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The COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge Webinar

By INDU SUBAIYA & FARZAD MOSTASHARI

Following the launch of the COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge on September 1st, we are excited to host a dedicated webinar providing further insights into the Challenge directly from key leaders representing our partner organizations at Facebook Data for Good, the Delphi Group at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the Joint Program on Survey Methodology at the University of Maryland (UMD), the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies.

A stellar line up of speakers includes a raft of former government officials Mark McClellan (FDA & CMA), Tom Frieden (CDC), Farzad Mostashari (ONC) and many more, including Johns Hopkins’ Professor Caitlin Rivers, Carnegie Mellon’s Alex Reinhart & Facebook’s Head of Health Kang-Xing Jin.

If you are applying to the Challenge or would like to hear more about experts’ responses to COVID-19 and the importance of data during the pandemic, you do not want to miss this conversation! 

  • We will be discussing the following
    • Shortcomings of the existing tools for COVID-19 surveillance in the US
    • The case for better situational awareness of COVID activity
    • Overview of Symptom Data survey methodology
    • Preliminary analyses relating symptom trends to COVID intensity
    • Goals and operation of the Symptom Data Challenge

Tune in on Tuesday, September 8th at 1-2pm ET!

Event Registration Link: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6102626394063911951

Indu Subaiya is President of Catalyst @ Health 2.0. Farzad Mostashari is CEO of Aledade and Chair of the COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge

Announcing The COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge

By FARZAD MOSTASHARI

In Partnership with the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy, Resolve to Save Lives, Carnegie Mellon University, and University of Maryland, Catalyst @ Health 2.0 is excited to announce the launch of The COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge. The COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge is looking for novel analytic approaches that use COVID-19 Symptom Survey data to enable earlier detection and improved situational awareness of the outbreak by public health and the public. 

How the Challenge Works:

In Phase I, innovators submit a white paper (“digital poster”) summarizing the approach, methods, analysis, findings, relevant figures and graphs of their analytic approach using Symptom Survey public data (see challenge submission criteria for more). Judges will evaluate the entries based on Validity, Scientific Rigor, Impact, and User Experience and award five semi-finalists $5,000 each. Semi-finalists will present their analytic approaches to a judging panel and three semi-finalists will be selected to advance to Phase II. The semi-finalists will develop a prototype (simulation or visualization) using their analytic approach and present their prototype at a virtual unveiling event. Judges will select a grand prize winner and the runner up (2nd place). The grand prize winner will be awarded $50,000 and the runner up will be awarded $25,000.The winning analytic design will be featured on the Facebook Data For Good website and the winning team will have the opportunity to participate in a discussion forum with representatives from public health agencies. 

Phase I applications for the challenge are due Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 11:59:59 PM ET.

Learn more about the COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge HERE.

Challenge participants will leverage aggregated data from the COVID-19 symptom surveys conducted by Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Maryland, in partnership with Facebook Data for Good. Approaches can integrate publicly available anonymized datasets to validate and extend predictive utility of symptom data and should assess the impact of the integration of symptom data on identifying inflection points in state, local, or regional COVID outbreaks as well guiding individual and policy decision-making. 

These are the largest and most detailed surveys ever conducted during a public health emergency, with over 25M responses recorded to date, across 200+ countries and territories and 55+ languages. Challenge partners look forward to seeing participant’s proposed approaches leveraging this data, as well as welcome feedback on the data’s usefulness in modeling efforts. 

Indu Subaiya, co-founder of Catalyst @ Health 2.0 (“Catalyst”) met with Farzad Mostashari, Challenge Chair, to discuss the launch of the COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge. Indu and Farzad walked through the movement around open data as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the challenge goals, partners, evaluation criteria, and prizes.

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COVID-19 is Bringing Data Privacy into the Spotlight – This is How Healthcare Companies Should Respond

By DAN LINTON

Privacy concerns across the country continue to increase, and consumers expect their healthcare information to be private. Headline-making data sales, skepticism of Silicon Valley privacy practices, and COVID-19 contact tracing concerns compounded with a general lack of consumer awareness have continued to generate an ongoing storm ofnegative press and political scrutiny.

With COVID-19 continuing to rampage throughout the country, there is a need for the contact tracing and other technology applications to assess public health. At the same time, changing HHS rules are giving Americans more access and control over their own health data. Both availability and the promise of positive impact of data on people’s lives has never been greater.

Despite the critical need and incredible potential, there is still a great deal of confusion, lack of awareness and heightened concern among consumers. Studies show that the vast majority of Americans think the potential risks of data collection outweighs the potential benefits.

Clamping down on data privacy stifles innovation, and moving forward as we’ve been doing presents a potential privacy minefield. So, what should the healthcare industry do about it?

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Thriving in COVID Times

By KIM BELLARD

These are, no question, hard times, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the U.S., we’re closing in on 180,000 deaths in the U.S.  Some 40 million workers lost their jobs, and over 30 million are still receiving unemployment benefits.  Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of small businesses are believed to have closed, and many big companies are declaring bankruptcy.  Malls, retailers, and restaurants have been among the hardest hit. 

Yes, these are hard times.  But not for everyone. 

Last week Target announced what CNBC called a “monster quarter.”  Sales for online and stores open at least a year jumped 24% for the quarter ending August 1 – peak COVID-19 days – and profits were up an astonishing 80%.  Its CEO specifically referenced the pandemic, as shoppers sought safe and convenient shopping options.

It is not just Target doing well.  No one should be surprised that Amazon is doing well, as more turn to online shopping and Amazon’s quick delivery, but The Wall Street Journal reports that Bog Box stores generally are doing well, including not just Target but also Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Costco, and Best Buy.  The efforts they were taking to compete with Amazon, such as increased online sales and curbside pickup, served to help them survive the pandemic’s effects. 

Similarly, if you’re a streaming service like Netflix or Disney+, the pandemic has been great for business.  Video conferencing services like Zoom are booming.  Car dealers are struggling, but not online car sales

And, of course, if you’re a cloud computing service supporting all these shifts to online, the world has become even more dependent on you.  “Many customers are scaling beyond their wildest projections,” Carrie Thorp of Google Cloud told WSJ

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Post Covid Healthcare is Becoming Like Buying from Amazon Instead of Going to the Mall or Reading an eBook Instead of a Paperback

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

Now that we are seeing patients via telemedicine or even getting reimbursed for handling their issues over the phone, our existing healthcare institutions are more and more starting to look like shopping malls. 

They were once traffic magnets, so large that they created new developments far away from where people lived or worked and big and complex enough that going there became an all day affair for many people. 

What this pandemic has brought us is a shift in our view of where you have to be in order to get things done. If you can earn your wage remotely and still buy things online when offices and physical stores are shut down, it seemed logical to try to offer healthcare the same way. And most of us have found that it works surprisingly well. 

The analogy with Amazon runs deeper than that. Amazon isn’t just one megaprovider, but also a funnel for many small merchants who sell their products through Amazon. Consumers take advantage of the convenience of this centralized ordering or point of contact with a vast supply network of almost any product that money can buy. But they only give their credit card number to one central contact. 

I don’t follow business literature enough to know if Jeff Bezos chose the name Amazon partly (yes, I know he went through the dictionary) because of a vision of many small contributories coming together into the second largest river in the world. But that is certainly a visual representation of what his business looks like. And “Amazon” ranks higher in the alphabet and sounds a lot catchier than “The Nile”. 

Enter healthcare: Imagine the trusted brand names of our “industry” but without their traditional complete reliance on bricks and mortar places that patients have to visit. 

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COVID herd immunity: At hand or forever elusive?

By MICHEL ACCAD, MD

With cases of COVID-19 either disappeared or rapidly diminishing from places like Wuhan, Italy, New York, and Sweden, many voices are speculating that herd immunity may have been reached in those areas and that it may be at hand in the remaining parts of the world that are still struggling with the pandemic.  Lockdowns should end—or may not have been needed to begin with, they conclude. Adding plausibility to their speculation is the discovery of biological evidence suggesting that prior exposure to other coronaviruses may confer some degree of immunity against SARS-CoV2, an immunity not apparent on the basis of antibody seroprevalence studies.

Opposing those viewpoints are those who dismiss the recent immunological claims and insist that rates of infections are far below those expected to confer immunity on a community. They believe that the main reason for the declining numbers are the behavioral changes that have occurred either under force of government edict or, in the case of Sweden, more voluntarily. What’s more, they remind us that the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919 occurred in 3 distinct waves. In the summer of 1918 influenza seemed overcome until a second wave hit in the fall. Herd immunity could not possibly have accounted for the end of the first wave.

The alarmists may have a point.  However, recent history offers a more instructive example.

Until early 2015, epidemiologists considered Mongolia to be exemplary in how it kept measles under control. In the mid-1990s, the country instituted a robust vaccination program with low incidences of outbreaks, even by the standards of developed countries. In the early 2000s, it adopted a 2-step MMR immunization schedule and, after 2005, its vaccination rates were upwards of 95%. From 2011 through 2014, not a single case of the virus was recorded, leading the WHO to declare measles “eradicated” from Mongolia in November 2014.  

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Repurposing a Universally Installed EHR App Into an Effective COVID-19 Early Detection System

By SCOTT WEINGARTEN, MD

COVID-19 exposed our country’s lack of centralized coordination when it comes to managing and preventing disease spread. Today, our public health system relies on flawed data and obsolete technology that fails to accurately track current and suspected cases, risk stratify patients, monitor disease progression or predict future spread. Not only do these blind spots create opportunities for the disease to spread, they also undermine the ability to safely plan for economic recovery.

What may surprise some, though, is the fact that we don’t have to start from scratch in order to build an effective system that stems the spread of COVID-19. In large part, the infrastructure we need is already here.

In 2009, Congress passed the HITECH Act, which allocated roughly $30 billion for providers to purchase electronic health records (EHRs). As a result of this stimulus, EHRs went from relative obscurity to ubiquity, and today about 96 percent of all providers are users of EHRs. Five years later, Congress passed the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA), which requires healthcare providers to consult with an approved Clinical Decision Support Mechanism (CDSM) in order to receive reimbursement for advanced imaging procedures for Medicare beneficiaries. 

The net result of these two laws is that there is now visibility into nearly every patient-provider interaction in the United States at the moment that care is delivered, through more than a dozen CDSMs that have been certified by CMS. Although PAMA was intended for use with imaging, it’s not difficult to add on and repurpose decision support apps to conduct symptom surveillance for COVID, enabling healthcare workers to spot cases more reliably and earlier in the disease progression for prompt action.

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The Trump COVID Legacy: Bad Timing. Lots of Questions. Few Answers.

By MIKE MAGEE, MD

What a strange irony. Trump decides, full-bravado, to challenge China to a trade war just months before China unwittingly hatches a virulent pandemic that collapses our deeply segmented health care system and our economy simultaneously. And rather than cry “Uncle”, our President then fires the WHO just as their experts are heading to China to attempt to unravel the mystery of COVID-19.

With the ongoing, cascading catastrophe of Trump’s mishandling of COVID-19, it is easy to lose sight that the next pandemic (fueled by global warming, global trade, and human and animal migration) is just around the corner. And we haven’t even begun to nail down the origin story of this one.

Unraveling the transmission trail requires international cooperation. As one expert recently noted, “Origin riddles for other new infectious diseases often took years to solve, and the route to answers has involved wrong turns, surprising twists, technological advances, lawsuits, allegations of cover-ups, and high-level politics.”

What we do know is that there are originators, intermediate hosts, and human super-spreaders….and COVID-19 appears to have begun in China.  These are not new insights. We’ve seen this playbook before.

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COVID-19 & Fertility Care: Remote Monitoring Meets Fertility Benefits for Better At-Home Option

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Trying to achieve pregnancy with fertility treatments can be challenging, stressful, and expensive in the best of times — let alone a global pandemic. Since the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., fertility care has been basically “paused,” and women attempting to conceive have been left with a very different set of decisions and options for care than were available pre-pandemic. So, how does fertility care shift from the clinic to the home? Tammy Sun, co-founder & CEO of fertility benefits startup Carrot Fertility, and Lea Von Bidder, co-founder & CEO of Ava, a women’s health tech startup best-known for its ovulation tracking bracelet, stop by to talk about how they are redefining the how, when, and where of fertility care for greater success outside the doctor’s office.

What’s smart about this partnership? How the two companies are working together to build off the biometric data collected by Ava’s tracker, basically adopting a remote monitoring approach to collecting and analyzing data in the home in effort to either help optimize the chances of getting pregnant naturally, or better inform the IVF or other medically-assisted procedures that will return as options as the pandemic wanes. From the impact on would-be-parents and their employers to the sentiment of women’s health investors, we talk through the opportunities and challenges of expanding fertility care in the home.

Community Organizations Can Reduce the Privacy Impacts of Surveillance During COVID-19

By ADRIAN GROPPER, MD

Until scientists discover a vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, our economy and our privacy will be at the mercy of imperfect technology used to manage the pandemic response.

Contact tracing, symptom capture and immunity assessment are essential tools for pandemic response, which can benefit from appropriate technology. However, the effectiveness of these tools is constrained by the privacy concerns inherent in mass surveillance. Lack of trust diminishes voluntary participation. Coerced surveillance can lead to hiding and to the injection of false information.

But it’s not a zero-sum game. The introduction of local community organizations as trusted intermediaries can improve participation, promote trust, and reduce the privacy impact of health and social surveillance.

Balancing Surveillance with Privacy

Privacy technology can complement surveillance technology when it drives adoption through trust borne of transparency and meaningful choice.

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