Wire #77

  • Hello Heart Funding: Cardiac digital therapeutics company Hello Heart closed a $70M Series D funding round to support “significant growth in customer demand” after doubling its number of employer clients in the last three months alone. The press release left the total client count a mystery, but did reveal that the solution is now available to “millions of members.” Hello Heart’s program includes a wireless blood pressure cuff and a mobile app that helps track metrics such as pulse, medications, and weight, then delivers personalized recommendations to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Detecting Weak Heart Pumps: This week brought more good news for cardiac patients after Mayo Clinic announced that it successfully developed an AI algorithm that can interpret single-lead EKG tracings from an Apple Watch to identify patients with a weak heart pump (left ventricular dysfunction). The algorithm was trained on 125k Apple Watch EKGs from over 2,400 participants, resulting in a final AUC of 0.88 that makes it as good or slightly better than a medical treadmill test. If verified, the algorithm could enable consumer grade wearables to help diagnose weak heart pumps outside of the medical setting, allowing for earlier treatment of the potentially fatal condition.
  • ‘Creepy’ Data Sharing: Mozilla recently conducted an investigation of 32 popular mental health and prayer apps, finding that 28 raise serious data management concerns while 25 fail to meet minimum security standards. Despite dealing with sensitive issues, the report alleges that these apps routinely share personal data to target users with advertising. Mozilla’s lead privacy expert leaned on some colorful language to describe the apps, calling them “exceptionally creepy” and “negligent and craven.” We won’t name any names, but for those that are curious the full list features several high profile companies.
  • TytoCare + Rochester Regional: TytoCare has been rapidly inking new partnerships with health systems looking to expand their virtual care services with remote exam capabilities, and New York-based Rochester Regional Health recently joined the roster while gaining exclusivity to the solution in Western New York. TyoCare’s FDA-approved handheld device and EHR-integrated app enable comprehensive remote physical exams (heart, skin, ears, throat, abdomen, lungs), improving telehealth’s ability to serve as a viable modality for primary care and chronic condition management.
  • Workplace Mental Health: Headspace Health recently released its annual report on workplace mental health, finding that employers are pulling back on mental health benefits at the exact moment employees need them most. While 71% of employees say their company increased focus on mental health because of the pandemic, only 25% say they’ve kept that focus up. This has resulted in 67% of employees feeling that their organization doesn’t do enough to support their mental wellbeing, which could make mental health benefits a strong differentiator for employers looking to attract and retain talent.
  • Withings RPM: Withings Health Solutions recently unveiled its new remote patient monitoring solution dubbed Withings RPM, which leverages the manufacturer’s connected devices (smartwatches, smart scales, thermometers, blood pressure cuffs) to track patient metrics such as activity and sleep patterns. Although the RPM market has grown increasingly crowded over the past few years, Withings thinks that the “missing ingredient” is attention to simplicity and a focus on the patient experience, which is why it’s positioning Withings RPM as the easiest monitoring solution to setup and manage for both patients and providers.
  • Hospital Financial Challenges: Health systems have lost billions since the beginning of the pandemic, with a new American Hospital Association report showing that 33% of hospitals are currently operating with negative margins. The report attributes the strain to, you guessed it, labor shortages and an increased dependence on contracted nursing staff. Travel nurses accounted for a median of 4.7% of total nurse labor expenses in 2019, compared to a median of 38.6% in January.
  • Luma and Change Partnership: Luma Health is entering a strategic partnership with Change Healthcare to create new patient engagement solutions that “seamlessly connect every touchpoint across the patient journey.” The combination of Luma’s EHR-integrated Healthcare Engagement Engine and Change’s revenue-cycle management technology will reportedly enable the development of a solution ecosystem that allows patients to easily engage with all aspects of their care while improving communication with providers.
  • Portal Positives: A new JMIR study highlighted patients’ overwhelmingly positive response to University of Colorado Anschutz’s addition of radiology report and image viewing to its online portal. A survey of patients who used the portal’s new features (n = 299) revealed that the vast majority had favorable experiences (86.3%), found reading their reports and viewing their images to be valuable (96.3% & 89.3%), and believed viewing their images improved their understanding of their condition (82.9%). Although all negative survey questions had <7% agreement rates (e.g. errors, confusion, anxiety), 26.7% of patients experienced technical difficulties.
  • Strike Update: Thousands of nurses at two Stanford hospitals returned to work on Tuesday after ratifying new contracts with the health system following a five day strike. The contracts include new provisions designed to ensure staffing is based on acuity, while giving nurses in units with high-acuity patients additional compensation. It also includes a 7% base wage increase in 2022, enough to partially offset a US inflation rate most recently reported at 8.5%, as well as funds set aside specifically for worker mental health.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team