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‘I Apologize for What You Are About To See’

By HILARY HATCH, PhD

The growing movement to include the patient voice in medicine through Motivational Interviewing, patient-reported outcomes, social determinants of health and shared decision-making

One day in 2011, as a part of my research on ways to improve patient-provider communication about health behaviors, I was shadowing Dr. G., a talented young internist with a cheerleader demeanor. He marched through 12 afternoon patient appointments with confidence and purpose. But when he saw the name of the last patient on his schedule, he turned pale, faced me and said, “I apologize for what you are about to see.”

I must have looked confused. He repeated, “I apologize for what you are about to see.”

We walked into the exam room. I’m not sure either one of us knew what to expect. The patient, a white, obese man, was seated, doubled over. He had a wad of paper towels jammed in his mouth. He threatened to pull out his own, presumably abscessed, tooth. He refused to see a dentist because he had no dental coverage, no money and no one to borrow money from. He said he would use pliers to pull his tooth, but stayed put, rocking in his seat. At the computer, the young doctor’s white-knuckled hand gripped his mouse. Click. Click. Click. He searched the patient’s chart aimlessly for help. Alerts kept popping up about the patient’s missing A1C results. It took two minutes, but it felt like 20.

Dr. G. left the room and came back a few minutes later. He gave the patient the name of a dentist who would see him at no cost. I suspected Dr. G. had called the dentist and said he would pay for the appointment out of his own pocket. The patient hugged Dr. G. He only wanted help, and Dr. G. wanted to help. The tension was resolved for the moment.

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HardCore Health Podcast| Episode 3, IPOs, Privacy, & more!

On Episode 3 of HardCore Health, Jess & I start off by discussing all of the health tech companies IPOing (Livongo, Phreesia, Health Catalyst) and talk about what that means for the industry as a whole. Zoya Khan discusses the newest series on THCB called, “The Health Data Goldilocks Dilemma: Sharing? Privacy? Both?”, which follows & discuss the legislation being passed on data privacy and protection in Congress today. We also have a great interview with Paul Johnson, CEO of Lemonaid Health, an up-and-coming telehealth platform that works as a one-stop-shop for a virtual doctor’s office, a virtual pharmacy, and lab testing for patients accessing their platform. In her WTF Health segment, Jess speaks to Jen Horonjeff, Founder & CEO of Savvy Cooperative, the first patient-owned public benefit co-op that provides an online marketplace for patient insights. And last but not least, Dr. Saurabh Jha directly address AI vendors in health care, stating that their predictive tools are useless and they will not replace doctors just yet- Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt is the founder and publisher of The Health Care Blog and still writes regularly for the site.

Those Digital Health IPOs—Flipping the Stack & Filling the Gap

By MATTHEW HOLT

I’ve been driven steadily nuts by a series of recent articles that are sort of describing what’s happening in health tech or (because the term won’t die) digital health, so I thought it was time for the definitive explanation. Yeah, yeah, humility ain’t my strong suit.

It won’t have escaped your attention that, after five years during which Castlight Health more or less single-handedly killed the IPO market for new health tech companies, suddenly in the middle of July 2019 we have three digital health companies going public. While Livongo, (FD-a THCB sponsor) Phreesia and Health Catalyst are all a little bit different, I’m going to use them to explain what the last decade of health tech evolution has meant.

Don’t get carried away by the precise details of the IPOs. Phressia is already out with a market cap of $845m. Yes, it’s true that none of the three are profitable yet, but they are all showing decent revenue growth at an annual run rate of $100m+ and Livongo in particular has been on a client acquisition and annual triple digit revenue growth tear. It’s also the newest of these companies, founded only in 2014, albeit by buying another company (EosHealth) founded in 2008 that had some of the tech they launched with. Going public doesn’t really mean that the health care market will swoon for them, nor that they are guaranteed to change the world. After all, as I pointed out in my recent somewhat (ok, very) cynical 12 rules for health tech startups, UnitedHealth Group has $250 Billion in revenue and doesn’t seem to be able to change the system. And anyone who remembers the eHealth bust of 2000-2002 knows that just because you get to the IPO, it’s no guarantee of success or even survival.

But just by virtue of making it this far and being around the 1/10th of 1% of health tech startups to make it to IPO, we can call all three a success. But what do they do?

They are all using new technologies to tackle longstanding health care problems.

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Health IT Newser

flying cadeuciiHHS Clarification:
DeSalvo Will Retain Leadership of ONC

Five days after announcing that National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo’s appointment as Acting Assistant Secretary of Health, the ONC clarified that DeSalvo would still be the leader of the ONC; she would also continue to chair the HIT Policy Committee, lead the development and finalization of the Interoperability Roadmap, and remain involved in MU policymaking.

HHS said that when DeSalvo’s new appointment was originally announced, DeSalvo’s bio had mistakenly indicated that she had “previously” held the role of National Coordinator.

HIT NEWSER’S TAKE: Did HHS simply do a poor job communicating or did someone recognize a little too late that DeSalvo’s removal might heighten concerns about the ongoing turnover among ONC leadership?

No More CCHIT

The Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT) announced it was shutting down its operations November 14. CCHIT was created in 2004 to provide certification services for HIT products and to educate providers and IT developers; in January CCHIT announced it would no longer provide testing and certification services for the MU program. In a press release CCHIT Executive Director Alisa Ray said that “the slowing of the pace of ONC 2014 Edition certification and the unreliable timing of future federal health IT program requirements made program and business planning for new services uncertain.”

HIT NEWSER’S TAKE: Coupled with the recent turmoil at the ONC (leadership changes, underwhelming Stage 2 MU attestations numbers), one can’t help but wonder what it all means for long-term viability of the MU program and whether the industry remains committed to its objectives.

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