Wire #43

  • symplr + Midas: Healthcare operations company symplr recently acquired Midas Health Analytics Solutions for $340M, gaining access to its dataset of over 100M claims and 30k health indicators. symplr’s services are geared toward unifying traditionally fragmented healthcare operations solutions, and its aggressive M&A strategy (Midas was its 14th acquisition in the past six years) has helped it quickly expand its operations to 9 out of 10 US hospitals.
  • Equitable Outcomes: A Boston University study of sex-specific and race-specific pooled cohort equations (PCEs) for estimating cardiovascular disease risk found significantly different risk estimates for Black versus White individuals with otherwise identical risk profiles. The researchers caution against introducing race-related variations into clinical recommendations for cardiovascular disease prevention, and suggest that PCEs should replace race with “the causal factors that it represents” to ensure equitable outcomes.
  • How Telemedicine Ruined a Physician’s Career: An anonymous physician shared the story of how his telemedicine side gig ended with him being reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), leading to reputational damage and “financial devastation.” The piece was written to warn others about the NPDB, which was created to prevent physicians practicing bad medicine from going from state to state without being caught, but is now allegedly being used by telemedicine companies to pressure physicians into delivering inappropriate care.
  • Withings Body Scan: Withings recently took to the CES stage to reveal a new Body Scan smart scale with six-lead EKG readings, segmented body composition measurements, and foot nerve activity assessments. The Body Scan is equipped with a unique handle that allows it to measure body composition via bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), which will further blur the line between consumer product and medical-grade remote monitoring device when it becomes available later this year following regulatory clearance.
  • Access Challenges: A JAMA Health Forum study found, not too surprisingly, that pandemic-related factors reduced patient access to care, with 70% of forgone medical care due to “closed physician’s offices, reduced appointment availability, and fear of contagion.” An interesting takeaway from the study was that the likelihood of forgone medical care was three percentage points higher among those who reported feeling lonely or sad, possibly due to the pandemic exacerbating existing barriers to care for those with mental health challenges.
  • COVID Cancellations: The latest COVID surge is forcing a number of major hospitals to pause elective procedures (e.g. Cleveland Clinic, VCU Health, NIH Research Hospital, Advocate Aurora, U of Washington), putting digital health tools that relieve pressure from over-extended hospitals back in the spotlight. We’re also now seeing state governments assume a larger role in elective policies, including Massachusetts’ statewide order to pause/cancel electives and government-enforced pauses at over 20 New York state hospitals.
  • Tele-Rehab Survey: A recent survey of 247 UK-based rehabilitation practitioners found that 84% had done telehealth consultations (up from 13% in March 2020), citing benefits such as reduced risk of infection (78%) and decreased travel (58%). Despite widespread adoption, 34% expressed concerns surrounding the reliability of video-based assessments, and only 19% had received any formal training on remote rehab, highlighting a need for improved guidance in remote physical assessments. Researchers from the University of Plymouth, in collaboration with local health Trusts, have developed a publicly accessible Telerehab Toolkit of resources to provide guidance on telerehabilitation, designed to support health and social care practitioners in the remote assessment and management of people with movement impairment and disability, including people recovering from COVID-19.
  • DIY Ultrasound: Clalit Health Services (Israel’s largest health service organization) will provide Pulsenmore personal ultrasound systems to thousands of fertility treatment patients, allowing them to perform self-examinations at home and transmit their scans to Clalit’s fertility clinicians. DIY ultrasound is a pretty futuristic idea for most of us, but it seems to be becoming mainstream with Clalit and Pulsenmore, who already operate a similar fetal ultrasound partnership that’s allowed expecting mothers to perform and transmit nearly 15k fetal ultrasounds so far.
  • CareMetx Acquires HCS: Specialty medication company CareMetx acquired Human Care Systems (HCS), which helps patients with complex diseases improve their medication management. The acquisition enables CareMetx to have a wider impact on the patient journey from initiation to adherence by adding services that address treatment barriers for specialty therapies.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team