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Tag: Telehealth

HLTH 2022: Wheel Adds More Telehealth Tech Infrastructure with Acquisition of GoodRx’s Care Software

by JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Health tech infrastructure startups remain HOT and, given the industry-wide rise of the “omnichannel care” strategy, none might be hotter than telehealth infra biz, Wheel. CEO Michelle Davey talks about providing white label virtual care services that will now not only include telehealth and EMR technology, clinical care, and end-to-end lab technology, but also the back-office tech that has powered GoodRx all these years. We dive into the acquisition of GoodRx’s care engagement software, how it will enable Wheel to expand its behind-the-scenes reach into the healthcare market, and whether or not Michelle sees all this clamoring about omnichannel care as ultimately eroding Wheel’s biz…or as the force that will propel its growth long into the future.

‘Breaking Down Interstate Barriers to Telehealth Delivery’ Tops ATA’s Priorities for 2023

by JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Just one week before the ATA EDGE Policy Conference (12/7-12/9 Washington DC) we get a SNEAK PEEK at what’s topping the agenda – and the American Telemedicine Association (ATA)’s list of priorities for 2023 – to ensure that digital health and virtual care providers avoid the ‘telehealth cliff’ that could send us back to pre-pandemic scaling issues of both practice and reimbursement.

Kyle Zebley, SVP of Public Policy at the ATA and Executive Director of ATA Action (the ATA’s affiliate advocacy organization) gives us the skinny on where policies currently stand at the federal and state level and, more importantly, what’s in jeopardy of changing soon. The list is long – everything from interstate practice to originating site stipulations, in-person visit requirements (especially for tele-mental health visits), and a number of favorable reimbursement policies that made telehealth a covered benefit at federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and under some high-deductible health plans. And, these are just to name a few…

Right now, the pandemic’s public health emergency is still in effect until mid-January, and, though it is expected to be renewed, the renewal will only get us into the second quarter of 2023. Kyle gives us the in-depth details on what ATA is advocating for and how they’re doing it. Of particular interest is the work being done to preserve clinicians’ ability to deliver cross-state care. The details here are fascinating. Kyle explains the nuances of tactics like licensure compacts and common sense exceptions that are being explored to permanently extend cross-state telehealth care, as well as the role the federal government can play in helping these policies along by incentivizing states to adopt these them through a “carrot-and-stick approach.”

The time to get involved is now, Health Tech! Get your start by watching this in-depth chat with Kyle to get caught up on where things stand, then check out ATA’s site for information on what you can do to support these on-going efforts to keep virtual care a growing vehicle for healthcare delivery.

* Special thanks to Wheel, sponsor of this special monthly WTF Health series on the policies that are changing telehealth and virtual care. Wheel is the health tech company powering the virtual care industry, provides companies with everything they need to launch and scale virtual care services — including the regulatory infrastructure to deliver high quality and compliant care. Learn more at www.wheel.com.

“You’ve Gotta Shoot Some Sacred Cows:” MSU Health Care’s CIO On Health Systems & Tech Transformation

By JESSICA DAMASSA

If I continue to hear how difficult it is for hospitals to make money, I would like for them to see what it’s like to operate a real business. They are overstaffed…they are overpaying…they are not responsible for quality or outcomes…there are no guarantees on their services…they can block competition from entering their markets…they can buy up market share – that’s not a real business.

Well, lesson learned. If you ask Roger Jansen, Michigan State University Health Care’s Chief Innovation & Digital Health Officer, how he think things are going in US health systems when it comes to digital transformation and the integration of technology and value-based business models in hospitals, be prepared for a blunt conversation about how US healthcare model is failing and how the lack of incentive for change is keeping us all stuck in the same-old, same-old.

From digital health and telehealth to EMR and value-based care business models, we cover a lot of health innovation ground in this chat and get a reality check on whether or not things are really evolving inside health systems – and which stakeholders Roger believes hold the key to driving that change. (Hint: He identifies them as those who are already “footing the bill for the lavish lifestyles that healthcare administrators live that are probably well out-of-balance with the value that they actually bring to their corporations.”)

Roger on digital health? There’s better adoption and receptivity when it’s combined with “a service component that doesn’t add additional burden to the clinical component.” On virtual care and telehealth?

Down 70% since the pandemic’s lockdown days and more of a “behavior change problem” at this point than anything else.

When we get to EMRs around the 19-minute mark, things get extra spicy and we take a turn into “all this gibberish about volume versus value” and how value-based care models aren’t gaining meaningful traction either. It’s a big, bold reality check on the state-of-play of health tech, virtual care, and healthcare payment model innovation in health systems… watch now and let us know what you think!

Keycare raises $24m & Dr Lyle thinks he’s found a virtual care niche!

Lyle Berkowitz has been very well known as a techy doc for years. He’s ran an innovation center at Northwestern, written books, been featured at tons of conferences (including Health 2.0), had a stint at MDLive and was founder and Exec Chair at HealthFinch which was bought by Health Catalyst. But instead of lying on the beach drinking MaiTais, Lyle has decided that there’s room for yet another virtual care play, and today his new company Keycare is announcing a $24m round and a deal with Spectrum Health (Michigan). What is it? It’s a virtual medical group that’s going to be supporting traditional health systems with care after-hours, out of state and much more. Is there room in the telehealth market for yet another niche play? You may guess that I asked and Lyle explained why!–Matthew Holt

Matthew’s health care tidbits: Texas is the present future of abortion care

Each week I’ve been adding a brief tidbits section to the THCB Reader, our weekly newsletter that summarizes the best of THCB that week (Sign up here!). Then I had the brainwave to add them to the blog. They’re short and usually not too sweet! –Matthew Holt

In this edition’s tidbits, I have to return to the stunning impact of the Dobbs ruling. We know will happen because it is already happening in Texas where the 6 week law was already being enforced in contravention of Roe v Wade.

Taxpayer money is going to “pregnancy crisis centers” that flat out lie to vulnerable patients about the impact of abortions on their health. Doctors are questioning women who have miscarried–at a moment that is already terrible for them, and women who have miscarried are being denied basic D&Cs–which can kill them.

Don’t get me started on the absolute nonsense being talked–and passed into law –about ectopic pregnancies, of which there are over 130,000 each year in the US, being carried to term. How unlikely is it that an ectopic pregnancy makes it to term with no ill effects? Let me tell you a story. My dad was an OBGYN. He and his anesthetist saved the life of a woman and her baby who somehow had made it to term while being ectopic. During the surgery she needed 12 pints of blood (a normal woman has 7-8 pints in her body) and he considered it the greatest piece of surgery he did in his entire career. He thought that he and the patients were very lucky. So I demand that crazy legislation saying ectopic pregnancies have to be carried to term also mandates that my dad is around to do every single C-Section. Unlikely, as he’s dead, but no crazier than the legislation in Indiana.

Then there’s the impact on telehealth. Most abortions are done using drugs but more and more of the pandemic-era exemptions to prescribing drugs and seeing patients over telehealth across state lines are being withdrawn. Clearly the state-based licensing of doctors is itself ridiculous in an age of online commerce, but despite the DOJ statements the legality of prescribing abortifacients across state lines is very unclear and, as Deven McGraw explained in this harrowing piece on THCB Gang, HIPAA doesn’t protect patient privacy from local law enforcement. So what happens to someone in a state where abortion is banned if they have to go to hospital because of a complication from taking an abortifacient? Trump thinks they should go to jail.

What is clear is that bans on abortion don’t stop abortions. But they do endanger women. And if the pregnancy crisis center stops a woman from getting an abortion, do they help afterwards? Why yes, if you mean by “helping”, they have a celebratory dinner and light a fricking candle.

Matthew’s health care tidbits: Is Covid over for the health care system?

Each week I’ve been adding a brief tidbits section to the THCB Reader, our weekly newsletter that summarizes the best of THCB that week (Sign up here!). Then I had the brainwave to add them to the blog. They’re short and usually not too sweet! –Matthew Holt

I am beginning to wonder, is COVID over? Of course no one has told the virus that it’s over. In fact infection rates are two to three times where they were in the post-omicron lull and new variants are churning themselves out faster and faster. We still have 300 people dying every day. But since we went past a million US deaths, no one seems to care any more.

For the health care system, COVID being over means a chance to get back to normal, and normal ain’t good. Normal means trying to get rid of that pesky telemedicine and anything else that came around since March 2020.The incumbents want to remove the public health emergency that allowed telemedicine to be paid for by Medicare, re-enforce the Ryan Haight act which mandates in-person visits for prescribing controlled Rx like Adderall for ADHD, and make sure that tortuous state license requirements for online physicians are not going away. This also means restrictions on hospital at home, and basically delays any other innovative way to change care delivery. Well, it was all so perfect in February 2020!

But there is one COVID related problem that doesn’t seem to be going away. People. They’re just not going back to work and nurses in particular are resisting the pull of the big hospitals. I don’t know the end game here, but there is a clue in the “return to office” data. Basically every large city is below 50% of its office space being occupied and companies are having to figure out a hybrid model going forward, no matter how much Elon Musk objects.

Hospitals aren’t going willingly into the night. The big systems still control American health care, and are prepared to fight on all fronts to keep it that way. But like office workers, nurses and doctors want a different life. The concept of virtual-first, community-based, primary care-led health care has been around for a long while and been studiously ignored by the majority of the system.

If hospitals can’t get the staff and keep losing money employing the ones they have, there will be new solutions being offered to clinicians wanting a different life-style. We just might see a different approach to health care delivery rising phoenix-like from the Covid ashes.

Virtual Care Regulatory Round-Up: Telehealth & Digital Care ‘State-of-Play’ by Nathaniel Lacktman

BY JESS DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Just as HHS extends the Covid-19 public health emergency waivers until July, we kick-off a brand-new monthly interview series about the state-of-play for all things telehealth and digital care policy and reimbursement. Called the WTF Health Virtual Care Regulatory Round-up, we’re partnering with our friends at Wheel to feature health policy experts, lobbyists, health plan folks, and other virtual care experts and insiders who can keep us updated on the changing regulations and what they will mean to those health tech co’s whose businesses rely on virtual care.

Attorney-to-the-stars-of-telehealth, Nathaniel Lacktman, who chairs the Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team at Foley & Lardner and is a Board member of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), kicks the series off for us with an update on those public health waivers and how he is coaching health tech businesses in preparing for the inevitable transition of care that will come when they come to an end.

What will happen to patients who live across state lines from their virtual care providers? What business decisions need to be made to avoid abandoning patients and maintaining continuity of care? Nate’s not bullish on a federal national license, but there are some cases where cross-state patient-provider relationships can continue to exist – they just might not work for everyone’s business model.

And, on the subject of telehealth business models, Nate gives us his take on where he thinks reimbursement will be headed, how policy around virtual prescribing will be impacted post-pandemic (particularly around controlled substances), and whether or not Medicare’s originating site requirement will be put back in place. We also get Nate’s perspective on which virtual care business models seem to be working best among health tech startups and what legal risk those more ‘reckless’ players might be creating for the rest of the field without even realizing it. Great education on virtual care and what’s happening in the space RIGHT NOW. Watch!

Special thanks to our series sponsor, Wheel – the health tech company powering the virtual care industry. Wheel provides companies with everything they need to launch and scale virtual care services — including the regulatory infrastructure to deliver high quality and compliant care. Learn more at wheel.com.

ATA’s CEO Ann Mond Johnson Takes on the “Telehealth Cliff”

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

The BIG takeaway from ATA’s Annual Meeting is best bottom-lined by ATA’s big boss, CEO Ann Mond Johnson, in this interview: “From an overall perspective, we just don’t want to go over that ‘telehealth cliff.’”

ATA, the re-branded American Telemedicine Association, has not only evolved along with virtual care through the pandemic, but has also been critical in redefining telehealth as modality for healthcare and re-framing access to it as a bipartisan issue that everyone in DC can get behind.

Ann talks through the high-level changes she’s witnessed for telehealth adoption over the past two years and gives us her predictions for what’s going to happen next – particularly when it comes to the business of virtual care, consumer demand, and, most importantly, regulations and reimbursement. Lots happening thanks to ATA’s new affiliated trade organization, ATA Action, which is lobbying to ensure that the waivers that enabled the acceleration of telehealth during the Covid-19 public health emergency become permanent. The time is NOW for health tech co’s to get involved! Tune in to find out how.

Health Care Organizations Must Prioritize Cybersecurity Before Undergoing Digital Transformation

By TRAVIS GOOD

The health care industry is rapidly embracing new technologies. Covid-19 changed the way many industries operate, and healthcare is one industry that was particularly affected by the pandemic. Many health care organizations were already undergoing digital transformations, but Covid exponentially sped up those processes. Health care providers and health-tech companies were forced to adapt to the new normal and change the way they operate. Here are 3 major ways health care has changed in recent times. 

1. Increased popularity of telehealth services:

Covid made telehealth appointments a necessity, but even in a post-Covid world virtual visits are likely to remain a core component of modern healthcare. According to McKinsey, telehealth utilization was 78 times higher in April 2020 than in February 2020. It remained nearly 40 times as popular in 2021 as compared to pre-pandemic levels. 

Research shows that both patients and physicians are fans of telehealth. Many patients prefer the convenience of being able to speak to their doctor from home and physicians feel that offering telemedicine allows them to operate more efficiently. Phone and video-based medical appointments became mainstream in 2020, and they are unlikely to go away anytime soon. 

2. More wearable medical devices with connected ecosystems:

The number of wearable medical devices in use has skyrocketed over the past 5 years. The wearable medical device market is expected to reach $23 million in 2023, a major increase from $8 million in 2017. Gadgets like heart rate sensors, oxygen meters, and exercise trackers are all becoming increasingly popular. Many popular consumer products such as cell phones and smartwatches ship with built-in medical tracking technology.

Continue reading…

Inside Wheel’s $150M Series C: CEO Talks “Long Game” for Stealthy Virtual Care Infrastructure Biz

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Wheel’s CEO Michelle Davey says the white-label virtual care startup’s $150M Series C – led by notable health tech mega-funders Lightspeed Venture Partners & Tiger Global – is “really about the long-game.” We get into the details of this purposeful funding round and what it means for the future of Wheel, as well as the play-by-play analysis of what happened over the past 9 months, since the company closed its $50M Series B. (FYI: Wheel’s total funding is at $216 million to-date.)

Wheel is currently running behind-the-scenes for an undisclosed client list of brands, facilitating 1.6 million virtual visits a year for digital health companies, digital pharmacies, retailers, and, now, even traditional healthcare providers. That number is expected to triple by the end of 2022, and we get into what’s fueling that growth and whether or not Michelle believes that this institutional push toward online care will persist as the pandemic wans and the world continues re-opening.

Armed with this fresh funding, how will three-year-old Wheel continue to differentiate its offering from legacy telehealth infrastructure providers like Amwell and Teladoc? How will it win against their legacy relationships with legacy healthcare providers? Or, is Wheel’s big bet on the continued scaling of what Michelle calls “next generation healthcare”? Wheel has added A LOT of tech to its own infrastructure recently, providing asynchronous options, better clinician matching, more triaging and navigating, and, with this funding, are is now talking about adding “diagnostic services” to round out their service line. What, exactly are we talking about here in terms of business model evolution? Tune in and find out what this stealthy startup is up to!

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