Industry Voices—Physician encounters should be long-term relationships, not one-night stands

FierceHealthcare | February 14, 2019

Too often in this country, emergency room visits are treated like standalone events—“right swipes” of medical care characterized by brief encounters that fix the most emergent issues before patients are sent on their way. Recently, I read an article comparing emergency department utilization to one-night stands, and it made me cringe. There’s a growing perception that ED encounters are superficial, shallow, skin-deep, and often without a second thought to the patient’s long-term needs. This couldn’t be further from reality and is a dangerous precedent for physicians to reinforce. If everyone could only walk a shift in the shoes of America’s emergency providers, they might understand our frustration with this perception. The ED setting oversees more than 130 million visits annually. Sure, some patients seek a no-strings-attached encounter with our health system, but most physicians see themselves as stakeholders in long-term health. Many patients don’t have the resources or support needed to navigate the complexities of healthcare. Outside of the ED setting, many of these patients are pretty much on their own.

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Customers have different needs and different ways they prefer to meet those needs. And most people engage with their health differently at different stages of their life. With this understanding, Cigna is taking a more holistic approach to health engagement that is also more consistent and grounded in established scientific principles.


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HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Walmart To Acquire AR Optical Tech Company Memomi

Walmart and Memomi | June 30, 2022

Walmart and Memomi, an augmented reality optical tech companyannounced they have entered into an agreement for Walmart to acquire Memomi. This reinforces Walmart’s commitment to frictionless and omnichannel optical care. Since 2019, Memomi has enabled digital measurements for all Walmart and Sam’s Optical customers, across more than 2,800 Walmart Vision Centers and 550 Sam’s Clubs, and also powers the Optical eCommerce experience on SamsClub.com. Acquiring Memomi, an AR company, is the next step in Walmart’s journey of offering personalized, affordable access to optical care. This acquisition furthers Walmart Health & Wellness’ strategy to deliver integrated, omnichannel healthcare, leveraging data and technology to improve engagement, health equity and outcomes. “Customers are looking for access to care digitally, in their homes, and purchasing eyeglasses is no different. This acquisition supports our Health & Wellness mission to provide accessible care to the communities we serve.” David Reitnauer, Vice President, Specialty Services, Walmart Health & Wellness Memomi is a leading provider of technology to enhance virtual optical try-on experiences, helping customers virtually “try on” eyewear in real-time for a seamless, easy and fun omnichannel experience. “Walmart’s ability to roll out our virtual try-on and contact-free digital measurements service in a short period of time shows how committed Walmart is to its customers’ need for digital care in-stores and at home,” said Ofer Saban, Chief Technology Officer, Memomi. The acquisition is expected to close in the coming weeks, and Memomi employees will join the Walmart Global Tech organization. “We’re excited to welcome the Memomi team to Walmart and add their capabilities to our leading virtual reality technology that is transforming the retail experience for our customers and members,” said Cheryl Ainoa, Senior Vice President, New Businesses & Emerging Tech, Walmart Global Tech. “We are looking forward to joining Walmart and offering our innovations and user experiences to such a large scale both in-store and online,” said Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky, CEO, Memomi. About Walmart Walmart Inc. helps people around the world save money and live better - anytime and anywhere - in retail stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, approximately 220 million customers and members visit approximately 10,500 stores and clubs under 48 banners in 24 countries and eCommerce websites. With fiscal year 2021 revenue of $559 billion, Walmart employs over 2.2 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. About Memomi Memomi Labs Inc is a leading provider of cutting-edge technology to enhance virtual try-on user experiences through artificial intelligence, deep learning and augmented reality. Memomi helps customers virtually “try on” eyewear in real-time for a seamless, easy and fun omnichannel experience. In addition to the try-on experience, Memomi technology has created an accurate, easy measurement experience in-store once glasses are selected, leading to time savings for the customer and cost savings for the store. Memomi was founded in 2014 by Salvador Nissi Vilcovsky and Ofer Saban, experts in conceptualized solutions and interactive design.

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HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Vitestro unveils autonomous blood drawing device, combining artificial intelligence, ultrasound imaging and robotics

Vitestro | May 31, 2022

Vitestro, a Dutch medical robotics company, unveiled the world's most advanced autonomous blood drawing device at the annual meeting of the Netherlands Society for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine in Rotterdam. Vitestro's device combines AI-based, ultrasound-guided 3D reconstruction with robotic needle insertion, ensuring accurate and secure blood collection. The venipuncture technology is adaptable to patients of 16 years of age onwards, comorbidities, and puncture difficulty. From 2023, Vitestro will initiate pivotal clinical studies for regulatory approval in Europe. EU-market introduction is anticipated in 2024. Healthcare shortages spark revolutionary developments Within healthcare, the clinical laboratory is the driving force. Accuracy and timeliness of laboratory tests are critically important, as they shape approximately 70% of all medical decisions made by physicians. It is unsurprising that blood collection is the most common invasive medical procedure, performed billions of times per year globally. Blood collection holds a pivotal role in clinical diagnostics yet is also burdened by the scarcity of skilled workers. By automating this labor-intensive procedure, we can transform the quality of care and create a sustainable healthcare system. Proprietary laboratory automation technology standardizes handling of the blood sample while the blood is collected. The device allows almost complete automation of the pre-analytical phase. This has the potential to reduce high blood test error rates, mainly caused by manual variability. In clinical studies, Vitestro already performed 1,500 automated blood draws in more than 1,000 patients with its prototype. Toon Overbeeke, Vitestro's Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer said: "The mounting shortage of healthcare personnel is imminent. The pandemic has further led to loss of workforce, causing a bleak outlook for hospital output around the globe, and leading to reduced access and continuity of care. That's why revolutionary automation like our blood drawing device is inevitable to solve the industry's biggest problem." Outpatient phlebotomy care is redefined At first, Vitestro will implement the device in outpatient phlebotomy departments. Patients will have the option to choose between Vitestro's venipunture device or standard method. The device is intuitive to use, empowering patients to be self-reliant in the full blood collection procedure. In previous clinical trials, patients of all ages showed a high degree of openness, enthusiasm and willingness to adopt the innovation. A trained healthcare professional is able to supervise several devices, managing multiple patients simultaneously. The increased efficiency enables hospitals and clinical laboratories to address workforce shortage or even free up staff and deploy them where they are really needed. "We have spent nearly five years on the development of this breakthrough medical device. All relevant disciplines are represented in our dedicated, specialized team of 35 people. To prepare for production and commercialization, the team will double in size in the next two years. We have clear momentum in the market and will be the first to bring autonomous technology to European hospitals. With our technology we can help to build a more robust and resilient healthcare system." Toon Overbeeke, Vitestro's Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Anja Leyte, Director OVLG Laboratories, participating in clinical studies commented: "By introducing automated blood drawing, high quality as well as capacity is guaranteed in our laboratories. Vitestro's technology helps solving staffing shortages at our blood drawing department and improving sample standardization. Patients are also very enthusiastic." About Vitestro In 2017 Vitestro's founders rose to the challenge to create a better blood drawing experience. Today Vitestro is well underway to achieve its goal with a committed team of 35 highly skilled people with a track record in medical robotics, imaging software, AI, QA/RA and business development. Vitestro is based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Vitestro is well funded by private investors and government subsidies.

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HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Leading ACOs are Choosing Innovaccer’s ACO REACH Solution Suite to Improve Population Health and Advance Health Equity

Innovaccer Inc., | August 05, 2022

Innovaccer Inc., the Health Cloud company, announced the expansion of its Solution Suite for ACO REACH participants. With its ACO REACH Solution Suite, Innovaccer has taken its entire portfolio of solutions that several leading ACOs across the country use, to help New Entrant ACOs and High Needs Population ACOs accelerate their transformation and advance health equity. Since the initial launch of the ACO REACH Solution Suite in April, Innovaccer has rapidly expanded its client base to include new entrants such as UpStream, Florence Health, and many more organizations that are accelerating their transformation to value-based care. These organizations are leveraging Innovaccer’s end-to-end technology platform to build a unified data foundation, develop population health management strategies, and better engage physicians and patients. For example, UpStream chose Innovaccer as their technology partner to get a 360-degree patient view that provides actionable insights at the point of care to help improve outcomes, employ advanced analytics to assess and predict health risks to help keep patients out of the hospital, and use clinically contextual patient engagement throughout the care continuum to help improve chronic care management and the overall patient experience. “Traditionally, many practices don’t have the experience or resources to take on the financial risks associated with value-based care models, especially for older, higher-risk populations,” said Lucas Sahm, chief information officer at UpStream. “UpStream is deeply rooted in data, which makes partnering with Innovaccer a logical step for us because we speak the same language and have the same goal: to connect, curate, and make better use of healthcare data to improve patient outcomes, improve the patient experience, while also improving financial outcomes for providers.” Innovaccer’s ACO REACH Solution Suite brings technology and services together to help providers jump-start and excel at this new value-based model: the Innovaccer Health Cloud’s Data Activation Platform, Innovaccer’s industry-leading population health management solution, Innovaccer’s world-class population health analytics; and Innovaccer’s comprehensive SDoH solution for identifying, understanding, and mitigating social determinants—an absolute essential for supporting health equity, access to care, and community health. “Through ACO REACH, the CMS is paving the way for provider organizations to advance health equity through value-based care. To succeed with this new program, they need the right people, processes, and technologies to help develop, implement, and optimize their shared savings strategies. As a technology-enabled service, our enhanced ACO REACH Solutions Suite enables providers to identify and address SDoH factors, reach vulnerable populations with remote patient monitoring, identify relevant care gaps and utilization trends, predict obstacles, and assist providers and patients in optimizing outcomes. We’ve strived to include everything a provider could need in a technology-enabled solution to succeed as a REACH ACO.” Abhinav Shashank, cofounder and CEO at Innovaccer Innovaccer has a proven history of helping health organizations succeed under risk-bearing, value-based care models. Reach out to an Innovaccer representative today to get a demo of the Innovaccer® Health Cloud’s Data Activation Platform or to find out how we are helping provider partners like you with the tools they need to reach underserved patients, identify and address SDoH, and progress in the movement toward health equity. For more information, please visit https://innovaccer.com/accelerators/aco-reach. About Innovaccer Innovaccer Inc., the Health Cloud company, is dedicated to accelerating innovation in healthcare. The Innovaccer® Health Cloud unifies patient data across systems and care settings, and empowers healthcare organizations to develop scalable, modern applications that improve clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. Innovaccer’s solutions have been deployed across more than 1,600 care settings in the U.S., enabling more than 96,000 providers to transform care delivery and work collaboratively with payers and life sciences companies. Innovaccer has helped its customers unify health records for more than 39 million people and generate over $1B in cumulative cost savings. Innovaccer is the #1 rated Data and Analytics Platform by KLAS, and the #1 rated population health technology platform by Black Book.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

SpineGuard Announces a New Partnership with Sorbonne, CNRS and Inserm to associate its DSG® Technology With Ultrasound and Serve Surgical Robots

SpineGuard | June 08, 2022

pineGuard an innovative company that deploys its DSG sensing technology to secure and streamline the placement of bone implants, announces the launch of a new three-year collaboration program with two labs of Sorbonne University CNRS and Inserm: the ISIR. DSG is based on the local measurement of electrical conductivity of tissues in real time without X-ray imaging, with a sensor located at the tip of the drilling instrument. Its efficacy was proven by more than 90,000 surgeries across the globe and 19 scientific publications. SpineGuard has entered in 2017 a collaboration with ISIR for the application of DSG to surgical robots and the enhancement of their safety, accuracy, and autonomy. SpineGuard and ISIR capitalize on first order outcomes published so far… At the close of a first collaboration phase, SpineGuard announced sub-millimetric accuracy experimental outcomes in bone boundary detection and automatic stop of a vertebral drilling performed by a robot using the DSG technology. These impressive outcomes were presented as they were produced successively at the Hamlyn medical robotics conference in London in May 2019, receiving the first price for best scientific paper, then in plenary session at the SMISS minimally invasive spine surgery (SMISS) in Las Vegas in November 2021, and lastly during the CRAS conference in Naples in April 2022. … and join forces with the LIB laboratory in order to add ultrasound to the project. Encouraged by this success, the research and development teams wish to go even further in surgical robots advancement: the guidance technologies that allow the robot to position itself properly relative to the patient to find the drilling entry point rely today on X-Ray imaging, dangerous for health, in combination with space-consuming optical registration. SpineGuard has long explored the possibility to use ultrasound complementarily to DSG for this preliminary step, before the tool is penetrating bone, and was granted two families of international patents on that topic. The LIB laboratory, who features an international level expertise in the field of ultrasound imaging, answered with enthusiasm the invitation to join the project. SpineGuard, ISIR and LIB thus start a new 3-year collaboration that is expected to produce breakthrough results in the field. “We are happy to launch this partnership that will allow us to go even further in improving surgical robots in orthopedics. This new phase of the project aims at enabling robots to perform bone drilling and cutting, as well as implant placement, in a secured and more autonomous manner in the human skeleton. Our goal is to implement first-class collaboration between French Research and Industry and trigger commercial ventures in the orthopedic field via strategic agreements with industry partners.” Stéphane Bette, co-founder and Deputy CEO of SpineGuard Guillaume Morel, Professor at Sorbonne University and ISIR Director, and Brahim Tamadazte, Researcher at CNRS and member of ISIR, added: “We are delighted to continue the close and dynamic collaboration initiated in 2017 with SpineGuard. The entry of robotics and associated new technologies in operating room is no doubt one of the biggest medical advances of the last twenty years. Robotic approaches often allow the surgical gesture to be less invasive, more accurate, safe and intuitive in numerous surgical procedures. The first outcomes from the previous collaboration gave us more visibility on the clinical added value that a robot with original and effective sensors can bring to Orthopedic Surgery in general and Spine in particular. This new collaboration will be about ultrasonic sensors coupled with robotics. This original and promising association will allow the surgeon to define the entry point and the pedicle screw trajectory accurately and non-invasively, without relying on ionizing or costly preoperative imaging (scanner, MRI). The association of two prestigious labs of Sorbonne University (ISIR and LIB), whose competencies are highly complementary to SpineGuard’s industrial vision constitute a stimulating work environment favorable to innovation. The journey with SpineGuard goes on for three more years with a target of several technologic and scientific innovations to serve patients and care providers.” Quentin Grimal, Professor at Sorbonne University and Manager of the team “Ultrasound and imaging for bone quality characterization” at LIB, concludes: “Using ultrasound to position a surgical tool is particularly relevant. Ultrasounds are danger free and provide real time information about interfaces, bone anatomy, even bone mechanical quality. The use of an ultrasound probe should allow to position the robotic arm in an optimal manner to place pedicle screws. In general, echography does not allow to see beyond the bone surfaces because ultrasounds are strongly reflected at the surface and strongly attenuated when propagating in bone. Low amplitude signals coming from inside bone can however be exploited through specific treatments which are a specialty of our team. Our team, pioneer in ultrasound utilization to probe bone, has introduced several approaches that offer an alternative to X-Rays for characterization of trabecular or cortical bone health. For our team, this partnership with SpineGuard and ISIR is a great fit: it will accelerate methodology and instrument developments for a broader utilization of ultrasound in orthopedic surgery. We are very happy to participate in this innovation rich project.” About SpineGuard® Founded in 2009 in France and the USA by Pierre Jérôme and Stéphane Bette, SpineGuard is an innovative company deploying its proprietary radiation-free real time sensing technology DSG® (Dynamic Surgical Guidance) to secure and streamline the placement of implants in the skeleton. SpineGuard designs, develops and markets medical devices that have been used in over 90,000 surgical procedures worldwide. Nineteen studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals have demonstrated the multiple benefits DSG® offers to patients, surgeons, surgical staff and hospitals. Building on these strong fundamentals and several strategic partnerships, SpineGuard has expanded the scope of its DSG® technology in innovative applications such as the « smart » pedicle screw, the DSG Connect visualization and registration interface, dental implantology and surgical robotics. DSG® was co-invented by Maurice Bourlion, Ph.D., Ciaran Bolger, M.D., Ph.D., and Alain Vanquaethem, Biomedical Engineer. SpineGuard has engaged in multiple ESG initiatives. About ISIR ISIR is one of the largest French Research institutions in robotics and intelligent systems, reporting mainly to Sorbonne University, CNRS (National Center for Scientific Research) and Inserm (National institute for health and medical research). It regroups more than 50 teaching researchers and permanent researchers and approximately 80 PhD ad post-doc students. ISIR is structured around 6 research teams focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning, mobile robotics, small scale robotics, assistance robotics (physical therapy and mobility support), human-robot interaction and surgical gesture assistance. ISIR has a rich expertise in the design of innovative robotic architectures, simulation and control, clinical validation and transfer of high industrial potential results. Over the last 5 past years, 10 pre-clinical or clinical studies were conducted at ISIR. 8 patents were granted, and 2 start-up companies created. About LIB The Laboratory for biomedical imaging (LIB) is specialized in Fundamental and Applied Research for biomedical morphologic imaging methods, functional and molecular on small animal and human. It reports to Sorbonne University, CNRS and INSERM. It regroups 35 permanent researchers and teaching researchers, of whom half are also hospital practitioners, approximately 10 engineers and technicians and more than 30 PhD students and post-docs. LIB is structured around 6 teams whose focuses correspond to key priorities of 21st century Public Health: cancer, cardiovascular and neurologic diseases, bone quality. LIB develops new diagnostic and treatments methods exploiting various modalities: ultrasound, MRI, CT, SPECT-PET, etc. LIB has a strong commitment to technology transfer. Over the last 5 years, 6 patents were granted, 7 software were filed, and 5 startup companies launched.

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Spotlight

Customers have different needs and different ways they prefer to meet those needs. And most people engage with their health differently at different stages of their life. With this understanding, Cigna is taking a more holistic approach to health engagement that is also more consistent and grounded in established scientific principles.

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