One picture is generally positive–plenty of opportunity in the aging and ill population, particularly in data integration from various sources, and value-based care. Everyone loves the excitement that a startup with a novel technology or way it can make knowledge more useful brings to the field. Another picture is one of pitfalls aplenty, from overhyping technology (poster child, Theranos) to overestimating growth, overspending and especially picking the wrong (nervous, impatient) investors at the wrong time, which have left a general patina of mistrust around digital health. There’s also the fact that healthcare is a highly, confusingly regulated, long-cycle business that’s challenged money-wise, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Asia. Some advice to startups contained in these two articles, including from the principals of StartUp Health accelerator (who’ve seen it all), has to do with building trust, finding the right investors, the right advice/advisors, collaboration (though that is difficult with IP), finding proven (affordable) management and a sustainable (and resilient) culture. Underpromise, overdeliver. TechCrunch, Healthcare Dive
No wonder that investment was flat in 2015, and that much of the news is around acquisitions that rearrange companies and/or offerings. The latest today is Allscripts‘ and GI Partners’ acquisition of behavioral EHR/care coordination company Netsmart for $950 million; Allscripts is moving its homecare business into Netsmart’s CareFabric suite. Kansas City Business Journal, Healthcare Dive In addition we’ll cite our earlier Mo’ Money article on the $600 million in various digital health investments. UPMC, which had invested in Vivify Health’s telehealth/RPM platform, is spreading $3 million around partly in-house to six health tech projects developed under the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance. And in an example of Wearables Confusion, investors put $16 million into LifeBeam to develop another DTC ‘holistic’ health wearable (LifeBeam’s origins are sensors for aerospace and defense) while early wrist fitness entrant Pebble has laid off 40 staff in an attempt to refocus on…fitness.
Early-stage companies are also alliancing and merging. Fresh out of Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s NJ Innovation Institute, the merger of Practice Unite (which knits together secure mobile clinician/patient communications into a customized platform) and Uniphy Health (physician engagement), is an example of complimentary enlargement. This expands care collaboration offerings and shades over into patient engagement if you look at the PHM quadrant here. According to Director/Chief Medical Officer Stuart Hochron, MD (who was a Practice Unite founder), “We’re really pleased with the outcome of this merger. It’s given us the capital and resources that we need to scale.” It’s also good to see that both the founders and the CTO are moving into the new Uniphy Health–and staying in Newark. Release
Here’s an interesting proposition: digital health tools such as telemedicine, telehealth and mobile health can help to reduce physician burnout. Except that if one is looking for support points in this HCI Healthcare Informatics article, one would be hard pressed. There’s no link to QuantiaMD‘s study (a 225,000-member US physician community), an inexplicable lapse. Your persistent Editor tracked it down, and found it connects the dots a bit more. It starts with the proposition that nearly half of doctors wouldn’t recommend medicine as a career to their children, then identifies a key frustration–“healthcare technologies that sap time and money are among the top reasons.” The solution? Other “emerging technologies—in the form of telemedicine, mHealth tools, and connected health devices—may actually help reverse this trend of physician burnout.” The paper then describes how telemedicine virtual visits, giving patients telehealth tools which will aid compliance and monitoring, especially with new treatments, and the opportunity to improve care all are Good Things. But not entirely convincing that these can be effective in mitigating the complex reasons why behind doctor burnout. Read the QuantiaMD study for yourself. Hat tip to Stuart Hochron, MD, JD of Practice Unite via LinkedIn
With cyberattacks from all sources on the rise, and mHealth apps being used by providers in care coordination, telehealth, patient engagement and PHRs, Practice Unite, which has some experience in this area through designing customized app platforms for healthcare organizations’ patient and clinician communications, in its blog notes seven points for developers to keep in mind:
1. Access control– unique IDs assigned to each user, remote wiping of the mHealth app from any user’s device.
2. Audit controls
4. Integrity controls, such as compartmentalization, to ensure that electronically transmitted PHI is not prematurely altered or corrupted
5. Transmission security: data encryption at rest, in transit, and on independently secured servers protects PHI at each stage of transmission
6. Third party app integration–must fully comply with HIPAA safeguards
7. Proprietary data encryption
But all seven points need backing from the top on down in a healthcare organization. (More in the article above)
A great deal of importance has been placed on reducing same-cause hospital readmissions, but what about emergency room (ER, Emergency Department=A&E in UK) revisits? Sometimes they are needed–for increased pain, further testing or medication checks when the staff is doubtful the patient will follow up on their own–but often not. Two telemedicine/telehealth programs in Pennsylvania aims to cut these high rates of return–up to 20 percent in a month. Thomas Jefferson University Hospital is piloting video call follow up plus a call center to phone patients at risk of revisit to help with needed appointments. A group of insurers and providers, the HealthShare Exchange of Southeastern Pennsylvania, will also share patient information among local ERs when the insurance number is entered, a measure that may prevent unneeded testing. Modern Healthcare Hat tip to our readers at Practice Unite
If EHRs were perfect, there wouldn’t be so many companies developing communication workarounds. And why does a HIT consultant play Blame The Doctor?
Practice Unite, an early-stage company fresh out of Newark (cross the Hudson, head south) that knits together patient and clinician communications in highly customized app platforms for healthcare organizations [TTA 11 Mar], has put together a thought-provoking and fully attributed list of 30 ways mHealth is impacting healthcare: the value for patients and clinicians, the need for mHealth apps as part of collaborative care platforms and communication, plus the investment trail towards digital health. Hat tip to @PracticeUnite via Twitter.
One notable point is the difficulty current systems have in integrating data and the increased administrative load (+10 percent more) physicians experience with EHRs versus paper patient records. Confirming this are two items in Thursday’s POLITICO Morning eHealth: one, the privately-driven workaround for universal health data interoperability that the CommonWell Health Alliance is seeking as a non-profit trade alliance. and two, what happened when the GE Centricity EHR used by MedStar Health group’s DC and Baltimore-area outpatient clinics crashed after a weekend upgrade and stayed down through Tuesday night. Weekend data was lost. One doctor’s reaction:
“They kept saying it would be back up in an hour, but when I left work Tuesday night it was still down.” This doctor told us that the outage was “disruptive and liberating at the same time. I wrote prescriptions on a pad for two days instead of clicking 13 times to send an e-script. And I got to talk to my patients much more than I usually do. But of course we didn’t have access to any notes or medication history, and that was problematic.”
Now this observation is neither petty nor isolated. Last Fall we noted a JAMA study of internal medicine physicians finding that for both experienced physicians and trainees, there was a loss of time across the board in taking notes, reviewing patient data and at least one data management function was s-l-o-w-e-r. [TTA 12 Sept 14] Houston, we have a problem.
Yet there are still the ‘nothing to see here, move along’ types sailing down A River in Egypt. Others blame the victims, as in the doctors, for their cloddish unwillingness to Get With The HIT Program. (more…)
Your Editors have noted many well-funded companies working in the wings to link up and find meaning in the hugeness of Big Data generated by a gazillion medical systems and devices (Validic, the recently seen QpidHealth at HealthIMPACT East). However what’s been scarce on the ground are companies that are front-end, point of service, integrating mobile communications between clinicians, then with consumers/patients, then with EHRs, operations and patient portals. We noted ZynxHealth at HealthImpact, interestingly part of media giant Hearst, but they confine their secure messaging to clinicians. Now spanning both worlds is an early-stage company, Practice Unite, out of New Jersey Institute of Technology’s (NJIT–metro NY-ers of a certain age remember it as Newark College of Engineering!) NJ Innovation Institute accelerator. Inspira Health Network, located in southern NJ, is adopting their single clinician/patient platform. In conjunction with Futura Mobility, this will facilitate clinician/patient secure texting, voice communications, patient-directed communications and delivery of EHR data. Practice Unite has previously developed apps for at least ten health systems and home care providers. Their three-minute demo here illustrates a very wide span among clinicians, hospital operations, home care operations and patient engagement. (This Editor will be finding out more on Friday when visiting their offices at the NJIT Enterprise Development Center in Newark.) Release.