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NEWS

Congress, states hold the keys to telehealth expansion

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An executive order signed Monday directed a swath of federal agencies to expand telehealth services after the pandemic ends. But at this point, much of that work will be up to Congress and state governments.

The directive ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to draft up a policy that would keep Medicare’s expanded telehealth coverage after the Covid-19 pandemic ends, and for multiple agencies to create a plan to improve communications infrastructure in rural areas.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, too, announced plans to add more covered telehealth services next year to its proposed Medicare physician fee schedule.

Ultimately, Congress and state legislators will have the final say in shaping what telehealth looks like in the near future.

“I think the administration is pushing as far as they can within reason in terms of making sure (telehealth) is reimbursed and trying to put forward programs to expand infrastructure and access, particularly in rural America,” American Telemedicine Association Director of Public Policy Kyle Zebley said in a phone interview. “But at the end of the day, as helpful as these actions have been, so much of this is going to by necessity require changes in statute and laws passed by Congress to really seal in the changes by industry we’ve had these past several months.”

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, states have rolled out dozens of temporary actions to expand what telehealth services are covered by Medicaid, allow providers who are licensed out-of-state to provide care, and in some cases, require commercial insurers to pay the same for telehealth visits as in-person visits.

At the same time, CMS lifted restrictions, allowing Medicare to cover telehealth visits that take place in patients’ homes, and for a wider variety of services.

The result has been an explosion of telehealth visits, with roughly 10.1 million Medicare patients using telehealth between mid-March and July, according to CMS.

The big caveat, then, is that CMS got the authority to waive these telehealth restrictions through the CARES Act.  Once the public health emergency ends, everything would go back to how it was before, unless Congress gives them the authority to keep some of these changes.

“Congress actually holds the keys to this one because they have those requirements in statute,” Jacob Harper, an associate with Morgan Lewis, said in a phone interview. “The Secretary of Health and Human Services can’t actually override those things.”

There’s already legislation in the works to address this. A House bill introduced last month would give HHS authority to waive or change Medicare telehealth requirements during emergencies “and for other purposes.”

“A lot of this stuff — everyone in the industry would breathe a lot easier if it was passed with legislation,” Zebley said.

But that still leaves two of the biggest remaining hurdles to telehealth to be sorted out: reimbursement and licensing.

 

Two big hurdles

Currently, with the Covid-19 pandemic, Medicare is paying the same for telehealth visits as in-person visits. But in the future, if telehealth makes up a much larger portion of total visits, could that change?

“That’s going to be one of the critical questions that they’re going to have to deal with,” Harper said.

Private insurers have also been grappling with that question. While BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee was one of the first to say it would expand its telehealth coverage after the pandemic, it hasn’t yet said how much it would pay for those services.

On the state level, there’s been more momentum. While most states already required coverage parity from private insurers, a handful of states added temporary requirements that they must pay the same amount for telehealth as in person visits. And three states — California, Arizona and Washington — have laws that would require payment parity starting in 2021.

That leaves licensing, the main restriction keeping physicians from taking appointments across state lines.

For most states, the solution has been to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which effectively streamlines the licensing process for physicians who want to work in multiple states. Some of the most populous states, including California, Texas, Florida and New York, are not currently part of the compact. But six states — including New York — have introduced legislation to join the compact.

While it’s a quick solution, it’s still not perfect. The costs add up: on top of the initial $700 to participate in the compact, most states charge more than $300 to practice in their state, with a few charging more than $700.

“I think that could be a mechanism to better this, but the cost of the licensing issue is a tricky one,” Harper said. “Each state has an incentive to protect doctors and personnel who are already licensed through that state.”

The bottom line: while telehealth has certainly seen its moment in the past few months, it will still take a big push from many different entities for the momentum to continue.

“To make this grand experiment really work, I think you need buy in from every stakeholder at some level,” Harper said. “Everyone needs to be on board here and I think just about everyone is.”

 

Photo Credit: wigglestick, Getty Images

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FOOD

Eat Out to Help Out Scheme Details

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Signage for the 'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme, at the Regency Cafe, in London, one of the participating restaurants where diners will be able to enjoy half-price meals, starting on Monday as the Government kick-starts its August scheme aimed at boosting restaurant and pub trade following the lockdown. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)

The government has officially rolled out the UK’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme, which aims to get people eating out at restaurants and pubs to help boost the hospitality industry following the coronavirus outbreak. Throughout the month of August, people will be able to get discounted food at a number of popular eateries — though there are, of course, certain restrictions. The deal only applies on certain days and there’s a limit to how much of a discount you can get. Here’s everything you need to know about the Eat Out to Help Out scheme.

What Is the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme?

From 1 Aug to 31 Aug, Eat Out to Help Out offers customers 50 percent off their meal at participating restaurants, pubs, and cafes. The discount is available from Monday to Wednesday and includes children and groups of any size.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak set up the scheme to help struggling businesses in the hospitality sector by encouraging the British public to eat out again, whilst also reassuring people that it’s safe to do so following months of lockdown.

Do I Need a Voucher?

No, you don’t need a voucher. The discount will automatically be applied to restaurants and pubs that have signed up to the scheme. When it comes to restaurants and pub chains with multiple locations, make sure to check if your particular branch is signed up beforehand, as some popular chains are franchised businesses so not all branches are participating. You can use the Eat Out to Help Out discount at the same time as other discounts and vouchers.

What Is the Minimum Spend, and Is There a Maximum Number of Times I Can Use the Scheme?

The Eat Out to Help Out discount is capped at £10 per person and does not apply to alcohol. There is no minimum spend to get the discount and there is no limit to the number of times you can use it.

What Restaurant Chains Are Included?

More than 72,000 restaurants in the UK have signed up to the scheme, according to Sunak. The discount applies to any participating eatery where food and drink is consumed immediately on the premises, meaning takeaways are not included. Popular chains participating include Nando’s, Wagamama, Franco Manca, Honest Burgers, McDonald’s, Pret A Manger, Zizzi, Toby Carvery, and many more. Though, we encourage visiting local and independent restaurants, pubs, and cafes when possible. To find out which local eateries near you are taking part, you can enter your postcode here for a full list. Many cafes and restaurants will also have the official Eat Out scheme poster in their windows.



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HEALTH

Live Workouts on POPSUGAR Fitness’s Instagram, Week of 8/3

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If your workout routine needs some new energy, we feel you; the home-fitness grind can get a little stagnant after a while. That’s why we’re continuing our series of Instagram Live workouts over on @popsugarfitness, with different trainers joining you live to lead workouts from their living rooms to yours. This week, we’ve got barre, dance cardio, a resistance-band burnout session, and a donation-based on-the-mat workout hosted by Deja Riley that’ll benefit the ACLU. Check out the full schedule below, add it to your Google Calendar so you don’t miss a session, and catch up with our previous Instagram Live workouts on the free Active by POPSUGAR app.

  • 15-Minute No-Equipment Full-Body Workout With Melissa Wood: Monday, 3 Aug., at 5:30 p.m. BST/12:30 p.m. ET
  • 30-Minute Full-Body On-the-Mat Workout With Deja Riley to Raise Funds For the ACLU: Tuesday, 4 Aug., at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
  • 35-Minute No-Equipment Barry’s Workout With Taryn Brooks: Wednesday, 5 Aug., at 6 p.m. BST/1 p.m. ET
  • 45-Minute Booty-Band Burnout Workout With LIT Method: Thursday, 6 Aug., at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET (equipment recommended: resistance band)
  • 40-Minute No-Equipment Pure Barre Workout With Shantani Moore: Friday, 7 Aug., at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
  • 20-Minute All-Levels Dance Party With PlyoJam: Saturday, 8 Aug., at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography



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Pfizer, BioNTech score deal to supply 120M Covid-19 vaccine doses to Japan

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The entrance to a Pfizer office in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Days after announcing the start of their late-stage clinical trial of a vaccine to prevent Covid-19, a U.S. drugmaker and its German partner are supplying a large number of doses of vaccine to Japan.

New York-based Pfizer and Mainz, Germany-based BioNTech said Friday that they would provide 120 million doses of vaccine from their BNT162 development program, assuming regulatory approval, to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, in the first half of 2021. Financial details were not disclosed, and terms were based on timing of delivery and volume of doses, but the companies had signed a deal with the U.S. government to supply 100 million doses of vaccine for $1.95 billion.

The announcement referred only to BNT162, which collectively includes four vaccine candidates. In an email, a Pfizer spokesperson wrote that assuming clinical trial success and regulatory approval, the vaccine in question would be BNT162b2, which is the same vaccine that entered a global Phase IIb/III clinical trial last week. The other lead vaccine candidate is BNT162b1.

Shares of Pfizer were down more than 1.6% on the New York Stock Exchange Friday in late-afternoon trading. Shares of BioNTech were down about 2.5% on the Nasdaq.

“We are deeply honored to work with the Japanese government and to marshal our scientific and manufacturing resources toward our shared goal of bringing millions of doses of a potential Covid-19 vaccine to the Japanese people as quickly as possible,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in a statement. “In the face of this global health crisis, Pfizer’s purpose – breakthroughs that change patients’ lives – has taken on an even greater urgency.”

The news comes amid the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, which were originally scheduled to take place in Tokyo between July 24 and Aug. 9, but have been postponed until summer 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Apart from Pfizer and BioNTech, several other companies are also running late-stage clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines. These include Moderna’s Phase III trial of mRNA-1273, which like BNT162 is a messenger RNA vaccine, though that study is only taking place in the U.S. China’s Sinovac and British drugmaker AstraZeneca are also running Phase III trials.

Photo: Dominick Reuter, AFP, via Getty Images

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NUTRITION

Intermittent Fasting: The Best Foods for Breaking a Fast

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Intermittent fasting is not a diet; it’s a pattern of eating. You eat during a certain period of time every day and don’t eat during the rest of the time. It’s simple and straightforward. The most popular fasting pattern is the 16/8 method, in which you eat during a designated 8-hour period only. People often ask, what are the best foods to eat to break a fast if you want to lose weight more effectively?

The answer is to ease your body back into eating with easy-to-digest foods that are wholesome and nutrient dense. Plan your meals ahead of time and stick with the basics, incorporating nutrients from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. When you eat healthfully during your 8-hour window, you ensure that you’re getting the nutrients you need to power your active lifestyle.

Here are some of the best foods for doing that.

Protein

Choose your protein from fresh, lean, minimally-processed sources. Many of these will come from animal proteins, but if you are a plant-based eater and prefer meatless meals, lentils and other legumes are good sources of minimally-processed protein. If you do eat meat regularly, lentils and beans are also considered to be a source of carbohydrates.

Protein

Examples of protein: Eggs and egg whites, fish, shellfish, chicken, turkey, lean beef, bison, pork, wild game, cultured cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, and tempeh.

Complex Carbohydrates

Choose complex carbohydrates that are whole, minimally-processed sources that pack a lot of nutrition and fiber. It’s also important to include a variety of starches and colorful fruits in your total carbohydrate intake. If you want a fast, convenient way to get your complex carbohydrates, try Swolverine’s Clean Carbs.

Examples of complex carbs: Sweet potatoes, yams, beans and lentils, oats (steel-cut, rolled, old-fashioned), plain non-fat Greek yogurt, kefir, fresh and frozen fruit, corn, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, whole or sprouted grains (bagels, breads, muffins, pastas, wraps), and whole-grain rice (brown, black, wild).

Healthy Fats

These fats will come from a variety of sources like nuts, nut butters, and oils, sticking with anti-inflammatory oils like extra-virgin olive and avocado. Unless you’re following a specific diet, healthy fats shouldn’t exceed more than 30-35 percent of your daily calories.

Examples of healthy fats: Oils (extra-virgin olive, walnut, avocado), marinades made with anti-inflammatory oils, cheese aged more than 6 months, egg yolks, seeds (chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame), nuts (cashew, walnut, almond, peanut, brazil, pecan, pistachio), natural nut butters, pesto made with extra-virgin olive oil, and unprocessed coconut.

Vegetables

Vegetables come in all sorts of shapes, colors, flavors, and textures. There are so many to choose from that there’s really no reason not to eat vegetables every day. Aim for two palm-sized portions of vegetables in every meal, regardless of whether they’re fresh or frozen, raw, steamed, sautéed, or microwaved. Make sure half of your daily vegetable intake comes from leafy and other cruciferous vegetables.

Vegetables

Examples of vegetables: Beets, broccoli, tomatoes, radishes, onions, peppers, cabbage, squash, carrots, cauliflower, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, eggplant, salad greens (spinach, arugula, kale, baby kale, collards, spring mix, etc.), celery, green beans, and cucumbers.

Fermented Foods

These are a staple of any healthy-gut diet. Not only do fermented foods boost the number of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics, in your gut, but they also contribute to improved health, digestion, and absorption of nutrients from your other foods—fruits, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates, for example. Choose fermented foods that are unsweetened, as those are the best to break a fast with.

Examples of fermented foods: Kefir, tempeh, natto, kombucha, cabbage, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut, and probiotic yogurt.

Fresh Fruit

It’s no secret that fruit is a staple of any healthy diet and that some fruits are more nutritious than others. If you’re looking to boost your intermittent fasting weight-loss results, stick with fruits that are lower in sugar than others.

Fresh Fruit

Examples of lower-sugar fruits: Apples, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, grapes, pomegranates, oranges, cherries, grapefruit, apricots, peaches, prunes, oranges, and kiwi.

What Foods Should You Avoid When Practicing Intermittent Fasting?

These foods will keep you from losing weight efficiently when you’re practicing intermittent fasting. They’re short on nutrients and harder on the digestive tract than their fresh, wholesome counterparts.

  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • Fried foods
  • Highly processed foods
  • Simple carbohydrates
  • Inflammatory oils
  • Excessive caffeine

Breaking Your Intermittent Fast: The Takeaway

Of course, you don’t have to choose any of the foods on this list to break your intermittent fast, but you’ll miss out on their benefits. Eating healthfully will help you maximize your intermittent fasting efforts as well as increase your overall health, reset your metabolism, and help you lose weight faster.

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HEALTH

Live Workouts on POPSUGAR Fitness’s Instagram, Week of 7/27

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A lot of us rely on fitness classes to get us out the door and to the gym, even when all we want to do is veg out on the couch. That strategy doesn’t work as well when so many gyms and fitness studios are still shut, but we’ve got the next best thing: Instagram Live workouts, all on @popsugarfitness, coming at you every morning this week. You can even add the schedule to your Google Calendar and set your alarms now!

Check out the full slate of workouts below, including kickboxing, Tabata, core mobility, and a donation-based cardio workout, led by Deja Riley, to benefit the ACLU. Grab your phone and a sweat towel and get ready to work! (PS: you can access all our previous Instagram Live workouts on the free Active by POPSUGAR app.)

  • 30-Minute Lower-Body Strength Training Workout With Ashley Joi: Monday, 27 July, at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
  • 30-Minute Bodyweight Cardio Workout With Deja Riley To Raise Funds for ACLU: Tuesday, 28 July, at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
  • 35-Minute No-Equipment Barry’s Workout With Mackenzie Ross: Wednesday, 29 July, at 6 p.m. BST/1 p.m. ET
  • 45-Minute Ultimate Core + Conditioning Workout With LIT Method: Thursday, 30 July, at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET (equipment recommended: foam roller or water bottle)
  • 30-Minute Cardio Kickboxing Workout With Kick It By Eliza: Friday, 31 July, at 9 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
  • 30-Minute Upperbody and Core Mobility Workout With Angela Gargano: Saturday, 1 August, at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET (equipment recommended: mini resistance band)
  • 30-Minute Cardio Core Tabata Workout With Kristina Earnest: Sunday, 2 August, at 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography



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INVEST Pitch Perfect winner spotlight: Luma Health keeps patients connected between visits

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Luma Health’s platform automates scheduling and referrals via text message. Screenshot from MedCity Invest

Often, a painful experience will spur founders to start a new company.

For Luma Health CEO Adnan Iqbal, it was tearing his ACL during a soccer match. He was told that he would have to wait three weeks before he could even get in for an appointment. But after calling in several times, he was able to get in and get to surgery within that week.

Luma Health CEO Adnan Iqbal

He relayed his experience over lunch to his friend and co-founder, who was finishing a radiology fellowship at Stanford. He, too, was facing scheduling problems.

“Patients were waiting five to 10 weeks to see him when he had eight to 10 openings on his calendar,” Iqbal said in a phone interview.

The idea was to create a simple fix to this broken system. Not only would it make for happier patients, but it could also boost health systems, which face unused capacity on a given day.

For most appointments, patients call in, and are told a physician won’t be available for another month or two. Assuming the doctor is busy, patients hurriedly make an appointment. But they’re unlikely to keep it.

“Any patient that schedules more than two weeks in the future is at a high risk of disappearing. Their schedule changes, life changes, they forget to cancel or they’re a no-show,” Iqbal said. “Within a 48-hour window there are such constant changes to a hospital’s schedule and a lot of people fall through the cracks, unfortunately.”

This leaves call centers trying to contact patients to fill last-minute openings, but with mixed results.

Luma’s approach is to send automated text messages to patients that allow them to schedule or confirm a visit just by clicking a link. For example, it can let patients know they’re due for their annual well visit, or that they were referred by their primary care physician for a colonoscopy. Patients receive reminders the day before, including instructions, such as having someone to drive them in for their procedure.

After the visit, it follows up with questions, such as whether the patient is feeling nauseous or light-headed, that can lead to a video visit if needed.

Iqbal said the company sees referrals upwards of 60%, where normally just 15% to 30% of patients follow through with a referral.

The company has been around for five years now, and 16 million patients use its platform. In the last year, the company started to see growing interest in patient engagement platforms, as health systems began to think more about their “digital front door.”

The Covid-19 pandemic only further magnified that, as clinics needed a way to route patients to the right point of care – and fast.

“We started seeing that pull in 2019. Once the pandemic hit, it really accelerated that transformation. It went from a top-five priority to a must-have,” Iqbal said. “It’s been all hands on deck”

The company worked with UC San Diego Health to implement its platform in just eight days. They needed to be able to message a quarter of a million patients on which locations to go to and what services were available.

Luma’s other clients include UCSF Health, public health system Cook County Health and Salud Family Health Centers, a federally qualified health center in Colorado.

In the future, Iqbal hopes to deepen Luma’s work on the clinical side and help stratify patient risk.

“How can we guide them further in the journey than we are able to today?” he said.

 

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NUTRITION

6 Clever Ways to Use Protein Powder (That Aren’t Shakes)

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Protein shakes and smoothies are as much a part of the fit life as a closet bursting with spandex. For many of us, shakes are a non-negotiable daily ritual.

Getting enough protein is critical for building muscle, burning fat, and boosting recovery after strenuous workouts, and a powder that delivers 20-plus grams in one shot, shaken with water, is the straightest line between you and your daily protein goals. But you don’t have to live on shakes alone. After all, you do have teeth. There are plenty of other ways to use protein powder in healthy, energizing foods that will keep you (and your muscles) nourished and fueled throughout the day.

Use these protein hacks in your routine as a break from shakes. Just be cautious: Not all protein powders behave the same way when you bake and cook with them. Start with our suggestions or whatever you already have on hand, and then experiment to fine-tune your recipes.

1. Soups and Stews

“Collagen is the hottest type of protein powder on the market,” says dietitian Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD, who recommends using it in savory dishes like soups and stews.

What’s great about collagen is that it’s easy to toss in when you’re cooking, and it doesn’t compromise flavor.

Soup

“It’s virtually tasteless and even one small scoop can be a nice protein booster to thicken soups and sauces,” Rizzo says.

Just stir in the amount you like until you reach your preferred thickness, and you’re set.

Try it with: MuscleTech Platinum 100% Hydrolyzed Collagen

2. Chia Seed Pudding

If you’re looking for a way to make your chia pudding thicker and creamier, add a scoop or two of whey protein powder.

“For a simple recipe, combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 1 cup of your favorite milk and 1 scoop of protein powder,” Rizzo suggests.

Let the mixture chill until it jells up from the chia seeds. Then add toppings, such as nuts, seeds, or fresh fruit.

Try it with: Bodybuilding.com Signature 100% Whey Protein, Chocolate

3. Muffins

Generally, muffins don’t contribute much to a healthy diet, but when there’s some protein added to the mix, you get a much healthier treat.

“If you want to add a protein boost to your muffins, you can substitute about 1/3 cup of flour with 1/3 cup of protein powder in most recipes,” says Rizzo.

Muffins

She suggests using an unflavored variety for this type of baking, which won’t affect the taste of the muffins.

Try it with: Isopure Whey Protein Isolate, Unflavored

4. Pancakes

“Pancakes are one of my favorite breakfast meals!” says dietitian Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT, CPT. “But as much as I love carbs first thing in the morning, without a dose of protein, I find myself getting hungry within an hour or two.”

Protein powder is the solution.

“Simply add the powder into the mixing bowl when you add the flour, and combine with your traditional ingredients like milk, eggs, and baking powder,” Shaw says.

For pancakes, you may want to use a flavored protein powder.

“I highly recommend pairing the flavor based on your choice of pancakes,” Shaw says. “For instance, a more traditional pancake tastes great with a vanilla flavor while something more creative like carrot cake pancakes pairs well with a cinnamon roll flavored protein powder.”

Try it with: Optimum Nutrition 100% Gold Standard Whey Protein, Vanilla Ice Cream

5. Energy Bites

Sure, you may have seen a thousand different recipes for energy bites on Pinterest, but the ones that really help satiate athletes who are burning insane amounts of energy during training are those that pack protein, too.

Protein Energy Bites

“While nuts provide a plant-forward source of protein and healthy fat, used solo, one bite will typically have under 4 grams of protein, which leaves individuals eating more than perhaps they’re comfortable with to meet their post-workout protein recs,” says Shaw. “Instead, try mixing 1-2 scoops of chocolate or peanut butter protein into your bites. This will create a satisfying snack filled with protein.”

Try it with: Natreve 100% Vegan Protein, Fudge Brownie Sundae

6. Proats

If your cooking skills are at the toast-and-ramen level, we got you. “Proats,” or “protein oats,” is your entry-level protein recipe. Make oatmeal, stir in protein powder. Boom. Any protein powder will work here. Use a little extra water when you cook your oats, though, or it can turn out gluey.

Try it with: REDCON1 MRE Lite, Dutch Apple Pie

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HEALTH

Just Egg Folded Plant-Based Egg Review

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There are easy and healthy egg replacers for vegan baking like flaxseed or banana, but you can’t exactly scramble those and make an omelette! Just Egg is a new product for those wanting to eat eggs, but as the package states, it’s “made from plants (not from chickens).” Ok, but how does it taste? And is it healthy? Keep reading to find out.



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CVS builds out digital health program with five more companies

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Last year, CVS Caremark launched a program to make it easier for health plans to implement digital health tools. Since then, it has steadily added a stream of companies to its new Point Solution Management Service, including Livongo, Hinge Health and Hello Heart.

On Wednesday, CVS added another five companies, focused on weight loss and mental health. They include:

  • Daylight, an app to help users manage worry and anxiety
  • Vida, a startup that offers personalized health coaching and therapy
  • Naturally Slim, an online weight loss program
  • Weight Watchers, which has built out its own digital plans
  • And Kurbo, a program designed by Weight Watchers to help children and teens make healthy lifestyle choices.

CVS Caremark CMO Sree Chaguturu shared more about his long-term vision for the program.

“There’s been an explosion of investment and development in digital health applications and solutions,” he said. “But there have been a couple of challenges: how do you know which ones have an impact and are high quality? How do you pay for them? … Those pain points are what we’re trying to address in Point Solution Management.”

Through this model, Chaguturu said health plans can pay for digital health solutions based on how many of their members use a service as opposed to a flat access fee.

Caremark also vets the solutions by looking more closely at their clinical claims and supporting data, as well as conducting a security and business review of each solution.

“We don’t see these solutions as replacing clinical care but as an adjunct and supportive to help patients in self-management,” he said.

Pharmacy benefit managers have recently begun taking a closer look at digital health companies as an adjuvant to traditional medicines. Last year, Express Scripts launched its first digital health formulary, with solutions from Livongo, Omada Health, Propeller and SilverCloud.

Whether these programs will create more widespread use of digital health tools remains to be seen, but it’s a promising first step to help bridge some of the practical gaps toward adoption.

Photo credit:  exdez, Getty Images

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