Health Tech News This Week – January 29, 2022

What happened in health care technology this week – and why it’s important.

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Digital Health COVID-19 Impact Assessment: Lessons Learned and Compelling Needs

This excellent paper by Peter Lee et al. was published by The National Academy of Medicine online. There have been many shining examples of how digital health solutions have helped in critical ways during the pandemic. Perhaps the most noticeable acceleration, both in the United States and other parts of the world, has been in the rapid adoption of telemedicine. Still, there have also been less visible digitally-dependent advances that are just as important across all sectors of health care, public health, and medical research. In many ways, the response to COVID-19 sparked years of advances in mere months.

Among the many issues, the authors reveal important accomplishments, as well as opportunities for improvements, in the ways that digital data technologies can and should be harnessed for crisis response and better resilience for managing day-to-day patient care functions in the future. Here are the key themes:

  • Telehealth became real, practical, and essential during the COVID-19 response.
  • Data proved critical for care coordination, forecasting, and quality improvement, but data collection was a time-consuming and sometimes a chaotic burden on clinicians and administrators.
  • Data interoperability and scaling proved to be more aspirational than reality in health care delivery and public health assessments.
  • Effective public-private partnerships proved essential in crisis response.
  • The digital divide was occasionally bridged but continued to contribute to and often exacerbated health inequities.
  • Digital tools, including AI, became key to advancing knowledge and coping with information overload.

Why it’s important – The COVID-19 experience has shown, more vividly than ever, the overwhelming need for readily analyzable and aggregated health care data, supported by systems to make sense of it, implement findings, and improve the work over time. Both the U.S. health care system’s successes and failures in pandemic response have provided greater clarity on what our nation will need to focus on for future public health crises. Many of the building blocks are already in place. Now, the country needs to build on this foundation, focusing on incremental progress while prioritizing public need, trust, equality, and innovation.

Infographic of the week – The healthcare industry should expand the “quadruple aim” to include a fifth key focus: advancing health equity, three physician leaders wrote in a Jan. 21 op-ed published in JAMA.

Image Credit: Christopher Cornue

Royal Philips rolls out at-home ECG system for decentralized clinical trials

MobiHealthNews Laura Lovett reports on this announcement from Philips, which is rolling out a new at-home ECG system for decentralized clinical trial use. The company is pitching this new technology as a way for clinical trial participants to record ECG data without traveling to a clinical site or requiring an in-home clinician. Trial participants wear a PCA 500 ECG body patch with a 12-lead ECG, which can securely transmit data in “near real-time” through Philips’ cloud-based data collection and analysis service.

Image Credit: Philips Healthcare

Why it’s important – Attrition rates have been a challenge for clinical trials historically. For example, a study published in Cancer found that the median attrition rate for supportive and palliative oncology clinical trials was 28% for the primary endpoint and 44% for the end of the study. But, here’s the challenge, as pointed out by Dr. David Albert in his Twitter timeline. 👇

Twitter Timeline: Dr. David Albert, 1/26/2022

What’s next for AppliedVR after its FDA De Novo

In other reporting from MobiHealthNews, Emily Olsen posted this article on Applied VR’s EaseVRx system for treating chronic lower back pain. The eight-week virtual reality program is designed to help people control and modulate their pain. The system uses regulation and mindfulness skills, as well as techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy, to help patients manage their physical symptoms alongside other mental and social health problems.

Why it’s important – A great example of how VR can be used as a digital therapeutic in place of medications in treating lower back pain, and AppliedVR has other plans as well. Though EaseVRx is currently only approved for chronic lower back pain, the company wants to expand into other clinical areas, including fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, endometriosis, anxiety and depression.

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