May 14, 2020

News You Need - 3 Big Little Things from HealthXL

Sophie Madden

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!

Busy hospitals are actually losing millions during this pandemic

Snapshot of the Story:

Hospitals have had financial issues for a long time now. COVID-19 has just exacerbated these. The American Hospital Association estimates losses for hospitals at $1 million a day. Specific numbers for these losses are difficult to obtain, but some institutions are now reporting their experience. Boston Medical Center is reporting losses of $5 million per week. Sarasota Memorial Health Care System reported a $16 million drop in revenue in March.

Why it’s notable:

  1. It's ironic that in the middle of a pandemic health care spending would be down.
  2. Many rural centers, independent surgeries are vacant due to a lack of COVID-19 cases, or any other cases. Some of these may never open again.
  3. Indicates the rising costs of basic medical supplies pre and post pandemic - not only are revenues haemorrhaging, but operational costs are going up as well. 

Industry Implications:

  1. Critical work force (healthcare practitioners)  may actually be laid off, or suffer from paycuts which seems a little counter intuitive given how necessary and important they are at this time, and will be after.
  2. A switch back to good old days of more brick and mortar consults, lots of elective procedures, etc once the tide has passed as telehealth will not make us as much money!
  3. While the pandemic has brought out the importance and need for digital health, hospitals are key stakeholders in investments and partnerships for the sustenance of these SMEs, and that is likely to suffer.

Steve Lindseth
Steve Lindseth
Digital Health Investor

Steve is a seasoned digital health investor and advisor to numerous Healthcare Provider Innovation groups. Connect with Steve to get his perspective on how hospitals can innovate and respond during this 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.

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The doctor will facetime you now – prospects of remote doctoring post-COVID

Snapshot of the Story:

This week the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional $4.2M in funding for 13 providers in the US. This is the fourth set of funding allocated the context of the FCC’s Telehealth Program since the pandemic took a hold, bringing total funding to date to $13.7 million for 30 health care providers across 16 states. The FCC has received a budget of $200 million to fund telehealth initiatives as part of the CARES Act in the US. 

Why it’s notable:

  1. The demand and use of telehealth services has quite literally exploded across the world. This uptake is providing tremendous opportunities for telehealth start-ups. 
  2. This week, for instance, Sweden-based telehealth company KRY launched a light touch version of its video consultation platform LIVI Connect in the US. Elsewhere, the company has seen the number of clinical consultations it usually provides more than double.
  3. It is fair to say that the adoption of telehealth has been mediocre at best prior to the virus outbreak, much of this a result of regulatory hurdles as well physician and patient scepticism. And yet today, we can’t help but wonder if telehealth is going to be an integral part of care in the post-COVID world. 

Industry Implications:

  1. Regulators across jurisdictions have had to show tremendous agility and flexibility to prevent a complete collapse of health care services, as a result of which GDPR and HIPAA have temporarily been thrown out the window. How much longer can privacy and confidentiality realistically be compromised for? In fact, the Central London Community Healthcare (CLCH) NHS trust recently banned the use of Zoom for remote video consultations following reports of ‘zoombombing’. 
  1. Many telehealth proponents are convinced telehealth is here to stay. Patients and providers convinced of the convenience of telehealth services are unlikely to want to relinquish this technology. 
  1. Pandemic-related regulatory exemptions and rollbacks are temporary – let’s hope they trigger a re-balancing of information governance facilitating greater health-tech adoption.

Read David Shaywitz' perspectives on COVID-19 here:

David Shaywitz
David Shaywitz
Astounding HealthTech

David is a physician and health tech expert. He recently founded Astounding Healthtech to help leaders work through the challenges of effectively leveraging emerging digital and data opportunities. Connect with David to get his perspective on how digital solutions are helping to solve challenges during 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.

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Contact tracing apps: a futile asset?

Snapshot of the Story

This week, a rare partnership between the two biggest tech powerhouses, Apple and Google, caught everyone’s attention. The two have come together to build an automated contact tracing framework for enhanced precision and range of their wireless Bluetooth protocols in an effort to assist national authorities with tracking people infected and those at risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2. Though very little details are known about this new system, the end-product will allow developers to build apps that work on both platforms. Together, Apple and Google command 3.5bn of the world’s computing and connected devices. 

Why it’s notable

  1. Ireland, America, Britain, Singapore, Germany have all built apps to enhance their contact tracing processes, with many more countries likely to follow suit. 
  2. Contact tracing apps rely on an exchange protocol between devices to securely communicate the infection status of device holders. This information is fed back to authorities and allows them to assess infection risks and notify individuals if required. 
  3. Despite overhauls planned by Apple and Google, app-based contact tracing systems rely on critical mass adoption. Experts contend that 60%-80% of smartphone users will need to install such apps, an unrealistic target at this stage. 

Industry implications

  1. If authorities want to get a true grip on the spread of the virus in their jurisdictions, contact tracing must go hand in hand with large-scale testing and so far we’re seeing massive discrepancies between countries.

  2. Perhaps an obvious one, but automatic contact tracing is not going to be of much use if there aren’t enough human resources to act on this information.

  3. Not to sound conspiratory, but authorities must be fully transparent about what kind of data is gathered and how it is processed (#coronopticon). Privacy concerns must be alleviated amidst an already severe curtailment of civil liberties.

  4. All bets are on tech these days, one way or another and we are tracking this! Check out our Covid-19 solutions map. We’ve recently added Health Beacon and many others to this map. Health Beacon is an Irish medical adherence company that recently expanded its offering to include 24/7 virtual care support, medication collection, medical waste collection and home monitoring with their smart sharps bin. This will remove the need for these at-risk patients to go to the pharmacy and reduce visits to the hospital.

Axel Heitmueller
Axel Heitmueller
Managing Director
Imperial College Health Partners

Axel is the Managing Director at Imperial College Health Partners. Connect with Axel to get his perspective on how the UK is coping with the pandemic, and their use of contact tracing apps.

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.

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