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Tag: COVID-19

False Negative: Testing’s Catch-22

By SAURABH JHA, MD

In a physician WhatsApp group, a doctor posted he had fever of 101° F and muscle ache, gently confessing that it felt like his typical “man flu” which heals with rest and scotch. Nevertheless, he worried that he had coronavirus. When the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for the virus on his nasal swab came back negative, he jubilantly announced his relief. 

Like Twitter, in WhatsApp emotions quickly outstrip facts. After he received a flurry of cheerful emojis, I ruined the party, advising that despite the negative test he assume he’s infected and quarantine for two weeks, with a bottle of scotch. 

It’s conventional wisdom that the secret sauce to fighting the pandemic is testing for the virus. To gauge the breadth of the response against the pandemic we must know who and how many are infected. The depth of the response will be different if 25% of the population is infected than 1%. Testing is the third way, rejecting the false choice between death and economic depression. Without testing, strategy is faith-based. 

Our reliance on testing has clinical precedence – scarcely any decision in medicine is made without laboratory tests or imaging. Testing is as ingrained in medicine as the GPS is in driving. We use it even when we know our way home. But tests impose a question – what’ll you do differently if the test is negative? 

That depends on the test’s performance and the consequences of being wrong. Though coronavirus damages the lungs with reckless abandon, it’s oddly a shy virus. In many patients, it takes three to four swabs to get a positive RT-PCR. The Chinese ophthalmologist, Li Wenliang, who originally sounded the alarm about coronavirus, had several negative tests. He died from the infection.

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Covid-19 & Digital Health in Italy: “10 Years of Evolution in 10 Days” | WTF Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

“It’s fair to say that, in Italy, we are doing 10 years of digital health evolution in 10 days.”

Our “man-on-the-street” in Italy (well, man-sheltered-in-place in Italy) Roberto Ascione, CEO of Healthware, reports in on the Covid-19 outbreak and what’s happening with digital health startups, health system partners, and hospitals as Italians continue battling at the forefront of the coronavirus outbreak.

A few weeks ahead of the U.S., there are many things to learn about Covid-19 testing, treatment, outcomes, and timing from the experience in Italy, including some foresight on how pathways for telehealth and digital health continue to evolve as conditions become more serious and the outbreak progresses. (For all you Gretzky fans, this is “skating to where the puck will be” kind of stuff…)

Some navigational guidance on this chat which took place March 26, 2020:

  • Update on Italian Covid-19 outbreak from health industry insider
  • 10:25 minute mark: Digital Health startup case study, Paginemediche, self-triage chatbot data from 70K Italians, data sharing with Italian government & WHO, telehealth model flipping to give overwhelmed physicians opportunity to triage and “invite” patients based on needs
  • 19:10 mark: How to work with Italian digital health startups to advance Covid-19 work

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 114 | COVID-19 Stimulus Package & Startup Responses

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, we have a viewer question! For our friends who are wondering what will happen to all the IPOs that were supposed to happen this year, I weigh in on how this crisis will impact IPOs and startup funding. On Episode 114, Jess asks me about the stimulus package granting $117 billion to hospitals and for my thoughts on all the startups coming up with ways to address COVID-19. A few startups that come to mind include Conversa with its virtual care conversation, Coronavirus Health Chats, Biofourmis which is looking for ways to track infected people earlier through its AI-powered arm sensor, and Surveyor Health leveraging its data analytics platform as well. For more on this, check out covid19healthtech.com where my colleagues at Catalyst have put together a resource hub for health tech solutions. —Matthew Holt

Infection Control for COVID-19 Imaging

By STEPHEN BORSTELMANN, MD

Occasionally, you get handed a question you know little about, but it’s clear you need to know more.  Like most of us these days, I was chatting with my colleagues about the novel coronavirus. It goes by several names: SARS-CoV-2, 2019-nCoV or COVID-19 but I’ll just call it COVID.  Declared a pandemic on March 12, 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID is diagnosed by laboratory test – PCR.  The early PCR test used in Wuhan was apparently low sensitivity (30-60%), lengthy to run (days), and in short supply.  As CT scanning was relatively available, it became an important diagnostic tool for suspected COVID cases in Wuhan.

The prospect of scanning thousands of contagious patients was daunting, with many radiologists arguing back and forth about its appropriateness.  As the pandemic has evolved, we now have better and faster PCR tests and most radiologists do not believe that CT scanning has a role for diagnosis of COVID, but rather should be reserved for its complications. Part of the reason is the concern of transmission of COVID to other patients or healthcare workers via the radiology department.

But then someone asked: “After you have scanned a patient for COVID, how long will the room be down?” And nobody really could answer – I certainly couldn’t.  A recent white paper put forth by radiology leaders suggested anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours. A general review of infection control information for the radiologist and radiologic technologist can be found in Radiographics.

So, let’s go down the rabbit hole of infection control in the radiology department. While I’m a radiologist, and will speak about radiology-specific concerns, the fundamental rationale behind it is applicable to other ancillary treatment rooms in the hospital or outpatient arena, provided the appropriate specifics about THAT environment is obtained from references held by the CDC.

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Telehealth Startup CEO On How Covid-19 Is Changing Telemedicine Use In Hospitals | WTF Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Jamey Edwards, CEO of one of the larger in-hospital B2B telehealth startups in the US, Cloudbreak Health, is already seeing changes in the way hospitals are using his company’s telemedicine services in the wake of COVID-19.

From a noted rise in the rate of infectious disease consults, to “quarantine rooms” where telemedicine equipment is cleverly deployed to practice “clinical distancing” to minimize risk to front-line healthcare workers (and also preserve PPE), Jamey talks about what he’s seeing among hospital clinicians and what they seem to need most right now from telehealth providers amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

With changes to licensing regulations, HIPAA policies, and reimbursement changing the very infrastructure around telehealth, will we finally see virtual care become a true part of the healthcare system at-scale?

“One of the hardest things to do in our healthcare system is match cost to acuity,” says Jamey. “I’m not going to say we’ve overvalued the in-person encounter, but we certainly have been very hesitant to step away from it.”

“The fact of the matter is that that’s a bias. And so it’s up to us to look at these biases and say, ‘Well, no. What is the right way to do this?’”

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 113 | Oura, Heartbeat Health, Vault & Bloomer Tech

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are covering all the hard hitting news while surviving COVID-19. Before we turn to deals, Jess asks for my thoughts on the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association asking for $100 billion from Congress. For our funding news, Finnish smart ring startup Oura raises $28 million in a Series B; Heartbeat Health raises $8.2 million in a Series A for virtual cardiovascular care; Vault raises $30 million in a Series A, entering an already-crowded field alongside Roman and Hims; and Bloomer Tech raises $3 million for their smart bra. Finally, keep up with digital health innovators working on COVID-19 on Catalyst’s new site, covid19healthtech.com. Matthew Holt

COVID-19 Pandemic Puts Rural and Tribal Communities at Great Risk

Connie Chan
Brooke Warren
Phuoc Le

By PHUOC LE MD, CONNIE CHAN and BROOKE WARREN

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020, we have been changing our daily lives to protect the highest-risk populations: older adults and people with chronic medical conditions. We are asked to follow sensible guidelines like social distancing and thorough hand-washing. Although one may have a gut-reaction to put their own safety at the forefront during these times of crisis, it is essential that we are taking the necessary steps to protect populations with additional vulnerabilities – rural tribal communities.

With the announcement that COVID-19 reached the Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Confederation on March 9, 2020, it was evident the virus would not stay confined to urban and metropolitan centers like some previously predicted. The experience in China with COVID-19 clearly reflects the vulnerability of rural communities because many people travel routinely from urban to rural. Experts who conducted an epidemiological study in Hubei province, the initial epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, noted in their report: “…most public medical resources are concentrated in cities but are relatively scarce in rural areas. Therefore, prevention and treatment of 2019-nCoV in rural areas will be more challenging if new phases of the epidemic emerge.”

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Can AI diagnose COVID-19 on CT scans? Can humans?

Vidur Mahajan
Vasanth Venugopal

By VASANTH VENUGOPAL MD and VIDUR MAHAJAN MBBS, MBA

What can Artificial Intelligence (AI) do?

AI can, simply put, do two things – one, it can do what humans can do. These are tasks like looking at CCTV cameras, detecting faces of people, or in this case, read CT scans and identify ‘findings’ of pneumonia that radiologists can otherwise also find – just that this happens automatically and fast. Two, AI can do things that humans can’t do – like telling you the exact time it would take you to go from point A to point B (i.e. Google maps), or like in this case, diagnose COVID-19 pneumonia on a CT scan.

Pneumonia on CT scans?

Pneumonia, an infection of the lungs, is a killer disease. According to WHO statistics from 2015, Community Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) is the deadliest communicable disease and third leading cause of mortality worldwide leading to 3.2 million deaths every year.

Pneumonias can be classified in many ways, including the type of infectious agent (etiology), source of infection and pattern of lung involvement. From an etiological classification perspective, the most common causative agents of pneumonia are bacteria (typical like Pneumococcus, H.Influenza and atypical like Legionella, Mycoplasma), viral (Influenza, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Parainfluenza, and adenoviruses) and fungi (Histoplasma & Pneumocystis Carinii).

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Livongo Health’s Jenny Schneider on Covid-19 & Helping Patients with Chronic Conditions | WTF Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

“What’s happening in COVID is those of us living with these chronic conditions are at highest risk — not to contract the disease, but highest risk for outcomes. Our unique ability to be able to see what’s happening in that population and deliver that care remotely is incredibly valuable always, but, particularly, in this strained time.”

Livongo Health has always been committed to helping its members (people with diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions) manage their health “where they are.” Collecting loads of patient data along the way. As the traditional health system grapples with caring for those infected with COVID-19, what changes? What role will digital health companies like Livongo play as they continue to provide front-line, day-to-day care to their members and customers amidst the challenging environment of this pandemic?

Dr. Jennifer Schneider, Livongo’s President, stops by to chat about what’s happening at Livongo now as the country looks to virtual care solutions to help shore up capacity for the traditional health system. As the spotlight is turned to digital health, we get Jenny’s perspective on what it will take for health tech companies like hers to continue to prove their value to healthcare incumbents and to patients who have a growing need for their help managing their everyday health.

American Telemedicine Has Gone Viral

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

It took a 125 nanometer virus only a few weeks to move American healthcare from the twentieth to the twenty-first century.

This had nothing to do with science or technology and only to a small degree was it due to public interest or demand, which had both been present for decades. It happened this month for one simple reason: Medicare and Medicaid started paying for managing patient care without a face to face encounter.

Surprise! In the regular service industries, businesses either charge for their services or give certain services away for free to build customer loyalty. In healthcare, up until this month, any unreimbursed care or free advice was provided on top of the doctors’ already productivity driven work schedules.

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