This week’s digital health news…
Georgia collaborates with digital health platform and Walmart to create employee health initiatives
The Georgia Department of Community Health has partnered with Walmart and the digital health engagement platform Sharecare to launch a new health initiative for state employees and their families, covered under state insurance. The program allows users to track personalized health goals through the Sharecare app, and rewards completed goals with cash incentives matched by Walmart. In a released statement, Georgia governor Nathan Deal stated: “Supporting employees in their pursuit of health and wellness is the right thing to do and it’s good for business. As Georgians work toward physical goals, we understand that a healthy workforce provides a strong foundation for a healthy economy.”
Walgreens teams up with Microsoft to create new healthcare delivery models
On Tuesday, Walgreens Boots Alliance and Microsoft signed a seven-year deal to begin the development of new healthcare delivery models. Walgreens will transfer the majority of its IT workloads to Microsoft’s cloud network Azure, and begin to utilize Microsoft’s AI platform and other healthcare investments. In a joint news release, the companies committed to building a “seamless ecosystem of participating organizations to better connect consumers, providers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, and payors.” The partnership marks a new stage in Walgreen’s progressive transition towards digital health. In the joint release, Walgreen Boots Alliance CEO Stefano Pessina stated: “Our strategic partnership with Microsoft demonstrates our strong commitment to creating integrated, next-generation, digitally enabled healthcare delivery solutions for our customers, transforming our stores into modern neighborhood health destinations and expanding customer offerings.”
Singapore’s Minister for Health outlines response on SingHealth Cyber Attack
On Tuesday, Singapore’s Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong delivered a statement in the Singapore Parliament regarding the recent Committee of Inquiry (COI) report on the SingHealth cyberattack. From 2015 to 2018, nearly 1.5 million patients visiting the SingHealth clinics had their personal records illegally access and copied. The COI report identified several factors leading to the attack, including a lack of staff training and IT vulnerabilities. In the statement, the minister announced the appointment of a Cybersecurity Advisory Committee to conduct a review of the cybersecurity governance processes across public healthcare programs. Yong also outlined four key strategies: enhancing governance and organizational structures, developing a cybersecurity model with multiple lines of defense, improving the cybersecurity awareness and capacity of staff, and considering the creation of a tiered model of Internet access.
ONC releases “snapshot” guide to new interoperability standards
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has released the 2019 reference edition of its Interoperability Standards Advisory guide. The reference guide provides a “snapshot” view of the agency’s new interoperability standards and updated initiatives. The wide-ranging document covers recommendations including terminology standards, implementation specifications, and administrative guidelines. In a blog posted on Monday, the agency asserted that the report should be “considered as an open and transparent resource for the industry and reflects the latest thinking around standards development with an eye toward nationwide interoperability.”
New research estimates healthcare spend in wearable to reach $60 Billion by 2023
New findings from market analyst organization Juniper Research forecast a sizable increase in wearable spending in coming years. Leading the emerging trend are health tracking devices and remote patient monitoring systems. The report noted that technological advancements, such as improved artificial intelligence capabilities, have provided medical institutions and regulators with increased confidence in wearable technology. In a news release, report author Michael Larner observed that a primary obstacle for business models and tech developers would be navigating data privacy and consent protocols: “It is vital that patients are made aware of how their personal data will be used. If not, making wearables a ‘must have’ to provide personalized care or receive medical insurance risks a backlash from patients and heightened regulatory scrutiny, stalling the effectiveness of remote monitoring.”
UC Health expands patient health record access with Apple
Medical network UC Health has announced the expansion of its Apple Health Record program: a program first launched by the company in 2018 to a limited number of patients. After publishing a recent study detailing the overall positive responses from system users, UCHealth expanded full access to its nearly 5 million patients. In a blog post, UC San Diego Health CIO Christopher Longhurst and Aaron Neinstein from the UCSF Center for Digital Health Innovation wrote: “Over the past decade, our patients have had increasing access to their own health data via electronic patient portals. Now, in an exciting transformation in health care, patients are shifting from simply accessing their health data to more directly managing and using it to improve their health and care.” The decision marks the continual trend and demand for patient accessible health data.