RESTON, Va. – Specialists on Call has acquired its competitor NeuroCall and the combined organization will now cover more than 350 acute care hospitals and health systems nationwide for tele-neurology consultations. “This combination will help us achieve our vision of transforming health care by enabling patients to have increased access to the highest quality care via a technology-enabled platform,” said Hammad Shah, CEO of Specialists on Call, in a statement. “To that end our intent is to augment our organic growth with strategic partnerships and acquisitions that will enable us to further consolidate our position as the leading comprehensive solution provider in the acute telemedicine market.” Mauricio Sirvent, CEO of NeuroCall, will become the general manager for the neurology business and will report directly to Shah. Specialists on Call last year launched a touch screen telemedicine cart and introduced a flexible, turnkey managed services technology and operations platform for hospitals to customize their telemedicine programs. The company also raised $50 million in new capital in 2016. Shah said the capital would be used to fund increased investments and expand capabilities.
NEW YORK – A recent study with the Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel and the Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, has found that TytoCare’s device and telehealth platform can perform physical examinations on par with conventional in-clinic examination tools.
The company recently launched its telehealth solution in the U.S. market and is initially rolling it out through strategic partnerships with large health systems, physician groups and telehealth companies. Including American Well.
“The proven success of TytoCare signifies a major advance in the telehealth industry,” said Dedi Gilad, TytoCare founder and CEO, in a statement. “TytoCare delivers the ‘missing link’ in telehealth, expanding the ability of physicians to reach confident diagnoses miles away from their patients.”
TytoCare is a handheld device and platform designed to capture and transmit ear, throat, lung, skin, heart and temperature exam data to a physician to better inform a remote diagnosis.
The aim of the study with Schneider and Sackler was to evaluate the accuracy and quality of the physical exam findings reached by a remote physician using TytoCare versus physicians using conventional examination tools, including traditional otoscopes and stethscopes.
The study involved 137 children age 2-18 who were seeking care from the emergency department of a tertiary care facility.
“The quality of the readings as well as the overall user experience received positive ratings from physicians—a great testament to the solution’s promise to provide accurate and confident diagnoses via telehealth technology,” said Yehezkel Waisman, director of emergency medicine at Schneider, in a statement.
WESTBURY, N.Y. – Northwell Health Home Care Network will provide Bluetooth-enabled tablets to its home-care patients through a partnership with Health Recovery Solutions. Patients will be instructed to use the tablets to transmit their vital signs to their clinicians, as well as for videoconferencing.
“Telemonitoring is a wonderful tool to help reduce re-hospitalizations,” said Diane Asquino, director of patient services for Northwell Health HCN, in a statement. “It engages the patient in managing their health by helping them to identify symptoms early if they think something is wrong, they can notify their physician immediately to reduce hospitalizations.”
The wireless tablets include a moveable video camera, blood pressure and digital weight monitors, a pulse oximeter and stethoscope. Vitals signs are transmitted in real-time, and alerts are triggered for patients at high risk of a medical emergency.
Northwell is one of the first home care providers in the New York metropolitan area to provide Bluetooth-enabled telemonitoring capabilities, and the only one on Long Island, said Northwell officials in a statement.
“We are thrilled to partner with an organization that recognizes telemonitoring as the future of home-based and outpatient care,” said Janet Bauer, HRS CEO, in a statement.
BOSTON – American Well has announced two partnerships for video telehealth with Suburban Health Organization, and PreMedica and Paramount Health Care.
The telemedicine provider has partnered with the Suburban Health Organization hospitals in Indiana to bring video telehealth visits to patients in SHO’s local communities.
The new service, myVirtualHealthVisit, will offer patients more convenient ways to access care, including telehealth-enabled remote access to urgent care. Patients with a smart phone, or a webcam-enabled computer, can talk with a doctor from home, while in the office, or anywhere they have reliable Internet access.
“Health care needs don’t always fit into a 9-5 schedule, and the hospitals are now able to provide 24/7 access to patients at the time and in the place they need it most,” said Dave Lippincott, president of SHO, in a statement.
American Well has also partnered with health system PreMedica and insurance provider Paramount Health Care to offer live video visits 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through ProMedica OnDemand.
“ProMedica OnDemand is a convenient and affordable way for patients to get the medical care they need at a time and location that is most convenient for them,” said Dr. Daniel Cassavar, president of ProMedica Physicians.
Through computers, tablets and smartphones, ProMedica OnDemand connects patients and families with health care providers through the website or mobile app.
The benefit option is available to Paramount commercial members, who pay the same office visit copay for the video-based service.
ProMedica OnDemand launched this month.
Ripple taps Tunstall for personal safety service
NEW YORK and FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Ripple Network Technologies has launched a kickstarter campaign for a personal safety device and service that would give users nationwide access to connected health leader Tunstall’s monitoring team. “Whether walking alone at night, meeting somebody new for the first time, facing immediate danger, or even traveling the country, Ripple’s device and service, utilizing Tunstall’s state-of-the-art response center, can keep you one click away from the help you need,” said Casey Pittock, president and CEO of Tunstall Americas, in a statement. Ripple users can discreetly signal their monitoring team for help with the click of a penny-sized Bluetooth wearable, and the monitoring team can dispatch emergency services if the user needs it.
Propeller teams with Novartis for COPD platform add-on
MADISON, Wis. – Digital health company Propeller Health has partnered with Novartis Pharma to develop an add-on sensor for the Breezhaler inhaler, which is used for Novartis’ portfolio of COPD treatments. “The addition of this major respiratory franchise represents an important next step in our mission to bring valuable digital companions to everyone’s respiratory treatments,” said David Van Sickle, CEO of Propeller Health, in a statement. As patients use the Breezhaler, a capsule-based dry powder inhaler, the new custom sensors will allow for passively recording and transmitting compliance data. “With data from these medication sensors and interfaces, Propeller strengthens the relationships between patients and their physicians and helps them build effective treatment programs together,” Van Sickle said. The Novartis-Propeller partnership is focused on COPD in Europe, and adds to other Propeller-pharma partnerships announced earlier.
VivaLnk launches Vital Scout wearable patch
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Wearable telehealth device company VivaLnk has launched Vital Scout, a Band-Aid-sized wearable patch that allows users to monitor their physical and mental health. “Whether an individual has a high-stress job, a health issue he wants to monitor, or he’s just being proactive, Vital Scout provides a true, real-time assessment of stress levels, sleep, exercise and recovery—letting consumers take charge of their health,” said Jiang Li, CEO of VivaLnk, in a statement. Vital Scout is made with the company’s eSkin technology, and is a flexible, breathable electronic circuit that uses multiple sensors to continuously monitor critical body functions like heart rate and heart variability, respiration rate, stress levels and stress recovery, sleep status and activity/training, transmitting the information to the user’s smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. Users can set alerts on the Vital Scout app to notify them when stress levels are high so they can take action to improve their health. The patch is attached on the chest with medical-grade adhesives, and can be worn for 72 hours before recharging the battery.
Ascensia, Glooko partner for diabetes management solutions
BASEL, Switzerland, and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Ascensia Diabetes Care and Glooko Inc. have partnered to bring together their state-of-the-art diabetes management solutions and improve diabetes data management and analytics. The collaboration includes integrating Glooko’s Diabetes Data Management Platform with Ascensia’s Countour Next One and Contour Plus One blood glucose monitoring systems. “By linking our systems to Glooko’s Diabetes Data Management Platform, we want to enable better understanding and analysis of diabetes data, and ultimately help improve the lives of people with diabetes,” said Michael Kloss, CEO of Ascensia Diabetes Care, in a statement. The integration of the solutions will allow blood glucose data to be accessed by Glooko’s mobile app and Clinic Data Upload products directly from the Contour meters via Bluetooth and through an automatic feed through the Contour Cloud. People with diabetes will be able to view their data through both companies’ mobile apps, and health care professionals will be able to seamlessly access data from the two Ascensia systems that fits into their workflow through the Glooko Clinic Solution. The global agreement covers all markets where Glooko and these Ascensia systems are available, and the integration is expected to be available later this year.
FDA clears cardiac mapping system
DUBLIN, Ireland – Medtronic has received U.S. Food & Drug Administration clearance for the CardioInsight Noninvasive 3D Mapping System, which was first used in the U.S. commercially at the Mount Sinai Hospital this month.
“The CardioInsight system further expands the portfolio of solutions available for common and complex arrhythmias,” said Colleen Fowler, vice president and general manager of the Medtronic AF Solutions business, created when Medtronic acquired CardioInsight in 2015.
Cardiac mapping is typically accomplished by inserting a catheter into the heart through an artery or vein. It allows physicians to locate the origin of a patient’s irregular heart rhythms.
The CardioInsight system uses a 252-electrode sensor vest that is worn by the patient to pair body surface electrical data with heart-torso anatomy. The technology creates 3D electroanatomic maps of the heart by collecting electrocardiogram signals from the chest, and combining those signals with data from a computed tomography scan of the heart.
The vest technology contours to the patient’s body and allows for continuous and simultaneous panoramic mapping of both atria or both ventricles, which cannot be achieved with current invasive methods.
“By offering this noninvasive approach, we are effectively streamlining the clinical procedure planning process for clinicians, making it easy for patients to receive precise mapping results from their providers right at their bedside,” said Dr. Vivek Reddy, director of cardiac services at Mount Sinai Hospital and the Mount Sinai Health System, who was the first to use the system in the U.S.
‘We are seeing discoveries that should continue to reshape health care’
SAN DIEGO – Dr. Evan Muse is an enthusiastic supporter of technology in health care and believes we’re only seeing the beginning of transformative developments. He is an assistant professor at the Scripps Translational Science Institute, which creates major programs in both research and education that bridge science with medicine and academia with industry. Muse is an expert on digital and mobile health.
HHTN: How will technology impact the delivery of health care in the next five years?
MUSE: Innovations in medical technology are happening at all levels. From bedside and remote diagnostics, patient-doctor communications and, of course, electronic health records, we are seeing discoveries that are already changing and should continue to reshape healthcare moving forward.
HHTN: What is digital medicine, and how does it differ from traditional health care delivery?
MUSE: Digital medicine is a term that is used to loosely bring together medical technologies and devices. Many of these technologies are sensor-based and integrate with smartphones, computers and the Internet of Things. It should not be looked at as an alternative, or flip-side, to traditional care, in the same way that a provider communicating with a patient via secure EHR messaging would not be considered outside of traditional care. It does, however, espouse many tools for patients to be more connected to monitoring their health and evaluating outcomes alongside their traditional care providers.
HHTN: How can we get providers to embrace home health technology?
MUSE: Any tools and technologies that help a provider deliver better care, at improved cost and with increased satisfaction for the patient and the provider should not be ignored. The promise of digital medicine, however, needs to be translated into high-quality studies illustrating proof of their success, just as a provider would not recommend a therapeutic that had no data to back it up. Alternatively, complex care systems need to be flexible and provide support for the integration of new technologies into clinical practice without undue burden on individual providers.
HHTN: What are some of the most important technologies on the home health horizon?
MUSE: Seamless integration of passive sensors for vital signs, gait and position; medication compliance and home safety with real-time monitoring; and communication to care providers with red flag for abnormal events.
WASHINGTON – There is still a large gap in technology adoption and use by older U.S. adults, according to fact sheets recently released by Pew Research.
Health care may be moving increasingly online and experts predict that the telemedicine market will hit $36.2 billion in just three years, but adults age 50 and older are lagging behind their younger counterparts in technology adoption and use, and the divide is even larger among those over the age of 70.
“The divide definitely widens as the age goes up,” said Laurie Orlov, founder of Aging in Place Technology Watch. “Older adults are not buying into the trendiest tech.”
While 80% of the U.S. population age 65 and older own a cell phone, only 42% of those own a smartphone, according to Pew. Just 63% of this same age group said they use the Internet. The statistics are even lower for older adults with low income.
This is a problem because “so much of the useful advice for lower income seniors is online,” said Orlov.
This evidence of slow technology adoption by older adults could be troubling, Orlov said, if they are expected to be among the 7 million users of telehealth services by 2018, according to a report by IHS Markit.
Another survey conducted recently by AARP found that 70% of adults age 50 and up own some type of computing device, but a mere 20% of those people are confident that their data are kept private online. Even so, the survey respondents said they spend about half of their online time getting health and fitness information.
The same AARP survey found that only one in 10 adults over the age of 50 own a wearable device for health or fitness, and only 3% of those over the age of 70 own one.
“Newer technology like wearables have lower adoption rates,” said the researchers. “However, younger adults are more likely to own such devices than those over the age of 70.”
Orlov said it’s not likely that physicians or health care providers will help bring older adults along the technology wave.
“We keep hoping that doctors will help, but that’s not going to happen,” she said. “Handing a person a device and giving them training is a feasible solution if the incentives are there for the provider, but people won’t teach themselves.”
Orlov believes the best solution is for older adults to have a “proxy”—someone who can help an older adult with enough technology access to keep them engaged in taking care of their health.
‘Technology is fundamentally changing health care as we know it’
LIVONIA, Mich. – Trinity Health has begun providing virtual care to the majority of patients of its home care agencies through a partnership with remote care management specialist Vivify Health.
The initiative is intended to reduce hospital admissions and emergency room visits for home health patients and avoid preventable hospitalizations. It also keeps Trinity moving toward its long-term goal of providing value-based services for both sick and preventive care.
“We think a fresh approach to innovative technologies for patient-centered care gets to our vision of keeping people where they want to be—at home,” said Erin Denholm, president and CEO of Trinity Health.
Trinity’s Home Care Connect program is a comprehensive remote care solution that uses Vivify’s Pathways platform and kit. The kit includes a wireless tablet configured with voice and text instructions that walks users through simple steps for monitoring and reporting on their current wellness status, and for taking part in virtual visits and patient education programs. Additional wireless health devices connected to the tablet automatically collect patient data like weight and blood pressure.
Denholm said that after a small successful pilot with Vivify last year, Trinity decided to move forward with investing in the new technology for the program. She said the company is absorbing the cost with an eye toward future savings associated with fewer hospitalizations.
“There is absolutely no pass-on to the patient,” Denholm said.
The initiative launched in January in Trinity Health’s southeast Michigan communities, before expanding to other agencies in seven states—Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, California, Maryland and Ohio.
“This program positions Trinity Health as a leader for technology in the home,” said Denholm. “Technology is fundamentally changing health care as we know it and it is allowing us to be right there, in the moment, with our patients.”
LOS ANGELES – A second class of health-tech startups in the Cedars-Sinai Accelerator powered by Techstars program is off and running in an intensive three-month session designed to rapidly develop innovations and products that can transform the delivery of health care.
“We’re excited to pair these bright, motivated entrepreneurs with health care experts from Cedars-Sinai who together can rapidly accelerate the pace of innovation and transform health care in meaningful ways for our patients,” said Darren Dworkin, senior vice president and chief information officer at Cedars-Sinai, in a statement.
The startups will receive mentoring from Cedars-Sinai physicians and executives, as well as $120,00 in seed money to cultivate health-related ideas and inventions in artificial intelligence, mobile health, health care financing, wearable devices and more. They will also have access to Techstars’ network of entrepreneurs and corporate partners.
Eight startups were chosen for this year’s class from a field of 650. This round’s accelerator class includes: Cerebro Solutions, FIGS, Frame Health, Healthcare TTU, HealthTensor, Noteworth, ReferralMD and Enso.
Graduates of the first Accelerators class have raised more than $11 million in investments since graduating last spring.
MILPITAS, Calif. – Diabetes management company Bigfoot Biomedical, Inc. has received an equity investment from the newly established JDRF T1D Fund.
JDRF is a strategic venture philanthropy fund with a focus on making high‐impact, early‐stage investments to accelerate commercial development of life‐changing therapies for people living withType 1 diabetes.
“We are thrilled to have a fund associated with the world’s largest nonprofit funder of T1D research as an investor,” said Jeffrey Brewer, Bigfoot president and CEO, in a statement. “Bigfoot is leveraging the work previously done by JDRF to prove feasibility for automated insulin delivery and define a regulatory path for approval by the FDA.”
The funding will be used to develop Bigfoot’s smartloop automated insulin delivery service, the core of which is a cloud-connected ecosystem for diabetes management that interfaces with wearable insulin delivery and glucose monitoring tools, all accessible through a secure mobile app on a smartphone and delivered as a bundled monthly subscription service.
Bigfoot completed its first clinical trial, which included both adult and pediatric participants, in late 2016. Another is planned for this year.
The company announced a Series A investment of $35.5 million in October.
“The investment in Bigfoot by the T1D Fund helps ensure competition and choice for the community of people who need a better way to live safely and thrive with T1D,” said Brewer. “JDRF is a partner who supports our vision of automated insulin delivery usable by anyone with T1D, supportable by any doctor, and fully covered by insurance.”
Brewer said Bigfoot’s smartloop automated insulin delivery service seeks to change the paradigm of care for insulin-dependent diabetes by leveraging data, connectivity, automation and machine learning to lessen the cognitive and emotional burdens on people with diabetes and maximize the leverage of health care providers.