FDA pilot shares cancer drug symptom data, PatientPing's 16-month funding announcement delay and more digital health news briefs

Also: TapestryHealth purchases its telehealth tech vendor; Tech professionals eyeing healthcare and pharma jobs with new interest after COVID-19.
By Dave Muoio
03:15 pm

FDA begins sharing patient's cancer drug experiences. The FDA's Oncology Center of Excellence has kicked off the first step of new pilot program that will increase the availability of patient-reported outcome data from cancer clinical trials. Project Patient Voice, as it's called, will start with making the data from a single trial accessible online while the agency solicits public feedback, but the end goal will be a full list of cancer trials, tables of each trial's symptom data, and graphics outlining their development from baseline to the first six months of treatment.

“Project Patient Voice has been initiated by the Oncology Center of Excellence to give patients and health care professionals unique information on symptomatic side effects to better inform their treatment choices,” FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner Dr. Amy Abernethy said in a statement. “The Project Patient Voice pilot is a significant step in advancing a patient-centered approach to oncology drug development. Where patient-reported symptom information is collected rigorously, this information should be readily available to patients.”

Provider buys its telehealth tech vendor. Tech-enabled healthcare practice TapestryHealth announced last week the purchase of Telemedicine Web Services, the developer of its software platform. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, although TapestryHealth noted that it would be taking Stefan Alexa, Telemedicine Web Services' chief technical officer, as its own.

"Stefan knows how to bridge the gap between software and people," TapestryHealth CEO Dr. David Chess said in a statement. "He is squarely at the crossroads of technical software development and building the tools that clinicians need to connect with their patients."

TapestryHealth's COO Mordy Eisenberg also said in the announcement that his company was interested in maintaining complete control over its IP and having more control over the platform's upkeep and development. The purchase also serves as a new revenue stream for the company, as Telemedicine Web Services will continue to provide its services to outside clients.

In other belated news. A $60 million Series C funding round announced a few weeks ago by PatientPing was actually wrapped up in February 2019, Business Journals reports. The discrepancy was spotted due to a prior notification of the raise in Pitchbook and confirmed by CEO Jay Desai, who said that the company had decided to hold the news until the finalization of a favorable CMS rule, which was delayed until recently.

Private companies may hold off on announcing their funding at their discretion, but waiting 16 months to announce a raise with no mention of the delay raised more than a few eyebrows across social media.

New blood eying healthcare, pharma. A recent report from Novartis suggests that many in the broader tech workforce could be more likely to consider a career in healthcare and pharma as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Among a survey of 2,502 worldwide tech professionals, 83% said they'd consider working in these industries, with 72% saying they are more interested now than they were six months ago. Interest among these respondents in healthcare and pharma also outstripped their enthusiasm to join finance and banking or telecoms companies.

“COVID-19 has caused a seismic shift in the adoption and scaling of digital technologies in our sector, at a pace never seen before," Bertrand Bodson, chief digital officer for Novartis, said in a statement. "Our existing investment in core platforms has enabled us to respond rapidly to the needs of patients, physicians and our associates – as well as dial up our work rethinking how we discover and develop new medicines; work smarter; and create better customer experiences. Attracting and nurturing highly sought-after tech talent into the sector is now critical to grasping the clear opportunity that comes with combining the power of data, science and technology.”

More evidence of new telehealth fans. Seventy-two percent of consumers using telehealth services during the COVID-19 emergency had never had a prior experience with the remote-care technology, according to the company's recently announced survey of 1,000 patients. Further, three-quarters said they were very or completely satisfied with their encounter, and 50% said they'd be willing to switch providers to have regular access to virtual visits. Wellness check-ins and chronic condition care were the top two reasons these patients sought care, followed by acute and mental health needs.

“The strain that COVID-19 placed on patient access propelled an unprecedented rise in virtual care availability and adoption,” Dr. Erin Jospe, chief medical officer at Kyruus, said in a statement. “This survey shows that patients have not only embraced it as a short-term alternative to in-person visits, but that they also now seek it as a permanent part of their healthcare. As healthcare organizations correspondingly expand their virtual care offerings, it will be essential to drive awareness of them across access channels, diversify booking options, and ensure more closed-loop experiences.”


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