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April 10, 2020

News You Need - 3 Big Little Things from HealthXL

HealthXL Research Team

It’s time for your monthly digital health news dose. We have looked back at three of the most noteworthy pieces of news from the last month and distilled what they mean for the industry and the key takeaways you should have on your radar. Interested in getting beyond the headlines? We’ve included three industry experts who can help you get behind these stories - just let us know if you’d like us to make the introduction!

Mind Over Corona-Matter: The Growing Mental Health Crisis

Snapshot of the story

This week, the Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a partnership with Headspace, a scientifically backed meditation, and mindfulness app, to provide all New Yorkers with access to free and specially curated mental health resources. 

Why it matters

Many are warning of an impending, secondary mental health crisis, fuelled by social distancing measures, social isolation and a sense of uncertainty coupled with the anxiety of contracting the virus. Research from the 2003 SARS outbreak found an association between PTSD, depression and the experience of being quarantined, the prevalence of which increased with longer quarantine durations.

Industry implications

While it’s fair to say that economic stabilization has taken precedence thus far, the New York City - Headspace partnership is a welcome first step towards psychological stabilization (though we need to see more concerted efforts).Digital health companies such as Thrivetalk are offering their mental health services free of charge to healthcare workers and are reducing their ordinary fees for everyone else. We’re seeing many companies foregoing profits in an unprecedented wave of solidarity.It’s uplifting to see big partnerships being formed with digital health companies other than those supporting the front-line combat against the virus. In fact, we’re also seeing a huge rise in demand for remote medicines, such as Livongo, whose stock rose by 10% a couple of days ago. This is especially welcoming news amid recent reports of furlough and layoffs in the digital health world.

Read more on this here

Pablo Pantaleoni
Pablo Pantaleoni
VP and General Manager of Health
Headspace Inc.

Pablo is the Vice President and General Manager of Health at Headspace. He leads the healthcare subsidiary that aims to develop digital therapeutic products to help mitigate and treat chronic health conditions. Pablo also co-leads the Digital Health NEXT Program at Stanford Biodesign.

We can provide an introduction on your behalf so that you can contact them directly with any questions/queries on this topic. Simply click on the link below to request an introduction.

FDA and Covid-19 home testing: To approve or not to approve?

Snapshot of the Story

After just launching their at-home testing kits for Covid-19, numerous consumer diagnostic companies rescinded their offering this week following the FDA’s update to its Covid-19 Diagnostic Test Policy which specifies that Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) testing permissions do not extend to at-home testing kits.

Updated FDA COVID-19 testing guidelines specifically disallow at-home sample collection

Why it’s notable

The agency updated its policy shortly after it issued a public warning cautioning against "unauthorized fraudulent COVID-19 test kits" on the market. The agency further specified that “at this time, the FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for COVID-19.”  

The earlier version of the testing policy had caused some confusion amongst consumer diagnostic companies (such as Carbon Health, Everlywell and Nurx) who raced to develop testing kits, thinking that compliance meant using CLIA certified laboratories to process samples. 

The policy restrictions present a particularly unfortunate setback at a time when testing is of paramount importance, but burdensome to health systems and at-home kits would have been the obvious solution.


Industry implications

  1. Not to criticise the FDA’s stance on home testing, but now is not a good time for regulatory ambiguity. 
  2. Despite the setback for home-testing, the EUA process is a sign of agile adaptation to an unprecedented situation. And the likes of Scanwell Health may be successful in bringing their blood-based test to the market via the EUA road.
  3. This is also not the first time we’ve seen a relaxation of rules amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Just last week the privacy watchdog in the US announced that it would not enforce penalties for using non-HIPAA compliant telecommunication platforms during the pandemic.


For more information on Emergency Use Authorizations click HERE. The FDA’s FAQS on Diagnostic Testing can be found HERE. 

Peter Foley
Peter Foley
Founder & CEO

Peter Foley leads consumer diagnostic efforts with Lets Get Checked. Connect with Peter to learn more about their response to COVID-19 and take on the testing developments in light of the pandemic.

We can provide an introduction on your behalf so that you can contact them directly with any questions/queries on this topic. Simply click on the link below to request an introduction.

Request an Introduction

Lessons learned from China?

Snapshot of the story 

A number of articles in recent weeks have tried to draw a parallel between China and Europe/ USA - what lessons we can learn from China to combat COVID-19 since they have somewhat successfully managed to 'flatten the curve'. The above is just one such example. However, I don't necessarily believe that a copy paste strategy is going to work for us.

How China is using robots and telemedicine to combat the coronavirus

Why it's notable

Quantifying the outbreak varies drastically across countries. R0 is a measure used in epidemiology to assess how contagious an infection is, or more specifically, how many people a person with the virus will infect. This is not a property of the virus but in fact a more variable concept that depends on demographics, socioeconomic, climatic factors,population density, etc. The R0 for China does not necessarily equal the R0 of other nations.  

I am no economist or civil engineer, but I can safely say the infrastructure in China - both physical, political and economic is not comparable to Europe/elsewhere, and therefore we cannot just replicate their moves like flying drones to 'watch' people who leave home, or set up very quick makeshift hospitals run by robots, set up mass body scanners, heat sensing cameras around the country, etc. 


Industry Implications 

While it is promising to see that one can 'flatten the curve' and limit the community transmission of cases, we are far from finished, since there's a good chance of resurgence if people go 'back to normal' before being vaccinated, and people from elsewhere start traveling to China. 

We are still in unknown territory with this disease, we have no herd immunity, the life sciences and tech industries need to come together. Some of the rapid telemedicine and chatbot adoption stories, rapid regulatory milestones being achieved, trials for treatments being accelerated into Phase III already make me wonder why it cannot always be like this!  

New game, new rules? Will all these changes help us adopt new (better?) ways of living permanently (now that we know what it's like sans carbon emissions, overconsumption) or will we just revert to old ways? 

Andrew Murphy
Andrew Murphy
Co-Founder, Executive Chairman Robotify

Andrew Murphy is a key commercial advisor in the HealthXL community. Connect with Andrew to get his perspective of differing approaches globally and potential implications of those strategies.

We can provide an introduction on your behalf so that you can contact them directly with any questions/queries on this topic. Simply click on the link below to request an introduction.

Request an Introduction

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16TH APRIL 2024 @ 11AM ET

Big Tech and Pharma: Will they, won't they?

As Big Tech seeks to expand their footprint in the health industry, the dynamics of their relationship with Pharma are under scrutiny.

Sophie Ghazal
Sophie Ghazal
Global Digital Solutions and Strategic Alliances, Merck
18th April 2024 @ 11am ET

BYOD: What's your Wearable of Choice?

Wearables, like smartwatches and fitness trackers, have transformed patient health monitoring, providing real-time data for personalised care.

Ralph Morales III
Ralph Morales III
Director, Healthcare Innovation, Oura
23RD APRIL 2024 @ 11AM ET

Masterclass: Digital Health Regulatory Updates

The digital health industry is revolutionising healthcare delivery, but navigating the ever-changing regulatory landscape can be daunting.

Piotr Sokolowski
Piotr Sokolowski
Head of Strategy, MedTech Solutions at S3 Connected Health

HealthXL Insider Boston

Join HealthXL on the 23rd of April in Boston as we discuss the History of Digital Health: Learning from our Mistakes to Succeed in 2024.

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