DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Telemedicine adoption sees rapid growth — Medical device cybersecurity fears continue …



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TELEMEDICINE ADOPTION IS GROWING RAPIDLY:
Roughly three-quarters of US healthcare organizations either
offer or plan to offer telehealth services,
according
to Foley & Lardner’s 2017 Telemedicine and
Digital Health Survey. The survey of 107 executives and
healthcare providers across a range of US healthcare
organizations, found that 53% of respondents say they’re either
growing or expanding their telemedicine programs. That’s a
significant shift in sentiment compared to findings in
the first survey in 2014, when 87% of respondents said
that patients wouldn’t want virtual care services in 2017.

The survey provides further evidence of telemedicine
gaining traction in healthcare:

  • Telemedicine is already showing ROI for most
    organizations.
    Fifty-four percent of respondents said
    telemedicine resulted in at least 11% in cost savings. And
    almost a third of organizations saw more than 20% in cost
    savings.
  • Telemedicine is the leading implementation of digital
    health initiatives.
    When asked to select all the ways
    they plan to expand digital health, around 81% of healthcare
    organizations selected telemedicine. That was followed by
    mHealth apps with 61%.
  • Most providers are exploring international expansion
    using telemedicine.
    More than half of respondents say
    they already offer or plan to offer international services
    using telemedicine tech into markets like the Middle East and
    China.

However, there remain areas for improvement, as well as
hurdles to overcome:

  • Navigating third-party reimbursement is proving
    difficult.
    Almost 60% of participants say third-party
    reimbursement is the greatest challenge to deploying
    telemedicine services.
  • Laws and regulations are still unclear. The
    rules on recording patient meetings, interstate licensing,
    prescribing drugs, and Medicare coverage are in flux as health
    care organizations and legislators determine how best to
    harness the promise of telemedicine, the report notes.

Government initiatives will play a large role in paving
the way for further expansion of telehealth and
telemedicine
usagein US
healthcare.
For example, the Telehealth Innovation and
Improvement Act,
introduced
in April 2017, allows eligible hospitals to test
telehealth services through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid
Innovation to increase access to care for rural patients.

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bii telemedicine plans

BI
Intelligence

US HOUSE COMMITTEE WANTS MORE TRANSPARENCY FOR
CYBERSECURITY RISKS OF MEDICAL DEVICES.
Last week, the
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was asked to submit
a plan of action for creating, deploying, and leveraging a bill
of material (BOM) for healthcare technologies,
according
to FierceHealthcare. The aim of the proposal will
be to better equip organizations to understand medical device
vulnerabilities. This will give healthcare providers a deeper
understanding of how to take proactive measures when purchasing
new equipment, and help to prevent attacks. Some critics argue
that BOMs give nefarious players a blueprint of known
vulnerabilities. However, it’s more likely that potential
attackers already aware of existing weaknesses, Joshua Corman,
who worked on the
HHS Cybersecurity Task Force
, told FierceHealthcare. The BOM
is one way to even the playing field. As more healthcare
companies turn digital, medical devices and systems present
a valuable
target
to attackers, something the FDA is becoming
increasingly
concerned
about. For instance, in February 2016, hackers
effectively took Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center
hostage
by locking the hospital out of its system. The
hospital ended up paying a ransom equivalent to $17,000 in
bitcoin to get their computers back online.

EHR VENDOR, ECLINICALWORKS IS HIT WITH CLASS-ACTION
LAWSUIT: 
Electronic health records (EHR) software
maker eClinicalWorks is being sued for misrepresenting patient’s
data,
according
to FierceHealthcare. The lawsuit — which is
requesting damages of just under $1 billion — posits that
eClinicalWorks’ software fell short in several areas, including
meeting federal data portability requirements, accurately
tracking use actions in an audit log, and reliably recording
diagnostic image orders. Not meeting these standards can
seriously impede medical care. For example, inaccurate audit logs
can mislead physicians over the course of a patient’s treatment.
The impact is significant — more than 850,000 healthcare
providers use eClinicalWorks software, affecting millions of
patients in the US. The news follows less than six months after
eClinicalWorks paid $155 million to settle claims it falsely
obtained certification for its EHR software — it was the
first time the US Department of Justice fined an EHR vendor for
not meeting federal requirements. 

UNITEDHEALTHCARE TO ADD SAMSUNG, GARMIN TO ITS BYOD
PROGRAM: 
The US insurance company plans
to integrate Garmin and Samsung wearables into its
bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program, which rewards members for
meeting daily walking goals. Users of the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro,
Gear Sport, or Garmin Vivosmart 3, who reach UnitedHealthcare’s
daily fitness goals can earn more than $1,000 per year in HAS or
HRA credits. The data will be tracked and kept secure by Qualcomm
Life, a subsidiary of processor maker, Qualcomm. Wearables are
increasingly being folded into health insurance plans because
they’ve been proven to improve well-being and reduce medical
costs, according to Qualcomm Life senior vice president and chief
medical officer, Dr. James Mault. This in turn can mitigate the
number of claims the United Healthcare has to pay out. For
instance, walking can help reduce the risk of heart disease
by 9% and diabetes by 12%. Employers, too, are turning to
wearables and well-being programs to improve the health of their
workforce. By 2018, US employers will have integrated more than
13 million wearable health and fitness tracking devices into
their employee wellness programs,
according
to Endeavors Partners.

IN OTHER NEWS… 

  • Express Scripts, the US pharmacy benefits
    management firm, is giving its members who suffer from
    respiratory health issues access to Propeller Health’s
    FDA-approved digital platform, MobiHealthNews
    reports
    . Members can attach Propeller’s sensor to their
    inhaler, which is synced to a mobile app to track and monitor
    inhaler usage.



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