Welcome to DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING, the newsletter providing the latest news, data, and insight on how digital technology is disrupting the healthcare ecosystem, produced by Business Insider Intelligence.
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APPLE’S NEW API OFFERS HEALTHCARE COMPANIES NEW BREADTH OF CONSUMER DATA: Apple is further entrenching the iPhone as a gateway for patient health data. On Monday, the tech giant launched the developer interface to Health Records, enabling US iPhone users to share their health record data with third-party apps. Healthcare developers can use this data to create more personalized health experiences. For context, Health Records was launched in January 2018 to make it easier for iPhone users to consolidate, access, and share their health data from more than 500 hospitals and clinics in the US.
For health organizations, the API opens the door to a significant pool of highlyvaluable health data that can be used to improve treatments and patient outcomes.
Apple's new API will help to:
- Solve the interoperability issues that plague electronic health records (EHR) systems. Most healthcare systems have different IT standards, which often leads to mismatched or incomplete patient EHRs. This can create issues with the standard of care and cause a bottleneck in patient triage. Making patient data more accessible via the Health Records API could alleviate this issue.
- Fill in existing gaps in patient data.Together with the HealthKit API, which gives developers access to fitness and activity data in the Health app, healthcare organizations will be able to create an ecosystem of highly integrated health apps to provide healthcare providers with a more holistic picture of a patient’s health.
Meanwhile, the move could help Apple corner a chunk of the lucrative mHealth market. The company controls more than half of the US smartphone market and has a substantial developer following, which makes it an appealing platform for health systems looking to access consumer health data, according to StatCounter.The North American mHealth market is set to grow at an annualizedrate of 41% to reach $19.4 billion by 2021, up from $1.8 billion in 2016,according to Mordor Intelligence.
This is just the latest example of the blurring of lines between tech and healthcare as health systems become increasingly reliant on tech companies’ expertise to deliver care. Over the past 12 months, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung have also accelerated their health initiatives:
- Amazon is surveying how it can offer providers cheaper medical supply distribution, and is building out Alexa as an in-home health tool.
- Googleintroduced a healthcare cloud offering in March 2018 to help health systems improve health data collection and make it easier for providers to access medical records, and partnered with Fitbit to make it easier for doctors to access wearable data.
- Samsungannounced plans to add a pre-installed Health app to its mobile devices in the UK, a feature it will look to expand to all Samsung users.
- Microsoftpartnered with a biotech company to test how AI and cloud computing can be used to scan for dozens of diseases in one universal blood test.
TELADOC EXTENDS GLOBAL FOOTPRINT WITH $352 MILLION ACQUISITION: US virtual provider Teladoc purchased Spain-based virtual provider Advance Medical for $352 million on May 31, 2018. Acquiring Advance Medical, which staffs 450 medical doctors and offers services in more than 125 countries, grants Teladoc access to markets such as Latin America and Asia-Pacific for the first time. Moreover, Teladoc now boasts services in more than 20 languages and can connect with Advance Medical’s 300 existing employer and insurer partners. Teladoc has participated in a flurry of partnerships over the past year — it more than doubled its hospital and health system partners during 2017, a year in which it saw an 89% increase in total revenue over 2016. And it laid the groundwork for international expansion with a $440 million acquisition of global second opinion service Best Doctor in July 2017. Tapping international markets enables Teladoc to expand its membership opportunity and should help the company as it looks to break into profitability.
MOUNT SINAI TAPS AI TO POWER WORFKLOW AND IMPROVED DISEASE DETECTION: New York-based health system Mount Sinai announced a partnership with RenalytixAI, a healthcare AI startup, to create a tool that flags patients at risk of advanced kidney disease, according to Modern Healthcare. The partners will feed Mount Sinai’s more than 3 million patient health records into a machine-learning system, developing a tool that identifies at-risk patients to inform earlier treatment interventions for improved patient outcomes. Often, those with kidney disease don't receive treatment until they require dialysis and other expensive late-stage interventions. Automating a process that requires staff to analyze large volumes of data could serve as a valuable clinical decision support tool by reducing diagnostic errors, expediting the detection process, and freeing up hospital staff to focus on care. The partnership could also lead to population health initiatives, in which specific segments of the population at risk for certain health events are identified and targeted to deliver more personalized treatments for better patient outcomes. Mount Sinai’s new AI tool could inform how it treats the 1 million Mount Sinai patients that are either diagnosed with type II diabetes or are of African ancestry, for example — two of the major at-risk population segments for kidney disease. The partners hope to commercialize an AI product beginning in Q2 2019.
HEALTH SYSTEM’S MOVE TO SMS OUTREACH IMPROVES WORKFLOW AND PATIENT VOLUME: The largest physician-owned practice in California, Riverside Medical Clinic, implemented an SMS-based patient communication tool that improved clinical operations workflow and reduced appointment no-shows, according to MobiHealthNews. The tool displaced phone-based outreach when patients set SMS as their preferred contact method to send appointment reminders and enabled patients to communicate appointment requests to Riverside’s staff. The result was a streamlined scheduling process that reduced patient no-shows by more than two-thirds, cut phone call volume, and improved patient confirmation rates. This prompted Riverside to expand the program across all 85 of its practices just two weeks after the pilot’s launch. Manually confirming patient appointments via phone often takes multiple calls and voicemails, which dragged on Riverside’s operations workflow as it had to assign staff additional hours on scheduling that could be better served elsewhere. Health systems are eager for tools that can help put a dent in administrative costs, which accounted for 25% of US healthcare costs in 2014, according to the most recent estimates from The Commonwealth Fund.
IN OTHER NEWS:
- US health system NYU Langoneannounced plans to open two new inpatient facilities focused on creating a digital patient experience. New features include hospital room displays, a fleet of supply delivery robots, and medication drawers outside patient rooms that sync with patient health records for safer medication management.
- New York startup Parachute Health, a platform that helps providers digitize medical supply ordering and reduce errors from fax-driven equipment ordering, raised $9.5 million in additional funding, according to MobiHealthNews. Parachute plans to use the funding to expand its service beyond the 20 US states it currently serves.
- Mental health patients are more likely to engage with a mobile app that helps them manage their condition than attend a group therapy session, according to a new study reported by Digital Commerce 360. Providers could deploy mobile tools to increase patient engagement in the 1 in 5 US adults who have a mental health condition.