Matthew Holt

In more stunning proof that America’s 18th century style governing process just doesn’t work, a subset of a regional Federal court ruled against part of Obamacare. The Halbig ruling is certain to be overturned by the full DC court and then probably will stay that way after it makes it’s way through the Supremes–at least Jonathan Cohn thinks so.

But think about what the Halbig ruling is about. Its proponents say that when Congress (well, just the Senate actually as it was their version of the bill that passed) designed the ACA, they wanted states only to run exchanges and only people buying via states to get subsidies. But that they also wanted a Federal exchange for those states that couldn’t or (as it turned out) wouldn’t create their own. But apparently they meant that subsidies wouldn’t be available on the Federal exchange. That would just sail through Logic 101 at any high school. Well only if the teacher was asleep, as apparently most Senators were.

Now two judges interpret what was written down to imply that subsidies should only be available on state exchanges–even though logic, basic common sense and fairness would dictate that if we’re going to subsidize health insurance we should do it for everyone regardless of geography.

Don’t forget that in the House version of the bill there was only a Federal exchange. Continue reading “Halbig corpus interruptus”

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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”

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Doximity, known as the LinkedIn for doctors and a frequent Health 2.0 participant, raised $54 million in a Series C funding round led by T. Rowe Price and Draper Fisher Jurveston with participation from Morgan Stanley Investment Management.

Doximity claims more than 40% of US physicians as active users, and in January of this year announced that their physician network has grown to more than 250,000 members.

Doctors can use Doximity to collaborate on cases, further their careers, and stay up to date on specialty-specific news, but that’s not where they make their revenue.

“There are a lot of things we can do to make medical networking more efficient,” Doximity CEO Jeff Tangney told Health 2.0 when asked how the funds would be used.

“If you think about it, how would your life be different if you weren’t able to use email in your job? How out of touch would you be? That’s what it’s like to be a US physician. We see a lot of opportunity to improve the connectivity of physicians as a new business area.”

Like LinkedIn, Doximity is a recruiting tool for people looking to hire doctors. Tangney didn’t reveal all the numbers, but he did say that Doximity was cash flow positive in January for the first time. He also said that Doximity has 55 employees, somewhere around 200 hospital clients, and that a subscription to the recruiting product costs $12,000 per seat per year to send 50 messages per month.

With some back of the envelope math, and a guess of a burn of about $10-12 million a year, it figures out to about four subscribed seats per hospital. With about 5,000 hospitals in the US and some other revenue streams to pursue, it looks like Doximity has room to grow at a bare minimum.

Continue reading “Doximity Raises Another $54M to Pursue LinkedIn’s Business Model Too”

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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”

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After years of speculation about a possible name change, Health 2.0 has become mHealth & Associates. My partner Co-Chairman and CEO Indu Subaiya and I didn’t take this move lightly. We were though concerned that the tired “2.0″ moniker is now thoroughly discredited by the emergence of the fully interoperable semantic Web, particularly as it’s been demonstrated in the healthcare sector in the US in recent years. In addition leading luminaries such as Chris Schroeder have finally realized the importance of the brand new smart phone devices that we’ve been ignoring for most of the last decade. And after some prompting, we were convinced by the intellectual rigor of the wider mHealth movement with its clear definition of mobile health, including the incorporation of highly portable technologies such as televisions bolted to the walls of hospital rooms.

Admittedly, while mHealth Intelligence and the mHealth Challenge roll off the tongue, we were a little stuck by what to call our main Fall conference–our organization’s best known event. But while mHealth Summit, mHealth Conference and most other variants are already use, we think that clear market visibility will surround out new name. So instead of the 8th Annual Health 2.0 Fall Conference, this September we’ll welcome you to the First mHealth Confabulation.

Finally we wanted to acknowledge the role of  our wider movement, our team and our 75 chapters across the globe, so we have added the “*& Associates” moniker to the name. In recognition of their contributions all mHealth colleagues will now be known as Mobile Health Associates or in its shortened version, as an “mHealth Ass.” Indu has suggested that I adopt the title of “Biggest mHealth Ass.”

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Matthew Holt sat down with CareCloud President and CEO Albert Santalo to discuss the latest news from the Miami-based cloud practice management and EHR services provider. CareCloud got started in 2009 and since then has raised $55 million in angel and private venture funding and grown to 270 employees.

Currently, about 5,000 doctors use CareCloud for their practice management services with about a quarter of those doctors also using the CareCloud EHR. Santalo expects that number to grow to about 12,000 by the end of the year, explaining in three points why he thinks the market is primed for CareCloud’s cloud-based, integrated practice management and EHR system.

While Santalo’s grin says more than his answer when asked about a potential IPO, he shares some interesting thoughts on practice consolidation, meaningful use requirements, and the cloud in in-patient settings in this interview recorded at HIMSS last month.

 

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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”

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I’ve been a busy world traveler lately. The focus of the health care tech and policy crowd in the US has been on the fix to one high visibility website. Before I talk about the rest of the world it’s worth noting that the Administration painted itself into a corner here.

When healthcare.gov failed on take-off they didn’t make the obvious choice of letting other brokers and plans enroll people directly–and worry about correcting subsidies on the back end. I spoke with one big online broker this week who told me that his company still couldn’t get reliable access to the subsidy calculator API, and so can’t enroll people. I suggested the solution to that back in October but apparently no one is listening at HHS–although Sen Mary Landrieu was. The White House was however listening to the Fox news crowd ranting about cancelled insurance policies and made the bad policy (if necessary political) call to allow current individual market policies to continue–even if they are rightly now illegal under the ACA.

But elsewhere the impetus that the US has been seeing on the health technology side–with over $2 billion in venture funding this year–is spreading. The UK just confirmed that it’s releasing the equivalent of $800 million for new health technology, and we just returned from a very successful Health 2.0 Europe conference. All kinds of activity is going on over there–did you know there were over 100 digital health start-ups in Finland & the Baltics alone? Well, you do now.

Today the Health 2.0 international roadshow is in Sao Paulo, Brazil–a city that has the size and energy of New York–albeit before Guliani cleaned up the graffiti. And yes, even in Latin America, there’s lots of activity in using technology to change health care. I’ll tell you more next time, but it’s clear that there’s way more than one website in healthcare.
Hope to see you in Brazil or at at our Health 2.0 at the mhealth Summit Session in DC on Monday.
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-Matthew Holt
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Most of us find ourselves pretty fascinating… flipping through photos and slowing down for the ones where we’re included, tweeting our favorite tidbits of information, facebook-ing progress on this or that…

We find other people captivating as well. In fact, there’s a meme going around on facebook where people share a handful of things that most people don’t know about them – and there’s a great joy in learning these tidbits about the friends and family we think we know so well.

This Thanksgiving, we’re asking our friends and family to try this exercise, but with a twist – we want to know how they’d answer just five questions on their end-of-life preferences.

What? Are you CRAZY? Talk about how you’d want to die over Thanksgiving? Yup – that’s exactly what we’re suggesting. You know why? Because this is a conversation you absolutely want to have exactly when you DON’T need to have it… and it’s a conversation you need to have with your loved ones. Our hope for you this Thanksgiving is that you’ll have the luxury of checking both those boxes.

Continue reading “We Love to Talk About Our Lives. What About Our Deaths?”

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By now even those of us who originally thought that we were seeing minor teething troubles are no longer deluding ourselves. Healthcare.gov, the federal health insurance exchanges (HIXs), and many of the state HIXs are in deep trouble.

One summary of many articles about this is up at ProPublica. But now that the House Republicans have stopped trying to destroy the country and themselves, attention will turn quickly to this problem, and–much worse–beyond the politics, there is now only eight or so weeks to get ready for actual enrollments for Jan 1, once you take out Thanksgiving and the Christmas holiday. Getting ten or twenty million new customers on board, not to mention the small businesses who want to move from their current insurance onto the exchanges, seems like an impossible task.

But, if we can muster the will, there may be a solution. (And yes, I want it to work, faut de mieux). Quietly last summer two private online insurance brokers, eHealth which runs the eHealthInsurance.com site, and GetInsured, struck deals with HHS which allowed them to enroll individuals in plans that qualify for the mandate under the ACA, and more importantly, connect with the “Health Exchange Data Hub” that figures out whether the enrollee qualifies for a subsidy (theoretically by connecting to the IRS).

That part of the transaction, though, could be done by attestation and dealt with later. In other words, someone buying health insurance could state what their income will be in 2014 (or was in 2013) and if it ends up varying dramatically on their 1040 then in 2015 they will pay or receive the difference. Essentially this is something all Americans recognize–the IRS asks you for more or gives you a tax refund well after the fact, and H&R Block and their competitors make a business of giving you the refund right away (and of course charge you for the privilege).

That is important because what seems to be crippling the HIXs right now is not the back end, it’s the front end. (Go to this Reddit thread for lots more deeply technical conversation about that). Showing people options, comparing plans, setting up accounts–that’s all standard web stuff and most of the HIXs can’t do it. Those private brokers have both smoothly done this for years and at least the two I mentioned have built comparative tools for the new insurance plans. (Both were demoed at Health 2.0 on October 1).

So why can’t we put prominent links to eHealthInsurance.com and GetInsured on the Healthcare.gov site and move people over there? Continue reading “A Pragmatic Fix for Healthcare.gov & the HIXs”

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Masthead

Matthew Holt
Founder & Publisher

John Irvine
Executive Editor

Jonathan Halvorson
Editor

Alex Epstein
Director of Digital Media

Munia Mitra, MD
Chief Medical Officer

Vikram Khanna
Editor-At-Large, Wellness

Joe Flower
Contributing Editor

Michael Millenson
Contributing Editor

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