Parents struggling to provide for families during pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic poses risks to children’s health, well-being, and development as parents struggle to provide for their families, according to a survey released by the Urban Institute.

The Urban Institute’s Health Reform Monitoring Survey was conducted between March 25 and April 10, 2020. The analysis included responses from 9,032 adults (aged 18 to 64 years).

The researchers found that more than four in 10 (43.3 percent) parents living with children younger than 19 years reported that they or a family member lost a job, work hours, and/or work-related income because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Rates were higher among Hispanic (62.2 percent) and black parents (49.7 percent) versus non-Hispanic white parents (36.5 percent). Due to the outbreak, one-third of families reported the need for someone in the family to stay home from work to care for children, and 16.5 percent reported difficulty arranging child care. Lower-income parents and Hispanic parents reported being less likely to work from home versus higher-income parents and non-Hispanic white parents. Due to the pandemic, nearly one-third (31 percent) of parents reported their family had cut back spending on food, and three in 10 reported that their family had reduced savings or increased credit card debt. One-third of parents (33.8 percent) reported food insecurity and/or problems paying for housing, utilities, or medical costs in the previous month, but this was higher among lower-income parents (52.5 percent), Hispanic parents (51.7 percent), and non-Hispanic black parents (48.2 percent).

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Amwell scores $194M, as telehealth business booms during coronavirus pandemic

This morning telehealth giant Amwell raised a whopping $194 million in a Series C funding. Allianz X and Takeda were among the participants this round. 

Amwell has a history of large funding rounds. In 2018 it raked it a cool $365.4 million in Series B funding, and in 2014 it raised $81 million.  

This latest funding news comes as telehealth gets its era in the spotlight, as providers and patients look for alternatives to in-person care due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“As we come out of covid there is going to be a newfound understanding of how digital plays a role in the fabric of healthcare. It is a new balance of physical vs digital,” Amwell President and CEO Dr. Roy Schoenberg, told MobiHealthNews last week. “With that comes that mature understanding that we are going to regularly care for our patients through telehealth. It is going to be part of the way our relationship happens.”

WHAT THEY DO 

Founded in 2006, Amwell is one of the largest telehealth companies in the U.S. Its offerings include virtual urgent care, pediatrics, telestroke, population health management, telepsychiatry and chronic disease management. 

It is able to work with health systems in order for them to create their own telehealth program that can integrate with the system’s EHR. Its markets also includes health plans, Medicare advantage plans, and employers. 

In mid-April, Amwell announced its new virtual-health offering geared towards small and medium physician practices with less than 100 providers.

Clinicians using the platform, dubbed Amwell Private Practice, will be able to begin scheduling virtual appointments for their existing patients. Amwell also noted that the tool is currently available to these practices through June 30, with fully waived per-provider fees.

WHAT IT’S FOR 

The company plans to use the new money to help expand its technology and services and help providers scale. 

“The past two months have accelerated telehealth by more than two years,” Ido Schoenberg, CEO of Amwell, said in a statement. “We intend to build upon this momentum to transform healthcare with digital care-delivery. Our strategic investors are providers, insurers, consumer gateways and healthcare innovators. Each of these partners play[s] a key role in creating a more interconnected digital healthcare ecosystem, where our mission is to deliver greater access to more affordable, high quality care.”

THE LARGER TREND 

It’s no secret that during the coronavirus pandemic rates of telehealth usage have skyrocketed. Teladoc, one of Amwell’s biggest competitors, announced a major spike in demand in its first quarter. In its April earnings call it disclosed that its year-over-year revenue grew 41%, from $128.6 million in 2019 to $180.8 million in 2020. It also reported that total visits grew by 92%.

“You have a perfect storm that says we need to fend all people’s healthcare concerns somewhere else,” Schoenberg said. “So, telehealth sort of stepped in to become the aggregator or the destination where people went to. … That translated in a matter of days or maybe a week. … Somewhere in the middle of March to what we see today which is a sustained about thirty-fold increase in volume. This is not 30%, this is not 300%, this is 3,000% of growth and increase in telehealth.”

 

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Treatment guidance for lung cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lung cancer patients are at heightened risk for COVID-19 and the reported high mortality rate among lung cancer patients with COVID-19 has given pause to oncologists who are faced with patients with not one, but two severe, life-threatening diseases.

To help oncologists address the many challenges COVID-19-positive lung cancer patients present, a team of global lung cancer specialists this week published a review of lung cancer treatments for patients with COVID-19 in the current issue of the Journal of Thoracic Oncology, the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC).

“The purpose of this manuscript is to present a practical multidisciplinary and international overview to assist in treatment for lung cancer patients during this pandemic, with the caveat that evidence is lacking in many areas,” said lead author Chandra Belani, MD, chief science officer for the IASLC, Professor of Medicine and Oncology at the Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Cancer Institute.

As a group, lung cancer patients tend to be older and have an increased risk of relative immunosuppression from the underlying malignancy and from anti-cancer treatments. Furthermore, patients with lung cancer may have additional comorbidities, including a history of smoking and pre-existing lung disease.

“A major consideration in the delivery of cancer care during the pandemic is to balance the risk of patient exposure and infection with the need to provide effective cancer treatment,” Belani writes.

The rapid onset of the COVID-19 infection requires careful consideration of urgent decisions to treat lung cancer. Treatment decisions balancing the risk of exposure with effective care require close multidisciplinary discussions and thorough deliberation between caregivers and patients. The duration and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic are unclear, and treatment delay alone will be insufficient to provide optimal treatment to cancer patients.

“In combination with determining a treatment path for lung cancer, physicians should educate patients to help them prevent further spread of COVID-19 according to WHO and CDC guidelines,” Belani urged colleagues.

COVID-19 complicates cancer care further by forcing patients into self-isolation to protect themselves, other patients, providers, and family members.

“Self-isolation goes against best practices for treating cancer patients, which often calls for joining support groups, reaching out to loved ones and family members for assistance and remaining active,” Belani said. “The decision regarding immediate vs. delayed treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic should balance the delay of treatment in the presence of existing co-morbidities vs. the possible harm from COVID-19.”

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