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Tag: digital health

Leading Innovation in Dermatology | Francesca Wuttke, Chief Digital Officer, Almirall

BY JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Almirall is a dermatology-focused pharmaceutical company based in Spain, and its investment in R&D for developing new therapeutics leads the way as the largest within the country’s pharma industry. It’s no surprise, then, that Almirall has also adopted a digital therapeutics and digital health strategy to augment it’s molecular innovations with a ‘beyond the pill’ approach. We sat down with Almirall’s first-ever Chief Digital Officer, Francesca Wuttke, to hear about the pharma company’s digital strategy which is centered on laying the framework for advanced analytical platforms that gather more health data about patients and skin health. For help and fresh ideas, Francesca has opened Almirall’s doors to health tech startups, launching a brand-new accelerator program cutely called ‘Almirall’s Digital Garden,’ to ‘seed’ and ‘grow’ innovative solutions. Are there lots of health startups out there that focus on treating psoriasis, acne, and other dermatological conditions? Francesca tells us what she hopes ‘reap’ from the Digital Garden and how she hopes her broader digital strategy will flourish at the boutique pharma company.

Filmed at Barcelona Health Hub Summit in Barcelona, Spain, October 2019.

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A New Era for One Digital Health’s First Unicorns? | Maeve O’Meara, CEO, Castlight Health

BY JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Is Castlight Health suffering a case of ‘first-mover’ curse? One of digital health’s first unicorns, Castlight Health, IPO’d back in 2014 with a valuation of over $3 billion dollars (reportedly, 107 times revenue) at a share price of $40. Today, the stock trades around $1.20, and the company has endured years of frustration from shareholders who’ve complained about customer churn and questioned the company’s business model. A recent change in leadership at the top of the organization has ushered in new CEO Maeve O’Meara, a long-time employee of the trailblazing company, who’s now responsible for blazing a new path toward forward herself. Refreshingly candid about the road ahead, Maeve explains how some new high-touch (but cost-effective) offerings are opening up new markets for the biz and hints at potential partnerships emerging with Big Tech. A must-watch for any digital health startup, investor, or industry analyst who wants longitudinal perspective on health tech’s market resilience and the importance of timing. Maeve, who was a health investor herself before joining Castlight, sums up the challenge of trailblazing tech in healthcare like this: “In healthcare, you always want to be one step ahead and not two steps ahead — you can get burned easily by being two steps ahead.”

Filmed at HLTH 2019 in Las Vegas, October 2019.

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How Health Plans Pick Startups for Partnerships & Investment | Bryony Winn, BCBS North Carolina

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

It’s the ‘holy grail’ of advice for health tech startups. BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina’s Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Bryony Winn, tells what it takes for digital health and digital therapeutics startups to gain partnership agreements, reimbursement, and possible investment from health plans. How do you figure out how to “align incentives” in a way that perks up a payer’s ears? Bryony gives us some VERY FRANK advice about how startups can bring innovation to BCBS of North Carolina, other Blues plans, or their VC funds (which in this case is Echo Health Ventures where BCBS North Carolina partners with Cambia Health Solutions.) To play the game, you have to know the players. Tune in for more.

Filmed at HLTH 2019 in Las Vegas, October 2019.

THCB Spotlights: Mike McSherry, CEO of Xealth

Today on THCB Spotlights, Matthew talks to Mike McSherry about Xealth—which is an “X” not a “Z” as in, the missing variable in health. How did Mike end up in health care from Swipe, the touch screen keyboard that is now ubiquitous on all touch screen phones? Find out how Xealth facilitates adoption of a vast range of digital health services by making it easy for providers to prescribe them as well as track engagement levels. Within the complexity of Epic and other EMR systems, how does Xealth fit in?

Concrete Problems: Experts Caution on Construction of Digital Health Superhighway

By MICHAEL MILLENSON

If you’re used to health tech meetings filled with go-go entrepreneurs and the investors who love them, a conference of academic technology experts can be jarring.

Speakers repeatedly pointed to portions of the digital health superhighway that sorely need more concrete – in this case, concrete knowledge. One researcher even used the word “humility.”

The gathering was the annual symposium of the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). AMIA’s founders were pioneers. Witness the physician featured in a Wall Street Journal story detailing his use of “advanced machines [in] helping diagnose illness” – way back in 1959.

That history should provide a sobering perspective on the distinction between inevitable and imminent (a difference at least as important to investors as intellectuals), even on hot-button topics such as new data uses involving the electronic health record (EHR). 

I’ve been one of the optimists. Earlier this year, my colleague Adrian Gropper and I wrote about pending federal regulations requiring providers to give patients access to their medical record in a format usable by mobile apps. This, we said, could “decisively disrupt medicine’s clinical and economic power structure.”

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Aussie Series: My Health Record Update

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

A few weeks ago, WTF Health took the show on the road to Australia’s digital health conference, HIC 2019. We captured more than 30 interviews (!) from the conference, which is run by the Health Informatics Society of Australia (hence the HISA Studio branding) and I had the opportunity to chat with most of the Australian Digital Health Agency’s leadership, many administrators from the country’s largest health systems, and a number of health informaticians, clinicians, and patients. I’ll be spotlighting a few of my favorites here in a four-part series to give you a flavor of what’s happening in health innovation ‘Down Under.’ For much more, check out all the videos on the playlist here.  

What trip Down Under would be complete without an update on the Australian government’s My Health Record program? The “opt out” period is over and now 22M Aussies (90% of the population) have electronic records managed by the gov’t. Bottom line: They’ve built it, no one’s really opted out, but no one’s really come yet either…especially on the provider side to populate the record with info.

Here are four different takes on what’s going on and what’s next.

For the ‘general gist’ of what’s happening:

Elizabeth Deveny, Chair of the Australian Digital Health Agency

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WTF are Digital Therapeutics? | Digital Therapeutics Alliance Executive Director, Megan Coder

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Digital therapeutics has exploded as the new hot buzzword in digital health. But how are digital therapeutics different from digital health applications, applied health signals, or m-health technologies? The Digital Therapeutics Alliance was formed to answer that exact question. DTA Executive Director Megan Coder sets the record straight, hint: it involves software algorithms.

Filmed at JP Morgan Healthcare in San Francisco, CA, January 2019.

Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health

Can Rah-Rah, Blah-Blah and Meh Accelerate Digital Health Innovation?

By MICHAEL MILLENSON

Can combining health tech “rah-rah,” health policy “blah-blah” and the “meh” of academic research accelerate the uptake of digital health innovation?

AcademyHealth, the health services research policy group, is co-locating its Health Datapalooza meeting, rooted in cheerleading for “Data Liberación,” with the National Health Policy Conference, rooted in endless debate about policy detail.

Sharing a hotel room, however, does not a marriage make. In order to get better digital health interventions to market faster, we need what I’m calling a Partnership for Innovators, Policymakers and Evidence-generators (PIPE). As someone who functions variously in the policy, tech and academic worlds, I believe PIPE needn’t be a dream.

The potential of digital health is obvious. Venture funding of digital health companies soared to $8.1 billion in 2018, up 40 percent from 2017, according to Rock Health, with another $4.2 billion invested during the first half of this year. Meanwhile, MedCityNews proclaimed 2019 “the year of the digital health IPO,” such as HealthCatalyst and Livongo.

Separately, Congress has sought to speed digital health innovation through bipartisan efforts such as the 21stCentury Cures Act and the formation last year of the Bipartisan Health Care Innovation Caucus. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also pursuing innovator and advocacy group input on regulatory relief.

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Three Reasons Why 4 of 5 Digital Health Solutions Don’t Make It | Bram Van Leeuwen, Sanofi

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

4 of 5 digital health solutions won’t make it to the doctor’s office, and Bram Van Leeuwen, Sanofi’s Lead for Digital Innovation BeNeLux, thinks he knows why. Health tech startups (and their health system advocates) should tune in to find out how they can up their odds of getting their tech integrated into existing points of care. Are there any health systems in the world that have excelled at implementing health tech solutions? Bram’s picked some winners and is sharing best practices.

Filmed at HIMSS/Health 2.0 Europe in Helsinki, Finland in June 2019.

Why A Diverse and Inclusive Healthcare Innovation Workforce Matters

By ANDRÉ BLACKMAN

There I was, my 10th-grade science fair. My mother made sure I had a tie that fit properly and a shirt that was perfectly pressed. I stood among my peers with our cardboard presentation displays highlighting what we did to make it to this point. I was a little nervous but also extremely proud of myself and excited to see the looks on the judge’s faces when they saw what my project was about:

“The Effects of Enzymes on DNA”

Boom. Oh, I wasn’t doing something that many people had seen already — I was working inside an NIH facility with a brilliant scientist mentor/coach, to get this done. The memories of taking multiple modes of transportation after school throughout the week for what seemed like forever wore me down enough to make sure that I knew this was going to be worth it. And then after the judges were introduced to all of our concepts and families poured throughout the gymnasium to see what we all came up with — now was the moment of truth.

Sweaty palms and teenage anxiety wouldn’t deter me. First place goes to….oh ok, yeah of course, they deserved that. They worked really hard I’m sure. Second place goes to….oh wow, I didn’t make second place? At least, I’ll get something. After a third place winner was announced and the applause faded. I looked, stunned, over at my mother in the audience whose face was covered in tears. I was ready for the night to be over. Did I not wear the right tie? Did I seem too confident? Not confident enough? The questions would consume me until later that evening when my science teacher told me that the judges thought I cheated or didn’t actually do any of the work.

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