Wire #98

  • Automating EHR Questions: A new AI tool co-developed by IBM, MIT, and UMass Lowell researchers showed promise in helping clinicians search through the mountains of patient data stacked within EHRs to help them ask better questions surrounding treatment decisions. The model was trained with data from medical experts who were tasked with asking questions (e.g. was this patient diagnosed with a disease) after reading 100 patient discharge summaries. The model was then able to generate good questions 63% of the time (vs. 25% for current models), representing important progress for workflow automation but still leaving plenty of room for improvement.
  • Amazon Cancer Vaccines: Amazon’s moonshot project lab has been quietly partnering with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center to develop personalized vaccines for breast and skin cancers. The initiative is currently recruiting patients to participate in a Phase 2 clinical trial, and while drug development is outside of our usual digital health scope, this marks Amazon’s first foray into testing its own drugs and could indicate that the tech giant’s growing interest in healthcare extends well-beyond primary care and in-house diagnostics.
  • Nurse Mental Health: A Trusted Health survey of over 2,500 nurses uncovered some harsh trends related to frontline worker well-being, including the fact that nurses rate their current mental health at an average of just 5.8 out of 10 (vs. 7.8 pre-pandemic). Although this is a well-documented issue, 71% of nurses feel that their mental health isn’t a priority for the healthcare industry, and as a result 64% report being less committed to the profession than they were prior to the pandemic (vs. 46% in last year’s survey).
  • Nomi Acquires Everyone: Direct care company Nomi Health acquired sister organizations Everyone Health and Sano Surgery (direct provider contracting for employers) for $26.5M as it continues its acquisition spree following a $110M Series A in December. Over the past few years, Nomi has grown quickly by providing on-site COVID testing for thousands of facilities, and it’s now looking to use its momentum to acquire the pieces of an employer direct care platform that can endure beyond the pandemic.
  • Medical Misinformation: Harris Poll’s 2022 Health Information Trends Survey found that only 78% of the 2,000 adult respondents trust their PCPs (down from 83% in 2019), causing many patients to side-step their providers for health info. This has led to a rise in patients turning to online resources for answers to medical questions (41% in 2022 vs. 33% in 2019), which could start to worsen existing medical misinformation problems given that 61% of those surveyed reported needing more help to make sense of online medical information.
  • DiMe Toolkits: The Digital Medicine Society released four toolkits to help organizations scale programs involving remote patient monitoring and wearables. DiMe views implementation as the biggest barrier to wider RPM adoption, so the toolkits include quick start guides, standards databases for different regions, and logical data architectures to serve as blueprints for healthcare organizations building out their own digital tools.
  • Phone-based Smoking Cessation: Adding telephone patient outreach to smoking cessation treatment might double quit rates according to a Georgetown study. After randomly assigning 818 patients to either an intensive care arm (eight weekly 20-minute phone sessions with a specialist discussing strategies to address triggers / eight weeks of nicotine patches) or minimal care arm (three counseling sessions / two weeks of patches), the 3-month quit rates were 14.3% for the intensive arm versus 7.3% for the minimal arm.
  • Digital Therapeutics Report: Forrester Research recently interviewed digital therapeutics companies to perform a SWOT analysis for the segment, finding that most DTx execs view reimbursement as the biggest headwind, with an ill-defined path to payor approval causing many companies to go direct to employers and consumers. Despite the challenges, Forester says the winds are changing in a positive direction due to new CMS codes that cover remote CBT and prescription digital behavioral therapy.
  • Healthie Series A: Virtual care infrastructure company Healthie raised $16M in Series A funding to strengthen its platform that helps companies scale their virtual care operations. Healthie’s offerings include scheduling, telehealth, billing, and an EHR, but it’ll have to put its Series A to good use if it wants to take share from well-funded competitors such as Wheel (raised $150M in January) and Truepill (raised ($142M in October).
  • Data Breaches Cool Off: Health data breaches have begun to pull back from the record levels set in 2021, according to Fortified Health Security’s 2022 Mid-Year Horizon Report. Fortified counted 337 breaches (each impacting over 500 records) through the first half of the year (down from 368 last year), but the percentage of incidents linked to malicious attacks climbed from 73% to 80%. Healthcare providers saw the largest share of breaches (72%), followed by business associates (16%) and health plans (12%).

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-- The Digital Health Wire team