Here's a recap of the resources for clinicians, digital health news, telemedicine innovations and virtual care updates for August 2020.
News & Resources for Clinicians
7 ways to address physicians' pandemic stress
Physicians and other health professionals on the front lines face a fear of COVID-19 and are concerned about carrying the novel coronavirus home to loved ones. Some doctors, working amid shortages of protective gear, have chosen to limit-in person contact even with members of their households, which limits the valuable source of solace and support that loved ones provide.
What a Doctor Learns From Watching You on Video Chat
“The doctor’s office is a stressful place for everyone,” Mark Fendrick, a primary-care doctor with Michigan Medicine, told me. “There are some things we look for that are more artificial in a doctor’s office and more real-world at home.” Studies have shown, for example, that automated blood-pressure measurements taken when a patient is sitting alone in a quiet place are more accurate. People with white-coat hypertension regularly experience higher blood pressure in clinical settings as a result of anxiety or fear.
COVID-19 resource guide: Women in medicine
In the United States, women constitute almost 80% of the health care workforce and represent more than one-third of the active physicians, nearly half of all physicians-in-training and more than half of all medical school matriculants. Women often face distinct challenges and burdens that can be exacerbated in times of crisis. The AMA has curated a selection of resources to assist women in medicine and those who care for women patients during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to help manage work-life integration, personal well-being, special issues impacting female patients and other critical information.
World Mask Week movement launches to encourage use of face coverings to slow COVID-19 spread
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Pandemic Action Network are partnering with more than 40 organizations to host World Mask Week which began Friday in an effort to increase the use of face coverings across the globe. Wearing a mask in public spaces has been stressed by medical professionals as a primary way of slowing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Dr. Ali Nouri, President of the American Federation of Scientists, said the event will help normalize wearing a face mask.
Healthcare Workers of Color Nearly Twice as Likely as Whites To Get COVID-19
Healthcare workers of color were more likely to care for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, more likely to report using inadequate or reused protective gear, and nearly twice as likely as white colleagues to test positive for the coronavirus, a new study from Harvard Medical School researchers found. The study also showed that healthcare workers are at least three times more likely than the general public to report a positive COVID test, with risks rising for workers treating COVID patients.
Innovations in Healthcare & Digital Health
Google is investing $100 million in telehealth provider Amwell, which will use Google Cloud
Google's cloud division is investing $100 million in Amwell, formerly known as American Well, a company that builds technology for virtual doctors' visits. The company has filed to go public, and Google's investment will be a concurrent private placement at the IPO price. As part of the partnership, Amwell will move parts of its business from Amazon Web Services, which it currently uses, to Google Cloud. Specifically, Amwell is selecting Google cloud as its "preferred global cloud partner" and moving some video performance capabilities to that platform, the companies said in a press release.
Virtual care company Teladoc to buy Livongo in $18.5 billion deal
Teladoc Health Inc (TDOC.N) has agreed to buy chronic care provider Livongo Health Inc (LVGO.O) in a deal valuing the company at $18.5 billion, betting on a boom in online care and consultations spurred by the coronavirus crisis. The merger is by far Teladoc’s biggest investment in a campaign of smaller acquisitions since 2017 that have made it the leading U.S. provider of a range of phone and online-based healthcare services.
Trans Telehealth Startup Plume’s Early Success Is a Lesson in Tech Inclusivity
In June, the two doctors founded Plume, a Denver startup that offers remote hormone replacement therapy consultations and prescriptions to the growing but underserved transgender population. The startup has raised eyebrows among a few peers in the profession, which speaks directly to the company’s business case and the societal need. “Historically, medicine has been a one-size-fits-all solution,” Wetschler told Built In. “As our society becomes more diverse, that’s working for fewer and fewer communities. Our thesis is that medicine can, and sometimes should, be organized around people’s identities and experiences.” Just four months since its launch, the company has scaled to 12 states. The company credits its early success to its team.
Mental health startup Ginger lands $50M backed by Cigna, Kaiser Permanente
The startup, which delivers evidence-based behavioral health coaching, therapy and psychiatry right from a smartphone, has raised more than $120 million to date. The current mental healthcare system has long been inadequate, according to Ginger CEO Russell Glass. "But in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and a tumultuous sociopolitical climate, we're facing uncharted territory," Glass told Fierce Healthcare. The company has seen record-high demand for mental health support during the current health crisis. During July, weekly utilization rates were 125% higher for coaching and 265% higher for therapy and psychiatry when compared to pre-COVID-19 averages, the company reported.
CVS, Salesforce team up to unite return-to-work platforms
The "strategic relationship" announced Monday will unite Salesforce's Work.com workplace management platform, which allows for wellness monitoring and manual contract tracing, with CVS' Return Ready offering, which offers flexible tracking and insights on COVID-19 testing. Should an employer wish to deploy the two platforms in tandem, the services provided by both will be accessible through the Work.com system, the companies said.
From telehealth visits to digital pharmacies, seniors have ramped up technology use during COVID-19: survey
Seniors have embraced technology during the COVID-19 pandemic, from booking virtual visits with their doctors to ordering their prescriptions online. Telemedicine usage jumped 340% among Medicare-eligible seniors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey. Nearly one-third of consumers age 64 and older say they monitor their health using a wearable. What's more, 4 in 10 are interested in a wearable that helps them and those around them maintain appropriate social distance, according to the survey from healthinsurance.com.
Trump signs executive order to expand telehealth, boost rural health care
President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday to support healthcare in rural areas by permanently expanding some telehealth services beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) officials said they plan to issue a proposed Physician Fee Schedule rule that will cement some regulatory flexibilities enacted during the public health emergency to reimburse for telehealth visits. Examples include emergency room visits, nurse consultations, and speech and occupational therapy, they said.
The Psychiatrist Will See You Online Now
Psychiatry is a special case. Experts had predicted for years that the field’s most intimate treatment — psychotherapy, or the talking cure — was poised to go largely virtual, for many or most patients, forever altering day-to-day practice. In this extraordinary year, they are likely to be proved right. In March, federal health officials loosened restrictions on practicing across state lines, and have begun to expand reimbursement. Clinics across the country went virtual, with most consultations done by phone or computer. The number of virtual mental health visits in the sprawling V.A. Health System jumped more than sevenfold, from 7,500 to 52,600, in just the first two months of the U.S. epidemic.
Ancestry rolls out more advanced DNA testing to flag risk of heart disease, breast cancer
Jon M. Regis, MD, president and CEO of Reliance Medical Group, says virtual care options and the revenues they generate could "level the playing field" for medical groups. Like many other businesses, physician practices and medical groups have suffered significant financial losses during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. To remedy the patient volume declines and recoup lost revenue, most provider organizations have gravitated toward virtual care services, which have emerged as one of the most mainstream healthcare solutions during the pandemic.
Understanding the New Patient Preference for Telehealth Access
March 2020 brought about one of the biggest catalysts for care delivery change at Emory Healthcare. Telehealth access, which once was a key tool for the health system mostly on the hospital side, soon became the crux of the patient experience in ambulatory care, too. This isn’t a novel story. Most healthcare organizations, big and small, saw a major problem on their hands when the novel coronavirus quarantined people in their own homes and sparked industry-wide calls to postpone non-urgent or elective healthcare. Clinics and hospitals could be a breeding ground for the virus, logic held, and so it was best for patients who weren’t urgently sick or injured to stay at home for the time being.
Using telehealth to revolutionize the speed of making rare disease diagnoses
For a person living with a rare disease, it can take five years or longer to receive an accurate diagnosis. With more than 40% of patients initially misdiagnosed, this “diagnostic odyssey” can have serious and long-term health consequences for the 300 million individuals affected by rare diseases and their families. It is also incredibly frustrating. A key factor contributing to initial misdiagnoses is the shortage of clinical geneticists. Despite an estimated three-quarters of rare diseases being genetic in origin, there are significant barriers in accessing appropriate genetic counseling. Telehealth can help break down these barriers.