Category: e-health

Digital pathology in action: Interview with Omnyx CEO Mamar Gelaye

published date
March 26th, 2015 by
Omnyx CEO Mamar Gelaye
Omnyx CEO Mamar Gelaye

Pathologists are physicians who play a critical role in disease diagnosis and treatment planning. Yet if you’re a patient, chances are you’ve never met one, because pathologists typically work in the hospital laboratory, analyzing slides and providing their reports to the treating physician.

Turns out pathology is also one of the last areas of medicine to embrace the digital revolution. That’s changing now as pathology discovers the benefits of digital solutions and connects more directly to the rest of the care team.

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is a leader in the field of digital pathology, and has teamed with GE Healthcare in a joint venture called Omnyx. I interviewed Omnyx CEO Mamar Gelaye to learn more.

Here’s what we discussed. (Use the timestamps if you want to jump to specific questions):

  1. What role does pathology play? Why does it matter to the patient? (0:11)
  2. We’ve all heard the term “staging” but what does it mean? (1:25)
  3. How does a traditional hospital pathology lab operate? (2:06)
  4. What are the limitations of the traditional approach? How does digital help? (4:04)
  5. Why is pathology among the last to digitize? (7:13)
  6. What elements are digitized?  (8:06)
  7. When a pathology lab goes digital, what happens to all the physical specimens? (8:56)
  8. What impact does digital pathology have on patient care? (9:48)
  9. Why are UPMC and GE working together? (11:25)
  10. What is the long-term potential of digital pathology? (13:37)
  11. Is it possible to use digital pathology to extend the team beyond the walls of a single hospital? (14:44)

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Thomas Jefferson embraces telehealth

published date
February 24th, 2015 by
Just slightly ahead of their time
Just slightly ahead of their time

Thomas Jefferson was an innovative guy, so I guess it should come as no surprise that his namesake university in Philadelphia is embracing telehealth in a big way. Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko is in a hurry to transform healthcare delivery, and sees telehealth as a key enabler. TJ has gone so far as to invest in American Well, the telehealth platform company I’ve profiled in the past.

Klasko is focused on keeping patients out of the hospital and especially the emergency department. He also sees the potential to make better use of specialists’ time –letting them quickly dispatch patients with minor issues and provide greater access for those with serious concerns.

Fifteen years after eVisits were commercialized, virtual care seems to be coming into vogue. Why now? As usual with major changes, there is a convergence of various factors.

  • Everyone –patients as well as doctors– has a high-powered smartphone in their pocket, which is capable of amazing things like full motion video. No need to go to a specialized facility or even to a computer
  • Patients have financial incentives to avoid costly care
  • Providers are facing overwhelming demand from newly insured patients along with new  value-based payment models that encourage efficiency
  • Consumers are coming to expect online interaction with healthcare that feels like how they interact in every other aspect of their lives. Doctors and nurses feel the same way

The next few years will be monumental for digital health. I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds.

photo credit: Declaration Drafting Committee, after Jean Leon Gerome Ferris via photopin (license)

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.


HIPAA compliance for healthcare apps: Interview with TrueVault CEO Jason Wang

published date
November 4th, 2014 by
Jason Wang, TrueVault CEO
Jason Wang, TrueVault CEO

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is designed to protect identifiable health information to preserve patient privacy. Compliance is an intimidating barrier for app developers, among others. TrueVault is a young company that provides an API to make HIPAA compliance more straightforward.

In this podcast interview, TrueVault CEO and founder Jason Wang answers my questions:

  1. What is HIPAA and who has to pay attention to it?
  2. What are the implications of HIPAA for developers of healthcare software?
  3. What additional challenges and opportunities arise from the shift from desktop to mobile devices and cloud storage?
  4. Apple is entering the healthcare app space, but it isn’t allowing personal health information to be stored on iCloud. What’s going on there?
  5. Is there a clear distinction between consumer health data and PHI? How do providers and app developers navigate that issue?
  6. How does TrueVault help?
  7. What role, if any do consumers have with HIPAA compliance?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Telehealth at Mercy Health: Podcast interview with CFO/EVP Strategy Shannon Sock

published date
October 23rd, 2014 by
Shannon Sock, Mercy Health CFO & EVP of Strategy
Shannon Sock, Mercy Health CFO & EVP of Strategy

Today’s Center for Connected Health Symposium #cHealth14 featured a high-powered panel discussion with top executives from Wellpoint, American Well, and the VA along with Shannon Sock, CFO and EVP of Strategy at Mercy Health. The topic: Large Scale Connected Health Interventions –Lessons Learned.

After the panel, I sat down with Shannon to talk about Mercy’s 10-year journey in telehealth. The big, midwestern integrated delivery system has made telehealth a strategic priority since at least 2006. That commitment is ramping up further with the construction of a 120,000 square foot, $50 million virtual telehealth center, slated to open next year.

In this podcast interview Sock described Mercy’s telehealth approach and accomplishments as a first mover. He also touched on the challenges of getting his colleagues to approach telehealth as a strategic asset, the opportunity to diversify Mercy’s revenues by providing services to other systems, direct contracting with employers, and the exciting new possibilities of patient engagement arriving with Apple’s HealthKit and similar initiatives.

Sock also highlighted the competitive jockeying that’s taking place between health plans and large health systems. The plans are starting to insert themselves into primary care delivery (e.g., Wellpoint with American Well) while big systems are building the infrastructure that they hope will let employers bypass health plans entirely.

I would love to be the moderator for round 2 of this panel so we could dig into these competitive issues more directly.

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams of the Health Business Group


Innovation at Aetna: Podcast interview with Michael Palmer, Chief Innovation & Digital Officer

published date
October 22nd, 2014 by
Michael Palmer, Aetna's Chief Innovation & Digital Officer
Michael Palmer, Aetna’s Chief Innovation & Digital Officer

Michael Palmer, Chief Innovation & Digital Officer at Aetna, will deliver a keynote address (Leading Innovation in a Connected World) tomorrow at the Partners Connected Health Symposium in Boston.

I caught up with him today to get his perspectives on the following topics:

  • What innovation means for Aetna and how that differs from what it means for small companies or other industries
  • The extent to which Aetna’s customers are seeking innovation vs. more prosaic factors such as reliability, consistency
  • How Aetna is partnering on innovative approaches in genomics, cancer care and other areas
  • What Aetna thinks it can bring to the consumer market to beat innovators such as Humana and Oscar Health

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams of the Health Business Group