What’s holding telemedicine adoption back?

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 23, 2014        

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American WellTelemedicine has been around for a number of years, but it’s not yet an everyday channel for patients to receive care. A panel of providers and vendors sat down at the Partners HealthCare Connected Health Symposium to discuss the question of what it would take to get telemedicine into the mainstream.

The panel, moderated by Harvard heart surgeon Lawrence Cohn, included American Well CEO Dr. Roy Schoenberg, Mercy Health CFO Shannon Sock, Wellpoint Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Martin Silverstein, and Dr. Neil Evans, Co-Director of Connected Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“Like any new product category, you need to have awareness, you need to have a value proposition, and make sure the average patient has access to this as a benefit,” Silverstein said. “But a lot of employees have access to this as a benefit, some with no copay at all, and they’re still not using it. I think it has to do with awareness. They have to understand the value proposition and they have to develop a confidence that this is good medicine. And I’m not sure there’s enough consensus on what good practices are. It needs to become more mainstream and it needs to become a more visible part of the healthcare ecosystem and [then] they’ll have the confidence.”

The panel did agree that regulatory barriers like state licensing laws and lack of reimbursement were holding telemedicine back. But most agreed that those factors were not insurmountable.

“I would say the parallel to this is the [retail] clinic,” Silverstein added. “[Retail] clinic adoption in many markets took quite a while. But when there was a awareness through advertising, covered benefits through insurance, and word of mouth, people started to get comfortable.”

Schoenberg said that a big lesson in what would drive adoption came from American Well’s own experience launching its mobile app last yearKeep reading>>

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CHE Trinity Health taps Sharecare for patient engagement tools

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 23, 2014        

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Sharecare AskMDOne of the largest not-for-profit healthcare systems in the US, CHE Trinity Health has chosen Sharecare, the company founded by WebMD founder Jeff Arnold and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, to equip its 30 million patients spread across 20 states with Sharecare’s portfolio of patient engagement tools. CHE will offer patients Sharecare’s health risk assessment the RealAge Test, individualized wellness programs, fitness device data aggregation, facility locators, appointment schedulers, secure messaging with physicians, symptom navigator app AskMD, and more.

“If you look at the position that a lot of the not-for-profit healthcare providers are in, it’s just very difficult for us to keep up in this digital health world,” Scott Nordlund, Executive Vice President for Growth, Strategy and Innovation Development at CHE Trinity Health told MobiHealthNews during an interview. “Things are moving so fast and the investments, the bets, are so big that finding a best-in-class partner like Sharecare to be on this journey with us just gives us a lot of confidence that we’ll be in the right place.”

Sharecare’s CEO Jeff Arnold told MobiHealthNews that the RealAge health risk assessment is Sharecare’s registration page. Some 40 million people have opted to take the survey to find out what their “body age” is vs. their calendar age. Arnold said every solider in the US Army is required to take the RealAge Test every year.  Keep reading>>

Viewing patient engagement through the lens of pathology

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 23, 2014        

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Jonah Comstock - MobiHealthNews Writer and Associate EditorThe key to cracking patient engagement isn’t better kinds of technology, it’s understanding patients better. That was the theme that emerged from a panel discussion at the Partners Healthcare Connected Health Symposium, where a doctor, a consultant, and two healthcare executives spoke about their own experiences working with patients in the healthcare system, especially patients with behavior health concerns like depression.

“Medicine at large is a people business in need of technology, it is not a technology business looking for people,” Dr. Jordan Shlain, founder of HealthLoop, said. “There’s a lot of homesteaders, data gold diggers, people trying to take big data and make a business out of it while there are people hurting on the other side. And people don’t scale. Technology does, but people don’t.”

Shlain argued that although many patient engagement programs make it easier for patients to reach out to their doctor, they still place the burden on the patient, who isn’t always thinking clearly when they’re anxious about their health. Instead, doctors should reach out to their patients.

“I think engagement needs to be viewed through the lens of pathology, meaning [establish] what doesn’t work,” he said. “If people aren’t engaging, we should treat it like a disease, as opposed to this weird buzzword in the world of technology. And we need to acknowledge that when people are sick, they aren’t thinking clearly. And when you aren’t thinking clearly, you’re not a [rational] consumer.”

Philip Graves, a consumer behavior expert at Shift Consultancy, argued that technology could proactively reach out to patients if it makes use of the smartphone and of natural language processing.  Keep reading>>

Tablet-based waiting room check-in company Phreesia raises $30M

By: Brian Dolan | Oct 23, 2014        

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PhreesiaPadNew York City-based Phreesia, which offers a tablet-based patient check-in and payment service to healthcare providers, has raised $30 million in funding led by private equity firm LLR Partners. The company says it plans to use the investment to accelerate product development and broaden its customer base around the US. Return backers HLM Venture Partners and Ascension Ventures also contributed to the round. Phreesia’s other previous investors include BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Long River Ventures, Sandbox Industries, VantagePoint Venture Partners and Polaris Partners. The latest investment round takes Phreesia’s total, publicly-disclosed funding up to about $60 million.

When patients visit a practice that uses Phreesia’s technology they are handed a tablet device enclosed in a bright orange case. Patients then use this tablet to check-in, pay co-pays or other outstanding balances, fill out surveys from their provider, and sign consent forms. The company has EHR and practice management integrations with offerings from companies including athenahealth, GE Healthcare, Allscripts, and NextGen Healthcare.  Keep reading>>

CareSync raises $4.25M for personal health record, care coordination services

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 23, 2014        

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CareSyncTampa, Florida-based personal health record developer CareSync raised $4.25 million in a round led by Tullis Health Investors, Clearwell Group, CDH Solutions, and CareSync CEO Travis Bond.

The funding will help the company scale its operations and invest in its sales and marketing teams.

“We began with a vision to create a patient-centered health platform that would empower individuals to own all of their data and collaborate with others to better manage their health,” Bond said in a statement. “Three years later, we have realized that goal of connecting people around a single source of health information, and plan to use this financing to quickly expand our national reach.”

CareSync’s product, available on the web or on mobile devices, helps caregivers and patients keep track of medical records or medical records for family members.  Keep reading>>

UK health and fitness tracking market to double next year

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 22, 2014        

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Basis 2A new report from Kantar Media estimates that the value of the health and fitness wearable technology market in Great Britain is between £225 million and £375 million, or $360 million to $601 million. They estimate 13.1 million British people will be using health and fitness wearables by 2015, more than double the 6.7 million people (or about 10 percent of the country) tracking metrics like steps, fitness levels, and heart rate currently.

Kantar’s market analysis includes free apps, paid apps and devices. They surveyed 2,000 participants aged 16 and older throughout Great Britain. According to the data, half of the 6.7 million users are only using free apps. Devices make up 79 percent of the remaining, paid half — about 2.6 million users. Accounting for 7 percent of the market that uses both devices and paid apps, that leaves 28 percent, or about a million users, using only a paid app for tracking.

The survey respondents who used mostly free apps did express an intention to purchase mobile health devices in the future. Eighty-four percent said they were likely to purchase either devices or paid apps in the future. And 88 percent of participants who said they planned to use wearable technology in 2015 said they would likely purchase a device.  Keep reading>>