Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt is the founder and publisher of The Health Care Blog and still writes regularly for the site. He is also the co-founder of the Health 2.0 Conference, as well as a Founding Principal of the associated consulting firm Health 2.0 Advisors.

Limelight Health raises $3m to automate insurance quotes

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A while back Michael Lujan, who was one of the originals working at Covered California, came to see me at the Health 2.0 office. He and his colleagues realized that the workflow for small business health insurance quotations between the carriers and the agents was broken. Yet, despite the ACA (or maybe because of it!) agents are responsible for 90% of small business health quotes.

Any small business who’s ever got a health insurance quote from an agent has likely seen a relatively incomprehensible series of prices and benefits on a PDF. And if they want to see a change, the broker has to go back to the carrier/insurer and start again.

For the past year or so LimeLight Health (working at incubator Launchpad Health) has been trying to make that an interactive process, and the result is their product Quotepad. Another really interesting niche product in our convoluted health care mess.

Today Limelight announced a $3m series A funding round. I spoke to CEO Jason Andrew, who told me what they do and gave a demo.

Want to help Technologies for Healthy Communities?

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Health 2.0 is actively expanding Technology for Healthy Communities and looking for large healthcare organizations and foundations to help support technology adoption at a community level.

Technology for Healthy Communities is a dynamic pilot program designed to catalyze the adoption of technologies in communities. The program fosters the development of sustainable partnerships to address the social determinants of health in the under-served regions that need it the most. Over 200 innovators across the U.S. submitted applications to the program, and through curated matchmaking and access to funding, selected innovators were matched with three participating communities to conduct pilot projects.

Snapshot of the three pilots:

  • Spartanburg, SC: ACCESS Health Spartanburg, a non-profit agency primarily working with the uninsured population, is piloting with Healthify to provide community interventions for social determinants of health at the point of care. With support from Spartanburg Way to Wellville and the Mary Black Foundation, the pilot aims to address current pain points in community health care, such as the inefficiency of addressing social needs of patients and helping to make case management easier.
  • Jacksonville, FL: The City of Jacksonville and the Health Planning Council of NE Florida, with support from the Clinton Foundation is piloting with CTY to deploy its signature product, NuminaTM. With this technology, bicycle and pedestrian traffic data will be collected to assess current safety conditions and plan improvements in the built environment for residents to be more physically active.
  • Alameda County, CA: The Community Health Center Network is piloting with Welkin Health to implement a case management tool that engages members and eases current healthcare worker burden. Together, they will pilot this case management tool in four centers to help community health workers to effectively and efficiently coordinate care.

Due to the high demand from tech innovators and communities, Health 2.0 is expanding the program to new communities, tech startups and organizations who can benefit from technology adoption. By addressing the social determinants of health, the program has the potential to implement unique tech applications and address some of the most important systemic issues at the community level.

Health 2.0 is looking for partners such as foundations, large health systems and corporations who want to support pilots to test innovations in communities, interact with the fastest growing startups in the tech scene, and help create business opportunities for technology companies. Program sponsors will also have the opportunity to address local health needs by bringing exciting, new technologies to under-served regions across the U.S.

The program will focus on tools that support access to a healthy lifestyle, in categories such as:

  • Access to healthcare services
  • Food insecurity
  • Affordable housing
  • Behavioral/mental health

If you are interested in partnering with Health 2.0 to help deliver technology to communities, contact patrick@health2con.com to learn about opportunities to support the program.

Alexandra Camesas is a program manager at Catalyst @ Health 2.0

Don’t think anything is certain on the reform front

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And in more from the “is it really bad enough out there to guarantee health reform?” front…

Pew Research is out with a poll showing that the numbers in favor of a major health care system reform are growing abut nowhere near as large as they were in 1993.

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For those of you who are real survey geeks it’s (almost) worth noticing that Harris, which asks a similar three questions about appetite for reform never got above 40% for its “rebuilding” category back in 1993. I’m not sure why these are different numbers, but the last one I saw from Harris in favor of “complete rebuilding” was at 33%.

But the answer is that support from the public is no more a dead cert than it was in 1993–4.

Michelle Longmire, CEO Medable

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I never ceased to be amazed by how smart young clinicians solve problems that they see. Michelle Longmire was in residency at Stanford working with colleagues building point solutions when she realized that what they needed was an easy platform on which to develop medical grade apps. Her company Medable was the result. Then she realized that the other big market was clinical researchers, who now have access to Apple’s ResearchKit, but need an easy way to build a study without using developers. I interviewed her recently and she built a study for me using Medable’s new Axon product.

SXSW–Vote for me, or those other guys!

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So in Austin every year they have this SXSW conference. Indu goes every year and raves about it. Last year Jay Drayer from CareFlash put me on a panel (but it didn’t get selected). This year he has a different group. But don’t worry, Feelgoodnow.com has proposed a panel entitled Sick Clicks: The Evolution of Health Online that will feature me and other buds including Susannah Fox, Associate Director of Digital Strategy at the Pew Internet & American Life Project,Catherine Ulbricht, founder of Natural Standard and Jay Parkinson, founder of HelloHealth.com.

The bizarre thing is that SXSW is a democratic event and you have to vote for it. So please go vote for us here. And if you want to vote for Jay Drayer’s motley crue, well they’re here (and they’re pretty damn good too…)

From Health 2.0 meets Ix: A Breathtaking Display of Possibilities

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(Boston) Jane Sarasohn-Kahn and I were quickly comparing notes this morning. Our impression is that, compared to past meetings, this one seems more characterized by doers than observers.

This conference brings together a dizzying array of tools and experiences, which is testament to the organizers’ encyclopedic handle on the vast diversity of activity in this sector. Josh Seidman, Indu Subaiya and Matthew Holt have done yeomans’ jobs in putting these impressive presentations together.

Mingling, I’ve spoken to person after person actively involved in mostly consumer-oriented ventures, leveraging science and user-generated information to facilitate a more favorable patient experience. There are some real steps forward, like the demo that Mayo and Microsoft showed, that takes information entered into Health Vault and applies the rules that Mayo has developed through many years of experience. Or the work that groups like Up-To-Date and HealthWise are doing, that continually, organically update descriptive information throughout medicine and health care.

Let’s Have APIs for Those Provider Directories!

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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.

Progress made by ONC (Really!)

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ONC Director Farzad Mostashari is out with his review of 2011 on a month by month basis. Good to see that Farzad & colleagues took December 2011 off (just kidding!). He calls it a year of “momentous” progress. I’m doubly biased because I’m a proponent of newer and better health technology for clinicians AND citizens. Also, (FD) Health 2.0 is the main subcontractor on the i2 Investing in Innovation challenges which were–as noted by Farzad–launched in June, have had several close already, and will continue to roll off the production line for another 18 months. But as a general and occasionally cynical observer I’m very impressed with what ONC has done.

Apps Against Abuse–the Winners

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The Federal government has been getting behind the Challenges craze in a big way but this one from the Vice President’s Office and HHS is a doozy. Called Apps Against Abuse it asked developers to create an application that would help young people deal with abuse and violence, primarily in the world of dating and relationships. (FD my company Health 2.0 has a contract with HHS to run challenges, and Apps Against Abuse was featured in the Health 2.0 Developer Challenge and we worked on publicizing the project).

Today two winners were announced on the White House Blog by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and in a conference call hosted by Aneesh Chopra (Federal CTO) and Todd Park (CTO, HHS) and some fellow called Joe Biden was there too!

OnWatch is a phone based app that has a series of alarms and prompts built in. For example, it can be set with a message sent to friends saying “I went to a party at XYZ dorm, if I don’t come back by midnight come find me” or it has a panic button that calls 911 or the campus police.

The other winner is called Circle of 6 and it comes from the team at ISIS. (FD I’m on the board of ISIS but I didn’t even know they’d entered the contest!). Circle of 6 puts you in touch with 6 of your closest friends and asks them to come help you if you’re in trouble. It even plugs in the coordinates for them. The ISIS team intends to build out Circle of 6 which is currently an iPhone only prototype.

There were more than 33 entries for Apps Against Abuse, even though there was no prize money at stake. It’s good to see that such commonsense use of these new technologies is finding so many spirited innovators willing to help.

EMR’s hockey stick up!

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Every VC loves and hates the hockey stick–that growth curve that potters along and then suddenly shoots up. But if you check out the new numbers from CDC the use of a basic EMR is on that hockey stick curve. Adoption of a “basic system” has gone from under 17% in 2008 to 33% this year, with another 40% of doctors saying they’re going for the Meaningful Use gold–which means essentially a more than “basic” system. So maybe this is a hockey stick curve that we can all love. (Well all other than the curmudgeons over at Health Care Renewal!). On a somewhat related personal note, I too was awaiting the hockey stick of EMR adoption. I abandoned my attempt to catch the start of the hockey curve in 2000 when I quit my EMR survey job at Harris Interactive. All I had to do was hang on for another eight years and I’d have been proved right!