Wire #15

  • Telehealth Fraud: The DOJ recently filed criminal charges against 138 defendants, including 42 licensed medical professionals, for their alleged participation in various healthcare fraud schemes. Of the $1.4b in alleged losses, telehealth accounted for over $1.1b, greatly overshadowing the $29m involving COVID-19 related schemes. The telemedicine cases are connected to 43 defendants and are being pursued in part due to the “Operation Brace Yourself” Telemedicine and Durable Medical Equipment Takedown, which has avoided over $1.9b in fraudulent Medicare activity in the 20 months since the initiative began.
  • Gen Z Prefers In-Person Visits: A recent University of Michigan survey published in Telemedicine and e-Health (n=1,129) found that half of Gen Zers prefer in-person visits to telehealth, saying that virtual visits didn’t feel as effective as face-to-face. Despite being a digitally native generation, Gen Zers felt that the lack of ability to take vital signs or do physical exams remotely were drawbacks of telehealth. For remote visits, 68% of Gen Zers preferred video calls over telephone-only (28% preferred), claiming that seeing their provider allowed them to have a more personal connection with their provider or show them something if needed.
  • IncludeHealth + ProMedica: Virtual physical therapy provider IncludeHealth recently partnered with ProMedica Health System to launch its MSK-OS platform, which was developed alongside Google to treat musculoskeletal patients remotely. MSK-OS uses the patient’s camera and machine learning to determine if exercises are being performed correctly, then offers recommendations to improve performance. ProMedica, which covers 11 hospitals across Ohio and Michigan, is now IncludeHealth’s largest partner, and will work with IncludeHealth to develop the virtual care platform using lessons learned from its patients.
  • Fitbit Snoring: The Fitbit Versa 3 and Sense are now equipped with a microphone-enabled “Snore & Noise Detect” feature that does pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Both wearables will analyze sound intensity while the user is sleeping to create a snoring activity report for Fitbit Premium members. The report includes “snoring during sleep” as a percentage, as well as an average decibel level for snores, which could be used in the early detection of health conditions such as sleep apnea.
  • Adolescent Patient Portals: A new study of 3,429 adolescent patient portals in JAMA Network Open found that over half of the accounts were accessed by patient guardians, raising questions about confidentiality violations. The researchers report that compliance with federal regulations such as the 21st Century Cures Act requires a reliable mechanism to share protected health information with adolescents without guardian knowledge, a need that is frequently violated with current systems.
  • Definitive Healthcare IPO: Health-tech commercial intelligence company Definitive Healthcare went public last week on the Nasdaq exchange, offering 15.6m shares at $27 each. The IPO was another healthy sign for the sector, with the stock surging over 75% to $48 per share in its three days of trading as both retail and institutional investors bid up the shares. Definitive Health raised $420m with the stock sale, which it will use to accelerate development of its healthcare analytics offerings.
  • FTC Health App Warning: The Federal Trade Commission issued a warning stating that the Health Breach Notification Rule applies to companies that make apps that collect health data, meaning that developers must immediately inform the FTC of any data breach. The warning arrives within a week of a GetHealth security breach that left over 61m health records from companies like Apple and Fitbit exposed to theft. No existing rules were changed in the warning, but recent events apparently prompted the FTC to reiterate existing policies.
  • Digital Measurement Study: The Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) recently published a metastudy raising concerns over the lack of safety research related to health measuring products. After reviewing 4,250 articles related to digital sensing technologies such as smartphones and wearables, researchers found that the three most underrepresented areas of research were ethics (n=0), security (n=1), and data rights (n=1). The lack of research in these subareas prompted researchers to call for a coordinated academic effort to establish the field of digital clinical measures as an evidence-based field of study.
  • FDA Approved Gaming: After becoming the first FDA approved video game in June 2020, EndeavorRx is now available on Android devices. Developed by digital therapeutic company Akili, EndeavorRx is designed to help treat ADHD in children ages 8-12 by requiring players to navigate a character through courses while managing multiple tasks simultaneously. Akili has over $301m in total funding and plans to expand its therapeutic gaming portfolio to treat other cognitive disorders in the coming year.
  • SymphonyRM Becomes Actium Health: Patient engagement services provider SymphonyRM recently rebranded as Actium Health, which “represents the company’s differentiators and reinvigorates its mission” to foster patient relationships with data. Actium Health uses data-driven modeling to allow health systems to extract more value from existing patient information, enabling them to prioritize next best actions and improve communications.

You're signed up!

It's great to have you as a reader. Check your inbox for a welcome email.

-- The Digital Health Wire team