Health equity stories you may have missed – August 2021

Health equity stories you may have missed – August 2021

Perhaps one of the biggest issues that has come to light during the COVID-19 pandemic is equity. The healthcare sector, private industry and nonprofits are now addressing equity in a variety of ways.

It was reported that life expectancy in the United States dropped by an average of 1.5 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the largest drop since World War II. But life expectancy for Hispanic and Black people in the US dropped by 3 and 2.9 years respectively, highlighting the disparities that exist within the US. According to the New York Times, these inequities are “a reflection of many factors, including the differences in overall health and available health care between white, Hispanic and Black people in the United States.”  

To address disparities among vaccination rates in Massachusetts, Eastern Bank recently donated $2 million to support last mile vaccination efforts among populations with the highest incidences of COVID-19 cases, according to the Boston Business Journal.

 While the Delta variant is a cause for concern, the pandemic is causing worry among health experts for non-COVID-19 related illness. National studies show that 1 in 5 adults delayed medical care for serious health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic with a majority of these individuals reporting negative health consequences related to the delay. Many providers are seeing massive declines in visit volume and preventative screenings including cancer screenings, depression screenings, weight and nutrition counseling, and high blood pressure control. East Boston Neighborhood Health Center president and CEO Manny Lopes discussed how these delays in care are causing the “Covid Cliff” on Boston 25.

 The Boston Foundation recently released its report, Health Starts at Home, which evaluated how housing instability impacts overall health. In an interview with WBUR, Stefanie Shull said that findings from the report showed “housing stability meant less illness.” This included modest improvement in child health, reduced visits to the emergency room and reductions in anxiety and depression among caregivers.

Healthcare provider stories you may have missed -10/15/20

Healthcare provider stories you may have missed -10/15/20

Are hospitals and health systems ready for a second coronavirus surge? As cases climb, clinicians and government officials are shifting focus towards protecting vulnerable populations. The Boston Globe examined plans for safeguarding the elderly, essential workers, homeless people and inmates. They found high awareness of the challenges, but in some cases, efforts are lacking.

Additionally, a patchwork response and a government focus on nursing homes left many assisted living facilities in the lurch when it came to testing, PPE and other COVID-19 precautions. Elaine Ryan, vice president for state advocacy and strategy integration at AARP, says assisted living has “almost been third tier in terms of focus during this pandemic.” According to AARP Magazine, more than six months later, the federal government has finally recognized assisted living facilities as providers. Much-needed financial help may finally be on the way too.

Safety-net hospitals also face an uncertain fate as federal reimbursement rates change and metropolitan hospitals lose some their best-insured patients to facilities in affluent city neighborhoods. NPR explores how the pandemic only exacerbated these woes at a time when these hospitals’ role – caring for the poor and people of color – has become more important than ever.

Finally, a moratorium from the CDC spotlights a message experts have preached for years without prompting much policy action: Housing stability and health are intertwined. Kaiser Health News reports on social determinants of health and discovers why many families are still being ordered to leave their homes despite an eviction freeze.

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 10/8/20

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 10/8/20

While the healthcare industry has experienced more than its fair share of challenges amid the coronavirus epidemic, there are some bright spots worth noting. Often, where there are challenges there is also ripe opportunity for out-of-the-box thinking and innovation.

We’re only three quarters of the way through this year, but 2020 has already set a new annual record for the venture capital funding being pumped into the digital health space. Fierce Healthcare reported that companies in the health tech industry have collectively raised $9.4 billion so far this year, topping the previous record of $8.2 billion set in all of 2018.

Additionally, Frost & Sullivan revealed several global trends generating growth opportunities from COVID-19. According to the analysis, robotics, advanced data analytics, IoT, privacy and security, and business model innovation are all critical success factors for growth. Healthcare IT News has all the details.

Last but certainly not least is a CB Insights report suggesting technology giants Amazon, Apple and Google are further penetrating the healthcare industry by way of health insurance. Becker’s Hospital Review lays out four trends to know and provides a breakdown of partnerships these companies have already made in the insurance industry.    

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 06/11/20

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – 06/11/20

The economic and societal impact of the global pandemic cannot be understated. New initiatives, regulatory updates, and national survey data spotlight both the challenges and opportunities on our nation’s path to recovery.

For individuals who have been out of work due to the coronavirus outbreak, contact tracing is emerging as a potential job opportunity. It has been widely accepted that contact tracing will be essential to the country’s reopening efforts, but proper training will be a critical success factor. CNBC recently reported that to help enlist tracers across the country, Johns Hopkins has created a free six-hour online course for contact tracing. So far, more than 250,000 people have enrolled, and 70,000 people have passed.

To help address clear disparities in the pandemic’s impact, federal officials announced that labs will be required to report demographic information for people tested for COVID19 such as race, ethnicity, age and gender along with their test results starting Aug. 1. The Washington Post reported that, “In announcing the rules, Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services who is in charge of the government’s coronavirus testing response, acknowledged what Democrats, public health experts and civil rights leaders have complained about for months.”

Additionally, a new poll from Kaiser Family Foundation shows that nearly half of Americans delayed medical care due to COVID-19. The data does not surprise many in the medical field, and they recognize it is likely to cause big problems down the road. Of those who went without seeing a doctor, 11% experienced a worsened medical condition. Moreover, nearly 40% said stress related to the pandemic has negatively impacted their mental health.

Learnings from the pandemic, however, may have important lasting power. In a recent opinion piece, Diana Nole (former CEO of Wolters Kluwer Health) says that the disruption we are seeing today from COVID-19 is forcing a recalibration of what is truly important, including trust in healthcare and in our nation’s care providers. You can read it now in MedCity News.

Medtech stories you may have missed – 06/04/20

Medtech stories you may have missed – 06/04/20

The demand for #COVID19 antibody testing continues to increase, as does the scrutiny regarding tests’ accuracy. While #CDC guidelines have shown that less than half of those testing positive for COVID-19 antibodies actually have them, increasing the number of tests conducted, particularly in areas of high disease prevalence, boosts positive predictive value. This NPR article shows how prevalence and false positive rates affect antibody test results and why using two different tests, which the CDC now recommends for those who test positive, could improve testing accuracy.

As a result of these CDC guidelines, our client BioDot, which provides dispensing automation and manufacturing solutions to the world’s largest diagnostic companies, continues to scale up its manufacturing operations to keep pace with testing demand. The company recently announced that more than 50 companies worldwide are now using its technology to develop #COVID19 #antibody tests. Each of its automated lateral flow dispensing platforms enable customer production of 1 million point-of-care antibody tests per week. Read more in this SelectScience piece.

In COVID-19-related #telemedicine news, our client Prospero Health, a team-based home health care company, has partnered with GrandPad to improve access to care for seniors during the crisis and address gaps in care coordination. Prospero can now provide 24/7 telemedicine support to its vulnerable patients through GrandPad’s video chat capabilities that enable care teams to regularly check in on patients in real-time, while adhering to social distancing guidelines. This story on South Carolina Public Radio highlights how Prospero and GrandPad are contributing to the promise of virtual medical care, which went from being the future to being the new norm.

Medtech stories you may have missed – 06/04/20

Recent medtech stories you may have missed

From Rachel RobbinsSenior Vice President at Greenough Brand Storytellers

Artificial intelligence and robotics top trends that will transform healthcare in 2020

From the use of machine learning to process enormous amounts of medical data to robotics that span surgical use, transporting medical supplies and helping patients with rehab, technology will continue to transform healthcare in 2020. According to this Forbes article, wearable tech, 3D printing and extended reality (virtual, augmented and mixed) also show incredible promise for patients and medical professionals. In fact, a team of scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York has developed a way to 3D print living skin, complete with blood vessels.

 

Competition heats up in robot-assisted surgery market

Robotic-assisted surgery using da Vinci robots – which enable surgeons to perform delicate and complex operations through a few small incisions – continue to skyrocket. This is evident through Intuitive Surgical’s latest sales numbers, bringing the total number of da Vinci systems in operation to more than 5,400 worldwide. Despite this domination, only about 2% of surgeries worldwide are performed using robotic surgery equipment. The competition is about to heat up, with medical device giant Medtronic planning to launch its Hugo system in 2020—a system they claim is more flexible and cost-effective than those presently on the market.

 

More Americans using wearable fitness trackers to monitor health than ever before

Millions of Americans are using technology to monitor their exercise, heart rate, calorie consumption, sleep quality and step count. According to ACSM’s survey of 2020 fitness trends, the use of wearable technology—now a $95 billion industry—topped the list for the third year in a row. Google is tapping into the success of the fitness tracker market, going head-to-head with Apple and Samsung, announcing last week it is buying Fitbit for $2.1 billion. The purchase will help Google tap into an enormous amount of health data, with more than 28 million users on the Fitbit platform.

 

New technology promises to change the future of cancer diagnosis and treatment

In conjunction with Lung Cancer Awareness Month, Auris Health unveiled a revolutionary robot that can detect lung cancer at an early stage. Data from the company’s first study on live human subjects show its Monarch robotic system can successfully target hard-to-reach lung nodules and obtain a tissue sample for biopsy. The robot is a promising advancement that has the potential to change the future of cancer diagnosis and treatment. Similarly, Thermo Fisher Scientific unveiled its Ion Torrent Genexus System this week—a next-generation sequencing (NGS) platform that can deliver results in a single day, which will enable patients to be matched to targeted therapies or clinical trials faster. The system simplifies genomic testing so it can be performed in any clinical setting – including community hospitals, where most cancer patients are treated today.