A nonprofit app marketplace & tales from a tele-ICU

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A nonprofit forms to build an app marketplace

One of modern medicine’s biggest market failures is the lack of a common data language to enable hospitals to adopt promising apps. But a group of health systems is launching a nonprofit today to tackle that challenge. Dubbed Graphite Health, the venture will seek to build an App-Store-like marketplace for standardized software tools, and it will be modeled off a parallel company called Civica Rx to make it cheaper and easier for hospitals to buy generic drugs. Even if they are having success on the drug side, the effort faces plenty of competition in the digital health market. Casey has the full story.


How a rural tele-ICU adapted to the summer surge

During the summer’s pandemic surge, Alabama’s hospital had more severely ill patients than its ICU beds could handle. As patients struggled to transfer to hospitals with critical care doctors, one rural hospital became an unexpected destination for patients as far as four hours away — thanks to a telehealth partnership that ported critical care expertise into its eight-bed ICU, Katie reports in a new story. The hospital’s outsized role in Alabama’s critical care is a contortion borne of the pandemic, not a long-term solution. But its experience suggests that tele-critical care could be an essential element to help build back the health of both rural hospitals and their patients.


2022, we’re coming for you

Winter may be coming (again), but the digital health sector remains red-hot. Fueled by fresh attention, unprecedented levels of capital, and record-setting numbers of deals, the health tech arena is well on its way into another explosive year. The next three months are likely to see the debut of at least a few digital health companies onto the public market and the maturing of previously underfunded sectors such as women’s health. STAT’s health tech team assembled an overview of the milestones you can expect before 2022.

Your smartphone may read your mood

The effort to turn smartphones into a focal point of mental health tracking has picked up steam. The latest is an iPhone app launched today by vocal biomarker startup Sonde, which claims to be able to track your “mental fitness” from daily 30-second voice samples. The company, which has raised $19 million and recently inked a deal with chip giant Qualcomm, plans to use the app as a proof of concept to employers, health systems, and others who may want to use the tech. Sonde is hardly alone in its efforts. Verily recently published a study showing how different streams of smartphone data — like ambient audio level, location, and movement — might be used to measure symptoms of depression. And Apple is reportedly plowing ahead with research that could lead to a feature that tells users about their mental health.

Quote of the week

“I would say the jury is still out, really, as to whether the robotic surgeries that we’ve been doing for 20 years have been, including all of their effects, better than the surgeries that they replaced.” 
– Sherry Glied, economist and dean of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service

Last month, Vicarious Surgical went public via a SPAC merger on the promise that its surgical robots — smaller, more flexible, and directed by a surgeon wearing VR goggles — could outperform the machines that have infiltrated operating rooms over the last decades. But as STAT’s Isabella Cueto reports, there is still no clear data on when it is appropriate to use the popular da Vinci robots from Intuitive. And Vicarious similarly has not shared outcomes data on its bot, which it plans to file for FDA clearance in 2023.

The new and newly-funded

  • Hybrid care company Carbon Health acquired remote monitoring startup Alertive Healthcare. Carbon’s recent push into home care brings up to speed with several other digital-first care companies who’ve used acquisitions to make inroads in chronic care management. Erin has the scoop.
  • TrialSpark, which is developing technology to expedite clinical trials, raised $156 million in a Series C round. The company plans to use the money to build out its software and invest in biotech companies with promising drug candidates.
  • Thyme Care, a Nashville-based company, raked in $22 million for its cancer care navigation software. The company seeks to pair patients with a digital care team that can walk them through everything from booking appointments to managing symptoms.
  • Within Health, a digital clinic for people with eating disorders, was launched Monday by co-founders Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, a psychiatrist, and Abhilash Patel, a venture investor whose portfolio includes Lyft and ClassPass.

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