signs, but also clinical quality digital pictures of those sore throats and inflamed ear canals.

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!)

A ‘next generation’ house call from the patient’s perspective

Guest editor Sarianne Gruber (@subtleimpact) attended May’s d.health Summit on Aging in NYC. She reflects on moderator Christina Farr’s (immediately prior) direct experience with a virtual visit (convenience, proactive care–and utter frustration with her payer) and what the telemedicine ‘next gen’ provider panelists see as their advantages in fixing a fractured healthcare system.

Christina Farr had a “Next Generation” house call for the first time. The on-demand doctor’s visit provided her care and resolved the possibility of a trip to the emergency room, and best of all she felt great. Ms. Farr, an award-winning health and technology journalist, happen to have had her encounter just days prior to the d.Health Summit. Coincidentally, she was to be the moderator for a panel of prominent telehealth business leaders on this very topic. Curious after having had this experience, she wanted to know whether most cases were like hers wondering if they should go to ER, or were the visits more for routine things like coughs and colds, or did people just want a prescription. The d.Health panelists included Damian Gilbert, Founder & CEO of TouchCare (@touchcarehealth), Oscar Salazar, Chief Product Officer and Co- Founder of Pager (@getpager), Dr. Ian Tong, Chief Medical Officer of Doctor on Demand (@drondemand), and Dr. Roy Schoenberg, Co-Founder, and CEO of American Well (@americanwell).  (more…)

Unintended consequences: American Well loses, loses patent, to Teladoc

On Tuesday, the Federal District Court of Massachusetts not only dismissed the American Well patent infringement lawsuit against Teladoc, but also invalidated American Well‘s patent, held by co-founder Dr. Roy Schoenberg since 2009. It was invalidated on the grounds that the claims in the patent were “too abstract” to be patentable and do not “amount to an inventive concept.” American Well is appealing the court decision.

Teladoc started this call-and-response in March 2015 by petitioning the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office) to invalidate several American Well patents. (AW claims to hold 28 patents and 22 pending applications). Shortly before Teladoc’s IPO on the New York Stock Exchange last June, American Well sued Teladoc on patent infringement. Those in the industry saw an effort to scupper the IPO. Our Editor Chrys at the time took a decidedly jaundiced view of American Well’s grounds for infringement:
This author is wondering who thought this was such a novel technology as to warrant a patent? What were they thinking? Having worked on developing unified messaging systems for a mobile phone operator at the turn of the century (now that’s a scary 15 years ago) I am just picking myself off the floor after reading this.
Surely all these functions are no more than what is in every instant messaging program, dating back to 1990s? Replace the words “medical service provider” by “friends” or “contacts” and “consultation” by “chat” or “call” it seems to me you get … Skype and Face Time and more! [TTA 9 June 15]
No matter, the result was yesterday’s double shot of a decision. In addition, three Teladoc complaints against American Well‘s patents to invalidate them are still in progress with the USPTO. A triple, anyone? MedCityNews, Teladoc press release, American Well press release
All this is despite the sobering facts that telemedicine has been unprofitable to date–and that IP wars have unintended consequences. (more…)

The widening gyre of insurers covering telehealth (telemedicine?) (US)

Is a tipping point nearing? Soon? An article in Modern Healthcare that contains a heavy dollop of promotion headlines ‘telehealth’s’ adoption by insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama, Anthem and Highmark. When read through, it’s mainly about telemedicine (video consults) but does touch on the vital signs monitoring that’s the basis of telehealth. Video consults through Teladoc and other services such as Doctor on Demand and American Well are gradually being reimbursed by private insurers, despite the concern that it would actually drive up cost by being an ‘add-on’ to an in-person visits. Medicaid increasingly covers it, and states are enacting ‘parity’ regulations equalizing in-office and virtual visits including, in many cases, telehealth. Yet the move for coverage is hampered by lack of reimbursement to doctors, or the perception of limited or no payment. Even Medicare, a big advocate for alternative models of care, currently pays little out for telehealth–$17.6 million on a $630 million+ program. The Congressional Budget Office is skeptical, despite the savings claimed by CONNECT for Health Act in both the Senate and House [TTA 12 Feb]. Virtual reality: More insurers are embracing telehealth

CVS puts a retail triple spin on telemedicine

A definite boost to telemedicine providers American Well, now-publicly traded Teladoc and Doctor on Demand is retail drugstore CVS Health piloting their services through CVS MinuteClinics, starting in 2016. CVS’ release is disappointingly heavy on company quotations, light on specifics, but what can be determined is that CVS will test various arrangements, including onsite telemedicine in stores, through CVS ‘digital properties’ (presumably online or through apps) and MinuteClinic provider consults with telemedicine provider doctors. It carefully avoids referring to the three companies as ‘partnerships’ though it generically refers to them deep in the release. CVS currently has 1,000 MinuteClinic locations in 32 states and plan to grow by 50 percent by 2017; they have been testing telemedicine in about 50 clinics in Texas and California.

Annoyingly, both CVS and the three companies improperly use ‘telehealth’ in describing their services when correctly they provide only doctor-patient video consults, or telemedicine. The clinic providers (or individuals) may be reporting vital signs data as part of the visit, but tools are not integrated. Equally annoying is CVS, in the release and in conferences, citing a paywalled study (at the not inconsiderable sum of $39.95 / €34.95 / £29.95!) in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) of their results. If you are touting that “95 percent of patients were highly satisfied with the quality of care they received, the ease with which telehealth technology was integrated into the visit, and the timeliness and convenience of their care.” –well, with results like that, make some arrangements and grant access to the study! CVS release, Medscape, FierceHealthIT

Rock Health’s mid-year report: 2015 investment leveling off

Rock Health‘s 2015 report is revealing in one aspect–that the authors try to put a game face on what is a flat situation in digital health investment for first half. Not even the most optimistic of the digerati expected a lift of 16 percent as we saw in 2014 versus 2013 [TTA 2 July 14], but the 8.7 percent fall off from 2014’s blistering $2.3 billion to $2.1 billion in 2015 year-to-date was unexpected. StartUp Health’s report indicated a slower start to 2015, though slightly less, so the reports correspond. Digital health still is growing faster than software, biotech and medical device.

Other highlights:

* The top six categories accounted for 50 percent of investment funding: wearables, analytics, consumer engagement, telemedicine, enterprise wellness, EHR/clinical workflow

*  In M&A action, this year’s first half has almost matched 2014’s full year total, but with only 13 percent of the investment. Most are digital health companies acquiring others for small amounts. (more…)

Fitbit and Teladoc: big IPOs, big questions

This week’s big news (so far) of Fitbit’s $732 million initial public offering–the largest consumer electronics IPO ever–comes despite the Jawbone IP lawsuits [TTA 11 June]. Count us among those who question this ‘vote of confidence’ as raising unrealistic expectations for health tech by a fitness tracker not truly part of real digital health. Telemedicine provider Teladoc appears headed on the same track with an IPO estimated to come in at $137 million, probably by next week. This generous pricing (~$20/share) comes despite never being profitable in 13 years. Like Fitbit, Teladoc is facing lawsuits from its major competitor American Well on IP [TTA 9 June], with Teladoc asking the US Patent and Trademark Office to review the validity of several American Well patents. Both IPOs are on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). MedCityNews examines Fitbit and Teladoc.

Teladoc sued by American Well

American Well has launched a patent infringement case against Teladoc according to a news release yesterday.
[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Teladoc-logo.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The 10-page submission to the courts by American Well claims the infringements to be
– accessing a data repository that stores information pertaining to medical service providers including present availability of the medical service providers for participating in a consultation
– receiving in a computer, indications that members of a pool of  medical service providers have become presently available
– receiving in the computer, a request from a consumer of services to consult with a medical service provider
– identifying in the computer, an available member of the pool
– and establishing a real-time communication channel between the consumer of services and the identified member of the pool

This author is wondering who thought this was such a novel technology as to warrant a patent? What were they thinking? Having worked on developing unified messaging systems for a mobile phone operator at the turn of the century (now that’s a scary 15 years ago) I am just picking myself off the floor after reading this.
Surely all these functions are no more than what is in every instant messaging program, dating back to 1990s? Replace the words “medical service provider” by “friends” or “contacts” and “consultation” by “chat” or “call” it seems to me you get … Skype and Face Time and more! If I am missing something I’ll be happy to be put right.

It turns out that Teladoc also noticed something along these lines and told the patent office as much in March, according to Med City News. Not surprisingly American Well hasn’t taken too kindly to that and hence the law suit.

Let’s watch the outcome

Medtronic favoring early-stage acquisitions, diabetes; American Well and Teva

Medtronic plc, now firmly planted in the Auld Sod of Ireland, reported a tidy $7.304 bn in its 4th quarter global revenue closing 24 April versus a prior year of $7.257 bn, with a net loss of $1 million. Their report yesterday (2 June) was primarily centered around the integration of Covidien and the foreign currency loss. Results were especially strong in the US with an 8 percent gain in fourth quarter. Earlier speculation that the major Covidien acquisition in addition to Corventis, Zephyr Technologies (through Covidien) and telehealth provider Cardiocom would slow future investments seems to be the direction CEO Omar Ishrak is taking, based on his comments during the analyst call. The Covidien strategy of making early-stage company acquisitions is to his liking and with new revenues from Covidien (and a more favorable tax domicile) certainly there is not a lack of funds despite a small loss in fourth quarter revenues. Another change from being a cardiac-centric device company is apparent in the growth area of global diabetes, shifting from pumps to diabetes management. They have a minority investment in diabetes manager Glooko, a partnership with IBM Watson Health for diabetes management, and acquired a Dutch clinic and research center, Diabeter. Jonah Comstock at Mobihealthnews has more on that call.

In a surprising move, Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals is putting a reported ‘tens of millions of dollars’ into American Well and their telemedicine (virtual consult) platform. The pharma interest at once may be narrow in utilizing these consults in clinical trials, but as we have seen with Merck’s telemedicine clinics in Kenya, there’s also a focus on monitoring critical medication at long distances. Late last year American Well completed an $81 million Series C, but it is not clear whether Teva is a part of this and the news is just now catching up. MedCityNews, Globes (Israeli business website)

ATA 2015: Day 1 news

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ATA-15-show-floor.jpg” thumb_width=”250″ /] HealthSpot/Xerox, Sentrian/Scripps, American Well, Honeywell, vitaphone, more

HealthSpot unveiled the first results of its partnership with (and investment by) Xerox, leveraging their HIT cloud infrastructure and back-end for the HealthSpot Station. The telehealth/virtual consult walk-in kiosk has targeted over 30,000 retail pharmacies with a newly developed consumer retail pharmacy personal health record (PHR). Upgraded patient and portal interfaces process insurance claims through a payment data feed and integrates with EMRs. Release….The US/UK predictive data/remote patient intelligence company Sentrian, winner of this year’s ATA Innovation in Remote Care award, is a part of a year-long 1,000-patient COPD remote patient monitoring study by the Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) with members of Anthem’s CareMore health plan. The goal is to use the Sentrian platform data to accurately detect COPD patient decompensation in advance to reduce avoidable hospital readmissions, which on average in the US is 1 out of 11 within 30 days of discharge. Release….American Well launched a platform for individual physicians to connect with current patients (more…)

A mélange of short subjects for Tuesday

ATA accredits American Well, Apple ResearchKit, diabetic contact lenses, Hackermania Falls on Indiana, patent trolls get a haircut, and more

The ATA (American Telemedicine Association) has gained more than 200 applications for their US-only Accreditation Program for Online Patient Consultations [TTA 17 Dec 14]. First past the post in accreditation is American Well’s Amwell virtual visit app, which will shortly be listed on the ATA consumer website SafeOnlineHealth.orgRelease, MedCityNews….Stanford University, one of the five academic centers using the Apple ResearchKit, had a mind-boggling 11,000 signups for a heart health study–in 24 hours. The downside is that they may not be representative of the whole population [TTA 10 Mar, see 11 Mar update] including us Android users. 9to5Mac….The Google-Novartis glucose-measuring contact lens [TTA 17 July 14] for diabetes management just gained some Canadian competition–Medella Health in Kitchener, Ontario, founded by a team of (more…)

A boffo week for telemedicine. Will 2015 be online visits’ Big Year?

(Boffo: extremely good or successful, sensational–Webster)

Adding to Monday’s news of ATA’s telemedicine accreditation program was American Well‘s near-simultaneous announcement of an $81 million Series C funding.  This brings total funding for the eight year-old Boston-based company to over $128 million, though it is not yet profitable. According to Modern Healthcare, “The capital injection will be used to serve a number of big projects the firm has underway, company co-CEO Dr. Ido Schoenberg said in an interview. Among those are campaigning to ease regulatory constraints, scaling its provider networks and customer outreach, working with insurers to secure more favorable reimbursement and working on its technology, he said.” The institutional, private equity, and corporate investors alluded to in the company release were not disclosed. Its mobile app, Amwell, claims over 1 million downloads with a year-to-year 1,000 percent increase. Major partners include payers Anthem Health, EmblemHealth, the Blue Cross Blue Shields of Massachusetts and Louisiana, Optum Health as well as corporate clients. American Well press release, BostonInno, SEC filing. (Note to American Well: you’re telemedicine, not telehealth)

If this round of funding represents a substantial bet on American Well’s future, another is the new relationship between Walgreens‘ and rival MDLIVE. (more…)