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THCB Quickbite: Zak Holdsworth, CEO, Hint Health

Zak Holdsworth has been delivering tech and services support for the growing Direct Primary Care (DPC) movement for 8 years. His company Hint Health supplies all the back office and now an EMR for those primary care doctors who are opting out of the insurance system and charging $1,000 a year (give or take) to manage all the care for their patients. It’s a niche but an interesting niche that is growing at 30-40% a year, and Zak’s company is helping their customers as they both start in DPC and move that care management downstream, including building out a care services cash market for their patients.–Matthew Holt

THCB Quickbite: Rami Karjian CEO & Pippa Shulman CMO, Medically Home

Another quickbite from the end of last year. I caught up with Rami Karjian CEO & Pippa Shulman CMO, Medically Home. The company has grown a lot since its early days growing out of Atrius Medical Group in Boston. Now they are delivering hospital at home tools and services in 19 states and have had huge investments from Mayo, Kaiser and others. Covid, as you can imagine, helped a bit! Costs are down, outcomes are up, and 20-30% of hospital care could be heading to the home. This one looks real–Matthew Holt

Healthcare, Meet Southwest

BY KIM BELLARD

Customers experiencing long, often inexplicable delays, their experiences turning from hopeful to angry to afraid they’ll never get back home.  Staff overworked and overwhelmed.  IT systems failing at the times they’re most needed.  To most people, that all probably sounds like Southwest Airline’s debacle last week, but, to me, it just sounds like every day in our healthcare system.

Southwest had a bad week.  All the airlines were hit by a huge swath of bad weather the weekend before Christmas, but most airlines recovered relatively quickly.  Southwest passengers were not so lucky; the airline’s delays and cancellations numbered in the thousands and stretched into days.  Overnight, it seemed, Southwest went from being one of the most admired airlines – loyal customers, on-time service, happy employees, consistent profitability – to one with “its reputation in tatters.

CEO Bob Jordan has had to do his mea culpas, and he’s not done.  

Some pointed to Southwest’s reliance on point-to-point flight schedules, in contrast to other airlines’ use of hub-and-spoke models, but most seem to agree that the root problem was that its IT infrastructure was not up to task – particularly its employee scheduling system, which told its employees who needed to be where when and how to accomplish that.  Casey A. Murray, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, told The New York Times: “Once one card falls, the whole house falls here at Southwest.  That’s our problem. We couldn’t keep up with the cascading events.”

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Accepting your Future Avatar: Leveraging Digital Twins for Transforming Healthcare

by  SMRITI KIRUBANANDAN

A possibility to do better and be better by observing yourself (your twin) reacting to various feeds and gaining the ability to gain better care and improve research, seems like a super power. The concept of a Digital Twin is the ability to replicate a person, an object or a process derived from extracting various data points from internet of things (IOT) that are attached to the original object. One can view how the digital twin responds to various feeds and give us a deeper understanding on the possibilities and impact for the real person or object. Shifting this concept into healthcare, I am going to take this up a notch and propose, what if a person has an opportunity to accept their future avatar presented to them and it is reflected and implemented immediately?

As per Research and Markets report 

  • Up to 89% of all IoT platforms will include digital twins by 2025
  • Digital twinning will be a standard IoT feature by 2027
  • Nearly 36% of executives across a variety of industries understand the benefits of digital twinning, with about half of them planning to use it in their operations by 2028

Here are some of the ways a Digital Twin would play a role in making healthcare accurate, smart and reliable while greatly improving member experience: 

Delivering the right Frequency of Care 

In the United States, 400,000 hospital patients experience some form of preventable harm each year, accounting for a cost of over $20 billion annually.

Giving the proper care at the right time is vital in improving patient experience and the quality of care, and reducing healthcare costs. By using the digital twin concept, we can replicate the process, understand a person’s reactions to different treatments, and help customize the frequency of care needed. That might include understanding and getting more precise with the medication doses based on the Twin’s reactions or refining a type of surgical procedure based on possible recovery and impact. It might inspire a patient to make the right decisions based on the digital twin at the right time. Accepting their future avatar might give a patient hope and psychological comfort before starting a treatment or procedure and, most importantly, could build trust with their provider.

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Searching For The Next Search

By KIM BELLARD

I didn’t write about ChatGPT when it was first introduced a month ago because, well, it seemed like everyone else was. I didn’t play with it to see what it could do.  I didn’t want it to write any poems. I didn’t have any AP tests I wanted it to pass. And, for all you know, I’m not using it to write this. But when The New York Times reports that Google sees ChatGPT as a “Code Red” for its search business, that got my attention.

A few months ago I wrote about how Google saw TikTok as an existential threat to its business, estimating that 40% of young people used it for searches. It was a different kind of search, mind you, with video results instead of links, but that’s what made it scary – because it didn’t just incrementally improve “traditional” search, as Google had done to Lycos or Altavista, it potentially changed what “search” was.    

TikTok may well still do that (although it is facing existential issues of its own), but ChatGPT could pose an even greater threat. Why get a bunch of search results that you still have to investigate when you could just ask ChatGPT to tell you exactly what you want to know?

Look, I like Google as much as anyone, but the prospect that its massive dominance of the search engine market could, in the near future, suddenly come to an end gives me hope for healthcare.  If Google isn’t safe in search, no company is safe in any industry, healthcare included.

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The Constitution, Health, and Culture in America

By MIKE MAGEE

The Right to Health Care and the U.S. Constitution.” On the surface, it sounds like a straightforward topic – a simple presentation. But a gentle scratch at the surface reveals a controversy that literally dates back 250 years and more. Is it a right”, a privilege”, or simply a necessity?”

I’m not a lawyer or Constitutional scholar. But I do know health care, its history, and its many strengths and weaknesses. What does our Constitution have to do with health care? The answer: That depends on how broadly you define “health.”

Before we were ever a nation, there existed a 300 year period of war and conquest, of genocide and superstition masquerading as science, of promises made and promises broken in the Americas. The naive fledgling nation that declared its independence in 1776, knew that what they were attempting was a long shot. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in the first Federalist paper, the pressing question was “… whether societies of men are really capable or not, of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend, for their political constitutions, on accident and force.” It was, and is, an open question.

One hundred and seventy years after our Declaration of Independence, General George Marshall raised the same question when charged with rebuilding the destroyed societies of vanquished enemies, Germany and Japan, from ashes. Where should he begin? In 1946, he decided to begin by establishing national health plans in each of those nations. He believed that by creating services that emphasized safety and security; handed out compassion, understanding and partnership in liberal amounts; reinforced bonds between individuals, families and their communities; and processed a population’s collective fears and worries day in and day out, would help establish a level of trust and tranquility necessary to secure the foundations of a thriving and lasting democracy. It was, if you will, a “nation building” plan, The Marshall Plan.

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“All Men Would Be Tyrants.” History Reverberates!

By MIKE MAGEE

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

This striking and sweeping statement of values, the Preamble to our Constitution, was anything but reassuring to the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the Founding Fathers. Abigail Adams well represented many of them in her letter to John Adams in March, 1776, when she wrote:

Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice or Representation.”

Her concern and advocacy for “particular care and attention” reflected a sense of urgency and vulnerability that women faced, and in many respects continue to face until today, as a result of financial dependency, physical and mental abuse, and the complex health needs that accompany pregnancy, birth, and care of small infants.

The U.S. Constitution is anything but static. In some cases, the establishment of justice, or the unraveling of injustice may take more than a century. And as we learned in the recent Dobbs case, if the Supreme Court chooses, it may reverse long-standing precedents, and dial the legal clock back a century overnight.

Roe v. Wade was a judicious and medically sound solution to a complex problem. Perfection was not the goal. But in the end, most agreed that allowing women and their physicians to negotiate these highly personalized and individualized decisions by adjusting the state’s role to the reality of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester made good sense. But getting physicians to step forward and engage the issue was neither simple nor swift.

In July, 1933, McCall’s magazine published one of hundreds of ads that year for contraceptive products. This one was paid for by Lysol feminine hygiene. It pulled punches, using coded messages, and suggesting that the very next pregnancy might finally push a women over the edge, and that would indeed be a “travesty.”

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THCB Gang Episode 111, Thursday December 22

It’s the Christmas special THCB Gang where we reviewed the year! Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday December 22 were privacy expert Deven McGraw (@healthprivacy), fierce patient activist Casey Quinlan (@MightyCasey); Jennifer Benz (@Jenbenz); and medical historian Mike Magee (@drmikemagee). And then in our end of year tradition a few other gang members dropped in towards the end.

You can see the video below & if you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

HLTH 2022: Mental Health IT Infrastructure Proves Highly Fundable – Inside NeuroFlow’s $25M Series C

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

At the intersection of two (still) hot areas of health tech investment – IT infrastructure and mental health – sits NeuroFlow, a tech platform that integrates into care management systems and EHRs to help clinicians and care managers identify behavioral health conditions in patients as they are getting their annual check-ups, post-partum exams, and other routine healthcare services. The startup just added another $25 million in growth capital to its coffers in mid-October, bringing their total funding to just under $60 million. We chat with CEO Chris Molaro about how this new funding will be used to continue fueling the company’s scale-up efforts and how provider orgs are responding to the added responsibility that comes with providing this type of mental health care screening across its care teams.

Netflix for Drugs?

By KIM BELLARD

A relative — obviously overestimating my healthcare expertise — asked my thoughts on The New York Times article Can a Federally Funded ‘Netflix Model’ Fix the Broken Market for Antibiotics? I had previously skimmed the article and was vaguely aware of the Pasteur Act that it discusses, but, honestly, my immediate reaction to the article was, gosh, that may not be a great analogy: do people realize what a tough year Netflix has had?

I have to admit that I tend to stay away from writing about Big Pharma and prescription drugs, mainly because, in a US healthcare system that seems to pride itself on being opaque, frustrating, and yet outrageously expensive, the prescription drug industry takes the cake. It’s too much of a mess.

But a “Netflix model” for drug development? Consider me intrigued.

It’s easy to understand why market forces might not do well with rare diseases that need an “orphan drug,” but the “subscription model” approach that the Pasteur Act seeks to address is something that most of us need: antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance has made many of our front-line antibiotics less effective, but discovering new antibiotics is a slow, expensive process, and many pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to take the risk. The Pasteur Act would essentially pay for their development in return for “free” use of subsequently invented drugs.

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