Wire #88

  • Apple Watch Updates: Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference brought significant health upgrades to the most popular wearable on the planet, with the Apple Watch receiving a new Medications feature that lets users track their medications, set up schedules / reminders, and view potential interactions from the Health app. Apple spent a majority of the Watch’s showcase discussing Medications and other health-related updates (AFib History, REM Sleep Tracking) as it looks to make health features a core component of the Watch’s value proposition.
  • Transparency Fines: Nearly 18 months after federal price transparency rules took effect, the CMS has issued its first pair of major fines for non-compliance, penalizing two Georgia hospitals for a combined $1.1M. A recent PatientRightsAdvocate.org study found that only 14% of hospitals are adequately complying with the rules, but with the maximum annual penalty for non-compliance increasing from $109k to $2M per hospital earlier this year, we could start to see an increase in compliance.
  • Self-Scheduling Survey: A Center for Connected Medicine survey of executives from 47 hospitals found that 80% have less than one-fifth of their total appointments booked online directly by patients, suggesting that self-scheduling adoption is only in its early stages. The top challenge hampering self-scheduling’s rollout was a lack of buy-in from physicians and staff (cited by 38% of respondents), with CCM reporting that many physicians feel like they’re giving up control of their own calendar by letting patients book appointments directly.
  • Bicycle Series B: Bicycle Health, a virtual provider of opioid use disorder treatment, closed $53M in Series B funding to support the growth of its platform and generate further research on the efficacy of its unique care model. The Bicycle Health model includes psychotherapy and chronic condition management delivered via telehealth to reduce barriers to care for the large portion of OUD patients either struggling to attend in-person appointments or seeking to maintain anonymity.
  • Time Spent With Patients: Researchers from Johns Hopkins recently equipped 43 internal medicine interns with location tracking badges to analyze how much time they spent with patients during rounds, finding that only 13% of the interns’ time was actually spent in patient rooms. The interns spent most of their time in physician workrooms (33%) and ward halls (24%), leading the authors to suggest that tracking data should be leveraged to improve training programs to promote more time with hospitalized patients.
  • Anthem & Happify: Anthem is partnering with digital therapeutics platform Happify Health to develop a new maternal health product that addresses challenges unique to pregnant women. Eligible Anthem members will be able to access Happify’s digital therapeutics solutions, as well as its online pregnancy community with tailored local resources such as obstetricians and mental health professionals.
  • Employee Mental Health: A new study from Spring Health shows that investing in workplace mental health programs can improve both employee well-being and company bottom lines. The study examined data from 1,132 employees at 66 employers enrolled in Spring’s mental health program that provides self-guided digital content and psychotherapy, finding that 70% of participants experienced reduced anxiety and depression. The program also generated a clear ROI for employers, as the participants missed 32% fewer work days, showed a 24% increase in productivity, and were 60% more likely to stay at their job.
  • $100M Diversity Investment: UnitedHealth Group announced its largest single philanthropic commitment ever with a $100M investment over 10 years to promote diversity within the healthcare worker pipeline. The funds will be used to provide 5,000 scholarships to students pursuing careers in primary care and to support 5,000 current professionals from underrepresented racial groups who are seeking additional degrees or certifications.
  • Electronic Symptom Tracking: A randomized trial of 1,191 patients from 52 oncology practices found that weekly electronic symptom-tracking surveys of cancer patients resulted in significant improvements to physical function, symptom control, and health-related quality of life after three months, compared to usual care. The researchers attributed the improvements to the fact that the weekly surveys on symptoms such as pain and nausea levels enabled care teams to intervene earlier if worsening symptoms were reported.
  • UCHealth “Find Your Way”: In order to cut down on patient stress and missed appointments, UCHealth added Pointr’s “Find Your Way” digital mapping to its UCHealth mobile app to provide door-to-door directions to appointments. After a successful pilot at University of Colorado Hospital, UCHealth now plans to expand the wayfinding technology throughout the health system, improving the patient experience by customizing the tool to the unique navigation needs of each campus.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team