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With the cost of healthcare on the rise, it’s no surprise that players from across the health ecosystem are coming together to solve some of our biggest problems in terms of ensuring access to the right care at a reasonable price. That’s part of the work that Yousuf Zafar, MD has been focused on for the last several years.

It’s should also be no surprise that as leading thinkers like Dr. Zafar grapple with this thorny problem, that one of the tools fueling his research and spreading the results of his findings lies in YZafarsocial media.

Dr. Zafar is a GI Oncologist at DukeHealth and a health services researcher with a focus in improving care delivery for patients with advanced cancer. He has participated in multiple studies focusing on access to care, cost of care, and comparative effectiveness of care delivery between health systems. His primary area of interest is in the cost of cancer care with a special focus on its patient impact. His current work in this arena is focused on patient preferences regarding cost-related communication and decision-making.

Dr. Zafar was a very early adopter of twitter, having been active on the platform since 2007. “I use other platforms personally, but for professional purposes, twitter is definitely the best tool for me,” he told me in a brief interview yesterday. He’s been identified as one of the “Featured Voices” at the ASCO annual meeting in Chicago (#ASCO16), a good choice – the number of Dr. Zafar’s physician followers on twitter puts him in the 97th percentile of all US oncologists. He has been actively involved in the online backchannel of #ASCO16 this far. Below is a map of the physician-to-physician conversations on the first day of ASCO (June 3) – as you can see, Dr. Zafar’s twitter handle (@yzafar) is quite central to the conversation. [NOTE: Click up the number of nodes on the chart to see the full conversation; it’s even more dramatic when you “zoom out.”

That active involvement has resulted in additional visibility for Dr. Zafar and his work – and bringing increasing attention to the issues around healthcare costs is really important to him. “One of the things that has been great to see at ASCO is that we’ve not only been using social media to help connect physicians to the latest research, but also to help patients relate their own stories and experiences to that research,” says Dr. Zafar. In fact, Dr. Zafar tends to learn as much from patients and their experiences as they do from him. “It’s really tough for a clinician who typically only has a few minutes with a patient to truly understand all of the issues associated with their broader experience of care.” Social media has helped to fill that gap.

In one of Dr. Zafar’s abstracts, he summarizes the situation in a very powerful way:

“Long-term solutions must focus on policy changes to reduce unsustainable drug prices and promote innovative insurance models. In the mean time, patients continue to struggle with high out-of-pocket costs. For more immediate solutions, we should look to the oncologist and patient. Oncologists should focus on the value of care delivered, encourage patient engagement on the topic of costs, and be better educated on financial resources available to patients. For their part, patients need improved cost-related health literacy so they are aware of potential costs and resources, and research should focus on how patients define high-value care. With a growing list of financial side effects induced by cancer treatment, the time has come to intervene on the “financial toxicity” of cancer care.”

– S. Yousuf Zafar, MD (JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2016) 108 (5): djv370
doi: 10.1093/jnci/djv370)

That shared responsibility for driving change is very consistent with what we’ve seen in the online health ecosystem – the convergence of health conversations among clinicians, patients, caregivers, policymakers, the media and the industry itself. Our thanks to Dr. Zafar for his great work & for taking the time to talk to us. Be sure to follow him on twitter (@yzafar) and in the media.

For more information about the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem and to download the 2016 Social Oncology Project report, just click below.

TheSocialOncologyReport-Cover-HiRes

Click to Download the 2016 Social Oncology Project Report


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Over the last several years, we’ve had the opportunity to study several people in the online health ecosystem who play multiple stakeholder roles (e.g., Patient-Peschattnerhysician or Patient-Journalist). Today I’m featuring one of the rare people who actually plays 3 pivotal roles in the online health ecosystem – Elaine Schattner, MD.

When she was practicing, Elaine was highly respected for her clinical acumen. But she’s also a breast cancer survivor and a noted healthcare journalist (she’s a regular contributor at Forbes, among others). This has given her a truly unique perspective on the way that different populations perceive and interact with the healthcare system – and their own health.

The way that Elaine engages online reflects her multiple perspectives – and her broad interests. During calendar year 2015, she mentioned 1,327 unique twitter handles (including at least 171 doctors, 77 patients, 173 reporters and 134 media outlets). She also shared links to 570 different outlets (including sources as diverse as Medscape, Nature, the New England Journal of Medicine, StatNews.com, Brainpickings.com and PeterUbel.com.)

And her audience is equally diverse. Among her more-than 11,600 followers are at least 1,200 physicians (putting her in the 99th percentile of doctors most followed by her US peers) and remarkably over 1,100 patients, caregivers and patient advocacy groups – more than any other US Oncologist. And it’s not just Elaine’s following that’s particularly strong and diverse; she also engages that audience broadly with the content she shares. During 2015, she was mentioned (or her articles linked to) over 3,600 times by nearly 1,000 people and organizations in the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem database. And those engagements reflect her audience’s diversity as well:

  • 42% from fellow physicians
  • 35% from patients, caregivers and patient advocacy groups
  • 10% from reporters and media outlets
  • 13% from people and organizations in the healthcare industry

It’s a rare individual, physician or not, that can reach an audience of that size, breadth and relevance to the healthcare system. What is it that’s makes Dr. Schattner so successful in building and engaging that audience?

“On social media, as in real life, many people – in their social groups, or among colleagues – tend to nod their heads, to reiterate or rephrase what’s popular, or what they think their employer or network will favor. On twitter, that ends up generating a lot of retweets within groups of like-minded followers. But that kind of chatter doesn’t broaden anyone’s knowledge base; it reinforces silos. It’s neither interesting, nor helpful to science, or health, or anything really. I like to add new ideas to a conversation. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

– Elaine Schattner, MD

SchattnerMostFollowersSnapshot-300x203Dr. Schattner has been particularly impactful in the online conversation about breast cancer. Among the tens of thousands of participants in that conversation from the MDigitalLife Online Health Ecosystem, Dr. Schattner is the 3rd most-followed, behind only USA Today healthcare reporter Liz Szabo (@LizSzabo) and #BCSM twitter chat co-moderator Deanna Attai, MD (@DrAttai) – and followed closely by #BCSM chat co-moderator and breast cancer survivor Alicia Staley (@stales). This is even more intriguing, because Dr. Schattner rarely participates directly in the #BCSM chat – a huge driver of conversation in the breast cancer community.

“I don’t often participate in twitter chats. They provide great value for many people, but don’t fit very well with my preferred mode of engagement. I tend to have more one-on-one or small-group conversations. When things move so quickly – as they do in twitter chats, it’s harder for me to be able to do really get to know people and to understand their perspectives.” – Elaine Schattner, MD

The rise of the social media has completely changed the way that the health ecosystem interacts. As health becomes an increasingly important topic in the 21st century, the ability to connect the stakeholders – all of them – is both valuable and necessary. Led by pioneering bridge-builders like Dr. Elaine Schattner, we can be confident that a shared understanding is both possible and on its way more quickly than we could have imagined.

“I’ve always been the kind of person who speaks her mind. I’m not afraid to say and write what I think, and as an independent journalist I am free to do so. I’m not afraid to challenge the opinions of powerful individuals, including physicians in positions of leadership, journalists and others. People know that about me, and maybe some respect me for doing so. Pretty much everything I say, or share on-line, reflects what I think matters for patients. Some may trust me for that reason, even when they disagree.”

– Elaine Schattner, MD

TheSocialOncologyReport-Cover-HiRes

Click to Download the 2016 Social Oncology Project Report


Learn more about W2O Group:  About  Work  Contact

Advocacy in the age of social oncology is no longer about simply “raising awareness” or boosting funding. According to Samantha Watson, who founded the The Samfund after her own experience as a young adult with cancer, those who are battling cancer, and those who did, are clear that they are looking for community and emotional support as much as they are financial resources.

While the analysis of hashtag communities that provided the backbone of this year’s edition of The Social Oncology Project found that advocates have huge influence in drawing attention to high-quality information resources, Watson’s experience suggests that information-sharing is just the tip of what can be accomplished through online networks.

Watson’s primary goal is providing grants; her group has given nearly $2 million to young adults dealing with cancer-related challenges, from medical care to financial assistance for adoption. But Watson said that the Samfund recognizes that they have a role to play in building online communities, too.

Watson discussed the new realities with us in advance of the ASCO meeting; if you want to carry on the conversation, please seek out Watson’s booth on the expo floor:

Samfund is mostly young adults. Is there a sense that this new generation of survivors is connected differently because of technology?

“Social media makes it much easier to reach people we could never reach via traditional media. Peer-to-peer efforts are critical for our fundraising. We have all of these people who are connected to Samfund, and each of them has online networks, so there is a ripple effect. We can share stories, and it’s amazing to see how so many people share them. We couldn’t do that if we were relying on newsletters and emails.

The online community has been huge. Half of our grantees are part of a private Facebook group. Watching them support each other has been huge. Social media gives them a place to assemble.

There will always be some problems that we, as an organization, can’t help with. But with our network, with our Facebook group, there is always at least one person, often more, who can chime in and say ‘I’ve been there.’”

You’ve written about crowdfunding before. How does that element intersect with this new type of communication?

“Crowdfunding is huge for our community. I was treated before social media, but an earlier version of crowdfunding helped me. It was totally lifesaving. When someone you know goes through an illness, the impulse is to ask what you can do to help. But for people who are far away, there hasn’t always been a good answer to the question ‘what can I do?’ That’s changing.

We still have to deal with how uncomfortable asking for money makes people. But that isn’t something that the young adult with cancer has to deal with. Setting up a campaign for someone is a great way for friends or family to help out.”

Are there drawbacks? Does building a national—but virtual—network isolate in its own way?

“We’ve tried really hard to get the best of both worlds. It’s important to have real-world experiences. But having a connection even with those far away is important, too. For someone who is skipping their meds and is geographically isolated, finding a community online is critical. We keep our eye on that a lot.”

What online resources have you or your grantees been able to tap into?

“We send every grantee all of our resources: our webpage and the private Facebook group and Instagram and Twitter. And we ask our grantees to help us out by sharing. We learned at our recent meeting for ‘Sambassadors’ that that is what is most important. In talking to them about what we do, no one mentioned the $1.6 million we’ve given out in grants. Instead, what they kept talking about was feeling hopeful again and feeling confident again, and how that came from being a part of a community.”

Download The Social Oncology Project 2016 here.

Download The Social Oncology Project 2016 here.

Today, we’re releasing the fourth version of our annual report, The Social Oncology Project, a comprehensive review of conversations about oncology happening on publicly facing social media.

Before I note some of the lessons we learned from this year’s report, I wanted to flag how the lessons we’ve learned over the previous three years colored our approach. Our initial impulse in surveying the online landscape was to understand WHAT was being said about cancer. That helped us better understand the ebbs and flows of topics discussed online and impressed us with the pure volume of conversations.

But what we found was that trying to make sense of every last tweet about cancer could be misleading. We found a lot of tweets, but there was a lot of low-value conversation. It was difficult to draw firm conclusions about WHAT was being said without knowing WHO was talking.

So this year, we’ve boosted the signal-to-noise ratio by looking at four specific groups of online influencers who have demonstrated influence and high-quality discussions: doctors, advocates, patients and media. Though the lines between these groups are not always bright, categorizing online voices with more precision offers a more complete picture of what is truly happening in social oncology.

By looking at these four groups, across five different cancer types and two specific topics (immunotherapy and value in cancer care), we’ve gleaned four key truths about the state of the online oncology conversation:

  • Connections > Volume. For every cancer we assessed, we plotted a network graph, showing how every member of the community was connected to every other. What we found was that it wasn’t always the person posting the most that had the most influence: it was the individual whose network knit together the more diverse coalition.
  • Video is King. We also looked at thousands of links shared within hashtag communities. And despite the fact that oncology is not necessarily a visually-driven medium, we saw YouTube emerge time and time again as a site that was frequently shared, especially by patient and advocates. In a world in which we all have video cameras in our pocket, video will only play a larger role in communication around oncology.
  • News Doesn’t Drive Education. When hashtag communities look for new information, they tended to either go right to the source (peer-reviewed publications) or vetted medical information from the government or large cancer centers. News stories drive relative few conversations, suggesting that what’s new isn’t necessarily what is important, especially for clinicians and patients.
  • Doctors Serve as a Bridge to Information. Physicians in the network, across nearly every subject we analyzed, were unique in that they pushed peer-reviewed data out across the network, not watered-down summaries of research. Navigating the scientific literature can be hard—not because non-physicians can’t understand it, but because separating wheat from chaff is not always straightforward—and by directing attention to key papers, physicians play a vital role.

All of this may beg the question of what’s next. Our conversations with thought leaders—some of which are included in the report and some of which will appear on the blog in the days to come—suggest that the next big thing is smaller conversations. Though large, hashtag-driven discussions are not a part of the fabric of online conversations, we’re hearing more about the way that smaller communities can come together for information exchange in private messages, closed Facebook groups or crowdfunding platforms.

While network size will continue to be factor in making sure that the right people find each other, we look forward to exploring a future in which a kaleidoscope of small, interlocked groups drive social oncology to new places.

Download The Social Oncology Project 2016 here

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The learning continues at a fast pace at the Baylor, Scott & White Digital Summit.  In our technology innovations panel this afternoon, we were joined by Chris Raps, VP & Americas Sales Director at NASDAQ; Beth Meyer, Director Strategic Marketing, Greatbatch; Colin McCarthy, senior manager of business development, Witricity; and Jeroen Brouwer, Marketing, Sales and Business Development Director, Philips.  Here are the key insights I heard as moderator of the panel.

#1 – Security and important paperwork lead to online solutions – we can’t afford to leave board books out in the open or the results of a formulary meeting or any other sensitive topic.  We can share content, do surveys, hold Q&As and basically operate with full security if we work with new, leading-edge solutions like NASDAQ has created for boards of directors.  I have to say that I never realized NASDAQ did more than run their exchange…..now we know they are very aligned with the interests of healthcare leaders.

#2 – We can power devices in new ways – Witricity and Greatbatch explained to us the power of wireless energy transfer.  Imagine having a pacemaker and it can be charged wirelessly via a simple wireless energy transfer device. Yes, this technology can allow us to get rid of annoying cords for our computer devices, but it is the impact it can have on medical devices and machines that is of highest interest for the future.

#3 – The last mile is happening – Jeroen talked about how Philips is innovating in home care, telehealth, remote patient monitoring and other key areas that all move care closer to the patient.  This is all part of a move to connect patients to the health system when and where they need it.

#4 – The automated coach – it’s getting more real for us to get coached in an individualized way, based on information received from the devices we use.  How we use devices can help us learn about behavior, how we are doing vs. our goals, how we can learn to change an important process or we can just get a personalized message.

#5 – The biggest hurdles in healthcare – Beth said it is the time to market and the cost associated with it.  In particular, she focused on the importance of achieving adoption of technology, which is driven by innovative value and personal experience.  Chris echoed that user experience also matters and, in the case of NASDAQ, being HIPAA compliant as well.   Jeroen said it is adoption.  He said that if you have the right proposition that can prove outcomes, then the health system will adopt your product.

And I would like to end with a quick summary of key insights from emerging companies that presented today. Here are a few insights.

Bloom Technologies provides data to inform prenatal health decisions.  What I did not know is that we spend $26 billion per year in the U.S. taking care of pre-term babies.  There are 15 million pre-term births each year and it is the #1 killer of children under 5 years of age.  Bloom Technologies is exploring how to improve this situation.

The U.S. average wait time to see a dermatologist is 29 days, something that 3Derm Systems takes very seriously to decrease wait times for patients and costs for doctors. They believe telemedicine can become the new standard of care

SwipeSense imagines a day where we have “hand cleanliness accountability”. We know how important it is to keep our hands clean, particularly in medical situations.

Echo Pixel believes medical imaging is incomplete, so they are building a 3D solution for physicians to see clinical situations, like atrial fibrillation. More clarity, better outcomes is the idea.  They want professionals to interact with patient images in an open 3D space.

Quartet Health is focused on behavioral health conditions. They are matching patients to behavioral health networks and helping both stay on track of the healthcare plan. This can reduce expenses across the board.  Their goal is to build a collaborative behavioral and physician health ecosystem.

Eko Devices believes it is time to create a next generation, bluetooth enabled stethoscope that decreases/eliminates pathogens, includes telehealth applications and transfers data.

Tute Genomics is focused on whole genome sequencing. They believe every patient needs an answer and time makes a difference to know what to do and their goal is to bring genome analysis to the masses.

AliveCor develops mobile technology for heart health.

WiserTogether is delivering solutions in which clinicians and patients communicate together using the best available evidence when faced with the task of making a decision.

Senscio Systems combines sensor development with artificial intelligence technologies to built intelligent systems to transform data into knowledge for decision making.

Proteus has created a sensor-enabled pill, a small wearable patch, and applications that can be accessed via mobile devices and other computers by patients and healthcare providers. Called Proteus Discover, it directly measures medication-taking and physiologic metrics to support patient self-management and to help physicians and care teams optimize therapy

And Rimidi has a diabetes management platform to empower providers and engage individuals to more successfully manage this disease.


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The two most disruptive and important industries that shape our society are healthcare and technology.  They are drivers of the world’s economy and how we live our lives.

Today, at the Baylor Scott & White Digital Health Summit we heard from Dr. Nick Van Terheyden, Chief Medical Officer of Dell; Dr. Sean Kelly, Chief Medical Officer of Imprivata; Fred Trotter, Founder of Careset and Alan Minney, North America Mobile Practice leader for IBM talk about what is changing the face of healthcare. Here are the highlights:

#1 – We have a long way to go – medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S., we have 387 million people who have diabetes worldwide and 44 million people with some form of cancer.  We have a tremendous opportunity for technology and health experts to make a difference.

#2 – Our healthcare information needs to be available when we want it – as Sean Kelly said, we don’t talk about tele-banking, we just go online to get our banking information.  But in health, we talk about tele-medicine and make it sound mysterious.  As Nick added, “we don’t online, we live online”.  It is time for our health information to be available to us 365.

#3 – We need to build smart filters, not worry about big data – Nick pointed out that we can harness data of virtually any type today. That’s not the issue. Rather, we need to be focused on building the right filtering mechanisms so we get the information we need when we need it…..without any noise.

#4 – What is AI and how is it meaningful? – Alan described the importance of AI, Watson and IBM’s commitment to health right up through their CEO, Ginni Rometty.  Powerful.  Nick pointed out and the panel agreed that artificial intelligence (AI) won’t replace medical providers or what humans do today.  Instead, it will provide “augmented intelligence” and help us serve patients more effectively.

#5 – Failure is at the heart of innovation – lest we forget, Sean reminded us that “failure is the heart of innovation”.  Alan said it another way when he was discussing mobile technology and encouraged the audience to simply try….try pilots, dive in the river.  We have to try, fail, repeat and then succeed.  Technology and medicine are similar in this regard, as is science overall. It’s iterative innovation that really leads to breakthroughs.

#6 – Experience matters…alot – a great lesson for the technology industry was emphasized by the panel.  You have to work on the front lines with providers if you want to create innovation that matters.  Great ideas won’t get formed in conference rooms. The real insights will occur in medical clinics and labs.  Important reminder for all innovators.

And on this topic, I spoke with Dr. Peter Dysert, who is Chief of Pathology at Baylor Scott & White Health.  He makes a great point that there are really three fundamental ways to improve healthcare and the world of medical providers.  They are:

Communications – improve and facilitate our ability to communicate.

Habits – make the right thing to do the easiest thing to do.

Informed Decision Making – just show me what I need to see.

If every company and entrepreneur worked against Dr. Dysert’s filter, we would accelerate innovation far faster.

#7 – CMS and HHS are changing the rules – Fred illustrated for us how rules are changing in a mature industry in many ways, but one example was very impactful.  CMS and HHS are changing the rules of healthcare due to the Affordable Care Act in an unprecedented and untrackable manner.  And what this means is that we have to be on our toes to understand the changes, adapt to new rules and still provide the best care possible.  We’ve never had a more important time to being pay full attention to how government is evolving our world of care.

#8 — Apple & IBM have partnered for 100+ healthcare apps – two of the world’s leading companies are investing the time to partner and build apps for 14 industries, including healthcare.  We need this type of applied knowledge from world leaders, but don’t forget point #6, IBM and Apple.

#9 — Improving the knowledge of all doctors can improve outcomes – Fred said it well when he said “what are the problems that the lowest ranked doctor in your healthcare system today and can AI help this doctor”?  In other words, we really can improve care via augmented intelligence.  We just need to ensure that habits change to accept it.

#10 – Simulations matter – Sean said that we should not be reaching for sexy technology.  We should, however, be running simulations to understand how to use technology more effectively.  Dr. Dysert made an analogy to airline pilots. They do technology simulations constantly, so they know what to do on the spot. It’s becoming time for medical providers to do simulations with this level of intensity.

Overall, this panel is a great example of how healthcare and technology are learning together in a manner that, quite frankly, didn’t happen years ago.  It’s time for us all to keep intensifying our knowledge sharing, since patients are waiting……and always will be….for us to collectively transform healthcare.


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W2O Group is excited to partner with Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) to launch their inaugural Digital Summit in Austin, TX today! The event was dreamed up as a way to connect executives at the BSWH with innovators across multiple industries to inspire them to improve patient and physician experiences by utilizing innovative technologies.

The summit will consist of speaker panels featuring proven innovators, health startups pitching for an accelerated path to a pilot at BSWH and an interactive session featuring hands on demos of innovative technologies changing the healthcare world.

To give you an idea of the companies participating in the summit, we asked a few of them to share some thoughts on what they would want the world to know about their organization and their work.

Greatbatch  & Witricity 

Wireless data transmission has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, yet we continue to struggle with power cords and power transfer limitations. Unlike the consumer electronics and automotive industries, where wireless energy is reaching an inflection point, the healthcare industry has yet to harness its potential.  With over 51 million surgeries taking place annually in US operating rooms that are frequently challenged with a tangle of procedure hampering cords, significant opportunity exists to apply wireless to untether the healthcare space for physicians and their patients, enabling therapy delivery with fewer limitations.

The time is now for the development of wireless power transfer, which holds the potential to improve how healthcare is delivered in myriad ways. For example, many of today’s active medical implantable devices are large, require several hours to recharge, and have limitations due to the efficiency and level of power that can be delivered.  Wireless power transfer will enable these devices to become much smaller, expanding surgical approach options for physicians, allowing deeper implantations and higher power levels, as well as eliminating the need for follow-on battery replacement surgery in some applications. Patients will experience improved comfort with easier charging.

Another area of potential improvement includes operating rooms and surgical tools. Today, surgical tools either utilize large rechargeable batteries or are tethered to an unwieldy cord that frequently tangles, presents tripping hazards, poses an increased infection risk and can negatively affect the ergonomics of the tool.  With wireless energy transfer, surgical tools will utilize smaller batteries or none at all, making them much easier to handle and increasing usability while eliminating time spent managing cords. These improvements may ultimately improve performance, shorten procedure times and positively impact patient outcomes.

Finally, significant opportunity exists to enhance the medical experience for patients, who often seem “wrapped” in cords.  One particularly poignant example of this involves a mother who was unable to hold her newborn in the NICU due to the cord web surrounding him.  And while it’s not a panacea, embedding the technology in a range of monitors, often in concert with wireless data, could significantly lessen the physical ties encumbering a patient.

Power and disruptive innovation are core to Greatbatch’s roots. Wilson Greatbatch, the co-inventor of the first successful implantable pacemaker, founded the company in 1970 to develop long-lived batteries to fuel life-saving/life-enhancing medical devices. Today, Greatbatch is one of the largest medical device outsource (MDO) manufacturers in the world, providing innovative, high quality medical technologies for the cardiac, neuromodulation, orthopedics, vascular, advanced surgical and portable medical markets. Our vision is to enhance the lives of patients worldwide by being our customers’ partner of choice for innovative medical technologies and services. We believe that advancing wireless energy is central to achieving this vision, as it will bring transformational change to healthcare and empower physicians, healthcare professionals and their patients. Together with WiTricity and our partners we look forward to building the wireless surgical suite, patient room and therapy and mobility devices of the future.

Spot On Sciences

Spot On Sciences, Inc. develops and markets innovative medical devices to improve collection and storage of biological fluids for medical testing. The premier product, HemaSpot™,  is a simple to use device for self sampling and robust storage/shipping of blood samples at room temperature. HemaSpot™ uses a finger stick to collect and dry blood within a protective cartridge which can be easily mailed to a medical test site for analysis.

80% of healthcare decisions are based on diagnostic testing, but costs only 2% of total healthcare expenditures. Precision medicine is highly dependent on personalized medical testing and thus improvements in diagnostic testing has been targeted as one of top requirements for improving health and reducing healthcare costs.

However, current methods for getting a blood sample by phlebotomy is outmoded, costly, inefficient and highly inconvenient and difficult for patients- especially for homebound, elderly and patients in remote areas.

 Spot On Sciences enables a new model for collecting blood samples and generating health data:  move the sample instead of requiring the patient or the lab to move.  Our new blood collection devices HemaSpot, makes blood sample collection and transport very easy and efficient and delivers a high-quality sample to a lab for detection of numerous markers for infectious disease and health status.  Mobilizing blood samples and delivering data by mobile phone offers a simple but powerful method for increasing access to health information, especially for remote or low resource areas.

HemaSpot, an innovative and easy to use device, enables a blood sample to be self-collected from any location and at any time.  Using a finger stick by lancet, two drops of blood are applied to the HemaSpot device and the blood wicks into a pre-cut absorbent paper.  The cartridge is then snapped closed and the blood is dried by a desiccant within the cartridge, leaving the sample stable at ambient temperature with no refrigeration or cold chain requirements.  The enclosed cartridge prevents sample contamination and reduces biohazard risk from downstream handling; the robust cartridge can literally be run over by a truck and dropped into water without damage.  Sample collection takes less than 5 minutes and is immediately ready for transport to a lab – via mail, dropbox, or even by drone – for analysis.

Two devices are currently on the market:  HemaSpot-HF for whole blood and HemaSpot-SE for separated blood (cells separated from plasma) from a fingerstick.

By making it easy and convenient for consumers to provide a blood sample, access to medical testing is improved for the entire population and especially for underserved populations such as elderly, home bound, low income and from remote areas.  For healthcare providers, having timely and increased access to test results could significantly improve diagnosis and improve patient health.  The HemaSpot blood collection device is a simple tool and solution that can revolutionize medical testing and allow us to realize the promise of precision and personalized medicine.

Imprivata

Imprivata, the healthcare IT security company, provides healthcare organizations globally with a security and identity platform that delivers authentication management, fast access to patient information, secure communications, and positive patient identification. In healthcare, it all starts with the patient and their protected health information (PHI), so healthcare organizations go through extraordinary means to put IT security systems in place – designed to keep PHI in, but not let it out – creating barriers to protect PHI such as complex passwords and security policies that impede workflow.

Imprivata removes those barriers, allowing care providers to securely and efficiently ACT: Access, Communicate, and Transact PHI to address critical compliance and security challenges while improving productivity and the patient experience. With Imprivata solutions, hospitals can correctly identify patients at registration and providers can access PHI conveniently on-site or at home, communicate PHI using multiple devices, and transact PHI for important clinical workflows, including electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) order signing and medical device access.

Imprivata offers a platform of security products designed to enable healthcare to ACT with patient information both securely and with conveniently, including:

  • Imprivata PatientSecure, the biometric patient identification platform that positively identifies patients using palm vein recognition, creating a 1:1 link between a patient and their health record across multiple systems. PatientSecure improves patient safety and minimizes patient identification mistakes and duplicate medical records that traditional oral and paper-based patient identification methods cause.
  • Imprivata OneSign, an enterprise-level single sign-on (SSO) and virtual desktop access solution that streamlines desktop roaming and automates access in one seamless, secure system. OneSign improves provider productivity and eliminates the user frustration, time inefficiencies, and security issues that password-heavy access systems cause.
  • Imprivata Cortext, a secure, integrated communications platform for healthcare. Cortext improves care coordination by replacing the inefficiencies of pagers and solving the security and compliance issues that unsecure texting practices cause.
  • Imprivata Confirm ID, the comprehensive identity and two-factor authentication platform for remote access, EPCS, medical device access, and other clinical authentication workflows. Confirm ID offers the broadest and most flexible range of authentication options to eliminate the barriers to transacting patient information that traditional authentication technologies cause.

We are so excited to learn and be inspired by the companies that will be participating in the summit. Check back soon to learn about the additional companies that will be participating in today’s summit!

 

It is with great pride that I introduce today’s guest. I’ve known John Hallock for over 10 years…back when it felt like we were the only two people in the free world working in health IT marketing and communications. Today, John is vice president of corporate communications for Imprivata. For those of you who know John, you know that he has a natural gift for storytelling.  As we were both waiting to fly back on the red eye from last week’s HIMSS, I seized the opportunity to hit him up with questions. He didn’t disappoint. Read on…

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What does your company do?

Imprivata is one of the largest health IT security companies in the world. We serve 1,500 healthcare organizations across the globe. Our technology allows providers to securely access, communicate, and transact patient information securely. As we see it, digital health is at an inflection point: It is no longer about driving EHR adoption, but about how we connect those EHRs and allow information to follow the patient. As more and more healthcare moves online, we are a vital ingredient.

Describe the role that you and your team play in advancing the company mission.

I oversee all corporate communications, which includes media relations, government affairs, analyst relations and some internal communications along with HR of course. It’s an exciting time. We went public 18 months ago. There is a lot of growth and the organization is scaling quickly. Communications – both external and internal – is critical for keeping everyone on the same page, setting expectations and explaining how we innovate and launch new products.

What is your biggest success in the last year and why does this make you proud?

I joined the firm about a year ago. The company wanted to increase focus on business media and national media and I had a lot of experience doing that at athenahealth and CareCloud. Over my career, I’ve primarily worked with healthcare technology companies. Unless it’s Apple or some wildly successful online service, you need to very quickly figure out how you can tie the company’s products to the issues that matter most to clients and the public at large. With most companies, you’re lucky if you have one or two products that can do that. Early on at athenahealth we had to work hard just to get people to realize how big of an issue medical billing was. At Imprivata, I am lucky to have three.

For example and right out of the gate, I focused on electronic prescribing for controlled substances. Why? Because our solution is designed to address a high profile and important issue – addiction to prescription painkillers, which has become a nationwide epidemic. Imprivata sells the security technology that allows physicians to securely send electronic prescriptions for controlled substances to a pharmacy. Replacing paper prescriptions with electronic prescriptions is seen by experts as a big step in preventing doctor shopping and drug diversion – i.e., when people with addiction problems go from doctor to doctor collecting prescriptions for painkillers and other controlled substances. We saw immediate national press and the opportunity for real thought leadership that educated audiences on the issue and made the case for change.

We are about to take a similar, but more lighthearted approach to helping rid the medical profession of pagers. We also have a great deal to say about patient identification with our new Palm-Vein biometric patient ID platform. It plays directly into the interoperability discussion underway across the industry right now.

How many years have you been going to HIMSS and what’s changed the most?

This was my 12th. In terms of what’s changed the most, two things come to mind. First, security has become a leading topic. That was overdue and I’d like to think Imprivata has had something to do with getting people talking about it. And second, I would have to say…Allscripts’ colors. Every year I look forward to seeing what Allscripts’ new corporate colors are going to be as they pretty have much covered the spectrum at this point.

Outside of work, what are your favorite things to do?

I played golf in college and recently got back into it. One thing I can’t quite figure out is…based on the way most technology folks swing a club, it is a mystery as to why they would ever want to go near a golf course, much less sponsor the sport. Mind you, that’s not a commentary on my boss or CEO – they hit em straight every time (chuckle).

When I’m not on the golf course, I’m evaluating talent for the upcoming NFL draft. Belechick and Tom have me on retainer so this time of year I’m either breaking down film or I’ve got a stop watch and clipboard in hand. I’m only half joking – I do these things, but the Coach knows nothing about it. Also, I am proud to report that I no longer get into Brady/Manning debates with strangers at airport bars.

How do you empower and motivate your employees to do their best possible work?

Early in my career, I worked at a few big agencies — writing, doing media relations…the usual stuff. If you’re lucky, you get exposed to some bosses that show you how to be part of a team. It’s always great to be singled out as a top performer, but your impact will always be limited if you don’t learn how to collaborate with all the folks on your team. When I went to athenahealth, I tried to build and run a team that gave everyone the support they needed and allowed them to do their best work – and I had some success and failures on that front for sure. We are doing the same here at Imprivata. Once you become a manager, your job is to set others up to be successful. That can take some people a long time to learn — it certainly didn’t happen overnight for me. Of course, I still like picking up the damn phone and calling a reporter or producer and getting the big hit as well.

If a PR/Marketing God exists, what would you like to hear that God say when you arrive at the pearly gates? (my spin on James Lipton’s famous last question from Inside the Actor’s Studio)

If I can get there, and that’s very much up for debate, I would want to hear…”Listen, you did really well for a kid who never really learned to type. You told some stories that changed the healthcare system and impacted peoples’ lives. Kid from Worcester, so all things considered, ya done good.” Something like that. I am still working on my book “Travels with Johnny.” You are in it Rob, but don’t worry…I left out the shenanigans at HIMSS’08 (smile and chuckle).

In 2016, it should be no surprise that many doctors have translated their offline influence into social influence, sharing health information with colleagues and patients. While HIPAA and the need to maintain patient privacy are well understood by physicians, what is less understood is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidance on social media. In order to protect the general public and ensure that online influencers are transparent about payment and gifts, the FTC issued Endorsement Guides. The FTC suggests that this be accomplished using hashtags such as #ad, #paid, #sponsored or #promoted in posts.

STATNews recently highlighted a few physicians who did not make their relationship with biopharma companies readily apparent when commenting on the company products. When we work with physicians to educate them on using social media, central to this effort is how to use it appropriately, including an explanation of the FTC regulations. The FTC notes that “if there’s a connection between an endorser and the marketer that consumers would not expect and it would affect how consumers evaluate the endorsement, that connection should be disclosed.”

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What’s a Physician To Do?

If a physician is working with a biopharma company and is being compensated for their expertise as a key opinion leader (KOL), we recommend that this be disclosed. One way is to add a hashtag with the name of the company and the acronym KOL (#CompanyKOL) to social posts. This makes it clear that the physician has a relationship with the company. In order to provide this clarity, one of our clients requests the healthcare professionals use #spokesperson in their posts. And, because the relationships between healthcare professionals and biopharma companies can be multi-faceted, another way to highlight the connection is for the physician to add a link to in their bio that explains the details, such as involvement in clinical trials.

It’s also important to note that, similar to bloggers, the physicians are not being paid for their positive opinion, but for their expertise. Consumers want to hear from physicians and learn from them. It’s just important that the context is apparent.

Always Keep Fair Balance in Mind

Many physicians also aren’t aware of the complex Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on promoting drugs. This includes the need to include “fair balance” (i.e. if you feature the benefits of a medication, you need to equally feature the potential risks). The FDA is clear that this requirement needs to be maintained even when there are only 140 characters on Twitter. A link to the important safety information does not suffice.

When working with influencers, whether patients or physicians, we always share the FDA and FTC guidelines so that they can make educated choices when sharing on social. No matter who you are, authenticity and transparency are essential to building relationships via social media.