In-Depth: News and views from Health 2.0 2017

By MobiHealthNews
Share

Correction: The AARP challenge has been replaced with this year's competition and winner.

This year was the 11th anniversary of Health 2.0, a yearly health tech conference that explores the newest in digital health with eyes for what’s still to come. This year marked the first Health 2.0 conference since the show was acquired by HIMSS, MobiHealthNews's parent company.

[Sorry you missed the show or missing it already? Reservations are now open for Health 2.0's 2018 Fall Conference! Sign up here.]

With the four-day event come and gone, MobiHealthNews has collected all of its coverage from the Santa Clara Convention Center below, along with extra conference announcements and speaker discussions that might not have made it to the front page.

Verily's goal: Make our bodies produce as much data as our cars

Speaking on stage with Health 2.0 cofounder and CEO Dr. Indu Subaya, Verily Chief Technology Officer Brian Otis had a straightforward perspective on healthcare: We should be treating our bodies at least as well as we treat our cars.

“We have instrumented cars with a huge number of sensors and communications devices constantly generating data, analyzing that data, and making decisions based on that data,” Otis said. “There are two types of feedback loops that are performed. One is the second-by-second tuning of the engine based on the sensor data. The other is longterm monitoring of maintenance conditions over time. Both of those things could apply to the human body, but we’re just doing a terrible job of it.”

Otis talked about a few different methods the company is using to outfit people with sensors and collect more data. One is to create very small, very cheap sensors. This is the road that has led the company to the glucose-sensing contact lens the company is developing with Alcon and its partnership with Dexcom, which is using some of the same miniaturized technologies to create a much smaller and cheaper continuous glucose monitor. Others include Liftware, the tremor-cancelling silverware company Google acquired in 2014, and Verily’s Baseline study and the Study Watch that’s been developed for use in that and other longitudinal studies. More

Health investors give reality check on VR, AI, and D2C

Investors at GE Ventures, Sanofi Ventures, and Nexus Venture Partners turned up at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara, California this week to deliver a reality check about some of the innovations coming down the pipe in health tech.

Iana Dimkova, director of healthcare investing at GE Ventures, said that while AI and machine learning solutions are viewed with interest, issues of interoperability and data use mean that these plays often run into logistical difficulties. Further, consumer-facing health products may someday find a stable model but for now are not currently an area that her company and others are considering.

Ruchita Sinha, director of investments at Sanofi Ventures, added that VR technologies are stuck in an investment-unfriendly middle ground, where the technology is too established for hardware plays to be worth investing in, but not ubiquitous enough for software plays to be a good bet. She said that voice-controlled technologies, on the other hand, have now matured to a point where the prospects are rosier.

“With Alexas and Google Homes being in most houses, there are so many data plays you can have,” Sinha said. “We’re looking at very interesting applications from a health perspective, in neurodegenerative diseases [for instance] where they can basically build biomarkers based on how you interact with Alexa at home. So that is an example of a platform that is now mature and is mass media, and now you can start building on it.” More

Skin cancer detection, care coordination take center stage at Traction 2017 pitch competition

Miami-based DermaSensor and NYC-based Klara were named the champion startups among a pool of roughly 80 companies participating in Traction, Health 2.0’s startup pitch competition.

DermaSensor develops skin cancer evaluation tools using proprietary spectroscopic and machine learning technologies. In his pitch, CEO Cody Simmons revealed his company’s handheld scanners, which he says are able to evaluate multiple lesions for melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma in less than a minute, and more accurately than other similar solutions. 
Klara’s web and mobile messaging tool enables medical practitioners to condense their communications into a single patient-centered platform. Care teams and providers can communicate via instant message with each other, across systems, with patients as well as with external referring healthcare professionals.

The other six finalists of the competition included: DotLab, developer of a novel saliva-based diagnostic test for endometriosis; Keona Health, whose platform collects patient DMR data, scheduling systems, and phone systems for call centers and nurses; Exovite, creators of a 3D-printed splint that reduces patients’ rehabilitation time and can be printed within five minutes;
QMedic, who develops a voice-activated and wearable personal emergency response system that is bolstered by AI and machine learning; Mediktor, whose triage platform delivers pre-diagnosis and decision making assistance personalized for each user; and YouScript, a prescription support platform that warns users of potential adverse drug-drug or drug-gene reactions, and delivers medication suggestions within a prescriber’s workflow. More

Digital health investors see a mid-cycle market

Executives from Morgan Stanley, GE Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, and Wildcat Venture Partners were invited to the Health 2.0 stage to speak on state of digital health care from an investor’s perspective. While each held their own particular view on the specifics, they held a general consensus that the market has moved past the initial hype and widespread investments but is still waiting for real returns — both in terms of profits and efficient healthcare delivery.

“[For] many of us, after four years the money has gone in and now we’re really building value in the healthcare system,” Lynne Chou O’Keefe, partner at Kleiner Perkins, said during the panel. “We’re at various stages of that, and I think in the next two to three years we should have a nice cycle of regular hits that come out through M&A or IPO in that cycle. So, we’re all in that critical stage right now of building value in the healthcare system.”

This kind of cycle, while typical in tech investments, has been noticeably strained when applied to the healthcare technology industry, Bill Ericson, managing partner at Wildcat Venture Partners, said. Still, all signs are pointing toward an upcoming turnaround.

“I personally believe — and I invest in pure IT too — that [healthcare IT] is 15 to 20 years behind because the complexity of the systems takes longer to shift out,” he said. “The healthcare system has more friction and as a result you expect adoption to take longer, and you have to be prepared for that as an investor in healthcare, that the cycles are longer. But we’re seeing good, really interesting traction, and we’re seeing strategics take a strong interest in the companies we’re involved in. And that’s got to happen for the field to grow.”

The panel also touched on the dual perspectives that come into play when a market is caught between healthcare and Silicon Valley. Noting that 40 percent of money coming into the digital health space has been from tech-oriented investors, Ericson said that any investor or other player coming into the complex market without incorporating both sides of the field will inevitably run into some pitfalls. Lynne agreed with this sentiment, stressing the differences that come even from monetization strategies

“Healthcare is changing in really understanding the consumer’s needs, and we find that a lot of digital entrepreneurs really [want to] start from that fundamental purpose,” she said. “Now, how they think about commercialization and how they think of that within the health system, that’s where then being on the flip side as a health care investor [and] understanding that a lot of healthcare is B2B2C, and so how you merge both of these worlds [is useful].”

Pharma companies talk partnerships, digital opportunities, and the still-far-off promise of value-based payments

Pharma companies are as excited as anyone about the shift to value-based care and the ways that technology can enable it, but they’re increasingly skeptical about the speed of that change. At Health 2.0 this week in Santa Clara, California, at a panel moderated by Kian Beyzavi, principal investor at KBeyzavi and Associates, several innovation executives at pharmaceuticals talked about value-based care, as well as about their current digital health strategies and the challenges they face.

Michael Nohaile, SVP of strategy, commercialization and innovation at Amgen, identified two major roadblocks to value-based care — adjudication, and incompatible timelines.

Larry Brooks, director of Digital Health at Boehringer Ingelheim, said his company launched a digital lab just this year to capture that spirit of innovation.

"BIX is a corporate initiative where we formed a new entity in order to do digital health design, development, and data science work," he said. "I think the spirit of it is essentially it takes the value of a startup and a pharma company into one unique entity. ... An in-house development shop that puts programs forward in a set of sprints will enable people within BI to see it and touch it and experience it and hopefully that’ll gather the right momentum within the organization to carry things forward and still be enabled by a lot of external groups."
In terms of where pharmas see the value of digital health interventions, Nohaile said a lot of opportunities exist in clinical trials and in identifying patients for treatment. Delthia Mckinney of BTG pointed to wraparound services that support the patient through the patient journey, such as her company’s collaboration with HealthLoop. Brooks said that digital will help pharmaceuticals differentiate their products. More

For Cigna, UnitedHealthcare, digital innovation is all about the customer

Health insurers Cigna and UnitedHealthcare both took the stage in deep dive sessions at the Health 2.0 Fall Conference in Santa Clara, California this week. The two insurers both spoke on the same general theme: what it means to be a customer-centered health insurer in 2017, and how technology can support that vision.

“‘Putting the customer at the center of all we do’ is an easy phrase, but for a company that historically has made its bread and butter off of a B2B type of relationship, has been a big shift for us to turn that statement into actual action,” Jackie Aube, VP of customer adoption and personalization, said. “So putting the customer at the center of all we do doesn’t mean that employers aren’t critically important to us or providers aren’t critically important. But our mission is, if we can all collaborate and put the customer at the center of all we do in terms of the design and the decisions we make, maybe we can actually get this right.”

At the UnitedHealthcare deep dive, Chief Strategy Officer John Cosgriff positioned customer-centricity as customer empowerment, something he described as crucial in bringing real change to healthcare.

“For us really, we want to be a great healthcare company, but we also want to be a great consumer company,” he said. “Because our view is without serving the consumer and without activating the consumer to be a real force in healthcare, then all these changes we want to make — in terms of making healthcare like so many other consumer service businesses, with transparency, warrantees, etc. — without getting the consumer engaged that’s going to be impossible.” More

Providers discuss data and innovation

Sunday’s Provider Symposium included a large number of hospital executives sharing stories of innovation as well as discussing important topics around big data and analytics. Stay tuned for our coverage of that pre-conference event later this week.

AI nutrition coach Suggestic takes Launch! 2017 title

Twelve early stage startups came to Health 2.0 to announce their company for the first time in this year’s Launch! competition. This year’s winner was Suggestic, an AI nutrition coach that analyzes users’ food preferences and adjusts its dietary suggestions in turn. In addition, pointing the phone’s camera at a restaurant menu allows the app’s augmented reality feature to overlay relevant nutrition or diet goal information.

The competition’s other finalists included: 1upHealth, a platform for aggregating and sharing medical data or measurements; Amelie, an AI chatbot focused on mental health support; Courage Health, another AI chatbot for educating cancer patients and their families; FitFetti, a fitness platform that allows users to sponsor each other’s fitness goals with cash payouts; HealthWiz, a digital triage system where users can enter their symptoms and receive real-time feedback; and HeyDoctor, an on-demand medical access platform. Also: Klue, movement- and gesture-tracking software that its CEO and cofounder Katelijn Vleugels told MobiHealthNews will first be used for weight loss; OneChart, a patient health data aggregation platform; Orderly Health, an automated resource for consumers to understand their health plan’s benefits and other details; Safe, a mobile app that verifies users’ STD statuses and privately shares it with other users; and Symphony RM, a platform that identifies value opportunities within health systems.

Bayer plans launch of self care accelerator

After running its G4A (Grants4Apps) program in Berlin for five years, Bayer is launching a new accelerator program in the United States, the company announced Tuesday.

While the plans for the new venture, dubbed G4A Generator, are still being developed, Barton Warner, VP of strategy and portfolio management at Bayer, said the company has lately been focused on the area of self care, an area where a growth in interest has not produced a corresponding growth in the market for traditional pharmaceutical offerings.

Bayer is hoping to leverage the innovation model that’s been working in Berlin to spur innovation in this self care sector. Specifically, the company is looking at the areas of nutrition, pain management, skin protection, and holistic ecosystem plays. More

Conversational AI’s on the rise

A number of chatbot offerings were demoed at a special AI-focused session of the Health 2.0 annual conference on Monday. Although each had a unique take on how best to insert smart conversations into patient care, the growing number of these technologies suggests a clear trend, panel moderator and Chief Product Officer at Seniorlink George Kassabgi suggested.

“We’re in the middle of a new paradigm shift for interfaces,” he said during the session. “Rather than installing an app, filling out forms, working with menus, you’re simply typing or talking with a system. That’s a pronounced shift, a really meaningful change.”

AI has been deployed in a greater and greater number of use cases in digital healthcare, and according a recent analysis will see as much as a 40 percent annual growth rate between now and 2021. Interest in leveraging this technology to improve messaging and communications is increasingly growing, Kassabgi said, and well-designed conversational interfaces are poised to change the game.
“None of these [panel participants] are demoing an app, per se,” Kassabgi said. “What they’re going to be demoing are conversations. If you take one thing away from this session, it’s that conversations are the new thing.” More

Sensoria, Genesis Rehab Services form new company

Mobile textile company Sensoria Fitness and Genesis Rehab Services, a subsidiary of Genesis HealthCare have entered into a strategic partnership to form a new company called Sensoria Health, the companies announced on stage at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara. Sensoria Health will be using digitally-enhanced footwear — such as the updated Sensoria smart sock and new Sensoria smart shoes — to monitor the daily activity of older adults and guide their rehabilitation therapies.

“Sensoria Health will be a new company 100 percent focused on smart aging, and creating truly wearable transparent and computing platforms for the aging population,” Davide Vigano, CEO and cofounder of Sensoria, said at the conference. “We’re going to combine the clinical strength and incredible patient reach of Genesis with the technology and intellectual property that Sensoria has developed over the past six years.”

Vigano said that the new company will function independently with its own dedicated team, and is expected to be up and running by Jan. 1, 2018.

Supporting the new smart footwear will also be the Sensoria Core electronics module, which can be swapped from garment to garment and connects to the company’s garment-embedded sensors to receive the data. These readings can be accessed by users through the company’s companion app, or by providers using a new rehab patient management platform Vigano and Thomas demoed on stage. More.

Amino augments care comparison app with cost ratings

San Francisco-based Amino has added a new cost ratings functionality to its online healthcare marketplace platform. Employers and employees subscribed to the paid version of Amino’s service, Amino Plus, will be able to compare the cost of treatment, surgery, and now chronic care with each nearby provider, and gauge these against the app’s previously implemented care quality ratings.

“Across all 1,000 search terms that we support on Amino, we allow the ability to see cost ratings at the facility level … no matter what your search is, even if it’s for a really significant chronic condition,” Amino CEO and cofounder David Vivero said on stage at the Health 2.0 Fall Conference in Santa Clara, during an onstage interview with health economist and blogger Jane Sarasohn-Kahn.

Vivero’s company uses big data to match consumers with their preferred medical provider. Amino pulls deidentified data on patient experiences and costs from billions of commercial and Medicare insurance claims, and uses these to paint a geographic landscape of provider facilities, their quality of care, and their price ratings for specific conditions on a one-to-four dollar sign scale. More

BaseHealth seeks out patients with underlying risks

In a Health 2.0 on-stage demo session, Jason Pyle, CEO of predictive analytics company BaseHealth, showed how the BaseHealth platform leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to distill the learnings from millions of medical journals and patient studies and combine the results with individual records to identify “invisible patients.” The platform offers healthcare providers the ability to identify patients with underlying risks for 43 chronic diseases and prevent costly treatments before they’re needed.

BaseHealth this week also named Tamara StClaire chief operating officer and Dr. Nick van Terheyden as chief medical officer. More

Teladoc unveils new app incorporating Best Doctors' features

At the conference, Teladoc rolled out the first tangible fruits of its acquisition of Best Doctors: a new mobile app for clients of both services.

“Teladoc has historically really targeted conditions at the bottom of that pyramid — higher volume, lower total dollars and in the acute space,” Daniel Trencher, SVP of Product and Strategy for Teledoc, told MobiHealthNews. “Best Doctors has attacked the top of the pyramid, so the most complex cases and costly cases that impact a smaller percentage of the population but really drive a lot of healthcare expense. And bringing the companies together really allows us to target the middle as well.”

The new mobile app and website will be launched later this month. More

Welkin Health, Community Health Center Network partnership bearing fruit

San Francisco-based Welkin Health and Community Health Center Network (CHCN) announced strong one-year results of a pilot case management and care coordination program incorporating Welkin’s platform.

The partnership, which was launched last year as part of an initiative from Health 2.0’s Technology for Healthy Communities, applied digital case management technology to the treatment of at-risk residents of San Francisco’s East Bay. Welkin’s patient services platform — which interfaces as a configurable dashboard for users to view relevant information and alerts — allowed the non-profit managed care organization to streamline managers’ work flows, coordinate communications, and expand services across multiple sites.

The platform has been implemented at 16 CHCN health center sites and doubled the efficiency of CHCN’s case management system, Welkin announced during the conference. In addition, more than 700 patients have received an intervention from a CHCN community health worker since the program’s launch. More

AARP names winners of quality of life challenge

AARP announced the winner of its Caregiver Quality of Life Design Challenge: Tickit, an AI-powered resource tool for physicians. Daniel Penn, founder and CEO of Tickit, received the prize onstage during the conference, and has been awarded $10,000 for his winning entry.