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Category: COVID-19

Restorative Justice: Don’t Presume “We’re Better Than This”

By MIKE MAGEE

“We’re better than this” is the common refrain heard from many political leaders following the deadly assault on our democracy on January 6th. We hear empty appeals for blind appeasement from the likes of Kevin McCarthy in the interest of “bringing our country together.” But for those of us who study medical history, pursuing this course takes our nation in exactly the wrong direction.

Rather, the model we must follow is the model of Germany in 1945, or South Africa in 1995. In both cases, strict legal and public accountability (retributive justice) were married with fundamental expansion of universal social services to rebuild confidence and trust in their government’s ability to assure safety and security, and an equal playing field for all of their citizens (restorative justice).

In sorting through the legacy of Hitler’s regime in Germany, the Allied forces established the International Military Tribunal.  One of the series of trials, opened on November 19, 1945 in the Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, delved into egregious examples of medical criminality, including Nazi experimentation on human subjects. These trials are often cited as an example of “retributive justice.” Of 23 defendants, 7 were hanged, 7 acquitted, and the rest given sentences of from 10 years to life in prison.

These judgments were conducted under the direction of U.S. judges and prosecutors and fully compliant with U.S. standards of criminal procedure. Yet another 25 years would pass before any of the 10 agreed-upon medical ethics research standards were integrated into US trial law.

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Catalyst @ Health 2.0 & AFBH Launch Call For COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Tracking

By ELIZABETH BROWN

Attention digital health innovators! Do you have a tracking tool that can assist public health care providers in managing the two-phased COVID-19 vaccination administration? Apply to the Alliance For Better Health Rapid Response Open Call for Vaccination Administration Tracking! 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the importance of ensuring health equity in #COVID19 vaccination administration for vulnerable and underserved populations is increasingly critical. Catalyst @ Health 2.0 is proud to host a Rapid Response Open Call (RROC) in collaboration with Alliance For Better Health. A select group of semi-finalists will have the opportunity to demo their technology. A grand prize winner will receive $15k and the opportunity to collaborate with Alliance For Better Health! 

Do you have a solution that can fit this need? Apply HERE today! Applications close 1/31.

(This is the first of 2 COVID-19 RROC challenges from Alliance for Better Health. The second will be announced on Thursday 21st but is mentioned in the video from Jacob Reider below)

CEO Jacob Reider introduces the challenges

About Alliance For Better Health: Alliance For Better Health engages medical and social service providers in developing innovative solutions to promote people’s health, with a goal of transforming the care delivery system into one that incentivizes health and prevention. Established in 2015 as a Performing Provider System in the New York State Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program (DSRIP), Alliance partners with more than 2,000 providers and organizations across a six-county area in New York’s Tech Valley and Capital Region.  

Elizabeth Brown is a Program Manager at Catalyst @ Health 2.0

RWJF Emergency Response Innovation Challenges: The Winners’ Interviews

By ELIZABETH BROWN

On November 19th, six teams competed in two virtual pitch events for the finals of two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Innovation Challenges, one for Emergency Response for the General Public and the other for Emergency Response for the Health Care System.

The teams – binformed | covidata, CovidSMS, and Fresh EBT by Propel for the General Public Challenge and Path Check, Qventus, and Tiatros, Inc., for the Health Care System Challenge – presented in front of expert judging panels, who evaluated the entries on impact, UX/UI, innovation/creativity, scalability and strength of presentation. (You can see the demos for all teams on yesterday’s post here)

binformed | covidata and CovidSMS tied for first place in the RWJF Emergency Response for the General Public Challenge and were each awarded $17,500.

Meanwhile, Qventus was declared the winner of the RWJF Emergency Response for the Health Care System Innovation Challenge and received $25,000.

After they had a chance to catch their breath and enjoy their wins, Catalyst caught back up with the three winning teams – hear the winners’ reflections below:

binformed | covidata – RWJF Emergency Response for the General Public Innovation Challenge Winner’s Interview
CovidSMS – RWJF Emergency Response for the General Public Innovation Challenge Winner’s Interview
Qventus – RWJF Emergency Response for the Health Care System Innovation Challenge Winner’s Interview

Elizabeth Brown is a Program Manager at Catalyst @ Health 2.0

RWJF Emergency Response Challenges: The Demos!

By ELIZABETH BROWN

RWJF (Both) Challenge Graphic.png

In mid-June, Catalyst launched the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Emergency Response Innovation Challenges. These Challenges, one for the General Public and one for the Health Care System, asked innovators to develop a health technology tool to support the needs of individuals as well as health care systems affected by a large-scale health crisis, such as a pandemic or natural disaster. 

The Challenges saw a record number of applications— nearly 125 applications were submitted to the General Public Challenge and over 130 applications were submitted to the Health Care System Challenge. Over the course of several months and with the help of experts and industry leaders who evaluated the submissions, these applications were narrowed down to five and then again until only three teams per Challenge remained. These teams were:  

Emergency Response for the General Public Finalists:

  • Binformed CovidataBinformed is a clinically-driven comprehensive desktop + mobile infectious disease, epidemic + pandemic management tool targeting suppression and containment of diseases such as COVID-19.
  • CovidSMS CovidSMS is a text message-based platform providing city-specific information and resources to help low-income communities endure COVID-19.
  • Fresh EBT by PropelA technology tool for SNAP families to address food insecurity & economic vulnerability in times of crisis.   

Emergency Response for the Health Care System Finalists:

  • Path CheckPath Check provides privacy first, free, open source solutions for public health to supplement manual contact tracing, visualize hot spots, and interfaces with citizen-facing privacy first apps.
  • QventusQventus is a patient flow automation solution that applies AI / ML and behavioral science to help health systems optimize resources for Covid, create effective capacity, and reduce frontline burnout.
  • Tiatros A mental health and social support platform that combines clinical expertise, peer communities and scalable technology to advance mental wellbeing and to sustain meaningful behavioral change.

These six teams competed in the finals, a virtual pitch event, on November 19th in front of expert judging panels, who evaluated the entries on impact, UX/UI, innovation/creativity, scalability and strength of presentation. (Also re-introduced during this event was Catalyst’s SourceDB, a health tech tracking database – more on that in a separate blog post here!)

In the Health Care System Innovation Challenge, judges awarded first, second, and third place to Qventus, Path Check, and Tiatros, Inc., respectively, with these teams receiving, in order, $25,000, $15,000, and $5,000. However, there was a tie for first in the General Public Innovation Challenge between binformed | covidata and CovidSMS. These two teams split the first and second place prizes and received $17,500 each, and Fresh EBT by Propel in third place received $5,000.


See the demos from all six teams below!

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3 Patient Lessons: What Cancer Patients Teach Me

By YASMIN ASVAT

An estimated 1.8 million people in this country may face a cancer diagnosis this year, in what has already been a bleak year of isolation and loss.  

While news of the COVID-19 vaccine rolling out across the U.S. offers hope in a year of 311,000 deaths,  11 million  people face the financial pressure of unemployment, and, approximately 43 percent of the nation reports some symptoms of anxiety or depression.  

It is understandable that a cancer diagnosis now may be too much to bear. And yet, somehow, many patients cope with the diagnosis and the associated uncertainty, fragility, and the threat of mortality with remarkable resilience.  

As a clinical psychologist in the Supportive Oncology program at a major Midwestern cancer center, I witness these quiet heroics every day. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic earlier this year, I have been striving to listen, empathize, support, and help cancer patients cope as their lives have been disrupted by both a cancer diagnosis and COVID-19. These are lessons these patients have taught me. 

Courage is being faced with doing something that utterly terrifies you, and you do it anyway. One of my patients described that leading up to the day of chemotherapy treatment, she is highly anxious, has racing thoughts and worries, and has trouble concentrating and sleeping. The morning of treatment, she vents to her partner about how she doesn’t want to go to the clinic. During the drive, she braces herself repeating, “I don’t want to do this” over and over again. 

Once in the clinic, she tells some of her nurses that she doesn’t want to be there because she worries about COVID-19 exposure, despite all the precautions the clinics have in place. She tells another set of nurses that she is scared of the side-effects of treatment – the disabling fatigue, the nausea, the suppressed immune system. 

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A Christmas Message to All Physicians From a Swedish-American Country Doctor in Maine

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

Growing up in Sweden without a Thanksgiving holiday, Christmas has been a time for me to reflect on where I am and where I have been and New Year’s is when I look forward.

I have written different kinds of Christmas reflections before: sometimes in jest, asking Santa for a better EMR; sometimes filled with compassion for physicians or patients who struggle during the holidays. I have also borrowed original sentences from Osler’s writings to imagine how he would address physicians in the present time.

This year, with the pandemic changing both medicine and so many aspects of life in general, and with a gut wrenching political battle that threatens to erupt in anarchy or civil war within the next few weeks or months, my thoughts run deep toward the soul of medicine, the purpose of being a good doctor, even being a good human being.

We live in ideological silos, protected from dissenting opinions. News is not news if it is unpopular. Fake news and fake science are concepts that seemed marginal before but have now entered the mainstream.

As a physician, I serve whoever comes to see me to the best of my ability. But this year I have had to pay extra attention to the fact that so many people have already made up their minds about the nature and severity of the pandemic we are living with. If they don’t believe the country’s top experts, they are not likely to believe in me. Still, I try to gently state that we are still trying to figure this thing out and until we do, it’s better to be cautious.

I am starting to read about what some are now calling the Fourth Wave of the pandemic, the mental health crisis this winter may see in the wake of the physical illness we are surrounded by.

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Two Surgeons—a Veteran and a Newcomer—Talk Fighting COVID Burnout

By MICHAEL E. LIPKIN and RUSSELL S. TERRY, JR.

Burnout has always been a concern in medicine, and that concern has been amplified by the added stress of COVID-19. Many months into an unpredictable and distressing situation, we have both hung on to our mental health and professional passion by seeking out strategies that work for us. We offer them in two perspectives: veteran and relative newcomer.  

Dr. Lipkin: A Veteran’s Perspective

When lockdown began in March, we slowed down my practice for about 6 to 8 weeks, and then returned to full pre-COVID levels. It feels like the uncertainty has affected me most, since it has not been clear if and when things will get substantially better. Everyone is both experiencing and projecting persistent anxiety, stress and uncertainty. Isolation is a problem as well. I no longer have the time or ability to sit down with colleagues and vent over a beer, which was an outlet I counted on to mitigate burnout. At the same time, on a more concrete level, the pandemic has made everything we do incrementally more difficult, which is grindingly stressful. These tips are helping me cope and avoid burnout.

There are so many changes—just accept them. As COVID affects so many areas of practice, there’s a kind of low-grade stress that fluctuates with events. It seems like everything is a little bit harder. We have to shift some patient visits to telehealth and make sure they get COVID tests before surgery. We’re all looking over our shoulders, wondering who’s going to get us sick. There’s always the specter of more shutdowns and how they might affect our livelihoods. Budgets have been cut back, so hiring is frozen and there’s virtually no incremental spending. Everything will stay this way for now, so the best thing to do is accept that we’re going through a tough period and focus on the big picture, rather than the list of irritations.

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COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge Showcase Event — WEDNESDAY 4pm ET!

After receiving applications from 115 people (across every continent except Antarctica!) and 50 organizations, including 35 academic institutions, the judges have declared DeepOutbreak, a team with members from Georgia Tech, the University of Iowa, and Virginia Tech as the winner of COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge.

Second place was awarded to K&A, a Russia-based team working with the World Bank and the Higher School of Economics. $75,000 in prizes will be awarded to the winners.

The winners and the other three finalists will present their prototypes at the COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge Showcase on Wednesday, December 16th, from 4-5:30pm ET. Register here!

The program’s distinguished speakers include

  • Dr. Tom Frieden, President & CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies & former director of the CDC
  • Dr. Mark McClellan, director of the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy
  • Dr. Farzad Mostashari, CEO of Aledade & former National Coordinator for Health IT at the Department of Health and Human Services, and
  • Kang-Xing Jin, Facebook’s Head of Health.

Chrissy Farr, Principal and Health-Tech Lead at OMERS Ventures and former technology and health reporter for CNBC.com, will serve as emcee.

Register for the COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge Showcase on Wednesday, December 16th, from 4-5:30pm ET here

The Year When Everything Changed: Covid, Self Care and High Tech Innovation In Medicine

By HANS DUVEFELT

Life as we knew it and medicine as we had viewed it shapeshifted so dramatically in the past year that it is still hard to believe.

Medicine has started to move from an in-person only profession to one that finally recognizes that clinical assessment and treatment have fewer boundaries than people assumed. A patient of mine with newly diagnosed mastocytosis had a productive first consultation with an immunologist hundreds of miles away right from her own living room.

Efficiency increased when we could handle straightforward clinical issues electronically, even over the telephone, and still get paid. We were liberated from the perverted and miserly view by insurers that services not delivered in person should be free, as if fast food restaurants couldn’t charge for food at the drive through.

We delivered more virtual services to allow patients the safety of staying at home and avoiding lobbies, waiting rooms and exam rooms where airborne particles might linger.

Yet, when a primary care or mental health patient is in crisis or a person with new symptoms needs to be evaluated, a video visit is sometimes not enough. Step by step, we improvised screening protocols, not knowing which would be efficient or relevant as we didn’t know quite how the coronavirus behaved and transmitted.

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RWJF Emergency Response Challenges Video

On November 19, 2020 Catalyst @ Health 2.0 hosted the finals of the RWJF Emergency Response Challenges, one for tools for the General Public and the other for the Health System. The promise of the tools that have been built as part of these challenges is immense in the battle against this COVID-19 pandemic and the ones yet to come. The finalists for the General Public challenge were:

Binformed Covidata– A clinically-driven comprehensive desktop + mobile infectious disease, epidemic + pandemic management tool targeting suppression and containment of diseases such as COVID-19. The presenter was veteran health IT expert Rick Peters.

CovidSMS– A text message-based platform providing city-specific information and resources to help low-income communities endure COVID-19. In contrast to Rick, CovidSMS’ team were undergraduates at Johns Hopkins led by Serena Wang

Fresh EBT by Propel– A technology tool for SNAP families to address food insecurity & economic vulnerability in times of crisis – highlighted by Michael Lewis on his Against the Rules podcast about coaching earlier this year. Stacey Taylor, head of partnerships for Propel presented their solutions for those in desperate need.

The finalists for the Health System challenge were:

PathCheck– A non profit just spun out of MIT. It has a raft of volunteers and well known advisors like John Brownstein and John Halamka among many others, and is already working with several states and countries. Pathcheck provides privacy first, free, open source solutions for public health to supplement manual contact tracing, visualize hot spots, and interface with citizen-facing privacy first apps. MIT Professor Ramesh Raskar was the presenter.

Qventus– A patient flow automation solution that applies AI / ML and behavioral science to help health systems create effective capacity, and reduce frontline burnout. Qventus is a great data analytics startup story. It’s raised over $45m and has lots of health system clients, and they have built a suite of new tools to help them with pandemic preparedness. Anthony Moorman, who won the best facial hair of the day award, showed the demo.

Tiatros – A mental health and social support platform that combines clinical expertise, peer communities and scalable technology to advance mental wellbeing and to sustain meaningful behavioral change. They’ve done a lot of work with soldiers with PTSD and as you’ll see entered this challenge to get their tools to another group of extremely stressed professionals–frontline health care workers. CEO Kimberlie Cerrone and COO Seth Norman jointly presented.

We also presented the Catalyst @ Health 2.0 Covid19 SourceDB between the two competitions. Please enjoy the video

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