Why less than 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries use video visits

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 25, 2015        

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WellPoint LiveHealth OnlineVideo doctor visits have the potential to help many different kinds of patients, but elderly patients, who are sometimes homebound or have trouble driving, would seem like a natural fit — including the more than 50 million Americans on Medicare. However, according to a new report from Kaiser Health News, fewer than 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries use video visit technology, owing mostly to a law that continues to rule it out for most, despite the cost savings potential.

According to the report, the only Medicare plans that can offer telehealth to a broad swath of their population are Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare ACOs (the latter were only given that freedom last March by HHS). The rest of Medicare is restricted by law to only offering telehealth services to patients in rural areas, and then only if the patients come in to a clinic. Only two Medicare Advantage insurers elect to offer video visits: Anthem and a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center health plan in western Pennsylvania.

While some state medical boards, made up of practicing physicians, have an economic objection to telemedicine, it’s harder to see what the federal government has to gain from restricting its use. According to the KHN report, the justification from the Congressional Budget Office is somewhat bizarre: that while telemedicine might reduce costs on a per-visit basis, they could encourage Medicare beneficiaries to seek more episodes of care, raising costs overall. Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, a Rand Corporation analyst, explained it in a testimony last year before the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. Keep reading>>

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Castlight Health makes $3.1M strategic investment in Lyra Health

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 25, 2015        

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Castlight ElevateBurlingame, California-based Lyra Health, which is developing a platform to identify people with behavioral health conditions, has raised $3.1 million in a strategic round from Castlight Health.

Lyra Health previously received undisclosed seed funding from venture capital firm Venrock. Lyra’s Chief Medical Officer Dena Bravata formerly served in the same role at Castlight Health.

Lyra Health first launched earlier this month. Although the specific details of the platform are still being developed, the product will focus on addressing the gaps in the healthcare system surrounding behavioral health conditions like anxiety and depression.

The company will work with employers and health plans to address the population of people with underdiagnosed behavioral health conditions. Lyra CEO David Ebersman, former CFO of Facebook and Genentech, told MobiHealthNews that he expects patients will interact with the platform through a combination of phone calls and mobile apps.  Keep reading>>

Webinar today: Digital health 2015 Midyear Review

By: Brian Dolan | Jun 25, 2015        

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Brian Dolan - MobiHealthNews Editor-in-ChiefThe first six months of 2015 have brought with them a pair of high-profile, digital health IPO announcements, a half dozen or more important policy moves, at least one new promising reimbursement code, and plenty of new health initiatives from the world’s largest technology companies. There hasn’t been a newsier six months in digital health’s short history.

That’s why there’s no better way to spend the hour between 2PM ET and 3PM ET today, Thursday June 25th, than by tuning in to MobiHealthNews’ 2015 Digital Health Midyear Review webinar. Validic’s CEO and Co-founder Ryan Beckland will join me for a presentation and discussion focused on the first half of this already storied year.

If you haven’t had time to keep up — or could benefit from a recap — this webinar is for you. As always, bring your questions for the Q&A we’ll host at the top of the hour.

Tune in to this afternoon’s digital health half-time report — register right here (it’s free)!

Cureatr raises $13M for care coordination service

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 25, 2015        

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CureatrNew York-based Cureatr, which has developed a mobile care coordination offering, raised $13 million in a round led by Deerfield Investments with participation from Cerner Capital and Windham Ventures as well as existing investors Cardinal Partners, Milestone Venture Partners, Partnership Fund for New York City, and JMI Services.

This brings the company’s total funding to at least $18.7 million. Cureatr’s last round of funding was a $5.7 million deal in October 2013.

Cureatr’s newest feature, called Care Transition Notifications (CTNs), pings providers on their mobile devices or desktop computers when a patient transitions to and from acute and post-acute facilities. The patient’s care team receives a notification any time a patient is admitted, discharged, or transferred from a facility so that they have the option to call or send a message to the facility taking care of their patient. The app also allows the patient’s care team to message each other in a group or individually and access collaborative checklists.

“Cureatr’s mission is to let providers and caregivers know in real-time when their patients are getting care, and to put tools in their hands to respond to critical care transitions,” Cureatr CEO and cofounder Joseph Mayer said in a statement. “We launched the first Care Transition Notification network in New York with early hospital partners and are now expanding our network nationally with organizations such as DaVita HealthCare Partners.”

The company has announced a few new customers this year including Visiting Nurse Services of New York (VNSNY), which deployed Cureatr’s care coordination offering throughout its entire workforce of mobile nurses working in New York City.

Cureatr launched in 2011 and, towards the end of 2012, it joined the New York Digital Health Accelerator’s first class.

Sleep apnea treatment device with wireless compliance sensor gets FDA nod

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 25, 2015        

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225428An oral appliance for treating sleep apnea, with an embedded wireless compliance sensor, has received FDA clearance. The device is from Australian company SomnoMed and the tracker is from Braebon Medical Corporation, a company based in Ontario, Canada.

The tracker, called DentiTrac, can be embedded in a number of different oral appliances to track compliance with continuous open airway therapy (COAT) an up-and-coming alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for treating sleep apnea. SomnoMed’s SomnoDent device is the first partner device to receive FDA clearance, which means SomnoMed will, for the moment at least, have exclusive US distribution for the technology.

“We are very pleased DentiTrac is launching in the US market,” Dr. Richard Bonato, CEO and cofounder of Braebon said in a statement. “Accurate oral appliance compliance measurement is needed to level the playing field with traditional sleep apnea treatment called CPAP.  In addition, the ability to reliably measure sleep apnea treatment adherence is a vital requirement for insurance payers.  Continuous open airway therapy is the number one alternative to CPAP and we anticipate this will contribute to significant overall growth in the burgeoning field of dental sleep medicine and the use of oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea.  The DentiTrac is the final realization of our ‘Test Treat Trac’ strategy which empowers clinicians across multiple disciplines to efficiently and collaboratively work together to more effectively manage the sleep apnea patient.” Keep reading>>

UCSF to launch LGBT health study using Apple’s ResearchKit

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 25, 2015        

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PRIDE StudyThe University of California San Francisco has launched a longitudinal study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) and other sexual and gender minority (SGM) adults to examine how their sexual orientation affects their health.

The study is called PRIDE and stands for population research in identity and disparities for equality. Researchers will collect data for the study using an iPhone app and will sync the app with Apple’s ResearchKit, which was first announced in early March.

When the study first launched, researchers will ask participants to express their health concerns so that researchers can then crowdsource health topics that are important within the LGBTQ community. Six to nine months after crowdsourcing topics, researchers will start releasing questionnaires annually that take 30 minutes to complete. The app will also collect sensor data from HealthKit.

“LGBTQ people continue to face significant health issues stemming from discrimination, stigma, and a lack of information about how our identities affect our health,” PRIDE study co-director Mitchell Lunn said in a statement. “We hope this study, which will be designed with significant input from the LGBTQ community itself, will change all that.”

Some information that may be collected includes basic information about disease risk factors, like smoking; wellness activities, like exercise; and stress levels.

“Lesbian women are twice as likely to be obese than straight women, and we don’t know why,” PRIDE study co-director Juno Obedin-Maliver said in a statement. “That makes lesbian women susceptible to all kinds of health risks. It’s the mission of The PRIDE Study, to research and get to the bottom of these kinds of LGBTQ health issues, and The PRIDE Study iPhone app will give us access a much wider population than previously possible.”

The PRIDE Study will launch in early 2016.

A few weeks after the first studies launched on ResearchKit, researchers reported that enrollment was already higher than previous studies had collected in a year. One such study, called MyHeart Counts, which is conducted by Stanford Medicine, received 11,000 sign ups one day after the app was announced.