Discovery could lead to better maternal vaccines

Discovery could lead to better maternal vaccines

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A newly identified cellular process could lead to safer and more effective vaccines that protect pregnant women and newborns from dangerous infections, researchers say. A new study in Cell describes a previously unidentified route for antibodies to transfer from the mother to the fetus, illuminating a potential way to capitalize on the process to control when and how certain antibodies are shared.

“It’s always been assumed that the types of maternal antibodies that cross over the placenta to the fetus, all antibodies had the same chance of transferring to fetus,” says senior author Sallie Permar, a professor of pediatrics and member of the Duke University Human Vaccine Institute.

“This meant there was no way we could direct certain antibodies across the placenta and to the baby,” Permar says. “Our study found that there seems to be a code on the antibody that determines which antibodies will more effectively transfer across the placenta.”

Permar and colleagues studied two populations of pregnant women in the United States and Malawi infected with HIV, known to inhibit the transfer of antibodies to the fetus—and not just HIV antibodies. The researchers say this feature provided a unique circumstance to explore a little-understood process with implications for numerous common pathogens, including tetanus, pertussis, influenza, and others.

The researchers identified a sugar molecule that interacts with placental receptors, an interaction that had previously not been known to be involved in the antibody transfer process. The finding was corroborated in healthy women by another research team publishing in the same issue of Cell.

“We have shown that the efficiency of antibody transfer across the placenta is differentially regulated,” Permar says. “This insight could improve the design of vaccines for a variety of infectious diseases to improve the transplacental antibody transfer to the fetus.”

“Our findings provide a roadmap of how antibodies cross the placenta to the baby,” says lead author David Martinez, a PhD student. “We hope our results will be useful for developing antibody therapeutics that protect infants against infectious diseases in early life.”

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases partially funded the work.

Source: Duke University

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Source: Discovery could lead to better maternal vaccines

JPMorgan Moves Into Healthcare Payments Space With InstaMed Acquisition

JPMorgan Moves Into Healthcare Payments Space With InstaMed Acquisition

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is throwing down more than $500 million to acquire healthcare technology company, InstaMed, a move the investment bank hopes can cement its place in the niche payments market.

JPMorgan said the acquisition will expand the bank’s suite of payment services designed specifically for healthcare consumers, providers, and payers and also give it an advantage in what the financial institution described as one of the fastest growing sectors.

New, niche business

“With InstaMed, we combine the strength and scale of JPMorgan Chase’s payments capabilities with a leading healthcare payments solution for consumers, providers and payers. The InstaMed team is passionate about delivering an excellent client experience with a focus on innovation, keeping data safe and secure, and simplifying the end-to-end healthcare payments process – a natural fit with our Wholesale Payments franchise,” Takis Georgakopoulos, the global head of Wholesale Payments, JPMorgan Chase, said.

News agency, Reuters reported that the deal gave JPMorgan the chance to add a new, niche business sector to its wholesale payments business, an area into which the bank has steadily expanded in recent years.

This is JPMorgan’s biggest acquisition deal since 2008, when it bought Bear Stearns and the retail banking assets of Washington Mutual.

However, JPMorgan has yet to comment on how much it is spending to acquire InstaMed. It is expects the deal will close before the end of the year.

Healthcare spending in the U.S. was estimated to be worth more than $3.5 trillion in 2017. JPMorgan pointed out that there was significant “friction and inefficiency,” with these transactions. The financial services firm is betting that, with automation, it could reap huge rewards in the health payments sector.

“Legacy approaches to bill pay, claims processing, payment collection and reconciliation, among other areas, have been slow to modernize, causing pain-points across the industry. InstaMed’s centralized platform connects healthcare consumers, providers and payers through a proprietary healthcare payments network, enabling digital payments by sharing information securely and more efficiently than in traditional payment models,” the statement announcing the acquisition said.

JPMorgan’s Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Dimon, was quoted saying healthcare is one of the “toughest, most complicated [problems], but we know there are some things we can do to make the system work better.”

What InstaMed offers

InstaMed’s selling point is that it runs a centralized platform that helps eliminate paper, making an efficient process for consumers, while also cutting collection costs. The Healthcare Dive website explained that InstaMed, which employs about 300 people, built a patented, private cloud-based platform to link healthcare consumers, providers and payers, adding that the platform streamlines “the often confusing world of medical billing and payments.”

CNBC said that following the acquisition, JPMorgan plans to embed its vast payments infrastructure into InstaMed to offer a complete solution to clients. “The business will sit within this wholesale payments division, which moves $6 trillion a day for corporations around the world. The bank will also offer InstaMed to its entire universe of clients, from huge corporations to smaller businesses, and potentially integrate it with its JPMorgan Chase bill paying apps.”

It is estimated that automating claims-related business transactions could save providers and health plans more than $11 billion annually.

In 2018, InstaMed processed almost $100 billion in healthcare payments.

InstaMed co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Bill Marvin, said they were excited to be joining JPMorgan, saying the deal combined “one of the world’s preeminent financial institutions with the premier technology and talent in healthcare payments.”

Marvin, who will continue running InstaMed from Philadelphia, said: “Together, we will be able to invest in and expand the InstaMed Network, accelerate our consumer reach, and deepen our commitment to innovation.”

JPMorgan’s previous foray into Healthcare

The acquisition of InstaMed shows JPMorgan’s strategic focus on healthcare. At the beginning of 2018, it came together with Amazon and Berkshire to form Haven, an “independent company to address healthcare needs of their U.S. employees free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”

The Financial Times reported that the joint venture, Haven, is meant to reduce annual healthcare costs for the three groups’ roughly 1 million employees.

The idea behind the creation of Haven was that it would initially focus on technology solutions to provide the three companies’ U.S. employees with “high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.”

The InstaMed operation is separate from Haven.

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How the Micro-Moment Movement Will Revolutionize the Consumption of Healthcare

How the Micro-Moment Movement Will Revolutionize the Consumption of Healthcare

The quest for health and wellness knowledge continues to grow; in fact, 80% of Internet users search for health-related topics online.

Accompanying the increase in searches for health information, are changes in the ways we search for that information. Specifically, more searching is conducted on mobile devices. This substantial rise in mobile connectivity has resulted in more searches at the moment of impulse – the ‘micro-moment’.

“Micromoments occur when people reflexively turn to a device – increasingly a smartphone – to act on a need [or desire] to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped.” – Google

These micro-moments present a significant opportunity for those who participate in the healthcare industry. Think about these micro-moments as a way to forge deeper relationships, provide greater empowerment and, ultimately, deliver new insights to the healthcare consumer.

These “I want to learn”, “I want to do”, and “I want to buy” moments happen every day in the life of a healthcare consumer. They can occur when waiting in line for a prescription at the pharmacy, when delayed at a lab or doctor’s office, or while hanging out online via a telemedicine appointment. Serving up curated, relevant, well-timed content creates a personalized and simplified experience in an otherwise complex system during an often overwhelming healthcare journey.

Engaging visual content (such as animations and videos) presented at the right “micro-moment” has the ability to richly communicate complex topics in a more digestible form. As video continues to capture a larger share of online search results, it becomes an increasingly useful and efficient way to help consumers navigate within the healthcare ecosystem.

The key is to anticipate the needs of a healthcare consumer and deliver content at the moment a diagnosis is made, or when decisions around treatment need to be decided. As traditional face-to-face interactions with clinicians declines, patients are increasingly viewing their smartphones as personal health advisors. They expect to find answers online, as fast as possible, with little to no effort.

Delivering short bursts of knowledge to meet and anticipate patient needs during their journey of care can be used to change behavior and achieve positive health outcomes.

“I-Want-To-Know” or “What” Moment

The research phase of a healthcare consumer presents one of the greatest opportunities for healthcare providers to integrate, relevant and useful information. During this phase, the data indicate that 63 percent of healthcare consumers are looking for insight into a specific disease or medical problem and an additional 47 percent are looking for information on a particular medical treatment or procedure.

The opportunity

One emerging health trend is the use of health bots as an integrated part of healthcare workflows to improve efficiency and outcomes. Along with the use of artificial intelligence, natural language processing and machine learning, health bots are creating personalized interactions with users.

By deep linking content into a health bot platform, video content and rich visuals can be served up to enhance the overall customer experience. Imagine that when a diabetic patient is reminded to modify his diet by making an ingredient substitution to improve insulin levels, a 20-second animation on “what is insulin resistance” could pop-up on the screen. Inserting educational content at pivotal decision points could be used to improve adherence and trigger behavioral changes.

“I-Want-To-Do” or “How” Moment

Use of video tutorials, and how-to-guides are critical at times when a patient is at home taking medications or using at-home health devices. Patients often have a hard time recalling what was communicated during a recent patient visit or telemedicine appointment, making any type of instructional content more relevant during times of actual use.

The opportunity

When my son was diagnosed with asthma, I recall getting alerted by the pharmacy via a text that his inhaler was ready to be picked up. Why not, also serve up a short 30-second video on how to use an inhaler? By deep-linking relevant health content based on pre-programmed algorithms, the pharmacy could instantly and seamlessly deliver greater value to the patient, increasing patient satisfaction while simultaneously improving compliance.

“I-Want-To-Buy” or “Which” Moment

During this phases, the healthcare consumer looks to directly compare products and value relative to pricing. Eighty-two percent of those who have smartphones will review products on their mobile devices while shopping in a store to inform their decision.

Just the other day, I went into my local retail pharmacy to purchase a blood pressure device for my father. He wanted a simple machine to check his blood pressure a few times a day. When confronted with all of the various options at the pharmacy, I was overwhelmed by the choices and realized that I was not prepared to make a selection.

The opportunity

What if the retail pharmacy had tablets in the aisle to provide customers with a touch screen to give them more information about the features to consider, and other clinical guidance to make a purchase easier, thereby improving the customer experience?


Today, patients are bombarded with false health information and overwhelmed with multiple decision points along their continuum of care. By proactively looking across all channels and assessing various customer touch points, the healthcare industry can begin to anticipate and meet patients’ informational needs. Delivering relevant, curated content at the right “micro-moments” could lead to greater patient empowerment and improve patient outcomes.

Contact Match Health –

Match Health is a consumer-driven health education company focused on building content platforms to address the informational needs of consumers and bring greater awareness and access to new health innovations. The company works with clients to maximize user engagement through various digital channels by using content. Match Health has an extensive in-house media library and also co-creates new content to meet the needs of its clients. Contact to create a new consumer experience through robust health content.

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Blockchain: Opportunities for health care | Deloitte US

Blockchain: Opportunities for health care | Deloitte US

​Blockchain technology has the potential to transform health care, placing the patient at the center of the health care ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data. This technology could provide a new model for health information exchanges (HIE) by making electronic medical records more efficient, disintermediated, and secure. While it is not a panacea, this new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.​

What is blockchain and how can it provide opportunities for health care?

​A blockchain powered health information exchange could unlock the true value of interoperability. Blockchain-based systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate the friction and costs of current intermediaries.

The promise of blockchain has widespread implications for stakeholders in the health care ecosystem. Capitalizing on this technology has the potential to connect fragmented systems to generate insights and to better assess the value of care. In the long term, a nationwide blockchain network for electronic medical records may improve efficiencies and support better health outcomes for patients.

What is blockchain?

At its core, blockchain is a distributed system recording and storing transaction records. More specifically, blockchain is a shared, immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions built from linked transaction blocks and stored in a digital ledger. Blockchain relies on established cryptographic techniques to allow each participant in a network to interact (e.g. store, exchange, and view information), without preexisting trust between the parties. In a blockchain system, there is no central authority; instead, transaction records are stored and distributed across all network participants. Interactions with the blockchain become known to all participants and require verification by the network before information is added, enabling trustless collaboration between network participants while recording an immutable audit trail of all interactions.

Blockchain as an enabler of nationwide interoperability

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology issued a shared nationwide interoperability roadmap, which defines critical policy and technical components needed for nationwide interoperability, including:

  • Ubiquitous, secure network infrastructure
  • Verifiable identity and authentication of all participants
  • Consistent representation of authorization to access electronic health information, and several other requirements.

However, current technologies do not fully address these requirements, because they face limitations related to security, privacy, and full ecosystem interoperability.

Implementation challenges and considerations

Blockchain technology presents numerous opportunities for health care; however, it is not fully mature today nor a panacea that can be immediately applied. Several technical, organizational, and behavioral economics challenges must be addressed before a health care blockchain can be adopted by organizations nationwide.

Shaping the blockchain future

Blockchain technology creates unique opportunities to reduce complexity, enable trustless collaboration, and create secure and immutable information. HHS is right to track this rapidly evolving field to identify trends and sense areas where government support may be needed for the technology to realize its full potential in health care. To shape blockchain’s future, HHS should consider mapping and convening the blockchain ecosystem, establishing a blockchain framework to coordinate early-adopters, and supporting a consortium for dialogue and discovery.​

Source: Blockchain: Opportunities for health care | Deloitte US