Wire #103

  • CVS Primary Care M&A: CVS Health’s Q2 earnings call had no shortage of major announcements, with CEO Karen Lynch stating that “we can’t be in primary care without M&A.” Lynch went on to say that primary care, provider enablement, and home health were all focus areas for the drugstore giant, and that transactions should be expected before the end of the year. As if that wasn’t big enough news, CVS also announced that it is working with Amwell on its new virtual primary care service that will give eligible Aetna and Caremark members access to on-demand care and chronic condition management through a single integrated experience.
  • Hypertension SDOH Barriers: A study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that social determinants of health have a significant impact on hypertension control. The study evaluated 3.3k patients on a one-year blood pressure control program, finding that hypertension control rates were higher for those without any SDOH barriers (73%) than for those with one barrier (60%) or two barriers (55%). Although the authors noted Black patients with poorly controlled hypertension had a higher prevalence of SDOH barriers, there were no racial differences in BP control when two or more SDOH barriers were present.
  • Clarify Advance Launch: Clarify Health launched its new Clarify Advance solution that aims to improve decision-making at the point of care by providing monetary incentives to clinicians for selecting higher-value sites of service. Clarify Advance leverages behavior change tech from its recent Embedded Health acquisition to deliver micro-targeted nudges during providers’ daily workflows, giving payors a tool to compensate clinicians for high-value decisions regardless of their current reimbursement model.
  • Behavioral Telehealth Report: Telehealth enabled a 26% increase in total outpatient behavioral health visits among Optum Behavioral Health plan members between 2019 and 2021, more than offsetting the sharp decline in office-based visits during the same period. Optum attributes the rise in behavioral health visits to a 32% increase in appointments where patients and providers were located in different states and a 22% increase in appointments where they were located in different counties within the same state.
  • Elevance + Aledade: Elevance Health is leaning into primary care through a new nationwide partnership with Aledade to help independent primary care practices within the payor’s network transition to value-based care. Aledade’s platform provides data analytics and guided workflows to assist PCPs with better managing high risk patients, and the VBC-enabler recently raised $123M in Series E funding to secure new partnerships exactly like this one.
  • The Playbook: DiMe and the Veterans’ Health Administration published an in-depth guide for health systems to help them deploy digital health solutions that improve care delivery. The Playbook: Digital Healthcare Edition outlines the value, risks, regulations, and successes of eight types of digital health solutions, each supported by its own case study and real-world evidence. If you haven’t yet taken a look at one of DiMe’s playbooks, this is the one to check out.
  • Automated Cancer Coordination: A PLOS Digital Health study of 127 liver cancer patients at a VA hospital found that an automated system for reviewing radiology reports improved timeliness of care. The EHR-linked system generated a queue of abnormal cases for review while allowing care coordinators to create lists of next steps / reminders. Over the course of the 5-year study, the system reduced mean time from diagnosis to treatment by 36 days, time from imaging to diagnosis by 51 days, and time from imaging to treatment by 87 days.
  • Ochsner Rush Health Merger: Louisiana-based Ochsner Health has finalized its merger with Rush Health Systems, adding seven hospitals and over 30 clinics in the east Mississippi and west Alabama region. The provider organization formerly known as Rush Health Systems will begin rolling out its new Ochsner Rush Health branding as it joins Ochsner’s portfolio of 40 hospitals, expanding access to specialty services and improving care quality through larger-scale programs and sharing of best practices.
  • Low Portal Engagement: A study of 139k patients that accessed their online portal at UAB found that only 47% interacted with their lab results section, while even fewer (27%) viewed their radiology reports. Although certain groups were more likely to use the patient portal (white, female, more educated), researchers couldn’t identify demographic explanations for why patients accessed the lab work and radiology report sections.
  • CareFirst’s Headway Partnership: The largest not-for-profit health plan in the mid-Atlantic region, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, is overhauling its mental healthcare infrastructure through an exclusive partnership with Headway. Providers in CareFirst’s network can now access Headway’s platform at no cost, easing their administrative burden while enabling CareFirst members to easily find their availability, treatment areas, and pricing
  • MIT’s Ultrasound Patch: MIT researchers developed a stamp-sized ultrasound patch that provides continuous imaging of blood vessels and internal organs. The researchers had volunteers wear the ultrasound patch for 48 hours while they performed various activities such as sitting and jogging, finding that it maintained adhesion and produced high-resolution images throughout the study. The team will next focus on supporting wireless operation, as it works towards its goal of making the patch as accessible as “Band-Aids at the pharmacy.”

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