Welcome to Digital Health Briefing, a new morning email providing the latest news, data, and insight on how digital technology is disrupting the healthcare ecosystem, produced by BI Intelligence.
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FITBIT DATA AIDS RESEARCHERS IN UNDERSTANDING SURGERY RECOVERY: Fitbit data can help researchers and doctors predict the risk of 30- and 60-day readmission after surgery for cancer patients, according to a study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. Patients who exercised more than others had a lower readmission risks following cancer surgery. This was the first clinical study to link Fitbit-tracked footsteps to readmission rates.
Researchers are keen to use Fitbit data in their studies. More than 500 studies have been published using Fitbit device data since 2012. And almost half of those were published in 2017. Moreover, in clinical trials, 83% of trial participants are provided with a Fitbit device.
The ability to provide meaningful insights for doctors and researchers could bolster the value proposition of Fitbit devices and other wearables. Wearable devices, which include activity trackers and smartwatches, can provide near-continuous data on the lifestyle of patients who wear them. Aside from post-surgery patients, Fitbits can also be used to help monitor patients with chronic illnesses, which could help to lower costs associated follow-up care, and unnecessary readmissions. If researchers can show that wearable data is medically useful, it will make buying these devices more compelling for consumers as well as health organizations that are considering providing them to their patients.
Fitbit is not the only company that‘s looking to use their wearables in digital health. Apple, for instance, recently began the Apple Heart Study with Stanford Medicine. And in April, Verily, Alphabet’s life sciences business, unveiled a health tracking watch built specifically for research purposes. These companies are all vying for a piece of the global healthcare wearables market, which is projected to be worth more than $612 billion globally by 2024, according to Grand View Research.
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HUMANA INTRODUCES A DIGITAL MEDICATION MANAGEMENT TOOL: Humana, the insurance provider, has introduced a digital tool to aid patients in managing their medications. The tool, which is called RXMentor, automatically pulls in claims data to build out a list of medications users are currently or have previously used. Patients can then share this up-to-date list with providers, track their medications, and make notes about specific adherence instructions. Humana is likely hoping this new tool will improve the health of its members by increasing the likelihood of medication adherence – it’s part of its broader goal of having its members become 20% healthier by 2020. Nearly 75% of Americans fail to take medication as directed causing roughly $300 billion a year in additional visits to the doctor, emergency room, and hospital, according to the American Heart Association
EHR INTEROPERABILITY TO PLAY A BIG ROLE IN AURORA-ADVOCATE MERGER: A potential merger between Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care would likely involve some level of integration of the three separate electronic health record (EHR) systems, according to FierceHealthcare. The merger would create a 27-hospital healthcare system in the US, with an estimated annual revenue of $11 billion. However, it’s not clear whether the newly formed company would retain the three EHR systems it currently uses or choose one. Aurora currently uses Epic, while Advocate uses Cerner and Allscripts.
CEDAR GETS $13 MILLION IN FUNDING FOR ITS SMART BILLING SOLUTION. New York City-based Cedar, a medical billing startup, raised $13 million in Series A funding to build upon the firms billing services, according to VC News Daily. Cedar gathers patient data, such as billing history, engagement level on different communication methods, and demographic information. It then uses this data and machine learning to give providers a smart billing solution with improved methods of communication and payment in order to engage patients. Early tests have shown that Cedar’s solution can be a useful tool – on average, providers saw a 22% increase in collections, a 33% reduction in accounts receivable days, a 62% increase in self-serve payments, and 90% patient satisfaction. And given that patient payments represent a significant portion of provider revenue – patient payments account for 35% of revenue – personalized data-driven solutions like Cedar’s that can help providers collect payments are likely to be adopted.
IN OTHER NEWS…
- Doctor On Demand, the San Francisco-based telemedicine provider, is offering access to their digital platform at no cost to Southern California residents who may be impacted by wildfires, according to MobiHealthNews.
- Philips has acquired Forcare, the interoperability software provider, to strengthen its ability to connect patient information across health systems, according to HIT Consultant.