Conference report: MedCityNews CONVERGE

Guest columnist Sarianne Gruber (@subtleimpact) attended Breaking Media’s annual MedCityNews CONVERGE two-day conference at Philadelphia’s Hyatt at Bellevue earlier this month, and has a few observations on the surface contradiction of innovation and health insurance.

Breaking Media rightly titled this year’s MedCity News conference “Converge”. Listening to the speakers, meeting the founders of new startups and talking to presenters, it became clear that today’s healthcare ecosystem is interdependent on the all the players to move the needle for better quality health. It was fascinating to learn was how innovation is breaking down the old silos of engagement, and is emerging from all the industry players, as well as joining at new intersections. The proliferation of better products, methodologies and engagement is closing the gap with more data, technology and ideas.

When you think of your health insurance company, usually two words comes to mind, cost and coverage. Keynote Speaker, Daniel Hilferty, President and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, wants to change the focus to consumer and care. Hilferty paralleled the new ventures at Independence to the work of the great innovator, Thomas Edison. Not only did Edison invent the light bulb, but his work is evidenced in the scalability of electricity that changed the world and how we now live.

In what directions is Independence Blue Cross converging? (more…)

Pharma company ‘breaks the Internet’ with Kim K, gets FDA testy

But it may break them…well, give them a fracture. Or a good hard marketing lesson. Specialty pharma Duchesnay thought it had hit the jackpot with negotiating a promotional spokeswoman endorsement from pregnant celebrity Kim Kardashian of its morning sickness drug Diclegis. The Kardashian Marketing Machine cranked up. Kim (and mom Kris Jenner) took to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in late July with (scripted) singing of Diclegis’ praises to their tens of millions of followers. The Instagram posts linked to an ‘important safety page’ a/k/a The Disclaimers. That wasn’t near enough for the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) which governs the acceptable marketing of all drugs in the US. On August 7th a tartly worded letter arrived at Duchesnay’s Pennsylvania HQ cited multiple violations of marketing regulations, notably risk information, and told Duchesnay to cease these communications immediately or withdraw the drug, which would be highly unlikely as it is successful. They also were require to provide “corrective messages” to the “violative materials”.

Our takeaway:

* Duchesnay reaped a bounty of free media (see below), on top of the (undoubtedly expensive) Kardashian endorsement. Yes, they did pay the cost of a FDA nastygram and a legal response, and the warning will live on in their file. However, a lot of target-age women now know Diclegis and others know about the relatively obscure Duchesnay.

* This was a calculated marketing risk that tested the boundaries of social media and celebrity endorsement. (more…)

Do startups truly threaten the ‘healthcare establishment’?

Or are successful startups fitting into their game? Chris Seper in MedCityNews paints the picture of one side of a quandary. The ‘healthcare establishment’ fundamentally and to its detriment does not understand and is threatened by the startup and innovation process. A startup may begin with an idea which is, in his words, ‘almost always flawed, sometimes deeply’. If the founders are smart, they will test their ideas, validate them and change them appropriately. If not, they will fail. But it is easier for the Establishment to point at the most egregious of the bad ideas and use them to rationalize the status quo.

But being congenital contrarians, we paint the house on the other side of the street. Has the Establishment caught up with–or in some cases, co-opted startups, making them and their funders ‘do their diligence’ and be more cautious before emerging? This Editor would argue yes, and largely for the better.

**The ‘Wild West’ days are over. A few years ago, a truly bad or deeply flawed health tech idea or could easily find funding, because it was all blank slate, new and ‘transformative’.The sexiest hooks were Quantified Self, sleep, employer health incentives, interactive coaching, genomics, app prescribing and (last) wearables. A lot of founders imagined themselves as the Steve Jobs of Healthcare, down to the black turtleneck. Now there is a history of success and failure. The railroads reached the dusty frontier towns.

**There’s now a ‘Startup Establishment’. National accelerators (more…)

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…)

Another Xerox healthcare move: reducing readmissions

About two months ago [TTA 13 Nov 14], we noted Xerox’s interesting investment in telehealth/virtual consult kiosk HealthSpot Station. We thought at that time that Xerox was not active in healthcare services and thus found the HealthSpot Station investment unusual. Right on the diagnostics, wrong on the data crunching. Notably, their Midas+ subsidiary concentrates on healthcare quality management, analytics and benchmarking solutions. Midas+ has entered into the readmissions fray by combining its proprietary database, compiled over 1,900 Xerox hospital clients, with five years of Medicare and claims data to help hospitals better predict 30-day same-cause readmissions. The Midas+ Readmission Penalty Forecaster uses the data to project in “near real-time” both patient patterns and reimbursement rates. Commenting to MedCityNews, Justin Lanning, SVP and managing director of Xerox Healthcare Provider Solutions, said the Forecaster has a 1.5 percent margin of error within the predictive model, with quarterly updates provided to participating hospitals. Midas+ also offers, beyond the model, onsite consulting. HealthSpot Station theoretically could throw off a lot of data on outpatient disease and treatment. Midas+ Forecaster white paper, eWeek.

We also note that MedCityNews, one of the livelier publications that covers a wide swath of the US healthcare scene,  is being acquired by Breaking Media, a New York City-based digital publisher. CEO Chris Seper will remain with the publication. Article.

Unhappy endings: where even innovation cannot make a difference

This week’s sad news of the death of comedian/film star Robin Williams and his ongoing battles with addiction and depression are the center of this thoughtful article by EIC Veronica Combs in MedCityNews. Even with access to the best care and innovations such as virtual visits, Mr Williams committed suicide. The larger point made is that access and healthcare innovation don’t mean automatic adoption or a positive outcome. Some of those with chronic physical or mental illnesses choose not to change their behaviors, comply with a regimen or even to seek help, much less seek out technology or be a QSer. And some are simply beaten down and depressed by the perpetual Battle of Stalingrad that is chronic disease–ask any diabetic [TTA 5 Apr 2013]. Her conclusion is that though innovation may not help everyone, it doesn’t mean we should not pursue it. And, this Editor would add, for developers to realize that they must make technologies simple and affordable enough–‘tear down that wall’–so that those who won’t access help become fewer. (And, yes, there is a spiritual aspect of care that must be addressed–see VOX Telehealth’s work with HealthCare Chaplaincy Network TTA 25 July.)

Update:  Other factors may have tipped Mr Williams’ depression flare-up. The first (more…)