SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Telehealth platform provider InTouch Health has acquired REACH Health, a telemedicine software company. “REACH Health is a complementary addition to the InTouch Health family with its strong history of delivering high-quality telemedicine solutions,” said Joseph M. DeVivo, CEO of InTouch Health, in a statement. “With InTouch Health, health care providers have access to a complete telehealth package for any use case and in any care location. REACH Health fits nicely with InTouch Health’s recent open-platform, device-agnostic strategy.” The merging of the two companies will allow REACH Health customers to pursue their plans to expand their telehealth services, leveraging a fully integrated virtual care platform, said Steve McGraw, CEO of REACH Health, in a statement. “Based on customer and the health industry’s needs, this acquisition is a natural evolution for our company as we combine our strengths and capabilities, offering our customers the best and most comprehensive telehealth enterprise solutions available.”
BOSTON – Medically Home’s micro-hospital program for the home using Amazon Alexa marks a transformational shift in the way health care can be delivered, believes the company’s CEO.
“This is the first time that the patient’s home has used technology to configure care that is normally delivered in a hospital,” said Richard Rakowski, CEO of Medically Home.
The program, called Cesia Continuum, is a combination of software, hardware and third-party technology under Medically Home’s “mission control center.”
Rakowski said the connected care ecosystem brings together: physician oversight of patients through telemedicine; evidence-based care delivery protocols; two-way audio/visual communications between patients and their care team; patient biometric monitoring and predictive analytics; and rapid response protocols and resources in an emergency.
“Compared to the current acute care hospital-based approach, our model delivers more patient care over a long period of time—and at the heart of the model is high patient, family and clinician satisfaction,” he said.
Cesia Continuum is led by the patient’s physician, with a team of nurses and other clinicians, for 30 days. The program is an option that a physician can recommend to patients with selected medical and surgical diagnoses that traditionally require hospitalization.
Rakowski said programs like Cesia Continuum have the power to disrupt the health care industry.
“Advanced technologies for patient vitals monitoring, seamless on-demand communications and a reliable emergency response are and will be the core technology platforms that will change the face of a patient’s home as a site for safe medical care,” he said.
Going forward, Medically Home plans to expand into new markets and geographies, and add more eligible diagnoses. Rakowski said the company is also considering adding a remotely programmable automated pill dispenser to increase medication adherence.
“This is just the beginning for Medically Home, as we continue evolving to transform quality patient care and the future of health care,” said Rakowski.
ARLINGTON, Va. – Ann Mond Johnson has been named CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. She will lead efforts to build strategic partnerships and alliances that leverage advanced health care technology to give consumers access to top-quality and cost-effective care. “With Ann’s invaluable experience working across the health care spectrum with providers, payers and innovative technology firms, we have the powerhouse leadership to achieve our objectives, seize new opportunities and take telehealth to the next level,” said Dr. Peter Yellowlees, president of the board of ATA, in a statement. Johnson has spent most of the last two decades in health care technology in Chicago, as both an entrepreneur and executive leader. Before joining ATA, Johnson was CEO of Zest Health, a company that leverages technology to guide employees through their health insurance benefits to save them and their employers time and money. “Consumers are increasingly savvy about using technology in their everyday lives and have come to expect it, even in health care,” said Johnson in a statement. “Telemedicine represents the future of health and wellness, and I’m excited by the enormous opportunity in front of us.”
‘It’s a new way to practice medicine and manage populations’
BOSTON – Health care organizations have overcome past trepidation and are now embracing the potential of telemedicine, according to a recent survey conducted by the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP.
About 75% of respondents to the 2017 Foley Telemedicine and Digital Health Survey currently offer or plan to offer telemedicine services, and more than half said their programs were growing or expanding. Three years ago, 87% of survey respondents said they did not expect their patients to be using telemedicine services by 2017.
“Health care organizations have realized telemedicine is not just a fad or pilot project,” said Nathaniel Lacktman, chairman of Foley & Lardner’s telemedicine industry team, in a blog post about the report. “It’s a new way to practice medicine and manage populations.”
Nearly all of the survey’s respondents said telemedicine was spurring expansion of their digital health services, including mobile health apps, remote patient monitoring and personal health records. Organizations also indicated strong interest in additional digital solutions for monitoring patient compliance.
Reimbursement remains a challenge, as it did when the last Foley & Lardner survey was done in 2014.
Almost 60% of respondents said third-party reimbursement was a challenge; however, a large majority said some or all of their telemedicine services are now reimbursed, compared with just 41% in 2014. Further, more than 50% of respondents said they plan to adopt remote patient monitoring services, even though just 15% are being reimbursed.
“Third-party reimbursement needs to catch up, and Congress needs to change the rules for Medicare,” said Monica Chmielewski, co-chair of Foley & Lardner’s life sciences industry team, in the survey report.
The survey also found that health care organizations are slow to adopt artificial intelligence as a means to monitor population health, although they see promise in it.
“Respondents are not so enthusiastic about using digital technology to replace the skills of human providers—at least not yet,” the report said.
DUBLIN and BOSTON – Medtronic Care Management Services and American Well are partnering to provide a comprehensive telehealth solution to patients with complex, chronic and co-morbid conditions.
The companies are collaborating to enable patient access to American Well’s telemedicine services on MCMS’ video-enabled platforms and to allow bi-directional data flow between the two.
“Providing care to complex, chronic, co-morbid populations requires access to, and coordination between, multiple clinical specialties,” said Sheri Dodd, vice president and general manager of Medtronic Care Management Services, in a statement. “Our work together will help clinicians gain a more complete view of a patient’s health status when making care decisions and will help ensure access to information from telemedicine interactions is available to the broader care team while the patient remains in their own home.”
The telehealth solution will provide information from MCMS’ remote patient monitoring to clinicians performing consultations using American Well’s telemedicine capabilities and enable information from these telemedicine visits to be included in MCMS’ clinical management software. The partnership is designed to provide greater patient access to their care team, while improving clinician access to the critical information needed when making care decisions – especially as they evaluate opportunities for early intervention.
MCMS and American Well’s strategic partnership brings key components of telehealth services together, with the goal of reducing the cost of care and improving patient outcomes for this unique population, Dodd said.
“This will help clinicians more effectively manage patients while providing patients with flexible access to expert care when they most need it,” said Ido Schoenberg, CEO of American Well, in a statement. “These new capabilities will serve clients of both Medtronic Care Management Services and American Well, enhancing the capabilities available to health plans, major health systems and other customers pursuing more efficient care of complex patients.”
LOS ANGELES – Telehealth technology provider SnapMD has expanded its Virtual Care Management telemedicine platform language offerings to include support for Spanish-speaking patients. “SnapMD built the VCM platform to deliver all the features and functions needed for a true point-of-care solution,” said Dave Skibinski, president and CEO of SnapMD, in a statement. “The development of Spanish-language capabilities allows us to further our mission to help providers deliver care virtually to conquer the last mile in healthcare.” SnapMD’s VCM telemedicine platform is designed specifically for health care providers to integrate the technology into existing operating models. When using the VCM platform, patients will now have access to user-friendly Spanish support throughout the patient portal. By clicking the flag icon, the language selector will open so that patients can easily choose their preferred language thus optimizing their virtual care experience.
FISHERS, Ind. – Telemedicine provider TelaCare has incorporated unlimited access to specialty providers into its services. “Patients seeking virtual care will have even greater access and more care options thanks to this unique specialty offering from TelaCare,” said Larry Jones, CEO of TelaCare, in a statement. “Adding these additional telemedicine services to our patients at no additional charge helps us to build upon our goal of offering a broad suite of solutions to our employer and health plan partners, all with a common goal of providing consumers with better access to high quality care at a lower cost.”
SEATTLE –Health care technology company 98point6 has raised $19.5 million in Series B funding to accelerate product development and to expand its telemedicine service across the U.S. “98point6 is creating a new approach to primary care where everyone wins: consumers, physicians, businesses, payers and provider groups,” said Robbie Cape, co-founder and CEO of 98point6, in a statement. The company developed an app that allows users to communicate with board-certified physicians at no charge. The app is currently not available everywhere; a pilot program will launch in early 2018.
PITTSBURG, Kans. – The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas will use a UnitedHealthcare Frontier Rural Health Care grant to expand a pilot telemedicine program into a fully functioning system.
CHCSEK will use the $48,000 in grant funds to purchase additional telemedicine setups for its clinics and to expand its network of specialty providers.
“The technology of this telemedicine program is amazing and has let us do what we do better and faster,” said Jason Wesco, executive vice president of CHCSEK.
CHCSEK’s telemedicine program gives people in rural or underserved parts of the state access to specialty physicians like dermatologists. It uses webcams, monitors and platform software, as well as smartphones with attachments and connected health devices, to provide care to its patients, many of whom are uninsured.
CHCSEK implemented the specialty telemedicine program in July and so far has treated 40 to 50 patients, mostly for dermatology care, for a flat fee of $75 for uninsured patients.
Access to specialty care has consistently been identified as the top challenge of providers in the CHCSEK telemedicine program, said Wesco. Many patients don’t pursue a referral to a specialist because they either can’t afford it or because the specialist is too far away.
“Now we can help the patient stay focused on what they need to do, which is take care of their health,” he said.
CHCSEK hopes its telemedicine program can serve as a model to other similar organizations and eliminate barriers to access one challenge at a time, Wesco said.
“This is really a natural next extension of what we already do,” he said. “We hope it can be a catalyst for others to do it, too.”
The UnitedHealthcare Frontier Rural Health Care grant program was established earlier this year. Four grants totaling $186,000 were awarded last month to organizations across Kansas.
LOMBARD, Ill. – Connected for Care has rebranded to the name Curatess, offering an integrated care coordination platform that enables advanced telemedicine delivery in post-acute settings. The brand and name change coincides with the launch of the company’s second-generation product platform, which includes a streamlined medical grade cart, easy-to-use software, EHR/EMR integration, Bluetooth integration of medical devices (stethoscope, pulse oximeter and blood pressure) and mobile applications. “The advantages of using a platform like ours is that it opens the opportunity to offer patient-centered care and not just 9 am – 5 pm care, but care when patients and nurses need support after-hours, or have distance challenges, or medically complex situations,” said Paul Knight, founder and chief information officer of Curatess.