HIMSS Wrap-up: Digital health news and views from the annual conference

By MobiHealthNews
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More news from HIMSS

Acquisitions
 
Patient engagement company Medfusion acquired NexSched, which makes a patient-facing appointment scheduling tool. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Medfusion started out as a patient portal company way back in 2000. The company was acquired by Intuit in 2011 and then re-acquired by its original owner in 2013. It added a payment offering in 2015. NexSched is an appointment scheduling platform that lets patients access a doctor’s schedule in a limited way and set their own appointments, leading to fewer no-shows and a decreased call volume. Medfusion also announced a number of new app updates at HIMSS. The MedFusion app now makes it easier to share data with caregivers, allows users to connect to pharmacies and labs, and makes it easier to switch between account profiles for different members of the family. More
 
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Clinical cognitive specialist Jvion revealed plans to buy Predixion Healthcare. Atlanta-based Jvion said the acquisition brings the Predixion Healthcare IT practice expertise, expands Jvion’s market presence among providers that are already on the path to implementing cognitive science tools, and adds Predixion’s data pools to the existing information sets that feed Jvion’s machine. Predixion co-founder and CFO Steve DeSantis said the deal will also help Jvion augment its reach to more patient in more care settings. More
 
Launches and Announcements
 
Ambra Health, which makes medical data and image management SaaS, launched a cloud development platform for medical imaging. The platform provides new APIs for health system and hospital IT departments to extend imaging and data into other applications like population health or reporting tools, and it also allows third-party developers to integrate Ambra technologies to a variety of healthcare applications.
 
"The Ambra cloud development platform is a natural next step in the evolution of Ambra imaging services," Morris Panner, CEO of Ambra Health, said in a statement. "Imaging doesn't live in a silo and needs to be closely coupled with other applications in the care continuum. Now, providers and other third parties can build from our best-in-class, open system, to create new solutions that provide better, more efficient patient care.”
 

 
Medisafe, a technology vendor that markets a personalized medication management platform, unveiled a new feature that alerts users of possible drug-to-drug interactions that may cause unexpected side effects and/or alter the way medications perform. The interactions feature also includes disclosures when medications have other lifestyle implications, such as interactions with specific foods or alcohol. With this latest enhancement, Medisafe is aiming to reduce the millions of preventable health emergencies resulting from dangerous medication combinations as well as increase adherence to medications patients are not taking as prescribed, due to side effects related to a known interaction. More
 

 
Xcertia, the new standards body for mobile apps that launched late last year at the Connected Health Conference, held a meeting at HIMSS to explain more about the organization's approach and to extend a plea for more industry voices to join the membership-based organization. The founding members include the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, HIMSS, and DHX Group. Xcertia wants to solve the same problem Happtique did: Help consumers know which health apps to use and help doctors know which apps to prescribe. But rather than building a bespoke app store or a certification scheme, Xcertia's approach is to bring as many industry stakeholders as possible together and create a robust set of standards. More
 

HealthTap launched an Amazon Alexa skill called Dr. AI. Though the tools skirts the loaded realm of medical advice, users who ask about health problems are answered with suggestions from a database of doctors’ answers to questions or by offering to schedule an in-person or virtual doctor visit. Update: Although HealthTap announced the skill at the show, it's not yet available in the Alexa store. A spokesperson told MobiHealthNews it was held up on Amazon's end.
 

 
Telmediq, a healthcare communications technology vendor, unveiled a Near Field Communications system that is part of its Healthcare Communications Hub. NFC is a method of uniquely identifying items using radio tags. These so-called “smart” tags enable information to be shared with a simple tap. With its new system, Telmediq is using the power of NFC tags aiming to automate workflows in healthcare. More
 

 
SnapMD, a telehealth technology vendor, announced the expansion of its VCMnexus Developer Program with the availability of new open-source software development kits. SnapMD’s SDKs make it easy, the company said, for developers to quickly build new applications using SnapMD’s source code. SnapMD’s VCMnexus Developer Program is designed to enable developers to leverage the company’s Virtual Care Management technology – a cloud-based, white-label telemedicine platform – to build their own integrations and applications quickly and easily. More
 

 
Healthcare information company Ascom announced the latest version of its North American release of nurse call system Telligence. The touchscreen platform is designed to make nurse workflows more efficient by eliminating steps in daily tasks and improving staff communication.
 

 
Merck announced the launch of ILUM Health Solutions, an enterprise-wide disease management platform that leverages data within existing hospital IT systems to provide clinical decision support tools and an intuitive dashboard to prioritize disease cases and monitoring.
 
Deals and Customer Wins
 
Telemedicine provider American Well and Samsung Electronics are collaborating to create a new level of healthcare service in regards to consumer reach, interoperability and accessibility, but they aren’t yet disclosing what that end user experience will look like. While both companies were short on specifics, they described the partnership as one presenting a “tremendous opportunity,” that will leverage Samsung’s leadership position in consumer electronics with American Well’s enterprise telehealth service called the Exchange, which the company launched last year. More
 
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Teladoc became the latest telemedicine company to incorporate connected devices into its offering via an expanded partnership with FDA-cleared connected thermometer company Kinsa. The Teladoc app will automatically detect the Kinsa app on a user’s phone, and guide the user to Kinsa. Users can also import up to 10 days of temperature readings into the Teladoc platform from the Kinsa app. That data goes into the physician's view of the patient's health record. More
 
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Healthcare IT security company Imprivata partnered with Connected Technology Solutions to allow self-service, single patient registration at CTS check-in kiosks. Imprivata’s identifier technology is called PatientSecure and enables hospitals to use biometric palm vein scans at CTS kiosks to verify medical information, insurance validation and co-pay collection without the need for doctors or patients to manually enter the information.
 
“The use of biometric identification at registration kiosks is a great addition to our solutions and helps transform the entire registration and intake process, working directly with the Epic EHR,” Marc Avallone, vice president of sales and business development at CTS said in a statement. “Integrating Imprivata PatientSecure palm-vein biometrics with our kiosks has sped up the patient identification process and assures positive patient identification every time. This improves patient safety, overall registration throughput, and ultimately enhances the entire patient experience.”
 
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Healthcare IT company Praxify, which makes apps and software to augment EHRs and improve workflow, officially launched following a successful pilot with Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Praxify’s two products are MIRA, a mobile app designed to improve EHR usability by collecting, analyzing and displaying relevant patient data on an easy to read interface; and SIYA, a care management platform for payers, providers and patients. At Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, doctors tried out MIRA (which also features voice-activated digital assistance and adaptable templates), and reported a 30 percent uptick in their documentation and order creation speed. Praxify is also an Apple Mobility Partner and has worked with the tech giant to design the product to fit specifically for a doctor’s mobile workflow.  
 
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Montreal-based Tactio Health, which makes mobile apps and device and app-connected platforms to enable remote monitoring, is working with wearable company Garmin to develop a telehealth program specifically focused on senior citizens. Garmin and Tactio have collaborated since 2014, and after running some pilots to identify which criteria are most important to seniors (such as a unified user experience and long battery life), the two companies have created a product that directly integrates vivofit 3 wearables with the TactioRPM patient apps. The single, unified offering allows payers, providers and pharma to conduct health and wellness monitoring programs with a single patient-facing app.
 
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Salesforce is now integrating Validic’s personal health data connectivity platform with its Customer Relationship Management system and Salesforce HealthCloud. The integration adds a “Health/Wellness” application into the CRM, so Salesforce can securely view Validic-provided data from over 400 personal health devices – such as those that track sleep, weight and biometrics from remote chronic condition monitoring  – through displays stored natively in the Salesforce interface, allowing for care teams to manage patient populations in near real-time.
 
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AssistRx, maker of a cloud-based patient access workflow platform called iAssist, announced an integration with Surescripts’ Electronic Prescribing platform. Users will have access to the iAssist platform through the Surescripts network, with the multi-pronged goal of simplifying patients’ access to medication as well as improved medication adherence and outcomes.
 
Surescripts also announced the expansion of its National Record Locator Service, with four more major health systems taking it live this week. These last few partnerships signal Surescripts' deployment in all 50 states across 10 major metropolitan areas. The NRLS, which was launched in January, equips providers with quick, easy access to clinical records for 230 million patients and four billion nationwide patient visit locations, which includes hospitals, physician practices and community medical clinics.
 
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The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, the research arm of New York healthcare provider Northwell Health, announced an alliance with GE Ventures to advance bioelectronics research. The collaboration and investment from GE Ventures will focus on discovering, developing and commercializing new diagnostic and therapeutic solutions in bioelectronics medicine for a range of acute and chronic diseases and injuries, including cancer, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases.
 
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IBM Watson Health announced a few new partnerships: Massachusetts nonprofit healthcare provider Atrius Health  will work with IBM Watson to develop a cloud-based service to improve the doctor-patient experience. Using the Watson Cognitive Insights platform, Atrius hopes to get a holistic view of the myriad influence on an individual’s health, such as social determinants, and subsequently deliver point-of care support through analytics.
 
The Central New York Care Collaborative also  tapped IBM Watson to develop a regional population health management platform to reduce Medicaid costs (primarily by decreasing avoidable hospital visits) throughout the 2,000-plus healthcare and community-based providers in the CNYCC system.

Among IBM Watson Health's many other launches and partnership announcements, the company also debuted the Imaging Clinical Review, its first cognitive imaging offering. The tool employs AI to review medical data and help medical professionals identify cases needing the most immediate attention. The company also announced its suite of Value-Based Care Management tools, a cloud-based offering which is designed to help providers, health plans and employers to better manage costs and quality of healthcare services. Over time, it will integrate the combined capabilities of Watson Care Manager, Truven Health Analytics, Phytel and Explorys (which were all announced at earlier HIMSS conferences) and patient-level data from a variety of sources.
 
At the same time, MD Anderson reportedly put its partnership with IBM Watson on hold. The collaboration was originally announced in October 2013 and MD Anderson has reportedly already sunk $62 million into the Oncology Expert Advisory project, which used the IBM Watson cognitive computing system to facilitate its fight against cancer. But the project hasn’t met its goal, and MD Anderson has stated it is looking elsewhere in the market for a partner.
 

 
Microsoft and UPMC have partnered to improve healthcare delivery through a series of projects. The health system will work on Microsoft's Healthcare NExT Initiative, which will focus on clinician empowerment and productivity with AI, officials said. The companies will work together to develop new tools that will first be implemented at UPMC before it hits the market. More
 
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Lenovo Health joined forces with Orbita, a connected home healthcare technology vendor, to unveil a virtual home care system based on two recently debuted products: Lenovo Smart Assistant and Orbita Voice. Lenovo's Smart Assistant, first previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, is a voice-controlled speaker for the home that combines the Amazon Alexa voice platform with Lenovo styling and Harman Kardon speaker technology. Orbita’s Voice is a voice experience manager for healthcare that builds on other voice-assistant platforms like Amazon Alexa to enable intuitive, patient-centric home care experiences designed to improve patient engagement, care coordination and outcomes, the vendor said. More
 

 
Efficacy-focused digital health company Evidation Health partnered with the Shepherd Center, a private hospital in Atlanta, to measure the impact of digital health interventions on clinical and economic outcomes for people with neurological diseases and injuries.
 

 
Cigna teamed up with Microsoft to collaborate on a VR-powered interactive game designed to give insights about personal health. Cigna created the BioBall, a bowling ball-sized device that uses the Microsoft HoloLens glasses. Players hold the wireless ball in a one-minute race to capture images that flash on the HoloLens screen, and the BioBall measures their pulse and movement. When they finish the game, players receive their blood pressure and BMI on the headset and a companion email with health tips.
 

 
AT&T is now providing wireless connectivity for Zywie, which makes a remote cardiac monitoring device called ZywiePro. The device uses mobile and cloud technology to detect cardiovascular arrhythmias and sends doctors detailed diagnostics. The system will run on AT&T Control Center.
 
Reports and surveys
 
According to a new study, 81 percent of U.S. healthcare organizations and 76 percent of global healthcare organizations will increase information security spending in 2017. The “2017 Thales Data Threat Report, Healthcare Edition” was released by cybersecurity technology and services vendor Thales and analyst firm 451 Research. More
 

 
HIMSS has woven together two HIMSS research efforts: the annual HIMSS Leadership Survey and the biennial HIMSS Workforce Study, which detail the health IT priorities of key stakeholder groups and their links to various strategic initiatives (for example, employment of select IT leaders) and economic measures (for instance, workforce projections). In an era of maturing EHR adoption, the new study finds health IT leaders continue to report positive market growth metrics. Yet, health IT staffing structures and experiences in provider sites outside the hospital, coupled with their unique clinical IT priorities, point to a need to address the challenges faced by these types of providers in order to propel the sector’s growth. More
 

 
Population health management company Transcend Insights released a survey showing patients have high expectations for medical information sharing, although they don’t necessarily have an accurate understanding of the healthcare industry’s limitations in delivering on that promise. Almost all patients surveyed say it is important for any health institution to have full access to their medical history, no matter what they do or where they are, and 72 percent thought that such sharing was possible. Unfortunately, interoperability isn’t quite there: only a quarter of all hospitals are able to functionally find, send, receive and use clinical information with other providers.
 

 
Accenture released results from a survey examining consumer attitudes toward healthcare data and how much they trust it. Even though 26 percent of consumers have experienced a data breach, most of them believe that payers and providers are working to protect their digital healthcare data Physicians are the most trusted, with 88 percent of respondents saying they trust them with their data, and pharma wasn’t far behind with 84 percent of consumers’ saying they trust them. Payers and labs weren’t far behind at 82 percent each, but government entities lag in having consumers’ trust – only 56 percent of respondents believe their data is secure with them.