Doctor On Demand Adds Psychiatry To Its Virtual Visit Options

San Francisco-based telehealth vendor Doctor On Demand today announced that it would begin offering psychiatry visits as part of its virtual mental health services business. The company notes that its mental healthcare providers generally offer routine, ongoing counseling to patients, and that with the new addition of psychiatry services patients can now be evaluated and prescribed medications to support traditional therapy all within the Doctor On Demand platform. The new services will initially be made available in 27 states, but the company anticipates expanding availability across the country by mid-year.

Doctor On Demand Adds Psychiatry To Its Virtual Visit Options

Mental health is an area that has seen increased interest among biotechnology researchers and digital health entrepreneurs. The toll on national healthcare expenditures associated with mental health services is massive, with $100 billion in annual healthcare services spending, plus an estimated $193 billion in lost earnings and $24 billion in disability benefits. Access to care is also a national issue. In a statement announcing the new initiative, Doctor On Demand reports that 55 percent of the 3,100 counties in the US do not have local mental healthcare workers, and that only 45 percent of those with a mental health illness receive treatment.

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Meta Analysis Confirms Text Message Reminders Boost Medication Adherence

A team of researchers from the University of Sydney, University of Oxford, and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have published findings from a meta analysis reviewing 16 studies evaluating the effectiveness of text message-based medication adherence programs. The researchers included only randomized control trials in their review and focused on studies measuring adherence improvements among chronically ill adults. In total, 16 studies were included in the analysis spanning a variety of patient demographics, text message programs, and chronic diseases.

Meta Analysis Confirms Text Message Reminders Boost Medication Adherence

Of the 16 trials included in the review, eight incorporated technology that provided computer-generated personalized text messages for patients, while another eight incorporated standard daily reminder messages. The duration of the studies varied, but average duration was 12 weeks. An important note is that medication adherence was not independently verified, and in all cases self-reporting was relied on to measure improvements. Still, the improvements were significant.

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USC Announces Strategic Partners For Virtual Care Clinic

In October 2015 at its annual USC Body Computing Conference, University of Southern California leaders unveiled their latest digital health initiative, a virtual care clinic that will expand patient access to USC’s care delivery system while simultaneously acting as a digital health innovation lab and accelerator program where telehealth-focused technology will be developed to move the patient encounter out of the office and onto the computer. “Be prepared for hologram house calls,” said Leslie Saxon, MD, a cardiologist and founder of the USC Center for Body Computing. Saxon then went on to demonstrate hologram-based patient visit technology as well as virtual reality-based approaches to treatment.

USC Announces Strategic Partners For Virtual Care Clinic

Now,  USC’s Center for Body Computing is announcing eight strategic partners that will join the Virtual Care Clinic program in its effort to virtualize care delivery. Alongside engineers working from the USC Institute of Creative Technologies, teams from Doctor Evidence, IMS Health, Karten Design, Medable, Planet Grande, Proteus Digital Health, and VSP Global will work to integrate various new technologies into the Virtual Care Clinic technology infrastructure. The group will work together to create a platform that physicians working within Keck Medicine of USC can use to deliver remote care. Kern’s ophthalmology group, which is ranked ninth nationally for ophthalmologic services, will be the first to go live on the platform.

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CMS Letter States Theranos Lab Poses An “Immediate Jeopardy” To Patient Safety

On Sunday of this week, the Wall Street Journal broke yet another story on Theranos, this time suggesting that a damaging report on a CMS inspection conducted in one of its testing facilities late last year was days from being released to the public. While the full report has yet been made public, CMS published a scathing public letter to Theranos this week broadly outlining deficiencies it found while inspecting Theranos’ California lab facility. Those deficiencies, CMS says, “pose immediate jeopardy to patient health and safety,” and require correction within 10 days if the lab is to avoid losing its license to perform Medicare tests. 

CMS Letter States Theranos Lab Poses An “Immediate Jeopardy” To Patient Safety

The CMS letter outlines five major deficiencies found during its inspection, the most serious of which was found during the inspection of its hematology test process. Hematology is a broad category of lab tests that includes blood cell counts and measuring how long it takes for blood to clot, a common test used to monitor patients taking blood thinners. These are routine tests by any measure, yet CMS indicated that it was here that deficiencies were found that posed “immediate jeopardy” to patient safety. News of the letter made immediate headlines, as Theranos has been the subject of intense media scrutiny since a series of investigative reports published in October questioned the company’s core technology, as well as its accountability and ethics.

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Neurotrack Closes $6.5 Million In Fresh Funding, Launches Flagship Cognitive Assessment

Palo Alto-based digital health startup Neurotrack announces that it has raised a $6.5 million Series B funding round led by Khosla Ventures, with additional investments from AME Cloud Ventures, ISeed Ventures, and returning investors Social Capital and Founders Fund. The new funding brings Neurotrack’s lifetime funding level to $9.5 million since its 2012 formation. The company started out in Boston, and was a member of the Boston-based Rock Health incubator program in the spring of 2012 before moving its headquarters to California.

Neurotrack Closes $6.5 Million In Fresh Funding, Launches Flagship Cognitive Assessment

Since its formation, Neurotrack has been working to develop a cognitive assessment tool that can accurately diagnose Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment by displaying on-screen pictures to the patient and then analyzing their eye movements while they look over the images. Developers pair images on the screen so that one is familiar to the patient, while the second is unfamiliar. Next, a camera tracks the patient’s eye movement and eye fixation to measure which images the patients are focusing on longer. Then, percentages for how much of the total time the patient spent focused on both the familiar and unfamiliar image were calculated. This information is then used to detect abnormalities in the hippocampus that are unique to Alzheimer’s disease and mild cognitive impairment. Because the hippocampus is the first part of the brain that is affected by these conditions, researchers using the new tool were able to accurately diagnose the conditions as early as six years before any signs or symptoms presented. Currently, there is no reliable screening for early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but treatment is far more effective in patients who are diagnosed early. Neurotrack’s diagnostic test takes just five minutes to administer, and because of this, the company hopes to see it incorporated into standard preventative screenings for at-risk populations across the US.

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