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.


Number of medical video consultations, visits to reach 158M annually by 2020

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 24, 2015        

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American Well

American Well

Medical video consultations and visits will increase from 19.7 million annually in 2014 to 158.4 million per year by 2020, according to a new report from Tractica. The figure includes both doctor to doctor consultations as well as patient to doctor video visits.

The research firm predicts that although clinical consultations currently make up more than 75 percent of the market, growth over the next several years will be stronger in non-clinical settings and these non-clinical consultations will outnumber clinical consultations by 2019.

Tractica explains that clinical settings include hospitals and medical clinics and use cases of clinical telehealth video consultations include telestroke and teleICU, psychiatry, and specialized medicine like dermatology, radiology, obstetrics, cardiology, and oncology. Applications for non-clinical video consultations include routine care, urgent care, chronic condition management, follow-up care, and emergency response.

“The flexibility and efficiency of video conferencing is helping healthcare providers and payers to achieve tangible value in deploying video-based patient monitoring solutions, both in terms of positive patient outcomes and cost savings,” Principal Analyst Charul Vyas said in a statement. “However, the market still faces a variety of challenges, including the high initial cost of deploying services, inconsistent reimbursement models for telehealth consultations, and some continuing resistance by physicians, patients, and regulatory bodies.”

So far this year, there has been an increasing amount of funding invested in medical video visits startups. These investments are likely driven in part by Teladoc’s recently disclosed IPO plans. The most recent funding was announced earlier today, MDLive raised $50 million.

Small study: Online patient community boosts self-efficacy, self-management among epilepsy patients

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 24, 2015        

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patientslikemeA small study of veterans with epilepsy, conducted by PatientsLikeMe and sponsored by pharmaceutical company UCB, shows that an online patient community can increase self-efficacy and self-management of patients. The study was published in the journal Neurology.

A total of 92 patients enrolled in the study and completed a six-month follow up survey, while an additional 157 consented to participate in the study but didn’t complete the follow-up assessment. Researchers tracked how patients interacted with the PatientsLikeMe platform and, in the surveys, asked them questions about their confidence about managing their own care (self-efficacy) and self-reported frequency of management behaviors like taking medications and tracking seizures (self-management).

“A patient-powered research network, PatientsLikeMe, provides an epilepsy-specific support system, as well as digital tools for tracking seizures, symptoms, medications, and co-morbidities,” the researchers wrote. “We sought to conduct a prospective study with a defined population of US veterans with epilepsy using validated survey measures of self-management and self-efficacy to determine the effectiveness of PLM. We hypothesized that an unstructured exposure to PLM would demonstrate statistically significant improvements in both self-management and self-efficacy.” Keep reading>>

Telehealth to drive global home healthcare market to $355.3B by 2020

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 24, 2015        

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Home Healthcare industryThe global home healthcare market is expected to reach $355.3 billion by 2020, growing at an estimated CAGR of 7.8 percent from 2014 to 2020, according to a report from Grand View Research.

Grand View Research defines home healthcare products as equipment and services that are designed to be used in the home or in other non-medical establishments by non-professional caregivers, family members, or patients. The research firm adds that the increasing adoption of telehealth offerings and other healthcare technologies are expected to drive market growth over this period.

Grand View also found that home healthcare diagnostics dominated the home healthcare market. This segment had 41.4 percent market share in 2013. This was in part because there was a growing number of people who were diagnosed with diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.  Keep reading>>

MIT Hacking Medicine group forms nonprofit to tackle digital health efficacy

By: Jonah Comstock | Jun 24, 2015        

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Participants in MIT's 2014 Hackathon with MGH and Samsung.

Participants in MIT’s 2014 Hackathon with MGH and Samsung.

MIT’s Hacking Medicine program, which has organized medical hackathons since 2011, has launched a new spin-off: the Hacking Medicine Institute, a 501c3 nonprofit with a slightly different mission. The new organization will assess whether digital health products and services really work and, if they do, help them to prove their efficacy to consumers, doctors, and insurers.

“There’s so much hype now,” Zen Chu, MIT senior lecturer and faculty director of Hacking Medicine told the Wall Street Journal last week. “It’s great, in a way. It’s early stages, and there are so many startup companies. But they’re all having the same trouble. What’s actually working, and how do you prove that?”

The new group, which was announced at BIO in Philadelphia last week, will be more of a think tank than a hackathon. MIT will bring together a number of stakeholders, including pharmaceutical and medical-device companies, policymakers, hospital administrators, doctors, insurance companies, self-insured employers and various digital health companies, Chu told the Journal. The institute will develop whitepapers that give guidance on evaluating digital health programs, and they will evaluate some interventions themselves. Keep reading>>

MDLive raises $50M in ongoing patient-doctor video visits funding bonanza

By: Aditi Pai | Jun 24, 2015        

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MDLiveSunrise, Florida-based MDLive, which offers telehealth services including patient-to-physician remote visits via mobile devices, raised $50 million from Bedford Funding. This brings the company’s total funding to at least $73.6 million.

Existing investors include Sentara Healthcare, Sutter Health, Heritage Group, and Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors.

The company said it would use some of the funds to make acquisitions and to forge additional strategic alliances. MDLive has made at least one high-profile acquisition in the past: Last year it acquired online therapy provider Breakthrough Behavioral.

MDLive sells its telehealth service to employers, health plans, and providers which, in turn, offer it to their employees, members, and patients. The company also markets video visits directly to consumers. The service is available on desktop computers, mobile phones and tablets.

The app has a symptom navigator that consumers can use to learn more about what condition they might have and from there they can make an appointment to speak with a physician. Medical issues MDLive doctors commonly treat include allergies, asthma, bronchitis, cold and flu, ear infections, UTIs, and sinus infections.

Earlier this month, Walgreens, which partnered with MDLive last December to offer telemedicine services in two states, added three more states to its rollout. Walgreens customers can access the video visits from inside the Walgreens mobile app on either Android or iOS devices. Any time of day, a board-certified physician will be available to consult on a range of acute conditions, and even to prescribe medications, for $49.  Keep reading>>