Wire #107

  • Akili’s Public Debut: Over half a year after Akili Interactive announced plans to go public via a SPAC merger, the therapeutic video game developer has begun trading on the Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol “AKLI.” The listing follows a successful vote from shareholders of Social Capital Suvretta Holdings Corp I, one of several SPACs helmed by high profile venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya, netting the company $163M to support the launch of its FDA-cleared EndeavorRx video game treatment for children with ADHD.
  • Health Plan Challenges: HealthEdge’s Voice of the Market Survey of 300 health plan execs found that the top two challenges currently faced by payors are managing costs (46%) and driving operational efficiencies (41%), a dramatic jump from their fourth and fifth positions last year. Although inflation typically impacts healthcare costs later than other sectors due to the multi-year nature of payor-provider contracts, the survey indicates that more health plans are beginning to prioritize the issue by making significant investments in innovation (53%) and improving their engagement strategies (52%).
  • UCHealth Augmented Reality Dogs: Colorado-based UCHealth might just have the feel-good healthcare story of the week as it rolls out new augmented reality app features that allow patients in its waiting rooms to play with virtual dogs before their appointments. Nicole Caputo, UCHealth’s senior director of experience and innovation, told HealthcareITNews that the health system is building a rich content library that brings joy to the patient experience, because if a patient gets too overwhelmed, “we are not doing our job.”
  • Same-Day Feedback: A BMC-published survey of 185 women who attended a mammography found that sharing the results during the same appointment improved the screening experience for 48% of the women. Interestingly, 47% reported no significant difference, while 5% reported that the process made their experience worse (potentially due to long wait times for results).
  • Connected BP Monitors: Despite the rapid rise in smartphone-linked blood pressure monitors, a JAMA Internal Medicine study found that connected devices aren’t superior to traditional BP cuffs at treating hypertension or improving patient satisfaction. The study of 2.1k patients revealed that the change in systolic blood pressure from baseline to six months was almost identical in users of smartphone-linked BP monitors compared to traditional cuffs (10.8mm Hg vs. 10.6 mm Hg), and there was equally little difference in their willingness to recommend the device to a friend (70% vs. 69%).
  • Nuance & Covera’s Quality Collaboration: Nuance and Covera Health announced the launch of their Quality Care Collaborative program, combining Covera’s clinical intelligence platform and Nuance’s Precision Imaging Network. The alliance will use Covera’s quality assessment capabilities and Nuance’s analytics and infrastructure to give payors, providers, and employers a foundation for their radiology quality improvement initiatives and value-based care efforts.
  • Tablets Unused by Veterans: The VA’s Video Connect program recently distributed 41k iPads to veterans to use for telehealth appointments without effectively tracking device issuance, use, or returns. As you might expect, an audit report by the OIG found that 51% of the iPads were never used for their intended purpose, although they have been successful in racking up $258 in unlimited cellular data costs per device each year ($10.6M annually).
  • Caregility + Eko: Telehealth solution provider Caregility is partnering with Eko to enable physicians to perform high-quality auscultation (heart, lung, and other body sounds) on patients during virtual physical exams. Eko’s smart stethoscopes now seamlessly integrate with Caregility’s iConsult application, giving users access to a live-stream of stethoscope sounds with real-time phonocardiogram and electrocardiogram waveform visualization.
  • CareHarmony Raises $15M: Virtual care coordination startup CareHarmony secured $15M in Series A funding (total funding now $17M) to further development on its platform that uses AI to analyze patient data and provide personalized care plan recommendations. CareHarmony partners with hospitals to enable value-based care through programs such as the Medicare Shared Savings Program, which are mandating high-revenue hospitals to adopt downside risk on increasingly shorter timelines.
  • Virtual Visit Satisfaction: A Deloitte survey of 2k Americans found that 49% of respondents participated in at least one virtual visit in the past year, with 92% saying they’re very or somewhat satisfied with virtual care (up from 82% in 2021). Respondents attributed the improved satisfaction to virtual care benefits such as convenience and reduced risk of COVID exposure, but continued to report challenges with lack of human connection and difficulty of collecting vitals.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team