News Roundup (updated): Proteus files Ch. 11, VA’s EHR tests now fall–maybe, making US telehealth expansion permanent, Rennova’s rural telehealth bet, Oysta’s Lite, Fitbit’s Ready to Work jumps on the screening bandwagon

Proteus Health, the company which pioneered what was initially derided as a ‘tattletale pill’, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy today (16 June). As early as December, their layoffs of nearly 300 and closure of several sites was a strong clue that, as we put it, Proteus would be no-teous without a big win. Exactly the opposite happened with the unexpected early end of their Otsuka partnership with Abilify [TTA 17 Jan]. Proteus had raised about $500 million in venture capital from Novartis plus technology investors and family offices. Their combination of a pill with an ingestible sensor, a patch that detects ingestion and that sends information to a smartphone app was ingenious, but in a business model was meant for high-cost medications. Proteus’ current partnerships include TennCare (TN Medicaid), plus Xealth and Froedtert to integrate medication information into electronic health records. At one point, Proteus was valued at $1.5 bn by Forbes, making it one of the early healthcare unicorns.  CNBC, FierceHealthcare

VA further delayed in implementing Cerner-Leidos EHR. POLITICO’s Morning eHealth earlier this month reported from congressional sources that further testing would be delayed to the fall at the earliest and possibly 2021. The project to replace VistA stands at $16 bn. Contributing to delay was an April COVID outbreak in Spokane at a veterans’ home, which pushed patients into the VA medical center. 

In further DC news, several senators are advocating that the relaxing of restrictions on telehealth during COVID should largely be made permanent. According to the lead senator, Brian Schatz (D-HI), Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth services increased 11,718% in 45 days. Many telehealth requirements were waived, including geographic, coding of audio-video and telephonic telehealth billing, and HIPAA platform requirements. Other senators are introducing bills to support remote patient monitoring programs in community health centers’ rural health clinics. FierceHealthcare

The climate for telehealth has improved to the point where smaller players with side bets are now betting with bigger chips. Rennova Health, a mid-South healthcare provider with a side in software, is merging its software and genetic testing interpretation divisions, Health Technology Solutions, Inc. (HTS) and Advanced Molecular Services Group, Inc., (AMSG) with TPT Global Tech. The combined company will be called InnovaQor after an existing subsidiary of TPT and plans to create a next-generation telehealth platform targeted to rural health systems. Release, Becker’s Hospital Review

Oysta Technology has launched the Oysta Lite with an SOS button, GPS, safety zone mapping for travel, and two-way voice. The SOS connects to their IntelliCare platform which provides status monitoring, reporting, and device management plus connecting to the telecare service provider. They are specifically targeting post-lockdown monitoring of frail elderly.  Press flyer/release.

Fitbit jumps on the crowded COVID workplace screening bandwagon with Ready to Work, a employer-sponsored program that uses individual data collected via the Fitbit device such as resting heart rate, heart rate variability and breathing rate. Combined with self-reported symptoms, temperature, and potential exposure, the Daily Check-In app then provides guidance on whether the employee should go to work or remain at home. According to the Fitbit release, a higher heart rate–as little as two beats a minute–can be indicative of an immune system response before the onset of symptoms. TTA has earlier reported [19 May] on other COVID workplace screeners such as UHC/Microsoft’s ProtectWell app, Appian, and (in-house) PWC. FierceHealthcare also lists several others on the cart: Castlight Health, Collective Health, Carbon Health, VitalTech, and Zebra Technologies. However, at this stage, few employees are leaving remote work for in office, and fewer still may even return to the office.

Post-COVID back to work: for workplace screening, testing, contact tracing, there’s an app for that

If you’re looking forward to going back to the office without the children and the dog barking, and seeing people other than your family, don’t expect to go back to “The Office” Normal with kibitzing over the divider and in the kitchen/break room. Chances are the latter will be locked, and the nearest person over the divider will be six feet away. There will not only be serious physical changes to the office, starting with many fewer people there, but also apps to track your health and who you come in contact with. Your employer will be managing your potential risk for infection of yourself and others.

  • UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft’s ‘ProtectWell’ app will screen your health everyday (using Microsoft’s COVID-19 triaging Healthcare Bot and Azure. If there’s a risk of exposure or if you are exhibiting symptoms, it will direct you to a COVID-19 testing process that enables closed-loop ordering and reporting of test results directly back to employers, managed (of course) by UnitedHealth. The app will also provide guidelines and resources for a safer work environment, including physical distancing, personal hygiene, sanitation, and more. UHG and Microsoft are furnishing the app to employers at no charge. UHG has already implemented this ‘contact tracing lite’ for frontline workers and will roll out to its over 320,000 employees; Microsoft will do the same for its US-based workers. Release
  • Enterprise software company Appian released Workforce Safety and Readiness, an app to enable HR departments to plan and maintain a return to work for employees and to maintain a safer workplace. This ’employee re-entry’ app as their CEO Matt Calkins put it, is not for every company. The app will quiz employees on factors such as health data, possible virus exposures, and details about their jobs to determine when and how they should return, based on their jobs plus CDC and state guidance, both of which keep shifting; state and local guidance in particular is keeping more than one law firm quite busy. The app can then push information to workers about their new hours, area, and similar. When the employee is back to work, they can then use the app to provide feedback on crowding and lack supplies such as hand sanitizer or wipes. The app is built on a HIPAA-compliant system and originated with a self-reporting disease app. Appian is targeting larger companies with thousands of employees on a $5,000 per month subscription model. Appian page, The Protocol
  • Companies large and small have devised their own mass testing procedures for current workers and those returning, as early as the next two weeks. This next article from Protocol details several approaches, mostly around detecting the imminently ill.
  • PWC has already set up a contact tracing system for returning workers, an app that tracks contacts with the phones of others of a person who self-reports being ill. While the privacy seems pretty robust–it works on employee self-reporting and his or her AD ID on my phone, then all the other phones it had contact with over the past X days via Bluetooth. As PWC’s David Sapin of their connected solutions area put it, “But if you’re going to come back into the workplace, you need to accept having this type of app on your phone.”
  • For a really dystopian view, see this article in Bloomberg. You may be scanned thermally, have an elevator operator (back to the past!), and lots and lots of sensors monitoring your comings and goings. Facilities departments will be retrofitting for anti-microbial surfaces and plexiglass guards. Before you are allowed to return, if you are allowed to return, you may be pre-assessed for risk before you are allowed to, with bonus point for antibodies. And when you’re back in your ‘six feet office’, you’ll have many more rules governing daily desk coverings, how you interact with your colleagues, walk in the hall, go to the bathroom. Hint: buy acrylic polycarbonate manufacturer stock. ZDNet

Of course, one wonders if Unintended Consequences will be to very firmly establish a remote workforce, which is anathema to some companies, or encouraging further outsourcing of work to offshore entities.

MedStartr Momentum 2017 – coming up 30 Nov!

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/medstartr-400×400.jpg” thumb_width=”125″ /]Momentum 2017, PricewaterhouseCoopers headquarters, 300 Madison Avenue (42nd Street), NYC, 30 Nov (8.45am-5pm)-1 Dec (9am-3pm)

MedStartr/Health 2.0 NYC Momentum is back for a third year, returning to PwC’s NYC headquarters. The format is unusual because it blends nine speakers in Momentum Talks with five pitch contests and seven panels totaling over 70 participants on stage. The subject is all about driving innovation in healthcare from the wide variety of perspectives seen by patients, doctors, partners, institutions, and investors.  Speakers, sponsors and agenda are all on the main page here.

The culmination is the award of the 2017 Grand National Challenge. Up to 25 teams will be invited to New York or the Healthcare Financial Summit 6-7 October in Las Vegas. Each winning team that enters the MedStartr Acceleration Program (MAP) will receive up to $250,000 in funding and services–and, as in all MedStartr Crowd Challenges, companies keep control of their pilots, partnerships, funds raised, investors engaged, and traction.

Registration is open–and early bird tickets are only $99. (You can’t get a better value!) More to come as we get closer to the event! TTA is a MedStartr and Health 2.0 NYC supporter/media sponsor since 2010; Editor Donna will be a host for this event and a MedStartr Mentor. Check the MedStartr page to find and fund some of the most interesting startup ideas in healthcare.

PwC: your job at risk by robots, AI by 2030?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/robottoy-1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]PwC‘s latest study on the effect of robotics and artificial intelligence on today’s and future workforce is the subject of this BBC Business article focusing on the UK workforce. 30 percent of existing jobs in the UK were potentially at a high risk of automation by the 2030s, compared with 38 percent in the US, 35 percent in Germany and 21 percent in Japan. Most at risk are jobs in manufacturing and retail, but to quote PwC’s page on their multiple studies, robotics and AI may change how we work in a different way, an “augmented and collaborative working model alongside people – what we call the ‘blended workforce’”. Or not less work, but different types of work. But some jobs, like truck (lorry) drivers, would go away or be vastly diminished.

The effect on healthcare? The categories are very broad, but the third category of employment affected is administrative and support services at 37 percent, followed by professional, scientific and technical at 26 percent, and human health and social work at 17 percent. Will it increase productivity and thus salaries, which have languished in the past decade? Will it speed innovation and care in our area? Will it help the older population to be healthy and productive? And the societal effects will roll on, but perhaps not for some. View this wonderful exchange between Jean Harlow and Marie Dressler that closes the 1933 film Dinner at Eight. Hat tip to Guy Dewsbury @dewsbury via Twitter

A cornucopia of events and opportunities (UK/EU)

This editor has been extremely busy of late representing DHACA members’ interests in Brexit discussions, finalising RSM events and researching technology to help carers. However the requests to promote events have continued to arrive so here is a very brief summary:

Innovate UK is looking for new assessors – click here for more information.

On 7th March ADASS is holding its Care Apps Showcase and Conference event in Central Birmingham. Book here.

The Wearable Technology Show is on 7th & 8th March at Excel, and for the first time will include within it the Digital Health Technology Show. This editor is presenting. Readers can get free entry to the exhibition and cut-price entry to the conference sessions (quote DHTDHAC17).

On 23rd March, the London Health Technology Forum has its annual pitch session. If you fancy trying your hand at pitching your start-up, or your new idea, we want you! There’s no guarantee that winners will get funded. However there are lots of finance people coming, and winners will certainly get some nice champagne…and bag lots of useful experience. Book here. Contact marie.carey@bakerbotts.com if you want to pitch.

The RSM’s Apps event is in its fifth year and on 4th April. We have a veritable constellation of who’s who in mHealth apps presenting this year: I hate the expression “must see” though it’s very appropriate in this case. Book here. These are incredible value events because one of the charitable objects of the RSM is education: compared with commercial events they are a steal, and the quality is superb.

PwC has a 13 week startup growth programme for revenue generating health companies, entitled ‘future of health’ starting 6th March. They still seem to be taking enquiries though, more details here.

Aging (sic) 2.0 has come to London and holds a global startup search event on 11 April. If you want to register on their startup database,  perhaps to participate in that event, go here.

The DigitalHealth.London Accelerator is now open again for applications. Closing date is 12 midnight on Thursday 20 April

EHTEL have their Symposium in Brussels on 15-16 March – apply here.

The RSM is working with the IET in partnership for the third year to offer you Future of Medicine; the role of Doctors in 2027 on 18th May with the now-expected array of iconoclastic presenters telling us how different the delivery of care will be in ten years. Book here.

More shortly.

Updated–MedStartr’s Rise of the Healthy Machines 1 March (NYC)

Wednesday 1 March, 1-6:30 pm (followed by cocktail reception to 8 pm), PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 300 Madison Avenue NYC

What’s new at #RISE2017? A new event page which has all the highlights, including the speaker roster and agenda.  The revised agenda focuses on population health and how machine learning/AI will change medicine and our notions of healthy living, with speakers and panelists from Teladoc, PwC, J&J, Prognos.ai, CityMD, mymee, DataArt, Enspektos and more. There’s also a new Healthy Machines Challenge application page, so if you have a young company with a technology which can help people live longer, healthier lives, apply for the $300,000 Challenge which finds and funds some of the best new ideas in digital health. Sponsors include PwC, DataArt, and McCarter & English LLP. Tickets are free to $75 for the full half-day with reception. TTA is a MedStartr supporter/media sponsor; Editor Donna is a host for this event and a MedStartr Mentor. Also check the MedStartr page to find and fund some of the most interesting startup ideas in healthcare

PwC finding that VC funding down–and up–depending on your sector

Bad news, good news. It depends on where you and your company sit. Pricewaterhousecoopers and the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) have been tracking VC activity for several years based on Thomson Reuters data. They found the total 2nd Quarter versus 1st Quarter startup funding picture uneven, with 2nd quarter funding increasing by
20 percent but with total number of deals down 5 percent, versus $12.7 billion and 1,011 deals in 1st quarter.

  • Biotech was gloomy despite being the #2 VC funding category: $1.7 billion invested into 100 deals, representing a 14 percent decrease in dollars and a 19 percent decrease in deals
  • Life Sciences, which combines biotech and medical devices and accounts for 15 percent of all VC funding to startups, rose to $2.2 billion going into 161 deals, but investment decreased 10 percent and 12 percent in deals.
  • Healthcare Services notched a 65 percent increase to $218 million and 21 deals, but this category is only 1 percent of total investment

 

PwC website and interactive chart; press release (PDF)  Also MedCityNews.

Ten years on from the WSD: is the future brighter for telehealth? Can wind farms help?

As Prof Mike Short pointed out recently, 2016 is the tenth anniversary of the start of the Whole System Demonstrator (WSD) programme that in retrospect, because of poor trial design, probably slowed the uptake of digital health in the UK more than any other single action. It seems appropriate therefore to look at how telehealth* has fared over that period, and perhaps even more importantly, is poised for the next ten years.

The mistakes of the WSD are well documented (eg here, here & here) – suffice it to say that it proved beyond all reasonable doubt, at least to this editor, that unlike medicine-based interventions, which seem less sensitive to their care pathway, digital health delivers most of its benefit through enabling a different, patient-centred care delivery, so every digital health intervention needs to be evaluated holistically, and in its own care pathway. Sadly over the ten years, much of the academic work looking at the benefits of telehealth has continued to evaluate the technology in the time-honoured way that medicines have been evaluated, with predictably largely equivocal results.

Those of us who have delivered telehealth projects though have a sense of disconnect as, time and again, a focused implementation – not a pilot – in which the staff delivering the service understand that it will be a permanent change for which they need radically to change the way they deliver care, yields huge returns on investments through savings typically in the 50-90% region. (more…)

Regulatory action may strengthen telehealth take-off: PWC

PWC Health Research Institute has released a Spotlight Brief on the US telehealth (read telemedicine for telehealth) regulation which states that recent regulatory action may be the catalyst to spur the fledgeling telehealth market.

Expansions in Medicare reimbursements, Government telehealth grants amounting to several million dollars and legislative action in many States are all seen as supporting new entrants as well as traditional players and growing the US telehealth market that PWC says is estimated as high as $10 billion.

Benefit to consumers is of course lower costs and easier access. Challenges mentioned are licensing, reimbursement, privacy and security. Read the full report here.

Are wearables starting to deliver?

If you caught the recent Wired article entitled Wearables Are Totally Failing the People Who Need Them Most, you may have felt a sense of deep depression that a sector growing as strongly as it is is apparently delivering so little real health benefit (you may also be depressed to see the world of apps developers described as “From Silicon Valley and San Francisco to Austin and MIT…” although remember the North American-based Major League Baseball is called the World Series). The thrust of the article is that young people are developing wearables for people like them, who are then stopping using them within a few months, whereas those with long term conditions (LTCs) who are not the target customers are actually the ones using wearables consistently. As they say: (more…)

Health IT funding bubble seen by veteran investor

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/crystal-ball.jpg” thumb_width=”120″ /] How is health tech like the 1990s ‘dot-com’-ers? Veteran Silicon Valley investor (HealthTech Capital) and former entrepreneur Anne DeGheest projects a ‘Series B crunch‘ in funding health tech and IT in an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch. The key factors: angels and ‘unsophisticated investors’ are pouring money into all sorts of devices, apps and related services in seed and Series A stages just to get on board in a hot sector. When the founders of these companies get to Series B and present to more demanding investors, the lack of a true value proposition and a detailed business plan that answers basic questions leave them standing on, as aptly put, ‘a pier to nowhere’ or as Joe Hage termed it last month, ‘insolvent with a great idea.’

Ms. DeGheest’s view that we are reprising the elements of the ‘dot-com’ bubble is confirmed by the numbers in Rock Health‘s and PwC‘s funding reports throughout 2013:   (more…)

mHealth Summit 2013: Sunday Venture+ Forum

Lois Drapin, Founder & CEO of The Drapin Group, provides a recap of the Venture+ Forum held the day before the official start of the mHealth Summit 2013. This is the first of her dispatches, courtesy of HIT Consultant.

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/mooc1.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]Yes, it’s true. Sunday’s Venture+ Forum, one of the day-long events that takes place before the official start of the mHealth Summit 2013, was a lot like living Gartner’s Hype Cycle in one day. Before I tell you why, let me first offer my sincere apologies to Gartner Inc. (I’ll reference the Gartner methodology in underlined italics). Absolutely no offense is meant, but this borrowed framework could be the assist I need at 1 a.m. to offer up my POV.

Keynote Speaker: Jack Young, Director of Qualcomm Ventures

The day began with Jack Young, Director of Qualcomm Ventures and head of the Qualcomm Life Fund. He talked about trends that we should all know by now— the rising costs of healthcare (at $8K per human per capita, health is the most expensive subscription in our home); the aging population (a company in Japan reported that it had sold more adult diapers than baby diapers this past year). Qualcomm sees the Technology Trigger in the emergence of wearables or “mini working computers” and with big data in health such as claims data, EMR data, genomic data, consumer and social data. The wearables industry is emerging, having come into our lives connected to our smartphones. In this way, if you will, our social-ness is changing too. When you wear a wearable (watch, glasses, shoe, shirt, pin—whatever item(s) we choose), we are more likely to accept that “I’m on the journey” to health, wellness and well-being. We’re involving our friends, families and co-workers. The data that is, or will be coming from our use of wearables and other sources, will give us meaningful insights that can change behavior and health outcomes. It sounds a bit like ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, yet who doesn’t love an investor with ‘California Dreamin’’ on his mind. I know I do.

But I already could feel the climb toward the Peak of Inflated Expectations. It really didn’t seem too far away or too high up. (more…)