Telehealth News Recap - Dec 2023

Keeping up with the latest news in the virtual care space is challenging. Wheel's Virtual Care News is a monthly newsletter for stakeholders in the digital health industry. As a subscriber, you'll receive timely information on trending news, regulatory updates, engaging conversations, and key innovations emerging in the space

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Explore the latest trends, insights, and innovations in December’s Virtual Care News roundup. This month's newsletter explores what's on the horizon in 2024, from potential megamergers like Cigna & Humana to AI tools like Hims & Hers' MedMatch. We'll also dive into pediatric digital health, senior health tech adoption, and Forward’s self-serve CarePods.


  • 👀 A 2024 Healthcare Predictions Roundup

  • 1️⃣ Amazon and One Medical’s $9 monthly membership

  • 🔬 The Consumerization of Care in Life Sciences

Read time: 12 minutes

🚀 Looking Ahead - 2024 Predictions Roundup

Predictions 2024: Healthcare Organizations Will Get Ahead by Forging New Paths

    In its 2024 healthcare predictions report, Forrester predicts that healthcare organizations will need to form creative partnerships and adopt unconventional approaches to meet consumer needs and navigate challenges. Here’s a preview of their predictions:

    1. Smart tech will become more accessible for health systems, empowering employees and augmenting their capabilities.
    2. Health plans will offer nontraditional benefits addressing basic member needs, like childcare or transportation.
    3. Medical deserts will worsen, with many US counties lacking adequate healthcare access.
    4. Cyberattacks will continue to rise, threatening patient safety as hackers exploit HCO vulnerabilities.
    5. Insurers will prioritize stability amidst uncertainty, focusing on core operations and delaying non-essential projects.

    Forrester >

    Predicting Healthcare’s Future: ChatGPT and Bard’s 2024 Vision

    Health Data Management decided to run an experiment and asked ChatGPT and Bard, two large language models, what they think the future of healthcare holds in 2024. Both ChatGPT and Bard agree that AI will be a dominant force in medical diagnosis and patient care and you gotta love that self-confidence. They predict a future where telehealth flourishes, particularly in geographically isolated regions. Both emphasized the growing significance of personalized medicine, wearable devices, and 3D printing in shaping the healthcare landscape. Additionally, the LLMs delved into the potential of blockchain technology, robot-assisted surgeries, and advancements in mental health.

    Although there were slight differences in their forecasts, both models emphasized a healthcare future that is technologically advanced, patient-centric, secure, and comprehensive. However, the authors noted that the big missing piece in their predictions was the pace of change.

    Health Data Management >

    What do you predict for healthcare in 2024? Share your predictions for a chance to be featured in our next newsletter.

    📊Trends & Insights

    Cigna, Humana in Talks To Merge: WSJ

    Cigna and Humana are discussing a potential stock-and-cash deal that could be finalized before next year, according to the Wall Street Journal. The merger would be the largest ever in the health insurance industry, creating a company with a market cap of over $140 billion. If announced, the new combined enterprise would join CVS Health and United Health Group to create a Big 3 in healthcare. It is worth noting that a merger of this magnitude would likely face extreme regulatory scrutiny from the Biden administration’s more aggressive antitrust regime.

    Healthcare Dive >

    Amazon’s Latest Perk for Prime Members Includes Discounted One Medical Virtual Care

    Amazon is offering One Medical’s 24/7 virtual care services to Prime members for $9 per month. This subscription covers unlimited access to 24/7 virtual care nationwide, including video chats with licensed providers sync and async. For Amazon, this move makes care more seamless under their brand – combining virtual care, in-person care, and pharmacy services under one umbrella and making its price transparent. This puts the pressure on other providers and retailers as healthcare becomes more consumer-centric.

    Fierce Healthcare >

    Hims & Hers Introduces MedMatch, the Next Generation of Intelligent Diagnostic Services

    Earlier this month, Hims & Hers introduced MedMatch, a technology designed to give providers “a more intelligent and informed way to deliver personalized care to patients with more effective and precise treatments and medications.” Currently in Beta, MedMatch deploys artificial intelligence and machine learning against the expansive dataset at the core of the Hims & Hers platform to identify treatments in real-time that may be best suited for the patient’s needs. In this article, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Patrick Carroll, sits down with MobiHealthNews to talk further.

    MobiHealthNews >

    🤔 First Opinions & Engaging Conversations

    Next Gen Innovation: Opportunities in Pediatric Digital Health

    The field of pediatric digital health is experiencing a growth spurt, driven by a confluence of factors: a digitally native generation of parents, the rising prevalence of chronic conditions in children, and a critical gap in mental health services. This confluence presents a unique opportunity for innovators to address unmet needs and shape a healthier future for children. In their latest deep dive, Rock Health provides a market map along with six important guidelines for innovators who are building or moving into the pediatric digital health space.

    Rock Health >

      Golden Years, Digital Gears: Digital Health For Aging Populations

      Now the other end of the spectrum, senior digital health. For seniors, digital health solutions like wearables offer a spectrum of potentially life saving features, from continuous aFib screening to medication reminders and fall notifications. Yet, despite these benefits, adoption remains a major hurdle. This article delves into the factors impeding digital health adoption among seniors, explores strategies to enhance perceived usefulness within this demographic, and ultimately proposes how businesses can reframe their approach to senior technology to unlock accessible product design for the "golden generation."

      Medical Futurist >

      The New Mall Kiosk: Doctor-in-a-Box

      ICYMI: One of the most controversial announcements last month was Forward's self-serve, AI-powered CarePods. These new kiosks, which use artificial intelligence to screen and diagnose health conditions, are being rolled out in malls, gyms, and offices, starting with San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.

      Forward's founder and CEO, Adrian Aoun, champions the "productization" of healthcare, claiming in an interview with Fierce Healthcare that "we should just take every single thing that doctors and nurses are doing and migrate it over to hardware and software because we can scale healthcare to the planet." It's certainly a bold move in the healthcare landscape, sparking much heated discussion on the limits of technology, the removal of the clinician from care, and the market demand for something like this.

      Fierce Healthcare >
      LinkedIn >

      ⚖️ Policy & Regulatory Updates

      Calendar Year (CY) 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule

      The 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule final rule, released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) earlier this month, extended certain telehealth-related flexibilities that were implemented during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. CMS issued a Fact Sheet summarizing the telehealth updates, as well as other important Medicare policy changes.

      CMS Fact Sheet >

      Bipartisan Bill Aims to Expand OUD Medication Access via Telehealth

      The reintroduced TREATS Act aims to permanently allow clinicians to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) via telehealth, eliminating the prior in-person exam requirement. This could significantly improve access to OUD treatment, especially in underserved areas.

      mHealth Intelligence >

      ✨ Growth & Innovation

      Walmart Health Signs Care Coordination Agreements With Florida Health System, Insurer

      Walmart Health has just signed groundbreaking care coordination agreements with Florida health insurer Ambetter from Sunshine Health and Orlando Health. This is a first-of-its-kind move for the retail giant, signaling its serious ambitions in the future of healthcare. Through this collaboration, members of the Ambetter Value Plan can now access seamless care coordination and referral management services through their preferred provider: Walmart Health Centers. This agreement marks a significant step towards streamlined patient experiences, improved quality of care, and potentially reduced costs.

      MobihealthNews >

      🔁 Industry Roundup

      AstraZeneca launches new health-tech business, Evinova, a digital health solution for clinical trials

      Kythera Labs raises $20M in Series A funding for Wayfinder data technology platform

      Intermountain spinoff, Culmination Bio, raises $10M for life sciences-centric data analytics platform

      Eleos Health, a leader in AI behavioral health, raises $40M in Series B funding for its CareOps Automation platform

      In Q3 2023, obesity care startups have funded over $67M according to Axios report

      🛞 Wheel News

      From Scripts to Solutions: The Consumerization of Care Is Coming to Life Sciences

      Technology is revolutionizing the healthcare industry and empowering consumers to take charge of their own health. To meet the expectations of consumers, life sciences companies are moving away from traditional medication-based approaches and instead, focusing on developing personalized care programs that cater to the unique needs of each patient. By embracing this shift, healthcare providers can significantly improve patient outcomes and deliver the personalized experiences that patients are seeking. Read more from Wheel CEO Michelle Davey.

      Wheel >

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