For reasons a little lost in the fog we have committed to doing an episode of Health in 2 Point 00 every day at HIMSS. As I didn’t meet my co-host Jessica DaMassa till late it was more like “Health in 22.00”. But we still covered a few topics (Google Cloud, Eric Schmidt, Pilots) from our none too private studio in the corridor at the Venetian!–Matthew Holt
ONC Awards $300K in Funding to 6 Digital Health Pilot Projects!
By ADAM WONG
The Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today announced the six winners of the inaugural ONC Market R&D Pilot Challenge. The six winners will live-test new health information technology (health IT) applications in health care settings administered by their challenge partners.
The winning innovator-health care organization teams will each receive $50,000 to fund their pilot programs which will become operational in August are:
- ClinicalBox and Lowell General Hospital
- CreateIT Healthcare Solutions and MHP Salud
- Gecko Health Innovations and Boston Children’s Hospital
- Optima Integrated Health and University of California, San Francisco, Cardiology Division
- physIQ and Henry Ford Health System
- Vital Care Telehealth Services and Dominican Sisters Family Health Service
The ONC Market R&D Challenge launched on October 20, 2014 with the goal of finding early stage health care startups from across the country and connecting them with health care organizations and stakeholders with whom they could potentially run a pilot program to test the application.
Three in-person matchmaking events were held in January, 2015, focused on connecting health care organizations with innovator companies looking to pilot test their products. Almost 500 organizations expressed interest in finding partners through the matchmaking program. More than 300 in-person meetings were held in New York, New York; San Francisco, California; and Washington, D.C., with many more conducted virtually. These “speed-dating” events allowed startups to meet face-to-face with health care organizations to identify common interests and goals. ONC and the organizer of these meetings, Health 2.0, intended for the events to have additional benefits, including facilitating the exchange of ideas that might lead to new partnerships and relationships.
To be eligible to serve as a host, organizations were required to operate in clinical, public health and community, or consumer health environments while also serving enough consumers or patients to conduct a pilot study. The innovators had to be an early-stage health information technology company with less than $10 million in venture capital funding and a readily available technology solution.
On Mandatory Screens and the People Doing the Screening
The entirely predictable media obsession with the tragedy of the Germanwings jetliner that crashed into the French Alps on March 25 is moving forward full force. The media, especially cable television, love airline disasters. Once German prosecutors revealed that Andreas Lubitz, the pilot at the controls of the Germanwings jetliner when it crashed, had a mental illness but had kept the diagnosis hidden from his employer, all media hell broke loose.
One of the key questions raised by the spectre of mental illness was whether the pilot’s doctors tried to establish Lubitz’s mental fitness to fly and if they were concerned should they have revealed their worries to his employer. Despite a whole lot of talking heads jawing on these points few had anything useful to say since almost none of the experts consulted seemed familiar with the accuracy of mental health screening, or with the nature of German requirements for health screenings for crews or mechanics, or with German privacy law. When the discussion shifted to what about America, things still stayed fuzzy.
Pilots being interviewed noted that the Federal Aviation Administration requires they receive a physical exam from a flight surgeon annually or every six months as they get older. What mechanics or flight attendants undergo was never mentioned. Mental health is supposed to be a part of the exam for pilots but it almost never is. Pilots and the doctors examining them know that any indication of mental illness including addiction or suicidal thinking would get reported right to the FAA and that would be the end of that pilot’s job so little probing gets done. Plus those doing the screening rarely have any training in mental health.Continue reading…
ONC launches Pilot Program to Catalyze Health IT Innovation
Investments in digital health have never been higher, with reports indicating that $5 Billion has been invested in health tech startups in 2014. Encouraged by the increasingly favorable changes being made to health policy in the U.S., many entrepreneurs have answered the call to action to solve problems related to health care delivery and access, disease management, and cost reduction. Venture capitalists recognize the value of innovation in health care through technology yet few of these tools have gained widespread adoption. Health care organizations and providers are wary of implementing new technologies that haven’t been tested for fear of disrupting their workflows and causing more problems than before.
Market R&D Pilot Challenge Website
Recognizing these high barriers to entry for digital health startups the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is hosting the Market R&D Pilot Challenge to bridge the gap between health care providers and innovators. This competition, which is administered by Health 2.0, may award pilot proposals in four different domains: clinical environments (e.g., hospitals, ambulatory care, surgical centers), public health and community environments (e.g., public health departments, community health workers, mobile medical trucks, and school-based clinics), consumer health (e.g., self-insured employers, pharmacies, laboratories) and research and data (e.g, novel ways of collecting data from patients).Continue reading…
The Road to Wellville: Pilots and Demos?
As might be expected of reform legislation, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act places a lot of emphasis on innovation. Reasonably enough, most of the potential changes—at least in Medicare—are to be preceded by pilot or demonstration projects designed to test their feasibility. In fact, according to one health care blogger with time on his hands, PPACA includes no less than 312 mentions of demonstrations and 80 mentions of pilots.
Just how important are all these pilots and demos? Harvard’s David Cutler, who served as a key advisor to the Obama administration in developing the reform strategy, clearly believes they are vital. Writing in the June Health Affairs, he stresses the need for rapid implementation of the pilots and demonstrations in order to help achieve eventual savings of “enormous amounts of money while simultaneously improving the quality of care.”
How realistic are Professor Cutler’s expectations?
CMS’ Medicare chronic care demonstrations provide some clues. With data showing that the costliest 25 percent of beneficiaries account for 85 percent of total Medicare spending and that 75 percent of the high-cost beneficiaries have one or more major chronic conditions, the demonstrations were expected to show big benefits from care coordination—the major theme of PPACA’s proposed demos.
The outcomes were decidedly discouraging, as noted by MedPac’s 2009 report to Congress:
“Results suggest that some of these programs may have modest effects on the quality of care and mixed impacts on Medicare costs, with most programs costing Medicare more than would have been spent had they not been implemented….In almost all cases, the cost to Medicare of the intervention exceeded the savings generated by reduced use of inpatient hospitalizations and other medical services.”