Telemedicine getting out of the waiting room–perhaps

Will reimbursement by insurance payers and private employers (presumably self-insured) and a greater comfort level with the video consult mean that telemedicine will finally step out of the waiting room? This Economist article (free registration may be required) with high points from a recent Rome conference seems to not be able to make up its mind, though it tries to be positive. Taking a comparative view, Israel leads with ‘relatively lax guidelines’, with doctors able to e-prescribe and perform referrals to specialists online. China’s health-care reform focuses on telemedicine“, but Peteris Zilgalvis, a health official at the European Commission pointedly states “If you have a chaotic system and add technology, you get a chaotic system with technology” (Editor’s emphasis). The US is somewhere in between (more…)

Verizon’s ‘white label’ telemedicine service debuts

Verizon is evidently sticking with its strategy of enterprise marketing when it comes to digital health. The Verizon Virtual Visits service released last week enables a video chat with a clinician via smartphone app (3G/4G OK as well as Wi-Fi; the full mobile enablement Verizon states as a key differentiator versus competitors such as American Well, MDLive and Teladoc) or alternatively, web portal. Prior to the average 30 minute chat, the service verifies eligibility and co-pay information, presents patients’ self-reported histories, symptoms, medication allergies and other information, then collects the co-pay; at the close if needed, an e-prescription via SureScripts is sent to the patient’s pharmacies. Verizon presents this as as a ‘white label’ service for groups such as health systems, insurers and health plans who will determine their unique co-pay and clinician mix. Clinicians can be contracted through Verizon’s provider network or, in a health system, their own or an in-house/contract mix. Neither clients nor third-party medical provider(s) have been announced yet, but VentureBeat states that the clients will be publicized in the next few months, which is deflating. Information Week, The IHCC. Verizon release.

Babylon app for booking GP visits debuts (UK)

Making news out of Tuesday’s Wired Health UK 2014 at the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in London is Babylon. From the app (iPhone, Android), appointments with a GP or specialist can be booked 12 hours a day, six days a week, with one of the almost 100 part time salaried and on call doctors in Babylon’s system or a BUPA (private healthcare/insurance system) physician. Also bookable through the app are diagnostic kits and blood tests;  X-rays or scans would be at a partner facility. Have a question or want to check your symptoms? The app directs your text and pictures to a doctor or nurse. Need a prescription? Delivered to your home or a nearby pharmacy. Record storage is on your phone. All for £7.99/month for basic service or £24 per consult–both low prices that seem to be introductory (a/k/a not profitable) or for light users. Babylon is registered with the Care Quality Commission, an independent healthcare regulator, and has designated body status from NHS London.

Founder Ali Parsa, a former Goldman Sachs banker who previously founded Circle, approvingly says that booking an appointment is as simple as ‘booking a Hailo cab’ (in NYC, Uber). This is a more complete model than a ZocDoc or Vitals (US appointment services) with testing and a symptom checker, but it does not seem to have a video consult (more…)

Rock Health opens new HQ to wonder, sums up 2013

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/RockHealth_Photo©BruceDamonte_02.jpg” thumb_width=”175″ /]As seems to be the way in the West Coast Digital Health scene, the opening of accelerator/funder Rock Health’s new HQ in the Mission Bay district of San Francisco gained more heavy-breathing hype than its mostly positive 2013 digital health investment report. The soireé during last week’s JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, glowingly reported in Xconomy with plenty of pics of the achingly trendy interior design and Health Digerati/D3Hers (Digital Health Hypester/Hipster Horde) at play also was a demo of a different type–how insular interests interlock and circle in Fog City. Star guest San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spearheaded the remaking of the district into a life sciences/tech center; the Xconomy-moderated panel discussion paired him with Rock Health founder/CEO Halle Tecco and Alexandria Real Estate CEO Joel Marcus;  Alexandria underwrites Xconomy and has a huge investment in life sciences real estate; the new Rock Health HQ is on the ground floor of an Alexandria-owned building. Of course Mission Bay is now hyped as the ‘US Digital Health Hub’ for all those Rock Health-accelerated, funded startups. It does give one pause: how much of this is substance, or is it the peak of style before tipping into The Trough of Disillusionment? The tartest takedown on this is courtesy of Neil Versel’s Meaningful HIT News column. Pointed pokes abound: at Silicon Valley for its health tech failures (Google Health among them), the odd duplications (Google-funded telemedicine provider Doctor On Demand sounds like American Well, Ameridoc, etc.) and the even odder lack of considering integration with payer/provider systems and workflows.  Keep wasting your money, Silicon Valley venture capitalists (Note to Neil: the circular swings seem to be a feature of Alexandria’s properties–they’re present at Alexandria Center NYC too. Image © Bruce Damonte/Studios Architecture)

With that aside, the highlights of the Rock Health Digital Health Funding Year In Review were generally positive, but some of them, looked at critically, weren’t, even when depicted in attractive charts and graphs: (more…)

Can telehealth kiosks fill the treatment gap?

Telemedicine’s virtual doctor-patient consults have usually been positioned as computer (and now tablet/smartphone over Wi-Fi–American Well’s announcement earlier this month) driven. Kiosks provide an alternate model for a more detailed visit. The relatively new HealthSpot Station has secured a CMS Healthcare Innovation grant of $12.7 million to place kiosks in partnership with three Cleveland, Ohio hospital systems, including University Hospital and for Cuyahoga County employees through a partnership with MetroHealth. One of the UH kiosks is at the Friendly Inn Settlement House, a social services provider in a high-poverty neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland; visits are free for the next three months for kids between 3-18 (accompanied by a parent). (more…)

Telehealth round-up: the good, the bad, and the future

Getting the bad news out of the way first, the seemingly-eternal researchers have thrown their grappling iron into the ancient store of data from the now-only-historically-relevant Whole System Demonstrator data pool and dragged out yet another unexploded bomb that they have then endeavoured to detonate, in the form of a short research article.

Thankfully the explosive has deteriorated with age so (more…)