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Virtual care, week of 6/12/20
In a strange way, healthcare seems to be reverting back to a style that had gone out of fashion many years ago, with an increased amount of health taking place in the home. There are now around 12 million people who are now getting in-home care, from more than 33,000 providers, and last year the annual expenditures for home health care were projected to be over $72 billion.
This is thanks, in large part, to technology and, more specifically, to connected in-home devices that can easily collect and send data to a physician in real-time. This allows patients to be monitored remotely, without constant trips to the doctor, and for physicians to do more timely interventions based on patterns picked up by AI and machine learning.
In July, Vator, HP and UCSF Health Hub will be holding an event centered around these devices, and how they are affecting the healthtech space. Every week until then we will be doing a roundup of some of the news around in-home devices and what some of the major tech companies are up to in this space.
Binah.ai, a provider AI-powered video-based monitoring tools, raised $13.5 million in a Series B round led by Maverick Ventures Israel, along with previous investors Esplanade Ventures, Sompo International, GiTV and iAngels. This brings the company's total funding to $15 million.
Founded in 2016, by Maman, Konstantin Gedalin, Ph.D, and Michael Markzon, the Israel-based Binah (which is the Hebrew word for "intelligence") takes the same kind of technology that is used in a device like the Apple Watch to detect vital, while not needing the device itself.
"If you take a look at the back of any smartwatch, you can see blinking lights. Those kind of sensors actually use a technology called PPG, photoplethysmography. The PPG works in a way that they send a light beam to your skin that can see the tiny color changes of the skin that provides you an indication of the blood flow. By extracting this kind of a PPG signal, they can actually understand your heart rate and other types of measurements," David Maman, CEO and co-founder of Binah, told VatorNews.
"What we are able to do is, instead of sending a light beam, we're actually analyzing the light that is reflected from the cheeks of the person to the camera of the smartphone. And we are extracting the same exact signal of PPG, which is referred to as RPPG, or remote PPG. So, we're able to extract the exact same signal that you can actually get with an Apple Watch, just by using the smartphone camera."
Binah itself isn't a telemedicine company that is using this technology to get the vitals of its patients; rather, the company supplies the underlying technology that telemedicine companies can include in their solution.
It currently has 36 paying customers, and is in evaluation with about another hundred or so. One of its customers is also now an investor: Sompo, one of the biggest insurance companies in Japan, which uses the technology to extract vital signs in real-time from their customers. Another one of Binah's customers is corporate wellness platform BurnAlong, which now includes the technology in its application.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the Emergency Use Authorization request made by computational genomics company Phosphorus for its saliva test for COVID-19, which features at-home sample collection. The test is available by ordering online, as well as through health care and employer partnerships aimed at safely resuming operations.
This is only the second at-home unsupervised saliva test approved so far by the FDA.
To order the tests, consumers order the test through the online checkout process after completing a medical questionnaire. An independent physician review the medical information and, once approved, a sample collection kit will be shipped to the consumer's home. Test results will be available within 72 hours after receipt at the laboratory and will be accompanied by a consultation from medical personnel.
Phosphorus is also partnering with health care facilities and employers to conduct COVID-19 testing while limiting exposure risks by collecting samples at home.
"COVID testing is essential to getting life back to normal. This test will allow people from coast to coast to be tested from the safety of their homes with the oversight of medical personnel," Alexander Bisignano, co-founder and CEO of Phosphorus, said in a statement. "We thank the FDA for their hard work throughout this crisis and the quick action they have taken. We look forward to helping the country re-open."
Founded in 2016, Phosperous has raised $23.4 million in venture funding.
Cue Health, a healthcare technology company that manufactures medical diagnostic products for use in home and clinical settings, raised $100 million in new capital from Decheng Capital, Foresite Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, ACME Capital and other investment firms.
Proceeds from the financing will be used to complete development, validation, and scale-up of manufacturing of the Cue Health Monitoring System and Cue Test Cartridges. Cue’s operations, including manufacturing, are vertically integrated and currently occupy approximately 55,000sqft in San Diego, CA USA. The company plans to increase its footprint to over 110,000 square feet to better support development and commercialization of its products.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a rapid, easy-to-use platform for diagnostics in decentralized settings to respond to existing and emerging threats. Healthcare settings such as nursing homes, emergency departments, and community health clinics need tools to allow them to access molecular test information immediately rather than waiting hours or days for lab results. Cue is grateful that our team’s years of hard work and preparation have put us in a position to assist with the current emergency and future threats,” Ayub Khattak, co-founder and CEO of Cue, said in a statement.
In April, Cue Health was awarded a $13 million contract to accelerate the development, validation and FDA clearance of a portable, molecular diagnostic test capable of detecting COVID-19 in less than 25 minutes using a simple nasal swab.
ChristianaCare, a network of private, non-profit hospitals providing health care services to all of the U.S. state of Delaware and parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey, launched a new virtual telehealth service called The Employee COVID-19 Symptom Monitoring and Testing Program. It is designed for businesses and employers, providing daily monitoring of employees for COVID-19 symptoms, testing, if needed, and care for employees who test positive.
Prior to the start of work each day, employees receive a text message in English or Spanish with a few screening questions related to coronavirus symptoms. If employees indicate they have no symptoms, they receive an “All Clear” text that it is safe to report to work. If they indicate they have developed symptoms, they will receive a message that they are “Not Cleared” and should not report to work. A registered nurse from the CareVio team will reach out for further evaluation. CareVio is ChristianaCare’s care management program.
If the nurse identifies positive coronavirus symptoms, employees are urged to see a provider in ChristianaCare’s COVID-19 Virtual Practice through a tele-visit or visit their own primary care provider. If employees choose the COVID-19 Virtual Practice, they may be sent for a test. If the test is positive and they have symptoms of coronavirus, CareVio will monitor them several times each day to make sure they are improving. If symptoms progress, CareVio will arrange for another tele-visit with the COVID-19 Virtual Practice.
There are 12 employers in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Louisiana and Arizona who are using the ChristianaCare Employee COVID-19 program, including those in the construction and transportation spaces, as well as health care facilities and nursing homes. The program is currently monitoring nearly 5,000 people.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated ChristianaCare’s digital and virtual transformation in ways we could never have imagined, and today we are delivering highly coordinated care through telehealth and virtual visits,” Sharon Anderson, RN, BSN, MS, FACHE, chief virtual health officer at ChristianaCare, said in a statement. “By using the Employee COVID-19 Symptom Monitoring and Testing Program, employers can take a proactive, responsible step to ensure the well-being of their workforce and be confident they are partnering with an experienced and trusted health care team that has successfully monitored patients remotely for many years through our CareVio care management program.
(Image source: olympiabenefits.com)
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