Fortnightly Healthtech Update #31

The consumer wearables/wannabe medical devices just keep coming: Withings new ScanWatch captures ECG, respiration and blood oxygenation – and will have a CE mark. By the by, Withings has an interesting history – sold to Nokia and then bought back by the founder at presumably a fire-sale price.

Also filed under wrist-worn wearables, VitalTracer from Canada. Sounds like it’s still a year or two  from being market ready.

A couple of healthcare industry execs opine on Forbes: Healthcare Transformation Accelerates With Covid-19. No, not really. What you’re talking about is not healthcare transformation. It’s billing for different things in a fee-for-service model. Meaningful healthcare transformation is large scale value based care. It’s using technology to increase clinician productivity to lower the cost of healthcare delivery. Anything else is just going to keep jacking the cost up.

Related to that, CMS plans to tighten up on telehealth usage post-pandemic. Notably, it seems providers have been billing separately for every remote monitoring device used on a patient. Under the proposal, there would be a single reimbursement payment for a period of monitoring, regardless of how many devices were used. That would be much more in-line with value-based care. Allowing providers to bill separately for every device seems like a license to continue the over testing problems we already have.

In Singapore, researchers create a wearable that fits inside a face mask to monitor COVID-19 patients.

Much, much closer to home, researchers at Wayne State develop a wireless vital signs wearable for premies in the NICU.

Gaming the system, fraud, or just capitalism: 617,000 Medicare Advantage patients were adjusted into a higher risk group without their doctor present. Why does that matter? If they’re higher risk, the health plans get a larger payment from Medicare. In one case, those payments exceeded $50k for a single patient. But wait, it gets worse. Although 460 Medicare Advantage plans played this game, over half the money went to a mere 10 of them. So, gaming the system, fraud, or capitalism? Either way, it’s all coming out of our taxes.

A medtech company with some success among the Medicare Advantage world is CareSignal. Using automated phone calls and text messages to patients with chronic conditions, the company seems to deliver a pretty solid ROI.

Insurance startup Decent plays in an underserved niche, the self-employed – freelancers and the gig economy. By aggregating those individuals together, it can leverage economies of scale. But the most interesting part for me is that it leverages direct primary care, providing unlimited primary care to beneficiaries.

Cybersecurity concerns aren’t just for startups leveraging new technologies. The FDA issued a warning on Medtronic insulin pumps last year, now Philips is called out for vulnerabilities in patient monitors

I wrote about the demise of Proteus Digital Health back in June. Here’s a deeper look which fortunately pretty much comes to the same conclusion as my speculative opinion: As product strategists would say, lack of product/market fit.

I’ve come across smart bandages that detect infection before, but this one pumps ozone over the wound to prevent infection and help it heal faster.

Seven years old, but still relevant: As of 2012, providers in the US now have 10 administrators for every doctor. Since that overhead is mostly dealing with the complexities of health insurance, I doubt things have improved.