Archive for the ‘Guest Posts’ Category



Making Telehealth Work in the Clinic

February 21st, 2012
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In a previous blog post for Popper and Co, I discussed how telehealth can be a life-saving tool in rural and urban settings. As devices get more versatile and affordable, we will start seeing additional efficiencies in health care delivery. Moreover, patients will (if they aren’t already) start demanding it. But does telehealth work in every situation? And how should telehealth systems developers adapt to an individual practice’s needs?
 
The Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research found that while enthusiasm for telehealth was high among patients and (some) caregivers, not every clinic could perceive a benefit. It is very easy, for example, to lose the advantages of this technology without first doing some preliminary research on your particular center and patients. Telehealth must be needs-driven, filling gaps in health services that are not effectively met.
 
In some cases, demand for telehealth may not be very high. If patients can find care at other facilities or may be reluctant to seek care for certain diseases, then telehealth may not be helpful. Similarly, if practitioners are reluctant to use telehealth tools, this reluctance may place such a system in jeopardy.
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Telehealth Saves Lives, Reduces Costs: A Physician’s Perspective

February 9th, 2012
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Wireless technology is evolving in positive ways. It’s now more affordable, more accessible (thanks to broadband capacity), and more portable (via devices such as tablets and smartphones). And it is no exaggeration to say that this technology has made a life-saving difference for many patients who otherwise would not get care.
 
At the Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research at the University of New Mexico, we studied the ability of telehealth tools (e.g., video connections, conference calling, electronic record sharing) to improve access and outcomes of rural New Mexicans suffering from a variety of health problems. In that role, we have been the incubator for several applications of telehealth designed to integrate the technologies that address important healthcare needs and gaps in access. One example was hepatitis C. While this disease is curable, multiple treatments are required and patients must be monitored for adverse effects. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) was initially incubated in our Center under the leadership of Dr. Sanjeev Arora. That project was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrating how the program provided community healthcare providers with the expertise and tools they needed to treat hundreds, if not thousands, of people who previously were receiving no care for hepatitis C. In addition, outcomes of these remote patients were as good as outcomes of patients who traveled (often hundreds of miles) to the University’s medical center in Albuquerque.
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Digital Meets Health

December 14th, 2011
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Last week I attended the 3rd annual mHealth Summit in Washington, D.C. Organized by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH), this multi-track conference attracted some 3,600 attendees and included representatives from across the health innovation spectrum, including industry, investors, entrepreneurs, policy makers, standards, NGOs, mobile operators, wireless technology producers, healthcare systems, insurers, pharma, regulators, researchers, and a multitude of others with an interest in the burgeoning space of ‘mHealth.’
 
While the lexicon for mHealth (an amalgam of “mobile” and “health”) is diverse and overlapping, a natural theme emerges if we look at the genesis of the term. The PC and ever-smaller, more powerful computer microprocessors spawned the digital revolution. Recently, we’ve seen the mobile revolution taking hold, wherein digital tools and wireless technologies have converged to allow us to be connected consumers, patients, and professionals. Now we are seeing a digital health revolution, wherein mobile, and the connectivity it provides for us, is enabling a new paradigm for health. Moreover, this phenomenon is spreading throughout the entire life sciences and health care ecosystem, including all strategics. To characterize all of this as simply being a combination of mobile and health is not only ambiguous (the term “mobile” has often been used interchangeably to mean a cell phone or mobility), but is somewhat disingenuous to the fundamentals that are driving this paradigm shift. Of course, mHealth is a very catchy and accessible term – and proponents have steadily broadened its meaning – so it’s often easier to make a concession in many modes of communication rather than fight a good-natured but losing battle!
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#AdvaMed2011: Where the Key MedTech Players Met

October 4th, 2011
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If you read Ken Walz’s recent post based upon his interview with AdvaMed Conference Producer Ray Briscuso, you already know that AdvaMed 2011 – bringing together more than 1,500 key MedTech executives from companies in every sector of the industry – promised to be an important conference, exhibition and partnering event for medical device, diagnostic and health information companies. Ken attended the conference – as did I – with the intent of absorbing all we could, sharing highlights, and reporting back via this blog.
 
From Ken’s perspective, one of the major themes permeating the remarks of many AdvaMed 2011 presenters was UNCERTAINTY. “While speakers referred to various causes for the uncertainty facing the MedTech industry, most of them tied it back to federal laws impacting health care and the potential for federal budget cutting to constrain the U.S. Food & Drug Administration’s ability to rapidly approve new devices and diagnostic tools,” he said.
 
For more on what some presenters and attendees had to say during and about the conference, read on:
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Assessing the Evidence for Genomics

June 2nd, 2011
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Genomic research is accelerating at a rapid pace and improvements in technology are fueling these advances (as has previously been addressed within the Popper and Co. blog). We’re now entering a phase of evaluating how to incorporate translated genomic information into clinical testing. With this comes a critical need to verify how and when to use a test, how these tests can modify clinical care, and how this process translates into improved outcomes for patients.
 
In April, Margaret Piper, Ph.D., M.P.H., presented at the Personalized Medicine Partnerships Conference outside of Washington, DC.  Dr. Piper is director, genomic resources, at the Technology Evaluation Center of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) Association. Her presentation, “Assessing the Evidence for Genomics: Focus on the Patient,” centered on the impact of genomics on administrative processes and the adoption of new technologies into clinical care. As Dr. Piper noted, “We’re generating a lot of information that relates genomics to disease, but we’re only just starting to gather information on how to translate this into treatments and medical decision making.”
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Health Tech: Economics Can Play an Unusual Role in Entrance to Market

April 21st, 2011
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Entrance-to-market is always a challenging process in the bio-med industry, but where one would normally consider product quality and peer assessment as lead indicators of success, it can be something quite different and unexpected that affects rapid market adoption—such as simple profit-based economics. This is a lesson learned by the San-Francisco-based company XDx, Inc. (Expression Diagnostics) in conjunction with the launch of its diagnostics test Allomap®.
 
XDx’s Vice President of Corporate Development and Legal Affairs Matthew J. Meyer recently presented at the 3rd Annual Personalized Medicine Partnerships Conference in Bethesda, Maryland. Here, I recap some of the highlights of Meyer’s case study presentation and then offer some insights from Ken Walz, one of the founder’s of Popper and Company.
 
According to Meyer, the heart transplantation market in the U.S. encompasses nearly 140 centers performing more than 2,000 transplants per year. With the average cost of the procedure at around $750K and topping out at nearly $1M when post-transplant therapy and care is included, the industry fully supports a growing $2B impact on the U.S. healthcare system. Transplant patients and hospital institutions not only face substantial costs in upfront care, but the patient must also pay for and endure between 20 and 35 painful biopsies in an attempt to reduce rejection and minimize immunosuppression.
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