Wire #82

  • Cerebral Replaces CEO: Telemedicine startup Cerebral voted to oust CEO Kyle Robertson amid increased federal scrutiny over its prescribing practices. As part of its image makeover, Cerebral announced that its former chief medical officer Dr. David Mou will take over as CEO, and that it will stop prescribing nearly all controlled substances. To add to the drama, the Wall Street Journal reported that Robertson hadn’t agreed to resign, and instead issued a memo calling the board’s move to replace him illegal, only to have his access to the company’s Slack messaging system abruptly revoked.
  • Evolution of Care: CarePort, powered by WellSky, released its Evolution of Care report that examined data from over 1k hospitals and 130k post-acute care providers to reveal the pandemic’s impact on care coordination (spoiler alert, it wasn’t good). CarePort found a 33% increase in patient referrals to home health compared to 2019, but a 15% reduction in home health acceptance, and another 10% decline in skilled nursing facility referrals. On top of that, the data shows that patients discharged to SNFs and home health care are now more acute than in 2019, with an 11% higher average comorbidity score.
  • Transcarent Expansion: Employer healthcare platform Transcarent is expanding into the behavioral health arena with a new solution that will let members chat with a doctor in under a minute and access therapy appointments in less than three days. The solution is integrated directly into provider scheduling systems to streamline appointment setting, allowing Transcarent to slash the 21-day average wait time for a mental health appointment that it says is a central concern for its employer clients.
  • Behavioral “Tipping Point”: If you still haven’t had enough behavioral health news this week then you’re in luck, because a new ORCHA report found that a behavioral health “tipping point” has been reached as UK residents now prefer mHealth apps to antidepressants. After surveying 2k adults in the UK, 55% of 18-24 year-olds would opt for a mental health app over medication, while 53% would even prefer an app over one-on-one tele-therapy. The report breaks down key reasons why the apps have been gaining an edge (convenience, immediacy, confidentiality), and most of the takeaways are just as relevant outside of the UK.
  • Tia Fertility: Women’s health startup Tia is extending its “whole woman, whole life” care model to fertility services with a new offering that includes unbiased counseling, prevention-focused care, and mental healthcare. The new fertility services will serve as a core pillar of Tia’s comprehensive women’s health support, designed to replace transactional care with a relationship-based model that integrates primary care, gynecology, and wellness.
  • Older Patient Telehealth: One third of adults over the age of 50 are very interested in utilizing telehealth services in the future, according to an AARP poll of 1.1k older Americans. The survey found that 51% of respondents used telemedicine within the past two years, but 32% worry the quality is inferior to in-person care. These types of surveys make it appear likely that telehealth will remain an important tool in the healthcare delivery tool kit for older patients, despite their lower overall telehealth utilization compared to younger demographics.
  • Walmart Health Virtual Care: Telehealth provider MeMD is changing its name to Walmart Health Virtual Care nearly one year after it was originally acquired, signaling that its integration into the retail giant’s Walmart Health arm is nearing completion. Walmart Health Virtual Care provides large enterprises with telehealth services including primary care and behavioral healthcare, complementing brick-and-mortar Walmart Health centers where patients can access in-person treatment. Walmart Health Virtual Care will first be available through the recently-announced Florida Walmart Health centers before expanding nationwide over the following months.
  • Continual Learning Models: A Nature article outlined a new continual learning framework for training predictive models that addresses their lower performance when applied to external patient cohorts. Researchers at UCSD validated the model in the context of sepsis prediction using data from 104k patients across four health systems, finding that it maintained higher predictive performance than a traditional baseline transfer learning approach. While we won’t pretend to know exactly why “joint elastic weight consolidation” makes this framework superior to established methods, it received a lot of attention on digital health social media for its potential to make predictive models more generalizable across institutions.
  • ThoroughCare Funding: ThoroughCare closed a $3M growth investment to accelerate the development of its platform that enables physicians to improve care coordination while simplifying value-based reimbursement programs. The SaaS platform is paired with a mobile application to help physician groups and health centers identify the next best actions at critical moments.
  • Hospital Job Vacancies: A recent survey commissioned by AKASA found that 57% of US health systems have over 100 job openings, highlighting how the staffing shortage is extending well beyond just clinical staff. Nearly 26% of the 411 health execs surveyed said that their organization needed to hire more than 20 people to adequately staff their revenue cycle department, an issue that the report recommends addressing by relaxing job requirements to attract motivated applicants with less experience, as well as implementing automation tools to do more with fewer employees.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team