Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – July 2021

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – July 2021

Big moves from tech giants inside and outside of healthcare dominated headlines this month. From Amwell’s acquisition of two digital health startups to Google’s launch of a new interoperability platform, the second half of 2021 will be interesting to watch.

Forbes reported that Amwell is acquiring two digital health startups for a combined $320 million as the publicly traded telehealth company looks to expand its platform offerings beyond the Covid-fueled virtual care boom. The two companies—SilverCloud Health and Conversa Health—are part of Amwell’s strategy to work with patients along their entire care journey and not just limit the relationship to one-off virtual visits. From a strategy standpoint, the acquisitions seem necessary to compete with Teladoc and other rivals who are also trying to deliver more comprehensive services. Only time will tell if combining with these two particular companies will pay off.

Additionally, following Amazon’s announcement of its newly repackaged cloud services for health businesses, Google has introduced a new interoperability platform built off its ​​Google Cloud Healthcare API that it’s sharing with limited private partners. The company says the offering is designed to give researchers and clinicians a more real-time, holistic view of patient records. You can get all the details from Healthcare IT News.

Lastly, U.S. hospitals and healthcare systems have been under such relentless cyberattacks in recent months that it is beginning to be a threat to their bottom lines, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings. “Attacks may hinder revenue generation and the ability to recover costs in a timely manner, particularly if they affect a hospital’s ability to bill patients when financial records are compromised or systems become locked,” the report said, adding that patient care may also begin to be impacted. Healthcare Dive has the full story.

That’s all for this month! Be sure to look out for my next newsletter in August.

 

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Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – July 2021

Healthcare IT Headlines You May Have Missed – June 2021

Consumers’ growing interest in their health data has mobilized healthcare organizations and tech giants alike to develop new applications that meet demand. 

Fierce Healthcare reported that iPhone users will soon be able to review long-term analyses of their health, receive automated alerts of changes to their loved one’s condition and share health data directly to their provider’s EHR system through the Apple Health app. According to Sumbul Desai, M.D., vice president of Apple Health, “A critical part of taking care of yourself is monitoring changes in your health, which can be subtle and easy to miss; so, this year we’re offering three new features to help you to identify, measure and understand those changes.”

Further, a new report from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT stated that 70% of acute care hospitals give patients access to their health data through mobile apps or other technology, and 75% give patients access to detailed clinical notes through a patient portal. However, access is geographically uneven. Healthcare Dive has the full story.

Another aspect of consumer health behavior is also making headlines: A new report from FAIR Health finds telehealth utilization is going down as the pandemic recedes. Claims for telehealth fell by around 5% in March compared to February 2021, which had a nearly 16% drop from January 2021. Despite the drops, many experts believe telehealth is here to stay, and providers would be wise to develop forward-looking strategies for optimizing virtual care before the public health emergency ends.

Look for my next health IT newsletter in July!

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Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – July 2021

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – May 2021

Despite the pandemic’s devastating public health and economic effects, COVID-19 has been a major catalyst for healthcare funding. Healthcare Dive reported that healthcare equity funding smashed previous records in the first quarter of this year, hitting an all-time global high of $31.6 billion. Not surprisingly, telehealth companies raised a record $4.2 billion across 32 countries – the most ever recorded.

In other health tech news, it was hard to miss Microsoft’s high-profile acquisition of Nuance Communications. The voice recognition company, which sells AI solutions that can listen to clinical conversations and auto-populate electronic health records, has the potential to significantly improve care by removing sources of digital friction. But it’s not considered a win by everyone. In commentary published by STAT, experts suggested that as big tech companies increase their role in healthcare through mergers, acquisitions, and internal developments, they could push technologies like Nuance’s faster than some providers would like. 

Lastly, the idea of vaccine passports has sparked debate globally. In late-April, The Hill reported that a World Health Organization panel came out against any requirements that travelers show proof of their COVID-19 vaccination in order to enter certain countries. The panel specifically cited concerns about inequity as the vaccine remains less available in certain areas. I anticipate there is much more to come on this topic!

Check back often for my next newsletter!

 

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Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – July 2021

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – March 2021

The Biden administration is making headlines with new appointments to key healthcare posts, while tech giants like Amazon and Google continue to make waves with novel offerings to support a new era of care delivery focused on telehealth services and improved data sharing.

Earlier this month the Senate confirmed Xavier Becerra’s nomination for U.S. secretary of health and human services, making him the first Latino person to hold the position. Only minutes after the confirmation, advocacy groups were reminding him of the need to bring the American healthcare system into the 21st century. In a statement, Connected Health Initiative executive director Morgan Reed said, “Secretary Becerra’s support for digital health tools and services’ increased use will be critical as we continue the fight against COVID-19 and to bring the best healthcare available to all Americans, particularly those in underserved communities.” Get the full story at Healthcare IT News.

Additionally, Amazon made a splash with plans to scale up telehealth services that will heat up market competition for virtual care giants like Teladoc Health. But traditional providers should also carefully watch Amazon’s moves into healthcare. In a report by Healthcare Innovation’s Heather Landi, she quotes Canaccord Genuity healthcare IT analyst Richard Close: “Amazon can offer things that other players can’t, and that is what makes it such a powerful company in the space. It can offer virtual healthcare visits, prescription medication delivery and also can deliver all the over-the-counter products and even durable medical equipment. In addition, they can offer on-demand, in-person visits with a provider.”

Lastly, Google published a blog post about using its technology to accelerate Covid-19 vaccination and improve data sharing in states across the country. STAT rightly points out that the company is far from alone as Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple published similar posts last week. “Just about every tech company under the sun has a legitimately positive story to tell. But taken together, they also tell you just how unprepared the U.S. health care system was to manage this rollout.”

Look out for the next Healthcare IT Newsletter in April!

 

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Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – July 2021

Health IT stories you may have missed – February 2021

The U.S. healthcare landscape has evolved immensely amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways the changes we’re seeing now have been in process for some time. Virtual care, patient data exchange and engagement strategies have been top of mind for industry professionals for years, but the pace of progress in the last year, particularly by nontraditional players, is noteworthy.  

From making telemedicine more consumer friendly to increasing access to care during the pandemic, retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Walgreens are further infiltrating the healthcare delivery system by ramping up their virtual care initiatives. A recent article in Becker’s Hospital Review details telehealth expansions introduced by these companies over the past year, and some may surprise you.

But retail companies aren’t the only ones making waves. Terry Myerson, best known for his work at Microsoft developing Xbox and Surface, is at the helm of a new healthcare company with an interesting value proposition. STAT reported that Truveta, which was formed by 14 U.S. health systems, intends to aggregate and sell de-identified data on millions of American patients to help answer some of medicine’s most pressing questions. Not surprisingly, Truveta’s launch is spurring important conversations about the way medical data is defined and put to use.

Lastly, while having an app to engage patients is widely considered table stakes today, some hospitals have been recognized for taking the concept a step further. Modern Healthcare details the journeys of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White Health, and El Camino Health in developing and launching apps that engage their patients, particularly during a tumultuous time. As smartphones have become tightly intertwined into so many Americans’ lives, hospital executives have realized that to play a central role in their patients’ health, they need to meet them where they are—via their phone.

Look for our next Health IT newsletter in March!

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – July 2021

Healthcare IT stories you may have missed – Jan. 2021

Although 2021 may be the year that we finally gain control of COVID-19, the effects of 2020 will impact care delivery for years to come. This was the sentiment of Jerry Penso, president and CEO at AMGA, a trade association that represents medical groups and other organized systems of care, including some of the nation’s largest, most influential integrated healthcare delivery systems.

In a recent contribution to Healthcare Innovation, Penso shared his predictions for the year ahead. The evolution of telemedicine to home care stuck out as very real possibility given its rapid adoption during the pandemic. Penso states, “Providers of care are not only planning how to optimally deploy telehealth for various clinical pathways, but also exploring the huge potential scope of services that can be provided in the home setting.”

Related, Fierce Healthcare reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended the public health emergency surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic until April, extending key waivers for regulations on a variety of topics including telehealth. Care providers and patients alike are letting out a sigh of relief. Interestingly, mental health treatment was the most common telehealth service during COVID.

Already in 2021 tech companies are stepping up in new ways to support the massive COVID-19 vaccination effort. Fierce reported that Moderna is working with Uber to raise awareness and increase access to COVID-19 vaccines. The two companies will work together initially to provide accessible, credible information on vaccine safety through Uber’s in-app messaging. The companies will also work with public health organizations to identify additional opportunities to support ongoing efforts to broaden access to COVID-19 vaccines.

These are a few of the bright spots as the nation continues to grapple with the raging pandemic. While there is little doubt that 2021 will be another transformational year for healthcare, the hope is that positive, lasting change is on the horizon.

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