Wire #27

  • Patient Language Study: A study of 87k home care patients in New York City in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found that patients with language barriers are at higher risk for hospital readmission, with 20.4% of non-English speakers seeing a 30-day readmission, versus 18.6% for English speakers. The findings suggest that care-at-home agencies may need specialized care coordination services to reduce readmission risk for these patients.
  • Brave Health Expansion: Virtual-first behavioral health provider Brave Health is expanding its digital services for Medicaid populations to 10 states and 65m covered lives following the completion of a $10m Series B financing round ($20.75m total funding). Brave Health offers a virtual alternative to traditional outpatient services like therapy and psychiatry, expanding access to behavioral health services while addressing the care gap created by the declining number of psychiatrists accepting Medicaid.
  • Upcoding Lawsuit: UnitedHealth is suing physician staffing company TeamHealth for allegedly upcoding for thousands of services worth approximately $100m. The two companies have a history of tense legal battles, with TeamHealth previously suing UnitedHealth on multiple occasions for underpayment. UnitedHealth is claiming in its latest suit that TeamHealth escalated its pursuit of profit following its acquisition by Blackstone in 2017, but that TeamHealth’s tactics have “crossed the line from aggressive profit maximization to fraud.”
  • EMR Adoption: A new study published in JMIR found that patient health characteristics directly affect the extent of EMR use. The researchers analyzed data collected by the Health Information National Trends Survey to determine which characteristics had the largest predictive value, finding that a patient’s number of chronic conditions, self-reported preventive health behavior, and caregiving status were all positively related to the extent of EMR use.
  • Truepill Series D: Digital pharmacy Truepill recently closed a $142m Series D round ($255m total funding) that it plans to allocate towards expanding its reach with health plans, hospitals, and employer groups. Truepill has been rapidly launching new services over the past year, adding both telehealth and at-home diagnostics tools to its consumer pharmacy solution, and white-labeling a virtual pharmacy e-commerce platform for use by other businesses.
  • Digital Health Governance: A report titled Governing Health Futures 2030: Growing Up In a Digital World from the Lancet and Financial Times Commission called for taking a value-based approach to digital health technology governance, stressing the need for regulation driven by public purpose, not private profit. The authors encouraged regulators to recognize technology as an important determinant of health from an early age, and to work towards establishing digital health priorities that create a strong health and wellness foundation for young children.
  • IVR Patient Experience: Nuance recently hosted a demonstration of its conversational AI platform for patient engagement, highlighting the benefits of interactive voice response (IVR) technology for creating seamless digital front doors with automated triage and scheduling. By allowing patients to state their need in a natural dialogue instead of having them select from a list of options, IVR removes much of the up-front friction that leads to longer service times and higher staffing burdens.
  • Smartwatch Virus Detection: Purdue University and digital health analytics company physIQ are partnering to develop an algorithm to detect early signs of viral infections, including COVID-19, from the biometric data collected by smartwatches. physIQ has similar solutions that utilize chest-based biosensors and believes that smartwatches can offer comparable performance by tracking a person’s heart rate variability, respiration during sleep, and activity levels.
  • AI Principles: The US FDA, Health Canada, and the UK MHRA published their 10 guiding principles for medical device “Good Machine Learning Practice,” setting the foundation for future international AL/ML regulatory collaborations (e.g. creating standards, resources, guidelines). The principles largely target: applying clinical expertise to product design, following software/security best practices, following training/evaluation/monitoring best practices, building for specific medical use cases and for AI+human operation, and providing users all necessary info.
  • ShiftMed Funding: ShiftMed recently raised $45m to assist with the national rollout of its workforce management platform that facilitates real-time access to over 60k credentialed health care professionals. The company has grown 400% over the past 15 months and now has relationships with over 700 enterprise partners, including hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health providers.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team