Sleepio and Alivecor enhance digital health credibility

This has proved to be a great week for digital health credibility.

Firstly Sleepio picked up two honours – one was scoring the highest mark on the first Ranked Health output. The second was getting the American College of Physicians to come out and say that CBT-I should be the treatment of choice for insomnia (above hypnotics).

Meanwhile a study has shown that “A Smart Phone-based ECG Recorder Is Non-inferior to an Ambulatory Event Monitor for Diagnosis of Palpitations”. In layman’s language, the Alivecor/Kardia smartphone peripheral and app are as good as the awkward to wear & cumbersome Holter monitor.

Well done both!

Those who have heard Dr Sophie Bostok, the indefatigable Sleepio Sleep Evangelist, explain (more…)

‘Silicon Valley Tech Press’ blamed in the Theranos buildup; WSJ threatened

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Yak_52__G-CBSS_FLAT_SPIN.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]A fascinating view from an ironic source. Vanity Fair’s short article tags the buildup of Theranos and its founder/CEO Elizabeth Holmes to a purposefully gullible Silicon Valley Tech Press and their moneymaking conferences. While not naming specific publications, it cites TechCrunch’s Disrupt as an early builder-upper of Ms Holmes (drawing blood onstage, how daring!). The operating thesis here is that the tech press vetted her with uncritical and fawning coverage, which led to profiles and shiny articles in the New York Times, the New Yorker and ….Vanity Fair, which also featured Ms Holmes at their 2015 New Establishment Summit. It’s a classic PR strategy to me, one that any skilled marketer has in their playbook (Ed.–it also works in reverse, having mainstream press vet a technology sold B2B), and one that evidently worked.

One would think that writers and editors with some biotech and science knowledge would raise more questions. The author, Nick Bilton, critically outlines the ‘Game of Access’ underpinning the tech press and blogger business model: you say nice things and play ball, you get a preview of the latest gadget or a sitdown with the CEO. If you don’t, you’re shut out. So writers don’t ask tough questions, probe hard enough, or tell the truth about where the facts are leading them, because if they do, there goes the access and the sponsorships, as well as your job. While the former doesn’t apply to your Editors, many of us who write also hope that we uncover a technology that benefits people, or is even revolutionary. We like a bracing story.

However, Mr Bilton, perhaps mindful of the cart he rode in on, doesn’t scoop an equal share of blame onto the ‘mainstream’ press. To this Editor’s mind, the Ken Auletta profile in the New Yorker should have been stopped by the New Yorker’s EIC and sent back to Mr Auletta with a blue-penciled “DIG DEEPER”. This excerpt is from the VF article:

Auletta acerbically noted that the technology behind Theranos was “treated as a state secret, and Holmes’s description of the process was comically vague.” She told him, for instance, that one process occurred when “a chemistry is performed so that a chemical reaction occurs and generates a signal from the chemical interaction with the sample, which is translated into a result, which is then reviewed by certified laboratory personnel.”

Say wot? Sheer gobbledygook. For the WSJ investigative reporter John Carreyrou, who read this and eventually blew the lid off Theranos, this was caviar on toast too delicious to pass up. (Vanity Fair, on the other hand, was too busy making Ms Holmes one of its New Establishment, but investigative reporting has never been one of their strong points. Another reason why this article is an interesting read.)

A side note: Ms Holmes kept on refusing to disclose, even to VCs, the blood analysis process as a technology too secret to share, even with fellow researchers to get verification and validation. And that led to very few truly major VCs investing in the formerly $9 bn valued company, a point Mr Bilton relishes.

The final revelations in the article–truly the lead–should scare anyone who values a free press. They are the bullying tactics taken by Theranos’ legal team led by that new governing board member, David Boies, to intimidate both Mr Carreyrou and the WSJ from their investigative reporting. Mr Bilton’s source describes the team marching into the WSJ office in June, threatening legal action on the proprietary information Mr Carreyrou supposedly had (he did have internal documents). After repeatedly denying all requests for an interview with Ms Holmes, the WSJ went with the story in October, and the rest is history. Mr Boies now has his hands full elsewhere with other types of letters: CMS, SEC, DOJ and FDA. And Ms Holmes is no longer making herself available to the media, even to her former friends in the tech press. The Secret Culprit in the Theranos Mess

It’s Alive! Augmedix’s $17 million raise raises Google Glass in medicine

Just when we thought that Google Glass was going to be a tax writeoff for Alphabet (the Google parent company), along comes Augmedix, a Google Developers/Glass At Work enterprise partner which has raised, without a lot of fanfare, a tidy $17 million in venture capital funding. The round was funded primarily from customers–in this case Sutter Health, Dignity Health, Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), TriHealth Inc. and an anonymous funder, plus traditional VCs Redmile Group, Emergence Capital and DCM Ventures, the last two which were also in the $16 million Series A. Augmedix’s Google Glass is used during the visit by the doctor to connect to a remote scribe who enters patient data into the EHR instead of the doctor. Our Readers familiar with a typical doctor’s office can readily see this as a useful function, though the Glass itself might put off some patients. No word of the dramatic surgery/telesurgery consults this Editor has seen demonstrated. It also appears that Augmedix is the only enterprise developer of Glass that has stayed with medical use, shifting its focus to large healthcare organizations. Mobihealthnews. CrunchBase

Telehealth and COPD: meta-study shows little QoL improvement

A review of studies on the use of telehealth interventions (generally remote patient monitoring but also education and pulmonary rehabilitation) with COPD patients is equivocal to somewhat negative on the effectiveness of telehealth on quality of life (QoL) improvement and positive impact on disease progression. Only three of the 18 studies surveyed showed statistically significant improvements, with the others showing no significant improvement. However, the researchers noted the low number of studies and that large-scale controlled trials would be called for; also at the end, they note that what might be more valid is the “comparison to absence of deterioration, relative to control groups, as a perhaps more realistically acceptable success criterion.” Stasis might be a better thing to evaluate given that COPD patients can deteriorate quickly without the right care. Published by a Danish research team at the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  Dove Press open access. Also FierceHealthIT

‘Protecting Patient Information’–a ‘worst case scenario’ book for HIT

A much-needed book in the age of Hacker/RansomwareMania. A new book published, ‘Protecting Patient Information’ by Paul Cerrato, is subtitled ‘A Decision-Maker’s Guide to Risk, Prevention, and Damage Control.” It’s not a tome at 162 pages, since it’s written not for academics or IT Gearheads, but for physicians (including doctors running small practices), nurses, healthcare executives and business associates. It takes a practical, three-part approach to IT security in healthcare organizations which can be applied internationally:

  1. How to do an in-depth analysis of the organization’s risk level
  2. How to lower the risk of a data breach within the myriad of Federal and state rules regarding protected PHI
  3. How to deal with a data breach, even if you’ve followed 1) and 2) (This may be the ‘worst case scenario’ part of the book)

The preface to the book is written by John Halamka, MD, himself a CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School. It will set you back about $42, but worth it. Hat tip to our friends at HITECH Answers via Twitter. If you’ve read the book or will read it soon, this Editor and your fellow Readers would be interested in your thoughts or even a review.

State by State report on telehealth laws and policies (US)

A comprehensive scan of telehealth laws and Medicaid [grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/State-telehealth-laws.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]program policies is available from the recently released report from the Center for Connected Health Policy, part of the Public Health Institute, a California based non-profit. This fourth annual review, State Telehealth Laws and Medicaid Program Policies,  provides a current summary of telehealth policies and laws in all the states and the District of Columbia.

As we have covered in many previous articles, states are actively pursuing legislation to implement their own set of telehealth policies. This report is supposedly an up to date summary of these laws and regulations as of March 2016.

Some significant findings highlighted by the authors are
– 47 states and Washington DC provide reimbursements for some form of telemedicine video conferencing. This number is unchanged from last year.
– 9 states reimburse for store and forward services (e.g. medical images, documents and pre-recorded videos. Primarily sent between medical professionals)
– 16 states offer reimbursement for remote patient monitoring, unchanged from last year

The report is complemented by an interactive map located here.