Wire #6

  • Telehealth Fraud: The National Law Review recently reported that rising telehealth usage is creating more openings for bad actors, causing over $6b in fraud losses since the beginning of the pandemic. Three telehealth companies were charged in May for their alleged participation in a $46m fraud pushing unnecessary cancer genetic tests on Medicare beneficiaries without any prior relationship, testing, or treatment follow up. The report recommends offering whistleblowers 15% – 25% of recovered payments to help combat rising fraud.
  • Unicorn Maven: Virtual women’s care provider Maven Clinic recently raised $110m of Series D financing at a valuation of over $1b, making it the sector’s first “unicorn.” The company, now with over $200m in total funding, plans to use the capital to expand into new patient populations and invest in improving its fertility, maternity, parenting, and pediatric offerings.
  • The Delta Slowdown: During its Q2 2021 earnings call, Amwell said that it anticipates fewer telehealth visits through the fall and winter as a result of the ongoing surge in delta variant cases. Although the pandemic originally led to a sharp rise in telehealth usage, Amwell stated that coronavirus-related protections such as mask wearing and social distancing will likely lead to a weaker than expected cold and flu season.
  • Automated Screening: The University of Toronto recently studied two weeks of smartphone data from volunteers to validate its use in screening for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), and depression. The study found that models of SAD and depression utilizing the data achieved a significantly greater screening accuracy than uninformative models, indicating that smartphone-collected data may contain sufficient information for detecting common mental health disorders without the need for clinician involvement.
  • RevSpring Expansion: Healthcare payment solution provider RevSpring recently debuted a trio of new offerings, including: PersonaPay (automated collections task prioritization), Arrived (automated patient intake), and OmniBrain (automated cohort-based patient engagement). The automation theme is clear in RevSping’s new launches, each seeking to increase efficiency by taking over labor-intensive processes.
  • Telehealth’s Hidden Costs: A new study from the University of Michigan found that physician-led in-person visits cost health systems an average $26.84, compared to $27.26 for virtual visits. While video visits were more efficient for patients, physicians spent more face-to-face time in video visits than in-person visits, challenging claims that telehealth increases daily patient volume.
  • Talkdesk Goes Global: Talkdesk is now valued at more than $10b after closing its $230b Series D ($497.5b total funding), a result of its growing share of the contact-center-as-a-service market. The company announced that the funding, along with its newly-appointed CFO Sydney Carey, will help to expand its international presence and address the worldwide demand for cloud contact center solutions.
  • Prisma Health & TytoCare: Prisma Health recently announced a new partnership with TytoCare to provide patients with a handheld kit for remote medical exams. TytoCare’s handheld kits allow patients to self-examine their heart, ears, throat, lungs, and temperature – enabling doctors to remotely diagnose and treat patients during Prisma Health telehealth visits.
  • eHealth Usability: A new study published in JMIR analyzed 8 datasets to develop an ontology of usability problems for eHealth applications with patients as the end users. The study classified 400 usability problems into 8 main categories (performance, task-technology fit, accessibility, interface, navigation, terminology, support, satisfaction), which can be used to support new eHealth tool development with a complete classification of end user problems.
  • CONNECT Act: The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act is gaining public support among new advocates such as Zoom, which called the legislation a “milestone in terms of access” in a recent letter to Congress. The CONNECT Act would amend the Social Security Act to remove geographic restrictions on telehealth services and permanently expand Section 1135 reimbursement waivers.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team