December 11-13, 2020

MedTech Impact 2020

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Category: News

MedTech Insider: CashMD Launches Price Transparency Platform

MedTech Insider: CashMD Launches Price Transparency Platform



New Study Offers Insight on VR Pain Management Outcomes

A recently published clinical study completed at Cedars-Sinai is providing a glimpse at the real-world outcomes of inpatient VR patient management. The research demonstrates that therapeutic virtual reality may not merely be an effective approach for hospital inpatient experiencing pain, but may retain its impact when provided over multiple days under real-world circumstances. In the study’s conclusion, the researchers wrote: “We found that on-demand use of VR in a diverse group of hospitalized patients was well tolerated and resulted in statistically significant improvements in pain versus a control group exposed to an in-room ‘health and wellness’ television channel. These results build upon earlier studies and further indicate that VR is an effective adjunct therapy to complement traditional pain management protocols in hospitalized patients.” Read More

MedTech Insider: U.K. Reroutes $300 million Towards New AI Lab


U.K. Reroutes $300 million Towards New AI Lab

The United Kingdom has announced plans to invest £250M (~$300M) in public funds towards the National Health Service (NHS) to develop an artificial intelligence laboratory. The Lab will be charged with the responsibility of expanding the use of AI within the NHS as it oversees the digitization efforts of the NHSX. The Lab will serve as “an interface for academic and industry experts, including potentially startups, encouraging research and collaboration with NHS entities (and data) — to drive health-related AI innovation and the uptake of AI-driven healthcare within the NHS.” In a press release, the Department of Health and Social Care claimed that the lab will “bring together the industry’s best academics, specialists and technology companies to work on some of the biggest challenges in health and care, including earlier cancer detection, new dementia treatments and more personalized care.”


Pillpack Faces Rising Opposition Against CVS and Walgreens

The struggle between Amazon’s Pillpack–an emerging e-prescription service– and pharmacy powerhouses CVS and Walgreen has continued to escalate. Most recently, PillPack has experienced an increasing number of denied transfer requests from the two pharmacies. While CVS and Walgreens claim that the company is not receiving proper consent from patients, PillPack argues that the pharmacies are improperly refusing to honor legitimate requests. In a statement to CNBC, PillPack spokeswoman Jacquelyn Miller shared: “While incumbent pharmacies may be disappointed in the loss of business, it is unacceptable to make unsubstantiated allegations about PillPack’s practices while simultaneously creating systemic barriers that make it harder for a customer to switch pharmacies.” Walgreens, CVS, as well as the National Community Pharmacists Association (a co-owner of PillPack rival, Surescripts) have all previously voiced concerns over PillPack’s alleged practices, with a Walgreens spokesperson commenting: “We’ve communicated our concerns directly to PillPack. We respect our patients’ privacy rights, and strongly believe that patients are entitled to, and benefit from a personal and trusted relationship with their pharmacist.”


Cerner & Duke Collaborate On CVD Patient Data

Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) is partnering with health IT company, Cerner on a pilot project to analyze de-identified patient data to determine the most effective treatment options for chronic cardiovascular disease. Duke researchers will utilize Cerner technology, named the Cerner Learning Health Network, to analyze de-identified patient data from the University of Missouri Health Care and Ascension Seton in collaboration with Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. In a released statement, Ann Marie Novar, the principal investigator for the research project explained: “Current models for clinical research and registries that rely on mostly manual chart abstraction are too expensive, too slow and too small to continue. We have to figure out better ways to leverage existing electronic resources to transform how we do clinical research.” Once completed, the research will be published and sponsored by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a pharmaceutical company of Johnson & Johnson.


CMS Proposal May Allow Physicians More Freedom To Use Remote Patient Monitoring

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has  announced two proposed changes to the 2020 Physician Fee Schedule which may provide more room for practitioners to more easily receive reimbursement from remote patient monitoring. The proposed amendments amend CPT code 99457, which was first introduced last year in order to cover “remote physiologic monitoring treatment management services, 20 minutes or more of clinical staff/physician/other qualified healthcare professional time in a calendar month requiring interactive communication with the patient/caregiver during the month.” The new proposals would alter this code to cover additional time spent on care. In a blog, Nathaniel Lacktman, a partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm and chair of its national Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team shared: “Changing the RPM rules to expressly allow incident to billing of CPT code 99457 under general supervision greatly expands the potential operations and business models associated with RPM services, thereby allowing more patients to enjoy the quality-improving benefits of remote patient monitoring.”



MedTech Insider: U.K. Reroutes $300 million Towards New AI Lab
This Week: Telehealth Innovation Bill Returns to Capitol Hill

This Week: Telehealth Innovation Bill Returns to Capitol Hill

CMS Launches New Physician Focused Claims Data Project

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced the launch of a new pilot program aimed at providing healthcare providers with direct access to patient claims data. Using application programming interfaces through the Medicare Blue Button program, the program is designed to allow practitioners with deeper insight into patients’ history, providing data access to previous diagnoses, medication lists, and more to provide a more full picture of a patient’s medical history. The pilot has launched on the program website, where clinicians may request access to the pilot. CMS will begin the program with a select group in August, and then expand to a growing number of providers. In a statement, CMS Administrator Seema Verma noted: “Technology, coupled with open data sharing, is how we will improve value, control costs and keep patients healthy while ensuring a solvent Medicare program for generations to come.


Kaiser Permanente Appoints First Chief Digital Officer

Kaiser Permanente has appointed Prat Vemana as its first Chief Digital Officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. Vemana will be responsible for the strategy, development, and execution of the company’s digital vision in partnership with the internal health plan, hospital, and medical group teams. As the former Chief of Product for Home Depot, the move marks the continued trend of medical organizations looking outside of healthcare for technology expertise. In a released statement, Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO Bernard J. Tyson shared: “We’ve made tremendous investments in building our digital platforms and creating greater access for our members. Now we are taking it to the next level by focusing on digital experiences that change the way transactions and services are delivered.”


Researchers develop wearable device that could administer medication to prevent overdoes deaths

Researchers from Purdue University are developing a wearable sensor capable of detecting when a user’s heart rate decreases to trigger the administration of Narcan–an antidote used for opioid overdoses. Still in the proof-of-concept stage, the wearable sensor is made up of a battery, RF control, and induction device. In a video describing the developing technology, Hyowon Lee, an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue, explained: “A lot of time patients who overdoes are found alone and are incapacitated to inject the life-saving drug themselves. We are trying to come up with a closed loop solution that can automatically deliver an antidote.” The opioid crisis remains as a major public health crisis within the U.S., with over 70,237 overdose deaths in 2017 alone.


Telehealth Innovation Bill Returns to Capitol Hill for Third Attempt

The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act  is headed back to congress after failed attempts in 2015 and 2017. The bill seeks to provide incentive for more healthcare providers to launch telehealth programs through reimbursements via the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMI). Additionally, the bill would have the CMI evaluate telehealth models for cost, effectiveness, and improvement in quality of care “without increasing the costs of delivery.” In a press release, U.S. Representative John Curtis (R-UT) who introduced the bill with co-sponsor Joe Neguse (D-CO) stated: “Telehealth innovation is critical to expanding cost-effective healthcare access in a state like Utah, where care is often unavailable or difficult to access for rural communities. […] Technology provides great potential to enhance connectivity between healthcare professionals and their patients and I’m pleased to work with willing partners on both sides of the aisle to find healthcare solutions for rural communities across Utah and around the country.”

MedTech Insider: FDA Releases Mid-Year Pre-Cert Update


FDA Releases Mid-Year Pre-Cert Update

The Federal Drug Administration has released a mid-year update on its digital health pre-certification pilot program. Currently, the original 9 companies allowed are enrolled within the new Working Model format, meaning that additional companies seeking approval on new products will no go through the new Pre-Cert pathway in addition to the traditional review process. Unlike previous FDA regulatory processes, the Pre-Cert program will provide approval focus on companies and developers as opposed to individual products. As part of the program, the FDA will complete retrospective testing in which the agency developed a mock excellence appraisal summary based upon the pilot participant site visits and public comments. Reviewers additionally completed a mock assessment to determine if a regulatory decision could be made on the excellence appraisal summary. In the update, the agency remarked that, “The test achieved its objectives in identifying the feasibility of the Streamlined Review package along with the Excellence Appraisal summary to be sufficient to conduct a premarket review of SaMD [software as a medical device].”  If finalized, the Pre-Cert program could drastically alter the way digital health companies interact with the FDA.  


Healthcare Industry Experiences Unprecedented Rates in Data Breaches

For the ninth consecutive year, the healthcare industry has experienced the highest cost of  data breaches. According to recent findings from the “Cost of a Data Breach Report” completed by IBM Security and Ponem Institute, the rise in data breaches have cost organizations nearly $6.3 million on average, more than 60 percent higher than any other industry. In a comment to Healthcare IT news, Chief Technology Officer and Global Remediate Lead at IBM X-Force IRIS explained the vulnerability of patient data: “Unlike passwords that can be changed or credit cards that can be reset with an expiration date, health data lasts forever and can be used for numerous malicious activities such as identity theft, insurance and health care fraud, and more.” Scott, as well as other security experts, shared that one critical area of improvement for healthcare organizations would be the adoption of security automation tools.


Tension Rises Between Amazon’s Pill Pack and Surescripts

A year after acquiring the online pharmacy company PillPack for $753 million, Amazon is involved in a tense battle with incumbent industry player Surescipts over access to patient data. PillPack’s current online pharmacy service depends on comprehensive patient medications lists provided indirectly from Surescripts in order to inform patients on health and safety risks, and help them keep up with refills. PillPack now says that access to this vital patient data will soon be cut off: “While we’re not surprised when powerful incumbents try to undermine these efforts, we are confident that our collaborative approach to bring customers more choice, more convenience, and improved quality will ultimately prevail.” Amazon is now considering legal action again the CVS owned company. The conflict follows a recent lawsuit filed by the FTC alleging that Surescripts is “illegally monopolizing the e-prescribing market.”


CVS Health Launch Social Care Network

CVS Health will be launches a social care network platform aimed at addressed social determinants of health as insurers develop strategies to integrate beyond doctor’s offices and into communities in order to reduce medical costs. CVS and its Aetna health insurance will reportedly partner with Unite Us, a “social care coordination platform.” The social care platform comes alongside an wide host of initiatives intended to address various social determinants of health in order to cut health care costs including a $40 million investments from CVS and Aetna in affordable housing. In a released statement, Taylor Justice, Co-Founder and President of Unite Us, remarked: “Our mission is to connect individuals and families across the United States to the services they need through collaboration with local service providers, shared infrastructure, and an inclusive approach for those in need.”



MedTech Insider:  FDA Releases Mid-Year Pre-Cert Update
MedTech Insider: Digital Health Market On Track for Its Best Year Ever

MedTech Insider: Digital Health Market On Track for Its Best Year Ever


Digital Health Market On Track for Its Best Year Ever

A new funding report compiled by Mercom Capital Group has shown that the first half of 2019 has drawn in the largest funding numbers within digital health than any year prior, setting the market to reach unprecedented numbers come the year’s end. In line with previous reports completed by Rock Health and MobiHealthNews, the findings show a to-date funding of $5.1 billion raised by 318 deals (2018 drew $4.9 billion from 383 deals). The report further broke down the market funding through highlighting the highest funding market segments. Analytic startups currently lead the market with $1.1 billion, followed by telemedicine with $896 million and mobile health apps with $627 million. The findings have led many industry experts and stakeholders to express hesitant concern on a possible market bubble, such as Cercom Capital Group CEO, Raj Prabhu who shared: “We are in an ‘invest first and ask questions later’ environment where investors are more worried about missing out in this hot space. After a long hiatus, we are seeing several digital health companies entering the IPO market in the US. Successful IPOs could open the floodgates, whereas if IPOs fizzle out, it could shut the IPO exit path for many digital health companies.”


Mount Sinai Collaborates With LabCorp on AI Pathology Center

LabCorp and The Mount Sinai Health System have announced an additional aspect of their ongoing partnership: the two organizations will work together to develop the Mount Sinai Digital and Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Pathology Center of Excellence. LabCorp, which has previously implemented the Philips IntelliSite Pathology Solution into four of its laboratories will introduce the technology to all remaining location. In utilizing its expertise in digital pathology, LabCorp will help lead the integration into clinical practices throughout Mount Sinai’s hospitals. In a statement, Dr. Carlos Cordon-Cardo, chairman of the Department of Pathology, Molecular and Cell-Based Medicine at the Mount Sinai Health System shared: “Digital pathology gives us the unprecedented opportunity to expand our services to the community at large, and engage members of our department, considered key opinion leaders in their field, to provide expert diagnostic opinions in complex cases.” As one of the largest academic departments of its kind nationwide, the department processes over 80 million diagnostic tests each year.


First AI Pathology Tech With “Clinical Grade Accuracy”

Researchers associated with medical tech startup, Paige and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have published a new article which details its artificial intelligence based detection system for identifying prostate cancer, skin cancer, and breast cancer. Published within the peer-reviewed medical journal, Nature Medicine, the company claims to have achieved “near-perfect accuracy.” In the article, the researchers describe the tech as having employed deep learning train on a data set of almost 45,000 slide images taken from more than 15,000 patients across 44 countries. In a statement, Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Paige, Dr. Thomas Fuchs shared: “After years of in-depth, comprehensive modeling, training, and testing, we are thrilled that Nature Medicine has published our paper, which demonstrates our ability to train accurate classification models at unprecedented scale, and validates our mission to create the world’s first clinical-grade, artificial intelligence in pathology.” The next step for the company is to begin the commercialization of the tech.


Physician Interest In Telemedicine Doubles

A new analysis completed by professional medical network, Doximity, has demonstrated a significant increase in physician interest in telemedicine. The analysis found that the number of physicians who self-reported telemedicine as a skill double between 2015 and 2018 and continues to trend upwards by 20%.  According to a recent JAMA study, the trend correlates with the growing number of telemedicine patient visits which has increased by 261% annually between 2015 and 2017. The Doximity report noted: “In 2018, the global telemedicine market was valued at over $38.3 billion. By 2025, it’s projected that this market will exceed $130.5 billion.”



MedTech Insider: FCC Votes on $100M New Funding For Telehealth


New Research Demonstrates How AI Can Improve Cost of Care Models

A recent report published by Innovacer–a health data and population health management consulting company– highlights the ways in which advanced machine learning algorithms can improve risk models to better manage and predict the cost of care. The report model analyzes data from multiple sources including claims data, electronic health records, and social determinants of health. The company’s report suggest that using advanced analytics to analyze the impact of key clinical and lifestyle metric on overall health outcomes could save time and cut costs. In a statement, former Geisinger CEO, and current vice chair of the Health Transformation Alliance, and advisor to Innovacer noted: “The transformation from volume to value requires innovative strategies for assessing risk and predicting outcomes. […] This innovation must be based on a solid data foundation and it’s encouraging to see Innovaccer’s data-driven approach being applied to an AI-based risk scoring model – something that can address one of the most pressing needs in healthcare today.”


FCC Votes on $100M New Funding For Telehealth

In mid June, FCC commisioner Brendan Carr announced that the agency would be holding a vote to advance the $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program to help expand telehealth access to low-income individuals, and veterans across the United States. The commissioners have since voted unanimously to move forward with the funding program, which would develop a three year pilot to help healthcare providers with the associated costs of broadband service. The program will cover up to 85% of particular internet connectivity costs for broadband-enabled telehealth services which connect patient to physicians. The move received wide approval and praise from several leading tech and health organizations include AT&T, Connected Health, and The App Association among others. The agency is currently seeking public input on the appropriate budget, structure, eligible participants, and duration on the pilot.


Researchers Develop Artificial Muscles Capable of Achieving Powerful Pulling Force

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a way to imitate the coiling and pulling function found in natural muscles to produce contracting fiber that can be used as artificial muscles for robots, prosthetic limbs, or a variety of biomedical applications. The new, light-weight fiber-based system surpasses previous approaches in response time and agility. The new fibers were developed using a fiber-drawing technique to combine two dissimilar polymers into a single strand of fiber. The fibers are capable of spanning a wide range of sizes from “a few micrometers (millionths of a meter) to a few millimeters (thousandths of a meter) in width, and can easily be manufactured in batches up to hundreds of meters long.” The researchers tests have demonstrated that a single fiber is capable of lifting loads of up to 650 times its own weight.


FTC Approves UnitedHealth Group $4.3B Acquisition of DaVita

The Federal Trade Commission has granted approval of UnitedHealth Group’s $4.3 billion acquisition of DaVita Medical Group, with conditions. In response to the FTC allegations that the deal would impair competition in healthcare markets within Clark and Nye Counties in Nevada, both companies agreed to divest DaVita Medical Group’s provider organization in the Las Vegas Area to Intermountain Healthcare in Utah, within 40 days following the acquisition. Two commissioners were prepared to challenge the acquisition court, but chose to accept the decision after the Attorney General of Colorado agreed to taken action in “an effort to address some of the harmful effects of the merger in a separate action.” In a released statement, Commissioners, Noah Joshua Phillips and Christine S. Wilson exaplained: “We do not rule out the possibility that vertical mergers can harm competition under a RRC (raising rivals’ costs) theory. But vertical mergers often generate procompetitive benefits that must also factor into the antitrust analysis. A major source of these benefits is the elimination of double-marginalization, which places downward pressure on prices in the output market.”


NHS Teams Up With Amazon To Develop Alexa-Enabled Health Information

The U.K.’s National Health Serves (NHS) is teaming up with Amazon to provide Alexa users with “reliable health information.” The agency announced that the technology would allow patients to receive “profession, NHS-verified health information in seconds” using voice-assisted technology. A developed algorithm will connect information from the NHS website to provide patients with appropriate responses to medical questions. Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care noted that the move demonstrated “a great example of how people can access reliable, world-leading NHS advice from the comfort of their home, reducing the pressure on our hardworking GPs and pharmacists.” 




MedTech Insider: FCC Votes on $100M New Funding For Telehealth
MedTech Insider: UK Announces New Funding Mandate for Health Tech

MedTech Insider: UK Announces New Funding Mandate for Health Tech

White House Release Updates to AI Transparency

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy has released an update to its National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan with a new set of objectives for federal AI research. The updated plan highlights explicit strategies for the development of safe and effective AI and machine learning technologies for healthcare and additional industries. The report emphasized the importance of transparency of AI developments within healthcare especially, explaining: “Many algorithms, including those based on deep learning, are opaque to users, with few existing mechanisms for explaining their results. This is especially problematic for domains such as healthcare, where doctors need explanations to justify a particular diagnosis or a course of treatment. […] Researchers must develop systems that are transparent, and intrinsically capable of explaining the reasons for their results to users.”

UK Announces New Funding Mandate for Health Tech

UK Health Minister Nicola Blackwood has announced a new funding mandate for health technology to be introduced in 2020. Speaking at the Association of British HealthTech Industries, Blackwood explained that the U.K. government has plans to build  “a finance innovation ecosystem which promotes collaboration between the NHS and industry, to ensure new technologies meet NHS priorities and therefore have a ready-made market within the UK”. The funding mandate will function as a part of the Accelerated Access Collaborative–a UK organization which serves the NHS and industry partners. The AAC will develop a process which works to identify valuable new innovations which match the needs of patients and clinicians. Minister Blackwood noted: “The combination of a health tech funding mandate and a globally leading testing infrastructure will ensure the best new innovations get into the NHS, and to patients, faster.”

United Health Group Acquires Patients Like Me

After losing it’s majority stakeholder in April under direct pressure from U.S. regulators, health tech company, Patients Like Me, has been recently purchased by United Health Group. In an announcement, the company explained that in following with the acquisition, Patients Like Me will now join as a part of United’s research arm centered upon healthcare innovation. In a message to members, CEO Jamie Heywood shared: “We’ve chosen to join with UnitedHealth Group Research & Development because they share that same drive to improve health at the individual level and to ensure that healthcare outcomes across the board are more effective.”

Premier & UPMC Partner on New Pharma Supply AI Technology

Health improvement company Premier has partnered with UPMC owned cognitive supply chain company Pensiamo to launch a new pharmaceutical supply chain. The technology tool, CongnitiveRx, monitors market demand and utilizes machine learning to help maintain inventory levels during pharmaceutical shortages. The technology predicts and manages challenges related to drug shortages including inflation, declining reimbursement, and other significant supply chain factors. In a released statement, Pensiamo CEO Jim Szilagy shared: “CognitiveRx provides access to market exclusive recommendations that predict drug supply disruption risk, and support the rapid identification of clinical, purchasing and inventory solutions.”

University of Chicago Faces Lawsuit Over Patient Data Sharing With Google

The University of Chicago has been accused of sharing identifiable patient data in a recent potential class action lawsuit. Filed on behalf of a former University of Chicago Medical Center patient (with the goal of expanding to a class action lawsuit if additional patients come forward) the lawsuit claims that University disclosed confidential medical information to Google. Two years ago, the University of Chicago announced a plan to partner with Google to study ways which electronic medical records can make discoveries to improve healthcare standards. Both organizations have stated that the collaboration only included de-identified patient data. The lawsuit claims: “Publicly, Google and the University touted the security measures used to transfer and store these records, along with the fact that they had been ‘de-identified.’ In reality, these records were not sufficiently anonymized and put the patients’ privacy at grave risk.”  In a statement to Fierce Healthcare, Matthew Fisher, a partner with Boston-based law firm Mirick O’Connell explained: “An implied question seems to be whether data can truly be de-identified at this point in time, especially when provided to a big tech company like Google.”

MedTech Insider: Convincing Boards To Make Cybersecurity A Priority

Convincing Boards To Make Cybersecurity A Priority

Due to sensitive and valuable data gathered by healthcare providers, medical organization are among the most likely and vulnerable targets for cybercrime. Read More

MedTech Insider: Convincing Boards To Make Cybersecurity A Priority