Matthew Holt

Daniel Palestrant was one of the first big stars of the early Health 2.0 movement, and he was often at Health 2.0 conferences and on THCB. He founded the biggest (US based) online doctor network Sermo in 2005, rode it like a rocketship, and then left with little explanation in late 2011. Rumors swirled about the company, then it was bought by WorldOne, while Palestrant (and colleague Adam Sharp) was seen in a series of photos with a cutout of an obscure economist. He then seemingly vanished. Now he’s back, and the company named for that economist, Par8o, just announced a funding round of $10.5m and a series of impressive clients.

But what happened at Sermo? And how did that get him to Par8o? I met Dan for a in-depth reminiscence. But briefly in his words; all the investors (including him) in Sermo were happy with the WorldOne buyout; what he learned from the ACA was the inspiration for Par8o; and, he’s now building the underpinning health care operating system. We’ll have more later this week, but watch our catch up.

My 2015 prediction

Gautam Gulati crowdsourced a whole lot of predictions by asking health care types what they expected to see in 2015, and you can see them all on his site. Mine is above–Matthew Holt

I’ve been posting my personal end of year email on THCB for a few years now–here’s 2014′s edition–Matthew Holt

Dec 31 2014: Last year I claimed laziness and failed to write or send out my End of Year Issues email for the first time since I started in 2000. Perhaps it was the stress of being 50, or the fact that despite having 15,000 of my closest friends follow me on Twitter I cant seem to reach people on email, or people miss my Facebook posts. But this year I’ve been guilted back into it by altogether too many people asking me where it was?!

If you don’t know, this is a letter I write mostly to myself about what happened in the year and what I should do about it–mostly in terms of making donations while it’s still 2014. Obviously a few of you like reading it and hopefully one or two of them that does will put their hand into their pocket (or click on the link and use their Paypal account or whatever the electronic equivalent is). And if you don’t like it, well feel free to hit delete, or go onto the next picture of a cat being cute…and I love comments on the blogs/Facebook/Twitter or by email.

Continue reading “Matthew’s end of 2014 charity & issues letter”

This was a comment I submitted submitted to this proposed set of regulations on health plans participating in the ACA. (Use ctrl-F to search “provider directory” within the page). HHS is proposing forcing insurers to make their provider directories more accurate and machine readable, and it would be great for consumers if that was made the case–especially if APIs (which means basically giving access for other computers to read them) were mandated–here’s why:

Subject–Immediately updated  provider directories machine readable via APIs should be mandated for health insurers.

Finding accurate information about providers is one of the hardest things for consumers to do while interacting with the health care system. While regulation cannot fix all of these issues, these proposed regulations in section  156.230 can greatly help, But they should be strengthened by requiring (under subsection 2) that health insurers immediately add new information about providers in their networks to a publicly available machine readable database accessible via a freely available API.

Currently companies trying to aid consumers in provider search and selection tell us that the information pertaining to which providers are in a particular network is the least accurate of all data they can receive. For consumers the biggest question for plan selection is trying to find out which provider is in their plan, and at the least this requires searching multiple websites. Worse, particular insurer’s plans can even have the same name but can have different networks (in one instance in our personal experience Aetna in New York state had two different plans with effectively the same name but different networks). This is essentially impenetrable for consumers and that is assuming that the information on the websites is accurate or timely–which it is often not.

Continue reading “Let’s Have APIs for Those Provider Directories!”

Yesterday XPRIZE announced the 11 finalists for the second phase of the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE. This is a $2.25m prize competition to advance the ability to use sensors to measure and manage health, and it’s something that we’re fascinated by at Health 2.0. You may recall that the first round’s winners were unveiled live on stage at the 2013 Health 2.0 Fall Conference by our friends at XPRIZE and Nokia.

UPDATE–The hangout is embedded above. To find out a little more, please come to a Google Hangout at 10 am Pacific/ 1pm EST Wednesday where I’ll be chatting with Dr. Erik Viirre, Medical and Technical Director of the Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE and the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE; Jonanthan Linkous, Chief Executive Officer of the American Telemedicine Association; Jon Dreyer, President of Health IT Strategic Partners; Dr. Manas Gartia from team MoboSense, a Distinguished Award winner in the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE Competition #1; and Dr. Marc Bailey from Nokia Technologies.

You can also see videos of the finalist teams and their breakthrough technologies can be viewed and voted on beginning today through October 30 at http://www.nokiasensingxchallengevoting.org. More on the teams below the fold:

Continue reading “SENSING XCHALLENGE, with Google Hangout Wednesday at 10 PST”

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Yesterday phone and electronics giant Samsung rushed out its next step in health related hardware. Samsung was clearly trying to get this out the door and in the press before Apple’s forthcoming announcement of something health-related –or I assume that’s what their industrial espionage told them Apple was about to reveal (just kidding guys!). And some people (well, Techcrunch) were clearly unimpressed.

The most compelling moment which I captured (poorly) in the video above was the demo of the new SIMBAND–albeit a concept rather than an available product. (In fact a couple of their partners told me that no-one outside the company has one). In the SIMBAND are a stack of new sensors which attempt to use the wrist to monitor not only heart rate, but blood pressure, temperature, EKG and do it all continuously. You can see a rather better video of the demo from Gizmodo, which I cued up to start at the right place.

They also announced a fully open platform (what at Health 2.0 we dub the Data Utility Layer) called Samsung Architecture Multimodal Interactions (SAMI) to accept and spit out all types of health related data.

This is all potentially very impressive. Samsung’s first two attempts at Smart Watches have fizzled, but they tend to keep coming back, and now are pretty much the best at Smart Phones. (You fan bois can keep your teeny iPhone screens!) But can they make the health related smartwatch work? I’ve three quick assessments/questions.

Continue reading “Samsung Throws Kitchen Sink onto the Wrist”

The Administration has snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and enrolled 7 million people (give or take a million who may not have paid their premiums) into health plans under the ACA, and more into Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) isn’t as big a change as some of us would have liked, But in this moment of modest celebration let’s remember what some of the sensible old men said all along.

Sensible old men said reform couldn’t pass without bring in the Republicans. Sen. Baucus tried hard to do that, and it’s beyond clear that no Republican would have ever supported it–even a moderate like Snowe who was quitting. It passed anyway.

They said that we’d see massive rate shock. Instead plans tightened networks and rates were in general lower than they had been before.

They said that the web site debacle meant no-one would sign up and we’d go into an insurance death spiral. The web site launch was a cock up, but Medicaid expansion (where allowed) has more or less been OK, and the exchange web site(s) now more or less work(s)–outside Oregon & Maryland. By the way this backs my argument for having one Federal exchange, which you may remember was in the House bill before we ended up being forced to take the Senate version due to Ted Kennedy’s death.

One wise old man (Robert Laszewski) was still saying that the exchanges would be financial disaster for insurers the very week Wellpoint raised earnings expectations because they had more enrollees than expected.

Let’s also remember that because of the politics of the nation, the ACA is a ridiculous hodge-podge of a law requiring–you’ll recall:

a) an opt-in to what’s basically a social insurance program (hey, let’s opt-in to fire protection while we’re at it!)

b) arbitrary tax (and now subsidy) distinctions between those who get insurance via an employer and those who don’t, and

c) arbitrary access to insurance (well, Medicaid) for the poor depending on their income and which side of a randomly drawn line they live.

Continue reading “The ACA– As Much As We Could Have Hoped For, Despite Sensible Old Men”

Today venerable health content creator Healthwise merged with the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation which was previously funded by (and had an exclusive relationship up until last month with) Health Dialog. I asked Healthwise CEO–and old friend of Health 2.0–Don Kemper what was happening and what it meant. I also snuck in a smidgen of snark about a conference we worked on together five years ago.–Matthew Holt

Matthew: Don, you’re merging Healthwise with the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation. So I know the two organizations are both non-profits but as a poorly informed outsider I always thought of you as rival content creators, with Healthwise selling your content and services to insurers and providers and Informed Medical Decisions being funded by Health Dialog which then got to use and sell the content and decision support aids it created to its customers. Am I wrong?

Don: You aren’t completely wrong—but then not overly well informed either. We have always thought of ourselves as sister organizations rather than rivals. We have collaborated well in advocacy efforts to promote the role of the patient. Health Dialog has had a near exclusive relationship with the Foundation until recently. Health Dialog has been a long-term client of Healthwise, too—just not an exclusive one. When the restructured Health Dialog-Foundation relationship dropped the exclusivity requirement it allowed us to proceed with the merger discussions.

Matthew: Now that change occurred for Informed Medical Decisions and you two can merge, what do they have that Healthwise hasn’t got, and vice versa?

Don: The Foundation has three things that will add greatly to the Healthwise mission:

1. Medical Evidence—Their assessment of medical evidence in key areas goes deeper than we have been able to go. Whereas we have often waited for treatment guidelines to change before reflecting the changes in our content, their medical editors are often involved in making the guideline changes. Getting that information into the patient’s hands six months earlier could make a life or death difference.

2. Value Demonstration—The Foundation has developed research relationships with many health services researchers around the country. By setting up and evaluating demonstration sites for shared decision making (SDM) they have proven how SDM improves decision quality and reduces the use of expensive but preference-sensitive treatments.

3. Practice Change Management—The Foundation has gained a great deal of experience in helping clinicians build SDM into their workflow. Those learnings will help as we integrate patient engagement into the mainstream of care.

What they get from us is “reach.” People now turn to our information, tools and solutions over 340 times a minute. (180 million times a year). Fifteen percent of US physicians can now prescribe Healthwise patient instructions through their EMRs.

Healthwise has invested heavily in the technology needed to integrate into EMRs and has excelled at building broad-based solutions that fit within a health plan’s or health system’s workflow. It would have been hard for the Foundation to have matched that without us.

Matthew: So how will this actually work. How many people do you have, how many do they? Who gets to keep their jobs? Is this a real merger or a takeover?

Don: This is a merger made in heaven. No one will be out of work. Continue reading “Healthwise Adds Informed Medical Decisions: Don Kemper Interview”

Conversa is a brand new company, aiming to fill the space between physician visits with easy and useful communications between doctors and patients. The logic is that most health care happens outside the exam room, but most of the effort of automating health care has been put into recording what happens in the medical setting, with little feedback or follow up from patients (HealthLoop is another company aiming at this space).

Why are we featuring Conversa? Well somewhat unusually for a Health 2.0 startup they come with buckets of experience. CEO West Shell was at the helm at Healthline, Product Head Phil Marshall built lots of tools at WebMD and Chief Marketer Anna-Lisa Silvestre was behind the roll out of probably the biggest patient portal ever at Kaiser Permanente.

I got all three of them on the video-line to tell me about Conversa.

Learn more about Conversa’s launch here.

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Ryan McQuaid, former Head of Product for AT&T mHealth and friend of Health 2.0, joined Matthew Holt to discuss the launch of his brand new startup PlushCare. And when we say brand new, we mean as of writing this post, their Indiegogo campaign is a mere 23 hours old. PlushCare combines elements of telehealth and concierge medicine to provide basic health care via phone, email, and video chat for $10 per month. Busy working professionals can use the service to connect with Stanford MDs for same-day diagnosis and treatment of illnesses or injuries. The physicians provide advice, prescribe medicine, and will refer directly to primary care providers and specialists if necessary.

PlushCare removes the hassle of scheduling an in-person doctor visit, and provides the same care at lower costs. In addition, for each individual that purchases PlushCare, the company provides one child a lifetime of immunity to measles. PlushCare is currently accepting a limited number of members via their Indiegogo campaign to validate demand and user test. Several other companies are using a similar model of tech-enabled services, including American Well and Teladoc, but the space is sure to see more activity at the prospect of pushing basic care out of the doctor’s office in a way that is convenient for consumers and increases provider efficiency.

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