Health Tech News This Week – March 19, 2022

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

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Hospitals at home poised to save money, keep the patient in familiar environment

HIMSS 2022 reporting from Laura Lovett at MobiHealthNews featured this article on panelists discussing the benefits and challenges of implementing a hospital-at-home program. According to a HIMSS white paper, in-home hospitalizations save between $5,000 and $7,000 per episode. Increasingly, health systems are offering hospital-at-home services. According to the report, 82 health systems and 186 hospitals across 33 states are cleared for Medicare’s Acute Care at Home program. This program allows for CMS to reimburse the hospital-at-home service at in-patient rates if patients meet specific criteria for admissions, under the Public Health Emergency waiver, according to the white paper.

“Patients love it. We nearly universally see that patients want to be at home. They want to have their own food, their own pets; there is less anxiety; there is less delirium; there is less family stress and less caregiver stress.”

Nathan Starr, lead at TeleHospitalist at Intermountain Health

Why it’s important – As I outlined in a previous post, the Hospital@Home movement is gaining traction as the pandemic clearly showed the benefits of caring for patients in the home setting. It’s not just providers that need to adapt to the hospital-at-home model. Patients also need tools to transfer to at-home services safely. Providing patient and caregiver education and home visits from trained medical professionals can help ease this transition.

Infographic of the week – Americans are beginning to travel again. This survey was included in Dr. Robert Pearl’s Monthly Musings On American Healthcare newsletter. Polling was conducted on from February 15-28. A total of 353 votes were cast.

Image Credit: Dr. Robert Pearl’s Monthly Musings On American Healthcare newsletter.

99% of health systems leaders say it’s important to invest in digital health

More HIMSS 2022 reporting, this time from Dr. Caroline Yang of MobiHealthNews. At the HIMSS State of Healthcare 2022, a panel of leaders representing payer, provider, and patient voices joined to discuss the current healthcare landscape and what the future might hold. The speakers shared data from the HIMSS22 State of Healthcare report. These leaders shared research that highlighted global data trends, shedding light on key opportunities and challenges in this journey to transform and personalize medicine digitally. Despite differing priorities, all the speakers agreed that technology alone is not a good solution for digital transformation. We need the buy-in and active engagement of all stakeholders – payers, providers, and patients alike.

“Digital transformation is no longer an option; it’s a mandate.”

Tom Kiesau, senior partner and leader of Chartis Digital

Why it’s important – The report also reveals that 60% of healthcare organizations did not have a structure in place to support digital transformation. Most respondents noted that they were still stuck in the planning and pre-implementation phases. Looking at these findings, it is clear that current technology has not improved healthcare for the provider. The success of healthcare is no longer measured just by clinical outcomes but by looking at the patient as a whole, considering their social and mental well-being. Technology alone is not the solution. We need the buy-in and active engagement of all stakeholders – payers, providers, and patients alike.

Researchers Want to Create ‘Universal Donor’ Lungs

An interesting article in Wired from Sara Harrison reported on work being carried out at the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. Researchers created an ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP) device that allows doctors to feed donated lungs nutrients and oxygen in a protected environment, which improves their transplant viability. Unlike organs put on ice after being harvested from a donor and then going straight to the operating room, lungs inside the EVLP warm-up, and their metabolism restarts before they’re transplanted. Doctors can then reassess the lungs’ function and use EVLP to administer drugs that improve the quality of the organ, saving slightly damaged lungs that might have been ineligible for use before.

“This would be a major advance in solid organ transplantation.”

Marilia Cascalho, Immunologist , University of Michigan

Why it’s important – The experiment is an important step toward giving more people access to life-saving organ transplants. More than 100,000 people in the United States are currently waiting for organs, but often those most in need can’t get help because of one big problem: Their blood type doesn’t match the available organs. This study is just a proof of concept, meant to show that such a feat is possible, cost-effective, and takes effect quickly enough to work in a real-life transplant scenario. Before the new approach can advance to human clinical trials, the next step will be to test it on animals.

Samsung Medical Center recognized for smart logistics system

Adam Ang in Healthcare IT News posted this story about how the tertiary hospital has rolled out automated guided vehicles as part of its logistics reform. It has started by piloting unmanned vehicles such as automated delivery robots to replace personal transportation, which takes up 74% of the hospital’s logistics. Daytime logistics will also be converted to nighttime logistics. The transition is expected to be completed by the second half of 2022.

Image Credit: Samsung Medical Center

Why it’s important – Samsung continues to pioneer in developing and deploying robotic technologies in the hospital and other care settings. Their “four zeros” goals are ambitious: no billing, no inventory, no warehouse, and unmanned.

Google Health announces Meditech as the first EHR vendor to integrate with Care Studio

Announced at HIMSS22, Fierce Healthcare’s Dave Muoio reports that just a week after pulling back the curtain on new natural language processing features for Care Studio, its clinician-facing patient record interface, at the ViVE conference in Miami, Google Health took to HIMSS 2022 to announce the technology’s first-ever integration with an electronic health record vendor. It has partnered with Meditech to develop “a deeply integrated solution” that marries the search, contextualization, and data harmonization capabilities of Google Health’s Care Studio with Meditech Expanse, the vendor’s web-based EHR platform.

Why it’s important – Google Health said it sees the collaboration between Meditech’s EHR and its patient data harmonization tools as another step forward for the industry regarding interoperability. Color me skeptical. We’ve been talking about interoperability for how many years now? And we invested how much government HITECH money into getting health systems to adopt electronic health records?

Robotics startup NexStem announces launch of BCI headset, software

More reporting from Adam Ang. NexStem, a robotics startup based in Palo Alto, California, with an R&D team in India, is set to roll out across Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the United States its headset that a user’s thoughts can control. NexStem offers mind-controlled brain-computer interface (BCI) solutions for researchers and developers. The non-invasive NexStem headset has 15-pin dry EEG electrodes and 16-channel EEG sensors that capture and deliver accurate EEG signals. It has six hours of battery life and is WiFi and Bluetooth enabled.

Image Credit: NexStem

Why it’s important – When used with the NexStem Wisdom software development kit (SDK), users can conduct real-time analysis of captured EEG signals and build interfaces to gain insights from data coming from the brain’s different cortexes. And the no-code Wisdom SDK, meanwhile, enables developers to build complex machine learning algorithms used in real-time. It can make fast computations and calculations of EEG data using GPUs in its algorithms. They are exploring use cases of BCIs in virtual reality, mental health, and everyday applications. Specifically for mental health, BCI devices will provide practitioners with convenient and low-cost access to EEG data.

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