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Welcome to Digital Health Briefing, a new morning email providing the latest news, data, and insight on how digital technology is disrupting the healthcare ecosystem, produced by BI Intelligence.
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VIANT, GSK COLLABORATE FOR BLOCKCHAIN SUPPLY CHAIN TRACKING:Blockchain startup Viant announced a new collaboration with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Microsoft, and others to develop blockchain-based supply chain tracking solutions. Together they’re looking to accelerate the growth of Viant’s Ethereum-based blockchain supply chain platform in the pharmaceutical sector by using the distributed ledger technology to track intellectual property (IP) licenses as well as ensure that products are produced, transported, and stored in proper conditions.
Blockchain could be particularly useful for pharmaceutical supply chain tracking, bringing greater transparency to a complex, interconnected production process with numerous stakeholders. That’s because blockchain is a distributed ledger — no one stakeholder controls the network and records are immutable and confirmed by the stakeholders in the network. In big pharma, Viant sees its blockchain-based solution helping GSK license its technologies to researchers around the world while ensuring that they’re using that IP properly.
Beyond licensing, it can help GSK or other pharmaceutical firms track production. For instance, GSK could require manufacturing facilities to label products on a shared blockchain, which would create visibility into production all the way through to delivery. This can accomplish a few goals:
- Preventing mislabeling. Mislabeling of drugs has led to costly recalls and creates liability risks for pharmaceutical companies.
- Combating counterfeit medications. Counterfeit medication is a major problem that companies face in distributing drugs in the developing world. The World Health Organization estimates that 10% of medications are counterfeit. These counterfeit medicines can be both ineffective or dangerous for patients, and represent up to $200 billion in lost sales each year, according to Strategy&.
- Documenting regulatory compliance. As Viant cofounder Tyler Mulvihill told Supply Chain Dive, “the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act has mandated unit-level track and traceability for pharmaceuticals by 2023. Blockchain is an amazing way to accomplish this in a provably immutable way.”
CMS IS MAKING MOVES TO HELP PROVIDERS MEET REPORTING REQUIREMENTS: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has made several moves that could lead to more providers adopting digital tools to communicate with each other and to meet reporting requirements. These steps include:
- CMS clarified its policy on physicians texting patient information. In response to a recent report by the Health Care Compliance Association which raised questions about CMS’s texting policy, CMS sent a letter to make its stance on texting patient data more clear, according to Healthcare Informatics. CMS specified that physicians were permitted to use text messages to share patient information as long as all parties are using a secure platform. However, texting patient orders is prohibited. Clarifying this policy could make providers more open to adopting digital platforms to communicate.
- The organization also launched a new website to give physicians a more convenient way of submitting 2017 performance data. As part of CMS’s Quality Payment Program (QPP), a two-track value-based reimbursement system, eligible physicians are required to submit performance data, which is used to calculate Medicare payments. However, previous processes were friction-filled, requiring physicians to use multiple systems to complete their reporting requirements. CMS has introduced a new website that will streamline the submission process by using a single portal, according to Healio. The system will also provide users with real-time scoring for different categories in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System. These values will be recalculated any time new data is added.
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RURAL HOSPITALS CAN SAVE BIG WITH TELEHEALTH SERVICES: Grand River Hospital and Medical Center, a small rural hospital in Western Colorado, saved roughly $300,000 in costs by using teleservices to implement a 24/7 pharmacy, according to Healthcare IT News. The hospital is working with PipelineRx, a medication management services and platform company, to remotely connect with pharmacists to verify prescription orders. Once verified, patient records are updated and the system sends the order to a machine that automatically dispenses medication to a nurse at the hospital. This technology enables hospitals to cut down on unnecessary costs associated with staffing, especially at rural hospitals that may only see a few patients a day — Grand River averages seven patients a day. The benefits of teleservices in healthcare have started to present themselves, making them a must-have technology — 55% of healthcare executives stated that telemedicine was the top IT initiative that they planned on prioritizing, according to a December survey by HIMSS Analytics.
NHS EXPECTED TO SAVE MILLIONS FROM AI-BASED TOOLS: Researchers in the UK have developed two artificially intelligent tools to more accurately detect heart and lung conditions, which could save England’s National Health Service (NHS) millions, according to the BBC. The first system, dubbed Ultromics, is capable of analyzing heart scans to accurately detect if a patient is at risk of having a heart attack. Clinical trials have shown that the system is more accurate than physicians, which could save the NHS more than £300 ($407) million a year — of the 60,000 heart scans performed each year, 12,000 are misdiagnosed. Due to the early success of the system, it’s expected to be available to NHS hospitals this summer. The other system can identify cancerous nodules from lung scans, helping doctors save lives and millions of dollars in unnecessary tests by detecting lung cancer early. For background, it is difficult for doctors to differentiate between benign nodules and cancerous nodules, leading to a long expensive diagnoses involving multiple tests.
In other news…
- Quartet, a data analytics startup that offers a digital platform to connect insurers to patients that need behavioral health services, has raised $40 million in a series C funding round, according to the New York Business Journal. The company plans to improve its reach in underserved communities as well as roll out a digital healthcare coordination platform to help doctors track their patients’ treatment better.
HealthTap , the telehealth startup, launched HealthTap for Good, a nonprofit initiative that will offer underprivileged individuals access to health services free of charge, according to HIT Consultant. HealthTap for Good will also be available to medical providers and nonprofit organizations that work with these underprivileged populations.
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