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Digital Health Roundup: March Mad About Medtech Meetings; Telehealth Legislative Update

Executive Summary

In this roundup feature focusing on new developments in digital health, Medtech Insight spotlights conference highlights from HIMSS, AAOS, Sensors Summit and legislative telehealth news.

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March was a ‘madhouse’ of medtech conferences and Medtech Insight kept its ears close to the ground reporting live from Chicago’s American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons conference in Chicago, the Sensors Summit in La Jolla and LSI in Dana Point as well as remotely from HIMSS 2022.

We kicked off our coverage from the Sensors Summit in La Jolla on 2 March with SVB health care advisor Jonathan Norris’ outlook for healthtech. He predicts that US venture fundraising will slow down significantly this year including for the fastest-growing healthtech subsectors. He foresees “massive consolidation” and expects the IPO window to remain open for big market stories with early revenue traction.  (Also see "Silicon Valley Bank Advisor Predicts 2022 Will Be Year For Healthtech, Massive Consolidation" - Medtech Insight, 8 Mar, 2022.)

Next up was the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Orlando, which Medtech Insight covered remotely.

Here, GE Healthcare announced it is currently recruiting health care systems to help it evaluate its new Edison Digital Health Platform, which is designed to seamlessly aggregate data from multiple devices or other sources, including devices and software not made by GE.

“With easy access to the workflow, analytics, and clinical apps specific to care across the care continuum, clinicians will have actionable insights at their fingertips to help better serve their patients,” said GE Healthcare’s chief digital officer, Amit Phadnis.

Philips Healthcare plans to be a stronger partner to providers for both in-hospital and at-home care and this ambition ranks alongside the company's transition to virtual care, both in and outside the hospital for Philips’ connected care business.

The company’s agenda at the recent HIMSS meeting included co-creating roadmaps, servicing long-term agreements and partnering with providers on their evolving operational needs.  (Also see "Philips At HIMSS22: Informatics Is Taking Pressure Off Providers" - Medtech Insight, 1 Apr, 2022.)

Penumbra, Inc., known for Penumbra system, a catheter for the brain that dislodges clots from arteries, introduced its latest rehabilitation product, the Real System Y-Series at HIMSS. The Real System Y builds on the company’s currently available Real Immersive System by offering patients and therapists additional game-based therapeutic activities. Penumbra first introduced the Real Immersive System in February 2020 after it was cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration in March 2019 for upper extremity rehabilitation including stroke patients.  (Also see "HIMSS 2022: Penumbra Previews Expanded VR Rehabilitation System For Stroke With Planned Launch In April" - Medtech Insight, 14 Mar, 2022.)

This year’s annual American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) meeting drew more than 30,000 attendees to McCormick Place in Chicago and Medtech Insight caught up with some of the major players and innovative smaller companies to learn about their product launches and latest technologies.  (Also see "AAOS 2022 Roundup: Stryker, Zimmer Biomet, J&J’s DePuy Synthes, Canary Medical" - Medtech Insight, 29 Mar, 2022.)

The surgical ecosystem continued to be a big theme with several major companies presenting their latest offerings.

Stryker Corporation launched its next-generation Insignia Hip Stem for total hip and hemiarthroplasty procedures. Insignia uses the new Total Hip 4.1 software, which allows surgeons to use data from a 3D CT-based plan to capture each patient’s unique anatomy.

Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. showcased its latest addition to the ZBEdge suite of integrated technologies called WalkAI, which uses algorithms to identify patients who are predicted to have a lower gait speed at 90 days after hip and knee surgery. The daily prediction is compared to anonymized, real-world data from an existing ZBEdge database to identify when a patient’s recovery may not be on track based on predicted low speed.

It also showcased its new Optivu Mixed Reality Suite, which was developed in partnership with Microsoft Corporation. The system has various applications including medical training, pre-peri and post-operative surgical demo applications.

Fundamental VR, which developed the Fundamental Surgery simulation platform designed to help surgeons train for surgeries in the virtual world, launched the Bankart procedure at AAOS.

Explorer Surgical, demoed its software used for remote case management of surgeries.  (Also see "AAOS 2022 Roundup: 3D Printing, Digital Tech In Surgery, Fixation Technologies, Curved Implants" - Medtech Insight, 31 Mar, 2022.)

Legislative News

Telehealth made some strides on the legislative front. In March, President Biden signed into law a $1.5tn omnibus spending bill that extends temporary waivers for telehealth coverage for Medicare recipients.

The waivers, put into law at the start of the pandemic, will remain in place for at least five months post-public health emergency, set to end 16 April. The waivers include geographic requirements that allow beneficiaries to receive telehealth services from any location, including their home. It also expands the list of eligible providers that can offer telehealth, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, special therapists, and audiologists.

The legislation also keeps in place federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) and rural health clinics (RHCs) to continue providing telehealth services and extends the waiver of the requirement that patients using digital technology for behavioral health see a provider in person prior to their virtual visits.

The US House has extended to Medicare recipients temporary waivers for telehealth coverage that was put in place at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation now moves to the Senate where it’s also expected to pass.  (Also see "House Extends Telehealth Benefits In Massive Spending Bill, Sends To Senate" - Medtech Insight, 10 Mar, 2022.)

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