The Healthcare Standard

Why Health Companies are Branding Themselves as Tech Companies

From digital health startups to primary care groups, companies are increasingly branding themselves2 as tech companies first, health care companies second. Shunning ties to the mission-driven health care sector may seem counterintuitive at best and sacrilegious at worst.

Yet for many new entrants, such an approach — which we call avoidant positioning — is becoming the norm. We unpack three weaknesses of the health care label that may be fueling a broader identity crisis for these firms, and suggest that this trend represents a wake-up call for health care.

Health care, by virtue of its biomedical underpinnings, gives great credence to following the scientific method before embracing new initiatives. Physicians are often skeptical of new interventions without convincing evidence. The rigorous process of evaluating a new pharmaceutical product or the complex methodology of a randomized clinical trial, however, often cannot be applied to a delivery-side intervention like a new care model. Innovations in health care delivery are better evaluated through multiple small-scale, iterative pilots that let stakeholders validate hypotheses before moving into a scaled model.

To the extent that physicians are starting to appreciate the benefits3 of a piloted approach, there is still a certain inertia4 in spreading the lessons of a successful program across an enterprise. There are many reasons for this, including cultural resistance, financial short-sightedness, organizational complexity, and risk-averse leadership.

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The Healthcare Standard

Two Fresno County Residents Test Positive for West Nile Virus

The health department first issued a warning about mosquitoes carrying West Nile last month. Mosquitoes collected by the department tested positive and were found in the area of the 93710 ZIP code, which is roughly between Shaw to Herndon avenues and Blackstone and Willow avenues in northeast Fresno.

In a news release announcing the positive human cases of West Nile virus, the health department did not disclose where the people were exposed.

People bitten by infected mosquitoes can become ill with fever and other flu-like symptoms. A small percentage of bites can cause serious, sometimes fatal, illnesses.

Dr. Ken Bird, Fresno County deputy health officer, said confirmation of the West Nile virus should alarm residents. It’s “a strong reminder that everyone should increase efforts to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites.”

The county health department said it is collaborating with mosquito abatement teams and officials from the Central California Blood Center to bring awareness to the community on the dangers of West Nile virus.

 

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The Healthcare Standard

Couple Born Hours Apart at Same Hospital Marries

James Barsby and Amy Gaffney were born just 5 and a half hours apart at the same hospital in England 23 years ago and would go on to become partners for life in the craziest of coincidences, according to the Mirror.

Their parents even met at a prenatal class before the pair — who are both twins — was born at Queen’s Park Hospital in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Barsby and Gaffney grew up only a few miles part in Clitheroe but only knew of each other as school acquaintances, according to the report. Their chemistry developed — in a science class of all places — during their freshman year of high school.

The duo made their relationship official in 2011 and did not let going to separate colleges get in the way.

“I was in Lancaster and James was in Manchester,” Gaffney said. “It’s only an hour on the train, it was nothing really. Not a weekend went by that we didn’t spend together. We both applied for medicine degrees, we both got into [university] and we both passed.”

 

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The Healthcare Standard

Laura Conely Walked Off her Depression and Opened a New Door as Life Coach

Placing one foot in front of the other, Laura Conely walked her way to feeling better.

She did it to fight depression, to see the light after a divorce and to come into her own as a new mother.

“I started pushing my son in a stroller, and I realized how much better I felt,” Conely said. “It was transformational to me. I found my own strength through walking. It planted a seed.”

That seed has grown into a unique business for the Montrose resident — Urban Paths, wellness coaching centered on walking. Over the past five years, the service has grown in popularity, serving all ages, genders and demographics.

Conely walks and talks one-on-one with her clients. The mobile sessions take place all around Houston. Often, it’s in Buffalo Bayou Park. One client prefers the Houston Arboretum, while another enjoys a new spot each time. Walks even take place at the Menil Collection or the Houston Public Library.

 

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The Healthcare Standard

Uber Health is Shuttling Telehealth Tech to Patients’ Homes

Uber Health struck a deal with healthcare supplies distributor Henry Schein Medical to streamline doctors’ use of software company Medpod’s MobileDoc 2 — a portable case stocked with medical devices, like EKGs, that enable remote consultations, per Newsday.

Here’s how the tie-up works: Medpod is integrating Uber Health into its platform so doctors affiliated with Medpod can request Uber to shuttle a medical assistant — with the MobileDoc 2 in tow — to a patient’s home to guide a teleconsultation. If the doctor deems it necessary post-consultation, Uber can also bring the patient into their office for further care. A testing phase of the service is launching in 15 US markets.

Until now, Uber Health has remained focused on carting patients to and from appointments. Since launching in March 2018, Uber Health has burrowed into the nonemergency medical transport (NEMT) market via partnerships that allow Uber to chauffeur injured workers, clinical trial participants, and self-insured employer members to medical appointments.

It makes sense that Uber has pegged these spaces to forge partnerships since its rival Lyft’s health business has remained focused on tie-ups with insurers to get members to appointments. And its new partnership reveals that Uber Health isn’t planning on staying within the confines of the NEMT market.

 

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The Healthcare Standard

Want More Nurses? Give More Graduates Permanent Jobs, Nurses Union Says

If the province wants more nurses working in New Brunswick, it has to create more permanent positions, the president of the nurses union says.

The New Brunswick government unveiled its 10-year nursing strategy on Tuesday, seeking to fix the province’s nursing shortage.

The province aims to add 130 nurses a year over the next 10 years. The strategy also focuses on attracting and accommodating internationally trained nurses and providing better education opportunities for students at home.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Flemming said 21 “action items” in the new nursing strategy will guide government decisions.

Paula Doucet of the New Brunswick Nurses Union says she’s spoken with graduates hired in New Brunswick, and they’re in casual positions, where they don’t have a consistent schedule or paid benefits.

“That is less attractive to new graduates sometimes, verses a permanent position being offered to them,” she said in an interview with Information Morning Fredericton.

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The Healthcare Standard

NSW Hospital Workers to Strike for Safety

Thousands of public hospital workers will strike across NSW as they fight for increased security in their workplaces.

More than 20,000 workers are expected to walk off the job on Thursday over workplace safety concerns after a vote by Health Services Union delegates in July.

The HSU says strikes will take place at a number of hospitals across the state – including the Royal Prince Alfred, Royal North Shore, Westmead Children’s, Wollongong, Tamworth, Wagga and Dubbo – with a rally to be held outside the NSW ministry of health offices in St Leonards at 8am.

Workers will take the opportunity to discuss “the failure of the NSW Department of Health” in addressing their concerns over hospital safety and security while on strike, the union said in a statement.

The union insists the strikes are going ahead despite the Department of Health issuing a late-night statement on Wednesday claiming reports “suggesting some 22,000 workers will stop work … are not accurate”.

 

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The Healthcare Standard

Litmus Health Launches New Real-World Data Platform for Pharma Trials

Litmus Health announced yesterday the release of a new version of its device-friendly clinical research platform for the collection and analysis of real-world data.

Built with new features to help pharmaceutical companies from the beginning to the end of their drug trials, the platform now adds Actigraph’s medical-grade wearables to its repertoire of supported devices, which previously included Fitbit and Garmin products.

“We’re in a new era of understanding the patient experience through real-life data, and translating that information into insights to improve drug development,” Dr. Samuel Volchenboum, chief medical officer of Litmus Health, told MobiHealthNews in an email statement. “Patient health doesn’t begin and end in the clinic, and the scope and sophistication of wearable devices is finally breaking down that barrier. At Litmus, we’re focused on making sure that the data from these devices are harnessed effectively and that we, as an industry, continue to develop the standards and technological tools to realize its full value.”

In addition to incorporating devices and a companion smartphone app, Litmus’ technology places a heavy emphasis on data security and flexible design. Along with highlighting its HIPAA-compliant data infrastructure and encryption, the new version of the platform offers both on-premise datacenter deployments as well as managed private clouds for single or multiple tenants. Data stored within the platform are tracked with clear audit trails, and can be analyzed using Litmus’ supervised and unsupervised machine learning tech.

 

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The Healthcare Standard

Goal-Oriented Rehab Improves Recovery in Older Adults

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that Enhanced Medical Rehabilitation, a type of goal-oriented therapy, helps older patients recover more fully than standard physical or occupational therapy. It involves focusing on specific goals important to individual patients and motivating patients to work toward those goals during every therapy session.

Goal-oriented, motivational physical and occupational therapy helps older patients recover more fully from broken hips, strokes and other ailments that land them in skilled nursing facilities for rehabilitation, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

Enhanced Medical Rehabilitation — an approach in which physical and occupational therapists work to engage patients more fully during therapy sessions — helped patients recover function better than standard physical and occupational therapy that was provided to others in the same skilled nursing facilities, the researchers found.

“We found that when you engage and motivate people, they do better,” said the study’s first author, Eric J. Lenze, MD, a professor of psychiatry.

Patients receiving enhanced rehab did not get more or longer therapy sessions. Instead, therapists focused on specific goals important to individual patients, and they delivered, on average, 24 motivational messages about those goals during every therapy session. That approach resulted in a 25 percent improvement in functional recovery.

 

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The Healthcare Standard

Should Disabled Americans Drop Medicare for Employer Insurance?

More than 10 million of the 63.6 million people who received Social Security benefits last month are disabled. For those under the age of 65, being approved for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) payments also includes eligibility for Medicare, usually after a two-year wait.

Despite being disabled, many SSDI recipients are able to work and thus become eligible for employer insurance plans. The coverage offered by employer plans has become more costly, leading many plans to adopt high annual deductibles that can raise out-of-pocket costs for employees. These changes have made it much more likely such employees will not drop Medicare but keep it in place, or in addition to an employer plan.

Here’s an email from Steve in Massachusetts that illustrates the issues and decisions that people with disabilities may face if they return to work.

“I am 44 years old, blind, and have had Medicare for about 10 years because of my disability. I did go back to work full-time a few years ago but have continued to pay for Medicare (Parts A and B). It is my only insurance right now, but the out-of-pocket costs are getting expensive.

 

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