Digital healthcare digest — October

Hey! A busy start of November is finally getting a bit easier, so let’s reflect on what’s happened in the digital health industry over the past month.

New product and launches in the digital health industry

CVS is getting into the eye care niche. The company launched QuickRenew, a new digital tool for customers to renew contact lens prescriptions online and get a virtual vision test via asynchronous telemedicine.

Mommymoon, a digital health company for pregnant people, launched its online platform to work to connect expecting people to doctors specializing in providing pregnancy services, including yoga classes, support groups, childbirth classes, and so on.

Garmin launches connected scales called Index S2 that can send health data like body weight (obviously), body fat percentage, skeletal muscle mass, and so on to the Garmin Connect app. The price of the device will be about $150.

Israeli’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) launched a new, yet unnamed platform that lowers the cost of clinical trials and increases the success rate of medical device and drug development. It analyzes recruitment, dropout rate, and identification of monitored markers with machine learning algorithms and offers pre-trial recommendations, in-trial participant analysis, and post-trial insights for further trial modeling. BGN Technologies’ Panacea will license the platform; they’ve already utilized it in clinical studies of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.

American Department of Veterans Affairs just installed the new Cerner EHR at a Spokane, Washington-based hospital. It’s the first system implementation after delays earlier this year. This hospital is the first in the country to try the system; Cerner will replace the VA’s old, developed in-house VistA EHR.

Level Ex, an America-based startup that makes medical training video games for doctors, that has been acquired by Brainlab -- a medical technology company from Munich — in June, unveiled a new multi-user training product for surgeons, for web and mobile. It’s called Virtual Technique Guides, and it’s a “multiplayer” training simulation — allows doctors from different locations to run through different surgery scenarios.

GluCare Integrated Diabetes Center makes a final launch in Dubai; it offers remote continuous data monitoring and digital therapeutic with software for clinical intervention. They say it’s the first diabetes clinic to measure and report both remote compliance and clinical outcomes, addressing non-compliance issues and removing a one-size-fits-all care model from healthcare.

Comcast, a telephone company, and Independence Health Group called Quil collaborated to create Quil Assure, a platform that connects senior Americans to care teams and enables emergency assistance, utilizing sensors, voice-activated tech, and caregiver coordination services. The public release of Quil Assure is scheduled for next year.

A non-profit telemedicine initiative has been unveiled by a UAE humanitarian organization: under its scheme, several women-only telemedicine clinics will launch across the world offering care and doctor consultations for those in need. The local launch that has already been concluded, included medical exams for women and their children, cardiac, lung examinations, preventive exams, and so on.

Another new program, this time from New Jersey, has been developed by RWJBarnabas Health, a local health system: it aims to address the social determinants of health by meeting the patients where they are and providing them with resources they need in a “culturally nuanced manner.” The program is said to be screening all patients, regardless of income or race, to determine social and behavioral factors that might be impacting their health — and then connect them to community programs and health services offered by the health system. Apart from healthcare services, participants of the program will get housing and nutrition if needed.

Whisper, a company that develops AI-powered hearing aids, raised $35M in Series B and released — that bit belongs in the second section, yeah, — its first product, the Whisper Hearing System. Their device has three components: the earpieces, a portable sound processor, and a compatible mobile app. Users keep the “brain” in their pockets or somewhere it would be easy for them to pick up and transmit sounds in real-time mode. Aside from the hearing aid functions, Whisper connects to the network of hearing care professionals per request.

Digital health startup funding in October

CoreCare, a company that creates and provides revenue management services for healthcare companies that work with public health benefit providers, raises $3M in a seed round. They utilize machine learning and automates billing and other RC processes to relieve the hospital’s administrative burden.

Verifiable that develops API toolkit for verifying healthcare credentials raises $3M. Their API connects to hundreds of primary sources to keep the database of 17 million healthcare providers in America updated, as billions of revenue dollars in healthcare are lost because providers don’t keep up with credentialing and licensing practitioners.

Whoop, a fitness wearable, raises $100M in Series E and now has a valuation of $1.2 billion, joining the wearable unicorn club.

Udok, a digital healthcare company based in Paarl, South Africa, raised €518k to expand across the country their on-demand remote consultations and the digital ecosystem they created for consolidating medical information from patients and making it easier for doctors to access it.

Lark Health, a digital chronic care management company, raised $55M in Series C and got $15M of venture debt credit. They plan to invest the funds in getting deals with insurance companies and telehealth providers—recently, they’ve partnered with Anthem.

Sidekick Health, a startup for gamified digital care for chronic and lifestyle disease management, raised $20M in Series A.

Avail Medsystem got $100M in Series B. They develop a telemedicine platform for remote procedure room collaborations; the system in the hospital is powered by a portable console that has HD cameras, adjustable arms, monitors, and a touchscreen interface. Those calling into a procedure can join in and make notes in the app, control the image, and so on.

KēlaHealth, a startup that does intelligent surgical risk predictions, closed a combined seed-and-Series A round with $12.9M. The platform works by assigning patients a risk score through AI and ML algorithms and gives surgeons tips on choosing a treatment plan that matches that risk analysis.

Digital healthcare market news and partnerships

Lyft partnered with Epic to deliver non-emergency medical transportation, so healthcare providers and other healthcare-related businesses could order rides to their patients / those in their care.

Rock Health Q3 funding report. One thing is clear: 2020 will be the largest year for digital health as it had — already — 24 megadeals. (Here is another Rock Health’s research on the new order of digital healthcare, do check it out.)

Teladoc and Livongo finalize their merger: Livongo will become a subsidiary of Teladoc at a value of $18.5 billion.

Eargo, a company that sells connected hearing devices through the D2C model, filed for IPO of 7.9 million shares of common stock priced at $18/share for earnings of about $141.3M. Recently, Clover, Hims, Amwell, GoodRx, and Nanox filed for IPO in the digital health market.

Augmedix, a company that offers remote scribe services that work with smartphones, also goes public through a reverse merger with Malo Holdings. The latter’s subsidiary merged with Augmedix at the beginning of October, and Augmedix has been able to start trading over-the-counter on OTCQB.

Fitbit receives the US Army Medical Research award to expand the company’s efforts on the development of early detection algorithms for COVID-19. That’s… not suspicious at all.

A study by Juniper Research forecasts that the number of people using digital therapeutics and wellness apps will grow from 627M this year to 1.4 billion in 2025. By 2021, over 44M people will use these to manage their healthcare; this is a 288% increase in comparison to 2019’s levels of adoptions without a doubt forced by the pandemic.

Medidata, a subsidiary of Dassault Systemes who works with clinical trial data, acquired sensor maker MC10’s digital biomarker business. They want to build a new platform for “ingestion and analytics across a wide array of mobile sensors.”

Regulations and clearances in digital health

This year’s Epstein Becker Green’s Telemental Health Laws Survey that reviews behavioral telehealth legislation, regulations, and policies found that about $4.5 billion of this year $6 billion lost to fraud occurred in telehealth (that’s called telefraud.) Check out their complementary app to learn more.

The price transparency rule has been finalized and it obliges insurers to disclose info on prices for healthcare services and cost-sharing with patients. According to Trump’s Administration who worked on the rule, it’ll lower the prices of healthcare services; insurers aren’t quite sure it will.

Statistics say patients’ data gets stolen, but that often isn’t mentioned in the breach notification. How to write HIPAA breach notifications and protect patient privacy.

Data protection & security threats in digital healthcare

New phishing campaigns impersonate Microsoft Teams alerts and COVID-19 vaccine tracker emails from HHS. Learn about phishing to protect from these, as the healthcare industry often is one of the major hacker’s targets.

Researchers from Comparitech found a trove of Broadvoice’s (that’s a cloud-based voiceover IP telecommunication vendor in America) databases with more than 350 (!) million (!) customer records with names, contact details, and in some cases health info.

Learn about top ways to implement multifactor authentication — that’s extremely important if you’re building digital health products or use them to provide healthcare services.

Two third of organizations that utilize the Internet of Things devices faced an increased number of cybersecurity incidents targeted at IoT devices and their endpoints in 2020.

Science & business research in the industry

The digital-therapeutics app for smoking cessation, Quit Genius, has occurred to be an effective treatment for people trying to stop smoking — especially in comparison to those trying to drop the habit on their own. Read more in the study of JMIR Mental health.

A new study on JMIR investigates patient feedback behind the hashtag #DoctorsAreDickheads that has occurred in about 40k tweets; it’s an interesting, pretty self-explanatory paper. A bit of insight: the most common diagnosis in patients’ tweets are chronic pain and mental health, and the most common sentiment is disappointment and anger over being disbelieved by doctors.

Another study shows self-tracker or symptom-tracker will be used if patients will get referred to the app with it by their doctor.

A new study from DrFirst shows: most people are distracted during telehealth visits. They surf the web, check emails, texts, and so on. The research also collected insights on improving telemedicine services: the high-quality video has been the main priority, as the ability to text doctors before the appointment and user-friendly interface.

Apple announced new clinical studies that would use their new Series 6 Watch wearable: among them, it’s an asthma study (in collaboration with Anthem) and studies on heart failures and respiratory conditions — find out more info about the other two.

Science-based best practices for writing manuscripts on AI if you’re working in healthcare or digital health.

Digital healthcare vs COVID-19

Imprivata and Keyo’s new biometric device connects to health record-integrated software: it helps hospitals streamline checking in while making it safe; patients don’t have to touch the surface.

Wellfleet, an insurer company for college students, and binx health, a company that develops in-home test kits for infections, teamed up to deploy COVID-19 testing boxes for campuses. Universities can order thousands of tests weakly to the campuses or students’ homes.

Wikipedia and the World Health Organization collaborated to fight COVID-19 misinformation.

PocDoc, a digital testing platform, launched a COVID-testing solution: after scanning a fingerprint for early-onset antibodies, employees self-isolate (if there are antibodies) or continue working (if there aren’t any.)

An insightful read about Verily’s (Google’s sister company) lessons learned from COVID-19 testing efforts.

Epic, Zoom, and SNAPMobile collaborated to help clinic volunteers and physicians over 65 to deliver care remotely without contacting infected patients. That allowed the Clinic of the Cascades to stay open during the pandemic.

Other news

Researchers from Penn State University and Houston Methodist Hospital released their work on using a smartphone camera to scan facial movements to quickly detect a stroke. The tool is taught to spot sagging muscles, slurred speech, or other associated symptoms.

Borderlands 3 asks its players to help map the human gut microbiome.

Borderlands 3 Gut Microbiome Mapping

Dutch-based Thirona, a company that does medical image analysis, obtained a license on a patent for the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis. Now, they can develop an AI algorithm that will analyze CT scans to detect abnormalities in the lungs from an early age — that will allow the doctors to come up with a personalized, timely treatment.

What to read

A journey of Solomé Tibebu: from a teenager and an entrepreneur in the digital mental health space to the Upswing fund.

How startups and VCs evaluate elder care by Christine Hall on Crunchbase News

How Christian Counseling Associates in Plano, Texas, dealt with their challenges of attracting and retaining clients via telemedicine: now they have more virtual patient visits than the real ones.

The digital health seems to be ending — a read by Rock Health on the state of the market, its evolution, and direction.


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