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News 4/13/20

April 13, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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The FCC begins accepting applications for its $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which will help eligible providers purchase infrastructure, services, and devices needed to offer telemedicine during the pandemic.


HIStalk Practice Musings

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I came across this tweet and thought I would share, should anyone be looking for a new physician author to read. The book, Weiner’s second, came out last week.

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Dr. Jayne’s mention last week of the British TV series “Poldark” finally get me to jump (rather belatedly) on the bandwagon. I had the opportunity to watch several episodes of the first season over the holiday weekend and I’m officially hooked. I’m looking forward to reading the series of books on which the 2015-2019 Masterpiece production was based. 


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

I’m going on record as saying 2020 will be known as the year that telemedicine went mainstream. Thus, I’m getting rid of the “Telemedicine” section and organizing virtual care-related news items according to HIStalk Practice’s more traditional categories.


Webinars

April 15 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Scaling front-line COVID-19 response: virtual education, screening, triage, and patient navigation.” Sponsor: Orbita. Presenters: Lawrence “Rusty” Hofman, MD, medical director of digital health, Stanford Health Care; Kristi Ebong, MPH, MBA, SVP of corporate strategy, Orbita. The presenters will describe how chatbots can be quickly deployed to streamline individual navigation to the appropriate resources, administer automated virtual health checks for monitoring and managing specific populations, increase access to screening and triage for high-risk populations across multiple channels (web, voice, SMS, and analog phone), and reach individuals in multiple languages.

April 28 (Tuesday) 1 ET: “COVID-19: Managing an evolving patient population with health information systems.”Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Julie Glasgow, MD, clinical terminologist, IMO; Reeti Chauhan, senior product manager, IMO. IMO recently released new novel coronavirus descriptors to help clinicians accurately record diagnoses and also created free IMO Precision COVID-19 Sets to help identify and analyze patients with potential or documented infection. The presenters will discuss these new tools and describe how to use them optimally. 

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Just a little over a year after breaking away from Atrium Health-owned Mecklenburg Medical Group in North Carolina to form their own independent practice, leaders at Tryon Medical Partners lay off 75 employees in response to a pandemic-induced decline in patient visits.

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Healthcare technology and management company Altais acquires Brown & Toland Physicians, a network of 2,700 independent physicians in the San Francisco Bay area. B&TP will join the clinical services subsidiary of Altais, and implement its practice management software.


People

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Behavioral healthcare technology company AptiHealth names Dan Pickett (Hudson River Capital Holdings) president and CEO, and Kori-Ann Taylor (32 Mile Media) CMO; and promotes co-founder Alex Marsal to chief clinical and science officer.


Announcements and Implementations

MTI Physical Therapy in Seattle implements virtual visit capabilities from MedBridge.


Government and Politics

This Health Affairs article offers a list of financial resources for struggling community health centers.

Oklahoma’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse will equip 81 sites across the state with telemedicine-enabled tablets that patients can use to access mental health services on site or from home.


Other

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In Kentucky, several of Kroger’s Little Clinic locations will begin offering free drive-thru testing for COVID-19. The grocery chain will cover the costs of testing, and has promised a 48-hour turnaround time through lab partner Gravity Diagnostics. Customers can make an appointment for testing through a new online portal, which also offers chatbot-based virus screening. Results will be added to the clinic’s EHR, which I believe is Epic.

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Google adds telemedicine services and pricing to search and map results associated with brick-and-mortar physician listings.

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Sports Illustrated profiles several NFL team physicians who’ve transitioned from examining draft picks to caring for patients with COVID-19 symptoms. The NFL Physicians Society suspended all football-related medical visits last month.

The AMA puts together a list of resources, including telemedicine opportunities, for physicians interested in volunteering their services for COVID-19 care.


Sponsor Updates

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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News 4/8/20

April 8, 2020 News No Comments

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SAMHSA reports its national Disaster Distress Helpline saw a nearly 900% year-over-year increase in calls last month, prompting mental health experts at the federal level to issue warnings of a coming mental health crisis.

Investors have already taken note, funding online therapy and counseling startups like SonderMind and SilverCloud Health with a combined $43 million in just the last several days.

Health officials fear that the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal stimulus money earmarked in the CARES Act for the expansion of mental health services at the federal, state, and local levels may not be enough to provide services for those who’ll need them.

Across the pond, the British government is offering grants to tech companies that can quickly develop digital mental health tools to help citizens who are struggling with the government’s mandated 12 weeks of isolation. 


Webinars

April 15 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Scaling front-line COVID-19 response: virtual education, screening, triage, and patient navigation.” Sponsor: Orbita. Presenters: Lawrence “Rusty” Hofman, MD, medical director of digital health, Stanford Health Care; Kristi Ebong, MPH, MBA, SVP of corporate strategy, Orbita. The presenters will describe how chatbots can be quickly deployed to streamline individual navigation to the appropriate resources, administer automated virtual health checks for monitoring and managing specific populations, increase access to screening and triage for high-risk populations across multiple channels (web, voice, SMS, and analog phone), and reach individuals in multiple languages.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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As headlines continue to highlight the business struggles smaller practices are facing in light of COVID-19, advocacy organization Practicing Physicians of American launches Health in My Community, an online resource that hopes to connect patients in need of care with physicians in their communities who now offer telemedicine. A related GoFundMe campaign has been established to help patients access care from those physicians.

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Online substance abuse counseling company Lionrock raises $7 million. It has seen attendance in its free support groups, including one dedicated to COVID-19-related anxiety, triple over the last several weeks.

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Just a month after announcing a $9 million Series A funding round, Los Angeles-based medical billing software vendor Anagram lays off 17 employees.


Telemedicine

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Central Ohio Primary Care Physicians begins offering virtual visits using Updox technology.


Announcements and Implementations

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Nonprofit MHMR Authority of Brazos Valley (TX) will implement Smart Care EHR software from Streamline Healthcare Solutions.

EHNAC offers healthcare business associates a Privacy and Security Toolkit that includes a set of HIPAA/HITECH policies, procedures, forms, best practices, compliance tools, and consulting assistance.


Government and Politics

HHS will distribute $1.3 billion to HRSA-funded health centers across the country to help them treat COVID-19 patients, and maintain or increase capacity and staffing levels.


Other

The AMA offers practices recommendations on offering non-essential care during the pandemic.

TruckPark adds access to telemedicine services from GenieMD to its app for long-haul truck drivers.

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Optometrist Mark Veth takes to tickling the ivories via Facebook Live while his practice, Be Spectacled in Wauwatosa, WI, is closed during the pandemic. Veth, who has has been playing since the age of four, hopes to soon get back to playing for the nursing home residents he typically performs for on a weekly basis.


Sponsor Updates

  • Baxter Regional (AR) expands its use of EClinicalWorks technology to include virtual visit capabilities.
  • Healthwise launches a Coronavirus Resource Center.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

News 4/6/20

April 6, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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AI-powered telemedicine company 98point6 will use a $43 million Series D funding round to launch its new patient wait-time dashboard and triple its physician staff by the end of April.

The company, which uses chatbot software to initiate virtual visits, has seen its visit volume increase 200% since the beginning of the year, with COVID-19 concerns accounting for 40% of those encounters. It has raised $129 million since launching in 2015.


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

Thanks to the following companies that recently supported HIStalk Practice. Click a logo for more information.

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Webinars

April 15 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Scaling front-line COVID-19 response: virtual education, screening, triage, and patient navigation.” Sponsor: Orbita. Presenters: Lawrence “Rusty” Hofman, MD, medical director of digital health, Stanford Health Care; Kristi Ebong, MPH, MBA, SVP of corporate strategy, Orbita. The presenters will describe how chatbots can be quickly deployed to streamline individual navigation to the appropriate resources, administer automated virtual health checks for monitoring and managing specific populations, increase access to screening and triage for high-risk populations across multiple channels (web, voice, SMS, and analog phone), and reach individuals in multiple languages.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Release-of-information companies ScanSTAT and DataFile merge. ScanSTAT President Matt Rohs will become CEO of the newly combined business.


Government and Politics

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MGMA comments on ONC’s “Federal Health IT Strategic Plan,” stressing that it needs “to do more than offer vague promises” when it comes to reducing administrative burdens on physician practices. It also calls on the ONC to focus on the privacy and security of patient data, leverage health IT to help practices participate in value-based care programs, and avoid mandating the adoption and utilization of health IT.


Telemedicine

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One Medical begins offering virtual visits; COVID-19 screening, assessment, and testing services; and tele-behavioral health services. It has also re-purposed clinics in select cities to care only for patients with respiratory problems.

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Membership-based telemedicine company SteadyMD raises $6 million in a Series A round. It has developed an algorithm that matches patients with best-fit providers they can see on a continual basis.

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The American Telemedicine Association and the Consumer Technology Association develop an online directory of telemedicine and remote monitoring technologies and services.

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In Iowa, Family Health Care of Siouxland rolls out telemedicine services from Doxy.me.


Research and Innovation

A late-March Kareo survey of 600 practices finds that, as headlines attest, most are struggling with the effects of COVID-19:

  • Seventy-five percent have either already launched virtual services or are actively planning to.
  • Nearly 30% have switched all of their visits to telemedicine.
  • Patient volumes have dropped by 35%.
  • Nine percent have closed their doors for good.

Other

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Ben Callister, founder and CEO of  Tennessee-based EHR vendor Dr. Know, taps the expertise of his son and his scouting friends to start 3-D printing face shields for area medical workers. They’ve so far donated 150 shields to local hospitals, and have received requests from providers in California, Kentucky, and Washington, DC.


Sponsor Updates

  • PerfectServe offers free software and services for Patient & Family Communication and free services to implement best practices for COVID-19 purposes.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

News 4/1/20

April 1, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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AristaMD will use $18 million in Series B funding to further develop and scale use of its e-consult and referral software for primary care physicians. The San Diego-based company has raised $30 million since launching in 2013.


HIStalk Practice Musings

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Your local, independent bookstore is facing the same plight as your friendly, neighborhood physician practice – dwindling revenues and a struggle to remain open, in some capacity, for the foreseeable future. Thankfully, readers have stepped up: As “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” author Dave Eggers shares in this article, audiobook portal Libro.fm has given 100% of proceeds from purchases to the bookstore of the buyer’s choice, and seems poised to do more.


Reader Comments

From Chip: “Re: Pediatric prep for COVID-19. We fired up a COVID community for pediatricians. We’re already at 1,500 members, 50K views in the last 10 days. People are sharing stories, questions, content. The need is there. Some vendors are stepping up and really helping. Others, not so much.” Chip tells me the online community for pediatricians is vendor-neutral. You can access it here.


Webinars

April 15 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Scaling front-line COVID-19 response: virtual education, screening, triage, and patient navigation.” Sponsor: Orbita. Presenters: Lawrence “Rusty” Hofman, MD, medical director of digital health, Stanford Health Care; Kristi Ebong, MPH, MBA, SVP of corporate strategy, Orbita. The presenters will describe how chatbots can be quickly deployed to streamline individual navigation to the appropriate resources, administer automated virtual health checks for monitoring and managing specific populations, increase access to screening and triage for high-risk populations across multiple channels (web, voice, SMS, and analog phone), and reach individuals in multiple languages.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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RCM vendor PatientPay raises $6 million in a financing round led by Mosaic Partners.

CNBC adds to the national coverage of physician practices struggling to stay open during the pandemic.


People

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MTBC names Mike Cuesta (CareCloud) chief marketing officer and Wesley Stolp (HealthPrime) (not pictured) EVP of sales.


Announcements and Implementations

The Steadman Clinic (CO) goes live on Modernizing Medicine’s new telemedicine technology.


Telemedicine

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As demand for telemedicine services skyrockets, GoodRx launches a telemedicine marketplace, giving consumers the ability to compare services and prices. The company acquired virtual visit business HeyDoctor last fall.

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This article zeroes in on the quick pivot many practices are making from in-person to virtual visits. After launching telemedicine services on March 20, Chattanooga Family Practice has conducted 21,000 virtual visits. “In a word, we’ve militarized and we re-upped our entire office,” says Siobhan Duff, MD of the practice’s shift to all virtual appointments. “I really have to give kudos to my nurses who are the ones who actually educate the patients — I had an 85-year-old woman today that managed to get herself on telemedicine with me alone in her house. So it’s been a feat, and we’re tired.”

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Luma Health adds virtual visit capability to its patient engagement software.


Other

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Members of Facebook group RVs 4 MDs to Fight the Coronavirus connect RV owners with healthcare workers in need of temporary housing away from their families as they care for COVID-19 patients. Created last week, the group has so far connected 50 first responders in California, Texas, and Michigan with RVs.

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Urgent care clinic chain Affordacare (TX) notifies patients of an early February ransomware attack that may have exposed PHI.


Sponsor Updates

  • Nordic offers free best practices and suggestions as responses to healthcare organization questions in its Ask Nordic service.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

News 3/30/20

March 30, 2020 News 1 Comment

Top News

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The plight of physician practices in the throes of COVID-19 continue to make headlines, with financial strains, staff shortages, and lack of PPE becoming the biggest talking points.

Physicians in Texas, worried about making payroll and paying already-reduced rent, lament the vicious cycle that has been kicked off by telling mild to moderately ill patients to stay home: Fewer in-person visits lead to lower reimbursements, while telemedicine visits fall short of comparable reimbursement rates, resulting in furloughs or layoffs that ultimately necessitate closing up shop – a decision that leaves patients with no other option but their local hospitals, which are already becoming overwhelmed.

“I’m in a small, independent practice,” says Austin-based family physician Erica Swegler, MD “and I just don’t hear much if any attention being paid to our peril, which is very real. It’s going to happen very quickly that we just won’t have the resources to keep our doors open.”

Community clinics in Washington face a similar plight, despite a nationwide HRSA grant last week of $100 million for 1,400 health centers. Neighborcare Health CEO Michael Erikson says eliminating dental services in favor of focusing on virus screenings and treatment for its predominantly Medicaid population also contributes to the problem: “You take those … factors … and you have already started to lose revenue before you’re gearing up for new ways of providing care. We are on a pathway to losing $3 million a month.”

Larger, multi-location providers aren’t immune to the same struggle. In the midst of canceling or postponing elective surgeries and shifting many of its physicians to remote care, partners and physicians at the Orthopedic Center of Palm Beach County (FL) have decided to forego their salaries in order to keep their 100 staff members employed.


HIStalk Practice Musings

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Good news for those who’ve had to convert to e-reading during the pandemic: The nonprofit Internet Archive has created a National Emergency Library of 1.5 million 20th Century titles available to download for free.


Webinars

April 15 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Scaling front-line COVID-19 response: virtual education, screening, triage, and patient navigation.” Sponsor: Orbita. Presenters: Lawrence “Rusty” Hofman, MD, medical director of digital health, Stanford Health Care; Kristi Ebong, MPH, MBA, SVP of corporate strategy, Orbita. The presenters will describe how chatbots can be quickly deployed to streamline individual navigation to the appropriate resources, administer automated virtual health checks for monitoring and managing specific populations, increase access to screening and triage for high-risk populations across multiple channels (web, voice, SMS, and analog phone), and reach individuals in multiple languages.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Canadian health IT and primary care company Well Health invests $6 million in Toronto-based telemedicine vendor Insig. Well Health will use Insig’s technology to launch virtual care capabilities.


People

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Adrian Rawlinson, MD (Breakaway Growth Fund) joins chronic disease-focused digital health company Welkin Health as CMO.


Announcements and Implementations

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MTBC launches outsourced staffing, technology, and support services for RCM and EHR vendors.

HIEs in Idaho and Nevada offer providers free access to their networks during the pandemic.


Telemedicine

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Membership-based telemedicine company Gennev expands its menopause-focused services to include primary care.

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PracticeSuite adds e-consult capabilities to its EHR and RCM software.

The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center at Mercer University School of Medicine partners with the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth to offer rural physicians free access to telemedicine services for six months.

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The BMJ publishes guidelines to help physicians choose between phone and video appointments, conduct COVID-19 screenings remotely, and to offer advice for arranging follow-up care.


Other

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Texas Academy of Family Physicians CEO Tom Banning delivers 1,500 masks to 37 Austin-based practices. The masks were sourced from a manufacturing facility in Mexico that converted from producing materials for the oil and gas industries to PPE.

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In another industry pivot that is becoming common during COVID-19, Maverick Whiskey flips its distillery in San Antonio to manufacturing hand sanitizer. Owner Ken Maverick, MD an ophthalmologist and medical director of the San Antonio Eye Bank, plans to donate production to the city, which will allocate it to area hospitals.

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Time publishes an insider’s look at working at a drive-thru testing site, highlighting the challenges providers face in anticipating demand, conveying comfort and concern while wearing PPE, and realizing that scheduling more providers for shorter shifts can prevent fatigue: “I’m an emergency room doctor, so I’m used to 12 hour shifts,” says one urgent care medical director who worked a 15-hour shift during her clinic’s first day of drive-thru testing. “Those N95 [face masks] definitely make you feel tired and spacey, and make breathing difficult. People can’t hear you as well, so you speak louder. And after several hours of yelling through the mask for patients to hear—that’s exhausting.”

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Paging Dr. Jayne: Crocs offers healthcare workers a free pair of shoes while supplies last.

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If sugary sustenance is more your thing, Krispy Kreme will give a free dozen doughnuts to healthcare workers every Monday through May 11.


Sponsor Updates

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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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