TTA’s wobbly May: telemental Cerebral under Federal investigation, but good news with telehealth benefiting the underserved, Alertacall receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise

 

 

Weekly Update

May continues its ups and downs, with the stock market drowning out healthcare. Cerebral confirmed their Federal investigation for prescribing practices, putting a bucket of cold water on this hot sector. But good news pokes its head out, with a Johns Hopkins study that telehealth is benefiting the underserved and urban, not just the affluent and young. More good news with a telecare pioneer receiving the top award for UK enterprise.

Alertacall receives Queen’s Award For Enterprise: Innovation (An outstanding recognition for a telecare pioneer in this Platinum Jubilee Year)
CMS telehealth pandemic waivers boosted usage among disadvantaged, urban patients (Tide lifting all boats, and that’s good)
DOJ investigates telemental Cerebral on over-prescribing of controlled medications (A flashing warning sign for investors)

An unusual April has wrapped, but May has gotten off to an unsettling start, from the stock market to telehealth’s leaders such as Teladoc. Hot areas like telemental health and prescribing are (deservedly) under scrutiny, and Noom’s losing more than pounds. But a sign of normality is that ATA is back in person, and there were many announcements with significance. 

Weekend news and deals roundup: Allscripts closes sale of hospital EHRs, closing out CEO; DEA scrutiny of Cerebral’s ADHD telehealth prescribing; more telehealth fraud; Noom lays off; fundings; and why healthcare AI is only ML (Looks like some cleaning up is going on)
ATA conference roundup: a new board chair, a digital app review pilot, and company announcements (Hopkins study, BioIntelliSense, Connect America, AliveCor, Withings, more)
Some thoughts on Teladoc and the Week That Was in telehealth (When the whales are in trouble, there may be opportunities for the minnows)


Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? See jobs listed with our new job search partner Jooble in the right sidebar!


April is proving to be an active month for something other than rain and blooming cherry trees. A new CEO for Tunstall. Tivity and MobileHelp are sold. UnitedHealth and Optum won’t give up on Change, including a hefty break fee, nor big buys. On the retail front, Walmart finally opens up Florida superstores powered by Epic, and Walgreens ‘corners’ with Blue Shield in California. Some local telehealth grants and the surprising vitality of audio telehealth for the underserved. And, to no one’s surprise, digital health got off to a slow start in Q1.

Tunstall Healthcare announces new group CEO, Emil Peters (More changing of the guard) 

Weekend roundup: telehealth claims ticked up again in January, Walmart opens Florida health ‘superstores’, Blue Shield California partners with Walgreens’ Health Corners 
Thursday roundup: UHG/Optum, Change extend merger deadline to 31 Dec, buys Kelsey-Seybold; $2B Tivity Health sale; General Dynamics enters derm AI diagnostics; MobileHelp PERS sold to Advocate Aurora (A recovery in the works?)
Digital health funding’s Q1 hangover from 2021’s bender–and Q2 is a question mark, even for Rock Health (Some companies have aching heads still)
Wisconsin’s $5M for child psychiatry, community telehealth; FQHC patients prefer audio-only telehealth–Rand (Back to the roots of telehealth for less health served populations)

The first full week of Spring turned out to be a busy one, from big buys by UHG/Optum in home and mental health, a significant one by LetsGetChecked, and more health tech fundings. Babylon’s Higi integrates their chatbot. Optum’s physician telehealth study shows there’s a way to go, along with Laurie Orlov’s aging tech studies and articles. The former Practice Fusion’s miseries with DOJ continue. And Amazon Health’s looking for talent.

Weekend wrapup & reading: Amazon Health on talent hunt, Practice Fusion fined $200K for violating $145M prosecution agreement, and must-read studies and articles on older adults tech (Read in between spring cleaning)
What do physicians really think about telehealth, now that they’ve used it? Lower use, substantial frustrations remain. (Another needle puncturing the bubble)
Friday roundup: LetsGetChecked buys Veritas Genetics, Everly Health adds CMO, Babylon sends chatbot to Higi, ConcertAI’s $150M Series C, AmplifyMD’s $23M, and two ‘Brights’ raise $155M (Reviving market?)
UnitedHealth Group makes two jumbo buys for Optum: LHC Group home health for $5B, Refresh Mental Health (Optum not letting grass grow with the Change DOJ lawsuit)


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Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. 


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

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Alertacall receives Queen’s Award For Enterprise: Innovation

One of the items that whizzed by this Editor while she was in Pepper the Robot mode was the highly prestigious Queen’s Award For Enterprise: Innovation, awarded to one of the pioneering companies in UK telecare, Alertacall Ltd.  Their CEO and founder, James Batchelor, is an old friend of TTA from early days with Editor Emeritus Steve. (Editor Donna hadn’t even thought of marketing health tech at that time.)

Alertacall provides tablet touchscreen connectivity to the housing, care markets, and personal markets, from OKEachDay checkins to smart home systems controlled by the touchscreen.

Alertacall was founded in 2004 by James, the original inventor of the “I am okay” button. Like many of us in those days, he had a personal inspiration for being engaged with creating a better way to support older adults in their home–Eveline, his own staunchly independent grandmother. She was, in James’ words “a shop keeper for much of her life, and a B+B operator up until her early eighties. After the death of 2 husbands – the first of whom was detained as a Prisoner of War in WW2, she learned to drive in her late 50s, travelled the world on her own and was an inspiration to many with her grit and determination to live on her own, and under her own terms for as long as possible.”

Also, James’ gracious note from LinkedIn, posting on the Queen’s Award:

We won this Queen’s Award because of the great technology we have created for sheltered and supported housing to help independent older people, women fleeing domestic violence and people who are disabled – to feel safe, connected and informed.

This award really is testimony to that innovation, but more so to the incredible team I have the joy of working with each day. This is an award for them and their phenomenal care of our customers.

In July I’ll be attending a winners reception at Buckingham Palace with HRH The Prince Of Wales – on behalf of those team members. My grandma, Eveline, who was the inspiration for Alertacall would have been pretty excited by that I think.

A lot of you run your own businesses, and some of you might have started those from scratch. So you’ll understand that external, independent validation is rare, and a great feeling when it comes.

Many of you have also been a positive part of our journey – and if so thank you, sincerely.

Dame Esther Rantzen DBE, the well-known British journalist and TV presenter of That’s Life! on the BBC for 21 years, who was instrumental in the founding and popularization of both ChildLine and The Silver Line helplines, is a supporter of Alertacall. Her statement is attached here.

Our warmest congratulations to James and the Alertacall team!

Alertacall announcement.

CMS telehealth pandemic waivers boosted usage among disadvantaged, urban patients

Broadening telehealth usage areas when in-person visits are restricted boosts–telehealth usage. Beyond the tautology, the surprising finding here is that it benefited two groups that telehealth hasn’t done well with prior to the pandemic: those living in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods and in metropolitan areas. It also increased usage among women and those of Asian and Hispanic heritage.

The Johns Hopkins study, published in Health Affairs (abstract only, restricted access), reviewed 30 million Medicare fee-for-service claims to quantify outpatient telemedicine use before and after the Medicare telemedicine coverage waiver that took effect on 6 March 2020. Prior to the waiver, Medicare beneficiaries were covered very narrowly for telehealth, in designated rural areas and specific designated facilities, using synchronous audio/video only–a total of 0.42% with one outpatient visit. After the waiver, this grew to 9.97% of patients with at least one outpatient telemedicine visit. Medicare had previously reported that Medicare beneficiary telehealth usage had grown to over 40% during the pandemic.

According to the study abstract, “After adjustment [for demographic variables], our data suggest that the coverage waiver increased access to telemedicine for all Medicare populations, including people residing in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods, although the odds of use were persistently lower with increasing age.” Other studies had found disparities based on demographics such as race, income, and residential location, with higher status pointing to greater telehealth usage, but this study indicates that the loosening of restrictions did not contribute further to these disparities. Thus the logic points to more availability (access) powering increased usage, or at least the odds of use, in this disadvantaged/minority population. 

It is certainly an argument for retaining most of the telehealth waivers–which will require Federal legislation for Medicare after the 90-day Public Health Emergency renewal expires in mid-July, if not renewed. Healthcare Finance, FierceHealthcare

DOJ investigates telemental Cerebral on over-prescribing of controlled medications

DOJ dropped an anvil on Cerebral’s head Friday night. Last week’s reports on the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigation of telemental health provider Cerebral were confirmed on Friday with the official notification that the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York had subpoenaed the company as part of their investigation into possible violations of the Controlled Substances Act. According to the Wall Street Journal, the subpoena was issued to Cerebral Medical Group, the corporation it uses to contract with clinicians and provide healthcare services. The company is fully cooperating with the investigation by the Department of Justice, which includes turning over records pertaining to their prescribing of controlled substances such as Adderall and Xanax. This has been reported by FierceHealthcare which is citing (paywalled) Insider.

Last week, Cerebral announced that it would stop prescribing controlled substance prescriptions for new ADHD patients as of 9 May. However, they would continue prescribing controlled substances for other mental health conditions, according to a memo from their chief medical officer to their clinician network.

Cerebral’s Saturday statement in response to the subpoena maintains (from FierceHealthcare):

“To be clear, at this time, no regulatory or law enforcement authority has accused Cerebral of violating any law”

and

“Cerebral has dedicated significant time, energy, and resources to ensuring that its policies and procedures regarding the prescription of controlled substances and other medications both are medically appropriate and comply with all applicable state and federal law,” the statement also said. “As a responsible company, Cerebral is continuously improving its systems and practices. The foundation of this company is built on evidence-based, ethical, and compliant practices so that our patients can receive the highest quality of care and achieve the best clinical outcomes.”

The company has done well with the increased demand for mental health services provided via telehealth including remote evaluating and prescribing. In December, their $300 million Series C raise boosted their valuation past $4.8 billion.

Darkening this rosy picture is, as TTA noted last week, that a former VP of product and engineering, Matthew Truebe, has sued Cerebral for wrongful dismissal. According to him, the company put growth before patient safety, including overprescribing medications for ADHD. Other reports indicate that the DEA interviewed other former Cerebral nurse practitioners who felt pressured to prescribe ADHD medication after a short video call. The Verge

Cerebral has also gained notoriety for dodgy advertising claims pertaining to ADHD and other conditions. In January, advertising on TikTok and Instagram was pulled for claims that obesity is “five times more prevalent” among adults with ADHD, and stated that getting treatment for the mental health disorder could help patients “stop overeating.” These followed inquiries by Forbes and NBC News. Also pulled was their Facebook advertising around prescribing Type 2 diabetes medications, GLP-1 agonists, as a “wonder drug” for weight loss. 

Will this put a damper on the burgeoning area of telemental health and remote prescribing? Stay tuned. Also Becker’s. 

TTA’s Bipolar Start to May: Teladoc’s big loss, telemental health and drugs scrutinized, Allscripts’ CEO goes bye, as does 500 Noom staff, but positive announcements during ATA, more!

 

 

Weekly Alert 

Thank you for your patience over the last two weeks!


An unusual April has wrapped, but May has gotten off to an unsettling start, from the stock market to telehealth’s leaders such as Teladoc. Hot areas like telemental health and prescribing are (deservedly) under scrutiny, and Noom’s losing more than pounds. But a sign of normality is that ATA is back in person, and there were many announcements with significance. 

Weekend news and deals roundup: Allscripts closes sale of hospital EHRs, closing out CEO; DEA scrutiny of Cerebral’s ADHD telehealth prescribing; more telehealth fraud; Noom lays off; fundings; and why healthcare AI is only ML (Looks like some cleaning up is going on)
ATA conference roundup: a new board chair, a digital app review pilot, and company announcements (Hopkins study, BioIntelliSense, Connect America, AliveCor, Withings, more)
Some thoughts on Teladoc and the Week That Was in telehealth (When the whales are in trouble, there may be opportunities for the minnows)

April is proving to be an active month for something other than rain and blooming cherry trees. A new CEO for Tunstall. Tivity and MobileHelp are sold. UnitedHealth and Optum won’t give up on Change, including a hefty break fee, nor big buys. On the retail front, Walmart finally opens up Florida superstores powered by Epic, and Walgreens ‘corners’ with Blue Shield in California. Some local telehealth grants and the surprising vitality of audio telehealth for the underserved. And, to no one’s surprise, digital health got off to a slow start in Q1.

Tunstall Healthcare announces new group CEO, Emil Peters (More changing of the guard) 

Weekend roundup: telehealth claims ticked up again in January, Walmart opens Florida health ‘superstores’, Blue Shield California partners with Walgreens’ Health Corners 
Thursday roundup: UHG/Optum, Change extend merger deadline to 31 Dec, buys Kelsey-Seybold; $2B Tivity Health sale; General Dynamics enters derm AI diagnostics; MobileHelp PERS sold to Advocate Aurora (A recovery in the works?)
Digital health funding’s Q1 hangover from 2021’s bender–and Q2 is a question mark, even for Rock Health (Some companies have aching heads still)
Wisconsin’s $5M for child psychiatry, community telehealth; FQHC patients prefer audio-only telehealth–Rand (Back to the roots of telehealth for less health served populations)


Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? See jobs listed with our new job search partner Jooble in the right sidebar!


The first full week of Spring turned out to be a busy one, from big buys by UHG/Optum in home and mental health, a significant one by LetsGetChecked, and more health tech fundings. Babylon’s Higi integrates their chatbot. Optum’s physician telehealth study shows there’s a way to go, along with Laurie Orlov’s aging tech studies and articles. The former Practice Fusion’s miseries with DOJ continue. And Amazon Health’s looking for talent.

Weekend wrapup & reading: Amazon Health on talent hunt, Practice Fusion fined $200K for violating $145M prosecution agreement, and must-read studies and articles on older adults tech (Read in between spring cleaning)
What do physicians really think about telehealth, now that they’ve used it? Lower use, substantial frustrations remain. (Another needle puncturing the bubble)
Friday roundup: LetsGetChecked buys Veritas Genetics, Everly Health adds CMO, Babylon sends chatbot to Higi, ConcertAI’s $150M Series C, AmplifyMD’s $23M, and two ‘Brights’ raise $155M (Reviving market?)
UnitedHealth Group makes two jumbo buys for Optum: LHC Group home health for $5B, Refresh Mental Health (Optum not letting grass grow with the Change DOJ lawsuit)

Winter turned into Spring, it’s raining, and it’s time for pleasant thoughts of a cheerful movie about the Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Speaking of France, Glooko’s European tour picked up DIABNEXT. Action in Asia-Pac with Vietnam’s Jio Health and Pear for sleepless Japanese. Certainly Sunny Balwani isn’t getting much sleep lately with the kickoff of Theranos Trial #2. And after 25 years of one man at the top, it’s a young tech-savvy woman in charge at Centene–and their cubies are hanging on.

Short takes for Thursday: TimeDoc’s timely $48M, Glooko buys France’s DIABNEXT, Jio Health’s $20M, Pear’s Tokyo sleep-wake, Antidote’s $22M, and Centene’s new, young CEO signals big changes (More consolidation, funding, and a changing of the guard after 25 years)
The Theranos Trials, ch. 3: Sunny and Elizabeth were in it together, all the way (Balwani’s rerun of Holmes’ trial)
DOJ lawsuit to block UnitedHealth-Change Healthcare’s acquisition now set for 1 August trial (UHG and Change not giving up)


Read Telehealth and Telecare Aware: https://telecareaware.com/  @telecareaware

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

We thank our present and past advertisers and supporters: Legrand/Tynetec, Eldercare, UK Telehealthcare, NYeC, PCHAlliance, ATA, The King’s Fund, DHACA, HIMSS, Health 2.0 NYC, MedStartr, Parks Associates, and HealthIMPACT.

Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. 


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

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Weekend news and deals roundup: Allscripts closes sale of hospital EHRs, closing out CEO; DEA scrutiny of Cerebral’s ADHD telehealth prescribing; more telehealth fraud; Noom lays off; fundings; and why healthcare AI is only ML

That was fast. Allscripts closed its $700 million March sale of its hospital and large physician practice EHRs to Constellation Software Inc. through N. Harris Group. The Allscripts EHRs in the transaction are Sunrise, Paragon, Allscripts TouchWorks, Allscripts Opal, and dbMotion. They reported their Q1 results today. According to HISTalk earlier this week, CEO Paul Black will be stepping down, with President Rick Poulton stepping in immediately. Update–this was confirmed on their investor call Thursday and the transition is effective immediately. No reasons given, but there were no effusive farewells.  Healthcare Dive

A damper on telemental health? Online mental health provider Cerebral, which provides talk therapy, audio/video telehealth, and prescriptions for anxiety, depression, insomnia, ADHD, and other conditions, is finding itself under scrutiny. This week, its main mail fulfillment pharmacy partner, Truepill, stopped filling prescriptions for Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, and other controlled Schedule 2 pharmaceuticals. Cerebral is redirecting current patients with these prescriptions to local pharmacies and as of 9 May, will not prescribe them to new ADHD patients.

Based on reports, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is looking at Cerebral in particular as part of a wider scrutiny of telehealth providers and pharmacies filling telehealth-generated prescriptions due to allegations of overprescribing. It also didn’t help that a former VP of product and engineering plus whistleblower claims in a wrongful dismissal lawsuit that Cerebral execs wanted to prescribe ADHD drugs to 100% of diagnosed patients as a retention strategy. Bloomberg Law. Unfortunately, Insider is paywalled but you may be able to see a report in the Wall Street Journal. Becker’s Hospital Review, FierceHealthcare

Also troubling telehealth is recurrent fraud, waste, and abuse cases involving Medicare and Medicaid. Back in 2020 the National Healthcare Fraud Takedown took down over 80 defendants in telemedicine fraud [TTA 2 Oct 20, 30 Jan 21]. The Eastern District of NY based in Brooklyn has indicted another physician, an orthopedic surgeon, in a $10 million fraud involving durable medical equipment (DME). In exchange for kickbacks from several telemedicine companies, he allegedly prescribed without examination and with only a cursory telephone conversation DME such as orthotic braces. DOJ release

Some fundings and a sale of note–and a big layoff at a well-known digital health leader:

  • Blue Spark Technologies, an RPM company with a patented Class II real-time, disposable, continuous monitoring body temperature patch good for 72 hours, TempTraq, raised a $40 million intellectual property-based debt solution (??) to fund growth led by GT Investment Partners (“Ghost Tree Partners”) with support from Aon plc (NYSE: AONRelease
  • Specialty EHR Netsmart acquired TheraOffice, a practice management platform for physical therapy and rehabilitation practices which will be added to its existing CareFabric platform. Neither terms nor management transitions were disclosed in the release.
  • ‘White label’ telehealth/virtual health provider Bluestream Health is implementing its systems in Mankato Clinic, with 13 facilities across southern Minnesota. It’s a rarity–physician-owned and led–and in business since 1916. This also fits into a new telehealth trend–providers working with ‘white label’ telehealth companies and not with the Big 5. Release
  • Ubiquitously advertised (in US) weight-loss app Noom is laying off a substantial number of employees–180 coaches plus 315 more employees. Reportedly they are pivoting away from on-demand text chat to scheduled sessions that don’t require so many people. While profitable in 2020 ($400 million) and with Series F funding of over $500 million in 2021, it’s come under criticism that while its pitch heavily features easy behavioral change achieved through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), their real core of weight loss is severe calorie restriction. Engadget
  • Element5, an administrative software provider for post-acute facilities, raised a $30 million Series B from Insight Partners. They claim that their software is AI and RPA (robotic process automation) based. ReleaseMobihealthnews

And speaking of the AI pitch in healthcare, a VC named Aike Ho explains why she doesn’t invest in healthcare AI companies because there’s no such thing in healthcare–it’s just machine learning. On that, Ms. Ho and your Editor agree. She also makes the point that the market they address is ancillary and not core services, plus they have difficulty clinching the sale because they don’t relate well to achieving or can’t prove at this stage improved clinical outcomes. Ms. Ho’s looooong series of Tweets is succinctly summarized over at HISTalk (scroll down halfway).

ATA conference roundup: a new board chair, a digital app review pilot, and company announcements

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) 2022 conference and expo is a wrap, after starting on Sunday through to Tuesday. While your Editor could not attend due to other commitments that precluded a trip to Boston, one industry insider who visited the expo–his first in-person event in two years–reported that after a slow start on Sunday, the floor busied up on Monday. Business was being done, finally and not virtually. What were the busy booths and what was ‘hot’? Companies in the areas of telemental health and remote patient monitoring (RPM). (Did you attend? What was your impression? Leave comments below.)

ATA had two major announcements of its own during the conference:

  • Kristi Henderson, DNP, NP-C, FAAN, FAEN, has been named as Chair of the ATA Board for a two-year term. Henderson is the CEO of Optum Everycare, where she leads a team building digital and virtual health solutions to improve quality outcomes and experiences for patients and providers. She has served on the board since December 2020. As Chair, she is succeeding Joseph Kvedar, MD and Professor at Harvard Medical School among other positions. Dr. Kvedar will become Immediate Past Chair and Senior Advisor to the ATA. Announcement
  • ATA, the American College of Physicians (ACP), and ORCHA, the Organization for the Review of Care and Health Applications,  announced a framework for the assessment of professional and consumer digital health technologies, including mobile apps and web-based tools. ACP and ORCHA, which has experience assessing compiling libraries of apps, will be piloting a test of the framework against a database of digital health tools. The goal of the pilot is to “determine how the library can be useful to physicians in recommending high-value digital health tools to their patients, and what other barriers to wider adoption of digital health tools may exist.” Announcement

Quite a few company announcements were made during ATA–a selection:

  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health highlighted the publication of a major scientific study (full text) documenting telehealth outcomes in JAMA Network Open. This Johns Hopkins-based research was partially supported by the ATA. The study followed a national cohort of 40.7 million commercially insured persons from July to December 2021 and included 21 chronic and non-chronic conditions. Fourteen-day follow-ups for persons with an initial telehealth visit were compared to persons receiving in-person care. On average, patients participating in an initial telehealth consult for a new health condition did not require more unplanned hospitalizations or follow-up ED visits within 14 days of their initial consult compared with patients making an initial in-person visit. The exception was respiratory conditions. Release
  • BioIntelliSense, which last year scored $45 million in funding for its on-body sensors, announced two major collaborations for remote patient monitoring (RPM) with UC Davis Health and Houston Methodist.
  • CDW Healthcare and Caregility announced a strategic partnership to expand their virtual care capabilities, including Caregility’s new Inpatient Virtual Engagement solution (IVE), also launched during ATA. 
  • Connect America, which snapped up Lifeline last year, launched Connect America Home, a single health and safety platform connecting (PERS) and remote patient monitoring (RPM) with supporting services, including AI-enabled virtual health assistance and Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) support, along with analytics. Release.
  • AliveCor announced the launch of KardiaComplete, a comprehensive heart health enterprise solution designed to drive improved health outcomes and reduce the cost of cardiac care. The service will be available through self-insured employers, health insurance plans, and health systems to those diagnosed with hypertension and arrhythmias, like atrial fibrillation.
  • Withings launched Withings RPM, the company’s most advanced remote patient monitoring solution designed to enhance the patient experience. It is a single platform that enables clinicians to order and send Withings RPM devices, manage data from multiple patients with automated alerts and reminders, communicate via SMS, phone, and in-app video calls, billing, sleep tracking, and more. 

TTA was a media partner of ATA 2022.

Some thoughts on Teladoc and the Week That Was in telehealth

Yes, your Editor has, for the past few weeks, felt like Pepper the Robot, moving at two speeds–crazed and off. (‘Off ‘ to the left. Now cart me off.) Home renovations, with strangers tramping through your abode, noise, dust, and the corresponding moving of furniture, packing and unpacking, pre- and post-cleaning, then trying to put things right and get your life back will do that. Add to that an unexpected gushy kitchen sink that took three ‘fixes’ to get actually fixed. Then there were technical problems with our email sender that Editor and Administrator Emeritus Steve had to work through. One becomes more appreciative of order, routine, and Peace and Quiet.

Speaking of Peace and Quiet, there is little to be found in telehealth. Instead, there is a lot of Feeling Off. The Big News of late last week, of course, was Teladoc’s troubles. In the words of Seeking Alpha, they had one horrific quarter. The horror show started with writing off the Livongo acquisition– a noncash goodwill impairment charge of $6.6 billion, for a massive loss of $41.11 per share for a total of $41.58 per share. To compare, last year’s Q1 loss was $1.31 per share. While revenues were up almost to projection (25%), it was still a $3 million miss and in context, it was the cherry on a very nasty sundae. After rosy projections last year, Teladoc lowered their 2022 revenue guidance from $2.6 billion to $2.45 billion.  

Moving forward from the questionable Livongo acquisition at the absolute peak of the market, CEO Jason Gorevic admitted some hard truths to investors that deepened the hole: much more competition, particularly in telemental health; the rising cost of paid search advertising and the keywords driving towards direct-to-consumer telehealth driving up the cost of acquisition; and difficulty closing B2B deals. This creates, in the terms of analyst SVB Leerink’s Stephanie Davis quoted in FierceHealthIT, “a direct-to-consumer air pocket that business-to-business sales (and their inherently longer cycles) are too slow to fill” at least, in her view, until the end of the year.

Teladoc’s difficulties, as this Editor has noted, started after a peak in early 2021 as the pandemic started its protracted wind-down and telehealth volumes plunged to well below 5% of claims as practices reopened. The stock value is down over 90% from last February, not helped by a volatile market triggered by war and inflation. Similar difficulties are plaguing Amwell (down 92% since February 2021), Talkspace (down to a paltry 16 cents and in court for misleading investors), SOC Telemed (taken private at a 70% drop in value, TTA 8 Feb), and other health tech companies. For our Readers, this is no surprise: the telehealth bender is ovah.

One industry leader in a post-ATA conversation with this Editor cited a less obvious factor–that hospitals and other health providers are now putting together their own telehealth/triage packages tied into population health and case management software, with and without ‘white label’ providers such as Bluestream Health and Zipnosis (acquired by insurtech/payvider Bright Health a year ago). Teladoc is a late entry to this provider/payer market with Primary360, where they also compete with Babylon Health [TTA 7 Oct 22]. And health retailers have joined the primary care telehealth game. Walmart last week announced a virtual health diabetes care program for employers through their recently acquired MeMD.

Big Telehealth’s troubles may depress investment in related earlier stage companies–or help those in niches such as telemental and population health, or remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems that have telehealth features (e.g. TytoCare), as VC investment seeks a brighter home. Right now, this Editor’s Magic 8 Ball is saying ‘outlook, cloudy”. 

Tunstall Healthcare announces new group CEO, Emil Peters

The Guard Changeth. Emil Peters will be joining Tunstall Healthcare as group CEO, effective 16 May. Mr. Peters is departing Cerner Corporation, having come up through the ranks over 25 years through international directorates and markets, leaving only briefly for a seven-month sojourn at TriZetto in 2012. For the past five years, he has been president of Cerner Global, managing all territories outside of the US from London, and previously general manager of Cerner Europe and Latin America. With the acquisition of Cerner by Oracle pending the usual approvals and then the usual restructuring, this is likely to be a fortuitous move on both sides.

Mr. Peters will succeed Gordon Sutherland, who held the position from September 2016 and oversaw many changes, but most significantly the change of ownership and company restructuring finalized in April 2020 from Charterhouse Capital Partners to a lender group led by Barings and M&G [TTA 10 April 2020 and 30 October 2020].

Peter Nicklin, chairman of the Tunstall board, who himself joined the company in March 2021, commented: “As we move forward past our 65th year anniversary and continue to expand our digital technology capabilities, I am thrilled to have Peters leading the charge. His leadership experience is perfectly placed to empower the Tunstall team to deliver products and services that, ultimately, save and prolong lives.”

This is the third high-profile change at Tunstall in the past year. In August, Gary Steen came from TalkTalk as Group Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Yorkshire Times.

LaingBuissonNews, HealthInvestorUK, Tunstall release   And a hat tip to a UK Reader who wishes to remain anonymous.

TTA’s April Showers: digital health funding’s slow start, UHG/Optum sticking with Change, buys Kelsey-Seybold, Walmart’s health superstores, Walgreens/Blue Shield CA’s Health Corners, Tivity & MobileHelp sold, more!

 

 

Weekly Update

April is proving to be an active month for something other than rain and blooming cherry trees, including company sales of Tivity and MobileHelp. UnitedHealth and Optum won’t give up on Change, including a hefty break fee, nor big buys. On the retail front, Walmart finally opens up Florida superstores powered by Epic, and Walgreens ‘corners’ with Blue Shield in California. Some local telehealth grants and the surprising vitality of audio telehealth for the underserved. And, to no one’s surprise, digital health got off to a slow start in Q1.

Weekend roundup: telehealth claims ticked up again in January, Walmart opens Florida health ‘superstores’, Blue Shield California partners with Walgreens’ Health Corners 
Thursday roundup: UHG/Optum, Change extend merger deadline to 31 Dec, buys Kelsey-Seybold; $2B Tivity Health sale; General Dynamics enters derm AI diagnostics; MobileHelp PERS sold to Advocate Aurora (A recovery in the works?)
Digital health funding’s Q1 hangover from 2021’s bender–and Q2 is a question mark, even for Rock Health (Some companies have aching heads still)
Wisconsin’s $5M for child psychiatry, community telehealth; FQHC patients prefer audio-only telehealth–Rand (Back to the roots of telehealth for less health served populations)


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The first full week of Spring turned out to be a busy one, from big buys by UHG/Optum in home and mental health, a significant one by LetsGetChecked, and more health tech fundings. Babylon’s Higi integrates their chatbot. Optum’s physician telehealth study shows there’s a way to go, along with Laurie Orlov’s aging tech studies and articles. The former Practice Fusion’s miseries with DOJ continue. And Amazon Health’s looking for talent.

Weekend wrapup & reading: Amazon Health on talent hunt, Practice Fusion fined $200K for violating $145M prosecution agreement, and must-read studies and articles on older adults tech (Read in between spring cleaning)
What do physicians really think about telehealth, now that they’ve used it? Lower use, substantial frustrations remain. (Another needle puncturing the bubble)
Friday roundup: LetsGetChecked buys Veritas Genetics, Everly Health adds CMO, Babylon sends chatbot to Higi, ConcertAI’s $150M Series C, AmplifyMD’s $23M, and two ‘Brights’ raise $155M (Reviving market?)
UnitedHealth Group makes two jumbo buys for Optum: LHC Group home health for $5B, Refresh Mental Health (Optum not letting grass grow with the Change DOJ lawsuit)

Winter turned into Spring, it’s raining, and it’s time for pleasant thoughts of a cheerful movie about the Umbrellas of Cherbourg. Speaking of France, Glooko’s European tour picked up DIABNEXT. Action in Asia-Pac with Vietnam’s Jio Health and Pear for sleepless Japanese. Certainly Sunny Balwani isn’t getting much sleep lately with the kickoff of Theranos Trial #2. And after 25 years of one man at the top, it’s a young tech-savvy woman in charge at Centene–and their cubies are hanging on.

Short takes for Thursday: TimeDoc’s timely $48M, Glooko buys France’s DIABNEXT, Jio Health’s $20M, Pear’s Tokyo sleep-wake, Antidote’s $22M, and Centene’s new, young CEO signals big changes (More consolidation, funding, and a changing of the guard after 25 years)
The Theranos Trials, ch. 3: Sunny and Elizabeth were in it together, all the way (Balwani’s rerun of Holmes’ trial)
DOJ lawsuit to block UnitedHealth-Change Healthcare’s acquisition now set for 1 August trial (UHG and Change not giving up)

We edge closer to Spring and our Headline News is a little here and there. ElliQ launches its desktop companion robot for seniors, GE Healthcare and AliveCor partner for cardiac monitoring, and Komodo Health and Included Health may IPO. NHS Digital is also playing catchup. All’s well in Walmart’s World. But given the real Headline News, insurer Anthem made a Myopic Move in announcing a name change now.   

Friday short takes: ElliQ companion robot launches, Tunstall pilots chronic condition support in Ireland, Walmart Better(s)Up, TytoCare surveys virtual primary care, Microsoft closes $19B buy of Nuance (A Friday potpourri)
NHS Digital roundup: £200M allocated for research, COVID-19/cancer cross-research using the new Trusted Research Environment (TRE) (TRE is high value for research)
Thursday news roundup: Walmart hiring 50K workers including health, Anthem name-changing, GE Healthcare-AliveCor partner, IPO for Komodo Health amid slowdown? 

It was nearing the Ides, but absent health tech reckonings in the run up to HIMSS next week and many digital health types partying at ViVE in Miami. (The hot war in Ukraine more than qualifies.) Congress was busy spending US taxpayer money in a 2,000-page+ spend bill that happily included some long-debated telehealth expansions. Tunstall expands in Germany with BeWo acquisition. Amwell maneuvers with LG into the hospital market, CVS stakes a claim in the metaverse, budget smartwatch Orbic debuts, and have a think around how you partner.

Weekend short takes, UK edition: Tunstall acquires Germany’s BeWo, AWS UK healthtech accelerator launches, Fidgetbum bed sleep aid gains US patent 
Friday news roundup: CVS filing for metaverse patents; Orbic-Verizon smartwatch debut, Amwell and LG partner for hospital digital health–and what *doesn’t* make for a good partnership (Is there life in the metaverse?)
What can be the long-term drivers of remote patient monitoring growth? (Simplify, simplify)
Congress may extend emergency telehealth flexibilities for Medicare, high-deductible plans for five months in spending bill (House passed Wednesday, but what’s telehealth’s fate later this year, in the runup to the midterms?)


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Weekend roundup: telehealth claims ticked up again in January, Walmart opens Florida health ‘superstores’, Blue Shield California partners with Walgreens’ Health Corners

Telehealth now above 5% of January claims. Perhaps Omicron, winter weather, or the post-holiday blues, but telehealth visits after a long drop have risen to 5.4% of January medical claim lines. It’s also the third month in a row of increase: November was 4.4%, up from October’s 4.1%; December was 4.9%.

As a percent of the total, claims increased in November and December for acute respiratory and Covid-19, but leveled off in January. The numbers remained in single digits compared to the leading diagnosis code group, mental health conditions, which rose in January:

Month Mental health Acute respiratory Covid-19
January 2022 58.9 3.4 3.4
December 2021 55.0 6.0 4.8
November 2021 62.2 4.5 1.4

February and March claims will be the proof, but telehealth is leveling off to a steady 4-5% range of claims with seasonal rises, barring any mass infectious diseases. The FAIR Health monthly map also enables drill-down by region. Healthcare Dive

Walmart Health ‘superstores’ open in Florida, finally. The concept, which had gradually spread to 20 locations in Arkansas, Georgia, and Illinois starting in 2019, now has two locations in the Jacksonville area. Three additional locations will be opening by June in the Orlando and Tampa area. Openings were delayed from 2021 so that Walmart could debut their Epic EHR and patient portal in those locations. Plans for expansion in Florida, filled with areas with aging populations, have been hinted at but coyly not confirmed by Dr. David Carmouche, senior vice president of Omnichannel Care Offerings.

After a few false starts and retrenching, Walmart is leveraging its strong physical point in delivering health–retail supercenters–against competitors such as CVS, Walgreens, and Amazon. The centers provide primary and urgent care, labs, X-rays and diagnostics, dental, optical, hearing and behavioral health and counseling for a checkup priced around $90, with most under contract with payers. Walmart has not announced expansion beyond Florida or in current states, but prior statements have indicated their desire to open Walmart Healths across the country. Walmart release, Healthcare Dive, Miami Herald

And Walgreens is not far behind the curve with 12 Health Corners in California. Walgreens’ joint model with Blue Shield of California in the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles areas is designed to boost community health, especially in areas with low health coverage or ‘health deserts’. Health advisers can provide simple in-store care along with guidance on preventive screenings, chronic care management and medications. Select health screenings, such as blood pressure checks and HbA1c tests will be available. 

Both in-person and virtual services through the Health Corner app are available at no additional cost to members enrolled in Blue Shield’s commercial PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) and HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) plans, who live within 20 miles of a Walgreens Health Corner location. It is part of both Walgreens’ enlarging of patient care offerings, including telehealth at a local level, and Blue Shield’s health transformation goals.

Their release promises an additional eight locations by mid-year. Healthcare Finance, FierceHealthcare

Thursday roundup: UHG/Optum, Change extend merger deadline to 31 Dec, buys Kelsey-Seybold; $2B Tivity Health sale; General Dynamics enters derm AI diagnostics; MobileHelp PERS sold to Advocate Aurora

UnitedHealth Group’s Optum unit and Change Healthcare, to no one’s surprise, have cast the die and extended their merger deadline to 31 December. Originally, the acquisition was to be completed at end of 2021 and later pushed to 5 April.

In a joint release, they touted their shared vision for a “simpler, more intelligent and adaptive health system for patients, payers and providers”. Backing this up is a break fee of $650 million from Optum to Change Healthcare in the event the court scuppers the deal.

On 25 February, the US Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in US District Court in Washington, DC to stop the acquisition on anti-competitive grounds [TTA 25 Feb]. UHG/Optum and Change, despite divestitures, could not evade DOJ’s reasoning that Optum was buying its only major competitor in areas such as hospital claims data, claims processing, claims editing, and EDI clearinghouse, which facilitates the transfer of electronic transactions between payers and physicians, health care professionals, or facilities. Less than a month later, Optum and Change responded, contesting the charges in that same District Court, and contending that it would be ‘economic suicide’ for Optum to be anti-competitive, since Optum’s business model is dependent on payers other than UnitedHealth. Fighting rather than switching off the deal, it’ll be heard on 1 August [TTA 23 March]. FierceHealthPayer

As noted last week, Optum is writing big checks for LHC Group home care/management services and Refresh Mental Health. This week’s jumbo buy is the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic of Houston. This is a multi-faceted operation with multiple multi-specialty care centers, a cancer center, a women’s health center, two ambulatory surgery center locations, and a 30-location specialized sleep center. It also has a highly regarded ACO and KelseyCare Advantage, a 5 Star Medicare Advantage plan, in addition to partnering with insurers on commercial value-based health plans. If it closes, Optum will be more than likely well over its goal of owning or controlling over 5% of US providers. Terms were not disclosed, but TPG’s private equity arm made a minority investment in Kelsey-Seybold two years ago. At the time, the valuation was rumored to be $1.3 billion.

Tivity Health is being acquired by funds managed by Stone Point Capital for $2 billion. The $32.50 per share is a 20% premium to the 90-day price average, which reflects its 40% financial share growth in the past year. Having sold its original name of Healthways and a sizable chunk of its original business to the digital health conglomerate Sharecare, it rebranded in 2017 as Tivity and concentrated on fitness businesses: senior-targeted SilverSneakers, gym chain Prime Fitness, and alternative/complementary medicine WholeHealth Living. Closing is anticipated to be Q3. CEO Richard Ashworth will remain with the company, and headquarters stay in Franklin, TN. Release, Becker’s

A palate cleanser: a division of defense/aerospace giant General Dynamics, General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) has developed an AI diagnostic for remote dermatologic use for the active service/veteran market. It classifies images of skin lesions, determines if they are indicative of skin disease, and will recommend follow-up care. According to the GDIT release, “the GDIT skin lesion classifier tool won third place in the VA National AI Tech Sprint 2020-2021, a competition organized by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAII) to match private sector talent with veterans, VA clinicians and other experts to brainstorm AI-based solutions that can improve veteran health and well-being.” Also Healthcare IT News

MobileHelp, one of the earliest mobile PERS, and sister company Clear Arch Health, a remote patient monitoring provider, have been purchased by Advocate Aurora Enterprises. Terms were not disclosed, but management will remain in place in Boca Raton. MobileHelp was private, so estimates of valuation are difficult, but their private equity backing included ABRY Partners and Topmark Partners (Crunchbase). Their PERS market claimed 300,000 households. Clear Arch had a separate clinical base with provider care management of chronic condition patients connected to EHRs. For AAE, a division of Advocate Aurora Health systems in Illinois and Wisconsin, MobileHelp’s acquisition will complement their recently acquired home health provider Senior Helpers and Xhealth clinical digital solution ordering. The traditional PERS and call center business continues to be of interest, but blending into other businesses. Release, Healthcare IT News

Digital health funding’s Q1 hangover from 2021’s bender–and Q2 is a question mark, even for Rock Health

Chug the Pedialyte and pickle juice, down those milk thistle caps for the liver. It’s a morning after quarter that we knew was coming. After 2021’s mighty year for health tech investment, doubling 2020’s, capped by a $29.1 billion total across 729 deals [TTA 29 Jan], the slump we knew would arrive, did. Rock Health’s tracking of 2022’s Q1 proved to be a less than stellar $6.0 billion across 183 deals. It mildly lagged 2021’s Q1 but was still 75% more than 2020’s depressed Q1 at the start of the pandemic.

Even in January, the 2022 projections were iffy. Silicon Valley Bank projected, based on anemic post-IPO performance, that there would be ‘massive consolidation’ and even acquiring companies to hire talent [TTA 14 Jan]. Rock Health and Silicon Valley Bank noted the waning of SPACs as an easy way to IPO for a variety of reasons, including SEC scrutiny. A combination of both was SOC Telemed. which IPO’d via a SPAC at $10, and was taken private seven months later at $3 per share–after trading at $0.64. SOC was not an outlier–larger telehealth brothers Amwell and Teladoc had taken major share price kicks in the head at 50% and more by February [TTA 8 Feb].

The rest of the story is mixed as the economy continues to open up with the pandemic over, but the stock market is wobbly, inflation soars as does a Russia-Ukraine war. 

  • Average deal size was $32.8 million, again below 2021
  • January was a cheerier month than the following two, with companies raising $3.0 billion. Some of this was carryover from 2021 deals that didn’t quite make it past the post. February slumped to $1.4 billion while March ticked up to $1.6 billion, not a good trend going into Q2.
  • Rock Health’s Digital Health Index (RHDHI), a composite of publicly traded digital health securities, fell 38%, far below the S&P 500’s 5% dip over that same time period.
  • SPACs tumbled along with the market, continuing their fall since 2021. Deals were canceled, taken private (SOC Telemed), and companies sued for misleading investors (Talkspace).
  • Late stage deals continued to roll: mega Series D+ deals in Q1 2022 included TigerConnect ($300M), Lyra ($235M), Alto Pharmacy ($200M), Omada Health ($192M), and Ro ($150M). D and above deal size fell by $16 million. But average deal size fell off at every Series, less so for B and C.
  • Lead clinical investment areas were mental health continuing far in the lead, followed by oncology, cardiovascular, and diabetes. Oncology rose from the fifth spot in 2021 to #2 in Q1, displacing cardio. In value proposition, the top three were on-demand healthcare, R&D, and clinical workflow–this up from the 11th spot.

A weak start for 2022, but only compared to 2021. Q2 and maybe even Q3 will be the test in this mid-term election year. Rock Health Q1 report

Wisconsin’s $5M for child psychiatry, community telehealth; FQHC patients prefer audio-only telehealth–Rand

The state of Wisconsin is granting $5 million to telehealth vendors, equally split between child telemental health and community telehealth delivery. Governor Tony Evers announced the grant series which was funded by the American Rescue Plan, the third COVID stimulus round of 2021 as part of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund to bolster rural telehealth plus mental health. With COVID fading, the funds are being redeployed by states for related health initiatives.

Applications are due 6 May for:

  • Up to five one-year grants of approximately $500,000 will be provided to Wisconsin hospitals and health systems to expand and improve child psychiatry telehealth services
  • Between 25 and 50 providers to partner with community organizations to establish neighborhood telehealth access points at food pantries, homeless shelters, libraries, long-term care facilities, community centers, and schools. These are targeted to reach people with limited access to technology and reliable internet service. These are also one-year grants of up to $100,000 each.

While big telehealth funding for mental health grabs the headlines, at the local level, it is these state initiatives that often keep both providers and smaller telehealth companies going. State of Wisconsin release, mHealth Intelligence

RAND Corporation’s study of telehealth in Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) found that audio-only telehealth was used more frequently during the pandemic, and continued to be used by patients for behavioral health even when primary care shifted back to in-person visits. The study group was the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF)’s 45-center Connected Care Accelerator (CCA) program started in July 2020. These centers serve rural, low-income, and underserved populations, common in places like Wisconsin (this Editor worked with a successful FQHC ACO there) and in California.

Audio and video telehealth was problematic for both the patient population and the clinics. Those with limited English proficiency participated in a significantly lower percentage of video visits. Behavioral health centers also had difficulties. Centers that coordinated efforts to replace audio-only with video visits had specific promising practices.

According to the RAND study, “key facilitators of telehealth implementation were leadership support, patient willingness to use the technology, platforms that were easy to use and access, a sense of urgency within clinics, changes in reimbursement policy, and training opportunities for staff.” Another recommendation was to retain centers to serve as distant telehealth sites (and to be reimbursed). Also mHealth Intelligence

Weekend wrapup & reading: Amazon Health on talent hunt, Practice Fusion fined $200K for violating $145M prosecution agreement, and must-read studies and articles on older adults tech

Resumes and networking up! A writer at Becker’s Hospital Review tired of their usual diet of healthcare departures, ‘alarming’ rises of COVID rates by state, and cyber-attacks on hospitals to publish six top-level jobs opening up in Amazon’s healthcare areas. The lead is Head of worldwide health technology solutions to lead strategy in that area at the C-level. Two are in UX and software development at Alexa Health, a senior solutions architect, health artificial intelligence , a principal of behavioral health for digital health benefit programs, and a health information exchange specialist. So if your spring brings a yen for change….

Physician EHR Practice Fusion, now Veradigm owned by Allscripts, got another $200,000 spanking from the Feds. Back in January 2020, right before Pandemic Hell really broke loose on the world, the Department of Justice successfully resolved both criminal and civil charges against the EHR company. Practice Fusion was charged with “soliciting and receiving kickbacks in return for embedding electronic prompts in its electronic medical record (“EMR”) to influence the prescribing of opioid medications” as part of the platform’s clinical decision support (CDS) alerts. The kickback was $1 million from an unnamed ‘opioid company client’, The deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) was accompanied by 1) a $145 million fine and 2) maintenance of an Oversight Organization based on three specific requirements. DOJ in the District of Vermont found that Practice Fusion did not comply with the terms of the latter, charges that Practice Fusion denied. They settled with the DPA extended by 11 weeks with a fine of $200,000. Release, US Attorneys Office, District of Vermont 29 March, US DOJ release 27 January 2020

Weekend Reading. Laurie Orlov of Aging and Health Technology Watch has been hard at work, recently updating her Market Overview Technology for Aging and releasing The Future of Smart Homes and Older Adults. No time with spring cleaning to tackle long-form? Try three tart short takes on PERS smartwatches (not getting the ‘why’), did ‘voice first’ technologies meet their 2018 promises (not quite), and what she sees as the Seven Top Trends for tech to reach older adults–with the first being hospital to home (Optum and Humana have voted ‘yes’). 

What do physicians really think about telehealth, now that they’ve used it? Lower use, substantial frustrations remain.

Optum finds a part-rosy, part-jaundiced picture. Not much notice was taken of a survey on behalf of UnitedHealth Group’s Optum survey of 240 physicians, 75% of whom were in primary care with the remainder in specialty or urgent care. Most (65%) hadn’t used telehealth prior to the pandemic, yet shifted to 74% heavy to moderate use during it. Good times for telehealth providers of all types, secure and non-secured platforms. The problem, despite Optum’s optimistic headline in the release? Telehealth use predictably rolled back; doctors aren’t sticking with it–86% project now rare (<10%) to moderate (10-49%) usage in future. 

Telehealth in use was primarily synchronous (real-time), and almost equally audio/video (88%) and phone only (80%). 30% used secure messaging. Patients also preferred phone to online, 86% to 51%, for scheduling. Most providers saw telehealth as convenient (69%), efficient (35%), and timely (29%). For patients, the convenience factor soared to 90%, with 47% happy they could have telehealth from home.

But provider frustrations were found to be substantial, with dissatisfaction over 50% in three key areas. 58% felt that they could not provide the level of care they want (58%), meet patient expectations (55%), or were frustrated with telehealth audio/video technology (50%). As to the last, 40% wanted better technology and 35% wanted EMR integration. Only 23% wanted a mobile app. 47% wanted training–for their patients. Only one in four said that job satisfaction and patient health improved.

A picture that needs some improvement for telehealth to succeed. Optum release, Provider Telehealth Use and Satisfaction Survey. Hat tip to EPTalk by Dr. Jayne on HISTalk.