VA awards over $1 billion in Home Telehealth contracts–at long last (updated)

Breaking News, Updated  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on 1 Feb issued over $1 billion in awards to four companies to provide Home Telehealth vital signs monitoring technologies to veterans in home care and monitoring. The four companies are Medtronic, Care Innovations, Iron Bow Technologies, and 1Vision LLC. The $1 billion is split evenly between the four ($258 million for each company over the five-year duration). The contracts are for an initial year (31 Jan 2018 end date listed on GovTribe.com), renewable annually for five years total. The bid process started in 2015 and the award had originally been scheduled for early-to-mid 2016.

On the suppliers:

  • Medtronic is the incumbent as a supplier since 2011, dating back to Cardiocom’s 2011 award for its home monitoring units (Cardiocom was acquired in August 2013). Medtronic is a Dublin, Ireland HQ’d company with a US headquarters in Minnesota.
  • Care Innovations is well known to our Readers as the developer of Health Harmony and the acquirer of the QuietCare telecare/behavioral monitoring used in senior housing. Their parent is Intel.
  • Iron Bow Technologies is a supplier to VA in other healthcare areas (telemedicine and store-and-forward) and is a large, privately held IT company with multiple Federal contracts and deep Federal contractor roots. Their revenue has been reported at over $462 million (Washington Technology Top 100 2016).
  • 1Vision LLC is a new company formed as a joint venture between HMS Technologies, Inc. and MBL Technologies, Inc. Neither are previously engaged as home telehealth providers, but both are Federal contractors. According to their individual websites, HMS is an IT systems integrator and MBL is engaged primarily in cybersecurity.

The question for this Editor is how Iron Bow and 1Vision, which are not telehealth (vital signs) monitoring companies but telemedicine and IT service providers respectively, will execute Home Telehealth with the VA. Have they partnered with yet-to-be disclosed providers in providing home telehealth services to the VA? (Watch this space)

While the award is the largest in US telehealth, the VA is, by this Editor’s experience in her last position with Viterion Corporation, extremely demanding on its service providers and will be even more so in the future. The future reasons are clear: 1) President Trump has put a Klieg light on the VA and 2) he’s named a new VA secretary, Dr David Shulkin, who is currently VA Undersecretary for Health (confirmation hearing notes courtesy of POLITICO, nomination approved by the Senate committee Tuesday, and easily confirmed Monday night 13 Feb), who has been highly engaged with HIT issues, including both the VistA EHR modernization/replacement and initiatives such as the recently unveiled Digital Health Platform [TTA 12 Jan]. (more…)

Care Innovations gets into the behavior change training business

An under-the-radar move by Intel-owned Care Innovations, which markets the Health Harmony telehealth and the QuietCare behavioral telemonitoring systems, is their entrance in the behavior change training business.

Care Innovations developed an accredited (CE eligible) training course for nurses to effect behavior change in patient beyond what may be a limited telehealth engagement. According to their release, the training will help them with coaching patients to increase their engagement with their health and identifying areas for improvement, along with the appropriate technology.

The three-hour course work, designed primarily for telehealth nurses but open to all, has three key learning sections:

  1. Six steps to take to achieve behavior change in healthcare
  2. Learning four coaching skills: crafting open-ended questions, sharing words of affirmation, demonstrating reflective listening and crafting summary statements
  3. Discussing the most common challenges associated with acting as the coach, which are avoidance, ambivalence, resistance and compliance.

There are three sessions before the end of the year, priced at a relatively modest below $300 rate, with group discounts. Information is on their website here.

It’s an interesting move in that the training seemingly is not exclusive to CI clients, although this Editor would expect that 1) it would fit best with CI’s system and 2) is a way of cultivating prospective clients in an academic, value-added way.

For CI, it is another association with the ‘intersection of behavior change and technology’ (more…)

Care Innovations’ Slovenski, 23andMe’s Schwartz move to Healthways

Breaking News: Healthways, an online wellness program company based in Nashville, this morning announced that two executives well known to many of us in digital health have joined them. Sean Slovenski, CEO of Intel-GE Care Innovations, is now their President, Population Health Services. Steve Schwartz, their new SVP Strategy and Corporate Development, joins the company from VP Business Development and Strategy, 23andMe.

Mr Slovenski’s track record in 2.5 years at CI certainly impressed this Editor (formerly with the developer of their behavioral telemonitoring system bequeathed from GE Healthcare, QuietCare) with turning around the company from an outpost of Intel and GEHC having difficulty transitioning from ancient technology (remember the Intel Health Guide?) to a telehealth platform dubbed Health Harmony. He also put together a team that engineered multiple academic and health system alliances, along with an interesting turn into home digital health certification. While he came to CI from health insurance giant Humana in Louisville Kentucky running their behavioral health and wellness businesses, his prior experience includes both entrepreneurial turns at his own company and with smaller companies. He most recently engineered a Louisville outpost of CI [TTA 14 Oct 15]. Since Mr Slovenski is still listed on the CI website as CEO, this may have been a quickly executed move.

Mr Schwartz’s business development background includes long stints at two large healthcare companies, Allscripts (EHRs and practice management software) and LabCorp (lab testing). He weathered 23andMe’s FDA troubles and headed up their B2B sales area. Healthways release

Unusually, Healthways is a NASDAQ traded company that closed at $12.11 today in a down market. It’s old (in our terms) having been founded in 1981, becoming publicly traded ten years later. Its last round of venture financing was $20 million from CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield in October 2013 (CrunchBase). Healthways has a fairly new CEO as well, who joined last August and obviously feels comfortable adding to his team.

Big home health win for telehealth confirms trend: must expand services, analytics

One of the most logical places for telehealth, remote care management (RCM) and transitional/chronic condition management (TCM/CCM) is with home health providers and post-acute care, yet perennially it has been on the ‘maybe next year’ list for most telehealth providers. That ‘next year’ may be getting a little closer with the news that Intel-GE Care Innovations has inked a multi-year deal (no pilot-itis here) with major (~400 facilities) home health provider Amedisys using their PC/tablet-based Health Harmony platform.

The initial focus is an ambitious one: reducing hospitalizations and ER/ED visits among patients with congestive heart failure (CHF), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes, depression as well as patients who have two or more of these conditions (co-morbidities). The most interesting to this Editor is the parenthetical mention of analyzing ADLs (activities of daily living) with clinical data. Does this imply the engagement of their venerable ADL monitor QuietCare? (It’s something the founding company worked on circa 2006 while this Editor was there; one would think the analytics have advanced since then.) Another aspect is that Care Innovations will manage Amedisys’ complete RCM program from recruiting to logistics, data analytics and application integration services. Business Wire

What this means: Telehealth (and telecare) companies are now increasingly obliged in these big wins to provide a plethora of additional related services. Health care providers demand services beyond the monitoring technology. They want the turnkey package, from nurse evaluations, care coordination/management, to analytics and logistics.This ‘service creep’ implies alliances and mergers to add on to technological monitoring capabilities–and beaucoup financing. (more…)

Care Innovations partners with caregiver mental health app Happify

Intel-GE Care Innovations announced yesterday a partnership with NYC-based Happify to integrate their mental health for caregivers app into Health Harmony by 1st Quarter 2016. Happify is a game-based app targeted to caregivers of the chronically ill to support their mental health and wellbeing through cognitive behavioral therapy, ‘positive psychology’ and conquering negative thinking. Currently it is marketed to healthcare providers and corporate wellness programs. According to the release, “By adding on access to Happify’s innovative mobile app, Care Innovations will be able to leverage state-of-the-art programs to improve the well-being of family caregivers and offer additional programs to its clients.” This is certainly an interesting integration to the typical vital signs and qualitative information gathering of patient data in thinking about the caregiver. However, we note that a previously announced partnership, with UK’s buddi announced last December, is not to be found on the CI website. Release (Business Wire)

What’s news at the end of the week

Care Innovations harmonizes seniors, Panasonic adds diabetes, Jawbone and Fitbit bite, the first EHR/PHR Hack and Concussion in Cleveland. Converging its interests in remote patient monitoring with its long-time footprint in senior housing resident monitoring (QuietCare), Intel-GE Care Innovations is testing its Health Harmony remote patient monitoring system, partnering with two California-located Front Porch communities and the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing. The residents selected have poor chronic condition management or have returned after a discharge from a skilled nursing facility. No disclosure on projected number or duration–and it doesn’t appear that QuietCare is part of the monitoring. Release….Panasonic just bought Bayer Healthcare’s diabetes/blood glucose monitoring device unit for $1.13 billion as Bayer continues to shed non-life science businesses. While old-school prick-and-bleed monitors are being eclipsed by continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and mobile-based devices such as Telcare in the US and in Europe, there’s plenty of market remaining in the West, and new ones in Asia and the Middle East for simple devices. It joins Panasonic’s existing blood pressure monitors. MedCityNews….Jawbone and Fitbit continue to snap at each other in court, with the former on Wednesday filing a second lawsuit on patent infringement, specifically “a wellness application using data from a data-capable band”, with the added fillip of going to the International Trade Commission, which could ban the import of Fitbit products or component parts. The 28 May lawsuit was about Fitbit’s hiring of five former Jawbone employees who allegedly stole IP. The companies between them have hundreds of patents, and as this Editor has noted in previous IP and patent troll articles, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is not especially rigorous in ensuring that patents are not overbroad. Wonderful for the IP attorneys, but not exactly what Fitbit wants as a runup to their expected IPO next week. Wall Street Journal….Now an EHR and PHR join Hackermania Running Wild. Medical Informatics Engineering reported Tuesday that in May their server was cyberattacked, exposing PHI of patients in five clients and separately information contained in the NoMoreClipboard PHR subsidiary. POLITICO reports that this is the first recorded instance of an EHR compromise. MIE ReleasePOLITICO Morning eHealth….If you are in the Cleveland, Ohio area and have an interest, Concussion: A National Challenge is a free, two-day event on detection and diagnosis sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, Metro Health and Taipei Medical University. Advance registration required.

Care Innovations, UMMC Telehealth Center to expand care outside the home

Intel-GE Care Innovations, which markets both telehealth and telecare (QuietCare, one of the pioneers in behavioral telemonitoring) products, announced today a broadened relationship with the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Center for Telehealth. CI will help them to establish the Innovation Living Lab which will create and evaluate new models of care via remote technology and techniques for behavioral change. The Lab will open at UMiss’ Venyu Technology Center sometime in 2016. UMMC and CI’s goal is to extend care models so that the home is a key location for care delivery. In the past year, both had partnered on the Diabetes Telehealth Network. CI since their change of management has made several interesting moves in the past year, including grouping telehealth systems under Health Harmony and creating a Validation Institute. Business Wire.

Looking back over Telehealth & Telecare Aware’s predictions for 2014, part II

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/magic-8-ball.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Editor Charles has treated you to a look back on his 2014 predictions, daring Editor Donna to look back on hers. Were they ‘Decidedly so’, ‘Yes’, ‘Reply hazy, try again’ or ‘My sources say no’? Read on…

On New Year’s Day 2014, it looked like “the year of reckoning for the ‘better mousetraps’”? But the reckoning wasn’t quite as dramatic as this Editor thought.

We are whipping past the 2012-13 Peak of Inflated Expectations in health tech, diving into the Trough of Disillusionment in 2014.

There surely were companies which turned up ‘Insolvent with a great idea’ in Joe Hage’s (LinkedIn’s huge Medical Devices Group) terms, but it was more a year of Big Ideas Going Sideways than Crash and Burns.

Some formerly Great Ideas may have a future, just not the one originally envisioned. (more…)

Care Innovations harmonizes and validates

Updated 27 November

In what seems to be a repackaging and repositioning of their remote care management/telehealth services, Intel-GE Care Innovations is now orchestrating Health Harmony. It appears on their promotional web page to be a bundling into that latest rave, the care continuum, but also a refreshing of separate systems developed since 2011: for the patient, an in-home tablet hub/portal for monitors and PC-based content portal once known as Connect; and for the clinician or caregiver, what was formerly called the Intel-GE Care Innovations Guide (which succeeded the Intel Health Guide). According to the CI website and press release from earlier this month, Health Harmony is an ‘optimized experience” that promotes collaboration among the patient, family, friends and care professionals and will “organize caregiving tasks, coordinate schedules, track medications, monitor vital signs and crucial health information, and quickly share information.” The release gives the impression of a launch but no information on cutting over current clients to the new system.

Update: A test of the Health Harmony system in a hospital environment to reduce readmissions is underway with liver transplant patients at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.  The shocking fact is that 50 percent of transplant readmissions occur within seven days of discharge. Instead of being discharged with a booklet and an exam one week later, the patients daily self-monitor vital signs (blood pressure, glucose, temperature), pain level and answer programmed questions. The clinical team reviews their data for 90 days post-discharge and can also do video consults. Currently eight patients are being monitored in the program with up to 20 projected through April 2015. Liver transplant bundled payments are approximately $250,000 with surgery being $180,000 of it, so there is an immediate benefit to the hospital system.

Another interesting development in Roseville, California is the expansion of the CI Validation Institute, announced in June, (more…)