Wire #29

  • Notable Series B: Healthcare automation company Notable raised a $100m Series B round ($119m total funding) to build out its platform that leverages AI to continually scan provider EHRs and other applications to identify automated workflows to perform (pre-visit registration, authorization requests, patient reminders). Notable aims to impact the $1t of annual administrative burden involved with manual and repetitive workflows, an area that’s been getting a lot of attention as the healthcare worker shortage continues.
  • Data Trust Issues: A survey of 100 healthcare executives from medical technology company InterSystems found that 85% of organizations see data analytics as key to achieving strategic objectives, yet only 20% fully trust the data that informs their decisions. Respondents pointed to integration and interoperability as the greatest barriers to successful analytics. These struggles were more common for larger health systems with extensive data sets, making them more likely to invest in data solutions due to their greater needs.
  • Eliminating Health Disparities: The American Telehealth Association launched the first phase of its initiative to assess how telehealth can help eliminate health disparities in the US, which involved forming an advisory board of dozens of healthcare organizations co-chaired by Optum, GEHA Health, and MCIC Vermont. Over the next year, the group will outline a series of steps designed to improve access to care by addressing barriers such as connectivity and health literacy.
  • Rheumatology’s In-Person Advantage: The UK’s rheumatology clinicians and patients largely prefer in-person consultations over telemedicine. Surveys and interviews completed between April 2021 and July 2021 (n = 111 / 29 clinicians, 1,340 / 31 patients) revealed that many clinicians and patients felt that telemedicine was worse than face-to-face for building trust (90% & 69%), clinicians’ ability to listen (50% & 50%… <10% rated it better), and assessment accuracy (93% & 86%). As expected, many viewed telemedicine visits to be more convenient (60%).
  • Wellinks COPD Funding: Wellinks recently closed $25m in Series C funding ($43m total funding) that it will use to continue developing its virtual solution for treating chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The company integrates hardware such as pulse oximeters with a mobile app for reporting symptoms and connecting with rehabilitation coaches, an all-in-one solution that could give the company an advantage over more fragmented products.
  • Digital Health Equity: A new viewpoint from researchers at UC San Francisco provided a socioecological framework for digital health equity that takes into account domains such as communities and public policy, while providing examples of inequitable system design. As an example, although many digital solutions are targeted at patients with diabetes, few studies evaluate the effectiveness of such solutions in marginalized populations who experience a disproportionate burden of chronic disease in the US.
  • AI Assistant Scheduling: Cleveland-based health system University Hospitals, which operates 150 hospitals, outpatient centers, and primary care facilities, is deploying an AI-powered virtual assistant from Interactions to help field the 1.7m scheduling calls it receives each year. The assistant is designed to capture intent, identify + authenticate, then help provide scheduling self service for patients in order to reduce wait times and accidental misdirections.
  • mHealth Depression Study: A recent study in JMIR mHealth and uHealth equipped 122 youth participants with an app that recorded activity data over 2 weeks to determine if there was an association with depression, finding that depressive symptoms correlated with more time spent stationary (r=0.293), less mobility (r=0.271), and fewer outgoing calls (r=−0.244). The work indicates that passively collected data may help with earlier detection of depression in youth without the need for specialist visits.
  • Telehealth Use: FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker showed that telehealth use among privately covered individuals rose 2.4% month-over-month in August, with the South significantly outpacing other regions through a 12.9% gain. COVID-19 also entered the top five national telehealth diagnoses for the first time since January 2021, which might suggest that the increase in telehealth use has been propelled by patients seeking a care venue with a lower risk of disease transmission
  • Hospital Margins Decline: Kauffman Hall’s latest National Hospital Flash Report showed that median hospital operating margins declined 18% from August to September, primarily due to lower inpatient and outpatient volumes as the pandemic causes many to defer care. Total hospital expenses remain elevated at 10% above prepandemic levels as labor shortages and supply chain issues add further pressure to margins, trends that are unlikely to subside in the near term.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team