Doctor on Demand, Change Healthcare collaborate
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Telehealth provider Doctor on Demand is leveraging Change Healthcare’s Intelligent Healthcare Network to allow patients to choose the most convenient and cost-effective lab for tests ordered by network physicians. When a Doctor On Demand physician sees a patient over a video visit and determines lab work is needed, the doctor can order the tests and refer the patient to nearby labs for testing. Patients then have the option to choose a lab that works best for them based on location and costs. When testing is complete, the clinician can then send the results directly to the patient–all through the Doctor On Demand application. Change Healthcare electronically delivers more than 60 million results and clinical reports, and over 14 million orders, per year on its Clinical Network. “Change Healthcare’s eagerness to explore new ways to route lab orders, and their close relationships with leading labs, were the essential elements in enabling this innovative patient interaction,” said Hill Ferguson, CEO of Doctor On Demand, in a statement. “We’ve taken a major step in advancing the quality and range of services provided via telehealth to extend the doctor-patient relationship through long-term care.”
Babylon Health partners with Tencent to offer AI-powered health assessments
LONDON – Health technology startup Babylon Health is working with digital media and telecom conglomerate Tencent to leverage Babylon’s artificial intelligence system to deliver personal health assessments, treatment advice and individual health records across main land China. By interacting directly with users, Babylon’s AI system will be able to identify specific illnesses, provide health status assessments and triage necessary actions. “Tencent and Babylon share the same ethos about making health care accessible for all,” said Dr. Ali Parsa, CEO of Babylon Health, in a statement. “This is a partnership for Babylon to work with one of the tech giants in China, to bring quality digital health service to Chinese people.” Tencent’s WeChat platform has more than 1 billion users and the app has partnered with more than 38,000 medical facilities in China. Babylon is hoping to further expand its market reach and product capabilities by partnering with health care services around the world and has seen its membership grow to more than 1.4 million users. “We have identified Babylon as one of the leaders in this technology worldwide and aim to partner with them to put it into the hands of Chinese consumers,” said Meng Zhang, general manager of Tencent, in a statement.
WebMD redesigns Symptom Checker
NEW YORK – WebMD has launched a new version of its WebMD Symptom Checker with an emphasis on providing a better user experience and more accurate results. The upgraded tool enables consumers to enter symptoms and find the most relevant information quickly and easily so they can make better, more informed health decisions. “Our redesign reflects our commitment to continually improving the experience of consumers when seeking answers to their health questions,” said Dr. Steven Zatz, CEO of WebMD, in a statement. “We take very seriously our role in the consumer health care experience, and we have enhanced the tool to deliver the most accurate results possible.” The new WebMD Symptom Checker features a revamped user interface designed powered by a professional-grade diagnostic engine used by physicians to support their point-of-care decisions. It also features three times more symptoms and potential conditions than the previous version. The tool is integrated with WebMD’s Physician Directory to help WebMD visitors find the care they need to address their health issues.
Tactile Medical introduces new generation of Flexitouch system
MINNEAPOLIS – Tactile Medical, a medical technology company that develops medical devices for the treatment of chronic diseases at home, has introduced the Flexitouch Plus, the third generation of the company’s Flexitouch system to treat lymphedema. The device’s controller has been enhanced with a color display featuring an intuitive user interface and the ability to create and save preset therapy programs. The controller also enables patients to treat two legs simultaneously, allowing them to complete bilateral therapy in less time. Additionally, the Flexitouch Plus system’s garments have been redesigned to provide improved fit, comfort and coverage, and to allow patients to more easily put them on and take them off. “The design of this next-generation system was influenced by feedback obtained from our patient and clinician customers and was developed with the goal of enhancing the overall user experience,” said Gerald Mattys, CEO of Tactile Medical, in a statement. “Based upon the positive reception we received during our limited market release, we believe we have designed a system that will allow our patients to treat their lymphedema more easily and efficiently.”
PeerWell integrates AI, AR in platform upgrade
SAN FRANCISCO – PeerWell, a company that develops mobile technology to help people prevent, prepare for and recover from surgery, has extended its platform to help patients identify and avoid trip and fall hazards. PeerWell’s Trip & Fall Hazard Detector allows users to walk around their homes with their smartphone cameras, while the system’s real-time artificial intelligence identifies and flags trip and fall hazards. When the Trip & Fall Hazard Detector identifies a hazard, an augmented reality alert is superimposed over the video display. After the evaluation, photos of the problem areas will be shown to the patient with education on how to fix them.
PeerWell’s AI will assign patients’ homes a risk score, which can be used by health systems to schedule in-home occupational therapy visits and inform discharge planning. “This technology continues to put us years ahead of the industry,” said Manish Shah, CEO of PeerWell, in a statement. “Most image recognition systems are trained using publicly available data sets. Here, there is no data set like this, so even the foundational data is proprietary.” PeerWell will offer this as a new component of its existing platform, which includes smartphone-based range of motion assessment, autonomous care path creation and the tracking of more than 40 data streams per episode of care. PeerWell has collected more than 1 million mHealth records to date, enabling its artificial intelligence based system.
CityMD incorporates mPulse Mobile text technology
NEW YORK – Urgent care provider CityMD is leveraging interactive text messaging capabilities from mPulse Mobile to deliver its Aftercare program, including its referrals, pre-approvals, lab follow-ups and patient satisfaction surveys. “Providing an exceptional experience includes engaging our patients in a way that is convenient and easy for them,” said Ramu Kannan, CIO of CityMD, in a statement. The provider has realized a 60% response rate with interactive text messages, compared to 10% previously, Kannan said. “Partnering with a leader and intensely patient-centric organization like CityMD to deliver solutions that patients enjoy and engage with for improved health outcomes is core to our vision,” said Chris Nicholson CEO of mPulse Mobile, in a statement.
Researchers develop patch to measure glucose
UNITED KINGDOM – Researchers from the University of Bath have created an adhesive patch that measures the glucose levels of people with diabetes through their skin, according to a study published recently in Nature Nanotechnology. The patch draws glucose out from fluid between cells across hair follicles, which are individually accessed through an array of miniature sensors using a small electric current. The glucose collects in tiny reservoirs and is measured, and readings can be taken every 10 to 15 minutes over several hours. “The monitor developed at Bath promises a truly calibration-free approach, an essential contribution in the fight to combat the ever-increasing global incidence of diabetes,” said Richard Guy, one of the researchers, in a statement. The researchers hope the technology can eventually become a low-cost wearable sensor that sends glucose measurements to the patient’s phone or smartwatch, alerting them when they need to take action.
Reliq Health, Paz Home Health expand contract
VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Reliq Health has expanded its contract with Texas-based Paz Home Health to provide its iUGO Care remote patient monitoring and telemedicine solution. The revised contract increases the number of Paz Home Health subscribers by 5,000 patients, bringing the total to more than 15,000 patients. “Paz Home Health has successfully demonstrated the benefits of using Reliq’s iUGO Care remote patient monitoring system to improve health outcomes and reduce hospital admissions and ER visits in their patients,” said Dr. Lisa Crossley, CEO of Reliq Health, in a statement. Paz Home Health leveraged Reliq Health’s iUGO technology to achieve Approved Provider status for in-home telemonitoring from Superior HealthPlan, a managed care organization that works with the State of Texas Health and Human Services Commission to deliver care through approved providers to Medicare and Medicaid patients. Paz Home Health provides care to patients across 16 counties in southern Texas.
Patient Home Monitoring to become Protech Home Medical
CINCINNATI – Patient Home Monitoring Corp., a provider of in-home monitoring and disease management services, is changing its corporate name to Protech Home Medical Corp. It has also launched a new investor website for Protech Home Medical and a new investor deck with the updated corporate strategy. “Protech Home Medical is a name that not only preserves our national brand recognition as PHM, but better reflects our business model focusing on technology and scale, as our path toward amplified organic growth,” said Greg Crawford, CEO and chairman of Patient Home Monitoring Corp., in a statement. “I’m excited about this change, as are our staff, as we look to disrupt the current operational processes and better compete against other regional providers. We have our platform in place, exceptional staff at every level and we are working to continue to produce positive results.” Crawford said the company’s organic growth strategy is to increase market share in its existing locations by making life easier on the patient, the rendering physician, and improving quality of care.
Zipnosis adds post-op care to telehealth platform
MINNEAPOLIS – Zipnosis has expanded its telehealth platform with the launch of Surgical Care, enabling patients to receive post-operative care from home and giving hospitals and surgical centers the ability to shift routine in-person post-operative visits to an online access point. Surgical teams also have the option to add online visits between in-person visits as a means of ensuring post-operative care compliance to help improve patient recovery. “This module eliminates the need for patients to travel post-surgery and creates time efficiencies for surgical staff, enabling them to focus on new patients and helping existing patients with more complex needs,” said Kevin Smith, chief medical information officer at Zipnosis, in a statement. Surgical Care represents a new direction for the overall Zipnosis platform, which still maintains a focus on episodic, urgent care conditions, and is the next step toward growing the solution to meet a wider variety of clinical needs while continuing to improve access to care, he said. As part of the post-operative care plan, the hospital or surgical center can use Surgical Care to identify at what points the patient should complete a virtual check-in. On the day of the virtual appointment, the patient receives an email reminder, logs into the online platform and completes a brief interview that includes uploading a photo of the incision site. Members of the surgical team can then review the response and provide updates to the post-operative care plan or request the patient come in to the clinic for a more in-depth evaluation. “By expanding the Zipnosis platform to support time-efficient post-surgical visits, we are answering a need and equipping health systems with technology to aid their success in a value-based reimbursement environment,” said Jon Pearce, CEO of Zipnosis, in a statement. “As the market matures, we will continue to explore other areas of the care continuum, where a virtual solution can bring value to health care organizations, providers and patients.”
Florida Blue partners with Welltok for wellness platform
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Health insurer Florida Blue is partnering with Software as a Service consumer health company Welltok to establish the Better You Strides program, which provides Florida Blue members access to tools and resources in one destination with Welltok’s platform. “We expect our improved program to be an important and rewarding wellness resource for our members and we are excited to tap into Welltok’s industry-leading solutions and expertise to advance our program,” said Dr. Carmella Sebastian, vice president of medical affairs for Florida Blue, in a statement. Better You Strides features advanced analytics to help members create a personal health itinerary, incentives for healthy behaviors and details on their health plans. “Florida Blue recognizes the importance of taking a more personal approach to health and wellbeing and helping people achieve their optimal health,” said Rob Scavo, Welltok president and COO. “Our data-first approach understands members at an individual level and connects them with the resources to get more actively involved in their health—and get rewarded for doing so,” said Rob Scavo, president and COO of Weltok, in a statement.
Doctor on Demand raises $74M
SAN FRANCISCO – Doctor On Demand has raised $74 million in Series C financing, led by Princeville Global and Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, to support the continued expansion of the company’s telehealth platform. “By focusing on the quality of the doctor-patient relationship and offering a unique business model that results in immediate ROI and cost savings, we’re building a new way of accessing care for consumers, payers and providers,” said Hill Ferguson, CEO of Doctor on Demand, in a statement. Doctor On Demand offers immediate access to board-certified physicians, psychiatrists and licensed psychologists via smartphones, tablets or desktop computers. The company recently reported more than 2 million patients across the country use its platform.
MIT researchers develop portable device to measure white blood cell count at home
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a portable device to monitor chemotherapy patients’ white blood cell levels through video technology.
“Our vision is that patients will have this portable device that they can take home, and they can monitor daily how they are reacting to the treatment,” said Carlos Castro-Gonzalez, leader of the research team, in a paper published recently in Scientific Reports.
The device records video of blood cells flowing through capillaries, just below the surface of the skin, at the base of the fingernail. A computer algorithm analyzes the images to determine if white blood cell levels are below the threshold that doctors consider dangerous.
Currently, doctors usually only test patients’ blood just before a new dose of chemotherapy, so they have no way of knowing if white blood cell levels drop to dangerous levels following a treatment.
The researchers tested the device in 11 patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and University Hospital La Paz in Madrid, at various points during their chemotherapy treatment, achieving 95% accuracy for determining whether a patient’s white cell levels were above or below the threshold.
The research team has applied for patents on the technology and has launched a company called Leuko, which is working on commercializing the technology with help from the MIT Innovation Initiative, the MIT Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation, the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund, the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship, the MIT Translational Fellows Program and the MIT Venture Mentoring Service.
The research team also plans to adapt the technology so that it can generate more precise white blood cell counts, which would make it useful for monitoring bone marrow transplant recipients or people with certain infectious diseases, or to determine if a chemotherapy could tolerate different treatment schedules.
“There is a balancing act that oncologists must do,” said Alvaro Sanchez-Ferro, one of the researchers. “Normally doctors want to make chemotherapy as intensive as possible but without getting people too immunosuppressed. Current 21-day cycles are based on statistics of what most patients can take, but if you are ready early, then they can potentially bring you back early and that can translate into better survival.”
Researchers develop tattoo sensor for non-invasive glucose readings
SAN DIEGO – Researchers at the University of California San Diego Center for Wearable Sensors have developed a needleless glucose monitor, called a “tattoo sensor,” which measures insulin levels through sweat on skin.
The tattoo is printed with material containing two electrodes that apply a small amount of electrical current, forcing glucose molecules that reside below the skin to rise to the surface to be measured.
“Just like a kid’s temporary tattoo, you apply it on the arm, dab with water and remove the back paper,” said Patrick Mercier, director of the UCSD Center for Wearable Sensors, in a statement. “It’s safe and you can’t really feel it.”
The sensor is being tested in the ENGAGE Study (Studying the Effectiveness of Non-Invasive Glucose Sensors in Patients with Diabetes), taking place at UC San Diego’s Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute, where a research team is testing the tattoo sensor’s accuracy at detecting glucose levels compared to a traditional glucometer.
Participants wear the sensor during fasting, at various times up to a couple of hours after eating. To validate accuracy, glucose levels from the sensor will be compared to results from simultaneous finger stick glucose readings.
Mercier said that if produced on a mass scale, the tattoos could be priced equally to what glucose test strips cost today, which is about $1 per single-use strip. The sensor currently can take one reading, but the research team is hoping to develop it to take continuous readings.
“The beauty of the technology we are developing is that it is a truly noninvasive means to measure glucose,” said Mercier. “The main purpose of our research is to develop new technologies that can monitor glucose without drawing blood and ideally measure it over the course of the day. By giving this real-time information to patients, they can manage their consumption of sugars and injections of insulin much better than with periodic spot measurements.”
Independence Blue Cross, Comcast partner on health platform
PHILADELPHIA – Independence Health Group, parent of Independence Blue Cross, is partnering with global media and technology company Comcast to launch a newly branded, patient-centered health care technology and communications platform.
The goal of the Internet-based platform is to provide patients with access to their health care content and information wherever they are. Plans are to make the new platform accessible nationally, across multiple distribution channels and devices.
The partnership is part of Independence Health Group’s strategy to invest in standalone businesses focused on health care innovation.
“Rapid technological advances in recent years have changed the expectations consumers have about accessing and using goods and services, and health care is no exception,” said Daniel Hilferty, president and CEO of Independence Health Group, in a statement. “Through this collaboration, we will explore how we can best use technology to enhance how consumers access and use health care services, which we know at times can be frustrating.”
Independence Health Group, together with its subsidiaries, serves nearly 8.5 million people in 24 states and the District of Columbia, including 2.5 million in southeastern Pennsylvania.
As one of the founding members of The Health Care Innovation Collaborative in Philadelphia, Comcast has initiated partnerships within the health care industry. Most recently, the company collaborated on a medically approved Healthy Aging Series with UC Davis, producing 108 videos on topics including Heart Health, Fitness & Exercise, and Nutrition.
“Comcast’s unique experience in technology and content can be an enabler for disruptive, personalized and media-rich innovations in health care,” said Sam Schwartz, chief business development officer, Comcast, in a statement. “Independence is a company steeped in innovation and completely committed to the consumer experience. We’re excited about this new partnership and the opportunity to work together using technology to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of patient communications and education.”