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Shopping for Insurance? We’ve Got You Covered

Is my prescription covered? What’s my copay? Choosing a health insurance plan that gets you the most bang for your buck is daunting. For many, medication price and coverage is a crucial decision factor. Meanwhile, drug prices vary under different plans and comparing costs is a necessary, but messy, step in selecting the best plan.

Lucky for us, tech-enabled solutions have the potential to revamp the insurance shoppingexperience. Think: Black Friday-like madness becomes your very own virtual personal shopper in the palm of your hand. The Rx Cost and Coverage Challenge, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in collaboration with Vericred, encouraged the creation of new consumer tools to help users directly compare insurance plans based on medication and out-of-pocket costs.

Dozens of teams created and submitted novel consumer tools for selecting a plan on the health insurance exchange marketplace. The submissions incorporated data and APIs supplied by Vericred, PokitDok, Iodine, and GoodRx, such as formulary data and information corresponding to drug costs, for accurate and effective solutions. Industry experts then evaluated the submissions, and sent five teams to the final round. Of the five finalists, three solutions came out on top as the most helpful consumer tools.

Taking home the grand prize of $50,000 is HonestHealth, Inc. This platform makes it so easy to compare insurance plans that people may actually want to find shop for insurance. honesthealth_logoOnce the user has filled out minimal information such as age, location, and medications taken, the platform’s gliding tool offers a robust, yet comprehensive, list of insurance plans based on estimated out-of-pocket drug costs. The tool also offers information about drug tiers, what pharmacy to go to, and suggests GoodRx coupons right in the insurance selection tool. This tool gives consumers even more ways to save on health care costs and ultimately eases the burden of decision-making. HonestHealth’s CEO, Emilio Galan was excited to participate in the challenge because “with drug costs rising faster than wages” he felt that HonestHealth could “provide a consumer-friendly way to manage drug expenses,” and that they did.

, came in at second place, with a beautifully user friendly platform that requires little effort or information from the user. The tool provides an extensive list of optionsclearx_logo and allows the user to sort by what is most important to them, such as customer ratings, annual out of pocket costs, and other criteria. CleaRx Custom Drug Search provides an additional tool for consumers to compare alternative drug options. The tool provides a truly personalized insurance shopping experience.

In third place, Clear Health Analytics collects information from users in order to create an estimate of projected annual use of medical services and medications. Using these predicted numbers, the tool provides a list of recommended health insurance plans and the costs anticipated. It allows the user to highlight favorites and compare them side by side.

This winners of the challenge are making over the health insurance shopping experience, helping you find your best health insurance value. So, don’t fret about finding an insurance plan that is best for you. We got you covered (literally).

Tune in for more information on this challenge and others by signing up for our Catalyst Newsletter.

The Optimal Hospital Part II

Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans has a very unique innovation model with a team that operates with the flexibility and autonomy of a start up, unlike the approach of most major healthcare organizations. In Part I of this series, I explained how they re-imagined patient care for a specific group of cardiology patients and shared the highlights of my tour of Ochsner’s Optimal Hospital.

This part is a deep dive into my interview with Jonathan Wilt, who was previously an engineer at Epic, and then ran his own consultancy firm, before joining Ochsner to lead the innovation team which currently consists of 18 people split between clinicians and engineers.

Omar Shaker: Thanks for having me Jonathan. Can you please explain when your innovation department was created and the purpose behind it?

Jonathan Wilt: If you want to be competitive in healthcare over the next five years, you need to think of what’s  to come. Value-based care will be the trend for entire industry, and so we must innovate to reduce cost and improve quality. The innovation department was built two years ago with the purpose of exploring new technologies and how we can use them to reinvent the clinical model.

OS: Experimentation of that sort doesn’t usually yield any return on investments in the short term though, how does your department resolve that with leadership?

JW: What we want is to reimagine how the patients are treated across the organization. The timeline on our projects’ returns are 3-5 years. Preventative care can’t show you outcomes or savings in a short time. We’re trying to prevent strokes and heart attacks. It’s not like you can say: If this patient’s blood pressure is under control then they won’t get a heart attack or vice versa.

Leadership understands that, and the department was created by Dr. Richard Milani with that vision. I don’t need results next month; I need results in a 2/3 year cycle. We can start 15 projects and they’d get narrowed down to one successful project.

To balance that, we sometimes need to work on smaller projects that are simply about optimizing existing business functions to make some revenue or cut some costs. We’d rather always be working on the cool stuff, but this is what is sometimes required to balance the budget and be able to pursue bigger things.

OS: What are some of those projects that you are working on?

JW: We have three major buckets of projects:

    • Digital Medicine Projects:

Our Digital Medicine Hypertension Program has 200 patients who had uncontrolled blood pressure and 70% of them have reached a controlled state within six months. We ask them to send a single measure per week and we get an average of six readings per patient per week!

We also have a wireless weight monitoring program for all cardiac patients, coupled with a medication adherence program done through our pharmacists who are part of our department.

The doctors absolutely love this program because it makes the follow up process much more effective and the patients are more engaged, because of the increased number of contact points that happens throughout their care plan.

    • Inpatient Care:

This is our Optimal Hospital Project which is an innovation wing in the cardiology department with 15 beds. This is where we test all our ideas and experiment with wireless monitoring, lab testing schedules, different lighting, sound monitoring and many more variables. We study how these changes help our patients’ recovery.

    • Patient Experience:

Text message appointment reminders are a good example for that bucket, where 140,000 people signed up in eight weeks. There was a huge demand that we weren’t fulfilling. The goal is to make patients more comfortable and giving them what they want.

OS: What are the biggest enablers you’ve had for your successes so far?

JW: Having agile leadership that supports and trusts us is vital for our success. We don’t need to go through approvals like other big organizations. This trustworthy atmosphere creates space for creativity.

Another thing that was instrumental for us was Apple’s Healthkit. It was a game changer, because it allowed us to push information from all these sensors straight into our medical records without having to worry about all the integration which would’ve taken immense amounts of work from us.

I’m a strong believer that things belong in their places and I’m very strict on maintenance. We can’t innovate in the future if we are constantly maintaining bad code or bad integrations. We have an electronic medical record, so we don’t build add-ons, everything lives inside of Epic. We do not want to invent a new universe or new web app, and that gives us a lot of data advantages.

The Optimal Hospital Part I

As I explored New Orleans for the first time, a sense of authenticity struck me. Everything about the city whether cuisine, paintings, shops, music jams or second line parades seemed to come from the heart. Everyone is in the moment and wants to share it. When I thought my trip couldn’t get any better, I stumbled upon the digital health innovation nirvana implemented by Ochsner Health System all around the city.

During a long jolly and warm night roaming around Frenchmen street, I met Henry Gould, a software engineer with innovation Ochsner (iO),  an innovation lab and accelerator created by Ochsner Health System. We stood in a jazz club’s balcony and as the band played an acoustic cover of the classic WhenThe SaintsGo Marching In, Henry explained how their team has complete autonomy over a cardiology unit, and are given the budget to experiment freely with mobile health technologies. Coming from San Francisco, and having interviewed many of the incredible companies on both coasts, I was skeptical but very intrigued.

I set up an interview with Jonathan Wilt, Assistant Vice President & Chief Technology Officer  of iO, and six weeks later I flew back to New Orleans. I was also just in time to see Stevie Wonder and Buddy Guy live at Jazz Fest!

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Ochsner Medical Center in Louisiana is a non-profit, 609-bed general medical and surgical teaching facility. The innovation office where Henry, Jonathan and the rest of the team works is setup very similarly to a Silicon Valley start-up. Pin boards, agile post-it notes, multiple giant screens with colorful lines of code, no walls or cubicles– everyone in the room is facing the rest of the team and lots of dialogue going back and forth amidst an exciting work atmosphere.

The team is 18 people strong, with a mix of software engineers and pharmacists. They are fully endorsed and led by Dr. Richard Milani whose vision is to completely reimagine the way Ochsner’s patients receive treatment. The team has many exciting initiatives, but this piece is about how they are redesigning the process of what it means to be a cardiac patient at Ochsner.

The reimagined process goes as follows:

  • The Patient is Admitted to the Optimal Hospital Cardiology Unit

The hospital is a hectic and draining place which we all dread, and the iO is making both subtle and overt tweaks in their wing to change that. First off, the patients receive wireless monitors for continuous monitoring of heart rate from their rooms. There are no wires or probes, and that also means that the nurses do not have to walk in on the patient to measure vital data. The data measured is synced to Epic, the electronic medical record, and shows up in the nurse’s office.

The team is also optimizing the patient’s sleep. Instead of having a nurse draw lab results at 4 am in the morning, the nurse spares the patient any sleep interruptions and draws them at 6 am instead. They also have switched the typical bright white glaring lights to softer red lights for night time.

A sound sensor in the hallway collects information about how much noise the patient is exposed to and if there is a certain pattern which they can modify to make for a more convenient and relaxing patient experience.

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Henry showing me the Optimal Hospital Cardiology Unit with wireless sensors, mobile monitoring and hallway sound analysis

  • On discharge, the patient visits the O Bar

Being a digital medicine nerd, this is my favorite part. The team has set up an Apple Store-esque O Bar which holds all the biosensors, fitness trackers and vital data monitors I can think of. Patients are greeted by a health tech expert, which helps them choose the right device, sets it up for them and trains them on how to use it. This prepares the patient for Ochsner’s home-based follow up.

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The O Bar in Action:

  • Home-based follow up rather than inefficient appointments.

Most patients with heart problems are provided with a wireless scale to measure their weight on a daily basis from home, and it is directly uploaded into Epic. In addition, the team of pharmacist clinicians (hired by the iO team) follows up every 2-3 weeks to make sure they are on track with medications. This way the contact points with the patients are far more than what normally happens with 3-6 month appointment intervals. When the time comes for appointments, patients are sent a text message reminder.

Learning about Ochsner’s implementation of these programs gave me hope. What is being talked about in Health 2.0 conferences can be implemented in meaningful ways that make both patients and clinicians have a healthier, efficient and more convenient experience of healthcare. In the same vein of everything that is unique about New Orleans, the iO team definitely approaches digital medicine in a very authentic way worth studying.

Although a rainstorm hit Louisiana the next day and rained over my Stevie Wonder and Buddy Guy plans, I was far from disappointed because what I had learned from Jonathan and Henry had already made the trip worth it. To learn more about the business model and details of their innovation strategy, check out Part II of this piece with my full interview with Jonathan Wilt.

5 Ways Blockchain Will Change Health Care

Bitcoin, the digital “crypto” currency, has stirred a lot of hope, hype and fear since its launch in 2008. It is praised by obsessive enthusiasts as the solution to a broken financial system, and yet heavily slandered by critics who find it unsustainable and a loophole for malicious dark web activities. Boom or bust, Bitcoin has offered us a new perspective on how an economy can work without a central bank. The most revolutionary idea behind it though, is not the currency itself, but the underlying technology, called the Blockchain.

“Let’s say I transfer $10 worth of bitcoin to you, Blockchain is like a giant spreadsheet that lets everyone in the system verify that the $10 belongs to you now, with the option of keeping my own identity anonymous.” says Chelsea Barabas, Head of Social Innovation at MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative. Her keynote addressed a crowd of healthcare futurists last year at Exponential Medicine.  “This functionality alone has multiple applications in several industries, one example is using it to track pharmaceutical supply chains, and verify that drugs made it to the patient”.

I had the chance to speak to Chelsea after a workshop in which she and FROG – the design consultancy firm- guided Exponential Medicine attendees through brainstorming and creating health care solutions using Blockchain.

“Blockchain is a decentralized public global ledger [database] which is also secure and depersonalized and temper proof.” explained Carlos Elena-Lenz, Principal Technology Strategist at FROG. “This technology can be used as a strong interoperability tool for healthcare data transfer from and between hospitals and other stakeholders”. Because Blockchain provides a unified platform for all users, with user permissions for access, it could be the perfect backbone for an Electronic Medical Record. Patients would own their data, share it only with their doctors and otherwise have it securely encrypted.

It is not news, that EMR systems don’t speak to each other, which really defies the point of their existence, in my humble opinion. Could blockchain possibly disrupt the strong business incentive against sharing data which the EMR companies still have despite Meaningful Use? “Industry forces are very strong, but history shows that when you build an experience that is so horrible you lose your sales and customers eventually. MS Office has been entrenched in companies for so long, but now there is a Google for work fighting strong for enterprise clients.” says Carlos.

“The space is evolving very fast because it is open source, so a lot of companies like Factum, Ripple bags, Etherium and a host of others are improving it and taking it into different directions.

Silicon Valley is often hungry for quick short term change, but it’ll take a while for cryptocurrency to go through its trajectory which is mostly dependent on behavior.” Carlos told me enthusiastically “We’re still at the pilot and exploration phase. There’s a lot of activity from tech to financial services companies exploring that space very hard. Mostly investments and capability building and were likely to see the fruits of this space in the next 2 years.”

Carlos builds diverse teams at FROG to pilot use cases for the technology to be used for interoperability and providing a better user experience for their healthcare clients. “We are very excited about the potential, but with opportunities rise obstacles and other threats. Some of the challenges include a limitation on size of blocks, finding the right consensus algorithm, and adding the application layer.”

Chelsea, on the other hand, spends a lot of time at MIT media lab thinking about user-centric access privileges and has big ideas to re-design of the whole internet. “Instead of a user name and a password for all these websites, we can use blockchain to establish an identity that can be used to verify, possess and control our own data.”

What inspired Chelsea to that grand vision was an early fascination with the idea of gender inequality, specifically when it comes to employment. She then realized that there are companies that create digital profiles of who we are and then send them to recruiters based on the content we have online. “This does not just make someone else make money off your own data, but it is also very inaccurate! You can be unemployed because of information that doesn’t even belong to you!” says Chelsea. “What if you can verify that data, own it, and then give privileges to those companies you want to work for. Enter Blockchain.”

This applies to healthcare in many ways. With the rise of more digital data than ever before, a dire industrial need for encryption, and the rise of new patient centric models Blockchain seems like a perfect fit in many areas such as:

1-Population Health and Clinical Studies: Allowing for proper encryption and patients to keep their identities anonymous, data can be extracted from a larger population as opposed to strictly being from volunteers. This can provide more accurate and larger sample sizes for trials, while maintaining HIPAA integrity.

2- Interoperability: Blockchain can be a unified IT backbone hat aggregates data from multiple sources such as different EMRs and mobile apps, allowing for a more open ecosystem.

3- Patient-Centricity: Since the patient’s identity is protected, blockchain can gather data and give the patient direct personalized recommendations based on their unique condition and status without violating security.

4- Security: As mentioned before Blockchain allows for end-to-end encryption and a way to make data anonymous.

5- Supply Chain Management: Drug delivery or tracking which patients received which services is simple with the ledger format in which blockchain is designed.

As the future of medicine is becoming more about the intersections of technologies, as professionals in the industry we must constantly challenge ourselves to learn more about these technologies. This particular one, Blockchain, which comes from the fin-tech space, can be transformative in healthcare over the next few years.

The Future Is Here – A Conversation With Dr. Daniel Kraft

Once a year, the most brilliant technologists, entrepreneurs and futurists gather in the royal Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, and synthesize together what the future of healthcare might look like. Morning Yoga, mind blowing keynotes, intense workshops, beach parties and silent disco nights are some of the activities one can do while socializing with some of the today’s best minds at Exponential Medicine. Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 3.03.45 PM In a time when the smartphones in our pockets have a significantly more power than of large computers three decades ago, the possibilities of improving our lives by that same exponential fashion in almost all aspects are fascinating. Healthcare as an industry, is increasingly opening up to more people from exciting domains such as Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, 3D printing, genetics, design and software engineering. Dr. Daniel Kraft, is at the center of it all. He has recognized early on that the most important proponent of this movement is bringing these incredible people together, and that is what he does every year at Exponential Medicine, organized by Singularity University. For that, he is my personal hero, because watching his TED talks and tuning in to Exponential Medicine is what helped me understand what the future of medicine might look like, and gave me the confidence to leave clinical practice and pursue my technology passions. I finally met Dr. Kraft two years after I moved to San Francisco, at the Health 2.0 fall conference. While Health 2.0 focuses on bringing stakeholders together to have essential conversations about technology adoption today, Exponential Medicine brings a smaller more specialized crowd, to talk about what is to come, ten years from now. Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 3.03.58 PM                   Omar Shaker: Daniel, it such a pleasure meeting you! Can you please tell us more about how Exponential Medicine started and what your inspiration was behind it? Daniel Kraft: I always had a broad interest in research and healthcare IT, and I found myself doing things outside of what a typical medical student or resident would be interested in, such as building an online bookstore startup and getting involved with the bio-design of medical devices. Singularity University then came along and Peter Diamandis asked me to share in the medicine part of it back in 2009 and we held a one-week executive program in which we covered AI in medicine, robotics and biotech. It was interesting because everyone who came had an interest in healthcare from a different perspective and they wanted to apply their skills to that field. The inspiration was that mixing all these people with different backgrounds gets them excited about the possibilities and drives them to innovate. That is when we started the FutureMed program, and we were sold out with 100 folks for the first 3 programs done at NASA. Something magical happened there, and we had people not normally coming together mixing it up and some companies like, Sentrian and Scanadu were started. A lot of physicians were frustrated with the pace of change, and they got excited to do things together. The theme is that the future of medicine does not come from one angle, but from the convergence of different fields. We got so much interest in 2013, we decided to move to the Hotel del Coronado and we are still selling out. We have 50 startup companies now, and a competition called the MED-Y awards. OS: Out of all the technologies you have seen, which ones are you excited about in the near future? DK: I’m excited to see the integration of Artificial Intelligence with Big Data being part of the workflow. So when doctors walk into their clinics they would have Intelligence Augmentation (IA not AI) where they would be helped with the documentation, choosing the right drug or have a wider scope of diagnostic possibilities. This is all a promise but it has not been achieved yet. I think there are a lot of players enabling this movement like Medtronic or Apple’s HealthKit for example, and helping data flow through that into the EMR will help us go from Quantified Self to Quantified Health. Virtual reality is also becoming more and more important in terms of education, training and therapy. Lots of potential there. OS: What is your advice to doctors and newly graduates who want to get involved with these game-changing innovations? DK: Well the future of medicine is already here, a doctor can do an online consultation through the phone, they can measure blood pressure or heart rate using Wifi enabled devices, figure out how to use those to solve their organization’s pain points. Healthcare has regulatory and organizational hurdles but we live in a time where anyone can really innovate and collaborate with others from different fields to bring in new value to the clinical workflow in a Do-It-Yourself fashion. We should all be innovating and start to have a mindset of doing things in a different way. Doctors need to train their minds to think exponentially and not in the usual linear fashion, meaning that they should think about what will be possible in 5 years rather than only being focused on what is available now. OS: How are the major healthcare organizations dealing with these sweeping changes? DK: The challenge with hospitals is that technologies are not integrated in the doctors’ clinical workflow or EMR system yet which are often still based on old thinking. It is not only about the technology but about the process, workflow and incentive too. This is starting to happen with outcome-based or value-based care, healthcare systems are going to be more incentivized to keep patients healthier, improve quality of diagnosis and therapy. A lot of big traditional companies are beginning to see how they can use this technology in clinical trials, drug discovery, patient engagement and so forth. There is an indication that disruption is coming and it is not necessarily going to come from within but a lot of them are acquiring companies. Pharma, for example, is adopting Therapeutic MRNA, digital wrappers around their drugs, the idea of prescribing apps and behavioral change. I’ve seen a lot of companies who have forward thinking CEOs trying to infiltrate that change within the rest of the organization, which is hard for a 30-50k person company. OS: You have done a lot of research and innovation in the field of Regenerative Medicine which is an area that fascinates me. How close would you say we are from being able to print organs? DK: Stem cell therapy has been there for years (the first bone marrow transplants go back to 68), so in a sense it is not new but there is still a lot of hope and hype. You have to understand that Regenerative medicine is an application field and does not have a specific end goal. It is not helpful to predict or quote a timeline, but it is more interesting to see the cross applications available as we progress. For example, using gene therapy to create “humanized” pigs so that we can get organs from them. We have new regulatory and clinical trial methods. Induced pluripotent stem cells are exciting and the potential to use them for induced therapeutics for curing diabetes for example. OS: The future of technology that was once only imaginable is now here, there is room for innovation and improving healthcare on almost every front, but we still need to make it fit with the existing systems based on older dogmas taught in medical schools and adopted by the industry over years. According to Dr. Kraft, the greatest catalyst to this change is when we start challenging our comfort zone with new technologies, experiment with them in a Do-It-Yourself fashion and making them meaningful within the current healthcare workflows.  

Interview With Stephen Lieber

IMG_2778In June, the 10th eHealth week brought together minister delegations, entrepreneurs, industry leaders as well as other healthcare advocates under one roof in Amsterdam. The conference was focused on 3 topics: empowering people, social innovation & transition and trust & standards. During this time we had the opportunity to have a conversation with Stephen Lieber, President, and CEO of HIMSS, about the current progression of technologies in healthcare in both Europe and the US.

Aline Noizet: Hi Stephen, nice to have you here. In your opening remarks this morning, you talked about adoption of digital health in Europe and the U.S.  You said that, although new technologies seem quite advanced in the U.S. the adoption is not as fast paced as we expect it to be by now. What do you think is the reason for this gap?

Stephen Lieber: It’s not system-wide. I can find examples of the most sophisticated level of medical care supported by the most sophisticated technology. At the same time, I can find many many hospitals that don’t operate at that level, same with physician practices. My physician, for instance, has electronic medical records. All my records are digitized, yet she doesn’t communicate with me electronically; she calls me up and I have to come in for results. You can find examples in the United States of sophisticated technology in adoption and use, but you’ll find other countries where it’s more widespread. I don’t think you’ll find anything in the United States that you can’t find in Europe, especially in the Nordic region, in Scandinavia. The Northern European area has a very long history of digitizing records and using electronic record keeping for healthcare.

AN: Telemedicine is a good example of technology that is more adopted in the U.S. than in Europe.

SL: One of the things that we have to deal with that you don’t in Europe, for example, is distance. People here may think they have distances but they don’t. What I mean is that the ability to get to a specialist when you need a specialist or you need any kind of care is not affected by how far they are. Whereas, in the United States, there are many places where there are no medical facilities for miles and miles and miles. So you have to use telehealth, telemedicine in order to deliver care, especially specialized care to very remote areas.

AN: What do you think of the role of education in the adoption of those new technologies?

SL: Yes, we are really trying to bring a common level of education and knowledge to all parts of the world by bringing in faculty from Asia, Europe, U.S., etc. The whole idea is that there’s an exchange of knowledge so that everyone has a good understanding of what others are doing. I think there are a couple of things you’re trying to accomplish with the educational programming.  One is to share new ideas.  The other is you’re trying to change the mindset from, “This is the way we’ve always done it” to “Oh, there are different ways to do it.”  People who sit in our educational programs may not take that exact approach and do it that exact way they are being taught, but it will at least open their eyes up to different ways that it can be done. Our hope would be that, when they go back into their usual setting, they will ask questions like, “Why are we doing that?  Why aren’t we utilizing these tools that we know are available?” and then, “How do we incorporate them?”

AN: Let’s talk about interoperability. It was the central topic in the previous editions of ehealth week. Could you give us an update on where interoperability stands now?

SL: The issue of interoperability  really boils down to standards. Meaning that there are technical standards written into the products, so that when the data comes out, it comes out in a format that can be read and incorporated into somebody else’s product with ease.  That’s what interoperability is. The problem we have is that healthcare is very complex.  There are so many different devices and people involved using many different kinds of electronic tools.  A cardiologist has an information system that’s very focused around cardiology. That’s different than an information system that the pharmacist has around prescription drugs. Yet, they’ll still need to communicate because the cardiologist issues a prescription out of his or her information system that needs to feed into the pharmacist information system. That’s just one example.

It’s estimated that in a typical hospital setting they run hundreds of different systems because there are so many different departments, so many different functions all of which are associated with all of the possible things you could do in health care. The achievement of absolute universal interoperability so that everything talks to everything else on every level of detail, is an objective that is probably not reachable.  Now, what we focus on are the most critical components of health information that we need to make sure gets communicated: allergies, drug interactions, things like that. What has been developed is a fairly, globally recognized set of data elements that we all agree on.  Every system has got to be able to read that.  We’re making great progress towards the issue of interoperability because there is that common understanding that there’s a high-level sort of umbrella set of data that we all agree needs to be shareable and exchangeable.  As a result, four years ago, we talked a lot about interoperability and interoperability standards.  We still touch on it, but we really are moving on and communicating the message to the commercial side.  That’s non-negotiable.  You got to be able to do that.  Now, we’re focused on a higher level and more sophisticated level of what we can do with the data versus just getting to the point of being exchangeable.

AN: The cloud is helping a lot in that respect too.

SL: It helps, absolutely.  It provides standardization of data storage.  You also have a significantly more secure and lower cost of investment, because everybody is not buying their own storage or is able to share. I think that some advantages of cloud computing that will be brought to interoperability.

AN: HIMSS organizes conferences all year long. What do you learn from each of those conferences? What do you learn in Europe to apply to U.S., and U.S. to apply to Europe?

SL: The thing that I’ve learned and that I get reminded of is how similar we all are in our healthcare systems.  When HIMSS first started doing events outside the United States 10 years ago, everybody said, “You don’t understand.  Our healthcare system is so different than yours.” Well, people get sick or get injured, they get treated by doctors and nurses, and hopefully they get better.  That’s the same everywhere.  Are there differences in who owns the hospital or how it’s paid for?  But that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about the use of technology to improve quality.  The thing that I take away from all of these events is that we are talking about the same things. We are talking about cloud computing.  We are talking about analytics.  We are talking about interoperability.  That’s one takeaway, that the commonality and the similarity. The other thing that I learn is a better appreciation for the barriers that exist in settings that are preventing doctors and hospitals and other care delivery professionals and organizations.  What is preventing them from getting to that higher level of quality, that safer care?  In Germany, for instance, it’s actually a low level of financial investment.  They’re just not investing in the information technology. In the Netherlands, the barrier, the complaint is the products need to leapfrog and jump and become even more sophisticated because they’ve been adopted already and people are using them.  Now, it’s like, “Okay, what’s next?  What’s the next thing that we’re going to able to do?”  I think that’s the other thing that I take away is understanding what we are faced with in different countries, in different parts of the world.

AN: Before HIMSS, you were the CEO of Emergency Nurses Association.  We recently held a very successful session during Health 2.0 Europe on how the new technologies are impacting the role of nurses.  From your point of view, you’ve seen that evolution, so how do you think it evolved and what’s left to do?

SL: I was the CEO of that association from 1989 to 1998.  It was a time when there were just the very early discussions around datasets in emergency nursing.  There were very few to know actual information system tools.  There was no electronic medical record, and it was the early conversations about recognizing that computerization was coming to healthcare and coming up with standard terminology in datasets.  Twenty years plus later, it has come to the point where nursing is probably the biggest advocate for digital health records and electronic tools in helping make decisions and advise clinicians. What I’ve seen is really going from the Stone Age to the Modern Age in healthcare, especially with nursing. Today, they are one of our bigger communities that are engaged with us at HIMSS across most of the world.  It’s not true in all countries that nursing is recognized as the constant, the professional that’s always there at the bedside or in a physician’s office, the professional that spends the most amount of time with the patient.  And so, nursing has recognized that technology absolutely is their friend and their tool. They are just huge supporters and a great advocate for the use of technology in healthcare.

Perfect Your Pitch and Get Funded at Traction 2016!


The U.S. presidential candidates have each claimed that the future of health care in America is among the top four most important campaign issues. While the presidential candidates fight for our votes, you could be competing as well, only for your startup’s chance to breakthrough in the digital health community, and demonstrate your company’s potential to prominent investors.

Enter your startup in Health 2.0’s Startups Pitch competition, Traction today and give your company the perfect opportunity to pitch to a room full to the brim with attendees looking to get involved with your startup. You’ll work with experts to perfect your pitch so that it’s flawless by the time you hit the stage. Investors will be so impressed they’ll be left with no choice but to invest in your company!

Traction 2016 will be kicking off the Health 2.0 Annual Fall Conference on Monday, September 26th, 2016 at 8 AM. This competition recruits companies ready for Series A in the $2-12M range. Teams will compete in two tracks, consumer facing and professional facing technologies.

When you participate in Traction you will increase your media exposure while forming connections with leading investors, and gaining the opportunity to get advice from a our group of expert mentors to further refine your business model.

Ten teams will be selected as finalists in mid-August for the two different tracks. These finalists will be paired with exceptional mentors to help them prepare for the stage at the Fall Conference, and TWO startups will claim the title of 2016’s Startup Champ’s.

The application deadline is Friday, July 22nd at 11:59PM ET.

So what are you waiting for? Enter your company NOW  to be selected as one of the ten finalists to pitch live to venture capitalists, angel investors, government officials, and healthcare industry experts at Health 2.0’s Annual Fall Conference!


Health 2.0 Faces the Challenge of Consumer Health

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 4.00.28 PMHealth 2.0 Europe 2016: Closes with a successful participation with attendees and speakers from the five continents

  • Mediktor, spanish application, winner of EC2VC Investors’ Forum with more than 42 investors present
  • In 2015, digital innovation in health has mobilized 4,800 million in funding in the United States
  • Health 2.0 successfully moved exchange and discussion among all actors of the ecosystem: physicians, patients, pharmaceutical, nurses, insurance companies and entrepreneurs

The 7th edition of Health 2.0 Europe 2016, the largest European Meeting in digital health, organized by Health 2.0 in Barcelona in collaboration with Mobile World Capital Barcelona, ​​Biocat and the Agència de Qualitat i Avaluació sanitaries of Catalunya (Aquas) took place in Spain early this month. Throughout the three days, 120 speakers shared and discussed the latest developments, trends, insights and experiences in the adoption of digital solutions in the Healthcare System. 52 demos were presented, and more than 42 investors looking for new start-ups with pioneering and innovative proposals attended the event.

Health 2.0 Europe 2016 Has Met the Challenge of Bringing Together the Elite of Digital Health

This 2016 edition of Health 2.0 Europe, gathered more than 500 professionals and brought on stage speakers with innovative approaches, integrating the point of view of health services consumers and how it is empowering them. The international director of Health 2.0 Europe, Pascal Lardier concludes at the end the event: “Insurance companies are increasingly involved and reimbursement of health applications is a reality. During the conference we have seen and share three clear examples in the new reimbursement program 2015: Tinnitracks, Emperra, and MySugr “. This, according to Lardier, “is a clear indicator that health applications are being incorporated into clinical practice by professionals and users and it also indicates a change in mentality of the society: we are prepared to become health consumers “. There is a change of trend in the sector and with the new 2.0 health solutions coming to market that offer more options, more comfort, more services, users are increasingly more willing to pay for their health.

Dr. Rafael Grossmann, digital health pioneer surgeon (he performed the first surgery documented with Google Glass) has contributed its vision and experience with the use of innovative solutions that are supporting both the clinical practice and the patients. Dr. Grossmann was one of the keynotes and participated in some roundtables.

Dr. Grossmann has been one of the most requested speakers at the meeting and it’s clear for him that “everything that facilitates the doctor-patient interaction and contribute to shorten distances should be incorporated into daily practice, and it is imperative that these applications and platforms optimize access to specialists and time of visits. It is also imperative to limit unnecessary visits, especially taking into account that the lack of professionals in the next 30 years is estimated to be around 125,000 only in the US, “says the specialist.

In the same line, Joan Cornet director of mHealth at Mobile World Capital Barcelona said during the Health 2.0 Europe 2016 “in a few years hospitals as we know them today must only attend acute pathologies and it should exist every day more telemedicine platforms and remote monitoring solutions for the doctor to supervise his patients, on the other hand are responsible every day for their health and self-care.”

Cornet participated with Jorge Juan Fernández García, director of d-HEALTH Barcelona, Biocat and Pēteris Zilgalvis, director of the Health and Welfare Unit of the European Commission in a debate about the digital health European Ecosystem

A 360º Glance of Health 2.0: A Sector That Keeps Growing and Maturing Every Year

Since the first conference in Europe in 2010, the sector has undergone a profound maturation process. “Now more than ever it is time to involve all stakeholders and to integrate different approaches and solutions in order to increase the adoption of digital health. This is where Health 2.0 will continue to focus its energy, through the organization of conferences and challenges, consultations with health systems, or projects with the  European Commission,” says Matthew Holt, co-chairman of Health 2.0, “Another symptom of maturity of this sector is the increasing and continuous flow of investments.”

According to the co-chairman of the conference: “we have seen a significant increase in the number of doctors, nurses and health professionals in general that are using these technologies,” Holt says. “A good benchmark is the number of attendees this year, which exceeded 500 professionals and especially the greater involvement from the pharmaceutical industry, whose numbers of attendees duplicated. This shows that, although they were already aware of the need to develop their activities beyond manufacturing and selling drugs, they are now getting in the game and seek more comprehensive solutions to accompany the patients and improve their outcomes,” said Matthew Holt.

Another aspect applauded during the conference was the participation of younger and younger attendees and new generations that were being incorporated into this 2.0 environment and language. Health 2.0 organizers themselves highlighted BloodPlus, an application developed by a group of young entrepreneurs, who were 15 years of age, which aimed at increasing the number of blood donations, rewarding donors with attractive activities.

Health 2.0: Meeting Point Between Digital Health Entrepreneurs and the Most Active Investors in the World.

One of the objectives of Health 2.0 is to be a platform connecting investors and start-ups, that’s why took place the EC2VC Investors’ Forum and Pitch Competition.During this meeting, 10 start-ups have pitched their projects to 42 investors, in order to prove the viability of their project. The 2 winners were were Teckel Medical for the seed category and SilverCloud Health for the growth funding category! Teckel Medical is an app which provides a preliminary medical diagnosis based on the symptoms inputted by the user. SilverCloud Health is an online mental health & wellness delivery platform based on improving outcomes, extending care, lowering costs.

Among the investors was Esther Dyson, renowned US business angel (PatientsLikeMe, 23andMe, Health Tap or Omada Health); Katrin Geyskens, Capricorn Venture Partners (Belgium) and Sean Kim Min-Sung, XL Health (Germany).

A Sector Highly Competitive Upwards:

Digital health is no longer a novelty and the numbers prove it. “Last year was another good year for this sector in innovation: in the US alone, it mobilized 4,800 million in funding; 60% of which were invested in the United States and 15% in Europe. Most notable was the increased focus on healthcare consumption: the digital tools and personal care solutions represented 25% of the total investment (1.22 billion dollars),” explains Matthew Holt, co-chairman of Health 2.0.

The number of start-ups devoted to health has exploded in recent years, as shown in the number of refinancing operations, which grew by nearly 200% between 2010 and 2014. ” The connected tools for health and wellness, like Fitbit or Jawbone have made many headlines recently and, of course, the Health 2.0 Europe Conference includes a session on wearables. But the world of digital health is much more diverse and Health 2.0 Europe 2016 is a showcase of solutions for all parts of health systems stakeholders, including providers, insurers, pharmaceutical and medical device suppliers,” concludes Lardier.

Winners of the Closing the Data Divide Challenge Revealed

Data collected by primary care providers can be a useful tool in helping public health officials understand health trends within a local community. That information can then guide public health professionals when developing local health interventions and policy. At the same time, primary care providers can benefit from public health insights on local social and environmental conditions that their patients live in as well as guidance on emerging global health risks.

However, there aren’t many mechanisms or processes that promote the exchange of data between these two groups. The “Closing the Data Divide” Virtual Challenge, sponsored by the de Beaumont Foundation and the Practical Playbook, incentivized the development of novel technologies to break down silos between primary care and public health and facilitate the exchange of more timely and granular data to advance population health.

“Closing the Data Divide” opened in October 2015 and received submissions from designers, developers, and entrepreneurs working in the health technology and innovation space. PHRASE Health took top honors in the competition, with HealthStead coming in second place and Healthcare Access San Antonio in third.

About PHRASE Health: Developed by Marc Tobias, MD and Naveen Muthu, MD, Clinical Informatics Fellows at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, PHRASE (“Population Health Risk Assessment Support Engine”) creates a two-way flow of information with an EHR-embedded tool and web portal. The web portal allows public health professionals to define risk factors, which alerts clinicians within the EHR when a patient is from an at-risk population – for example, an individual from a neighborhood with a known lead paint problem or someone who has recently traveled to a country where Zika is present. The interface also provides one-click reporting to allow primary care providers to alert public health officials when they identify new cases of infectious disease.

About HealthStead: HealthStead connects primary care and public health professionals with neighborhood level data on education, income, crime, and other factors that have an outsize impact on health outcomes. HealthStead software sets itself from existing competitors by facilitating efficient comparisons between and among small areas (e.g. census tracts, block groups). Because neighborhood indicators like household income, violent crime, home vacancies, blood lead levels, and internet access can vary from block to block within cities, HealthStead’s intuitive and flexible interface represents a marked improvement over previous attempts. HealthStead was developed by Adam Perzynski, PhD, Meaghan Fenelon, Eamon Johnson, PhD, Sarah Schick, and Tynan Smith.

About Healthcare Access San Antonio: Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA) has created a local health information exchange that aggregates patient information and provides the local health department with insights into patient groups that have sought clinical care in a given time period. At the same time, a reports portal called HASAFacts distributes up-to-date information on community health outcomes and place-based resources for community health activities. HASAFacts also allows healthcare organizations to analyze the results of their patient treatments and assess their success in managing population health. One of the strengths of the HASA solution is that its data source has already reached a critical mass, as all San Antonio Hospitals are participating and contributing data. HASAFacts is a critical component of HASA’s technical platform and receives clinical input from Vince Fonseca, MD, MPH, FACPM and Anil Mangla, MS, PhD, MPH, FRIPH. Phil Beckett, PhD provides HASA’s day-to-day management of the program.

The de Beaumont Foundation, the Practical Playbook, and Health 2.0 thank all of the individuals who participated in the “Closing the Data Divide” Virtual Challenge. We hope that this challenge showcases the potential for synergy between primary care and public health. By working together, these groups can exchange useful data and develop strategies to improve the health of local communities across America.

For more information on the “Closing the Data Divide” Virtual Challenge, visit

Darren Spevick, Eventum talks people and health tech

Darren Spevick runs the executive recruiting company Eventum Partners, and has spent the last three years looking at health technology through the lens of the need for talent and human resources. Big corporates are hiring innovators. Smaller tech companies are trying to figure out how to commercialize and who they need to do that. Darren has a birds eye view of this. I had a quick interview with him about that view and what he was seeing. If you are interested in who’s doing what in Health tech, it’s well worth a listen. Like me, Darren will be at Health 2.0 Europe in Barcelona next week! Tough for us!

In celebration of World Immunization Week!

This month, one of the largest public health interventions is occurring and it is called “The Switch.” Countries all over the world are switching to a new polio vaccine as we get close to eliminating the disease. As we get closer to a polio-free world, it is important to reflect on the lessons we have learned combating this disease.

Efforts to stop polio have helped mobilize and train millions of health workers, mapped and brought health interventions to chronically missed communities and bolstered countries’ ability to deliver vaccination, monitor diseases and quickly respond to outbreaks. The global public health community has the opportunity to build a lasting legacy and make a sustainable difference to the health of some of the most vulnerable communities and countries. In this way, we can ensure that the investments made in polio eradication have broader benefits for years to come.

This short video shows us the experience of polio through the eyes of a polio survivor and one of the world’s foremost polio experts, Stephen Cochi.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 3.31.24 PMPolio
password: polio

Be sure to also check out “The Switch” article featuring an interview from Stephen Cochi on BBC:

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