Digital health news briefs for 3/28/2018

By Dave Muoio

Patient engagement software company Relatient has launched MDpay, a patient-facing payment web and mobile platform. The service accepts all major credit or debit cards as well as Apple and Google Pay, and includes an integrated dashboard for billing managers, easy-to-respond electronic statements that don’t require a user account, and other accommodations.

"We're proud to offer the ambulatory care market the first complete patient billing solution that autoposts patient payments back to the respective visit ID," Michele Perry, CEO of Relatient, said in a statement. "With MDpay, we're giving patients the multi-platform convenience they desire, while giving practices back time, savings, and profits."

Researchers at Tufts University School of Engineering have developed a new miniature sensor that can fit on a tooth and wirelessly communicate with a mobile phone. The device can track glucose, salt and alcohol intake.

The device is made up of three layers including a bioresponsive layer, and two outer layers that are made of square-shaped golden rings. The layers collect and transmit waves in the radio frequency spectrum.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health, the Pittsburg Graduate School of Public Health, and the Aetna Foundation have joined forces to develop an improved opioid data collection solutions. The latter is providing a $1 million grant for the project, which will fund a two-year project to bolster the Opioid Data Dashboard, offering contextualized drug data across Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.

“The Aetna Foundation’s $1 million grant brings together government, academia and private industry in a unique partnership that allows us to pool our resources and create tools to make a difference,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement. “These partnerships are vital as we work to help our loved ones, our neighbors and our communities devastated by this disease.”

Katon Direct, maker of a healthcare talent acquisition platform, has announced a series of updates planned for its product in the coming spring. The platform will soon include virtual chat technology, email marketing automation and SMS automatic candidate reminders, and other employer brand enhancement tools.

“Since our founding, we've focused on improving the candidate experience with the goal of generating a steady stream of quality clinical applicants for our clients," Richard Kaskel, managing partner of Katon Direct, said in a statement. "We're excited to deliver enhancements to the Katon solutions portfolio which improve the candidate experience and deliver more qualified candidates and solve our clients' toughest recruiting challenges."

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Michigan and Massachusetts Institute of Technology are teaming up to develop a novel machine learning model that can predict a patient’s risk of developing Clostridium difficile, a gut-infecting bacteria. Findings from study were published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology.

"Despite substantial efforts to prevent C. difficile infection and to institute early treatment upon diagnosis, rates of infection continue to increase," Dr. Erica Shenoy, co-senior author of the study and assistant professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement. "We need better tools to identify the highest risk patients so that we can target both prevention and treatment interventions to reduce further transmission and improve patient outcomes."

Healthgrades and Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) have released an analysis of data collected from nearly 7 million Healthgrades online and mobile physician reviews. The findings suggests that healthcare consumers heavily weigh a number of non-clinical factors — such as provider compassion, comfort, and patience — when ranking the quality of their care. The online reviews were largely positive, with an overall average of four out of five stars.

“It’s clear from the data what most people already intuitively know: the patient experience extends deeper and further than the walls of a surgical suite or exam room. Our data corroborates the crucial nature of our members role in the support of the physician-patient relationship through people, process and technology,” Dr. Halee Fischer-Wright, president and CEO of MGMA, said in a statement.

Dr. Ziv Haskal, a doctor from the University of Virginia, has developed a virtual reality experience for doctors in training so that they can virtually stand beside a radiologist as he performs a difficult medical procedure. The experience can be accessed through a VR system or cardboard viewer glasses. The experience shows a doctors as he creates a new blood vessel in a patient’s liver through a small nick in the patients neck. 

"The current means of teaching is a physical person has to arrive ... and go over with the doc beforehand. Or they have to look at a lousy 2D animation on a screen," Haskal said in a statement. "Once you put [VR] glasses on people, it's like you walk them through a completely different door.”
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