December 14-15, 2017

MedTech Impact 2017

Venetian/Palazzo Resort

Las Vegas, NV

(561) 893-8633

info@medtechimpact.com

Author: Sarenka Smith

NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home: Updated & Upgraded

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), an independent non-profit organization that works to improve health care quality, has given its patient-centered medical home ‘a makeover’ in order to “reduce documentation burdens, lower costs, and facilitate quality improvements.”

The NCQA’s move marks a growing effort spearheaded by the healthcare industry’s leadership organizations in response to new technologies, uncertainty surrounding reimbursements, and heightened reporting requirements. The organization’s recent announcement of a comprehensive overhaul will enact changes that aim to create “a much more user-friendly version of the popular practice transformation framework that avoids the pain points of previous iterations of the program,” said Michael S. Barr, MD, Executive Vice President of the Quality Measurement and Research Group at NCQA.

Due to a host of complaints from physicians and providers regarding the ‘unduly onerous’ recognition process, the NCQA wishes to reduce or eliminate costs, lower documentation burdens, and streamline some of the aspects of the recognition process that were devaluing patient care. A marked change is the abolition of distinctions between Level 1, 2, and 3; providers are now recognized or working towards recognition. The NCQA and healthcare industry realizes that ‘all-or-nothing measurements’ are not the optimal, most effective way to encourage innovation and improvement.

Moreover, the NCQA has replaced the three-year recertification cycle with annual check-ins, so that providers are not required to go through the entire recognition process again. Yearly meetings are designed to ensure that recognized practices are primarily focused on a high level of patient-centered care, and continuously improving. Each practice will also be assigned an NCQA representative, who can assist them in moving throughout the process, and also confirm and certify that the practice has met the necessary requirements.

Barr hopes that the revamped PCMH recognition process will help providers move towards a more efficient, effective way to deliver care, but admits that they will need more than yearly check-ins to succeed in an increasingly data-driven world. He urged stakeholders that it is time to “optimize electronic health records (EHRs), so that we can really align them with what we need to do to improve patient care.” Barr further clarifies that EHRs should be redesigned in order to effectively communicate the patients’ stories, and simultaneously equip providers with the necessary data to make informed, personalized, and effective choices with the patient and caregivers.

Physical Activity & Psychological Health

While research has long confirmed the strong correlation between exercise and psychological health, a recent study utilizing cellphone data to track activities and moods has confirmed that people who move are overall more content than people who sit.

While previous epidemiological studies have found that people who are active are less prone to depression and anxiety than sedentary people, the majority of these studies solely focused on negative moods. They generally relied on people recalling how they had felt, in addition to how much they had moved or sat in the previous weeks—with little concrete, tangible data to support their recollections.

The new study used a different approach, focusing on correlations between movement and the most positive emotion: happiness. The researchers also looked at what people reported about their respective activities, comparing it with objective measures of movement.

In doing this, the team first developed a special app for Android phones: advertised as helping people understand the ways in which lifestyles choices—like physical activity—might affect moods. As the app sent random requests throughout the day, during which people were asked to enter estimations of their current moods in addition to an assessment regarding their satisfaction with life in general, they also answered additional questions about whether they had been sitting, standing, walking, running, lying down, etc.

The app also asked about the users’ moods at that moment, simultaneously gathering data from the activity monitor built into almost every smartphone available today. Essentially, it checked whether someone’s recall of his/her movement tallied with the numbers from the activity monitor. Overall, the information provided by users and the activity monitors’ data was almost exactly the same.

People using the app also reported greater levels of happiness when they had been moving in the past quarter-hour, rather than when they had been sedentary—although often, they were not engaging in rigorous, strenuous activity. Researchers also found that people who moved more frequently tended to convey greater life satisfaction than those who spent most time in a chair.

The results suggest that people who are generally more active are generally happier, and in the moments during which they are active, they are also happier. While the study does not establish causation, the findings incontrovertibly indicate that if you get up and move often, you are more likely to feel cheerful than if you do not.

Virtual Reality & Pain Reduction

Virtual Reality (VR) has been increasingly used to manage pain, trauma, and distress–particularly during painful medical procedures–as investigators hypothesize that VR acts as a nonpharmacologic form of analgesia by exerting “an array of emotional affective, emotion-based cognitive and attentional processes on the body’s intricate pain modulation system.” While originally recognized for its entertainment value, the application has expanded to a number of clinical areas.

A study conducted by Cedars-Sinai using virtual reality therapy, during which participants wore virtual reality goggles to watch calming video content, indicated that VR may be an effective tool in addition to traditional pain management protocols. Moreover, VR gives doctors more options than solely medication or pharmaceuticals.

More recent research tested real world dental procedures, using circumstances that included a cold pressor lab setup and virtual reality headsets. The participants were immersed in two differing environments: a calm beachside walk, and a busy urban situation that was rife with distractions. The calming scene was significantly more effective in terms of improving the ways participants experience and remember pain, during tooth extractions and fillings.

While the data is not unpredictable, the study points to the fact that it is important to discern what types of virtual reality environments are effective in alleviating pain. Perhaps more importantly, future variations may include certain virtual situations that are better at reducing pain in other procedures.

Wireless & Wearable: Why Wait?

The market of wearable medical technology is one of the most rapidly growing and advancing sectors in the global marketplace, now comprised of devices that have the potential to alter and enhance lifestyle, provide diagnostic and therapeutic support, and aid in injury prevention. With new evolving and transforming models in healthcare, these devices pave the way for new alternatives to traditional ways that practitioners & providers have collected data, performed diagnostic tests, and interacted with patients.

These devices, which once solely focused on one single measurement (the number of steps in a day), now have the capabilities to focus on a variety of bodily measurements: heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, etc. New miniaturized sensors, wireless communication protocols, portability and data transfer abilities, are only a small sampling of the market’s proliferation. Collectively, wireless and wearable medical technologies represent a burgeoning opportunity in healthcare; a 2014 report from Soreon Research linked the emergence of wearables to the beginning of a “deep transformation of the healthcare sector.”

Now valued at approximately $13.2 billion for the year of 2016, the industry of wearable technology is continuing to progress, as healthcare professionals and practitioners are concentrating on the overwhelming need to monitor diseases and aging populations. Due to the advent of new wireless and Bluetooth technologies, a quickly improving infrastructure, and a mounting patient familiarity with wireless devices, the technological advancements are being embraced by the healthcare industry. In order to engineer systems that facilitate the incorporation of wearable medical devices into patients’ and physicians’ daily routines, the marriage of medicine & IT-advancements will continue to develop and strengthen.

One of MedTech Impact’s primary focuses is opening new frontiers of healthcare, while delivering information that helps transition from disease treatment to prevention, in addition to greater personalization of medical care.

Patient Medication Adherence: A ‘Smart’ Pill Bottle

All data and scientific literature indicate that poor medication adherence is directly correlated with increased hospitalizations, higher mortality rates, and a number of serious adverse health consequences. Approximately 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed, resulting in at least 100,000 preventable deaths per year. In terms of incurred costs, these numbers translate to between $100 billion and $300 billion dollars in spending, burdening the already weakened infrastructure of health care. Dr. Niteesh Choudhry, an internist at Harvard Medical School, describes the problem as “the final cascade of all of science.”

In order to reinforce the importance of taking medications as prescribed, to avoid premature death and preventable hospital admissions, a number of companies have developed wireless “smart” pill bottles: devices linked to the internet, designed to remind people to take their medications. These bottles and caps have the capability to send both email and text message reminders, in addition to notifying a caregiver if someone forgets to take medication.

AdhereTech has thousands of patients, including some diagnosed with HIV and cancer, who have turned to the company’s wireless device. Stein says, “Our system is automatically getting data sent from each and every bottle 24/7.” The bottle is equipped with sensors, which can detect not only when the cap is twisted, but also exactly how much medication is removed. A blue light pulses when it is time to take a pill; a red light flashes with the sound of a chime when a dose is missed, and the patient and/or caregiver receives a phone call or text message.

While a small, pilot study conducted by AdhereTech suggested that the pill bottle increased patient medication adherence by 24%, the system and its software is expensive to produce and maintain. Dr. Kevin Volpp, a physician and health economist who directs the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Health Incentives, is optimistic about pill bottle technologies—yet believes that the high-tech strategy “needs to be paired with social interventions.” A study he designed demonstrated better results for patients who had their pill bottles automatically alert friends, if doses were missed or not taken properly.

Overall, most researchers and clinicians agree that “reminder technology” will be a critical part of the multi-faceted solution to patient medication adherence.

Virtual Reality: Potential for Parkinson’s

A newly published review of evidence and data has indicated that virtual reality (VR) holds potential for rehabilitation of Parkinson’s disease, the neurodegenerative disorder that has historically been managed by a combination of medication and physiotherapy. Virtual reality technology has been proposed as a new and inventive rehabilitation tool, one that can potentially optimize motor learning and replicate real-life scenarios in order to improve functional activities.

The study assessed the effect of VR training on gait and balance, in addition to an examination of the effects of VR on motor function, daily living activities, cognitive function, and quality of life. In comparison to physiotherapy, VR demonstrated an improvement in step and stride length and balance, by stimulating movement through computer-based games. The studies further revealed that VR exercise exhibited potential advantages over traditional exercise, as individuals were able to practice in a motivating and engaging environment.

As Parkinson’s disease has significant adverse effects on quality of life and independence, VR interventions may lead to greater improvements than physiotherapy. The idea that technology can effectively curb and treat a disease that impacts millions of people globally in a host of negative and difficult ways is an innovative and exciting breakthrough, which will likely generate further findings and discoveries.

Linking Life Expectancy & Medical Innovation

Recent data and statistics demonstrate that overall American life expectancy has dropped for the first time in a decade, spurring an urgent and pressing need for the advent and proliferation of medical technology—coupled with scientific progress and laws to encourage innovation.

While the research points to specific factors that have lowered rates of mortality, including increased obesity, long-term unemployment, and a resurgence of chronic diseases, the studies incontrovertibly suggest the critical need to provide enhanced ‘life-saving and life-prolonging’ therapies and treatments.

There is no specific way to address the divergence of issues regarding lowered life expectancy, but there are particular measures that must be undertaken. These include enacting evidence-based policies that spur innovation, and further eliminating any roadblocks to America’s inventors.

By spearheading research that targets the most grave and life-threatening challenges in our medical and healthcare system, new resources will grow and develop, ultimately allowing for patients to access breakthrough therapies. The need for medical-technology innovation is steadily increasing, while removing obstacles to improving patient outcomes and creating high-tech manufacturing jobs remains a challenge.

We must collectively and cooperatively tackle the persistent healthcare problems that our country faces, while boosting innovation in the technological sector in order to further address medical challenges.

A Miracle Medical Chip: Devices that Heal

Researchers at Ohio State University have taken the first step in creating a medical chip that could ultimately heal almost any injury or disease.

The development of a small, dime-sized silicone device—known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT)—uses nanotechnology to actively reprogram a person’s cellular makeup. By simply placing the chip on a wound, the device sends an electrical pulse designed to convert living cells into whatever necessary cells the body requires. The pulse “opens a small window into the cell,” allowing the chip to transmit an entirely new genetic code. Moreover, the entire process takes less than one second.

The findings, published last week in the journal Nature, discuss lab tests during which mice with injured legs were completely repaired with a single touch of TNT: by turning skin cells into vascular cells, within the timespan of three weeks. This breakthrough technology does not only work on skin cells, but can also restore any type of tissue. The device was also able to restore brain function in a mouse who had suffered a stroke, by growing brain cells on its skin.

The future potential and implications of such a device are clearly limitless, but some of the researchers’ ideas include reprogramming the brain cells of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or stroke patients, regenerating injured limbs, or helping victims of car crashes or combat at the scene of the accident.

Director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, Chandan Sen, says, “This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital, and can actually be excited in the field. It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.” Additionally, while current cell methods of cell therapy carry high risks—like introducing a virus—TNT treatment has no known side effects, and requires almost no time to carry out.

While the technology is currently waiting for approval from the FDA, Sen states that the device is expected to enter human trials within the next year, and he is currently in communications with Walter Reed National Medical Center. “We are proposing the use of skin as an agricultural land where you can essentially grow any cell of interest,” says Sen.

CMO School: How to Become a Medical Advisor

MedTech Impact is excited to announce a new workshop: “CMO School: How to Become a Medical Advisor,” developed, designed, and presented by Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA. As President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs, in addition to professor emeritus at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health, Modern Healthcare named Dr. Meyers one of the ‘50 Most Influential Physician Executives’ of 2011, with subsequent nominations in both 2012 and 2013.

Dr. Meyers will host the session at 7:00am on December 14, 2017, the first day of the conference. During the interactive Q&A session, attendees will learn the various aspects of how to become an operative and successful medical advisor to companies at all levels of product development. With extensive experience in consultations for companies, governments, and universities around the globe, Dr. Meyers brings valued perspective and insight surrounding entrepreneurship and commercialization.

The mission of this session is to deliver information regarding the ways in which healthcare practitioners and professionals can effectively collaborate with industries. In the sphere of healthcare, there is a necessity for companies to understand what physicians require in terms of new products and/or services: more importantly, how a physician will integrate tools into practice. Yet there is no formal continuing education focused on ways to become a Chief Medical Officer, or a physician adviser.

Dr. Meyers will discuss where to find opportunities, in addition to what resources and networking opportunities are currently available. He will further delve into strategic ways to outline expectations concerning time, resources, and compensation. Dr. Meyers will also emphasize potential pitfalls and drawbacks, coupled with ways to avoid problematic obstacles.

About MedTech Impact:

The goal of MedTech Impact is to help healthcare practitioners and professionals better serve their patients through the use of technology, by utilizing devices and products that help track progress, assist with diagnoses, and ultimately support injury and disease prevention. By connecting attendees with the most recent and innovative scientific research and clinical education, MedTech Impact envisions helping clinics, hospitals, and private practitioners protect and build the infrastructure of their practices through the most recently developed and cutting-edge devices, equipment, and technology. For more information, visit http://www.medtechimpact.com/.

PRESS CONTACT:

Heather Johnson
MedTech Impact Expo & Conference
561-997-0112 x7902
heather@medtechimpact.com

Fighting Pain Without Painkillers

Statistics indicate that 140 people die each day from drug overdoses in the United States—most of them linked to opioids and painkillers. Due to the increasingly severe public health crisis, companies are now manufacturing new devices to replace addictive painkillers, and innovators are looking to technology for groundbreaking, inventive ways to tackle the increasingly critical opioid crisis.

A team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have founded Biobot Labs, merging a research collaboration between the departments of biological engineering and urban studies and planning. The ultimate goal was to design technology that “analyzes human waste flowing through the sewers at various points throughout the system,” and to test the wastewater systems for metabolized traces of various substances in order to isolate the places with the highest concentrations of opioid—or any drug—users. Co-founder and CEO of Biobot Labs Newsha Ghaeli has stated that the goal is to shift data collection away from overdose and death, and instead focus on overdose prevention and early detection.

New clinical trials have demonstrated considerable success for a device known as a spinal cord stimulator, engineered to alleviate back pain. After implanting the experimental device under the skin at the spine base, the technology sends a mild electric current to the spinal cord’s nerve fibers. Scientists believe that the therapy, known as neuromodulation or neurostimulation, interrupts the pain signals that are carried from the nerves to the brain. While the idea was originally conceived in the 1960s, recent years have seen the technology expand and grow.

Other less-invasive devices that can be used outside the body, and do not require surgery, stimulate the peripheral nerves: the network of nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord. Cleveland-based SPR Therapeutics, which received FDA clearance last year for its device, involves a simple nonsurgical procedure in which a tiny wire is placed under the skin—near the nerves—and connected externally to the stimulator, which can be worn anywhere on the body.

As opioid use and abuse in the United States has skyrocketed, these new medical devices could offer drug-free alternatives for some patients. Michael Leong, a pain specialist at the Stanford University School of Medicine, states that the benefit of these devices is that when patients use them, they are able to fake fewer or no pharmaceuticals. “People are afraid of opioids right now. There’s a stigma. Patients don’t want to be on opioids,” he says.