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Peterson Center on Healthcare launches US$50m institute to assess digital health tools

The organisation aims to better monitor the evolving pipeline of emerging digital health technologies

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The Peterson Center on Healthcare is to launch a nonprofit organisation to provide independent evaluations of innovative technologies in healthcare.

Launched with a commitment of US$50m, the Peterson Health Technology Institute (PHTI) aims to deliver evidence-based assessments to analyse the clinical benefits and economic impact of digital health solutions, as well as their effects on health equity, privacy and security.

Digital health technologies have vast potential to improve US health system performance by revolutionising delivery, advancing better outcomes, enhancing the patient experience, and promoting equity—all while lowering costs.

Yet, patients, providers, payers, and investors have limited information about the efficacy and performance of the many digital health tools entering the sector.

PHTI says it aims to fill this information gap with independent, publicly-available evaluations. The organisation will establish an original assessment framework developed specifically for digital health tools, in partnership with the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER).

“Technology has the power to transform healthcare, improving outcomes for millions of Americans while also reducing our rapidly growing delivery costs,” says Michael A. Peterson, CEO of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

“It’s clear that digital tools and artificial intelligence can provide a range of benefits to patients, but we have an inadequate understanding of what works and how much it should cost.

“By producing independent, evidence-based research on emerging technologies, the Peterson Health Technology Institute will help improve and accelerate healthcare innovation in the United States.”

The institute, Peterson says, will monitor the evolving pipeline of emerging digital health technologies to better inform the purchaser and investment community.

It will then collect and analyse evidence about the clinical performance of health technologies to ultimately identify promising digital health innovations and expose those not delivering their stated benefits.

Caroline Pearson, executive director of the Peterson Center on Healthcare, said: “As digital health tools replace and augment traditional healthcare, they should both deliver better health outcomes and improve affordability.

“In order for technology to successfully contribute to the goal of a more effective and efficient healthcare system, patients, providers, and payers need better information about what works.”

By 2030, the global digital health market is expected to reach US$1.5tn. Over the past decade, investment in digital health in the US has increased nearly tenfold, to US$15.3bn.

However, despite this significant investment, many experts argue that most digital health tools lack sufficient evidence to support their claims about clinical benefits.

“The Peterson Health Technology Institute can play an essential role in cutting through the hype surrounding new digital health technologies and the commercial interests behind them, providing independent, evidence-based evaluations of their potential for improving care and lowering costs,” said Drew Altman, president and CEO of KFF and a member of the Peterson Center on Healthcare’s advisory board.

Helen Darling, former president and CEO of the National Business Group on Health and a member of the Peterson Center on Healthcare’s advisory board, added: “The independent evaluation of digital health tools is not only a great public service and resource, but it can also help drive the industry to be more rigorous and focused on contributions that meet the most urgent needs for information, quality care, effectiveness and efficiency.”

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Start-up launches London Underground campaign to break down period stigma

The two-week campaign seeks to challenge societal taboos surrounding menstrual health

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The Irish women’s health start-up Riley has launched an ad campaign on the London Underground to “take the fear out of periods”.

Riley, an eco-friendly period product subscription service, aims to take action against period poverty and democratise access to period products.

The company seeks to encourage the introduction of menstrual health policies and foster a workplace where discussions around periods are normalised.

Its two-week London Underground campaign, which coincides with the opening of its first office in London, is hoped to help destigmatise periods and normalise conversations around menstrual health.

“The idea behind this campaign comes from the fact that free period care in the office is often seen as an employee perk or a ‘nice to have’, when it should actually be an essential offering in every office,” Meaghan Droney, eCommerce manager at Riley, told Femtech World.

“Our aim with this campaign is to flip those current mindsets and get people to change their attitudes towards period care in the workplace.

“With 79 per cent of menstruators feeling unsupported in relation to their periods at work, this oversight is clearly fundamentally unfair and it’s time for change.

“We’re encouraging any and all businesses to get in touch with us so we can support them in introducing menstrual policies and free period care in their workplace to empower all employees, no matter their gender, to thrive and feel valued at work.”

Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that only 12 per cent of UK companies provide support for menstruation and menstrual health, despite 85 per cent of women experiencing stress or anxiety when managing their period at work.

Data suggests that half of the women who take absence because of their menstrual cycle feel unable to tell their manager, underscoring the deep-rooted stigma around periods.

Fiona Parfrey, co-founder of Riley, said: “Access to safe and high-quality sustainable period care products not only demonstrates a commitment to employee welfare but also fosters a culture of empathy, equality, and respect, ultimately contributing to a more engaged and empowered workforce.

“Menstrual policies and free period care are a fundamental necessity for every individual in the workplace. It’s about ensuring that employees have the resources they need to maintain their wellbeing and productivity without interruption.”

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Singapore-based fertility centre sets up grant for couples struggling to conceive

This grant aims to support eligible Singaporean couples facing financial and family planning challenges

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A Singapore-based fertility centre is to set up a grant to support couples struggling to conceive.

Virtus Fertility Centre Singapore (VFCS) announced that it would set up a grant to support aspiring parents on their IVF journey.

The initial grant is set for at $50,000 SGD and, depending on the take-up rate over the next 12 fiscal months, VFCS plans to increase the pool to benefit more couples in the subsequent years.

The grant will cover the main costs associated with IVF treatments and procedures, including embryo retrieval and transfer, laboratory services and embryo prep. It will also be applicable to fresh and frozen egg transfers.

As grant recipients, their samples will similarly be given a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag, a service VFCS provides for all its patients. It locks the patient’s identity with the respective sample. The RFID identifies gametes—eggs, sperms, or embryos—at every stage of the IVF treatment.

According to VFCS, the grant will also include access to counselling services and wellness resources.

“I’ve witnessed firsthand the emotional toll and occasional frustration that infertility can take on individuals and couples, especially for some who are still young and healthy,” said Dr Roland Chieng, medical director at VFCS.

“The common deterrent of going for fertility treatment is always associated with the cost, more so in a private care setting where their only source of funds is through Medisave.

“By alleviating their financial concerns, we hope ReadyBaby Fertility Grant empowers patients to approach their IVF journey, focusing on their clinical needs and working towards a healthy pregnancy and less on financials.

“With access to the necessary treatments and support, patients can embark on their path to parenthood with renewed confidence, knowing they have the clinical resources and guidance they need to navigate this journey,” he added.

Tim Kwan, VFCS’s managing director, said: “We believe every couple deserves the opportunity to experience the profound joy of parenthood.

“With the ReadyBaby Fertility Grant, we aim to support aspiring couples on their IVF journey and help them bring new life into the world.”

To be eligible for the grant, applicants must be married Singaporean couples diagnosed with medical infertility by a fertility specialist and first-time parents who have not tried IVF before.

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Canadian insurer launches partnership to support women’s health

Members of the Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross will have access to a dedicated women’s health platform

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Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving

The Canadian insurer Medavie Blue Cross (MBC) has partnered with the virtual health platform sanoLiving to support women on their menopause journey.

Currently, more than 10 million Canadian women are navigating menopause, often with little support and misinformation about treatments.

With sanoMidLife, sanoLiving’s online menopause platform, Medavie Blue Cross members will have access to a national women’s health platform tailored to provide care and services for women going through the menopause.

The service includes personalised assessments, access to clinicians, treatments, educational content, peer support and AI assistance.

“Many women lack support for their menopause transition due to the misunderstandings of what is ‘normal’ and misinformation about treatments,” said Angela Johnson, co-founder and CEO of sanoLiving.

“Women are seeking solutions that allow them to thrive during midlife. We are thrilled about our alliance with Medavie Blue Cross, and our shared commitment to providing access to care that empowers women.”

Anita Swamy, senior vice president operations at Medavie Blue Cross, added: “We’ve heard first-hand from our members about the need for more menopause-related services.

“Our partnership with sanoLiving creates an innovative way to increase access to care for our members as we continue to focus on the support women need to navigate their benefits and provide forward-thinking options to support their health.”

Studies report one in 10 women exit the workforce due to unmanaged symptoms. Early onset of menopause and symptoms before age 45 can elevate the risk of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, dementia and osteoporosis.

With this new service, Medavie Blue Cross and sanoLiving are aiming to open up the conversation around menopause, reduce stigma and work towards giving women the access to the care they need.

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