Wire #22

  • Honor, Acquisitions, Funding: Within three months of acquiring Home Instead, care-at-home company Honor raised a massive $370m Series E round ($625m total funding) that it will use to invest in the tech platform supporting its recent acquisition. Honor’s latest blog post states that it is aiming to be “the global innovation engine for aging” while aggressively hiring to raise its care capacity, something that will be essential within an increasingly competitive care-at-home landscape following Best Buy’s acquisition of Current Health.
  • Cyberattacks & Misinformation: A Pearson Institute survey of US adults (n=1,071) found that 63% are “very concerned” about cyberattacks affecting healthcare systems, with 62% worried that the attacks could expose personal information such as health records or finances. Nearly all respondents (95%) also expressed concerns over the spread of health misinformation, an issue getting amplified coverage from the Facebook whistleblower testimony, although only 20% believe they have personally contributed to the spread of false content.
  • CrossFit Doctors: CrossFit announced the launch of a new virtual primary care service called CrossFit Precion Care (CPC), which offers personalized health plans and preventive medicine to the brand’s highly engaged user base. Created in partnership with telemedicine provider Wild Health, CPC isn’t designed to allow CrossFitters that tear an ACL during a workout to quickly jump into a telehealth call, instead it looks to help gym members optimize their health and fitness using “advanced labs, biomarker testing, and biometric tracking.”
  • Patient Education Videos: A new study in JMIR found that educational videos offered significant utility for 116 atrial fibrillation patients when viewed during pre-appointment waits, with median scores of 90 for improving patient decision-making, 90 for improving expected treatment adherence, and 89 for reducing consultation anxiety (100 point scale). The patient-reported improvements were highly efficient, using the sunk time cost of waiting to provide education without any additional clinician input.
  • Virgin Acquisition: Employer wellness company Virgin Pulse is acquiring consumer engagement platform Welltok for an undisclosed sum. Welltok works mainly with health plans to encourage people to take health actions, adding new markets to Virgin Pulse’s employer-focused operations. The acquisition also adds communication channels to Virgin Pulse’s existing digital-first solution through the integration of Welltok’s text, mail, and interactive voice response services.
  • Mount Sinai AI: The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai launched its Department of Artificial Intelligence and Human Health to drive healthcare transformation through AI research. The department is the first of its kind within a medical school in the US, and aims to leverage data from the health system’s eight hospitals to build AI-enabled tools for treatment and personalized care in clinical settings.
  • Financial Challenges: Data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard School of Public Health revealed that 18% of households faced care access issues in 2021, with 76% of those who faced issues reporting negative health consequences as a result. Although telehealth has helped bridge the care gap (used by 42% of households, 82% satisfaction), nearly two-thirds of telehealth users said they would have preferred an in-person visit for their last appointment, but are limited by their financial situation or other SDOH.
  • Optum Health Equity: Optum is entering into a decade-long partnership with SSM Health to enhance the nonprofit hospital manager’s inpatient care management, digital services, and revenue cycle management. The collaboration will include the implementation of clinical technology to make care delivery more equitable while co-developing a digital experience for improved patient access. SSM is Optum’s largest partner to date and over 2k SSM employees will become Optum employees through the collaboration.
  • App Study Design: Nature recently published a systematic review of chronic disease management app studies (n=69), finding that only around one-third of studies reported user or healthcare professional engagement. All studies adopted an RCT design, but short follow-ups and limited sample sizes produced insignificant findings for the majority. The review reinforces the need for more robust study development to determine whether results reflect true app benefits or a biased estimate.
  • The State of AI: Nathan Benaich and Ian Hogarth just published their extremely comprehensive 2021 State of AI Report, detailing the latest in AI research, talent, commercialization, and politics, plus some future predictions. Most of the report’s healthcare AI content focused on medical imaging and biotech, although the whole report is relevant if you’re in the AI space.
  • New Interoperability Standards: The ONC is partnering with CMS and the CDC on updated interoperability standards that build upon the United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) initiative adopted as part of the 21st Century Cures Act. The new program, aptly titled USCDI+, will work towards interoperability on datasets, certification criteria, and implementation specifications for hospital IT teams and federal partners.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team