The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) said that they will offer enforcement discretion for their respective final rules for electronic health records (EHRs), a nod to the COVID-19 pandemic. The term of the delays of compliance for several of these rules is not uniform, ranging from “late 2020” to “spring 2021,” and vendors thus will have to be vigilant to ensure they do not cross any compliance tripwires.
Tyto Care Ltd. nabbed $50 million in an oversubscribed round of funding the company will use to expand commercialization of its integrated telehealth platform and remote device with examination tools, which has seen a surge in demand with COVID-19. The new cash nearly doubles the New York-based company's total funding, bringing it to $105 million. Insight Partners, Olive Tree Ventures, and Qualcomm Ventures LLC led the latest round.
Many adaptations to the coronavirus pandemic will remain standard features of health care long after the pandemic wanes, according to Brian Chapman, managing partner at ZS Associates, an Evanston, Ill.-based pharmaceutical and medical technology consultancy. In the long term, telehealth will be a clear winner as payers look to lower ongoing costs, more procedures and care will move out of hospitals, rapid diagnostics will gain importance, and government and payer coverage of infectious disease testing of all kinds will expand, he predicted.
The emergence of the new variety of coronavirus has had a massive effect on medical care across the globe, which has boosted telehealth coverage while suppressing non-emergency procedures. Several medical societies have published guidelines for procedures during the COVID-19 outbreak, however, which in the aggregate suggest that many procedures will be significantly delayed.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has received funds for another telehealth program in less than a year. An agency statement indicates that the program “would immediately support health care providers” working to thwart the COVID-19 outbreak. This would be achieved in part by supporting purchases of devices and other items needed to provide telehealth, which the Connected Health Initiative said will help drive an overdue overhaul of health care in the U.S.
As the cases of COVID-19 continue to mount around the world, hospitals and other providers are looking to virtual tools, apps and other products to help people check their symptoms and get advice on whether medical intervention is needed. To that end, Dublin-based Medtronic plc has launched two new tools to help clinicians assess, monitor and triage patients with respiratory symptoms and concerns about the coronavirus.
The U.S. FDA has OK’d expanded labeling for Physiq Inc.’s continuous remote monitoring system, Pinpointiq, for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. The machine learning-based platform, including Multivariate Change Index (MCI), will allow clinicians to track physiologic changes in homebound, quarantined or high-risk patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 – freeing up hospital beds for the most severe cases and reducing exposure of doctors and nurses to the highly contagious disease.
Everlywell Inc. stepped back from its announcement that consumers could access at-home testing for COVID-19 starting on March 23, 2020, following a U.S. FDA update that cautioned against fraudulent at-home tests.
With the number of COVID-19 cases continuing to rise and with people social distancing and quarantining, at-home diagnostics and telehealth offer the means for doctors and patients to get vital answers and care without meeting face to face. Now, Los Angeles-based Scanwell Health has gained exclusive rights to license and distribute a rapid serology test from Innovita Biological Technology Co. Ltd., of Hebei, China, for at-home testing of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The U.S. capacity for SARS-CoV-2 testing is limited by several items, including the swabs used to collect patient specimens, but the supply of reagents has been front and center recently. Despite those concerns, several private test makers said they are quickly ramping up production, including Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., of Waltham, Mass., which said it has enough supplies of all types on hand to provide 2 million reactions per week, a volume that should increase to 5 million per week in April.