Tag: Kat McDavitt

Supporting innovations in cancer treatment and prevention for our nation’s most vulnerable


Innsena has made a $100,000 contribution to CancerX, making Innsena the public-private partnership’s first Impact Supporter.

Why? There are few conditions in which the disparity in innovations benefiting underserved communities is more apparent than in the treatment and prevention of cancer.

Patients without insurance are more likely to present with more advanced cancers, and the cancer death rate for people of color is significantly higher than for white patients. More people die from cancer in rural communities than in urban settings. 

In CancerX, we found a community of partners taking on hard problems to equitably deploy innovative solutions that can reduce the risk of, and cure cancer for all patients. Even—and especially—when financial incentives do not otherwise exist for the private sector to solve those problems.  

Innsena is committed to improving equitable access, treatment and outcomes for the most vulnerable among us. We focus on supporting improved outcomes for Medicaid members and underserved communities. The disparity caused by the absence of incentives and funding for innovators to enter the Medicaid market can’t be overstated. 

But innovators, and the investors who fund these pioneers, are exactly what our industry needs to change health outcomes in underserved communities. 

We decided that, if the incentives to innovate in cancer care for vulnerable populations don’t exist, then we would create them. Our financial commitment to CancerX is a step forward that we hope will start a broader movement. 

Our team’s $100,000 contribution will help the team at CancerX to accelerate programs underway—including its effort to improve equity and reduce financial toxicity in cancer care and research—and to more rapidly launch new initiatives. 

We’re particularly proud to support the public-private partnership’s efforts to improve equity and reduce financial toxicity. Cancer deaths are inequitably distributed across the United States—and those patients who do survive are 2.5 times more likely to declare bankruptcy than those without disease. 

Likewise, a key component of CancerX is a start-up accelerator for companies bringing more digital solutions for the treatment and prevention of cancer, with special attention given to organizations that focus on disadvantaged populations. We’re honored to support the start-ups selected for the first CancerX accelerator cohort with both mentorship and financial support. 

And to that end, as individuals, we’ve gone one step further to support start-ups focused on preventing and curing cancer for vulnerable patients. We’ve also partnered with Ben Freeberg and his team at Oncology Ventures to ensure that digital health start-ups innovating for all patients in the oncology space have funding available to advance their causes. 

Innsena is joining more than 150 organizations already working together to make a difference for all patients in the prevention and treatment of cancer. CancerX is co-hosted by the Moffitt Cancer Center and Digital Medicine Society, alongside the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health

We need more innovators working to improve care for the underserved. Join us in supporting CancerX. As a community we’ll make a difference. 

Kat McDavitt is President and founding partner of Innsena. Leslie Kirk is CEO and managing partner of Innsena.

Who Could (Possibly) Be the Ideal “Chief Patient Officer”?  (And Other Ideas that Sound Better on Paper than in Practice)


If ideas presented in essays on The Health Care Blog and other healthcare forums are meant to be rhetorical, without intention of turning notions into reality on behalf of patients who need genuine, intimate, desperate help…then feel free to ignore this essay entirely. 

Some among us—the State of Washington’s Co-Responder Outreach Alliance; Lisa Fitzpatrick’s Grapevine Health, which specializes in “street medicine” and advocacy in and around Washington, D.C.; Thorne Ambulance Service, an inspirational ambulance entrepreneur bringing both emergency and nonemergency medical transportation to underserved rural spaces (and more) across South Carolina; and the RightCare Foundation in Phoenix, a firefighter-driven organization dedicated to ensuring that patients’ needs and wishes are honored during critical moments, spring fast to mind—are stretching hands across the care continuum while pounding the table for interoperability at scale because PEOPLE. ARE. FALLING. THROUGH. THE. CRACKS. AND. DYING.  

Thatincludes responders who run toward the crises; into alleys; who risk their own lives, health, psyches, families, and futures because, as Josh Nultemeier—Chief Paramedic and Operations Manager of San Francisco’s King-American Ambulance, and a volunteer firefighter in the Town of Forestville—put it so simply in a social media post: “People could get hurt.” Moral override—that matter-of-fact willingness to risk himself for strangers who lack any other path to save themselves—is what makes Josh (and others who believe as he does) heroic.

Solving problems like substance use disorder—coupled with an increasing awareness of the lack of interoperability with prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), many of which are run by Bamboo Health, which today imports zero data regarding out-of-hospital overdoses—is urgent. If an overdose is reversed in an alley, an abandoned home, a tent or “under the bridge downtown,” by an ambulance, fire, or police service pumping Narcan to get breathing going again, the agency’s lifesaving efforts get zero “credit” in the data. The downstream effects of this information sharing breakdown make it difficult to settle for less-than-bona fide interoperability: there is neither time to waste nor margin of error, yet hospitals and healthcare systems cannot even “see” the tip-of-the-tip-of-the-spear.

A similar emotionality makes it difficult to tolerate lamentations about information sharing when states like California—and the federal Office of EMS, inside the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—are transforming interoperability into a standard operating procedure. As a listener to the “Health Tech Talk Show” since its start, I have struggled with hearing Lisa Bari and Kat McDavitt deride whether interoperability is “real.” It is real. It is happening, and has been automated for years—for example, with both the Quality Health Network and Contexture (formerly CORHIO) in Colorado—empowering agencies of all sizes to care for patients experiencing healthcare emergencies, and those who have children with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy and other diseases. Such efforts should be celebrated for their meaningful impact on patients who rely on ambulance services to get them the care that they need—and sometimes to get them to the care that they need. 

Yet no panel at the national conference for CIVITAS was dedicated to interoperability to or from ambulances, despite that some of America’s most active health information exchanges—coast to coast—have automated interoperability involving Fire, EMS, Non-Emergency / Interfacility Medical Transport, Critical Care, and Community Paramedicine. No mention highlighted widespread efforts to make POLST forms accessible to Mobile Medical professionals, thanks to prioritization of the ethical treatment of medically frail patients after COVID-19 and a New York Times piece called “Filing Suit for Wrongful Life.”

Continue reading…

Au Contraire


Last week HHS announced the appointment of its first Chief Competition Officer. I probably would have normally skipped it, except that also last week, writing in The Health Care Blog, Kat McDavitt and Lisa Bari called for HHS to name a Chief Patient Officer. I’ll touch on each of those shortly, but it made me think about all the Chiefs healthcare is getting, such as Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Customer Experience Officer.  

But what healthcare may need even more than those is a Chief Contrarian. 

The new HHS role “is responsible for coordinating, identifying, and elevating opportunities across the Department to promote competition in health care markets,” and “will play a leading role in working with the Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice to address concentration in health care markets through data-sharing, reciprocal training programs, and the further development of additional health care competition policy initiatives.” All good stuff, to be sure.

Similarly., Ms. McDevitt and Ms, Bari point out that large healthcare organizations have the staff, time, and financial resources to ensure their points of view are heard by HHS and the rest of the federal government, whereas: “Patients do not have the resources to hire lobbyists or high-profile legal teams, nor do they have a large and well-funded trade association to represent their interests.” They go on to lament: “Because of this lack of access, resources, and representation, and because there is no single senior staff member in the federal government dedicated to ensuring the voice of the patient is represented, the needs and experiences of patients are deprioritized by corporate interests.” Thus the need for a Chief Patient Officer. Again, bravo.

The need for a Chief Contrarian – and not just at HHS – came to me from an article in The Conversation by Dana Brakman Reiser, a Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School. She and colleague Claire Hill, a University of Minnesota law professor, argue that non-profit boards need to have “designated contrarians.”

Continue reading…

The US needs a Chief Patient Officer


Regulations are created by well-intentioned government employees who, understandably, focus on the loudest voices they hear. The loudest voices tend to be from organizations — vendors, associations, large corporations — that have the internal and external resources needed to access the federal government, navigate the 80,000-employee Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and ensure that the perspectives of their employers and members are heard.

Patients do not have the resources to hire lobbyists or high-profile legal teams, nor do they have a large and well-funded trade association to represent their interests. Traditional patient advocacy organizations, while generally well intentioned, are often structured around specific conditions and often are financially supported by pharmaceutical and biotech companies. Because of this lack of access, resources, and representation, and because there is no single senior staff member in the federal government dedicated to ensuring the voice of the patient is represented, the needs and experiences of patients are deprioritized by corporate interests. As noted by Grace Cordovano, PhD, BCPA, a board-certified patient advocate, while speaking during a 2023 Health Datapalooza session on transparency and trust, “We hear a lot about provider burnout, but patients are also burnt out, and we need to take that into consideration when developing our policies.”

Policy implementation matters—and implementation is where patient interests fall through the cracks

Meaningful Use, a part of the HITECH Act within the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, was well intentioned: Get records digitized for better care coordination.

But implementation and execution matters. Each stage of the $35 billion-plus Electronic Health Record (EHR) Incentive Programs, which evolved into the Promoting Interoperability Programs, was increasingly complex. Pieced together through administrative rulemaking, the program was eroded, mainly by corporate interests, and resulted in clinicians having less time for face-to-face patient interaction. Certified EHR requirements were driven by the most prominent vendors in an objectively fantastic demonstration of regulatory capture. Today, most provider offices use an electronic health record, but patients still do not have seamless access to their complete records. Although we are seeing improvements in interoperability, patients need more than access; they need to be able to act using insights from their health data.

Another example of corporate interests overtaking better outcomes for patients can be seen in the implementation of the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act of 2018, which required states to establish a qualified prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP). A single vendor runs the PDMP in more than 46 states and territories. Thus, instead of sharing protected information with other health data organizations, like health information exchanges, these systems silo it. Many states mandate that that physicians check their state PDMP system separately and then charge those physicians a fee for mandatory access. Instead of helping to coordinate the care of a patient who may be struggling with an opioid use disorder, vendors have used a fear-based regulatory capture strategy at the federal and state levels to ensure these systems are separate from other health data—preserving market share and raising the barrier to entry for new competitive solutions.

Often, patients have no idea what data a PDMP has on them — which, in some states, can include opioids prescribed to pets under their name — and are unable to access it on their own. They also have no way to correct wrong information. Who suffers here? Patients, families, and the physicians who coordinate their care.

The Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), a part of the 21st Century Cures Act, is also well intentioned. One of the framework’s most significant promises was that, despite leveraging inferior data transfer standards, it would provide a uniform way for patients to request their records at no charge to them. In practice, after multiple delays, false starts, and many rounds of public notice and comment, TEFCA has launched without the requirement that its qualified health information networks (QHINs) and their participants must provide individual access services to patients for their own records.

The regulatory capture strategies of several QHINs and QHIN candidates have been textbook-worthy, ensuring those who have the resources to dominate the market will be locked in. What isn’t locked in? Any mandated access for patients, who were the audience most likely to benefit from TEFCA.

Will individual access services be reinforced in subsequent TEFCA requirements? Maybe, if someone within HHS — like an objective chief patient officer —is fighting for them like their mission and job depends on it.

A step toward progress

Patients, especially our country’s most vulnerable, underserved, and those suffering from financial toxicity, will never be able to afford the lobbying resources and access that corporations and large trade associations have. Consequently, our system will continue to be built to appease the private sector and to put finances over progress. That is, unless we start to ensure the patient voice is heard by creating a senior position within HHS dedicated to improving the experience and lives of 340 million Americans.

Kat McDavitt is president of Innsena and CEO of the Zorya Foundation. Lisa Bari is CEO of Civitas Networks for Health.

THCB Gang Episode 137, Thursday October 26

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday October 26 at 1pm PST 4pm EST were delivery & platform expert Vince Kuraitis (@VinceKuraitis); author & ponderer of odd juxtapositions Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard); futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve); and our special guest was Kat McDavitt(@katmcdavitt) President of Innsena.

The video is below. If you’d rather listen to the episode, the audio is preserved from Friday as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels