DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Oscar Health telemedicine use grew 32% YoY - Elekta collaborates with IBM Watson for AI - Athenahealth adds AI-powered EHR service

DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Oscar Health telemedicine use grew 32% YoY - Elekta collaborates with IBM Watson for AI - Athenahealth adds AI-powered EHR service

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OSCAR HEALTH TELEMEDICINE CONSULTATIONS GREW 32% IN 2017: A quarter of Oscar Health's customers used its telemedicine consultation services in 2017, up from 17% in 2016, according to FierceHealthcare. Telemedicine refers to the use of telecommunications technologies as channels through which healthcare professionals can diagnose and treat patients. The figure marks 32% year-over-year growth in usage for the healthcare company. Moreover, while telemedicine is Oscar's least used service, it outstrips the national average of 3%.

The increase in telemedicine usage is a positive sign for the company as it works to expand its customer base and keep its members happy. Data from the virtual visits is made available to the Concierge teams and providers, which helps them to make improvements to their services. These improvements can make the service more appealing to customers, creating a virtuous cycle, notes Oscar product and technology communications manager Liz Robau.


Beyond telemedicine, Oscar members are accessing more virtual services overall. In 2017, around two-thirds of Oscar's customers' interactions were virtual. Oscar's Concierge team was accessed by 46% of Oscar member, for example. And its Care Router service - a yellow pages for finding physicians and booking appointments - was accessed by 45% of its members, up from 29% in 2016.

2018 may be the tipping point for the telehealth industry. Although more than 70% of US consumers have shown interest in using telehealth for a range of care services, just 21% have received virtual care, according to Accenture. But the growing demand for virtual healthcare services is putting increasing pressure on providers and payers to expand their delivery. The increasing pressure from consumers has already yielded several announcements and partnerships between healthcare providers and payers. For instance, New York Presbyterian and Walgreens have linked Walgreen customers to NYP physicians via their website and at self-service kiosks in Duane Reade pharmacies throughout New York. And CVS is providing members with access to physicians through their MinuteClinics in Ohio.

ELEKTA CHOOSES IBM WATSON HEALTH TO ADD AI TO ITS ONCOLOGY SYSTEM: Elekta, the Swedish oncology systems vendor, is partnering with IBM Watson Health to add Watson for Oncology to its digital cancer care solutions. Watson for Oncology, which was developed by IBM in collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) in New York, will be used as an AI-based clinical decision support solution. The technology draws on data from MSK oncologists, medical journals, textbooks, and nearly 15 million pages of text to provide insights on treatment options. For example, Watson for Oncology can summarize the key medical attributes of a cancer patient and rank the best treatment options based on the data it has access to. Using AI technology in this vein could be extremely effective, especially in oncology. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world - the disease is responsible for one in six deaths globally. This has also made it one of the most highly researched - approximately 50,000 oncology research papers are published annually, according to PubMed data cited by Elekta. Adding a technology that can go through the troves of data and research compiled on a daily basis to provide recommendations could improve health outcomes, making Elekta's offerings more attractive to healthcare systems.

ATHENAHEALTH ADDS AI-POWERED DOCUMENTATION WITH NOTESWIFT PARTNERSHIP: Healthcare services company athenahealth is partnering with NoteSwift, a provider of virtual assistant solutions for electronic health records (EHRs), to give their network of 106,000 providers access to a virtual assistant. The virtual assistant, dubbed Samantha, is designed to remove administrative burdens related to documentation. Samantha's advanced AI capabilities enable physicians to save six to eight hours each week by reducing the need to manually input details from a patient's appointment. Instead, a physician can type or dictate the patient's narrative to Samantha. Samantha can then parse the information, assign all required coding, and prepare orders and ePrescriptions for physician sign-off. This can all be done from a single screen and with just a few clicks. This solution could help reduce physician burnout but also provide opportunities to increase engagement with patients.

HEALTH CHAT APP LAUNCHES BLOCKCHAIN POWERED HEALTH PLATFORM: On Thursday, Mosio, a health messaging app that connects patients and doctors, launched Clinicoin, a blockchain-powered platform aimed at encouraging users to engage in healthy behavior. Users are rewarded with Clinicoin's in-app cryptocurrency, called CLIN tokens, for completing healthy tasks, adhering to their medication regimen, or participating in clinical research. CLIN can then be used to make in-app purchases for things like active-wear, water bottles, and additional services, such as a chatbot that reminds users to take their medication. This gamification of consumer-driven healthcare could help to increase adherence to behaviors that positively affect patient health. More so, the use of blockchain technology - a digital ledger - could help improve transparency and drive collaborations within the healthcare industry. "The blockchain offers a way for providers, practitioners, and researchers to confirm compliance and incentivize patients to be more involved in the healthcare process, improving engagement while reducing the costs associated with non-adherence," Mosio CEO Noel Chandler told Business Insider Intelligence.


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In other news…

  • Vibrent Health, a health tech company specializing in precision medicine, appointed Dr. James Wade as its chief medical informatics officer (CMIO). Dr. Wade, a professor of medicine and oncology, will use his experience to direct Vibrent's clinical research as well as serve as a liaison to the National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute, and other government agencies.
  • Foundry Innovation and Research 1 (Fire 1), a Dublin-based medical device company, raised 40 million euros ($50 million) in a third funding round led by European healthcare investor Gilde Healthcare, according to Digital Health. Fire 1 plans to use the money to advance remote monitoring tech for chronic heart diseases.

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