Episode 15 of “The THCB Gang” was live-streamed on Thursday, June 25th!
Joining Matthew Holt were our regulars: health futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve), writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard), WTF Health Host Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa), radiologist Saurabh Jha (@RougeRad), policy expert Vince Kuraitis (@VinceKuraitis), and THCB’s Editor-in-Chief, Me (@zoyak1594)! We got into increasing COVID-19 rates, updates in health policy, what is the future of hospitals, and how the new generation is dealing with the health care industry. All while keeping an eye on the politics of the US.
If you’d rather listen, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels — Zoya Khan
Sadly conferences have all gone digital, but Jess and I are still here covering deals on Health in 2 Point 00. On Episode 130, DispatchHealth gets $136 million, providing in-home health care by sending a tech to your house, BrightInsight gets $40 million to help biopharma and medtech companies leverage connected devices and develop digital health tools, Cedar raises $102 million for their medical billing software, Big Health raises $39 million for digital mental health tools Sleepio and Daylight, Redox lays off a quarter of their staff, and Plume raises a $2.9 million seed round, providing telehealth for trans individuals.—Matthew Holt
As the U.S. reckons with centuries of structural racism, an important step toward making health care more equitable will require transferring control of health records to patients and patient groups.
The Black Lives Matter movement calls upon us to review racism in all aspects of social policy, from law enforcement to health. Statistics show that Black Americans are at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. The reasons for these disparities are not entirely clear. Every obstacle to data collection makes it that much harder to find a rational solution, thereby increasing the death toll.
In the case of medical research and health records, we need reform that strips control away from hospital chains and corporations. As long as hospital chains and corporations control health records, these entities may put up barriers to hide unethical behavior or injustice. Transferring power and control into the hands of patients and patient groups would enable outside auditing of health practices; a necessary step to uncover whether these databases are fostering structural racism and other kinds of harm. This is the only way to enable transparency, audits, accountability, and ultimately justice.
A recent review in STAT indicates that Black Americans suffer three to six times as much morbidity due to COVID-19. These ratios are staggering, and the search for explanations has not yielded satisfying answers.
With about one month left on the existing 90-day Public Health Emergency that’s eased regulations and improved reimbursement to help make telehealth, remote monitoring, and other virtual care services easier for providers to implement and patients to use, health tech companies across the US are wondering what it will take to make these changes permanent. One of digital health’s few ‘DC Insiders,’ Livongo Health’s VP of Government Affairs, Leslie Krigstein, gets us up-to-speed on what’s happening on Capitol Hill and what we can expect moving forward. What changes will (literally) require an Act of Congress? And what can be handled by HHS and CMS? From codes and co-pays to e-visits and licensing, Leslie breaks it down and tells us whether or not we can continue to expect a ‘health tech-friendly’ agenda in Washington DC.
Telehealth has been a lifeline for many doctors and patients during the pandemic, and the decisions of CMS and many private payers to cover telehealth visits—in some cases, at full parity with in-person visits–has helped physician practices stave off bankruptcy. Assuming that these policies remain in effect after the pandemic, I agree with the commentators who assert that telemedicine will become a much larger part of healthcare.
Nevertheless, what that means is still far from clear. To begin with, telehealth visits may be adequate for some purposes but not for others. Historically, the technology has been used mostly for diagnosing and treating minor acute problems. Physicians were generally reluctant to take on more complex cases or treat chronic conditions without seeing patients in person.
Pre-pandemic, most telehealth encounters took place between patients and doctors who had never treated them before, using services such as Teladoc, American Well and Doctor on Demand that usually didn’t communicate with the patients’ personal doctors. Some larger physician groups had begun to use the technology with their own patients; but even in those groups, certain doctors were often assigned to conduct virtual visits with patients who were not necessarily their own.
Clearly, the latter barrier has been broken down, with nearly half of U.S. physicians in an April survey saying they were using telemedicine in patient care. While it’s unclear what kinds of cases these doctors are diagnosing and treating, it’s likely that the scope of practice for telehealth has been expanded to include some chronic disease care.
The main barrier to this expansion is that, in telehealth encounters, physicians don’t necessarily have the data they need to make sound medical decisions. To manage hypertension, for instance, the physician needs to be able to measure a patient’s blood pressure. If the patient has a digital blood pressure cuff at home, that data can be transmitted to a physician’s office; in fact, a smartphone app could show the trend of the patient’s hypertension over time. Right now, however, only a small fraction of patients have this kind of remote monitoring equipment.
Omada Health put to use part of their recent $57M funding round to acquire Physera, a musculoskeletal care company that uses telehealth and digital interventions to deliver ‘virtual physical therapy’ to those suffering from back, knee, and neck pain. How does the acquisition fit into Omada’s growth strategy? WTF Health’s Jessica DaMassa chats with both Omada Health’s CEO, Sean Duffy, and Dan Rubinstein, CEO of Physera, about the acquisition, the IPO buzz that continues to swirl around Omada, and whether or not the opportunity that COVID-19 has created for digital care will be lasting as we move forward.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, we have more deals to cover continuing off of yesterday’s episode! Jess and I talk about Kaia Health raising $26 million in a B round led by Optum Ventures, RapidSOS gets $21 million for their emergency response tech, Abacus Insights raising $35 million, and Ready raising $48 million pairing home visits from EMTs and nurses with telehealth. In other news, Target is now offering free access to telehealth visits through CirrusMD, and Doximity is acquiring THMED (which is changing its name to Curative) to put together a database of doctors to improve healthcare staffing/recruitment.—Matthew Holt
The loss of lives and livelihoods from COVID-19 are almost too much to comprehend. And yet, slowly, conversations are emerging about the positives percolating from the pandemic.
It’s human nature to want to look for the positives in even the worst of situations, and I’ve noticed that in both my personal and my professional circles of late, people are talking about the things they hope we don’t lose when things go back to “normal.”
Chief among them, especially in my healthcare technology circles, is a level of humanity that our previously faster-paced lives, ways and organizations had perhaps too often and too easily dismissed. The humans on the frontline of care delivery, for example. The effects of social isolation on healthy people, much less those who are sick. The struggle and juggle of modern work-life balance. Inequalities in healthcare access and delivery.
We’ve long talked about technology’s ability to make some of these things easier, to close some of these gaps, but now we know just how possible they are when people, politics and policy unite in the face of a pandemic. We now know just how quickly even the largest and slowest-moving of health systems can change course and even course correct.
Until now, it’s been far easier to talk about the promise of technology, telemedicine and remote workforce scenarios than it was to actually deploy them. Because before, to deploy such solutions also meant loss; loss of control, loss of normalcy, loss of humanity. Until now.
Episode 14 of “The THCB Gang” was live-streamed on Thursday, June 18th. Tune in below!
Joining Matthew Holt were four regulars: health futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve), writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard), MD turned leadership coach Maggi Cary (@MargaretCaryMD), Consumer advocate & CTO of Carium Health Lygeia Ricciardi (@Lygeia), and two guests: Emergency Room MD, IT consultant and so much more Medell Briggs (MedellBriggsMD), and patient advocate CEO of Patient Orator, Kistein Monkhouse (@KisteinM). It was a very thoughtful conversation about patient care, the role of social movements, what to do about structural racism in health care, and what new legislation might come from the federal level. You can watch below right now.
If you’d rather listen to the episode, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels — Zoya Khan
On Episode 128 of Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I talk about Proteus filing for bankruptcy, Walmart buying the tech from CareZone for prescription drug management for an unconfirmed $200 million, Kyruus raising another $30 million for referrals and scheduling for large health systems, Headspace raising another $47.7 million, and CareAcademy raising $9.5 million in a Series A to provide online training for professional caregivers for seniors. —Matthew Holt