In the News: Sept 1–8

Innovation Connects ICU Patients With Families

A recent Modern Healthcare article reported on VoiceLove, a pilot project by 2 doctors at Weill Cornell hospital in New York that uses Relay walkie-talkies to connect families with ICU patients. The project was initiated during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when hospitals began restricting ICU visitors due to health concerns, preventing families from seeing their loved ones.

Prior to the launch of VoiceLove, nurses were tasked with holding up phones or tablets so patients could speak with their families, which proved unsustainable. Dr. Tamatha Fenster and Dr. Marc Schiffman, who designed VoiceLove, were seeking a touchless technology that could be placed at a patient’s bedside. Relay walkie-talkies were a viable solution since they could be installed in patients’ rooms and families could send and receive voice messages through a downloadable phone app. Fenster and Schiffman are currently networking with other facilities across the nation to scale the project.

VoiceLove is an innovative solution that addresses the behavioral health aspect of care delivery and allows patients a sense of humanity and connection while isolated in the ICU. To learn more about integrating virtual technology in your organization’s care delivery model, listen to Sg2’s 2017 Behavioral Update Webinar.

Heart Attack Saliva Test in Development

A recent Forbes article discusses new research being conducted around a saliva test that could diagnose a heart attack and inform the need to go to the emergency department. Taking as little as 10 minutes to complete, the test allows for diagnosis by individuals outside of the traditional clinic or hospital setting. The test measures levels of troponin, a protein present in higher amounts in the body when there is cardiac damage because of a heart attack.

The technology was developed at Soroka University Medical Center and Salignostics (a biotech company specializing in saliva-based diagnostics) in Israel. While blood tests are the current diagnostic method, there are limitations—including the amount of time it takes to obtain results and the need for tests to be performed by lab technicians and other professionals at the hospital or emergency department. Problematic in a pandemic, there is an enhanced need for technologies that can prevent avoidable visits. An added benefit is the ease with which results can be understood. At present, the researchers are working to create a process that will remove the irrelevant proteins found in saliva to further streamline accuracy. With the assumption that troponin reaches a certain level in those experiencing a heart attack, the test diagnosis accuracy was at 82%. While there is still a way to go before commercialization of the technology, trends continue to show positive trajectory.

To aid in your planning initiatives and to learn more about the advancements across the cardiovascular service line with perspective into today’s rapidly changing landscape, please read Sg2’s report on the Cardiovascular Service Line Outlook 2020.

Amazon Enters Health Wearable Market

A recent Fierce Healthcare article highlights Amazon’s entrance into the health wearable market. The Halo is the first wearable device launched by Amazon as it takes on Apple and Fitbit in this space. To complement the wearable, Amazon launched a subscription service and app, and plans to integrate data collected through the device with electronic health records.

Due to the fragmented nature of population health in the US, Halo hopes to offer a more comprehensive approach to improve health and wellness. By leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning expertise, this wearable will offer customers new ways to discover, adopt and maintain personalized wellness. The device focuses on 5 core health and wellness areas: activity, sleep, body, voice tone and labs. In addition to tracking these metrics, it will integrate with Cerner EHRs to update vital information like body fat percentage, which allows providers to obtain health metrics without use of an office or expensive technology. One unique feature Halo offers compared to other wearables in the market is its voice tone feature, which assesses the user’s inflection and voice to assess emotional well-being over time.

For physicians, monitoring patients is a concept that has been around since the beginning of medicine. As technologies grew in sophistication, monitoring moved beyond the confines of the hospital with remote patient monitoring. The introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) is the next evolutionary step in patient monitoring. It will make the most of the 26 billion everyday objects that experts predict will track, send and receive data by 2020. Read Expert Insight—The Internet of Things Will Radically Change Health Care: Are You Ready? to learn about how the IoT is impacting the health care industry and how wearables can mean greater wellness for patients over their lifetimes.

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