Anthem BCBS Ohio rolls out Propeller Health's sensors, Desert Oasis Healthcare to adopt Proteus' adherence tech, and more digital health deals

By Dave Muoio
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Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio has partnered with Propeller Health to provide sensor-equipped inhaler attachments to plan members with COPD. The rollout will give members access to Propeller’s medication tracker app, while providing an online provider portal for the insurer’s care management team.

“There’s currently no cure for COPD, but much can be done to help consumers treat the disease,” Dr. Linda Hotchkiss, managing medical director of Anthem’s Medicare Advantage Central Region, said in a statement. “This collaboration between Anthem and Propeller gives individuals access to connected care technology that will help them more easily manage their COPD, in order to help them have a better quality of life. Anthem will continue to focus on improving consumers’ healthcare experience by increasing access to high-quality, meaningful solutions.”

Proteus Digital Health and Desert Oasis Healthcare (DOHC) have entered a multi-year, value-based contract in which the medical group will begin deploying the digital health company’s ingestation monitoring technology to patients.

“We couldn’t be more excited to finally have a proven, FDA approved way to know when patients take their medications,” Brian Hodgkins, EVP of Desert Oasis Healthcare, said in a statement. “It’s known that more than 50 percent of patients do not take their medications as prescribed. Now DOHC, like other healthcare providers, can use data from digital medicines to help patients get the real value out of their prescriptions and meet their health goals.”

The Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research group (FAIR) has teamed up with the NYU School of Medicine on a new project that could make magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans 10 times faster.

FAIR, founded in 2013, is a Facebook-affliated research group that partners with universities to study machine learning and artificial intelligence, often in areas with no direct connection to social networking. According to a Facebook blog post announcing the partnership, the research group was actively looking for a high-impact project, while the NYU School of Radiology's Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research (CAI2R) was looking for additional AI expertise to actualize a theory the group has been investigating since 2016.

“[MRI scanners] are relatively slow, taking anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour, compared with less than a second or up to a minute, respectively, for X-ray and CT scans. These long scan times can make MRI machines challenging for young children, as well as for people who are claustrophobic or for whom lying down is painful. Additionally, there are MRI shortages in many rural areas and in other countries with limited access, resulting in long scheduling backlogs. By boosting the speed of MRI scanners, we can make these devices accessible to a greater number of patients.”

Healthcare AI company CloudMedx is collaborating with University of California, San Francisco’s orthopedic surgery department to investigate how data collected from consumer-grade wearables may predict clinical outcomes following hip and knee replacement surgery. By developing new algorithms to predict these outcomes, the partners hope to improve upon the current gold standard of patient-reported outcome surveys.

“We want to combine patient-reported outcomes, data from electronic medical records and sensor data to predict how patients will recover following joint replacement surgery,” Dr. Stefano Bini, UCSF Health orthopedic surgeon and professor of orthopedic surgery at UCSF, said in a statement. “To give us a perspective on how patients are doing with predictive analytics, we partnered with CloudMedx to handle the large data sets that will be needed.”

The Health Transformation Alliance (HTA), a collaboration between 47 major corporations seeking to improve healthcare, has selected Welltok as its principal partner for promoting consumer and employee health engagement. According to a release from the software company, the decision was made based on Welltok’s capacity to predict, manage, and optimize program engagement; reach employees; and maintain privacy and data security.

"Employees' health is directly tied to the health of our companies," Robert Andrews, HTA CEO, said in a statement. "Independently, we were all struggling to identify and manage the best health and wellbeing resources for our employees and how to engage them. Welltok stood out for its data-driven approach to more effectively get employees actively involved in their health with the right programs and incentives, as well as evaluate program effectiveness within and across the HTA members."

Google and GN Hearing have struck a partnership that will allow audio streaming from Android devices to GN’s hearing aid devices without the need for an intermediary device. The functionality will be included in a future Android software release, and will be supported by the ReSound LiNX Quattro and Beltone Amaze aids.

“We are honoured to partner with Google for this important development, which will enable direct streaming for even more hearing aid users through their Android devices. This is another example of how GN Hearing relentlessly strives to drive innovation forward by developing new products and solutions with unique benefits for hearing aid users and audiologists around the world,” Anders Hedegaard, CEO of GN Hearing, said in a statement.

Health Navigator has teamed up with healthcare software design and development consulting firm Macadamian to build a proof-of-concept skill Amazon Alexa. According to the companies, the skill is a voice-enable triage service that incorporates Health Navigator content to help users understand how serious their symptoms are, or if they need to seek care.

“Solutions like the Health Navigator Skill can increase access to healthcare, while reducing the cost of care,” Dr. Jeffrey A. Schwartz, president of Health Navigator, said in a statement. “By interacting with their voice assistant, people can easily make decisions about the level of care they need and can manage their symptoms in ways that are more cost effective than a trip to the ER or clinic.”

The Iowa Clinic has tapped MyHealthDirect to provide its patient self-scheduling software across the multi-specialty health group. Using the tool, patients are able to schedule appointments online with The Iowa Clinic’s 250 providers around the clock. According to MyHealthDirect, the service now accounts for 30 percent of scheduled appointments.

“We are committed to meeting and exceeding patient expectations. MyHealthDirect allows us to improve the patient experience by offering a simple, convenient way to schedule an appointment online,” C. Edward Brown, CEO of The Iowa Clinic, said in a statement. “Internally, the solution also helps us maximize staff efficiency and quickly get patients the care they need."