News roundup: stroke rehab uses Hollywood technology, 3M sues IBM Watson Health on analytics software misuse, AI-based skin cancer detection apps fail, Dictum’s successful telemed use post-pediatric surgery, malware attacks Boston practice network

Motion capture technology being used in stroke and TBI rehab. Best known for turning actors into cartoon superheroes, motion capture tech is now being used at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston for returning mobility to stroke and TBI patients. Attached to the patient are sensors–reflective markers–on key parts of the body. Using an array of infrared cameras, the patient is tracked on gait and other affected motion areas. Doctors and therapists can then better target therapy, plus assistive technologies from orthotics to full exoskeletons. Includes video. STAT

When Giants Sue. 3M is suing IBM Watson Health on their use of licensed 3M software in ‘unauthorized ways’ and charging direct copyright infringement and contract breaches. 3M’s Grouper Plus System analyzes claims and other coded data to help calculate reimbursement. 3M contends that IBM was licensed only for internal use dating back to a Truven agreement in 2007, years before their acquisition by IBM. The suit also adds that IBM then integrated the software into Watson platforms without a license transfer and expansion to cover the use, as well as dodged an audit of the use. The suit is in NY Federal Court. Becker’s Health IT Report

Algorithm-based dermatology apps fail to accurately detect risk for melanomas and similar skin cancer.  A just-published BMJ study determined that these smartphone apps, which use algorithms that catalogue and classify images of lesions into high or low risk for skin cancer and return an immediate risk assessment with subsequent recommendation to the user, are not effective. Six apps were examined, including two with a CE mark. None were FDA-approved and two were cited by the Federal Trade Commission for deceptive marketing. Only one, SkinVision, is still commercially available. Study results do not apply to apps that physicians use in direct telemedicine consults. IEEE Spectrum

Successful test and planned rollout of telemedicine tablet for post-surgery checks at Children’s Hospital of Richmond (Virginia–CHoR). The Dictum Health eVER-HOME tablet used for virtual visits had a 92 percent acceptance rate of telemedicine visits in place of in-person visits, zero return to hospital/ER events, earlier patient discharge post-surgery (12 to 24 hours), and avoidance of long-distance travel by patients for follow-up visits, a significant factor as CHoR is a destination hospital for specialized pediatric surgery. The rollout will include AI capabilities in Dictum’s Care Central platform to help determine rising risk and more. Dictum Health is a company best known for telemedicine units for remote workers (e.g. oil rigs) using their Virtual Exam Room (VER) technologies. Dictum release, mHealth Intelligence

CHoR is having a better week than a physician’s network affiliated with Boston Children’s Hospital. Pediatric Physician’s Organization at Children’s (PPOC) is the victim of a malware attack affecting computer systems at about 500 affiliated physicians and clinicians. The impacted systems have been quarantined and does not affect BCH. Becker’s Hospital Review, Health IT Security  Health IT Security also rounds up other recent data breaches, hacks, and phishing attacks.

Distance concierge medicine: telemedicine connects US doctors to Chinese patients

Another ‘burden shift’ in medical care. As we in the US wrestle with the issues of telemedicine, cross-state consults, and payment parity, companies are finding a niche in cross-border international virtual consults. A startup in NYC, Docflight, now connects Chinese patients to a claimed several hundred US doctors from prestigious medical centers: Dana-Farber Cancer Center, NYU Langone, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General, New York-Presbyterian, and others. Founded by Sally Wang, an attorney with a MPH, she developed the idea after negotiating the US healthcare system for her mother with breast cancer and considering how difficult it would be in China to do the same.

The patients pay an upfront fee of about $2,000 in what is essentially long-distance concierge medicine. Docflight first screens the patient, then recommends an appropriate specialist. Once matched, Docflight collects the patient’s medical records (machine translated then human reviewed) and schedules the consult time. The US doctor then advises their Chinese patient on health issues and performs a virtual visit, often with an attending Chinese doctor, and offers recommendations for treatment in an average 45 minute session. The doctors cannot prescribe, perform treatments or procedures. 

China has a burgeoning middle class and an aging population, which in combination with the hospital-based system of care in China means that individual patients receive little time with a physician, don’t have a personal relationship with one or more doctors, and don’t expect much of a personal relationship with their doctor. Their government is trying to swing the balance to a primary care model, but with 1.4 bn people that will take awhile. Telehealth and remote patient monitoring is one avenue being explored [TTA 12 Oct 16] but for acute care, a different model is needed. For the Chinese middle class, Docflight is an alternative to medical tourism, a time-tested safety valve for the affluent commonplace for patients from Canada, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia to international medical centers, though Docflight will arrange such trips to the US.

It’s reasonable that healthcare crosses borders to increase access and overcome language barriers. We’ve previously profiled Mexico’s Salud Interactiva, which provides telephonic consults within the country plus select services through partners ConsejoSano (US) and Konsulta MD (Philippines) [TTA 16 Aug]. Dictum Health, an early-stage health tech company dual-headquartered in Dubai and Oakland, Calif., provides telehealth/telemedicine services long-distance to clinics in Costa Rica, refugee camps in Jordan, and oil rigs [TTA 19 Sep]. Crossing borders to burden-shift care and using technology to facilitate it is a trend to watch for in 2018. NBC News (video)Bold Global Media (video)Crunchbase  Hat tip to reader Jeanmarie Tenuto of Healthcare Technical Solutions.