Wire #45

  • Direct Diagnostic Testing: Providing direct patient access to diagnostic testing drives high levels of use for both web-based triage (61% who used web triage booked a test) and self-testing kits (83%), according to a systematic review of 45 studies recently published in JMIR. Across all studies, 81% of participants preferred home-based testing over clinic-based testing and 93% followed-up after a positive test (93%), which indicates that direct access to diagnostic testing could potentially lower patients’ threshold for testing and reduce primary care workloads.
  • Kiddo Series A: Pediatric chronic condition management company Kiddo closed a $16M Series A round ($22M total funding) to help grow its team and expand its partnerships with health systems. Kiddo’s platform integrates remote monitoring for children, a coaching app for parents, and on-demand telehealth services to treat conditions that require continuous management such as autism and diabetes.
  • Remote Kinematic Therapy: The AMA issued a new CPT III code for remote body and limb kinematic measurement-based therapy (code 0733T on page 5), widening the path to reimbursement for in-home physical therapies that are growing in popularity due to companies such as Hinge and SWORD Health. CPT III codes are intended to help collect clinical data for emerging treatments to support future regulatory decisions, but don’t have assigned RVUs, leaving coverage up to payors.
  • Telehealth Adoption Characteristics: A study of 3,473 physicians at Mass General Brigham investigated which physician characteristics were associated with early telehealth adoption in the first weeks of the pandemic, finding that female (OR 1.23), behavioral health (OR 2.92), and primary care (1.69) physicians were more likely to be early adopters. The findings suggest that physicians with these characteristics could be more likely to lead the virtual care transformation.
  • Waymark Funding: Community care company Waymark raised $45M to develop its platform supporting Medicaid populations, which see higher patient churn than Medicare due to members rotating out of the program as their employment status changes. Waymark’s solution to this problem involves hiring community health workers and equipping them with better training and care coordination software to improve outcomes.
  • Hospital Performance: November’s hospital performance data from Kaufman Hall showed operating margins up 8.1% from October, while still down 22.1% compared to pre-pandemic levels due to ongoing labor shortages and supply chain issues. While the report shows what could be considered a recovery in hospital performance, November’s data is largely prior to the recent surge in omicron cases, and worse results are expected in December.
  • Healthcare Consumerism: The Economist published an article exploring how healthcare is quickly turning into a consumer product, making the case that new technologies are replacing care middlemen with D2C models. Better data and an improving cloud infrastructure are given as examples of why we could be in the early stages of a transformation that’s likely to be “a negative prognosis for the hospital-industrial complex,” but a positive one for many patients.
  • Personalized Phone Calls: A Health Affairs study found that personalized phone calls during open enrollment increased enrollment by 2.7 percentage points among a sample of over 79k consumers. The largest improvements were seen in those below 150% of the federal poverty level (+4.0 percentage points) and those older than age 50 (+5.1 percentage points). The study was designed to inform the implementation of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which expands assisted coverage criteria.
  • Transcarent Reaches Unicorn Status: Employer-targeted healthcare platform Transcarent raised a $200M Series C round ($298M total funding), bumping its valuation to $1.62B less than a year after its launch in March 2021. Transcarent’s rapid growth highlights investors’ excitement surrounding the company’s fully at-risk model that provides patients with a 24/7 care experience without any premiums, which aims to create better alignment between employers and payors.
  • ONC Patient Address Standards: The ONC released Version 1.0 of Project [email protected], a technical specification for recording patient addresses. Formatting inconsistencies harm the ability of  healthcare organizations to accurately identify patients and track their records, so the new specification should help to improve patient matching and record linkage if widely adopted.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team