Digital healthcare digest: January & February of 2020

It’s spring, so it’s time for a double issue of our digest with main digital health events, inventions and actions that happened during January and February. One of the sections will be focused on digital tech startups and initiatives, fighting the coronavirus outbreak.


The Trump administration & HHS released a draft of a new health IT roadmap for the next five years. The plan is modelled to drive digital healthcare and simplify patients’ access to their health data; a large part of it focuses on standardization of health applications and healthcare cost transparency.

Bruno Bruins, Dutch minister for medical care, gave €75 million to hospitals and clinics to allow patients to see and share all of their healthcare data online and meet MedMij security framework.

Digital health data & security

Windows 7 reached its end of life date on January, 14. It means every computer that still uses the system will be vulnerable to cyberattacks. That’s a hit to update your systems as soon as possible.

The American Medical Association (AMIA) recommended the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to revise its data sharing and management strategies to improve workflows and increase the value of scientific data.

The Carin Alliance - private sector collaboration with participants from the tech field and different branches of the healthcare industry, - urged the American federal government to approve interoperability rule as soon as possible. Here’s their open letter. Before that, Epic’s CEO sent a letter to the healthcare executives asking to go against the proposed rules due to security issues that can be amplified through data sharing via APIs. Tech companies also signed a letter to the government, stating it’s necessary to accept the new rule to achieve levels of care that fit 21st century standards: transparency, accessibility and technological proficiency. Patient advocates did the same. New interoperability rule has not been accepted yet.

FDA announced a cybersecurity alert on GE Healthcare’s medical devices, here is the list of what exactly may have been compromised.

Med transportation service called Reva notified 1000 patients of a data breach, presumably caused by hackers gaining access to one of employees’ email. A provider in Texas started informing more than 6500 patients about a phishing attack as well. We wrote an article on how to avoid that shit and we highly recommend reading it, because, according to new Protenus and DataBreaches.net research, the number of data breaches in healthcare tripled (tripled!!) in 2019 compared to 2018.

Owners of telemedicine companies Advantage Choice Care and Tele Medicare were bribed by pharmacies, medical braid suppliers and patient recruiters to “order unnecessary braces for Medicare beneficiaries,” which resulted in a $56 million fraud scheme.

Texas hospital paid $300 thousand of penalty for a typo in a dataset that should have been forwarded to the Center for Medical & Medicaid Services, but haven’t been, which reduced Medicare payments.

Digital health startups vs Coronavirus outbreak

The Worldwide Health Organization and major tech companies like Google and Pinterest started a campaign on fighting misinformation about coronavirus. For instance, Pinterest links accurate info about the virus when people search for that topic, and Facebook has its employees flagging “infordemic” posts.

The Chinese government released an app to help citizens figure out if they interacted with COVID-19: app asks users of their phone number, name and ID number to cross-check if the contact with suspected or confirmed case happened.

The national HIT agency in Singapore collaborated with KroniKare, an AI startup, and launched an AI-driven temperature screening solution called iThermo and installed the program on the streets. iThermo provides real-time updates from cameras at multiple locations in Singapore and enables remote monitoring of population health from different websites.

Israel’s Sheba Hospital treats patients with coronavirus remotely. They use Datos’ platform for remote monitoring and Tyto Care’s devices, consumer-friendly solutions for patients to be able to do medical exams without medical personnel, and InTouchHealth’s robotic telemedicine cart Vici, which has a camera, screen, and equipment that are sent to patients’ house and controlled by clinicians.

Buoy Health, a health chatbot, and Health Map, a digital epidemiology team that tracks outbreaks through social media and other online “crowding” places, collaborate to collect epidemiological data about COVID-19, so users can know more about symptoms and the virus itself.

Science research and social studies related to the industry

UPMC’s Center for Connected Medicine’s survey among health system professionals shows: only 4 in 10 of them provide patients with digital tools they need/expect to have. Integration of new, useful, and engaging technologies that work quick and improve patients experience remain an issue, and most digital solutions offered to patients are mostly pretty basic.

KPMG reports: healthcare executives are sure AI makes healthcare systems more efficient and increases patient access to care, but roughly half of them are concerned AI weakens their security and their workforce is not trained, nor ready for adoption.

Physician burnout has improved over the last 5 years - fell to 42% from 46%. That is the data from Medscape’s survey. Meanwhile, Stanford Medicine released a cool report called The Rise of the Data-Driven Physicians. Among other things, they’ve found out that physicians believe a quarter of their work will be automated in the future, which kind of makes us hope for that very much.

Some people in the USA use fish antibiotics because they don’t have money for doctors or medicine.

Robots assist in 15% of surgeries, despite the dangerous and limited evidence of them being safe. Great for surgeons and tech companies, not too great for unhappy accidents.

A study from NJ Digital Medicine discovers a hole in virtual assistants’ healthcare opportunities that wasn’t researched and utilized: addiction support. Answering to “help me quit drugs,” Alexa answers with a definition of the word “drugs,” Google assistant referred users to Dr. QuitNow application, and Siri - on the “help me quit pot” request - gave users info about a marijuana retailer.

Employees prefer to search their symptoms online than ask doctors about what they mean. At the same time, most employees want their employers to try implementing digital health tools to manage their health.

The number of medical devices that were recalled by the FDA in 2019 was higher than in any year since 2014, according to KVUE.

Machine learning accurately predicted utilization of hospital departments’ (ED and inpatient department) using just data of their patients’ social determinants of health: age group, gender, and race.

Study in Healthcare affairs proved, one more time, that Medicaid is good: insurance’s expansion slowed health decline for low-income adults on American South.

Chatbots decrease uncertainty among patients, making them think twice before calling an ambulance or having intense paranoia about their symptoms: chatbots give them the most probable illness options and care tips and offer to connect them with doctors online. The JAMA study used data from Buoy Health.

Researchers from the University of Houston advanced their microfluidic brain chip that can determine optimal drug combination for glioblastoma - brain tumour - in two weeks (which is a record speed.)

Digital health finances

One Medical filed for IPO and wanted to raise about $100 million in offering — price started from $14 per share. It's risen up to fluctuate between $22 and $24.5.

Chine-based biotech I-Mab Biopharma raised $104 million in its IPO on the USA Nasdaq. The company operates in the oncology and immunology field.

Health AI startups raised $4B last year globally, according to CB Insights. In particular, mental health technology reached £580 million. According to Silicon Valley Bank, the investment will continue to rise, driven by healthcare provider operations and alternative care companies.

Market collaborations and M&A

Sutter Health, a non-profit healthcare network, collaborated with Lyft to improve transportation for patients and staff. Sutter healthcare facilities in Northern California will be able to develop personalized transportation programs to make access to care simpler.

Health Catalyst, an analytics company, acquires Able Health, a company from San Francisco that develops cloud-based quality and regulatory-management tracking and reporting solutions. The sum of the deal is $27 million.

American medtech provider Medtronic (which is the largest medtech provider in the world) acquired British Digital Surgery, that develops AI and digital L&D solutions for surgeons. Another Medtronic acquisition is Stimgenics, a company that works on a spinal cord waveform technology for people with chronic pain.

Startup Verana Health that curates and analyses real-world clinical data gained $100 million of funding and acquired PYA Analytics, specialists in data architecture.

Teladoc Health, a virtual care company, announced the acquisition of InTouch Health, a developer of enterprise-scale telehealth solutions for hospitals.

Pear Sports, a digital coaching platform for morning fitness, acquires Function Solutions - another fitness company. Pear Sports is especially interested in integrating Functional Solutions’ visual programming and custom fitness content with their enterprise-scale SaaS.

Notable, a digital assistant, made a deal with CommonSpirit, a health system. They plan to introduce voice-to-text solutions and AI for CommonSpirit’s physicians.

Medirom, a Japanese health tech company, partnered with MATRIX industries from America to develop a smartband to monitor health - MOTHER - that will work 24/7, no charger required.

Babylon Health revealed its plans for a new 10-year partnership with NHS trust. During the next decade, they plan to create and launch a model of “digital-first integrated care” in the West Midlands and connect primary and secondary care in one app, accessible for the entire population of Wolverhampton and neighbourhood.

Bon Secours Mercy Health invested in behavioural AI platform Lirio. Health system plans to help Lirio utilize data of their patients to create personalized, data-driven care programs.

Nox, a tech-driven sleep health analytics and diagnostics company merged with Fusion Health, also sleep company, but focusing on population health, decided to merge.

HCA healthcare, a hospital system in Nashville, acquired Velify from Texas, that builds a web-based platform for healthcare cost optimization.

Eli Lilly, a pharma giant based in Indianapolis, will acquire a biotech company that develops therapies for chronic skin conditions - Dermira. The deal will expand Eli Lilly’s portfolio with different Phase 3 antibodies and QBREXZA, a medicated FDA-approved medical cloth that is used for uncontrolled sweating.

Startup launches and funding

Unmind, London mental health platform for workplaces, gained $10 million in Series A.

Israeli Nanox digital X-ray startup scored $26M of funding. Their system is simplistic, connected to a cloud software tool, and aimed to make X-ray imaging and analysis (driven by AI) quicker, easier, and less expensive.

VR-powered training tool for caregivers, Embodied Lab, raised $3.2M in seed.

MedPilot, billing service for patients, landed $1.5M. The company is Cedar Sinai spinout that uses AI and other tools to let patients care more about their medical bills and understand more about them, and to relieve administrative burden for clinicians.

Headspace, a free app for meditation and mindfulness, got $53M of equity funds and $40M from debt financing in Series C.

Maven, a startup that offers digital health programs for fertility, maternity, return-to-work, and pediatric care services, gained $45M in Series C.

Intelycare, a system for workforce management that matches nurses and nursing assistants with acute healthcare facilities for available shifts, raises $45M in Series B.

Alexis Borisy, a venture capitalist and a healthcare biotech veteran, launched company EQRx. He and his team aim to reduce the costs of drugs.

Australian ResApp raised $5M. They create apps to diagnose and control respiratory diseases.

Legacy, men’s fertility startup, raised $3.5M.

Medloop, German startup for patient management, raised 6M. The funding will help the company to build a tool for preventive care through health data-based risk assessment.

Inato, a startup from Paris that develops a platform that connects biopharma companies with the optimal site for their clinical studies, got 14M in Series A.

Modern Health, that develops a solution for personalized, employer-centric mental health, raised $31 in Series B funding.

Hinge Health, a startup that creates in-home programs for musculoskeletal health using data from wearable sensors, scored $90M in Series C.

Spanish company mediQuo gained €2 from VCs. They develop solutions for healthcare management.

Emendo gained $61M in Series B. Biotech company will invest this funding in advancing its gene-editing platform.

A platform that coordinates medical transportation via the real-time web- and mobile-based platform and mapping, connecting providers, ambulances, wheelchair-accessible rideshares and other services, raised $6.2M in seed.

Advantia Health secured $45M of funding. They provide medical care for women via digital channels.

Genomic startup Karius raised $165 million for technology that allows identifying diseases in a drop of blood.

New features and updates in digital health companies and products

Emory Healthcare opens first 5G-enabled healthcare lab. They will test how 5g can improve AR and VR applications for medical training, telemedicine, remote patient monitoring, and imaging in the emergency department.

Nebula Genomics launches direct-to-consumer genome sequencing products for $299.

Researchers from the University of Helsinki develop smart diapers and a smart suit that tracks baby movement. That’s digital we deserve.

Amazon Care finally launched for company’s employees in Seattle.

Healthline Media announced the launch of a new app called Migraine Healthcare, designed to get Americans “beyond” their symptoms through empathy and knowledge about migraine and pain management.

Mayo Clinic launches an analytics platform for drug discovery and development. The clinic also sequences genomic data from 100 thousand participants to achieve more precise, personalized, care.

LifeBridge prepares to launch a remote monitoring solution, Directly Observed Therapy, that aims to improve pediatric asthma patients’ inhaler method and adherence.

Livongo’s Applied Health Signals Platform for the Whole Person is now available in pharmacies’ kiosks, thanks to companies’ partnership with Higi, the consumer health engagement company.

XRHealth, an Israeli company, launched VR rehabilitation telehealth therapy.

Digital health startup Gmedes from Singapore launched G-MEDS. It’s an app for clinicians to prescribe, bill, dispense and deliver routine meds to their patients’ homes and offices. Accessibility!

Crunch Fitness, Orangetheory, YMCA, and Basecapt rolled out new device integrations and workout rewards for users using Apple Watches or Apple-branded services. Apple feels more and more comfortable in healthcare, and incentives are the core components of such fitness programs.

Licences and compliance

Orlando Health is a non-profit network of different healthcare facilities and services, and it has implemented the Andor Health solution to coordinate care in the compliant to the new Florida laws ecosystem.

The genomic testing company 23andMe licences its first drug compound - an antibody for inflammatory diseases - to Spanish dealmaker Almirall SA.

VivaLNK’s ECG Sensor and software development kit, corresponding to it, got FDA clearance.

AI stroke treatment from Aidoc also received clearance.

Alphabet’s research branch, Verily, got FDA clearance for its Study Watch. The company plans to use this opportunity to build solutions for people with atrial fibrillation.

Another FDA-related news of these two months is a green light for AI-based software for nurses and less specialised healthcare employees that allows them to take cardiac ultrasound images in adults.

Success case studies

Crouse Health used AI from Viz.ai company to accelerate stroke diagnosis and triage - the time of CT scanning and processing was cut in half.

Telehealth reaches beyond our planet: NASA astronaut used ultrasound to detect a blood clot and doctors treated a patient with a blood thinner via telemedicine solution. The case study is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Scientists showed that Fitbit can help healthcare address flu outbreaks. After evaluating people’s “normal” daily measurements, they were able to detect deviations: elevated resting heart rate increased sleep levels. They compared the resulting dynamic with estimates of flu-like illnesses rates from the CDC and found a positive correlation.

eConsultation tool lowered mortality rates and readmissions for patients with infections through virtual consultations online or via phone.

Noom, an application for self-monitoring, was used as an addition to cognitive-behavioural therapy and telehealth services to provide patients from Kaiser Permanente Northwest with binge eating strategy. It proved efficient against binge eating disorder and bulimia.


Swiss Post and Matternet renewed their drone transportation program for lab samples.

What to read

To survive this complicated digital age, providers should invest in digital technology or agonize in irrelevance. At least, Aaron Martin, a chief digital officer in Providence St. Joseph Health, thinks so.

A long read on how Beth Israel’s psychiatry division uses data to predict health outcomes and improve patient care.

Health system will succeed if nurses are prioritised, says Dr. Patti Hart, MUSC health University Medical Center’s CNO.


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