Health Tech News This Week – July 15, 2023

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

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New dissolvable heart monitors could help cardiologists battle AFib

Michael Walter starts the coverage this week with his article in Cardiovascular Business online. Researchers have developed new heart monitors that dissolve inside the body when no longer needed, sharing their work in Science Advances. The new-look devices are soft, flexible, transparent, and roughly the size of a postage stamp. The goal is to implant the device following a significant cardiac event or procedure so that it can restore normal heart rhythms, like a pacemaker, and stream data directly to the patient’s physicians. It can then be left to dissolve, helping patients avoid going through an additional procedure and saving healthcare providers the extraction costs.

Why it’s important – Several serious complications, including atrial fibrillation and heart block, can follow cardiac surgeries or catheter-based therapies. Many deaths that occur following heart surgery or a heart attack could be prevented if doctors had better tools to monitor and treat patients in the delicate weeks and months after these events take place.

Infographic of the week – From Halle Tecco – Large companies are playing an increasingly important role in the VC ecosystem. In fact, 26% of deals in Q1 of this year included corporate venture capital (CVC), an increase from 20% in 2022 and 11% in 2010. Here are 65 strategic healthcare investors, from health systems to biotech to health insurance companies, investing in startups and everything you should know about taking their money. Read her blog post here:

Image Credit: Halle Tecco, Rock Health

Bridging the Digital Divide Through On-site, Health Center–Based Internet Clinics

Link Health, a Boston-based program that utilizes a three-pillar, community-based strategy, increased access to the Internet in marginalized communities by leveraging the Affordable Connectivity Program. Their program was featured in this article in NEJM Catalyst online. Link Health is a grassroots initiative designed to increase uptake of the ACP by establishing on-site, health center–based Internet clinics in historically underserved communities throughout the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area. By working with local community health centers and community-based organizations, Link Health functions as the intermediary between lower-income populations who qualify for the ACP and Internet service providers by raising awareness of the ACP and assisting individuals through the eligibility and sign-up process. In this article, the authors detail the strategies employed to maximize the uptake of the ACP in low-income communities.

Why it’s important – Increasing uptake of the ACP in vulnerable communities is possible by establishing on-site, health center–based Internet clinics in neighborhoods with high proportions of lower-income patients. Cultivating close partnerships with community-based organizations and healthcare sites is critical to reach the populations of interest effectively. Effective outreach and enrollment in target communities are possible by utilizing a get-out-the-vote framework and grassroots organizing strategy.

New Technologies, Ideas Push the Hospital at Home Concept Forward

Eric Wicklund in Health Leaders online interviews eight different health systems who said the future may lie in modifying the model to suit each organization’s specific care needs and resources, even if that means bypassing Medicare reimbursement for now. More than 270 hospitals in more than 120 health systems follow that model, with the CMS waivers remaining in place until the end of 2024. Lobbying efforts are underway to make those waivers permanent, but the uncertainty of continued Medicare support affects how health systems map out scalability and sustainability.

Why it’s important – While many hospitals are following the CMS model for Medicare reimbursement, others are trying their own ideas, mixing virtual and in-person care to target specific care gaps or populations. Confusing state laws and the uncertain future of the CMS model will continue to inspire health leaders to develop their own strategies for delivering care at home.

First U.S. Patients Implanted with Innovative FIRE1 Remote Heart Failure Monitoring System in Early Feasibility Study

In an article online at Diagnostic and Interventional Cardiology, FIRE1 announced that the first U.S. patients had been successfully implanted with its FIRE1 System for remote heart failure monitoring in an Early Feasibility Study. The study will assess FIRE1’s novel solution to improve outcomes for heart failure patients. The first patient was implanted at Austin Heart, Texas, where Kunjan Bhatt, MD, leads the study as Principal Investigator, and Thomas McMinn, MD, performed the implants.

Why it’s important – Quoting from the article: “This device may offer a completely new way of measuring chronic heart failure,” said Nir Uriel, MD, National Principal Investigator for the study and Director of Heart Failure, Heart Transplant, and Mechanical Circulatory Support programs at New York-Presbyterian. “The data gathered outside of the U.S. has been promising, and we look forward to studying its use in the U.S.”

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