News and views, odds and ends from HIMSS18

By Jonah Comstock

MobiHealthNews spent the last week at the HIMSS18 annual global conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can see all our HIMSS coverage on our website, but we don't always have time to write all the news from the show. Read on for some additional comments, case studies, and launches from the show.

Jonathan Bush says digital can save hospitals from becoming Blockbusters

Well-established health juggernauts should be concerned of the impact that disruptive digital health players could have on their business, AthenaHealth CEO Jonathan Bush warned during a HIMSS 18 session. Invoking the eventual fate of Blockbuster Video, he said that groups worried that they might succumb to Upper-Right Quadrant Syndrome need to embrace online efforts to attract patients and virtualize their services — ideally with the help of those digital companies that are already changing the game.

“We send out surveys [on brick-and-mortar hospital care satisfaction] in the mail, and they come back well, 88 percent satisfied … but that’s like asking ‘how was your lunch, as vegan pizzas go?’” he said. “We’ve got to figure out how to avoid URQS — and Athena is in some way vulnerable to that disruption [as well]. The thing that I think digital health needs to do, that these apps need to do, is help really great health systems that have won prior wars live to fight new ones by bridging the gap.”

UW Medicine Valley Medical Center sees success with smartphone communication

Rollout of a smartphone-based communication platform at a 321-bed acute care community hospital led to increased staff and patient satisfaction, a reduction of medication administration errors, and cost savings, James Jones, VP of patient care services and nursing operations at UW Medicine Valley Medical Center, said during a presentation. When reviewing his team’s takeaways from the program, he advised hospitals eying similar communication revamps to focus on involving key stakeholders early, and often.

“You can never have enough key stakeholders,” he said. "We did a good job of involving enough people, but the key stakeholders we did not involve enough. We had our informatics team evolved, but not enough. We had [environmental services] involved, but not enough. But we should have had facilities, we should also have had the patient admission office. Those things are really important for us to be successful, [and] to understand better workflows and assessments.”

Other unexpected lessons Jones noted were the advantages of branding the smartphones with the hospital’s logo, so that patients did not think clinicians were using the devices recreationally, and the importance of sterilizing the smartphones between uses to maintain good infection control protocols.

VitalConnect, Validic, Nihon Kohden launch patient monitoring platforms

VitalConnect, which offers a Bluetooth-connected remote monitoring patch, announced at HIMSS that its made the transition from just offering the patch to offering an end-to-end remote monitoring platform. It was far from the only company to launch a remote patient monitoring platform at the show.

“Four years ago we were a patch company. Two years ago we started to realize we needed a little bit more than a patch. And now we’re an end-to-end solution,” CFO Martyn Webster told MobiHealthNews. “We did that not because we necessarily originally wanted to do that because our customers told us that’s what they wanted.”

VitalConnect’s platform, VitalConnect Vista, is already in use at Mercy Hospital.

Durham, North Carolina-based Validic also launched a new remote patient monitoring system, Impact, that will use data analytics and management dashboards to help hospitals incorporate patient-generated data into their existing clinical workflows. Clinicians can set rules in order to see just the data they want to see.

“Rather than creating an entire, disparate system to manage remote care, Impact works to fill the existing gaps in remote monitoring programs,” Validic CEO Drew Schiller said in a statement. “We are enabling care teams to build customized programs that meet the needs of their health system and their patients’ treatment goals.”

Nihon Kohden, an Irvine, California-based medical equipment maker, was one more company to launch a patient monitoring offering. The company’s NK-HiQTM Wireless Patient Monitoring System is a secure, WiFi-connected data acquisition and management platform for continuous monitoring of patients in hospitals.

Hill-Rom adds features to Welch Allyn vitals monitoring platform

Chicago-based Hill-Rom has improved the security and efficiency of its Welch Allyn Connex vital signs monitoring portfolio. This includes faster logins to the system via barcode or badge ID scanning and a more advanced capability to restrict access to devices.

“This integration illustrates our focus on protecting areas that are critical in healthcare today: patient privacy, data integrity and nurses' time. Our collaboration with Imprivata helps us deliver a simpler user experience for clinicians, while delivering the security today's healthcare organizations demand," said Alton Shader, president of Hill-Rom's Front Line Care business, in a statement. "We are excited to further improve connected workflows for our customers with the Connex vitals monitoring portfolio."

Edifecs offers machine learning tools

Health IT company Edifecs, based in Bellevue, Washington, launched Smart Decisions, an off-the-shelf platform to help healthcare organizations deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning for various use cases.

“Health plans and providers are struggling with how to utilize machine learning and AI to benefit their own organizations. For more than 20 years, Edifecs’ has helped the industry solve the most complex healthcare information and data analytics problems,” Sunny Singh, CEO of Edifecs, said in a statement. “With the launch of Smart Decisions, Edifecs is providing an easy, cost-effective way for health plans and providers to deploy machine learning and AI’s deep analytics benefits, including improved workflows, quality care and profitability.”

Nihon Kohden launches AR app

In addition to its remote patient monitoring tool, Nihon Kohden also launched an augmented reality app for helping clinicians attach EKG leads correctly and accurately.

“Nihon Kohden understands the incredible ever-changing role healthcare providers play in delivering quality patient care,” Dr. Wilson P. Constantine, chief executive officer of Nihon Kohden America, said in a statement. “AR is a revolutionary new technology that has the potential to transform healthcare for physicians and patients alike. The interactive Nihon Kohden Dimensions app experience allows clinicians to learn our technology quickly with the ultimate goal of treating patients safely.”

Orbita enhances Orbita Voice platform

Orbita, which offers voice activation software for healthcare stakeholders on platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Voice, announced a number of upgrades to its platform, including new web and mobile templates for software development, new analytics tools for measuring user engagement, new search features, and security enhancements to help ensure that the use of voice technology is HIPAA-compliant.

“Orbita takes protection of client data and regulatory compliance very seriously,” CEO Bill Rogers said in a statement. “We have focused on delivering platform enhancements and a new reference implementation that enable completely secure voice and chat bot solutions for HIPAA-compliant smartphones, tablets and custom devices.”

Medisafe proves out its self-reported data
Medisafe, which makes digital medication adherence and medication management tools, released the topline results from a new study of its platform. The results show that self-reported medication adherence actually understates adherence rates, rather than overstating them as conventional wisdom holds.
“Historically pharma, payers and the broader care continuum have been skeptical of self-reported data, often dismissing it as biased and inflated. On the contrary, with this study we've shown that Medisafe's self-reported adherence rates are actually lower than industry-standard measures," Jon Michaeli, EVP of strategic partnerships at Medisafe, said in a statement. "We now have evidence that Medisafe's adherence data are a trustworthy, insightful complement to traditional data sources. Because we calculate adherence in real-time [at the medication dose level], pharma, payers and other industry stakeholders should no longer be in the dark about medication adherence at critical points in the patient journey, when they have a fleeting opportunity to intervene and correct course."
TigerText, Specialists on Call rebrand
Two companies in the space announced name changes at HIMSS.
TigerText, a longtime player in the mobile clinical communications space, has been renamed TigerConnect.
“Our new name - TigerConnect - allows us to clearly articulate the true value our solutions deliver,” Brad Brooks, cofounder and CEO, said in a statement. “We connect care teams, existing data systems, and ultimately healthcare communities across a centralized and highly scalable clinical messaging platform. It is this real-time connection to data and people that dramatically improves the way healthcare organizations communicate to drive better results. We wanted that value to be reflected in our name and brand icon which are four interlocking C’s that represent Connected Clinical Communication and Collaboration.”
Telemedicine company Specialists on Call will now be known as SOC Telemed.
“We are proud to have established a strong brand recognition for providing world-class clinicians to hundreds of hospitals and health systems in the US, but over time we have significantly expanded into a leading telemedicine platform with multiple clinical service lines,” Hammad Shah, CEO of SOC Telemed, said in a statement.  “We are pleased to rebrand as SOC Telemed, which pays homage to our roots while reflecting the breadth of telemedicine solutions we provide today.”
SOC Telemed also launched a new enterprise telemedicine platform, Telemed IQ, at the show.
Grand Rounds launches Grand Rounds Summit
A new offering from virtual second opinion company Grand Rounds, called Grand Rounds Summit, will enhance employees’ ability to navigate care and helps employers optimize their provider network.
“Grand Rounds has always focused on matching employees to high-quality physicians who are shown to deliver superior patient outcomes. We’re taking all we’ve learned and are intercepting people earlier, from their first interaction with the system,” Grand Rounds, CEO and co-founder Owen Tripp, said in a statement. “By connecting to more people sooner, we avoid more waste and complexities later. We’re using technology to do this efficiently, while our care team — our doctors, nurses, care coordinators and records specialists — are here to get to know each member inside out.”