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Disruptive collaboration gains momentum in healthcare

The ViVE conference highlighted some of the exciting developments in healthcare such as making drugs more affordable, interoperability, improving home care and holistic health.

This article is part of a series powered by HLTH and CHIME to highlight key insights and perspectives from leading executives speaking at ViVE.

Disruptive collaboration has long been a theme of health tech innovation, but the ViVE conference highlighted how this concept has gained momentum particularly with the announcement that the nonprofit Civica Rx is preparing to manufacture and sell lower-cost insulin at $30 per vial. As part of a panel discussion at the conference, Civica board of directors chairman Daniel Liljenquist, who serves as Chief Strategy Officer with Intermountain Healthcare, provided a roadmap of how the nonprofit generic drug company planned to reduce chronic generic drug shortages and price gouging.

“The idea is essentially organizing the demand side of the equation in a different way,” said Liljenquist. “Pulling together disruptive collaboration with the goal of democratizing these issues, is the idea behind it.”

Liljenquist noted that 55 health systems are currently involved in Civica. It will produce insulin at its manufacturing facility in Petersburg, Virginia, with production capacity for about one-third of the market.

He also commented on the frustrating situation in healthcare of trying to balance the need to help patients with the business of healthcare.

“Everybody wants to see a solution, but they also are playing a gigantic game of hungry hippos just trying to get their marbles, right? But there are some things like drugs like, frankly, digital health, transformational care, specifically coming up with a lingua franca and clear, interoperable system that you can’t do through partial derivation. We can’t do it through a point solution. And so from CivicaRx to this, the principle is the same. We have a collective action problem in healthcare, and through nonprofit structures, but yet, the businesses that run like businesses are monetizing at the expense of the industry. I think our mutual play in our toolkit is to solve against seemingly intractable problems.”

Another exciting development is the push to move interoperability to a new level this year with the publication of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA). Its origins trace back to the 21st Century Cures Act calling for a national exchange framework to support data sharing between providers, health plans, patients, health information exchanges, and public health organizations was highlighted in a panel discussion at the conference. Although several groups such as CommonWell Health Alliance, eHealth Exchange, as well as health information exchanges, and more have helped advance interoperability, TEFCA seeks to establish universal guidelines for national interoperability and simplify connectivity for organizations to exchange information. The heads of The Sequoia Project and Carequality took part in a panel discussion on this topic at ViVE.

The Startup Pavilion cast a spotlight on entrepreneurs from the Cedars-Sinai accelerator and AARP’s Age Tech Collaborative who have taken several different approaches to addressing pain points in healthcare. Some of those challenges include making home healthcare less stressful for caregivers, how to improve access to holistic care, and helping people articulate how they would like to be cared for before they are unable to care for themselves.

OmPractice is a digital health platform that seeks to use remote participation in evidence-based wellbeing exercises, such as yoga, meditation, pilates, Tai chi, Qigong, in part to reduce economic and geographic barriers to wellness. Although it has a direct to consumer model, it also has corporate partners such as ESPN and University of Massachusetts. It also works with the Veterans Administration to provide access to the platform to some of its Veterans Integrated Services Networks (VISN). OmPractice hosts 100 live and interactive classes weekly. Although the classes are designed to improve mobility, they also seek to promote mental health, helping participants relax and reduce stress.

The company recently added a class geared for cancer recovery and a pelvic health class to help women strengthen the pelvic floor led by a physical therapist.

The instructors leading the classes can provide real time feedback to participants. Although the company launched in 2017 with co-founders Christopher Lucas (CEO) and Sam Tackeff (COO), its membership has been helped by those reluctant to return to in-person classes due to Covid-19 and prefer to participate in the comfort of their own home.

Eternally offers a personalized advanced care planning platform. Co-founder Matti Burnett explained that it helps patients nominate their healthcare power of attorney and document their living well. Hospital systems are its primary customers.

“Hospitals love us because in terms of value-based care, they get higher quality scores, when they have more advanced directives completed. We participated in the [latest] Cedars-Sinai accelerator [cohort] that just wrapped up in December and we have a pilot with them now,” Burnett said.

Ōmcare is a digital health company that aims to provide comprehensive support for caregivers.

“Everyone’s racing to develop a home health strategy,” Grant Barrick, Ōmcare Chief Growth Officer observed. “What we’re trying to do is be the infrastructure that allows that to happen.”

That infrastructure combines a mail-order pharmacy, a medication adherence component, and a telehealth component for visual confirmation that the patient takes their medications on time, through a portal device.  The device also can take patients’ vital signs through a transdermal optical imaging tool.  It collaborates with at least two other companies who plug into its infrastructure platform.

Photo: 9amstock, Getty Images