Category Archives: Health information technology

Upcoming webinar to showcase 2022 health tech forecast

About Karen Blum

Karen Blum is AHCJ’s core topic leader on health IT. An independent journalist in the Baltimore area, she has written health IT stories for publications such as Pharmacy Practice News, Clinical Oncology News, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, General Surgery News and Infectious Disease Special Edition.

Jan. 19 webinar panelists

Since taking over the health IT core topic for AHCJ last spring, I’ve spent a lot of time reading about trends and happenings in the health information technology space. You may already be familiar with some of them: Chances are you’ve messaged one of your doctors or received test results through an online patient portal, or taken part in a telehealth appointment. Maybe you’ve tracked some health metrics like blood pressure or steps walked through your cell phone or smartwatch. 

I hope you’ll join AHCJ this Wednesday, Jan. 19, at 1:00 p.m. ET for a new, free webcast looking at a health tech forecast for 2022. During our roundtable discussion, our multidisciplinary expert panel will talk about what to look for as the year progresses. Digital health experts in the fields of cardiology, cancer and pharmacy, plus an experienced health IT journalist and editor, are available to answer all of your burning questions. 

Among our planned talking points are a look at the top hot trends for 2022 and what digital technologies are trending in heart disease, cancer and medication management. We’ll also cover what to expect in telehealth and remote monitoring/hospital at-home programs, wearable technologies, the patient experience and more. Plus, you’re learn what technologies might be on the way out.

For journalists looking to dive deeper into this topic, Kat Jercich, one of our panelists and senior editor at Healthcare IT News, and her colleagues have written a collection of stories about the future of health care

Our panelists’ bios are below. I hope you can join us on Wednesday!

  • Timothy Aungst, PharmD, is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) University in Boston and a clinical pharmacist in the home health setting. He has over a decade of experience in the digital health space focused on digital therapeutics, remote patient monitoring, medication adherence and digital biomarkers. He serves as an advisor and consultant to digital health and pharmaceutical companies and is a recognized expert with multiple publications and international and national speaking engagements.
  • Kat Jercich is the senior editor at Healthcare IT News and has more than a decade of journalism experience. Her bylines have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Advocate, and others. Previously, she was an award-winning managing editor at the Rewire News Group.
  • Santosh Mohan, M.M.C.I., C.P.H.I.M.S., F.H.I.M.S.S., is the vice president of digital in the department of digital innovation at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida. He is launching the digital organization within Moffitt’s Center for Digital Health to help leverage information technology and health data science competencies to advance the cancer center’s overall strategy. Previously, he served as the managing director of the Innovation Hub at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
  • Mintu Turakhia, M.D., M.A.S., is professor of medicine and director and co-founder of the Center for Digital Health at Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, California. A cardiac electrophysiologist, outcomes researcher and clinical trialist, he has an active multidisciplinary program in heart rhythm and digital health research, where he uses biostatistics, health economics, artificial intelligence, and data science approaches to examine quality, outcomes and risk of heart rhythm disorders. He has served as principal investigator of several multi-center trials of digital health tools and wearables for heart disease diagnosis and treatment, and he collaborates closely on research with medical device and technology companies. At the Center for Digital Health, Turakhia leads several large public-private partnership efforts to develop tech-enabled disease management programs for heart disease.

Mental health topics to explore in 2022

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

Photo by Finn via Unsplash.

Almost two years of pandemic lockdowns, re-openings, retreats from re-opening, and coronavirus variants — and another COVID-19 winter upon us — mental health challenges remain a hot topic.

Now that we’ve entered a new year, a bevy of stories already in the news cycle beg for follow-up coverage, including ones on the pros and cons of telemental health and, by extension, the future of video-conferenced and teleconferenced care. 

During the pandemic, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid issued waivers expanding patient access to their clinicians via Zoom, phone calls, etc. Some lauded that move, which is expected, on some level, to become permanent. Others say telehealth is far from the preferred avenue of care for everyone, including some patients with more severe diagnoses, including drug-resistant depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Along with those looming questions and trends, there are emerging and resurfacing news topics for reporters to tackle. From that pool, here are the discussions to listen for and probe in 2022:

  • There’s a renewed move afoot to change the term schizophrenia. Of 1,190 government officials, clinicians and members of the general public responding to this survey, published online in October 2021 and print in December 2021 in Schizophrenia Research, 74.1% said the term was stigmatizing; 71.4% wanted to change it to phrasing they contend might more accurately describe the symptoms of that disease. Among alternatives that those respondents preferred were “altered perception syndrome,” “psychosis spectrum syndrome” and “neuro-emotional integration disorder.” From the same journal, this 2015 paper assessed 41 previous studies, commentaries and such on whether to change the term. And this 2019 paper, “The debate about renaming schizophrenia: a new name would not resolve the stigma,” questioned whether a name change, which already exists in several Asian countries, would actually diminish stigma.

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Video games evaluated as possible treatment for COVID ‘brain fog’, other conditions

About Karen Blum

Karen Blum is AHCJ’s core topic leader on health IT. An independent journalist in the Baltimore area, she has written health IT stories for publications such as Pharmacy Practice News, Clinical Oncology News, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, General Surgery News and Infectious Disease Special Edition.

Photo by Surface via unsplash.

Digital tech company Akili Interactive’s recent collaboration with two academic medical centers to evaluate a video game developed for children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in patients with COVID-19-related “brain fog”, has become one of the latest investigations of video games in medicine.

Over the past decade, some researchers worldwide have been studying the potential use of video games as a treatment, educational tool, or complementary therapy for a variety of ongoing or perplexing medical challenges, as well as for teaching medical trainees new skills. Journalists can find interesting stories in this area, provided they acknowledge that data and results so far have varied widely.

A glance at the research

In randomized controlled clinical studies, investigators at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center are testing the potential of Akili’s game EndeavorRx to target and improve cognitive functioning in patients following COVID-19 infection. In the game, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June 2020 as a prescription treatment for children with ADHD, players help an alien avatar navigate a digital environment while being presented with on-screen prompts as a form of distraction, according to an article on medicine.com. Users work to earn rewards and unlock new environments.

The game has challenges and demands, said James Jackson, Psy.D., director of long-term outcomes for the ICU Recovery Center at Vanderbilt, in an interview with AHCJ. As people improve, the challenges and demands become harder. If they struggle, the tasks become easier. The hypothesis is that this dynamic nature of the game can help improve function in attention and processing speed, he said — key difficulties experienced by COVID long haulers.

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How to cover virtual reality applications in health care

About Karen Blum

Karen Blum is AHCJ’s core topic leader on health IT. An independent journalist in the Baltimore area, she has written health IT stories for publications such as Pharmacy Practice News, Clinical Oncology News, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, General Surgery News and Infectious Disease Special Edition.

Image courtesy of Douglas Holt, M.D.

Physicians use various strategies to explain tests or new procedures to patients. Beyond verbal discussions, they can employ handouts and videos, or suggest websites or other online resources. But some doctors say that hasn’t been sufficient in helping patients fully understand their results. That’s why more physicians are turning to virtual reality, a topic health journalists may want to cover because of its potential to augment patient education and engage people in care.

Virtual reality (VR) is a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment. People can interact with these images using electronic equipment such as a headset or gloves outfitted with sensors.

Sarah Hoffe, M.D., section head of gastrointestinal radiation oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, is evaluating the potential of VR to help train her patients for a specialized type of radiation treatment called MRI-guided radiation therapy. With this technique, patients lie in an enclosed space housing both MRI imaging as well as radiation delivery technology for up to 90 minutes. They are asked to hold their breath in 25-second intervals for 30 minutes.

Hoffe told AHCJ she could tell how scared her patients were when she would talk to them about the therapy during pre-treatment clinic visits. So, she decided to make a video explaining the procedure. She wrote a script and hired actors to portray a patient going through treatment, but it still wasn’t enough to calm patients. Even after watching the video, some patients showed up for appointments saying they couldn’t sleep the night before.

Hoffe began exploring VR. She formed a team with Edmondo Robinson, M.D., M.B.A., F.A.C.P, Moffitt’s chief digital officer. They collaborated with faculty at Moffitt and Ringling College of Art and Design and design student Joseph Jansen to develop two virtual reality games — one with a space theme and one with a golf theme — that teach patients how to hold their breath. VR also can be used to see what it would be like to lie inside the machine. Two patients treated at Moffitt offered insights. The team presented their design in August at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2021 Global Health Conference & Exhibition, in Las Vegas. Now, she’ll be incorporating it into pre-treatment clinic visits to measure if it reduces patients’ anxiety and better prepares them.

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Companies and health care institutions nationwide are prioritizing digital health equity efforts 

About Karen Blum

Karen Blum is AHCJ’s core topic leader on health IT. An independent journalist in the Baltimore area, she has written health IT stories for publications such as Pharmacy Practice News, Clinical Oncology News, Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, General Surgery News and Infectious Disease Special Edition.

A screengrab from  Executives for Health Innovation’s “The White Male Doctor Will See You Now: Utilizing Digital Health to Increase Access to Diverse Providers” panel discussion.

Can digital tools help make health care more accessible and affordable for everyone? This concept, known as digital health equity, was the subject of a two-day virtual summit hosted earlier last month by nonprofit organization Executives for Health Innovation (EHI), formerly called the eHealth Initiative. 

Panel discussions covered topics such as advancing digital health equity for rural and underserved populations, delivering maternal health equity, and how virtual care is expanding access for vulnerable communities. Recordings now available for viewing on YouTube can provide a rich foundation of story angles and knowledgeable sources for journalists. 

 Not everyone has access to cultural or linguistic-appropriate providers in their communities, said Catherine Pugh, assistant vice president of policy at EHI. But digital health could be used to ensure everyone nationwide can access a relatable physician who can provide the best possible care. 

In a panel, Pugh chaired at the summit, “The White Male Doctor Will See You Now: Utilizing Digital Health to Increase Access to Diverse Providers,” panelists from several organizations highlighted their efforts to use digital health options to treat and meet the needs of diverse communities. 

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