Share your story about healthcare inequities and community effects during the Time of Pandemic (deadline: 14 May)

Do you have a story to share about how COVID-19 has impacted your community–or you or someone you know personally? Healthline.com, a leading US consumer healthcare information website, is seeking stories about how communities that have been impacted by inequities in healthcare have experienced COVID-19. Since many of our Readers are in organizations or businesses that support these communities–such as older adults, the disabled, the rural, in underfunded areas, and/or those who live without access to the internet–you may have a personal story about it. Were you able to overcome it?

Healthline has confirmed to this Editor that stories about communities outside the US are welcome.

Visit or share the following link to submit your story by 14 May. https://transform.healthline.com/submit

TTA’s Chill Spring 1: wobbly Walmart Health’s telehealth buy, what health looks like post-Covid, East of England stroke care, hot fundings for Vida and Kry–and Theranos’ lavish lifestyle days in court

 

Weekly Alert

May may be chilly where you are, but we serve up some hot news in funding, wobbly Walmart’s dive into telehealth, Germany’s DiGA, a OnePerspective around stroke care, and a free webinar on what public health may look like post-Covid. And kicking off the month–a Theranos hearing (remember them?)

The Theranos Story, ch. 71: Holmes appears in court, lawyers argue celebrity, lavish lifestyle, Silicon Valley ethics (The consequences of ‘faking till you make it’)
News and funding roundup: Vida Health’s $100M Series D, Kry’s $316M raise, CVS and Advocate Aurora’s fresh funds, Boost Mobile offers K Health symptom checker (Substantial raises and more funding on the table)
Walmart Health moves into the hot telehealth area with MeMD buy (Continuing to be a puzzle)
What you need to know about Germany’s new DiGA fast tracking for health apps (New R2G research)
Webinar: Public Health and Responsible Innovation in a Post-Covid Europe 20 May
OnePerspective: Covid-19 accelerates digital stroke care for the East of England (Stroke Telemedicine Partnership with Visionable)

April closes with a !! NHS Digital appoints an interim CEO. A brace of UK virtual conference events starts in May–robotics is of interest internationally. Deals and funding include Buddi floating on the LSE this year, PlushCare bought for $450M, and Capsule’s $300 raise. Amwell raises its low profile a bit with a new platform and a surprise. And in dustups–David (AliveCor) takes on Goliath (Apple) about patent infringement on the core of AliveCor’s business. 

Breaking: NHS Digital appoints Simon Bolton interim CEO

2021 UK-RAS Network Robotics Summer Showcase 5 May-30 July and UK Festival of Robotics 19-25 June (If you’re interested in healthcare or other robotics, this is the place–and not just for the UK)
David sues Goliath: AliveCor claims patent infringement by Apple–ITC filing requests bar on Apple Watch US importation (Bring the popcorn, but it’s serious)
Amwell debuts new telehealth platform, Converge; previews Carepoint for hospital care into the home (Carepoint is the ‘stealthy’ move)
Funding roundup: new unicorn Capsule’s $300M, $100M for Caresyntax, Sesame Care’s $24M, UCM Digital Care’s $5M; MD Ally brings telehealth to 911 (No signs of cooling down in funding–but keep MD Ally on the radar which meets an unserved need)
Upcoming UK digital health events: The King’s Fund 24-27 May, UKTelehealthcare Marketplaces & Forum (Events are coming back–slowly)
News roundup: Buddi’s £500M LSE float, Accolade to buy PlushCare for $450M, Teladoc adds chief innovation officer, Tyto Care’s Italy expansion (Buddi a huge float for the UK)

Deals continue to roll–$20B buys a lot of Nuance for Microsoft. Mayo Clinic finally rolls out its clinical decision platform, along with two companies to support it. Oscar Health starts marketing its systems, software you don’t have to clear with FDA, and a brand new event from HLTH and CHIME. And dogs can be trained to detect COVID–is there anything they can’t do?

News roundup: dogs sniffing out COVID, CVS rolling out OTC COVID tests, Hydrogen Health launches, Alcidion UK acquires ExtraMed (Man’s Best Friend can do anything but talk!)
Insurtech’ Oscar Health adds +Oscar tech platform to market health plan and member engagement services (Slightly overshadowed by this week’s Oscars for movies no one has seen?)
Mayo Clinic creates AI-powered clinical decision/diagnostics support platform, two digital health portfolio companies (What Dr. John Halamka’s been up to)
A new event–and not all virtual! HLTH and CHIME to launch ViVE in March 2022. (Another sign of normal business)
Good news! Eight software functions no longer classified as medical devices under FDA. (One for the techies. And anything you don’t have to clear with FDA makes for a good day.)
News and deal roundup: Microsoft’s $20B deal for Nuance; Cigna Evernorth finalizes MDLive; GoodRx buys HealthiNation; Papa’s $60M Series C (And the money is still rolling)
‘Most Reputable’ healthcare technology companies ranked (A few surprises)

Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? Free listings available to match our Readers with the right opportunities. Email Editor Donna.


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Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Thanks for asking for update emails. Please tell your colleagues about this news service and, if you have relevant information to share with the rest of the world, please let me know.

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief
donna.cusano@telecareaware.com

The Theranos Story, ch. 71: Holmes appears in court, lawyers argue celebrity, lavish lifestyle, Silicon Valley ethics

After 15 months, Elizabeth Holmes puts in her Day in Court. Last Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s hearings in US District Court in San Jose were not virtual, but in court–and with Ms. Holmes present. The arguments between counsel were about what would be admissible; the relevance of her lifestyle (fine dining, houses, private jets), her wealth, spending, and celebrity to the charges of criminal fraud, first of hundreds of millions of dollars by investors plus patients and doctors with false claims that the Theranos labs actually gave accurate readings.

The defense argued that admitting information on the lifestyle and spending behavior would be inflammatory and prejudicial to the jury. The travel, the perks, the company-paid-for services were there because she was traveling on company business. Her stock was never sold and her salary at $200,000 to $390,000 (per SEC) was actually low for her peer group. To a certain degree, Judge Edward Davila agreed with the defense. Being in Silicon Valley, home of tech high flyers and Sand Road investors, Judge Davila said to the prosecution, “It seems like that’s designed to engage a class conversation amongst the jurors which I think you’d agree would be a little dangerous. What’s the value of, ‘Did she stay at a Four Seasons versus a Motel 6?” The prosecution countered that information regarding the increasing value of the stock and Holmes’ billionaire lifestyle largely funded by the company, more so than her salary, is relevant to the continuing fraud. “The perks that she is enjoying greatly reduce the pressure on her to cash in, sell stock and make more money.” And, one could say, to come clean and end the fraud around their technology.

According to the Mercury News, Judge Davila said he would rule on the dispute over lifestyle and compensation evidence later. The trial is scheduled to start 31 August. CNBC video, 5 May, 6 May  

News and funding roundup: Vida Health’s $100M Series D, Kry’s $316M raise, CVS and Advocate Aurora’s fresh funds, Boost Mobile offers K Health symptom checker

Vida Health, a virtual platform for chronic condition and mental health management, raised $110 million in a Series D financing led by General Atlantic, joined by Centene, AXA Venture Partners (AVP), and Ardea Capital Partners along with a number of earlier investors. Vida has a network of clinicians, mental health coaches, dietitians, and licensed therapists to provide virtual care programs to payers like Centene and Humana, plus employers such as Boeing, Visa, Cisco, and eBay. The company reports that it tripled its revenue since January 2020 and expanded its existing nationwide network of therapists, coaches, dietitians, and diabetes educators by more than 400 percent. Vida’s involvement with Centene started with a 20-state rollout in the Ambetter plans, the Centene health insurance marketplace product, Ambetter, for members with chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and treatment/coaching for mental health conditions like stress and depression. Vida’s total financing since 2014 totals $188 million. Release, Crunchbase, Mobihealthnews

Sweden’s Kry (Livi in the UK, US, and France) raised a Series D of €262 million, or about $316 million to finance expansion into additional countries and to scale their telemedicine platform. The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Teachers’ Innovation Platform, along with existing investors Index Ventures, Creandum, and Accel, led the round. Valuation is now estimated at about $2B (nearly €1.66 bn). Silicon Canals, FierceBiotech

If you’re looking for funding, CVS Health has launched a $100 million venture capital fund to capitalize projects and innovations from digital healthcare and tech companies to make healthcare more accessible, affordable, and…better. CVS and Aetna have already been an investor in digital health, with about 20 such findings. More information on CVS Health Ventures is hereRelease

Want more funding? Advocate Aurora Enterprises (AAE), part of Advocate Aurora Health System in Illinois and Wisconsin, also is funding consumer health and wellness, with recent buys of home care company Senior Helpers in a $180 million deal following on $25 million for a telenutrition (!) company, Foodsmart. Some have questioned how nonprofit health systems like Advocate Aurora and Ascension have deep enough pockets to get into the risky funding business. FierceHealthcare, Healthcare Dive.

Finally, in the Everybody’s Getting Into The Telehealth Act Department, Boost Mobile is offering the K Health symptom checker to its customers and immediate families. The catch: you have to subscribe to their Unlimited Plus plan. But clever, though. HITConsultant 

Walmart Health moves into the hot telehealth area with MeMD buy

Retail giant Walmart’s health arm, Walmart Health, has agreed to purchase privately held telehealth provider MeMD. MeMD provides telehealth services in primary care, urgent care, women’s/men’s health, and mental health services to both individuals and organizations for their employees. Neither purchase price nor executive leadership transitions were disclosed. The transaction, which requires regulatory approval, is expected to close in the next few months.

The relatively low profile MeMD was founded in 2010 by ER physician and entrepreneur John Shufeldt, MD. The company is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona, and offers national coverage for its five million members.

A big move that indicates a strategic wobbliness? Walmart Health’s strategy has been a roller coaster over the past few years. Aggressively starting out of the gate in 2018 with high-profile exec Sean Slovenski leading and plans to open up 1,000 clinics, they retrenched in 2020 with his departure and slowed down the opening of Walmart Health locations. Virtual visits, which are merchandisable in-store and online, signal a different direction that may be easier to scale than brick-and-mortar locations, and have proven their market. Meanwhile, back at the stores, last month Walmart announced a partnership with Ro to put its trendy Roman men’s sexual health and vitamin product lines into 4,600+ Walmart stores starting 1 May. RetailBrew 

Looming in the background, of course, is CVS with their MinuteClinics, Walgreens with 500 free-standing VillageMD locations [TTA 4 Dec 20], and Amazon rolling out Amazon Care nationally. Walmart’s employees have used Doctor on Demand’s services, with the company dropping the visit cost to $4 during the pandemic. With the Grand Rounds merger [TTA 18 Mar], this may have been another reason for Walmart to bring in-house a telehealth provider. Who may be feeling the most heat from Walmart’s and Amazon’s moves? Teladoc and Amwell. Walmart release, Becker’s Hospital Review, Engadget

What you need to know about Germany’s new DiGA fast tracking for health apps

Research2Guidance (R2G) has published a new report on the new, and faster, German regulations for obtaining approval for digital health applications. 2019’s Digital Healthcare Act (DVG) introduced measures to speed up approvals for digital apps so that they can be prescribed by German doctors and reimbursed through German public health insurance, which covers 90 percent of the population.

The Digital Health Applications process (DiGA) requires a review by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) to prove that apps and digital tools improve patient care. Other criteria include:

  • Data protection legislation and information security conformance
  • Interoperability
  • CE-certification as a medical product (in the lowest-risk class for now)

The R2G report details not only the DiGA Fast Track process and the current status of DiGA adoption, but also what it takes to create a successful German market entry strategy with innovative distribution channels. If you have a digital health app or tool, and you’re targeting 80 million Germans, this report is a Must Read. R2G page, Mobihealthnews, HealthcareITNews

Webinar: Public Health and Responsible Innovation in a Post-Covid Europe 20 May

Thursday, 20 May 14:00-17:20 CEST, 12noon-3:20pm GMT 

Most of our UK Readers (and quite a few of our ex-UK ones!) are familiar with the work of Malcolm Fisk, PhD, Professor of Ageing and Digital Health at De Montfort University. This webinar emerges out of the ‘Living Innovation (LIV:IN)’ project that focuses on responsible innovation around the way we will live in 2030. Organized by De Montfort University and “la Caixa” Foundation, the webinar’s roundtable of global experts will debate:

  • changing health needs and the use of health data;
  • imperatives around health behaviors;
  • post-COVID markets for health-related products (digital health/telehealth and telemedicine);
  • European perspectives and initiatives (e.g. for due diligence and non-financial reporting); and
  • the merits of standards and metrics 

The panel includes:

  • Eerke Boiten, Head of School of Computer Science and Informatics at De Montfort University
  • Malcolm Fisk, Professor of Ageing and Digital Health at De Montfort University
  • Natalia Jozwowicz, Manager (Operations, Talent & Culture, Facilities) at Sustainalytics Poland
  • Annette Kleinfeld, Professor of Business Ethics at University of Applied Sciences Konstanz
  • Myriam Martin, Project Manager at TICBiomed, partner in CHERRIES project
  • Eman Martin-Vignerte, Head of Political Affairs and Government Relations at Bosch UK
  • Matthias Marzinko, Director International Standards Management (ISM) at Drägerwerk AG and CEN-CLC Advisory Board for Healthcare Standards (ABHS)
  • Lydia Montandon, Business Development Manager at ATOS Research and Innovation
  • Eva Zuazua Schucker, Head of Contents & Communication at RRI Tools project
  • Ignasi López Verdeguer, Director of the Department of Science and Research at la Caixa Foundation
  • Matthijs Zwier, Strategic Partner at Municipality of Utrecht and Advisory Board member at European Health Futures Forum

For more information and the registration links (two steps required), please go to the Living Innovation page hosted by the Institute for Managing Sustainability of Vienna. Hat tip to Malcolm Fisk

OnePerspective: Covid-19 accelerates digital stroke care for the East of England

TTA has an open invitation to industry leaders to provide a personal perspective on issues of importance to readers. This week, Lynda Sibson, telemedicine manager for the East of England Stroke Telemedicine Partnership, reflects on how the coronavirus pandemic enabled its successful service to move into new areas at speed.

Interested contributors should contact Editor Donna. (We like pictures and graphs too!)

The East of England Stroke Telemedicine Stakeholder Partnership was set up in 2010 after a review found the region was struggling to meet national target times for delivering ‘clot busting’ drugs to patients with acute ischaemic stroke.

A shortage of consultants made it impossible to offer a 24/7 consultant-led thrombolysis service at all of the region’s hospitals, but long journey times made it difficult to transfer patients quickly to specialist centres.

Now, when a suspected Acute Ischaemic Stroke (AIS) patient arrives at one of the seven hospitals that we support out of hours, a telemedicine cart is taken to their bedside by the local stroke team. The stroke nurse specialists quickly establish the video link to a specialist, on-call consultant, using technology from our partner Visionable.

Since the telemedicine service commenced 10 years ago, up to the end of March 2021 we have assessed over 4,300 patients. Of these, 1,846 were thrombolysed, and just a fifth of those who weren’t had missed the national 4.5 hour target (the rest saw their condition change or were not experiencing a stroke).

A health economic analysis by the University of East Anglia showed that the service is cost-effective and delivers clinically effective outcomes for patients, with reduced length of hospital stay. So, we have been looking to expand.

Pilots and frustrations:

Supported by the Eastern Academic Health Science Network’s (AHSN) Digital Pioneer Programme, we were able to run a feasibility study undertaken with East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust. In conjunction with Ipswich Hospital, we have been exploring how we can utilize the existing telemedicine system to assist paramedics in the assessment of ‘stroke mimics’ more effectively. Up to 40% of stroke presentations are ‘stroke mimics, and commonly include mini-strokes (known as Transient Ischaemic Attacks) and migraines, amongst others.

The paramedics were provided an iPad with the Visionable app loaded on it, so they could use it to contact the stroke consultant for advice and the aim was to avoid admission to A&E since most strokes mimic patients can be safely managed in a less urgent setting than A&E. In our feasibility study, all but one patient (who had a chest infection) avoided this trip to A&E, with most patients being managed in a follow-up hospital clinic or by their GP.

We plan to roll this project out across the region, commencing initially with Ipswich, Norfolk & Norwich and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn. We are also currently running a daily pilot at Ipswich Hospital, and later with The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn, of a virtual ward round for low-risk stroke patients who need consultant review within 14 hours of admission, to meet government targets. Early data suggests that this is working well, with positive feedback from both stroke consultants and the stroke specialist nurses.

Let’s learn lessons and keep up momentum:

Virtual consultations and just one of the many tools that can be used to address healthcare challenges, and it is important to make sure that they are deployed appropriately, safely, and effectively.

In ten years, we have learned a lot about IT infrastructure, technology, and its associated governance: we use Visionable because it enables the consultant to see the patient, is user-friendly, and meets IG because no patient identifiable data is transmitted over the video link.

We have also learned that finding clinical champions, supporting the consultant team, and training junior doctors and base teams are essential. However, we have also shown that digital consultations work; and the wider NHS has just learned the same lesson in the pandemic.

Let’s keep using technology-enabled care to support clinicians and make sure patients have access to safe, high-quality care they need, when and where they need it.

Always remember FAST – if ANY of the following – FACE, ARMS, SPEECH are affected, it is TIME to call the emergency services for help.

Hat tip to Chloe Bines of Highland Marketing