Wire #66

  • Amazon Leaked Audio: Elsewhere in big tech news, leaked audio of an Amazon all-hands meeting obtained by Business Insider showed an Amazon employee asking CEO Andy Jassy to share the innovations that most excited him at the company. Without much hesitation, Jassy revealed Amazon Care as his top pick, saying that on-demand telehealth has the ability to significantly improve healthcare’s current long wait times and unpredictable scheduling. He added that 10 years from now today’s standard experience of seeing a doctor will look “crazy.”
  • Measuring Telehealth: The American Medical Association’s 2021 Telehealth Survey Report found that most clinicians measure the value of their telehealth services in terms of patient satisfaction (50%) and access to care (48%). Out of the 1,558 physicians surveyed, only 17% measured telehealth on its ability to reduce expenses while just 15% focused on health equity. Even more surprisingly, the AMA found that one-third of practices aren’t currently measuring the value of telehealth at all.
  • Antidote Funding: Antidote Health recently received $22M in Series A funding to continue expanding its 24/7 telehealth services for primary care, pediatrics, hypertension, and mental health. The company’s ultimate goal is to become “the first digital HMO for the US population,” providing care and coverage under one roof. Although Antidote has yet to become licensed to offer health plans, it believes that its day-to-day patient data will give it a leg up against traditional payors that usually manage care from a retrospective point of view.
  • Physician Affiliations: Patients who had telehealth visits from vendor-supplied physicians had 2.3-times higher odds of being prescribed antibiotics than those seen by health system-employed physicians, according to new research published in the Sage Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. Of 257 telemedicine visits for acute respiratory infection, affiliated physicians prescribed antibiotics 18% of the time, compared to 37% for vendor physicians. The authors note that the study is not meant to highlight whether telehealth is more of a problem than in-person care, but that physician affiliation may be important to incorporate into antibiotic guidelines for telehealth.
  • Alife Series A: Fertility startup Alife became the second IVF treatment guidance software company of the week to raise a $22M Series A round. Alife plans to support clinical decision-making in the IVF process through three products, all of which have yet to reach the market. The first is Stim Assist, which helps clinicians make informed decisions about egg retrieval. The second is a patient-facing app designed to help users understand their treatment. The final product is called Embryo Predict, which analyzes patient embryos to help embryologists prioritize them for transfer.
  • Pulse Oximetry Review: A recent systematic review of 13 studies published in The Lancet Digital Health found that pulse oximeters are helpful in the early identification of health deterioration in COVID-19 patients. Based on the findings, the researchers gave several recommendations for using pulse oximeters, such as using a 92% blood oxygen level as a predefined cutoff indicating that a patient should seek medical care. Despite the promising results, more work still needs to be done to compare RPM with pulse oximetry’s impact on health outcomes compared with other monitoring models such as regular consultations.
  • Kidney Care Merger: Dialysis giant Fresenius Medical Care is merging its US value-based care division with nephrologist network InterWell Health and digital kidney care startup Cricket Health to form a new $2.4B company focused on chronic kidney care. The merger aims to drive business growth by combining Fresenius’ dialysis centers with Cricket’s AI technology and InterWell’s network of 1,600 nephrologists, allowing Fresenius to move further up the renal care delivery chain to begin managing patients with early stage kidney disease before they need dialysis.
  • SDOH Survey: A recent survey of over 1,500 physicians from the Physicians Foundation found that nearly all respondents recognize that social determinants of health impact patient outcomes, but 61% do not have the time or resources needed to effectively address SDOH. When asked about the interventions needed to support physicians with SDOH, the most commonly cited items were more reimbursement for efforts to address SDOH, additional community resource investment, and a reduction of administrative burdens.
  • Recora Debut: Heart health startup Recora emerged from stealth with $20M in funding while unveiling its Cardiac Recovery Program for health systems, medical groups, and health plans. The program includes around-the-clock access to a dedicated team of physicians and health coaches, a personalized program of educational tools and support groups, and connected monitoring devices with an LTE-equipped tablet to record the data. The virtual-first approach is aimed at improving participation in cardiac rehabilitation beyond the 16% of eligible patients that have historically entered such programs.
  • Inpatient Care’s Decline: Moody’s released a new report stating that the pandemic has accelerated the decline of inpatient care, with hospital outpatient revenue exceeding inpatient revenue every year since 2016. The firm predicts that this trend will continue gaining momentum in the face of reimbursement changes and the rise of virtual care, pressuring systems without at-home acute care models in place, and leaving sustained demand for inpatient services to the hospitals with a strong focus on complex care.

You're signed up!

It's great to have you as a reader. Check your inbox for a welcome email.

-- The Digital Health Wire team