News You Need - 3 Big Little Things from HealthXL - July 2019
We have collected and reviewed the three most noteworthy news stories in digital health from July and explained their relevance below. What they mean for the industry, and why you should know about them. You also have an opportunity to reach out to me if you wish to connect with our friends from the industry who know the ins and outs so you can quite literally ‘get behind the headlines’.
1: United Health Acquires Patients Like Me
PatientsLikeMe is a patient network, helps people find new options for treatments, connect with others, and take action to improve their outcomes. They recently came under the grill owing to their large Tencent led Chinese investment. But before that could really swell into something large, United Health Group have swooped in to acquire Patients Like Me.
Why it’s notable? Opportunism is the name of the game
Shows how opportunistic United Health Group are, being one of the first to tap into such a large patient community
United have also been expanding their suite of investments and acquisitions - DaVita Medical Group for $4.3 bil and payments service Equian LLC for $3.2 bil
Makes us wonder how this partnership and data exchange could impact insurance risk assessment and service delivery in a good or bad way
What can we learn? Everybody wants data, but let’s not forget the patient’s right
UnitedHealth Group will integrate PatientsLikeMe to ‘’bring practical innovation to address cost, quality and access to health care while learning from patients first hand’’
This raises questions on how these patients' data and privacy will be affected. Many patient advocates have expressed their concerns, with a number of users considering leaving the Patients Like Me community.
We'll always find a way around Trump
Expect more buyers and purchases in healthcare and other industries that have Chinese money
2: IQVIA and EMIS Health: Getting Digital Assets into the hands of Physicians and Patients
EMIS Health is a Leeds-based primary care software provider, and this partnership with IQVIAs Appscript will help EMIS populate their app library with the most validated and relevant digital tools to prescribe to patients.
Why it’s notable? Finally thinking beyond point solutions
We cannot stop harping on about this - there is no point in having so many apps and digital therapeutics if there is no 'medium' through which it can be delivered to patients, and the feedback loop closed by collecting the data and actioning the data collected.
It is also notable because of the scale - EMIS is the default EMR/ software provider for a majority of the GP practices in the NHS, and therefore, this substantially increases the number of doctors and therefore patients who can access these apps.
What can we learn - A few steps closer to wider adoption
Think about this as a business model - a digital health 'enabler' or 'medium' now partnering directly with an EMR instead of with individual providers - the digital health solutions automatically become available to multiple providers.
If done responsibly, Appscript have the opportunity to position clinically validated (through NHS/ NICE guidelines) digital assets at the top.
The NHS may soon become the go-to model to learn from (go through their NICE guidelines for validation and evidence generation, get featured on EMIS via Appscript, and collect real world data as an outcome).
Imagine the visibility we will have in 4-5 years' time - what app was prescribed by how many doctors, in how many departments, to how many patients and what health outcomes were achieved.
3: Blue Shield of California teams up with Solera to Ditch ‘Zombie’ Workplace Wellness Programs
This week Blue Shield of California they were divorcing themselves from what Bryce Williams, Vice President of Lifestyle Medicine, describes as ‘zombie’ wellness programs in favor of new homegrown initiative dubbed Wellvolution with the help of Solera Health. Varied evidence behind other workplace wellness interventions, increased premiums when goals are left unmet and pressure on consumers have led Blue Shield to revisit their role in motivating behavior change of their members with an increased focus on scientific evidence and personalized support. Blue Shield have selected around 70 apps specialising in smoking cessation, sleep and chronic disease prevention.
Why it’s notable? Too Many ‘Wellness’ Initiatives
Since 2009 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enabled insurers to charge lower premiums to workers participating in wellness programs, there has been a boom in the approach. Today it’s estimated that upwards of 70% of employers in the US with 500 or more employees are offering these initiatives.
Despite contested evidence behind their efficacy in reducing costs and improving health, these programs seem to be allowed to potter along - why?
It may be a wake up call that we need to focus on evidence regardless of the risk associated with the action. With the Blue Shield clout, not to mention sheer scale surviving an estimated 4 million people, we can expect others to follow suit investing time in distilling the most evidence based solutions to offer to their members.
What can we learn? Evidence-based will make it stick.
‘Wellness’ of employees requires far more attention than custom water bottles and a random selection of apps.
Evidence trumps all - investing in understanding the proven interventions available for each sub segment of wellness, from mental health to smoking cessation, will likely pay off for both members and insurers but if it doesn’t measure up, we need to be ready to honestly reflect and pivot.
The news stories in this blog were captured using the HealthXL Data Platform, which aims to be your one source of truth in digital health. We are excited to announce that we officially released the platform this month. If you would like to learn more about how to get access to the platform, contact me at email@example.com