Wireless pacemakers lead to fewer complications, study finds
CLEVELAND – Patients who receive wireless pacemakers experience fewer short-term and mid-term complications than those receiving traditional wired pacemakers, according to a study recently published in the journal Heart Rhythm. Led by researchers from the Cleveland Clinic, the study compared 718 patients who received the Nanostim wireess (leadless) pacemaker with patients receiving a traditional device. “The data from this study is encouraging, and we expect complications from leadless pacemakers to continue to decline as the technology improves and physicians gain experience implanting these devices,” said Dr. Daniel Cantillon, research director for cardiac electrophysiology and pacing at the Cleveland Clinic and lead author of the study, in a statement.
Medtronic, IBM launch Sugar.IQ smart diabetes app
DUBLIN AND CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Medtronic has teamed up with IBM Watson Health to develop the Sugar.IQ smart diabetes assistant, an intelligent app designed to simplify and improve daily diabetes management. The app leverages artificial intelligence and analytic technologies from IBM Watson Health to continually analyze how an individual’s glucose level responds to their food intake, insulin dosages, daily routines, and other factors, including information provided by the app user, and reveal patterns that give actionable insight. The Sugar.IQ app is available to users of the Medtronic Guardian Connect continuous glucose monitoring system.
App may not help young people with diabetes, study finds
COPENHAGEN, Denmark – The Young With Diabetes mHealth app did not improve blood glucose control in young people with Type 1 diabetes, but it could help with self-management of the disease, according to a study published recently in JMIR mHealth and uHealth. “The YWD app is based on the premise that providing a platform for young people to access information and support from peers, parents and health care providers will improve their self-management skills,” said Dr. Pernille Castensoe-Seidenfaden, first author of the study, in a statement. The study enrolled 49 parents and 151 young patients—75 in the control group and 76 received YWD. The app includes a chat room; contact with a health care provider; reminders and tips; information about Type 1 diabetes and carbohydrate counting; and a parents section. After 12 months, results showed no difference in blood glucose control between the groups. Most parents and users believed the app helped in self-management, however. “Qualitative evaluation is needed to explore benefits and shortcomings of Young with Diabetes,” said Castensoe-Seidenfaden. “Health care providers should address young peoples’ knowledge about sensitive topics, provide them with peer support and be aware of parents’ need for information about how to support.”
Healthy Interactions adds two programs to digital platform
CHICAGO – Healthy Interactions has added depression and diabetes cardiovascular disease to its digital population health management solution. “Ever since day one, when we wrote our mission statement—to improve the lives of people with diabetes and other chronic conditions—every decision, investment, acquisition and effort has been in the service of that single-minded goal,” said Paul Lasiuk, CEO of Healthy Interactions, in a statement. “Launching both the depression and the diabetes & CVD programs advances us in this journey.”
Lasiuk said the company’s model of integrating high-tech with high-touch is the optimal modality of engaging people with chronic conditions and leads to improved outcomes and lower costs. Healthy Interactions’ digital platform links with 93 devices, including weight scales, blood glucose monitors and blood pressure monitors, and connects patients with licensed health care professionals for ongoing support.
Microsoft adds Weinstein, Mandel to health care team
REDMOND, Wash. – Jim Weinstein and Josh Mandel have joined the leadership of Microsoft Healthcare, which integrates the Healthcare NExT program and its research-driven efforts. “We have been approaching the complexities of the health care industry with a growth mindset and for the past two years our team has worked across Microsoft to accelerate health care innovation through artificial intelligence and cloud computing,” said Peter Lee, corporate vice president of Microsoft Healthcare, in a blog post about the hirings. Lee said the two will help drive the company’s focus of creating strategic partnerships and advancing the cross-company strategy for health care and life sciences. Weinstein, who most recently served as CEO and president at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, has been named vice president of Microsoft Healthcare and head of innovation and health equity. Mandel, who most recently led the health IT ecosystem work at Verily, has been named chief architect of Microsoft Healthcare. “Jim and Josh join us at an exciting time, as health care processes undergo a digital transformation,” said Lee. “This transformation has created a wealth of healthcare data that has potential to help identify diseases earlier, create and improve treatments, and improve the lives of patients across the globe. We have our work cut out for us but know that we have the right team in place.”
Deloitte links ConvergeHEALTH with Apple frameworks
BOSTON – Deloitte has integrated its ConvergeHEALTH Patient Connect suite of products with Apple HealthKit, CareKit and ResearchKit frameworks, enabling patients to improve adherence to treatment plans while supporting connectivity to clinical research. ConvergeHEALTH is a group of products designed to enable life sciences clients to respond to the shift to value-based, personalized medicine, said Mike Brinker, global Deloitte Digital leader and principal, Deloitte Consulting, in a statement. Deloitte is also expanding its Apple practice, a team of health care app developers in the Deloitte Digital studios. “This dedicated team of engineers will specialize in developing health care-specific digital apps to transform the patient experience,” Brinker said. “There is a convergence happening across the health care ecosystem and Apple devices help put the patient at the center in full control of their health information.” By integrating ConvergeHEALTH Patient Connect with Apple’s health frameworks, care coordinators can better manage their patient population by proactively engaging with their patients using their Apple devices, he said. “Patients’ expectations for more personalized services are one of the driving forces behind health care’s overall transformation toward more patient-centric care models,” said Chris Zant, life sciences and global digital and patient engagement leader and principal, Deloitte Consulting, in a statement.
Capital BlueCross adds behavioral health to app
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Capital BlueCross has expanded its Virtual Care app to include behavioral health. Developed with American Well, the app enables telehealth visits from members’ smart phone, computer or tablet. “As a leader in health care, we are proud to be able to add access to behavioral health services though our Virtual Care app,” said Dr. Jennifer Chambers, chief medical officer and senior vice president of medical solutions at Capital BlueCross, in a statement. “Virtual Care has the ability to reach so many people, and is another example of Capital BlueCross’ leadership in innovation.”
Capital BlueCross is a health solutions and insurance company in Central Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley.
Brook, Independent Health partner for chronic disease management
SEATTLE – Brook, a chronic disease digital health platform provider, and New York health plan Independent Health are partnering to provide enhanced resources to help its members self-manage their care. In addition to collaboration on technology and delivery of new services, Independent Health is participating in a recent round of financing to help Brook complete a seed round of $4 million. “Today, technology can help personalize treatment using a process that can be customized and flexible,” said Oren Nissim, co-founder and CEO of Brook, in a statement. “Our partnership with Independent Health is groundbreaking for individuals seeking to manage their chronic diabetes condition, and it is equally exciting for medical and health care professionals.” Dr. Michael Cropp, president of Independent Health, will also join Brook’s board of directors. Brook is developing a personal health assistant technology that provides simple, impactful, data-driven support with medical and health services professional coaching to help individuals manage diabetes and other chronic conditions. Using mobile sensors, Brook tracks and interprets data like activity and sleep, and runs a routine analysis engine that captures diabetes and behavior data. Brook than combines and connects the use of a chatbot with a human expert team, providing patients with continuous support for their successful diabetes management.
BioTel Care launches wireless BGM
MALVERN, Pa. – BioTel Care, formally known as Telcare, has released its next-generation wireless blood glucose monitor for diabetes management. Building on the success of its previous cellular-enabled glucometer technology, the new device includes a touch-screen user interface, enabling patients to test blood glucose levels, while capturing additional personal health data. The monitor’s remote capabilities allow patients to quickly communicate relevant health information to their care providers, and clinicians can access and track their patients’ data through the BioTel Care cloud. The system can be paired with other connected health devices, providing the option to consolidate various types of health information into a single, cloud-based repository. “This next generation blood glucose monitor is a great addition to our product portfolio and continues our commitment to innovate connected health solutions suited for today’s rapidly evolving healthcare market,” said Joseph Capper, president and CEO of BioTelemetry, parent company of BioTel Care, in a statement.
MedRhythms closes on oversubscribed $5M Series A round
PORTLAND, Maine – MedRhythms, a digital therapeutics company that is using sensors, artificial intelligence and music to develop products that help people with neurologic injuries and diseases recover walking functions, recently raised an oversubscribed Series A round of financing. The company intended to raise $4 million but raised $5.3 million due to substantial interest, and closed on $5 million, said Brian Harris, CEO and co-founder of MedRhythms, in a statement. This funding will enable the company to develop and launch a digital therapeutics platform that focuses on building evidence-based prescription products for people with neurologic injuries and diseases to improve and measure walking. While the first product on the platform focuses on the post-stroke population, the pipeline includes products for Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, aging-in-place and traumatic brain injury. Harris said MedRhythms now plans to hire software, product and commercial professionals. “Developing digital therapeutics based on music requires the right mix of talent on the team, including experts in music, biotech, health care and technology,” he said. Additionally, MedRhythms has added Peter Werth to its board as lead investor, as well as Ray Pawlicki and Bill McKee. “MedRhythms has excellent growth prospects with a pipeline of therapeutic and diagnostic products in large, growing markets and is building the right team to execute,” said Werth, chairman and president of Chemwerth and leader of the investment round, in a statement. “We found MedRhythms’ strategy and business plan to build digital therapeutics for walking a compelling investment opportunity.” Harris said the company plans to eventually develop different algorithms as personalized therapeutics to address issues caused by neurologic injuries and diseases.
Alta Partners raises $130M
SAN FRANCISCO – Health care venture capital firm Alta Partners recently closed on a $130 million fund to focus on the development of biotherapeutics and technology-enabled health care services. “For more than 20 years, Alta Partners has invested in leading health care companies driving innovation and improving people’s lives,” said Dan Janney, managing director and a founding partner at Alta Partners, in a statement. The new fund will team with health care entrepreneurs to create companies in two primary areas: the application of biotechnologies to cure or radically change disease; and technology-enabled solutions and services that improve the delivery and quality of health care. “Alta Partners has become renowned for its life sciences investments and we will continue to leverage those successes in our new fund,” said Bob More, managing director at Alta Partners, in a statement. “As the health care industry experiences unprecedented change in delivery and payment reform, we see tremendous opportunities to impact health care with improved solutions.” The fund’s initial investors include: Allakos, a biopharmaceutical company; DispatchHealth, a provider of mobile and virtual health care; eGenesis, a life sciences company developing gene editing technology; and Vir Biotechnology, a therapeutic platform.
FDA clears Omnipod insulin management system
BILLERICA, Mass. – Insulet, a provider of tubeless insulin pumps featuring the Omnipod insulin management system, has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its Omnipod DASH insulin management system. “Omnipod DASH embodies what users on multiple daily injections have been asking for in a diabetes management system,” said Patrick Sullivan, chairman and CEO, in a statement. “Our No. 1 priority is to continue to minimize the daily strain on those impacted by diabetes and we are confident that this system, and eliminating the system’s upfront cost, do just that.”
The Omnipod DASH system features Bluetooth wireless technology for connectivity between the color touch-screen personal diabetes manager and tubeless waterproof pump, and is optimized for use with the CONTOUR NEXT ONE blood glucose meter, as well as the Omnipod DISPLAY and Omnipod VIEW apps.
mHealth solutions win AMA challenge
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Three mobile health monitoring technology companies were recognized recently as the top three solutions submitted to the American Medical Association’s Health Care Interoperability and Innovation Challenge sponsored by Google Cloud.
The three winning solutions selected from among the semi-finalists share $50,000 in Google Cloud credits to accelerate their solutions. They are:
- HealthSteps (first place, $25,000): a mobile health platform that focuses on the delivery of information between patient and provider to improve health outcomes through a digital care plan and real-time data.
- I-deal Health (second place,$15,000): a digital platform that empowers patients to visualize their personal risk for multiple diseases, choose goals to reduce their risk, and close the loop between patients and clinicians to achieve success. Through individualized treatment derived from EHR data, patients can work to focus their efforts through the help of the I-deal Health mobile application.
- FUTUREASSURE(third place, $10,000): A system that uses validated data to implement mobile technology into standard clinical workflow. It collects clinical and research data to assess a patient’s risk for surgery and can predict surgical outcomes previously not compared.
The three winning ideas were selected by judges to best demonstrate uses of patient-generated health data to have maximum impact on improving physician workflow, improving clinical outcomes and reducing cost in the health care system.
“The AMA issued the challenge to inspire the creation of novel mobile technology that demonstrates innovative uses of health data to support the long term wellness of patients,” said Dr. Michael Hodgkins, chief medical information officer of the AMA, in a statement. “The top solutions chosen in the AMA Challenge have the potential to be transformational innovations that effectively share meaningful medical data between patients and physicians and create a healthier nation.”
CMS proposes reimbursement for remote patient monitoring to home health agencies
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week proposed changes to the Home Health Prospective Payment System that would allow home health agencies to be reimbursed for remote patient monitoring under Medicare. The agency made the proposal as part of a larger group of changes to the HHPPS, which include allowing the cost of remote patient monitoring to be reported by home health agencies as allowable costs on the Medicare cost report form. The proposals “would give doctors more time to spend with their patients, allow home health agencies to leverage innovation and drive better results for patients,” said Seema Verma, CMS Administrator, in a statement. Verma said the proposed changes are expected to help foster the adoption of emerging technologies by home health agencies and result in more effective care planning, as data is shared among patients, their caregivers and their providers. CMS is accepting comments on the proposed home health rule until Aug. 31.
CMS proposes changes to promote access to virtual care
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has proposed changes as part of the Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program that would update Medicare payment policies to promote access to virtual care.
The changes would establish Medicare payment for when beneficiaries connect with their doctor virtually using telecommunications technology to determine whether or not they need an in-person visit.
“CMS is committed to modernizing the Medicare program by leveraging technologies, such as audio/video applications or patient-facing health portals, that will help beneficiaries access high-quality services in a convenient manner,” said Seema Verma, CMS Administrator, in a statement.
Provisions in the proposed CY 2019 Physician Fee Schedule would support access to care using telecommunications technology by:
- Paying clinicians for virtual check-ins;
- Paying clinicians for evaluation of patient-submitted photos; and
- Expanding Medicare-covered telehealth services to include prolonged preventive services.
The proposed changes would also increase the amount of time that doctors and other clinicians can spend with their patients by reducing the burden of paperwork that they face when billing Medicare.
“Today’s proposals deliver on the pledge to put patients over paperwork by enabling doctors to spend more time with their patients,” Verma said. “Physicians tell us they continue to struggle with excessive regulatory requirements and unnecessary paperwork that steal time from patient care. The proposed changes address those problems head-on, by streamlining documentation requirements to focus on patient care and by modernizing payment policies so seniors and others covered by Medicare can take advantage of the latest technologies to get the quality care they need.”
Additionally, the proposed changes would encourage information sharing among health care providers electronically, so patients can see various medical professionals based on their needs, while knowing that their updated medical records will follow them through the health care system.
The QPP proposal would also make changes to the Merit-based Incentive Payment System “Promoting Interoperability” performance category to support greater EHR interoperability and patient access to their health information, as well as align this clinician program with the proposed new “Promoting Interoperability” program for hospitals.
Verma said removing unnecessary paperwork requirements through the PFS proposal would save individual clinicians an estimated 51 hours per year if 40% of their patients are on Medicare. Changes in the QPP proposal would collectively save clinicians an estimated 29,305 hours and approximately $2.6 million in reduced administrative costs in 2019.
Public comments on the proposed rules are due by September 10, 2018.
1Vision, AMC Health win veterans telehealth contract
NEW YORK – 1Vision and AMC Health have been awarded the authority to operate and provide telehealth solutions to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
With this agreement, telehealth solutions from the two companies will be made available to enrolled veterans and their family members.
“It is a significant achievement to receive authority to operate (ATO) certification from the VA, and we are proud to help make health care more efficient and accessible for our veterans,” said Nesim Bildirici, CEO and president of AMC Health, in a statement. “The VA’s ATO stamp of approval indicates that our telehealth offering can provide much needed solutions to organizations that require the highest levels of mission-critical security.”
Earlier this year, 1Vision and AMC Health announced their participation in an up to five-year VA Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity contract to provide telehealth solutions.
The VA’s Home telehealth program relies on telehealth platforms from commercial contractors classified by the VA as Medical Device Data Systems.
By using AMC Health’s telehealth CareConsole platform, veterans will be able to automatically transmit information, including vital sign measurements such as weight, blood pressure and blood glucose levels, to the CareConsole platform using Bluetooth-enabled devices from their homes.
“We are thrilled to partner with AMC Health to deliver telehealth services because of the company’s efficient, cost-effective offerings and knowledge about compliance requirements,” said Bill Kirkpatrick, CEO of 1Vision, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business that provides IT and program management solutions throughout the federal government, focusing on offices within the VA, in a statement. “Our veterans deserve increased access to quality health care and the resources that can improve their access to healthcare and embrace all the benefits that telehealth offers,” he said.