Digital Health Formulary adds new programs to its lineup, Butterfly announces next-gen device and ACC study, and more digital health news briefs

Also: Study polls "digitally engaged physicians" on digital health's current strengths and weaknesses; Mira unveils an updated fertility monitor.
By Dave Muoio
02:22 pm
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More digital health tools join the PBM party. Evernorth, a newly-established Cigna subsidiary that now acts as the parent of Express Scripts, announced today several new additions to the pharmacy benefit manager's Digital Health Formulary. Joining the lineup in 2021 will be:

  • Wildflower Health's app-based women's health offering.
  • Quit Genius's digital program for smoking and vaping cessation.
  • Prevail Health's tool to support caregivers' emotional well-being and stress.
  • Buoy Health's Back with Care employer COVID-19 platform for safe return to work.
  • Three different at-home muscle and joint pain programs from Hinge Health, Omada (by way of its Physera acquisition) and RecoveryOne.

These offerings join the formulary's existing selection of digital health programs, which target common chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, asthma and depression.

“Today we are announcing the expansion of our ground-breaking Digital Health Formulary to better help people achieve their health goals – whether it is planning a family, managing muscle and joint pain, quitting tobacco products, and even coping with the stress of being a caregiver,” Tim Wentworth, CEO of Evernorth, said in a statement.

“We know how confusing, costly, and time consuming it can be for people to choose which digital health tool is right for them. That’s why we created the Digital Health Formulary – to take the guesswork out of the equation – and that’s why we’re moving so quickly to now expand it.”


Butterfly revamps its device, explores at-home ultrasound. Butterfly Network has launched a next-generation version of its handheld ultrasound device, called the Butterfly iQ+. According to the company, the updated product features faster frame rates and pulse repetition frequency, 20% longer battery life, a sturdier build and better ability for users to see a needle during guided procedures.

“We have collaborated with the Butterfly community of users to define our innovation path," CEO Laurent Faracci said in a statement. "The first result in that journey is the new Butterfly iQ+, a big step forward for point-of-care ultrasound, with our most advanced chip ever and a number of amazing innovations and improvements that our talented team and partners developed.”

Alongside its new product, Butterfly also announced a new collaboration with the American College of Cardiology. This effort will launch a clinical trial investigating Butterfly's technology for at-home ultrasound scanning.

“Our collaboration with the ACC will help us design clinical trials and care pathways for some of the more challenging heart diseases and accelerate the adoption of point-of-care ultrasound by cardiovascular clinicians,” Dr. John Martin, Butterfly's chief medical officer, said in a statement. 

“One of the key targets is heart failure, with a goal to radically change monitoring. If patients can assess their status at home via AI-guided lung scans with their clinician or care team remotely, we can avoid unnecessary and costly hospital visits. This will also provide patients with more timely intervention, improve quality of care, and improve their quality of life.”


Word on the street. A qualitative interview study of 11 "digitally engaged physicians" recently published in PLoS ONE suggests that providers who are embracing digital health technologies are particularly excited by the potential for greater doctor-patient relationships. The tools can help inform and engage patients in their care, the interviewees said, and in many ways can improve communication and even trust in care.

On the flip side, the physicians also felt that today's digital tools are so far providing more benefits to patients than they are provider, "mostly due to the questions of financing, valid tools, evidence-based studies, data management, and accessibility issues," researchers wrote.

However, the physicians said they are also excited by the potentials of data monitoring in the near future, particular in regard to technology's use in preventive care and avoiding unnecessary visits. These and other automation technologies would not only be better for the patient, but could reduce the burden on practitioners and healthcare administrators as well, researchers wrote.


Fertility monitoring platform revises its tech. Home fertility testing startup Mira has come out with a new personalized ovulation monitoring system that measures Luteinizing hormone and estrogen levels. The Mire Fertility Plus testing wands are compatible with the analyzer device core to Mira's prior offering, and delivers simplified and more in-depth versions of its readings through a companion app.

“It is important to know a woman’s cycle is more than just ovulation. The hormone regularity, profile and trend are strongly related to a woman’s health in general,” Sylvia Kang, cofounder and CEO of Mira, said in a statement. “We want to arm women to know their bodies, become aware of any issues early, and ease the process of getting pregnant or avoiding pregnancy. Knowledge is power and being able to run analytics on your own health helps to make the right decisions and be proactive, which is a much needed complementary to mainstream medicine."

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