According to an Orlando Health press release, “The Orlando Health program is the first in Central Florida to be approved for Medicare and Medicaid patients, with future plans to expand the service for patients with private insurance and at other Orlando Health locations. It is an extension of a federal initiative created during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to increase hospital capacity and maximize resources.”
Orlando Health is a not-for-profit healthcare system with 3,200 beds at 23 hospitals and emergency departments. It is the fourth largest employer in Central Florida with 4,500 physicians and 23,000 employees. Its Hospital Care at Home program serves patients who meet clinical criteria with 24/7 telehealth remote monitoring and virtual care from the Orlando Health Patient Care Hub. In-person nursing visits are also offered daily, according to Orlando Health.
“Orlando Health wanted to be able to provide a different level of care for its patients and give them a different opportunity to be cared for other than the brick-and-mortar of the hospital,” Linda Fitzpatrick (above), Assistant Vice President for Advanced Care at Orlando Health told Health News Florida. “We’ll have decreased infectious rates in their homes, decreased exposures. It is a healthier and happier place to be in order to heal.” Clinical laboratories in the Orlando area will have the opportunity to serve healthcare providers diagnosing patients in non-traditional healthcare settings. (Photo copyright: Orlando Sentinel.)
Lowering Costs and Avoiding In-hospital Infections, Medical Errors
Treating patients at home, even after inpatient visits, can save them money. At the same time, patients are more comfortable in their own homes and that contributes to faster recoveries.
“[We’ll be able to measure] heart rate, respiration, temperature, and blood pressure. We’ll also do video conferencing from that location with the patient. We’ll have nurses going to the patient’s home at least twice a day,” interventional cardiologist Rajesh Arvind Shah, MD, Senior Medical Director of Hospital Care at Home, Orlando Health, told Health News Florida.
Orlando Health patients can be safely treated in their homes for many conditions including:
According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), “many are seeing the hospital-at-home model as a promising approach to improve value. … This care delivery model has been shown to reduce costs, improve outcomes, and enhance the patient experience. In November 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched the Acute Hospital Care at Home program to provide hospitals expanded flexibility to care for patients in their homes.”
And in “Australia’s Hospital-in-the-Home Care Model Demonstrates Major Cost Savings and Comparable Patient Outcomes,” we predicted that wider adoption of that country’s HITH model of patient care would directly affect pathologists and clinical laboratory managers who worked in Australia’s hospital laboratories. Having more HITH patients would increase the need to collect specimens in patient’s homes and transport them to a local clinical laboratory for testing, and, because they are central to the communities they serve, hospital-based medical laboratories would be well-positioned to provide this diagnostic testing.
Now that federal funding for AHCaH waivers has been extended, more healthcare providers will likely start or expand existing HITH programs.
“I think [the renewed funding] is going to allow for additional programs to come online,” Stephen Parodi, MD, Executive Vice President External Affairs, Communications, and Brand, Permanente Federation; and Associate Executive Director, Permanente Medical Group, told Home Health Care News.
“For the next two years, there’s going to be a regulatory framework and approval for being able to move forward. It allows for the collection of more data, more information on quality, safety, and efficiency of these existing programs,” he added. Parodi also oversees Kaiser Permanente’s Care at Home program.
Labs without Walls
Clinical laboratories can play a major role in supporting HITH patients who require timely medical test results to manage health conditions and hospital recovery. Lab leaders may want to reach out to colleagues who are planning or expanding HITH programs now that federal funding has been renewed.
Using Genetic Sequencing to Find Causes of Short Telomeres
People with STS could develop conditions including bone marrow failure, liver disease, and lung disease earlier in life than others, the news release pointed out.
However, according to the researchers’ paper, “Management of STSs is fraught with significant challenges such as delayed diagnoses, lack of routinely available diagnostics modalities, and standardized treatment guidelines.”
Nevertheless, some physicians are already leveraging information about telomeres in patient treatment. And many consumers have been turning to telomere diagnostic testing companies to learn the lengths of their own telomeres. They’ve learned that the longer the telomeres the better, as shorter telomeres are associated with accelerated aging.
“The length of certain telomeres gives a history of all the assaults a person has been subject to over the course of her lifetime,” a Wired article noted, quoting Joseph Raffaele, MD, co-founder of PhysioAge Medical Group, a clinical practice in New York City that specializes in “proactive” medicines. He goes on to call telomeres “the new cholesterol.” (Photo copyright: drraffaele.com.)
More Study into STS is Needed
GenomeWeb summarized the Mayo study’s methodology as follows:
“An analysis of data from 17 patients with STS confirmed by flow-FISH (fluorescence in situ hybridization) occurred;
Two were of unknown significance in TERT and RTEL1
Study authors concluded that while some genetic mutations are common to short telomeres, they were found in only about 40% of the people in their study. So, more research is needed to discover other causes of short telomeres.
The study found that when compared to people with normal blood telomeres, people with shorter telomere lengths and more rapidly aging blood cells:
Were 50% more likely to develop new or increasing respiratory symptoms;
Were nine times more likely to die; and,
Had worse health status and quality of life.
“It is known that short telomeres are associated with common morbidities of COPD, but it was not known if there is a relationship between blood telomeres and patient-related outcomes in COPD,” Don Sin, MD, a chest physician who led the research at the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital, stated in a news release.
Other Takes on Telomeres
A Harvard Medical blog noted, however, that short telomeres do not necessarily mean disease is imminent, nor that long ones guarantee optimal health.
However, another expert questions the value of measuring telomeres for disease risk.
“In short, telomere lengths are too variable within a population, too variable within an individual, and too sensitive to environmental factors to offer any reliable information for common disease risk,” wrote Ricki Lewis, PhD, in PLOS.
Although there are many pitfalls to overcome, some doctors are pushing to use telomere information in patient treatment, and these studies from the Mayo Clinic and other researchers have contributed important data for diagnostic test developers.
In the end, vast and varied content about telomeres exists and clinical laboratory professionals may be called on to help clarify and assess the information. And that’s the long and the short of it.
It has been regularly demonstrated in recent decades that human breath contains elements that could be incorporated into clinical laboratory tests, so the decision to use this “breath biopsy” test in a therapeutic drug trial will be closely watched
Anatomic pathologists and medical laboratory leaders will be intrigued by GSK’s integration of breath-based specimens in a clinical trial of a respiratory drug. The partners in the trial aim to analyze breath samples to better understand the drug’s treatment effects and to discover personalized medicine (AKA, precision medicine) opportunities.
GSK (NYSE:GSK), headquartered in the UK but with a large presence in the US, researches and develops pharmaceutical medicines, vaccines, and other consumer health products.
Owlstone Medical, a diagnostic company, is developing a breathalyzer for disease and says it is on a mission to save 100,000 lives and $1.5 billion in healthcare costs. Dark Daily previously reported on Owlstone Medical’s Breath Biopsy platform. The Cambridge, England-based company has raised significant funding ($23.5 million) and already garnered credible cancer trial collaborators including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).
Now, Owlstone Medical has brought its breath analysis technology to bear on chronic disease outside of cancer diagnostics development. A pharmaporum article called Owlstone’s Medical’s work with GSK an “additional boost of confidence” in the company’s technology, as well as a means for revenue.
Billy Boyle, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Owlstone Medical (above), shown with the company’s ReCIVA Breath Sampler device. This will be used by GSK in its Phase II respiratory disease clinical trial of danirixin to “capture VOC biomarkers in breath samples.” (Photo copyright: Business Weekly UK.)
GSK Studying Future Treatments for Respiratory Diseases
COPD affects about 700 million people worldwide, an increase of about 65% since 1990, GSK pointed out. In September 2017, GSK presented respiratory disease data and its pipeline medications at the European Respiratory Society in Milan, Italy. Included was information on danirixin (an oral CXCR2 antagonist), which is part of the company’s focus on COPD disease modification, according to a GSK news release.
“Each of our studies sets the bar for our future research and innovation,” noted Neil Barnes, MA Cantab, FRCP, FCCP(Hon), Vice President, Global Franchise Medical Head, GSK Respiratory, in the GSK press release.
Clinical Trial Aimed at Identifying the ‘Right’ Patients
With Owlstone Medical’s breathalyzer, GSK plans to explore how volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can help identify patients who will benefit most from the company’s medications, as well as evaluate Danirixin’s effects. A critical element of personalized medicine.
“It’s part of our efforts to identify the right patient for the right treatment,” said Ruth Tal-Singer, PhD, GSK’s Vice President of Medicine Development Leader and Senior Fellow, Respiratory Research and Development, in the Owlstone Medical news release.
VOCs in breath will be captured in a non-invasive way from patients who wear Owlstone Medical’s ReCIVA Breath Sampler, which, according to Owlstone Medical, has CE-mark clearance, a certification noting conformity with European health and safety standards. The VOCs breath samples will then be sent to Owlstone Medical’s lab for high-sensitivity analysis.
“Non-invasive Breath Biopsy can establish a role in precision medicine applications such as patient stratification and monitoring treatment response,” said Billy Boyle, Owlstone Medical’s co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer.
VOC Biomarkers in Respiratory Disease
VOC profiles can be characteristic of COPD as well as other respiratory diseases including asthma, tuberculosis, and cystic fibrosis, reported Science/Business.
According to Owlstone Medical’s Website, VOCs are gaseous molecules produced by the human body’s metabolism that are suitable for Breath Biopsy. Their research suggests that exhaled breath reflects molecular processes responsible for chronic inflammation. Thus, VOCs captured through Breath Biopsy offer insight into respiratory disease biomarkers.
Breath also includes VOCs that originate from circulation, which can provide information on a patient’s response to medications.
How the Breath Biopsy Platform Works
Owlstone Medical’s platform relies on its patented Field Asymmetric Ion Mobility Spectrometry (FAIMS) technology, which “has the ability to rapidly monitor a broad range of VOC biomarkers from breath, urine and other bodily fluids with high sensitivity and selectivity,” according to the company’s website. During the process:
Gases are exchanged between circulating blood and inhaled fresh air in the lungs;
VOC biomarkers pass from the circulation system into the lungs along with oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other gases;
Exhaled breath contains exiting biomarkers.
It takes about a minute for blood to flow around the body. So, a breath sample during that time makes possible collection and analysis of VOC biomarkers from any part of the body touched by the circulatory system.
The medical analysis is enabled by software in the Owlstone Medical lab, Boyle told the Cambridge Independent.
“There’s an analogy with blood prints—you get the blood and can look for different diseases, and we’ve developed core hardware and technology to analyze the breath sample,” he said.
Another Breath Sample Device
The ReCIVA Breath Sampler is not the only breathalyzer focused on multiple diseases. Dark Daily reported on research conducted by Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology, into a breath analyzer that can detect up to 17 cancers, and inflammatory and neurological diseases.
But Owlstone Medical stands out due, in part, to its noteworthy partners: the UK’s National Health Service, as well as the:
And now the company can add collaboration with GSK to its progress. Though some question the reliability of breath tests as biomarkers in the areas of sensitivity and specificity required for cancer diagnosis, Owlstone Medical appears to have the wherewithal to handle those hurdles. It is a diagnostics company that many pathologists and medical laboratory professionals may find worth watching.
COPD and gestational diabetes research are the subject of two new projects aimed at intercepting diseases prior to onset and identifying preventive treatments
Can new insights into the human genome make it possible to diagnose disease much earlier—even before symptoms can be observed? Multiple research programs are targeting this possibility. One example is being conducted by Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The American multinational medical-device company wants to leverage recent developments in genetics, data analysis, and its worldwide partnerships, in an attempt to answer two profound questions:
• Can the earliest signals of disease be identified; and
• What treatments will assist researchers who are trying to prevent diseases?
To pursue these two goals, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is expanding its existing research project into disease prediction and prevention, which currently involves 24 global partners, according to an Associated Press March story. (more…)
More sophistication and performance in new POCT and monitoring systems for home use
Efforts to increase patient home self-testing and monitoring continue to pay off. Two new products for point-of-care (POC) health tests and patient home monitoring recently entered the marketplace. Both systems are devices that enable healthcare professionals to remotely monitor patients with chronic illnesses.
Separately, UK-based The Jaltek Group and Sweden-based Ericsson each introduced wireless monitoring systems worn by patients at home or in healthcare facilities. These systems improve patients’ quality of life by continuously monitoring their vital signs while allowing free movement. These devices also avoid the need for frequent trips to the doctor and may lower health care costs.