Wire #18

  • Right On Cue: Diagnostic equipment company Cue recently IPO’d on the Nasdaq, raising $200m and dashing the hopes of any healthcare founders planning on claiming the ticker symbol HLTH. Cue was founded in 2010 with the goal of developing an at-home flu test, but found major success last year after its portable COVID-19 test was approved by the FDA, leading to a $481m contract with the Department of Defense. The company plans to use the IPO proceeds to expand its testing capabilities and production capacity.
  • FDA Transparency: In a move to increase regulatory transparency, the FDA recently published a database of all AI and machine learning-enabled medical devices. The publicly available list includes 343 products approved since 1997. Although the FDA was the body that approved the devices, it mentions that it compiled the list from sources such as Nature and The Medical Futurist, and will only update it on a periodic basis.
  • Ransomware Impact: A survey of 597 healthcare IT professionals from the Ponemon Institute found that healthcare system ransomware attacks are leading to increased mortality rates, with 25% of respondents reporting an increase in patient deaths following an attack. Over the past two years, 67% of health delivery organizations experienced a ransomware attack, driven in part by the growing number of third parties contractors with access to sensitive information (up 30% annually). Ransomware is typically discussed in terms of economic impact, but these findings indicate that mortality also needs to be a part of the conversation.
  • Meru Health Series B: Digital mental health is continuing to attract investment at a blazing pace, with Meru Health securing $38m in a recent Series B round ($51m total funding). Meru offers a 12-week virtual therapy program that addresses depression and anxiety, as well as holistic treatments for interconnected issues such as nutrition and sleep. The company will use the funds to expand access to its new coaching solution intended to help people with early signs of depression and burnout before the symptoms worsen.
  • Rush the Dispatch: Rush University System for Health and in-home care provider DispatchHealth recently partnered to bring high-acuity care to the Chicago area. The partnership is focused on expanding care delivery options for patients who often struggle with access to services. Rush patients will now be able to request on-site DispatchHealth medical teams equipped with diagnostics and treatments, which will help the health system deliver a better patient experience while reducing readmissions.
  • Telehealth Disparities: New research in JAMA Ophthalmology studied claims data for 1,911 ophthalmologic patients collected during 2020, finding that disparities in telehealth care delivery existed during the onset of the pandemic. Factors associated with decreased telehealth usage included male sex (OR 0.86), Black race (OR 0.69), not speaking English (OR 0.63), and an educational level of high school or less (OR 0.83). The researchers conclude that understanding the causes of these disparities might help those who need access to virtual care.
  • ivermectin Trends: New Komodo Health analysis leveraged the company’s Healthcare Map (database of de-identified patient data tracking US healthcare journeys) to investigate ivermectin usage between January 2019 and May 2021, finding that prescription rates have increased 70% following a post-pandemic surge. Despite the medication being used primarily for veterinary and dermatological conditions, the specialties with the greatest increase in ivermectin claims were physical rehabilitation and anesthesiology, seeming to imply off-label use of the medicine.
  • At-School Care: Pediatric telehealth company DotCom Therapy recently partnered with at-school care provider Goodside Health to improve access to mental health services for schools and children. DotCom’s team of licensed therapists are now available to GSH patients with elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety. The service is provided “at little to no cost to the school district” due to DotCom and GSH identifying resources to cover the care (obtaining grants, ESSER Funds) and advocating on behalf of schools and families.
  • Patient Engagement Study: A new study published in JMIR investigated patient engagement (PE) patterns among 2,129 users of a hypertension self-management app, finding that compliance follow-ups significantly improved PE. Researchers noted that once blood pressure was reduced, patients with low PE tended to stop using the app, resulting in an increase in blood pressure. This may give evidence that controlling BP requires continuous engagement in hypertension self-management.
  • Maps Upgrades: Google recently updated its “Search” and “Maps” tools to show more information on healthcare provider profiles, including coverage options and whether language assistance is offered. It will also allow healthcare businesses to manage the information about their practices by adding details related to telemedicine and remote care. Google has recently added several other health features to its core offerings, including Maps tools that help users check how crowded public transit is or find vaccination stations.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team