Wire #14

  • Hospital Communication: Over half of all hospitals lack the ability to digitally exchange information with public health agencies, according to a recent ONC data brief. The analysis of data from the American Hospital Association highlighted the healthcare system’s challenges in tracking pandemic cases and immunization, finding that 70% of hospitals face at least one challenge in public health reporting. These challenges include costs and complexity (40%), absent vocabulary standards (19%), and difficulty with EHR data extraction (17%)
  • Leidos Leverages Nuance: Healthcare technology giant Leidos recently partnered with Nuance to incorporate conversational AI into its future patient engagement solutions for health systems and federal agencies. Leidos supports its clients with IT modernization and enhanced patient experiences, the exact type of problems that Nuance’s platform helps to solve. The new partnership helps to position Leidos as a durable response to changing patient needs as more providers begin to build out scalable engagement solutions.
  • HHS Gets Sued: RemoteICU, which connects physicians living abroad with US hospitals for telemedicine services, recently sued the HHS for not allowing reimbursement for critical-care telehealth if the specialist is located outside the country. RemoteICU claims that its overseas US-licensed physicians help to fill care gaps, alleviate hospital staff burnout, and save lives – benefits that are blocked by the HHS being “stuck in a 1960s view of medicine.”
  • Data Breach: Wearables API provider GetHealth recently had one of its databases named in a breach report, revealing that over 61m records from clients such as Apple and Fitbit were not password protected, exposing user information including name, weight, and location. Although the records were quickly secured, the leak added to an already long week for Apple, which began with another security scandal that made iMessage conversations vulnerable to attackers.
  • VA Modernization: The Department of Veterans Affairs recently issued a $1b “Remote Patient Monitoring – Home Telehealth” contract aimed at modernizing its virtual care system. The VA is seeking contractors for hardware, software, and data security. The telehealth contract is the biggest ever issued by the VA, and if fully utilized, will be larger than the combined value of its two current largest contracts with Iron Bow Technologies and Medtronic.
  • Risk Assessments: A study of 188 women published in JAMA Network Open investigated whether population screening for breast cancer risk is associated with increased use of mammography among women from minority groups. Researchers found that assigning personalized risk scores increased the group’s rate of annual mammograms from 37% to 51% due to what they labeled as a health beliefs model, which states that preventive screenings are directly correlated to perceived risk.
  • Babyscripts Series B: Maternity care app Babyscripts announced that it has raised $12m in Series B funding ($32m total funding) that will be used to expand the company’s risk-specific virtual solutions across the US, as well as develop care models specifically targeting payers. Babyscripts currently manages over 200k pregnancies across 30 states while collecting patient risk data to help address the 65% of maternal deaths that the CDC states are preventable.
  • RevSpring Automation: Patient financial engagement company RevSpring announced that its IVR Advantage solution is now integrated with Epic, allowing interactive voice responses to update patient records during a call. Automating this process enables hospital call center staff to save time and effort while also providing care teams with the consistent activity history needed to understand efficient engagement steps.
  • Nurse Practitioners: New research from the University of Pennsylvania found that hospitals with more nurse practitioners (NP) see better satisfaction scores and patient outcomes. The study looked at survey data from 579 hospitals, observing that hospitals with 3+ NPs/100 beds had significantly lower 30-day patient mortality odds than those with <1 NP/100 beds (odds ratio = 0.76), as well as fewer 7-day readmissions (odds ratio = 0.90). Additionally, staff in hospitals with higher NP/bed ratios reported lower burnout and higher job satisfaction, suggesting that NPs add value to existing labor resources.
  • Spok Takeover: Following a late-August acquisition attempt by activist hedge fund Starboard Value, clinical communication provider Spok is exploring “strategic alternatives” that include the sale of the company. Spok enables care team collaboration at over 2k hospitals and processes 100m messages every month, but saw 2020 revenue decline 8% to $148m. Spok’s strategic review suggests that management is seriously weighing an acquisition by Starboard Value, the same fund that succeeded in pressuring Cerner to improve operational efficiency in 2019.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team