Same-day Medication Delivery Platform Medly Closes Series A Round

medly.png

Healthcare consumerism is on the rise and individuals now expect convenience in each step of their care experience. Digital pharmacies like Medly are taking advantage of this shift. The New York City-based startup provides same-day delivery of prescription medications. Providers can send prescriptions to the Medly platform then patients book a time for home-delivery. Founded in 2017, the company is headquartered in Brooklyn and serves customers in the greater New York and New Jersey area. Medly recently announced a new Series A funding round led by Greycroft for an undisclosed amount. Following the footsteps of their competitor, Capsule, the startup plans to use the infusion of funds to expand its services throughout the US. Medly believes that through humanizing their service and free same-day delivery, they will be differentiated from their competitors.

FDA Clears Single-use Nerve Stimulation Pain Relief for Adolescents with IBS

IB Stim.png

With the US in the midst of the opioid epidemic, healthcare stakeholders are leveraging technology to create alternative sources of pain relief. Recently, the FDA granted De Novo clearance for a prescription nerve stimulation device called IB-Stim. Developed by Innovative Health Solutions, the device is a single-use electrical nerve stimulator that reduces functional abdominal pain for adolescents and teens with irritable bowel syndrome. It is placed behind the patient’s ear and emits a low-frequency pulse that stimulates cranial nerves to provide pain relief. This isn’t the first time the FDA has provided marketing authorization for a digital health tool to target the opioid crisis and pain management. In recent years, the FDA cleared the NSS-2 BRIDGE, a device used to reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal and the Electro Auricular Device for use in acupuncture. Neurological medical devices offer the possibility of safer alternatives to pain management. 

House Calls are Making a Comeback

unnamed+%284%29.jpg

Although house calls evoke flashbacks to the 1900s, startups like DispatchHealth and Heal are making a case for them in this tech-enabled world. Both startups reimagine traditional house calls with mobile technology that allow patients to request on-demand care. In this care delivery model, the clinician arrives at the patient’s home within two hours and focuses on common health concerns like the flu, UTIs, stomach viruses, respiratory conditions, etc. The dispatched clinician then shares detailed notes to the patient’s primary care provider to ensure care is coordinated and no information is lost. 

In 2018, Heal raised $27M in Series A funding and has steadily expanded its service area and partnerships. While Heal continues to build on their company, DispatchHealth announced this month they have gained $33M in growth capital financing. DispatchHealth also added Kaiser Permanente (Colorado) to their list of health insurers, which includes Medicaid, Medicare, Cigna, Aetna, and more. The new investment will allow DispatchHealth to extend its service area coverage and develop new partnerships. With the ever growing consumer demand for healthcare at home, we can expect startups like Heal and DispatchHealth and house calls to become more prominent.

Role of Innovation in Addressing Social Determinants of Health

SDoH-Twitter-1-Diana-Chen.png

Nearly a decade has passed since Healthy People 2020 positioned social determinants of health (SDoH) at the forefront of healthcare reform. As defined by the report, SDoH are the “conditions in the environment in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age, that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality of life outcomes.” Examples of social determinants include:

  • Resources to meet daily needs (e.g., safe housing and local food markets)

  • Educational, economic, and job opportunities

  • Community-based resources in support of community living and opportunities for recreational and leisure-time activities

  • Transportation

The ability to influence social determinants largely falls outside of the health care system’s reach. Therefore, a key to address opportunities for health involves collaboration between health care and different industries such as education, housing, and transportation. Both the public and private sectors have made significant efforts to bridge the gap between physical, mental, and social care by experimenting with non-traditional partnerships.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has spearheaded multiple programs with government agencies and community partners to achieve the goals outlined in Healthy People 2020. One of the most notable successes is the Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, an initiative by the CDC with the Department of Housing & Urban Development and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Through housing rehabilitation, enforcement of housing and health codes, and partnerships with healthcare experts, the program helped Healthy People 2020 exceed their target of reducing blood lead level in children.

Other programs such as the “National Program to Eliminate Diabetes Related Disparities in Vulnerable Populations,” leveraged community partners and resources to increase food security, health literacy, and physical spaces for active living. In one of their projects, the program partnered with community health workers (promotoras) who spoke Spanish to engage with Hispanic/Latino communities where participation to Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) was low. The community health workers provided linguistically and culturally-sensitive materials that effectively increased participation in DSME among the targeted population. The outcomes from such initiatives have inspired more health and community organizations to work together to reduce health disparities.

Private health insurers have also joined the movement to influence SDoH as the shift towards value-based care incentivizes them to keep their beneficiaries healthy beyond clinical settings. Kaiser Permanente, which prides itself on helping their beneficiaries achieve total health, will launch their social care network Thrive Local to connect healthcare and social services providers. Thrive Local will be powered by Unite Us, a startup that helps providers refer social services, track outcomes, and collaborate care with community partners. Meanwhile, Blue Cross Blue Shield has invested nearly $40M into Solera Health to integrate social determinants data and resources into healthcare. Solera Health will use the funding to build out a network of digital health and social services providers and reimagine how health plans will pay social service providers. Both insurers are hopeful that the partnerships will promote better health outcomes and create a new care delivery model that effectively address social needs.  

Developers and innovators are encouraged to create technology that can support the integration of SDoH collaborations into healthcare. Those who are interested in this space and have a digital solution should apply to the “Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Social Determinants of Health Innovation Challenge,” which seeks novel technology that helps providers and/or patients connect to health services related to SDoH.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Digital tools that pull data from non-profit services to assist health systems in serving diverse patient populations on an ongoing basis

  • Apps for consumers that provide health information based on their community/location

  • Technology that harnesses governmental or open source data to create insights for healthcare providers to evaluate SDoH data and improve population health

In this multi-phase challenge, innovators are asked to submit tech-enabled solutions that account for SDoH. Subject matter experts will evaluate the entries and select the top five teams who will move onto Phase II. The five semi-finalists will be awarded $5,000 each to further develop their application or tool. Then, three finalists will be chosen at the end of Phase II to compete at a live pitch event! They will demo their technology in front of a captivated audience of investors, provider organizations, and members of the media at a prominent health conference. Judges will select the first, second, and third place winners live. Winners will be awarded $40,000 for first place, $25,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place.

The challenge is open to innovators and companies at any stage of development. If you are interested in applying, the competition is now accepting Phase I applications and the deadline to submit is June 7th, 2019 11:59 PM EDT.

To learn more about the challenge, please visit the website. To sign up for updates on the challenge, please click here.

New GuideWell Innovation Scale Up Accelerator Program

GuideWell Innovation, in collaboration with Springboard Enterprises, is hosting an exciting new 10-week Scale Up Accelerator program for women-founded health tech companies (or those with at least one female key executive) located in the Southeastern US (FL, GA, AL, MS, LA, NC, SC, KY, TN). Because both women-led startups and the South East are lagging in access and closure of venture capital, this unique cohort is dedicated to accelerating the growth and financing of companies within these demographics.

The program will run from Jun 26th – Aug 30th and includes a kickoff boot camp (June 26th – 28th) at the GuideWell Innovation Center in Orlando, FL. Most of the program will be conducted virtually other than the 3-day kickoff boot camp and a innovator/investor matchmaking showcase at the end of August. During weeks 2-9, the cohort companies will be matched with various advisors and are expected to connect with advisors every week. In addition, each week will incorporate a virtual 2-hour workshop/collaboration session led by subject matter experts on key challenge topics faced by most early-stage health tech companies.

Required criteria for the cohort:

  • Company must be a health, wellness or medical device technology company that addresses critical gaps in providing affordable, accessible health care or holistic health/wellness solutions for diverse populations and communities in the United States

  • Life sciences companies are NOT eligible for this cohort

  • Women founders or key executives must own a minimum of 25% of the company’s equity

  • The company must be headquartered and have a minimum of 50% of its staff located in the Southeastern US (FL, GA, AL, MS, LA, NC, SC, TN, KY)

  • Can show proof of “Scale Up” traction through revenues, capital raised, customer acquisition, and product development (see below)

  • Addressing a huge market opportunity in the U.S. healthcare, holistic health or wellness industry

Scale Up traction:

Eligible companies must meet GuideWell’s minimum “Scale Up” requirements. A Scale Up company is a growing technology startup with verifiable traction in its chosen marketplace. Traction may be different based on the company’s chosen market, but is typically demonstrated by one or more of the following:

  • A minimum of $500,000 in revenues

  • A minimum of $500,000 in seed capital raised

  • Patents in place for unique digital innovation or medical devices

  • FDA approval process underway for products requiring FDA approval

  • Verifiable (reference required) customer pilots

  • Accelerating product adoption (especially for consumer-focused solutions)

GuideWell is partnering with Springboard Enterprises, a nationally recognized accelerator for women-led, high growth, scalable businesses. Since launching its first program in 2000, Springboard has worked with 735 women who have raised $8.5B in capital and drove companies to 17 IPOs and 185 M&A exits. They bring forward a deep, highly experienced mentor network to help support this cohort and provide incredible industry expertise.

Act quickly! The deadline to apply is Friday May 31st 2019. Program details and the online application portal are available at: https://guidewellinnovation.com/guidewell-scale-up-accelerator/.

Healthcare is Coming Home

In an AARP survey of 2000 adults, 6 out of 10 respondents indicated they prefer to stay in their home and community for as long as possible. This desire increases with age; more than 75% of adults over 50 would rather remain in a familiar environment where they have strong connections to friends, neighbors, and businesses. However, for the elderly and people with chronic illness or disabilities, remaining at home can be difficult. These populations require services that are often provided at long term care facilities (e.g. nursing homes) and/or formal medical settings-- which can be costly, inconvenient, and inefficient. 

Individuals of all ages across the health spectrum have also expressed interest in receiving health services in the home or community as a means to access higher quality and convenient care. With consumer demand for patient-centered care, the U.S. healthcare system has steadily steered away from institutional services in favor of home and community-based services (HCBS). Since 2013, Medicaid expenditures for HCBS has continued to exceed spending for institutional services. HCBS now accounts for 55% of Medicaid Long Term Care spending.

As the largest payor for healthcare in the United States, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is often the first to experiment and adopt new care delivery models. With Medicaid’s perceived benefits with HCBS, the CMS has also changed what is covered under Medicare Advantage (MA) to accommodate for the transition towards home and community based care. In 2018, CMS added “non-medical in-home care” as a supplemental benefit for 2019 MA plans. This year, CMS continued to broaden the range of supplemental benefits for MA 2020 to cover any benefits “that have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” of beneficiaries with chronic conditions or illnesses.

In one short, powerful clause, CMS opens the gateway to address previously neglected factors such as the home, social environment, transportation, and more. of chronically ill patients. As listed in the announcement, items and services that are covered may include but are not limited to:

●     Meals furnished to the enrollee beyond a limited basis

●     Transportation for non-medical needs

●     Pest control

●     Indoor air quality equipment and services

●     Other benefits to address social needs

Health insurers and providers, especially home and community based care providers, are eager to take advantage of this addition. However, they need new ways to include such services in their care delivery. Unconventional care models, as well as novel technologies to support care delivery outside of medical institutions are essential. Therefore, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), in partnership with Catalyst @ Health 2.0, has launched the “Home & Community-Based Care Challenge,” to encourage developers to create solutions that support the advancement of at-home or community based health care. Examples include but are not limited to:  

●     coaching app to engage consumers with their healthcare

●     non-intrusive sensors for at home monitory of acute disease patients

●     apps to support caretakers with burnout

In this multi-phase challenge, innovators are asked to submit tech-enabled solutions addressing home and community based care. Subject matter experts will evaluate the entries and select the top five teams who will move onto Phase II. The five semi-finalists will be awarded $5,000 each to further develop their application or tool. Then, three finalists will be chosen at the end of Phase II to compete at a live pitch event! They will demo their technology in front of a captivated audience of investors, provider organizations, and members of the media at a prominent health conference. Judges will select the first, second, and third place winners live. Winners will be awarded $40,000 for first place, $25,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place.

The challenge is open to innovators and companies at any stage of development. If you are interested in applying, the competition is now accepting Phase I applications and the deadline to submit is June 7th, 2019 11:59 PM EDT.

To learn more about the challenge, please visit the website. To sign up for updates on the challenge, please click here.

Empowering People with Impaired Speech through AI

GoogleAI.png

The ability to communicate and be understood is a privilege that is often taken for granted. For those who suffer from neurological conditions such as ALS, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson’s disease, impaired speech limits how they can express needs and engage with those around them. However, with the advancement of voice-enabled tech and artificial intelligence, Google AI seeks to empower those with speech impairments by improving a computer’s ability to understand diverse speech patterns.

Project Euphonia, part of the AI for Social Good program, uses specialized software to turn recorded voice samples into a spectrogram, or a visual representation of the sound. Common transcribed spectrograms are used to "train" the system to better recognize less common types of speech patterns. Those with severe disability or nonverbal individuals also benefit from this project given that Google’s personalized AI algorithms are simultaneously working to detect facial movements and gestures. Euphonia can then take actions such as generating spoken commands to Google Home or sending text messages. The ultimate goal of this initiative is to support people with impaired speech and empower them to communicate freely and effectively. 

Oscar Health Partners with Cardiogram to Bring Health Detection Technology to Members

oscar.png

Health care insurers are increasingly using wearables to engage and monitor the health and wellness of their members. For example, Aetna’s Attain and UnitedHealthcare’s Motion programs incentivizes beneficiaries to perform tasks designed to improve their health. Oscar Health’s new partnership with smartwatch app maker Cardiogram takes a different approach by improving access to care for those at risk of developing chronic conditions. Oscar Health is able to more effectively manage the health of its members through early disease detection by leveraging Cardiogram’s clinically proven artificial intelligence technology.  

Oscar beneficiaires will be able to download and use Cardiogram Care on their smartwatch for free. After uploading the necessary insurance information, each user will be monitored for signs of diabetes and atrial fibrillation. If symptoms are detected, users will need to take further tests to confirm the diagnosis. If a previously undiagnosed condition is confirmed, the app will be able to refer the user to in-network physicians. As wearables slowly become more prevalent, having a clinical workflow leveraging smart devices can have dramatic implications on how we access care in the future.

Lyft Expanding Discount Grocery Rides to Multiple Cities Across US and Canada

lyft.png

Millions of Americans across the country do not have adequate access to healthy foods. For example, those living in low income neighbourhoods, communities of color, and rural areas often do not have a nearby supermarket stocked with nutritious, affordable, and high quality foods. In an effort to remove such transportation barriers, Lyft will be expanding its Grocery Access Program to more than a dozen cities in the US and Canada over the next year. The ride-share platform will be partnering with local organizations and nonprofits to provide low-income families in food deserts with discounted rides to the grocery store.

The expansion of the program helps Lyft maintain a competitive edge over its rival Uber in healthcare. Lyft’s Concierge service, which gives hospital administrators the ability to book NEMT for patients, came out two years ahead of Uber’s similar service, UberHealth. Now Lyft has once again gained a first mover advantage by being the first to roll out a grocery service. With payers seeking to mitigate costs associated with poor nutrition, we can see Lyft forging crucial partnerships and leveraging its platform to treat the growing health inequity in the US.

Announcing: New RWJF Innovation Challenges

blog5.png

Health starts with where we live, learn, work, and play. In our shared commitment to building a culture of health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and Catalyst @ Health 2.0 are proud to launch the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) and the Home & Community Based Care Innovation Challenges. We are seeking novel technologies that address conditions in communities and bring quality care to where people live. 

We invite you to join our fight to improve access to health resources and the chance to win your share of $100,000 in prizes! Finalists also have the opportunity to pitch their solutions live on stage at a prominent health tech conference.

For the SDoH Challenge, we are looking for digital solutions that help patients and/or providers connect to services related to Social Determinants of Health. Examples include but are not limited to: digital tools that help health systems serve diverse populations, apps for consumers that provide health information based on their community/location, or tools to improve health quality indoors. To learn more about the Social Determinants of Health Innovation Challenge, click here. To pre-register and receive the latest updates, click here

For the Home & Community Based Care Challenge, we would like to see creative technologies that support the advancement of at-home or community-based health care. Examples include but are not limited to: coaching app to engage consumers with their healthcare, non-intrusive sensors for at home monitory of acute disease patients, or apps to support caretakers with burnout. To learn more about the Home & Community-Based Care Challenge, click here. To pre-register receive the latest updates, click here

Applications open April 29th. All submissions are due June 7th, 2019 11:59PM EDT.

The SDoH Innovation and Home & Community Based Care Challenges are brought to you by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and powered by Catalyst @ Health 2.0.

Digital Physical Therapy Startup SWORD Health at the Forefront of Home-Based Care

blog4.png

The rapid digitization of healthcare is enabling the advancement of technology solutions aimed at providing quality home-based care for patients. One notable example is the Portuguese startup SWORD Health. The company provides patients suffering from musculoskeletal disorders with a digital physical therapy solution. Each patient is given a wearable motion tracking device, an AI-powered digital therapist, and a clinical portal where caregivers can track their progress. The company published two studies in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and Nature Scientific Reports last month, showing its digital therapy platform is more effective than standard rehabilitation at helping patients recover from total knee arthroplasty. 

SWORD Health recently announced it successfully raised $8M in Series A funding, indicating continued investor interest in their AI-powered platform. The funding round was led by Khosla Ventures with additional participation from several unnamed angel investors. It plans to use the investment for further clinical validation, improving product engineering, and expanding its footprint in North America. Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla states SWORD Health’s “end-to-end technical approach enables exponentially more efficient delivery of care to patients and payers.” By providing accessible and effective care to patients at home, SWORD Health’s digital platform may be a huge disruptor of the physical therapy landscape.

Israel’s $276M Investment in Preventive and Personalized Medicine

blog2.jpg

Israel is a center for healthcare innovation, with 500 digital health startups and a world-class healthcare system. Researchers are leveraging the country’s interoperable EHRs for analysis. They can easily obtain data since EHR systems at different hospitals throughout the country are able to talk to one another.

According to Siman-Tov, director general of Israel’s Ministry of Health, de-identified patient data is enabling researchers to “generate insights and identify patterns that can later be implemented in decision support systems.” For example researchers from Clalit, the largest healthcare system in the country, have used medical records to identify patient populations with adrenal failure at risk of further degradation. In addition to furthering preventative medicine at a population-level, researchers plan to leverage the data in support of advancements in personalized medicine. Last year, Israel’s government approved a $276M investment in digital health in hopes of commercializing their medical databanks. Having already attracted the interest of many stakeholders, Israel continues to solidify its position as a leader in digital health innovation.

Digital Health Company Livongo Set to IPO

blog3.jpg

Digital health startups raised $8.1B from investors in 2018. However, with the exception of Roche’s $2B purchase of Flatiron Health and Amazon’s $1B acquisition of PillPack, there has been a lack of significant exits within the digital health landscape. In the past, many IPOs came from companies with business models familiar to Wall Street. For example, Veeva Health and AthenaHealth have a business model focused on selling cloud-based software while Fitbit focuses on selling devices. 

Unlike in previous years, digital health companies planning to IPO have business models that emphasize combining technology and services. Livongo is a provider of chronic disease management services bundled with a blood glucose meter. It has hired Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and J.P. Morgan Chase to manage their IPO. According to Marc Albanese, senior director of research at CB Insights, “there hasn’t been a true digital health IPO,” putting a bit of pressure on Livongo. Undoubtedly, Livongo’s IPO performance will set the tone for how similar companies are received by Wall Street.

Announcing the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Social Determinants of Health and Home & Community Based Care Innovation Challenges

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has partnered with Catalyst @ Health 2.0 to launch two innovation challenges on Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) and Home & Community Based Care. As a national leader in building a culture of health, RWJF is inspiring and identifying novel digital solutions to tackle health through an unconventional lens.

Health starts with where we live. As noted in Healthy People 2020 social determinants of health are, “conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age... [that] affect a wide range of health functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.” For example, children who live in an unsafe area cannot play outside making it more difficult for them to have adequate exercise. Differences in SDoH heavily influences communities’ well-being and results in very different opportunities for people to be healthy.

Despite our knowledge on SDoH, the current healthcare system utilizes care models that often fail to take into account the social and economic landscape of communities-- neglecting factors such as housing, education, food security, income, community resources, transportation and discrimination. Little progress has been made on incorporating SDoH into established health care frameworks. Healthcare providers and patients alike either have limited understanding of SDoH or have limited opportunities to utilize SDoH knowledge. RWJF established the “Social Determinants of Health Innovation Challenge” to find novel digital solutions that can help providers and/or patients connect to health services related to SDoH.

Home and community-based care is also important to enable Americans to live the healthiest lives possible. In-patient and long-term institutional care can be uncomfortable, costly, and inefficient. Digital health solutions in the home and community offer opportunities for care that better suit the patient and their loved ones. For example, innovations such as remote patient monitoring (RPM) have created new care models that allow the providers, caregivers, and patients to manage care where a person is most comfortable. RPM serves as a reminder that technologies in the home and community offer alternatives methods to engage the patient, increase access to care, and receive ongoing care. Therefore, RWJF is launching the “Home & Community-Based Care Challenge,” to encourage developers to create solutions that support the advancement of at-home or community-based health care.

The ultimate goal of both challenges is to foster innovations that help people live healthier lives and promote healthier, more equitable communities.

The challenges have two phases. In Phase I, innovators submit tech-enabled solutions addressing the challenge topic. Judges will evaluate the entries and the top five teams who will move onto Phase II. The five semi-finalists will be awarded $5,000 each to further develop their application or tool. Three finalists will be chosen at the end of Phase II to compete at a pitch event! They will demo their technology in front of a captivated audience of investors, provider organizations, and members of the media at a prominent health conference. Judges will select the first, second, and third place winners live. The grand prize winner will be awarded $40,000 for first place, $25,000 for second place, and $10,000 for third place.

With $100,000 in total prizes for each challenge and a number of promotional activities, we strongly encourage innovators to pre-register for the challenges and be notified when the applications open.

Check out the challenge websites below to learn more and make sure to pre-register for the RWJF Social Determinants of Health Innovation Challenge and/or the RWJF Home & Community Based Care Challenge to be notified when applications open on April 29th and submit your digital solution by June 7th.

To learn more about the Social Determinants of Health Innovation Challenge, click here. To pre-register for the challenge and receive the latest updates, click here.

To learn more about the Home & Community-Based Care Challenge, click here. To pre-register for the challenge and receive the latest updates, click here.

 

Femtech Startups Gaining Traction Among Investors

blog1.jpg

The increasing popularity of fertility trackers and other women-focused tech has spurred the growth of reproductive health companies with a digital focus. For example, Natural Cycles, the first birth control app to be CE-certified as a contraceptive in Europe, raised $30M in Series B funding back in 2017. Ava, maker of an ovulation tracking bracelet, also raised $30M in Series B funding early last year. NextGen Jane, a startup seeking to make it within the increasingly competitive reproductive health space, closed a $9M Series A funding round earlier this week. Leading the round was Material Impact. Additional investors include Access Industries, Viking Global Investors, and Liminal Ventures. NextGen Jane is planning to mail kits to women with a tampon they can send back and have analyzed. The Oakland, California-based startup will use the influx of cash to further its scientific dataset and prepare for a 2020 product launch. By providing women with accessible methods to understanding their reproductive health, NextGen Jane and other femtech startups will only continue to grow in the coming years.

Healthcare Executives Under Threat of Business Model Disruption

Healthcare-IoT.jpg

Healthcare executives are increasingly worried about business model disruption due to the influx of new entrants, processes, and technologies into the healthcare industry. According to Change Healthcare’s 9th Annual Industry Pulse Survey, 13.3% of 185 healthcare leaders believe that innovations in care delivery will lead to potential advancement within the industry and 11.1% believe that refinement of customer experience will create disruptive change. Other potential disruptors include supply chain innovations (9%), launch of vertical one-stop healthcare companies (8%), and advances in artificial capabilities (7%). However, the survey findings also suggest that healthcare leaders are increasingly embracing healthcare technologies. Thirty percent of leaders indicate that EHRs are their leading source of clinical data and another 30% of respondents say that analytics are “extremely effective” or “very effective” at increasing workflow productivity.

Health systems are also jumping into the digital age, with patients portals employed by 73% and telehealth solutions employed by 54% of all surveyed respondents. Twenty percent of respondents indicate they currently use machine learning and 51% plan to employ the technology in the future. Interestingly, the survey reveals a marked lack of attention toward cybersecurity. Even while 40% of healthcare leaders see cybercrime as a potential risk, 38% answered that there are “too many competing priorities” to warrant the level of attention that cybersecurity needs. Nevertheless, the threat of disruption has charged healthcare leaders to intensify its commitment to combating new market entrants.

New Studies Seek to Define Clinical Efficacy of Apple Watch

apple-heart-image.jpg

Preliminary results from the Apple Heart Study show the potential health benefits of wearables. Researchers from the Stanford University School of Medicine partnered with Apple to conduct a virtual observational study with more than 400,000 participants. The study used the Apple Watch’s irregular rhythm notification (IRN) system to detect atrial fibrillation (AFib). The results showed 0.5% of participants received irregular rhythm notifications. For those who were notified, 21% received and wore an ECG patch. Of those, Afib was confirmed 34% of the time. The positive predictive value of the overall study was 71%, however, this increased to 84% for the subgroup who also used an ECG patch. It should be noted that the study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

Johnson & Johnson’s HEARTLINE Study aims to build on the Apple Heart Study. Announced back in January, the virtual clinical trial will enroll 150,000 Americans 65 years and older to detect AFib and collect outcomes data. Participants will be randomized to either receive the Apple Watch 4 or no watch at all. Compared to the Apple Heart Study, one key technical design difference allows the HEARTLINE Study to draw a clearer connection between AFib observance and confirmation. Instead of waiting for an ECG patch to be mailed to the participant, the ECG app on the user’s Apple Watch 4 will be engaged once the “IRN software detects five out of six consecutive irregular rhythms each lasting one minute.” Both the IRN software and the ECG app are FDA cleared for AFib detection. Although the clinical efficacy of wearables is far from conclusive, the innovative use of virtual clinical trials will likely be commonplace in the future with the continued proliferation of consumer-driven health technologies. 

Voice Technology Helping Patients In and Out of Hospitals

voice.png

With the proliferation of devices such as the Google Home and Amazon Alexa, consumers have increasingly become accustomed to using voice technologies to send and receive information. Livongo, a chronic conditions management platform, has recently announced the launch of a new voice tool feature for its users. It is called "Cuff to Cloud" and is powered by Amazon Lex and Polly. It allows Livongo users to upload their blood pressure readings through a voice-enabled cellular blood pressure monitoring system. By running the data through the company’s AI+AI engine, users will receive personalized “health nudges” such as suggestions to reduce their sodium intake.

Hospitals are also evaluating the use of voice technologies to decrease inefficiencies and improving patient satisfaction. Cedars-Sinai is currently running a 100-hospital room pilot to assess the capabilities of a patient-centered voice assistant platform. Each room is equipped with an Amazon Echo run by Avia (an Alexa-powered platform). In addition to the standard Amazon Alexa features, patients can request help through the device. If the request is not answered in a timely manner, Aiva automatically sends it up the chain of command to notify the relevant personnel. By moving patient interaction into the 21st century, Cedars-Sinai hopes that a smart room will have a positive impact on patient satisfaction for both patients and nurses. Adrienne Edwards, an early user of the platform, praised the smart addition to her room. Feeling lonely, she asked the smart device, “Alexa, will you be my friend?” The device responded, “Of course we could be friends. You seem very nice.”

From personalized health recommendations to expediting patient-provider communication flow, voice technology is rapidly gaining traction among the patient population. What’s left to see is how fast can the technology be adapted to healthcare-specific settings with an inherent focus on patient privacy.

Revolutionizing Healthcare Analytics with Data Lakes

datalakes.jpg

The use of artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and other modern solutions in healthcare organizations is fast becoming a reality. Hospital systems such as Thomas Jefferson University Hospital are quickly embracing these new technologies to increase patient satisfaction and experience. However, impressive patient-centered innovations require a solid technical infrastructure on the back-end to sustain long-term growth and stability. One type of data architecture, commonly known as data lakes, is a clear solution to this problem.

Modern healthcare organizations are able to pull data from Internet of Things sensors, social media feeds, website activity, in addition to electronic health records and other patient data. While data warehouses have traditionally been used to store current and historical data in an organized manner, they are unable to capture the vast amounts of raw data generated by modern technologies. This is where data lakes step in. Unlike the structured manner of a data warehouse, data lakes act as a central repository of unstructured, semistructured, and structured data to pull in vast amounts of information in real time. Everything from surgical systems to general ledgers and payroll can be pulled into a data lake, making them prime for experimentation. Organizations can load a variety of data types from multiple sources and quickly engage in ad hoc analysis, according to Kelle O'Neal, founder and CEO of management consulting firm First San Francisco Partners.

As more and more healthcare organizations look to data lakes as a viable solution for their data storage needs, it is important to understand the benefits of the architecture. Arizona’s Phoenix Children’s Hospital has pulled a variety of data from 40 healthcare systems into its data lake. Not only has this created a culture shift towards a data-driven approach to problem-solving, but it has also generated a number of practical solutions, such as algorithms for more accurate dosing. New York’s Montefiore Health System uses its “multi-sourced, tagged data to support artificial intelligence and deep learning.” As the transition towards value-based care continues, it can be incredibly beneficial for healthcare organizations to understand and implement data lakes in order to leverage data in support of clinical and operational decisions.

IBM Watson Health and Leading Hospitals Invest $50M to Accelerate AI Development

ibm.jpg

While artificial intelligence is a buzzword within the healthcare industry, there is a lack of real-world solutions aimed at ameliorating major public health issues. To spur the advancement of AI technology for the healthcare industry, IBM Watson Health has announced a 10-year, $50M investment in research collaborations with Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. 

A key area of focus will be studying how AI can utilize electronic health records and claims data to address public health issues such as precision medicine, health equity, and patient safety. Additional research will be conducted to explore the physician and patient user experience with AI technologies. The collaboration will combine IBM Watson’s expertise in artificial intelligence with the “best health informatics researchers in the world,” in hopes of accelerating the development of real-world AI-solutions “to improve the utility of the EHR and claims data to address major public health issues.”