12 interesting health IT, innovation partnerships in 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic has not stopped hospitals and health systems from developing interesting partnerships with tech companies and other organizations to deliver better care.

In some instances, the pandemic accelerated the need for new types of collaborations in healthcare. Here are 12 of the most innovative partnerships so far this year:

1. Baptist Health South Florida in Coral Gables, Fla., partnered with home developer CC Homes in July to provide free virtual healthcare services and digital exam kits to new homebuyers. The Banner Health Digital Health Kits are powered by TytoCare and include unlimited virtual urgent care visits, a personal exam device, infrared digital thermometer and adapters to record earns, throat, heart and lungs.

2. Walmart has been moving further into the healthcare space, and on July 7 it partnered with pharmacy benefit manager Capital Rx to adopt its drug pricing framework for specialty and mail-order prescriptions. Capital Rx has a cloud-based technology platform that provides real-time information about drug unit prices.

3. Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health partnered with Paladina Health to offer direct-to-employer primary care across its 137 hospitals in 21 states. The partnership will provide membership-based primary care services at clinics in Las Vegas initially and then expand to other markets. Paladin already provides services to 122 clinics in 19 states.

4. On June 17, Epic partnered with five Chicago-based Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans to launch a new health information exchange platform that aims to ease the communication between insurers, providers and patients. The new Payer Platform operates through Epic and establishes two-way information exchange between Health Care Service Corp., the parent company of Blue Cross and Blue Shield health plans, and providers.

5. On May 8, Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health entered into a strategic partnership with Ensemble Health Partners to develop a new regional operations center in the Appalachian Highlands that will employ up to 500 people and serve several hospitals and healthcare organizations. The new center aims to support IT and revenue cycle systems.

6. Google and Apple announced they would team up to help governments and health agencies track COVID-19 spread using Bluetooth technology in early April. The two companies launched application programing interfaces that made Android and iOS mobile devices interoperable so they could track contact between individuals and notify users if they came into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The technology is opt-in and has not been widely adopted in the U.S., but was revolutionary in moving forward interoperability.

7. Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare partnered with Israel Innovation Authority in March. The Israel Innovation Authority funds organizations that support new product and technology development, and Hartford HealthCare aims to use the funding to bring new startups and technologies to the system for further testing and development. Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic and Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health partnered with IIA in the past.

8. Emory Healthcare in Atlanta partnered with Verizon to test 5G-powered healthcare devices, including connected ambulances, medical imaging and remote physical therapy. The partnership was announced on Feb. 28 to launch 5G ultra-wideband network within Emory Healthcare Innovation Lab. Verizon also agreed to provide nine innovation hub partners network and security services, including project management and infrastructure.

9. United Airlines tapped Cleveland Clinic to advise on social distancing protocols during flights. The airline partnered with Cleveland Clinic and Clorox on May 20 after a physician tweeted a photo of every seat full on the plane. However, United's CEO said during a conference eight days later, "If you look at an airplane, airplanes don't have social distancing. Six feet — we're not going to be 6 feet apart."

10. Mass General Hospital in Boston partnered with Google Cloud and ProofPilot in February to enhance its digital clinical trial platform. The new software will be integrated into the HIPAA-compliant Google Cloud server and implement Google's data products designed around FHIR interoperability standards.

11. On July 14, UnitedHealth Group's Optum announced its partnership with Boulder (Colo.) Community Health to manage the nonprofit health system's data analytics and revenue cycle functions. The partnership will allow the health system, which has financial challenges, to stay independent, and 275 Boulder Community Health employees will become Optum employees as a result of the transition.

12. Cleveland-based University Hospitals partnered with NASA to create technologies and methods to decontaminate personal protective equipment for aerospace applications and COVID-19 front-line workers. The system's venture capital arm, UH Ventures, facilitated the partnership to develop new approaches to sanitizing masks on site and reusing them.


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