Wire #105

  • Amazon Care Behavioral Health: Amazon Care is now offering its members behavioral health services through a partnership with teletherapy startup Ginger. The service hasn’t launched yet, but a landing page provides some details: “Available nationwide, Ginger connects employees to behavioral health coaches, licensed therapists, and psychiatrists. For acute-to-moderate concerns, our Care coordinators refer patients to high-quality, in-network behavioral health providers whenever possible.”
  • May Telehealth Use: The correlation between telehealth use and COVID cases remained strong in May, with virtual visits rising 10.2% compared to April. The CDC’s weekly COVID case count climbed from 59k on May 1 to over 104k on May 31, which contributed to telehealth’s 5.4% share of all medical claim lines during the month (vs. 4.9% in April). Assuming the trend continues, expect another uptick in virtual visits when FAIR Health reports the June data in a few weeks.
  • Biofourmis Series D: Intel is investing $20M in digital health unicorn Biofourmis’ Series D extension, pushing the total value of the round to $320M. Biofourmis is taking a two-pronged approach to the healthcare market, leveraging its FDA-cleared data platform to fuel insights for both remote patient monitoring and the development of digital therapeutics. Check out our full coverage of the initial raise for all the details.
  • Mobile AFib Management: A study of 990 AFib patients (57-71 years old) showed that age and gender were significant predictors of adherence to an AFib RPM program. Participants used FibriCheck’s TeleCheck-AF app to perform heart rate/rhythm recordings three times per day for seven days prior to a teleconsultation appointment. Female participants were 70% more likely to demonstrate “optimal adherence,” while older participants were slightly more likely to stick to the program than younger patients (OR: 1.02).
  • Opening RN Bandwidth: EQUUM Medical CEO Dr. Corey Scurlock penned a great article in Forbes outlining how virtual nurses can help maintain care quality with a smaller direct workforce by assisting with tasks like reviewing orders and performing chart checks. The piece reinforces the need to focus on the entire clinical workforce chain, not just physicians, when looking for ways to reduce some of the friction points that negatively impact treatment.
  • Health Literacy Study: A JAMA study found that patients with low health literacy and those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods are more likely to participate in audio-only telehealth visits. Although this is a pretty well-documented topic, the authors note that the results are increasingly important as more payors begin requiring video for telehealth coverage.
  • UNC Health App: North Carolina-based UNC Health recently partnered with Gozio and WELL Health to roll out new mobile app features that resulted in a 443% increase in daily downloads. The app’s features include Gozio-powered wayfinding, WELL’s patient communications platform, and an appointment reminder upgrade that sends patients a link to download the UNC Health app when they confirm an appointment from a text reminder.
  • Difficult Care Guidelines: Primary care providers would need over 26 hours per day to follow national care guidelines for an average number of patients, according to a recent study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. That breaks down to 14.1 hours for preventive care, 7.2 hours for chronic condition management, 2.2 hours for acute care, and 3.2 hours/day for documentation and inbox management – although the researchers also estimated that a team-based model would reduce the total time down to 9.3 hours per day.
  • J&J Partners with HCA Healthcare: Two major healthcare players, Johnson & Johnson and HCA, are partnering to address key industry challenges with health equity, nursing support, and cardiovascular research. The duo’s cardiovascular initiatives will include a retrospective analysis of arrhythmia patients, as well as a project to understand the impact of digital health tools on coronary disease outcomes.
  • Breakthrough Devices: FDA breakthrough device designations looked poised for another record year, with 129 devices earning the designation through the midpoint of 2022. Devices are eligible for the designation if they have the potential to be “more effective” treatments to life-threatening conditions, and this year’s current velocity puts BDDs on pace to surpass last year’s record of 206 designations as more companies seek an expedited review pathway for full clearance (plus a healthy dose of perceived superiority).
  • Virtual Wards for HF Patients: In a meta-analysis of 24 randomized clinical trials (10,876 patients), heart failure patients who went to a “virtual ward” after medical discharge – consisting of at-home visits, telehealth appointments, and/or clinic visits – saw 14% fewer deaths and 16% fewer readmissions. Although virtual wards were generally associated with better outcomes and lower costs across all of the trials, fewer deaths and readmissions were interestingly only seen in trials enrolling patients with heart failure.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team