NHS Rolls Out Virtual Reality To Remind Clinicians How Scary Being A Patient Can Be

In an effort to improve compassion and bedside manner among its clinicians, executives at South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust in England have turned to an innovative team of software developers that have created a first-person virtual reality simulation of a patient’s experience. The new system was developed by Nick Peres, a PhD student and former video production specialist researching virtual reality applications in healthcare with South Devon’s innovation team.

NHS Rolls Out Virtual Reality To Remind Clinicians How Scary Being A Patient Can Be

Initially, Peres was working with a team focused on building an enhanced mannequin that could blink, breathe, bleed, and speak. The goal of that project was to develop a more realistic training tool for medical staff. Before long, however, Peres began wondering how he might incorporate his skill set as a video production specialist into the challenge. Virtual reality stood out to him as an ideal tool to improve medical education, he explains "We use these mannequins, but we still have no idea how the patient feels or what they see. It seemed quite obvious to me what technology could help us do this."

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NHS Launches Mental Health App Library

In England, the NHS launches a new mental health-focused app store aimed at improving access to mental health services and therapies for UK citizens. Called the Mental Health Apps Library, the site provides the UK public with a curated list of clinically-vetted, NHS-endorsed mental health apps that healthcare leaders hope will help improve outcomes for the country’s mental health population.

NHS Launches Mental Health App Library

The new site is being hosted by NHS Choices, the UK’s largest health-related website. NHS Choices is a publically-funded website that provides patient-friendly information about diseases, treatment options, and local NHS resources that are available. The site also captures reviews for local doctors and hospitals and facilitates appointment scheduling. The site generates 40 million views per month, of which 9.7 million are visiting pages related to depression, 9.4 million are visiting pages related to anxiety, and six million are visiting pages related to stress. In total, the NHS estimates that 15 percent of the UK’s general public are suffering from mental health disorders.

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Digital Health Needs More Women In Leadership Positions

This week, Rock Health published a report on the state of women in healthcare, which shed a dismal pall over the healthcare industry, an industry that is dominated by women holding majorities within its workforce, and as key decision makers within its customer base. The report concludes that while 80 percent of a families healthcare decisions are made by women, and 78 percent of the workforce in healthcare are women, only 34 percent of executives at major US hospitals are women, with even fewer holding seats on the Boards of Directors.

Digital Health Needs More Women In Leadership Positions

Rock Health, which was founded by Halle Tecco, herself an inspiring female working in health IT, quickly focuses the report on the seemingly progressive subsection of healthcare that it has the most influence on: digital health. Here, women in key leadership positions are dramatically underrepresented. Just six percent of funded digital health startups are led by women CEOs. The report goes on to point out some correlations between startups with women directors, and overall financial success. Startups with three or more female directors have a higher return on investment, return on stock, and return on equity when compared to their male-led counterparts. Startups with women on the leadership team also seem to enjoy higher valuations during funding rounds, and VC firms with women partners are two-to-three times more likely to invest in a company with women in leadership positions.

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Mayo Clinic Investigates Possible Uses For Drones In Healthcare

Researchers with the Mayo Clinic have published a study investigating possible use cases for drones in healthcare. Commercial use of drones has seen its fair share of media coverage this year, sparked initially by an announcement from Amazon suggesting that it would begin exploring drone-based delivery options, and then reinserted into the limelight when the FAA published its regulatory guidance for commercial drone use. For now, drones are heavily restricted by the FAA and have limited use cases in healthcare, but the FAA has recently suggested that new regulations are in the works that will integrate drone operations with the existing National Airspace System, resulting in far more flexibility for innovators.

Mayo Clinic Investigates Possible Uses For Drones In Healthcare

Anticipating this change, researchers with the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Surgery, led by But Cornelius A. Thiels, D.O. began exploring potential use cases for drones in healthcare. The team published its findings in the Air Medical Journal. For inspiration, the team looked to existing air-delivery operations in healthcare, and concluded that blood transportation would be an ideal home for drones in healthcare. Thiels reports that his hospital’s air transport team delivers 200 units of packed red blood cells and 200 units of plasma per year to surrounding rural hospitals. "Blood is unique because it’s expensive and expires — platelets and thawed plasma last just five days — and the supply is very limited. In our region, the smallest critical access hospitals stock just two to six units of red cells and no fresh frozen plasma or platelets," he says. Currently, these supply lines are supported by helicopter and ambulance transport teams, which are incredibly expensive in comparison to the cost of flying a drone.

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Meaningful Use 3 Rules Introduce Major Patient Engagement Challenges

Friday, the Office of the National Coordinator published a draft version of its Stage 3 Meaningful Use rules. Since its 2009 creation, the Meaningful Use program has been the primary catalyst behind EHR adoption within the US. The three-stage program was designed to subsidize the roll out of EHR systems, plus implement a framework of interoperability and quality reporting systems that would drive healthcare into the 21st century. While debate rages on over the value of EHRs in general, the Meaningful Use program has thus far been successful in the first of its goals, promoting EHR adoption. With MU3, ONC was expected to focus on improving interoperability between EHR systems, but the new new rules published Friday were light on interoperability requirements, and instead focused on creating a single definition of “meaningful use” that will simplify attestation complexities and level-set all providers and hospitals by 2018. MU3 also implements objectives designed to streamline quality reporting requirements and introduces significant new patient engagement challenges.

Patient Portal Enrollment Requirements Increase to 25 percent

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IBM Invests in Watson-Powered App Modernizing Medicine

IBM today announced that it would invest in Modernizing Medicine, a cloud-based EHR vendor that leverages an API connection with IBM’s Watson supercomputer to deliver specialty-specific clinical decision support tools to providers. The new funding follows a $15 million Series D that was raised in November 2014 and brings its total funding to $49 million.

IBM Invests in Watson-Powered App Modernizing Medicine

Modernizing Medicine markets a cloud-based EHR that learns its users’ patterns and preferences and adapts to their workflows over time, reducing clicks and expediting clinical documentation and care coordination. The system catalogues everything entered, from most frequent types of anesthesia used, to most common diagnoses entered, to preferred types of sutures used to close a wound. It then reintroduces this data into the users’ workflow as they go about treating future patients with the same condition, or undergoing the same procedure. The company reports that its customers save an average of 60 to 90 seconds per patient due to this optimization, resulting in a one to one-and-a-half hour reduction in their day.

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Google Files Patent For A Wearable Cancer Detection And Treatment Technology

Last October, Google unveiled a new X lab project focused on developing a smartpill filled with nanosensors that were programmed to detect cancer in the bloodstream and then relay a warning signal to a tracker that the user would wear around their wrist. The system, Google said at the time, was nearly ready for human testing and would be available for commercial applications within 10 years. Now new evidence has come to light that suggests Google is doing much more with its wearable cancer-detection project than it had initially presented.

Google Files Patent For A Wearable Cancer Detection And Treatment Technology

Last week, Google quietly secured a patent for a wearable device that not only detects cancerous cells in the blood stream, but that also detects other harmful enzymes, proteins, and cells. Pushing things one step deeper into the realm of science fiction, the new technology is also said to be able to attack these harmful cells when they are detected. An excerpt from the patent explains, “energy is generated by a wearable device” and then directed at a target cell, which “allows the targets to be selectively modified or destroyed by energy from outside the body such that the adverse health effects are reduced or eliminated.”

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Health Catalyst Raises $70 Million Series D, Raising Total Funding To $170 Million

Salt Lake City-based data analytics vendor Health Catalyst announces that it has raised an additional $70 million in Series D funding led by existing investor Norwest Venture Partners, and with contributions from existing investors Sequoia Capital, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, Sorenson Capital, CHV Capital  and Partners HealthCare. The oversubscribed round also welcomed several new investors, including Sands Capital Ventures, Tenaya Capital, Epic Ventures, and Leavitt Equity Partners. The new round follows a $41 million Series C that Health Catalyst closed in January 2014, and brings the company’s total funding level to $170 million.

Health Catalyst Raises $70 Million Series D, Raising Total Funding To $170 Million

Health Catalyst is a data analytics vendor building a commanding presence in the industry. The company markets an analytics tool that extracts data from existing health IT systems and integrates the data into a Health Catalyst database where business and clinical analytics dashboards help hospital managers benchmark quality and operational performance levels, and monitor trends over time. After seven years in operation, the company has signed some of the nations leading health systems and received a Best in KLAS award for the data warehousing and analytics category.

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