Wire #2

  • Vaccine Nudges: A recent UCLA study analyzed the language choices in text-based COVID-19 vaccination appointment reminders, finding that the most effective text language made patients “feel the vaccine was already theirs.” The study found no evidence that adding a second text nudge with information addressing vaccine hesitancy had any effect.
  • Postpartum Telehealth: A new study review in JMIR mHealth and uHealth found that telehealth interventions effectively reduce depression and anxiety among women with postpartum depression. Analysis of nine randomized controlled trials (n = 1,958 women) revealed that women with postpartum depression who received telehealth support had lower scores on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (mean = 2.99 lower) and anxiety scale (mean = 0.39 lower), even though those women had the same levels of social support and loneliness.
  • Aquiline Acquires Avera: Aquiline Capital Partners is purchasing Avera eCare (the telemedicine branch of Avera Health) for an undisclosed sum, renaming the spinoff Avel eCare when the deal closes in Q4 2021. Aquiline intends to accelerate Avera eCare’s digital growth and geographic expansion, with all 230 employees and CEO Deanna Larson staying through the buyout.
  • Fake News: The Federation of State Medical Boards recently issued a warning to physicians that spreading misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine would put them at risk of losing their medical license. The warning arrives shortly after the Biden administration addressed the rampant misinformation enabled by social media companies.
  • mHealth Interventions: A recent study out of Linköping University in Sweden investigated the effectiveness of behavior change interventions delivered by mobile phones vs. humans. It found that while mHealth solutions often provide generic information that hinders the development of a relational bond, this same robotic detachment has helpful clinical qualities such as eliminating treatment stigma and reducing patient embarrassment compared to talking with a human.
  • Digital Diagnostics: Warby Parker’s Virtual Vision Test app now requires only 10 feet of space and 10 minutes (it used to take twice as long and twice as much room), allowing users in 29 states to renew glasses prescriptions with just their smartphone. The company upgraded the app after finding itself restricting eye-exam traffic to maintain social distancing, saying that it wants to be at the forefront of digital diagnostics.
  • Equal Access: New research in JAMA Network Open found that improved access to smartphone internet plans did little to eliminate the digital divide of patient portal adoption for the >20% of US adults without broadband access. While the 21st Century Cures Act improved mobile patient portal access, the researchers note that other strategies like technology training are still needed.
  • AI Growth Forecast: Signify Research forecasts the global imaging AI market to reach $1.2b by 2025 (up from ~$375m in 2020), boosted by AI’s recent regulatory and reimbursement progress. However, the firm warned that AI needs to prove its clinical and economic benefits in order to reach its full potential, perhaps explaining why Signify has now reduced its AI growth forecast from last September ($1.5b by 2024).
  • Opioid App: A new study found that the opioid use disorder prescription app reSET-O helped lower patient healthcare costs by $2,385/person in the six months following the start of the treatment. reSET-O uses audio-visual therapy lessons designed to keep patients engaged in treatment and highlights the benefits of 24/7 patient access to behavioral treatments.
  • Private Practice Confidence: A new Kareo survey of 1,300 private medical practices found that physician sentiment is largely positive regarding the future of their business, with 75% expecting growth in 2021. Telehealth adoption was a leading reason for the positivity. 80% of practices are now offering ongoing telehealth treatment and 36% of practices reported at least half of their patient visits are now virtual.
  • Ultrasound Patch Advancement: UCSD researchers unveiled a wearable ultrasonic phased array patch that can monitor haemodynamic signals 14 cm beneath the skin and could eventually catch heart attacks or strokes before they happen. Although the patch currently needs to be tethered to a power source and computer to operate, a future wireless patch that continuously monitors cardiovascular conditions (at the point of care, or at home) could have a solid healthcare role.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team