Wire #72

  • Pandemic Quick Fixes: Omada Health CEO Sean Duffy recently took to the Health Datapalooza conference stage to share thoughts on why now is the time to take stock of what types of care delivery should be done virtually versus in-person to prevent pandemic “quick fixes” from becoming long term solutions that ignore fundamental cracks in the healthcare system. Duffy stressed the importance of pairing the right consumer experiences with the right patients, then developing tools that support these experiences rather than attempting innovation for innovation’s sake.
  • Depression Gaming: A recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that Akili Interactive’s video game therapeutic was effective in improving cognitive functioning in adults with major depressive disorder. The intervention group of 37 participants with moderate depression played the video game five days per week for six weeks, resulting in significant improvement in sustained attention compared with a control intervention. Although there was no difference in depression symptoms between the two groups, each improved from baseline, suggesting that the treatment originally designed for children with ADHD is also effective in addressing the cognitive impairments associated with depression.
  • Real Funding: Behavioral health app Real raised a $37M Series B round as it looks to add more therapists to its platform while developing new Pathways, which are therapist-created programs that serve as the product’s core feature. Pathways address issues such as relationships, anxiety, and body image with educational information and user exercises that unlock more advanced content when completed. For example, the Depression Pathway describes how the condition can have an impact both physically and emotionally, then directs the user to complete journaling and breathing exercises before continuing on the course.
  • Model Risk: Researchers at Tufts University recently performed 158 external validations of disease risk prediction models across three domains of cardiovascular disease (primary prevention, acute coronary syndrome, and heart failure), finding that many of the algorithms could be harmful when used in new patient populations. Over 90% of models had a risk of harm (net benefit below default strategy) at some threshold, which the authors cite as an important reminder to update a model’s intercept and calibration slope to mitigate these issues when applying them to new populations.
  • Information Blocking Loophole: The ONC’s annual meeting took place last week and drew headlines when HHS secretary Xavier Becerra committed to closing a policy loophole that prevents providers from facing federal penalties for information blocking. The current regulation imposes predefined consequences for health IT vendors that knowingly block patients’ access to their own data, but allows the Secretary to define any penalties for providers. Although Becerra didn’t give a timeline for addressing the issue, he said that closing the enforcement gap is now a top priority for the HHS.
  • Physician Comp Report: Medscape’s new Physician Compensation Report (n = 13k physicians, 29 specialties) showed that one fifth of all doctors saw their income drop over the past year, with nonphysician practitioners (25%), retail “minute clinics” (11%), and telemedicine (11%) cited as the competition having the largest impact on salaries. Interestingly, telemedicine and retail clinics didn’t make the list of compensation threats in the 2021 report, indicating that these factors are growing, or at least drawing more attention within the Medscape survey.
  • Facet Launch: Direct-to-consumer telehealth company Thirty Madison launched a new Facet service geared toward providing comprehensive care for skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Facet includes over 50 clinically backed treatments and care plans designed by board-certified dermatologists, as well as lab testing for patients with more severe conditions. The launch continues Thirty Madison’s rapid expansion following its merger with women’s health startup Nurx earlier this year, which doubled both the number of conditions the company supports as well as the number of patients on its platform.
  • Remote Neurointerventions: MIT engineers developed a telerobotic neurointerventional platform that might allow neurovascular surgeons to remotely treat stroke or aneurysm patients at smaller/rural hospitals that typically lack on-site neurosurgeons. The remote surgeons would use a modified joystick and real-time fluoroscopy to control a robotic arm that performs the on-site procedure. Although this platform is in its early stages, remote neurosurgeons were able to remotely guide an interventional wire to a targeted location in a phantom after just an hour of training.
  • 9am.health Series A: Virtual diabetes clinic 9am.health recently raised a $16M Series A round (total funding now $20M) to help grow its direct-to-consumer presence while expanding into the employer health plan market. To enable this expansion, 9am.health will use the fresh funding to build out its clinical services to include more medications while it continues to develop an ecosystem of medical device integrations and platform partners nationwide.
  • Self-Scheduling Barriers: A new JACR study revealed that the use of online self-scheduling portals for mammography screening appointments is extremely low, and its even lower among traditionally disadvantaged patients. Analysis of 46k patients who received screening mammograms at an urban academic medical center in 2019 revealed that only 302 patients used the self-scheduling system (0.7%), and those patients were much more likely to be English speakers (OR: 21.3), White (OR: 1.7), and have commercial coverage (OR: 1.5).

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-- The Digital Health Wire team