“This pandemic highlights why we need that free flow of healthcare data. So that we can make better decisions sooner.”
In the way that Covid-19 has proven the utility of telehealth as a means for health systems to reach their patients, has the pandemic also become the final argument for healthcare data interoperability? Has this pandemic been the worst case scenario we needed to make our best ‘case-in-point’ for why U.S. healthcare needs a national health data infrastructure that makes it possible for hospitals to share information with one another and government health organizations?
Interoperability advocates have been clamoring for this for years, but Dan Burton, CEO of data-and-analytics health tech company, Health Catalyst, says this public health crisis has likely created an inflection point in the interoperability argument.
“I think that the baseline platform of telehealth adoption created a whole springboard opportunity for the plethora of digital health companies that are out there eager to get into the space and grow their businesses. I think the industry as a whole now is a whole lot more receptive to looking at things like that then they were eight weeks ago.”
Among those in the industry very open to digital health, digital therapeutics, precision medicine, and virtual care solutions in this time of covid19 is GuideWell, which counts Florida Blue and four other healthcare businesses among its subsidiaries.
The national healthcare company is looking to bring together health tech startups around five different kinds of healthcare challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic via its Covid-19 Innovation Collaborative. With the application deadline set for Friday, May 8, we caught up with GuideWell Innovation’s Executive Director, Kirstie McCool, about the details behind the unique model for the Collaborative, its non-dilutive funding awards, and what happens to the startups that are selected to participate. (Hello, other Blues plans!)
If the Collaborative’s areas of focus aren’t enough to clue you in on where the healthcare giant is interested in rounding out its own array of services as a payer, provider, and innovator, we asked Kirstie point-blank to tell us what she thinks is next in terms of supporting the traditional healthcare system with outside-in innovation. Tune in around the 15:20 mark for that part of the conversation, and a final word-to-the-wise for any startup looking to work with a large healthcare enterprise.
“The mental health system was completely broken before COVID. The supply-demand imbalance was wildly upside down. Now, that’s just all exacerbated.”
On-demand mental health startup Ginger has watched usage of their app climb 130% over the last 4-week period. The conversations people are having with clinicians are growing more intense (there’s an internal metric for that) and amid all of this the late-stage startup has re-run its ‘Workforce Attitudes’ survey to find out what’s really going on with the mental health of the employee populations it serves.
CEO Russell Glass dives into some of the findings of that report, which are pretty revealing in terms of understanding how we as a population are dealing with our stress around COVID-19 when we’re seeking professional help with it. Nearly 70% of respondents confessed this was the most stressful period of their career — five times more stressful than the financial crash of 2008 — and there are some surprising differences with how this is all unfolding across gender lines, especially with working from home.
With inbound interest from employers up 4X over the past month, we get Russ’s input on whether or not the demand for telehealth will sustain once the crisis is over and if the temporary regulatory and reimbursement changes will become permanent. Says Russ: “This is like a great experiment of the efficacy of telehealth versus non-telehealth.”
As healthcare systems around the world grapple with the coronavirus, ‘virtual-first healthcare’ is fast becoming the global response of private and public healthcare systems alike. In Australia, the federal government recently committed to investing $500M to built out its country’s ‘virtual-first’ healthcare infrastructure, so we caught up with Louise Schaper, CEO of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH), to find out what that means for telehealth, remote monitoring, and digital health companies looking to capitalize on the market opportunity in Australia.
With a population of 25 million people (roughly the number of people in Florida) and a set of newly-minted reimbursement codes that makes telehealth available to all of them via the government-funded public healthcare system, the appetite for investing in new health tech solutions has grown ravenous.
Says Louise, “Anyone who has solutions that are already market-tested and approved, I’d actually expand your networks globally now. There’s not a section of the globe that hasn’t been impacted by [covid19] and we’re all needing to work out how to deliver healthcare differently.”
As in other parts of the world, the government codes reimbursing telehealth and other virtual-first services are temporary (Australia’s are set to expire September 30, 2020), but organizations like the AIDH, the Australian Medical Association, and others are advocating for their permanence and are optimistic.
The prevailing sentiment is that, like in the US, the benefits of virtual care to healthcare consumers and clinicians are going to be difficult for the government to ignore. Add to that the potential of linking virtual care to the Aussie government’s AUD$2 billion dollar build of its MyHealthRecord system — a centralized, cloud-based EMR that holds the healthcare data of 90% of all Australians — and the prospect grows even more appealing.
Join us as we talk through the basics of the Australian healthcare system and get an insider’s look at the demand for digital health, remote monitoring, and telehealth Down Under.
“I never anticipated — and no one did — the level of uptake and the level of scale.”
It says a lot that Joe DeVivo, CEO of Intouch Health, who’s worked with hospitals and health systems on standing up B2B-focused telehealth programs for years (and whose company was acquired by Teladoc Health for $600-million dollars in January) is surprised about the uptake of virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Historically, I look at virtual care as a bell curve,” says Joe. “On one side of that small tail of the bell curve are the virtual care companies. Teladoc dominates that space for D2C. There’s millions of consultations a year, and we’re seeing a subset of that. On the opposite side of the bell curve is high-acuity, and what InTouch has been doing for critical care.”
“This crisis, and the changes in reimbursement, have opened up the middle of that bell curve. The core, everyday transaction of healthcare is now being impacted by virtual care. And the big question that everyone has is, “is this going to stick? Is this a crisis management tool and we’re going to go back to the ways of the past, or is that genie out of the bottle?”
We put Joe on-the-spot with his own question, find out what he thinks it will take to enable the permanent shift to virtual care at-scale, and dig in on how demand for telehealth within hospitals has changed as a result of the pandemic, where its not only being used to expand access to specialists, but has also been adapted into a PPE-hack to help frontline hospital workers distance themselves from infected patients.
And what of working with Teladoc? While waiting for the paperwork to finalize (all on-schedule for the end of Q2 as originally announced), the two have organized a co-selling agreement to be able to “hit the market fast” and bring their “hospital-to-home” end-to-end virtual care offering to those who need it now.
COVID-19 testing in grocery store parking lots. Clinicians crossing state lines to practice in hard-hit hospitals miles away from their health system. ICU doctors made to shore up shortages of ventilators by adapting medical equipment from its intended purpose. Are these just medical malpractice suits waiting to happen?
Margaret Nekic, CEO of Inspirien, a hospital-and-physician-owned medical malpractice and worker’s comp insurance company, reveals what’s happening behind-the-scenes as professional liability carriers hurry to adapt to the changing circumstances of a healthcare system thrown into crisis-mode.
While new legislation is emerging to somewhat safeguard healthcare workers from bearing the risk of some of the pandemic’s unprecedented circumstances, what happens when the immediate surge has passed? Will costs for medmal insurance go up? And, what happens from a worker’s comp standpoint if a healthcare worker becomes infected with COVID-19?
As healthcare delivery in hospitals continues to change — and, at the same time, more and more care extends outside the traditional doctor’s office by way of an uptick in use of digital health and telehealth options among non-COVID patients — it seems the pandemic might ultimately also accelerate changes in the way healthcare organizations think about risk management and their insurance coverage for it.
As hospitals focus on taking care of COVID-19 patients, the American Hospital Association is stepping up its advocacy for hospitals, fighting on their behalf for everything from PPE to reimbursement for uninsured patients. AHA’s Policy Director, Akin Demehin, dives into the top issues facing U.S. hospital administrators as they scramble to adjust their businesses to meet the unprecedented demands of the pandemic.
Besides the obvious concerns related to the direct delivery of care to a surge of very sick patients, hospitals are worried about cash flow, having enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line clinicians, and the challenges of rolling out massive telehealth and remote monitoring programs to care for non-COVID patients at-home.
As the pandemic wears on, and the evolution of hospitals continues, the way these institutions function as part of the U.S. healthcare system will likely be forever changed. We learn what’s important to the AHA — and its 5,000 hospitals and healthcare system members — as they redefine their role in the healthcare system of the future in real-time.
Fresh off of a press junket that included talking to Jim Cramer on CNBC & hanging with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business News, Livongo Health’s Glen Tullman stopped by THCB to talk about the impact of #covid19 (& more) on health tech. Jessica DaMassa and Matthew Holt tag-team interviewed him on Weds 8th April. (Full transcript is below the video)
Here is the transcript:
Hi, this is Matthew Holt from The Health Care Blog.
In the early days of the U.S. COVID-19 outbreak, BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) stepped up as one of the first health insurance plans to announce reimbursing telehealth visits “at parity” with face-to-face office visits for all providers and specialists. Chief Medical Officer Rahul Rajkumar talks us through the strategy behind that decision to “flip the switch” for telemedicine — which was made in just one meeting (!) – and what metrics and outcomes the Blue plan will be looking at post-pandemic to decide if the switch remains on.
Changing reimbursement policies to cover ALL COVID-19 testing and treatment
6:45 min: The role of virtual care during COVID-19 and reimbursement at parity
11:11 min: How will telehealth be evaluated post-epidemic?
13:58 min: Telehealth innovation, B2B use, remote monitoring (looking to providers to lead the way)
17:25 min: What’s going to happen with healthcare costs in 2021?
For more on how health tech companies in digital health, telehealth, remote monitoring, health data, and more are responding to the COVID-19 crisis, check out the other interviews in this special series at www.wtf.health/covid19.
As hospitals, health systems, and physician practices look to quickly scale up their digital health, telehealth, and remote monitoring offerings to adjust their delivery systems to the COVID-19 pandemic, what questions should they be asking health tech companies in order to make the right decisions? And, how can these health tech businesses, many of them startups, meet these ready customers half-way?
Ashish Atreja, Chief Innovation Officer for Medicine at Mount Sinai Health System (and also founder of digital health credentialing organization, Node.Health, and platform-builder Rx.Health) leans in with some critical advice at a time when health system sourcing, vetting, and contracting for digital health has never moved so fast.
“This COVID-19 solution you’re gonna bet on can be a catalyst for your entire digital health strategy and platform,” says Atreja, speaking as a health system innovator giving advice to others in similar roles. “There’s no pressure to bet on the right horse, but I think this is a moment of opportunity where you can see what is gonna give you long-term benefit.”