Easterseals | June 23, 2022
Easterseals announced today that it has received a grant of $750,000 from the Abbott Fund, the foundation of the global healthcare company Abbott, to pilot the Project on Education and Community Health Equity from now through 2025. The three-year project aims to address systemic barriers to high-quality education and healthcare experienced by children and families in underinvested communities.
Research shows that many young children, particularly children with disabilities and children of color, face significant gaps in access to crucial health and social services that can provide the targeted support they need to be prepared to succeed in school. One example: according to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Black children with autism and other disabilities are diagnosed an average of more than three years after their parents expressed concerns about their development. This delay in diagnosis means these children miss out on age-appropriate care and the chance to improve their health and cognitive skills, often resulting in them entering kindergarten with knowledge and skill deficits that many are not able to overcome throughout their K-12 educational journey.
The Project on Education and Community Health Equity will create an integrated system that addresses the educational and healthcare needs of children to help them be kindergarten ready and reach their full potential. This includes work in three areas: expanding access to essential physical and mental health screenings and care for children; providing targeted social services to help families overcome gaps in basic needs, nutrition, transportation, and other social and economic barriers; and ensuring that early childhood administrators and educators have the right training to identify and address health and social challenges and provide culturally appropriate support for children. The project will be implemented at Easterseals Childhood Development Centers in Southern California, Atlanta and North Georgia, and the greater Washington, D.C., area.
"Addressing the healthcare needs of infants and toddlers as early as possible in their lives is one of the critical ways in which Easterseals serves young children and families across the country. The Project on Education and Community Health Equity will allow us to better address healthcare disparities experienced by young BIPOC children and their families in historically underserved and marginalized communities, and to better understand the connection between more equitable access to healthcare and kindergarten readiness. Centering communities of color in our efforts is a critical strategy to close the gap. Outcomes from the project promise to inform its future expansion to early childhood and early education programs throughout the Easterseals Network of 70 affiliates in communities nationwide."
Erika L. Watson, National Director of Childhood Development, Education and Equity at Easterseals
"We're proud to support Easterseals' important work to help close equity gaps in education and community health," said Melissa Brotz, president of the Abbott Fund and vice president of Global Marketing and External Affairs at Abbott. "We're committed to advancing health equity and fighting racial health disparities, and our partnership with Easterseals will help reduce barriers to care for children, their families and their communities."
The Project on Education and Community Health Equity builds on results seen through another Easterseals program, the Black Child Fund. Launched in 2021 with support from the Abbott Fund and others, the Black Child Fund advanced early identification and interventions among Black children with autism and other disabilities to reduce health disparities often experienced in early childhood. The Abbott Fund investment launched pilots at Easterseals locations serving Chicagoland and Greater Rockford, DuPage and the Fox Valley Region (IL), and Kansas City and St. Louis (MO).
Through these pilot programs, an 87% increase in the number of Black families seeking services and support was realized, with more than 300 Black children screened for early diagnosis of autism and other disabilities in just one year. Of these children, 80% were five years old or younger, with 75% requiring and receiving additional services through Easterseals. An important outcome of these pilots has been the strengthening of relationships within Black communities across these Easterseals service areas to ensure more equitable and more culturally responsive services and supports to young children of color with disabilities and their families.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released data revealing that during the pandemic public health emergency, rates for primary and preventive services among children in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) declined substantially. This decline in care for millions of children from low-income families will potentially have a significant impact on long-term health outcomes for the nearly 40 million children in the U.S. who rely on Medicaid and CHIP, including three-quarters of children living in poverty and many with special healthcare needs including infants, toddlers, and young children with disabilities.
"Through the Project on Education and Community Health Equity, it is Easterseals' intention to address the disparities in healthcare among young children in low-investment communities and to understand the connection between health equity and early childhood educational attainment. We intend to center the experiences of children of color and their families, for whom inequities have only been exacerbated because of the pandemic," Watson concluded.
The Abbott Fund's partnership with Easterseals supports Abbott's 2030 Sustainability Plan, which aims to advance health access and equity through partnership. Abbott's ongoing commitment to address health equity challenges includes targeted programs to increase diversity in clinical trials, create opportunities in STEM for women and underrepresented groups, and empower communities to break down social and economic barriers to better health.
Easterseals is leading the way to full equity, inclusion, and access through life-changing disability and community services. For more than 100 years, we have worked tirelessly with our partners to enhance quality of life and expand local access to healthcare, education, and employment opportunities. And we won't rest until every one of us is valued, respected, and accepted. Through our national network of Affiliates, Easterseals provides essential services and on-the-ground supports to more than 1.5 million people each year – from early childhood programs for the critical first five years, to autism services, medical rehabilitation and employment programs, veterans' services, and more. Our public education, policy, and advocacy initiatives positively shape perceptions and address the urgent and evolving needs of the one in four Americans living with disabilities today. Together, we're empowering people with disabilities, families, and communities to be full and equal participants in society.
About Abbott and the Abbott Fund
Abbott is a global healthcare leader that helps people live more fully at all stages of life. Our portfolio of life-changing technologies spans the spectrum of healthcare, with leading businesses and products in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic medicines. Our 113,000 colleagues serve people in more than 160 countries.
MCI Onehealth Technologies, Inc. | July 29, 2022
MCI Onehealth Technologies Inc. a clinician-led healthcare technology company focused on increasing access to and quality of healthcare, and MDClone, a digital health company and leader in synthetic data, are pleased to announce an advanced clinical intelligence offering for their global partners. This offering combines real-world health insights with mirrored synthetic data to power deeper research and inspire novel therapeutic development.
“MCI’s collaboration with MDClone will provide our partners with greater access to high-value data-insights-as-a-service for an array of research, clinical and data science needs. Whether through MCI’s clinic network, international healthcare providers, or pharmaceutical, life sciences and biotech partners, our mutually enhanced insights will help to quickly translate healthcare data and research into improved health and quality of life for patients.”
Dr. Alexander Dobranowski, MD, Chief Executive Officer of MCI
The real-world patient health journeys that MCI’s tech-enabled network is able to capture offer a comprehensive picture to researchers, who can benefit from a fuller perspective. The partnership between MCI and MDClone will leverage MDClone’s technology to load, organize and protect MCI-generated patient data and use this data to help find insights to improve care. In addition, MCI and MDClone intend to work together to improve data collection and curation to better serve the needs of applied healthcare research.
MDClone offers clients robust, detailed data for thorough end-to-end, real-world analysis. Using the MDClone ADAMS Platform analytics tools and synthetic data capabilities, clinicians, researchers, and healthcare professionals can explore healthcare data more efficiently to accelerate real-world evidence processes. With synthetic data capabilities at the forefront, users can leverage self-service tools to access, analyze, and share information without privacy concerns. Additionally, the real-time identification and extraction of information about a specific population of interest allows users at healthcare systems to overcome some of the common barriers that can slow clinical data projects’ progress.
“We’re thrilled to partner with innovators like MCI in the healthcare and life science industries and beyond. Together, we can provide tailored clinical insights that meet clients’ needs, and from those insights, MDClone can generate synthetic data that researchers can use to better understand disease progression, enhance care delivery, and develop new products that can improve patient outcomes,” said Josh Rubel, Chief Operating Officer of MDClone.
In keeping with its objective to be a preeminent health technology leader, MCI nurtures international opportunities to leverage its vast pool of high-quality structured clinical information. The MDClone ADAMS Platform’s unique ability to convert datasets and cohorts of interest into synthetic files that are statistically comparable to the original data, but composed entirely of artificial patients, aids in broader and more secure access and opens the doors to third-party access and larger-scale research impact.
MCI’s audience for health insights continues to grow in Canada and will further benefit from access to MDClone’s global roster of top-tier health system and pharma relationships. The collaboration with MDClone will accelerate MCI’s entry into the clinical insights and analytics sectors in the United States of America and Israel, including potential access to headquarter-level decision-makers of global pharma and life science leaders.
“Through this commercial arrangement, we each have the benefit of immediate introduction to the active client rosters of the other, and we each gain a superior — and unique — offering to acquire new partners, fueling the expansion of MCI’s health insight services into international markets,” added Dr. Dobranowski.
MCI is a healthcare technology company focused on empowering patients and doctors with advanced technologies to increase access, improve quality, and reduce healthcare costs. As part of the healthcare community for over 30 years, MCI operates one of Canada’s leading primary care networks with nearly 260 physicians and specialists, serves more than one million patients annually and had nearly 300,000 telehealth visits last year, including online visits via mciconnect.ca. MCI additionally offers an expanding suite of occupational health service offerings that support a growing list of nearly 600 corporate customers. Led by a proven management team of doctors and experienced executives, MCI remains focused on executing a strategy centered around acquiring technology and health services that complement the company’s current roadmap.
MDClone offers an innovative, self-service data analytics environment powering exploration, discovery, and collaboration throughout healthcare ecosystems cross-institutionally and globally. The powerful underlying infrastructure of the MDClone ADAMS Platform allows users to overcome common barriers in healthcare in order to organize, access, and protect the privacy of patient data while accelerating research, improving operations and quality, and driving innovation to deliver better patient outcomes. Founded in Israel in 2016, MDClone serves major health systems, payers, and life science customers in the United States, Canada, and Israel.
FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE
Virta Health | June 07, 2022
Virta Health, the leader in type 2 diabetes reversal, revealed preliminary five-year results from its landmark clinical trial at the American Diabetes Association 82nd Scientific Sessions. Presenting four unique abstracts, Virta highlighted myriad, lasting health improvements for people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, including blood sugar control, clinically-significant weight loss, reduced inflammation, and improvements in other markers of cardiometabolic health.
These transformative health outcomes coincided with medication reduction or elimination for many trial patients, including Jane Ann Dimitt.
For over two decades, Jane Ann was prescribed increasing levels of medications as her blood sugar and weight continued to climb. By the time she joined Virta in 2015, her A1c had reached 11.4%; the next step was insulin. Through Virta’s treatment, Jane Ann lowered her blood sugar to 5.5% (below even the prediabetes threshold) and lost over 50 pounds, while drastically reducing her reliance on medications. She also saw improved mobility, decreased inflammation and neuropathy, and now has the energy to play with her grandchildren—all without needing the insulin doctors said was imminent.
The outcomes of Jane Ann and Virta’s other trial patients contradict the belief that progression of diabetes—and a lifetime of increasing medications—is inevitable. One-fifth of Virta patients completing five years of treatment saw full remission. One-third of patients achieved A1c below 6.5% without any diabetes medications, or only requiring Metformin. Notably, inflammatory markers, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol all improved significantly.
These outcomes, in conjunction with previous research demonstrating improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors, depression symptoms, sleep, and knee pain, establish the promise of Virta’s approach to impact a wide range of conditions amid America’s metabolic disease epidemic. In the U.S., costs are rising as patient outcomes continue to worsen, including surges in amputations, hyperglycemic events, and diabetes-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, getting patients to stick with an intervention remains a significant challenge in diabetes therapy. Rates of medication adherence—that is, whether patients take their medications as prescribed—fall as low as 34% over the first three years for those starting insulin. For the National Diabetes Prevention Program, considered the gold standard in lifestyle interventions, only 13% of patients were retained at one year.
In contrast, in Virta’s trial nearly 50% of participants with type 2 diabetes were retained at five years. Of those who continued past year two, 72% remained for an additional three years to year five. For Kim Shepherd, who lost 55 pounds, eliminated 10 different medications, reversed her diabetes, and even saw her GERD (acid reflux) and plantar fasciitis disappear, the reasons to stick with the treatment are clear.
“Diabetes runs in my family, and I know that this disease can rob you of your whole life; it can take your eyes, your feet, and your kidneys. I have 4 kids and 9 grandkids to keep up with. I’ve learned to love hiking and biking. Nothing is worth losing all of that and going back to how I was before.”
Additional key outcomes demonstrating the success of Virta’s approach at five years include
Sustained blood sugar control. Virta patients experienced persistent improvements in blood sugar on average, while requiring significantly fewer medications.
Medication deprescription. Half of patients prescribed insulin at the start of the trial no longer needed it at five years. Across all diabetes drugs, prescriptions were reduced by nearly 50%.
Weight loss. Average weight among Virta participants decreased by 7.6%, exceeding the 5% benchmark for clinically significant weight loss by more than 50%.
Broad improvement in cardiometabolic health. In addition to improvements in triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and markers of inflammation, patients even showed encouraging signs in reversing the progression of chronic kidney disease.
“Virta’s patients are helping redefine what long-term success can look like in type 2 diabetes care. The patient outcomes set a new standard for real-world applications of diabetes treatment."
Dr. Alan Moses, former Senior Vice President and Global Chief Medical Officer of Novo Nordisk, and Virta advisor
Trial participants with prediabetes also saw meaningful improvements, with progression rates far below what has been demonstrated in other studies. Further, Virta patients sustained 6% weight loss over five years, exceeding the clinically-significant benchmark for diabetes prevention and far surpassing the 2% weight loss observed in the NIH Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle intervention.
The study is also notable for its longevity. Five-year published results are extremely rare in digital health, where most studies follow populations for no more than a year, and usually significantly less. For many Virta patients, the five-year clinical trial has facilitated a lasting lifestyle change, improving not only traditional markers of health but overall mood, quality of life, and outlook on the future.
Says patient Denise Lamb, who has maintained diabetes reversal alongside a nearly 70 pound weight loss, “My journey has been phenomenal. The Virta program has not only helped me achieve healthy blood glucose, but also attain a far better weight, normal blood pressure, and better understanding of my body. Virta’s lifestyle changed my lifestyle!”
About Virta Health
Virta Health helps people reverse type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions. Current approaches manage disease progression through increased medication use and infrequent doctor visits. Virta reverses type 2 diabetes through innovations in technology, nutrition science, and continuous remote care from physicians and behavioral experts. In clinical studies, 94% of patients reduce or eliminate insulin use, and weight-loss exceeds FDA benchmarks by nearly 150%. Virta works with the largest health plans, employers, and government organizations and puts 100% of its fees at risk based on clinical and financial outcomes.
Alegeus and HealthSherpa | July 19, 2022
Alegeus, the market leader in healthcare payment solutions, and HealthSherpa, the leading enrollment platform for individual ACA health coverage, have outpaced the industry in individual coverage health reimbursement arrangements since announcing an integration partnership in the summer of 2020. With updates to their partnership in 2022, both companies are poised to increase their ICHRA enrollments even faster. HealthSherpa, which has seen more than 10X growth in ICHRA pipeline, has enrolled more than three million individuals on its platform in just the last year.
ICHRAs, which were launched at the start of 2020, allow employers to reimburse employees for individual coverage insurance premiums in place of offering them a traditional group-sponsored health plan. ICHRAs can also be used by employees to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. Organizations administering consumer-directed health benefit programs can set up an ICHRA with Alegeus, and then HealthSherpa helps ICHRA-eligible employees search for and enroll in the best on-exchange and off-exchange individual health plans. This integration bolsters the health reimbursement arrangement (HRA) experience from Alegeus and gives third-party administrators and health plans a strategy for increasing employer and employee participation in health benefit accounts.
“We’re excited about the growing demand our partners have seen for ICHRA since announcing our integration partnership with HealthSherpa,” said Mark Waterstraat, chief customer officer, Alegeus. “Our joint solution is helping employers to deliver quality and cost-effective benefits quickly and efficiently to their employees. While ICHRAs can offer these through employer-defined contribution and better-fit individual coverage plans, they are still new and require a considerable amount of education and awareness. Through this partnership, our efforts are resonating, as evidenced by growing market demand.”
“ICHRAs are a great option for a large and growing number of employers and their employees, and we’ve seen many of our client organizations begin reaping their benefits,” said Ross Honig, president, OCA. “Working with Alegeus and HealthSherpa has allowed OCA to market our ICHRA solution as a “one-stop” product that is seamless and easy to use for brokers, employers, and their employees.”
“Millions of consumers have enrolled in health insurance through HealthSherpa and experienced the increasing appeal of individual coverage. With our new off-exchange options, employers and brokers alike have more options for employees looking to make the transition away from group-sponsored health insurance. ICHRA is changing the dynamic of the relationship between employers and employees on the critical question of health insurance, and we’re thrilled to partner with Alegeus to help employers understand the benefits and communicate them with their employees.”
George Kalogeropolous, CEO, HealthSherpa
Alegeus and HealthSherpa recently presented a webinar, “The (Present and) Future of ICHRAs,” showcasing how to simplify the administration of ICHRA benefits and make it easier for consumers to find the care and coverage that meets their needs.
HealthSherpa builds technology that increases access to health care. We provide end-to-end solutions for consumers, insurance carriers, and agents, delivering a superior ACA marketplace experience to fulfill our mission of connecting people to health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The HealthSherpa Marketplace, our flagship health insurance enrollment platform, services more than 45,000 agents, 38 carriers, and 9 million consumers.
With more than 25 years of growth and innovation, Alegeus is the market leader in SaaS-based benefit funding and payment solutions. Our highly flexible, white-label platform powers account-based benefit programs such as HSAs, FSAs, HRAs, COBRA, wellness incentives, lifestyle benefits and beyond. We deliver exceptional user experiences and differentiated capabilities that help our partners strengthen their product offerings, operate more efficiently, and unlock their full growth potential. Our partnerships with the industry’s leading health plans, third-party administrators, financial services and benefit solution providers give Alegeus unparalleled reach in the market, with access to more than 100 million commercially insured Americans. And our unique partnership model empowers our clients to achieve outsized results – growing their programs at a rate that is 3-4X the market, and with the highest NPS scores in the industry. We never compete with our clients in the market – we win when they win. Alegeus is headquartered in Waltham, Mass., with operations centers in Orlando and Bangalore, and a large remote workforce.