Federal Telemedicine News

Army to Receive Telehealth System

OPTAC-X https://optacx.com a telehealth company, has entered a deal to provide U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS) with a global hybrid LTE and SATCOM telehealth enabled system.

The OPTAC-X telehealth solution was developed to close the gap identified by military leaders and medical personnel desiring to have the audio and visual capabilities now offered by OPTAC-X’s technology, at the point of injury and time of need.

In past times, SOF medics have faced persistent challenges with latency in communications systems that can impede the transmission of clear images and/or voice commands. Products tested were unable to perform in challenging environmental settings, at the point-of-injury, and within the golden hour is not possible without significant physician staffing.

OPTAC-X solved the problem by developing a combination of technologies which allow a medical provider to treat a patient while stationary or in a moving vehicle which makes it possible to send and receive voice and real time images over thousands of miles almost immediately.

The telehealth system will now make it possible for special operations medics to provide remote, critical life-saving care and assistance in prolonged field care along with expert physician oversight at the point of injury and at the time of need.

USASOC’s initial purchase will place the OPTAC-X telehealth system including global hybrid LTE and SATCOM connectivity by Kymeta Corporation at the training institution at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. As part of the agreement, OPTAC-X will deliver sustained service and training on the use of the system.

“Today’s announcement is a major milestone in the realization of OPTAC-X’s overriding desire to help soldiers and others who work in dangerous and remote away from standard medical care facilities and services. The goal is  to provide the lifesaving help they need via telehealth and achieve improved outcome in prolonged field care”, said Dr. Patrick Fullerton, Founder and CEO of OPTAC-X.

OPTAC-X telehealth and tele expert solutions are also designed to bring expertise to first responders in under-served locations or in places where services have been disrupted making the system ideal for federal and state emergency services and multiple government entities. OPTAC-X’s CEO, sees great potential for the application of telehealth solutions in the use of emergency management systems and in natural disasters such as in recent Hurricanes. 

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Japan’s Medical Device Market

A report published November 5, 2022 by the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, describes Japan’s market for medical devices to be among the largest in the world.

Japan’s healthcare field, including the medical devices sector has recently experienced renewed attention. The COVID pandemic is one reason for this heightened attention on Japan’s healthcare sector. Another important factor for growing interest in Japan’s healthcare sector is the emergence of Japan’s digital health industry.

Japan’s Office of Healthcare Policy of the Cabinet Secretariat did a survey identifying key diseases in Japan that may require high levels of medical devices and pharmaceuticals for remediation purposes.

The survey identified the diseases associated with high medical needs such as 1) malignant neoplasm, 2) diabetes, 3) cardiovascular disease, 4) Alzheimer’s 5) pneumonia, 6) kidney disease, and 7) frailty and sarcopenia, including weakness, fractures, and elderly people falling.

U.S companies offer innovative solutions for these medical conditions as the companies produce a wide variety of medical devices and diagnostics in many of these disease segments.

Also, U.S companies that offer smartphone applications that promote behavioral changes that are able to monitor the progress, may find new opportunities in the Japanese market. In addition, U.S companies that produce devices and diagnostics that are minimally invasive or that use AI and robot-assisted technology may also find new commercial opportunities in Japan.

Go to https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/japan-medical-devices for the Report on Prospects for Medical Devices published November 5, 2022.  

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JHU Med Studying Dangerous Infections

Two infectious disease experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine have been awarded $10 million in research funding over five years by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), a nonprofit authorized by Congress in 2010.

The award will support a randomized controlled clinical trial at eight hospitals involving a study of approximately 1,200 patients with bloodstream infections caused by Gram negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria are organisms that are not colorized by the Gram staining method used to differentiate bacteria into two distinct groups: gram positive and gram negative.

Sara Cosgrove MD, Director, Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Antimicrobial Stewardship Program and Professor of Medicine at JHU School of Medicine reports, “According to previous studies, an estimated 1 in 5 patients with chronic medical conditions will develop a gram-negative bloodstream infection during their lifetime.”

According to Pranita Tamma M.D., Director of the Pediatric Antimicrobial Stewardship Program at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at JHU School of Medicine, “Traditionally, Gram-negative bloodstream infections have been treated with IV antibiotics for the duration of the patient’s therapy either in the hospital or with placement of a vascular catheter to continue treatment at home or in a skilled nursing facility.”

However, Dr. Tamma points out, “Vascular catheters used to place IV lines can pose a risk of secondary infection and other complications. Also, because IV therapy imposes limitations on patient mobility and quality of life, we want to see if oral antibiotic treatment using pills given at an early stage could achieve outcomes on par with those of IV antibiotics.”

The clinical trial will randomize patients into one or two groups. One group will receive IV antibiotics for the duration of therapy and the other group who start with IV therapy will then follow with an early transition to oral antibiotics for the remainder of the treatment.

The study will be conducted at eight hospitals strategically selected because they meet the following criteria which is a mix of urban, suburban, and rural populations and will be distributed geographically across the U.S. with racially and ethnically diverse populations.

“John Hopkins Medicine has been on the forefront of research to improve the treatment of bacterial disease and optimize patient outcomes, especially in those with chronic medical conditions,” reports Amita Gupa, M.D, Director of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Professor of Medicine at the JHU School of Medicine.

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Medical Center Invests in Robotic System

The St. Mary Medical Center https://www.comhs.org/about-us/st-mary-medical-center located in Munster Indiana, specializes in high quality cancer treatments, cardiology, neurosciences, mother-baby and orthopedic care. It was recently announced that St. Mary’s has invested in the minimally invasive lon robotic-assisted bronchoscopy system.

The intuitive lon endoluminal system is designed to address a challenging aspect of lung biopsy by enabling physicians to obtain tissue samples from deep within the lung. The system features an ultra-thin and maneuverable catheter that allows navigation far into the peripheral lung with unprecedented stability.

According to Janice Ryba, CEO, St. Mary Medical Center, “We are thrilled to offer the lon system and expect outcomes with this program to be exceptional. Investment in this technology complements our robotic-assisted surgical program enabling patients to receive all care from biopsy to surgery at St. Mary’s”.

Bilal Safadi, MD, lon-Certified Pulmonologist, Community Care Network, on staff at St. Mary Medical reports, “Our patients benefit from diagnosis and treatment in the same day rather than having biopsies first and then scheduling surgery for a later date.” 

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Simplifying Access to Addiction Treatment 

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation https://www.hazeldenbettyford.org is simplifying the distribution of addiction treatment and recovery support content with the Oracle Cerner EHR https://www.cerner.com and Xealth’s https://www.xealth.com digital therapeutic distribution platform.

The new system makes it easier for Hazelden Betty Ford clinicians to personalize care for their patients by assigning them digital content, including therapeutic education, exercises, and workshops accessible via the EHR’s patient portal. The new central repository for patients is going to be accessible during in-person or online treatment and at later touchpoints throughout their long term recovery process.

Hazelden Betty Ford a Oracle Cerner client, is the nation’s largest nonprofit system for addiction treatment, mental healthcare, recovery resources, and related prevention and education services. “We are committed to personalized care and empowering our patients with accessible and relevant resources at every stage of recovery,” said Deb Bauman, Chief Information Officer, VP of Technology Services at Hazelden Betty Ford.

As the nation’s leading nonprofit provider of comprehensive inpatient and outpatient addiction and mental healthcare for adults and youth. The Foundation has treatment centers and telehealth services nationwide as well as a network of collaborators throughout healthcare.

Caregivers at Hazelden Betty Ford are able to assign therapeutic content from within their EHR workflow in response to individual patient situations and in anticipation of individual patient needs.

In addition, care teams will gain insights into how patients are engaging with the content and how well each is performing via analytics which is organized in an intuitive dashboard and provides custom reporting.

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Increasing Diversity & Equity in CTs

Valley-Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Care Received $652,000 over 3 years from Becton, Dickinson (BD), to use to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in cancer clinical trials. 

The grant will help fund Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) interventions that will increase access to clinical trials and leading edge healthcare opportunities for underrepresented patient populations, including racial and ethnic minority groups.

In August 2021, the Valley Health System https://www.valleyhealth.com was selected as one of 75 research sites nationwide to participate in a pilot project launched in collaboration between the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) which focused on increasing racial and ethnic diversity in cancer clinical trial participants. 

As a participating research site, Valley Health conducted a site self-assessment to identify any policies, procedures, or programs that may affect which patients are screened for and offered a clinical trial. Research and care team members also underwent implicit bias training to acknowledge and mitigate bias that might affect which patients are offered clinical trials.

Then Valley drafted the “Oncology Program Clinical Trial Diversity Initiative”, which includes several internal interventions that when acted upon, will enhance clinical trial recruitment and ensure that underrepresented groups are included in cancer clinical trials.

The Oncology Program Clinical Trial Diversity Initiative is slated to roll out over the next five years.  

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Medical Sensors Attached to Skin

Soon wearable electronics could be used for precision medical sensors attached to the skin and designed to perform health monitoring and diagnosis. Worn routinely, future wearable electronics could potentially detect possible emerging health problems such as heart disease, cancer, or MS.

This type of skin like device is being developed in a project between the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Lab https://www.anl.gov and the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) https://pme.uchicago.edu. Leading the project is Sihong Wang, Assistant Professor at the UChicago PME.

The device could also do a personalized analysis of the tracked health data while minimizing the need for wireless transmission. However, the device would need to collect and process a vast amount of data, well above what even the best smartwatches can do today. However, the data crunching would need to use very low power consumption in a very tiny space.

The other major challenge is to integrate the electronics into a skin like stretchable material. Today, the key material in any electronic device is a semiconductor that is used in cell phones and computers which is normally a solid silicon chip. Stretchable electronics require that the semiconductor be a highly flexible material that is still able to conduct electricity.

The team’s chip consists of a thin film of a plastic semiconductor combined with stretchable gold nanowire electrodes. Even when stretched to twice its normal size, the device functioned as planned without formation of any cracks.

The research was funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Research, NSF, and a start-up fund from the University of Chicago. The research was published in “Matter” in a paper on August 2022, titled “Intrinsically Stretchable Neuromorphic Devices For On-Body Processing of Health Data with AI.”

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