Telehealth and the response to COVID-19 in Australia, UK, and US: the paper

Published last week in the Journal of Internet Research (JMIR) is the study by Malcolm Fisk, PhD which TTA previewed last month on telehealth’s part in the two-week response, starting 12 March, in response to COVID-19 in Australia, UK, and the US. Malcolm Fisk, PhD, who our readers know as Senior Researcher at the De Montfort University in Leicester, led a group from Australia in comparing these three countries in including telehealth in their responses to the pandemic. It looks at how telehealth models were used, awareness of the role of telehealth in response, and how restrictions previously in place were dealt with. 

The study’s conclusions, briefly summarized:

  • Australia: immediately funded on 11 March with AUS $100 million (US $68 million) a “new Medicare service,” at no cost for patients, for telehealth consultations. Telehealth in Australia is well developed, particularly in rural areas, for health and social care needs. The added funding will aid in the rollout.
  • UK: at the same time, the UK was in a ‘containment’ phase with the PM’s admission that “many more families will lose loved ones before their time”. At that point, telehealth was not in the plans, but the Imperial College projections and recommendations on home quarantining and ‘social distancing’ severely affected the most vulnerable, older people. COVID wound up being quite a jolt to the NHS since telehealth is underdeveloped in most of the UK with the exception being Scotland. Clinicians to this point did not see a need, and many older people do not have access to smartphones, tablets, or the internet. Intents are good–NHSX and the Topol Report setting a framework for telehealth–but to this point telehealth rollout is limited.
  • US: 17 March could be called ‘Telehealth on Steroids’ Day, as CMS announced the ‘dramatic’ expansion of telehealth services via non HIPAA compliant platforms such as Skype and Facetime for Medicare, retroactive to 6 March. Telehealth mushroomed starting 11 March in hospitals first, reporting 15 and 20-fold increases in telehealth consults. Then CDC and the AARP got on board. The US has an uneven system, between differences in state parity reimbursement, Medicare concentrating on rural health, state Medicaid, private pay, and integrated hospital systems’ approaches. What holds telehealth back are providers and areas in the US that simply do not have the internet connectivity that telehealth consults demand.

Good reading. Telehealth in the Context of COVID-19: Changing Perspectives in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States Hat tip to Dr. Fisk for sending it our way!

Counting down to the Connected Health Conference–readers save $100!

Connected Health Conference
25-27 October, Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Boulevard, Boston

The eighth annual Connected Health Conference, presented by the Personal Connected Health Alliance (PCHAlliance) in partnership with Partners Connected Health, is coming up in just a few days.

Wednesday is packed with special sessions that cover the state of the market in wearables, artificial intelligence (AI), voice-activated technologies, the smart home (hosted by Parks Associates) and the innovation economy.

  • The Life Sciences and MedTech Roundtable will explore the emerging category of digital therapeutics, the evolution of traditional pharma and med tech business models and the impact on relationships with patients, providers and other stakeholders in healthcare.
  • Europe Meets North America will exchange views and strategies on issues like interoperability and the free flow of data across borders in an all-day workshop hosted by the ECHAlliance. (For more on the PCHAlliance’s EU efforts to ensure consistent regulations governing digital health with the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), see this release.)

Recent additions to the main conference on Thursday and Friday:

  • A new fifth track focusing on health system innovation projects, outcomes and processes with the leading partnerships that are disrupting and redesigning healthcare delivery, including Healthbox and Intermountain Healthcare, Brigham Digital Innovation Hub, Johns Hopkins Medicine Technology Innovation Center and MITRE sharing their work with Dana-Farber.
  • The new Innovation Lounge will showcase provider, industry and institutional innovation centers and novel collaborations. The Innovation Lounge stage will present groundbreaking initiatives from Intel, IBM, MDRevolution and Becton Dickinson, HHS Idea Lab, data from the IPSOS Digital Doctor Survey, and results of a recent connected health survey. Dr. Joseph Kvedar will share a preview of his new book, The New Mobile Age, How Technology Will Extend the Healthspan and Optimize the Lifespan. (more…)

Journal starts peer review process–at a price–for mHealth apps

If the rosy future of mHealth apps [study here] is to be achieved, some form of validation and review is needed, but is ‘pay to play’ the way to go?. The Journal of Medical Internet Research has come up with a peer review process which gives, in the words of mHealthNews, “developers a chance to have their products evaluated by “medical and mHealth experts from the JMIR peer-reviewer database (possibly complemented by consumers/patient experts) for a cool $2,500 per app.”  Aside from the price, (more…)

Are health apps ‘discriminating’ against developing countries?

The ‘discrimination’ noted here comes from a study published this month in the Journal of Medical Internet Research’s mHealth and uHealth (JMIR), which attempts to cross-reference ‘high-income country’ and ‘low- and middle-income countries’ diseases with the number of apps available for those diseases. The count is based on a review of literature and apps stores. Unfortunately the study, as reported in FierceMobileHealthcare, sounds quite broad-brush. In general, they assert, there are more apps for high-income country diseases such as dementia and ischemic heart disease. Apps for low-income country diseases, such as lower respiratory diseases and malaria, are fewer. Exceptions are apps for HIV/AIDS, which disproportionately affects low income countries but are abundant, and the dearth of apps for  trachea, bronchus and lung cancers prevalent in high and middle-income countries. No mention of whether certain diseases are more effectively controlled by app usage than others, though. JMIR study.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/screen-shot-2014-01-10-at-3-00-24-am.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Better than a ‘malaria app’ would be eradication, and a step towards this is rapid, accurate and inexpensive analysis of this increasingly drug-resistant disease. A Newcastle, UK company, QuantuMDx, founded by molecular biologist Jonathan O’Halloran, will be crowdfunding a miniature malaria blood testing device called Q-POC, which takes a blood sample; through DNA sequencing provides a malaria diagnosis and screens for drug resistance in a record 15 minutes, without running water or stable electricity. The crowdfunding on Indiegogo starting 12 February is to fund the device through clinical trials. Eventual markets are Brazil, India and Africa, then to extend the technology to TB, STDs and cardiovascular disease. MedCityNews