Wire #23

  • Improving Hypertension: Researchers at UC San Francisco enrolled over 28k participants into Hello Heart (at-home blood pressure [BP] monitoring paired with a patient engagement app) between 2015 and 2020, marking the first long term study of a digital health application for BP management that produced clinically meaningful results. The study found that combining health coaching with RPM lowered BP in 53%-85% of patients depending on baseline hypertension severity, improving upon past studies that found BP self-monitoring is insufficient to lower BP without other co-interventions.
  • Conversational AI Funding: Digital chronic condition management company Lark Health closed $100m in Series D funding ($185m total funding), which it will use to deepen its health coaching platform’s virtual care integrations with health plans and payers. Lark’s platform leverages conversational AI to help users manage chronic conditions in a personalized way and at a lower cost than traditional in-person services.
  • EHR Use Predicts Turnover: A study of 314 physicians published in JAMA Network Open investigated which EHR use metrics were associated with physician departure, finding that inbox time (odds ratio, 0.70) and demand (ie, proportion of available appointments filled: OR 0.49) were linked to turnover. Counterintuitively, less time spent on the EHR was associated with physician turnover (OR 0.96), suggesting that tracking the metric could identify physicians at high risk of departure.
  • Last Mile Healthcare: On-demand care provider Sprinter Health raised a $33m Series A round ($38m total funding) to help build its team of mobile nurses and phlebotomists providing in-home lab draws, vitals checks, and COVID-19 testing. Sprinter is looking to become the “DoorDash for lab draws” by removing the limits of remote care with physical access to patients when needed.
  • National Insomnia Treatment: Scotland recently became the first country in the world to make digital therapeutics for anxiety and insomnia available nationally, offering all adults unlimited access to Big Health’s cognitive behavioral therapy apps Daylight (anxiety) and Sleepio (insomnia) as part of their NHS services. Nearly 70% of Big Health users in Scotland have gained seven additional hours of sleep per week, and the success of the strategy could provide a blueprint for future digital therapeutics partnerships.
  • Provider Selection: Kyrus’ 2021 Patient Access Journey Report shows that consumers prefer digital channels when finding healthcare, with 60% of the survey’s 1k respondents conducting online research when looking for a new provider. While healthcare delivery organization websites (60%) remain the top resource for provider research, health plan websites are gaining popularity (52%, up 10% from 2020), underscoring the need for a strong digital experience to supplement patient access efforts.
  • Automated Documentation: Following a successful year-long pilot, the University of Michigan Health-West is expanding its use of the Nuance Dragon Ambient eXperience (DAX) to its entire primary care group, offloading physician administrative tasks to the automated clinical documentation solution. After using DAX, 79% of physicians report improved documentation quality, while 81% of patients say their physician is more focused during visits.
  • Care Gaps: According to research from Parks Associates, 27m US households were unable to visit a physician in the first half of 2021, highlighting the persistent care gap that telehealth looks to fill. Of the 64% of households that had used telehealth over the previous 12 months, 34% used the service because it was the only way to see their provider, although the 28% that cited convenience (up from 22% in 2020) signals that users are beginning to turn to virtual visits as a more normalized care option.
  • Continuous Monitoring API: Garmin just became the first partner to utilize Dexcom’s recently FDA-cleared API that allows third-parties to view data from the company’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM). Garmin users can now easily monitor their glucose levels via the Dexcom Connect IQ smartwatch app, taking advantage of a recent CMS coverage change that eliminated a requirement for patients to perform frequent self-monitoring blood glucose tests as a prerequisite for initiating CGM use.
  • Advanced Care at Home Coalition: A group of healthcare organizations helmed by Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente announced the launch of the Advanced Care at Home Coalition, aimed at extending existing hospital-at-home federal waivers to ensure continuity of care following the pandemic. The coalition hopes to establish a new delivery model through the CMS Innovation Center that will enable the implementation of a long-term remote care framework while delivering quality outcomes and health equity.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team