Mayo Clinic, startup launch health passport app with initial focus on COVID-19

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Mayo Clinic has teamed up with a health technology company to launch a new digital service focused on reducing the high cost of testing and care for COVID-19, sexually transmitted diseases and other common medical conditions.

Mayo Clinic is partnering with Los Angeles-based Safe Health Group on the venture to improve access to efficient, affordable treatment for common medical conditions, the health system announced in conjunction with the start of the HLTH 2020 virtual conference Monday.

The venture will focus on testing for STDs and common ailments but will initially target COVID-19 through symptom tracking and testing by linking consumers, clinicians and test distribution into one digital solution, called HealthCheck.

HealthCheck is a smartphone and desktop app that’s designed to provide real-time health status verification while also protecting consumer privacy, much like a health passport, according to Ken Mayer, CEO of Safe Health Systems.

The SAFE platform emerged from the Mayo Clinic and Arizona State University Alliance for Health Care’s MedTech Accelerator program, a program designed to accelerate use-inspired research and improve patient care and outcomes through innovations. The venture will be part of The Mayo Clinic Platform, an initiative launched in January that uses emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, connected health devices and natural language processing for healthcare innovations.

 

As COVID-19 vaccinations become available, the application will support vaccine workflow and verification.

The apps and services will be available to universities, employers and organizations looking for resources to restart in-person activities and support new care models, according to the organizations.

As the country looks to bring back large public gatherings like concerts and sporting events, there will be a need to verify that individuals have been tested or have received a COVID-19 vaccine, according to John Halamka, M.D., who leads the Mayo Clinic Platform.

“Think about all the IT, cloud-hosted services and apps that are needed for every part of that,” he said. “We’re going to need a workflow to validate negative test results and who has received a vaccine and an app is the right way to do it.”

The future of virtual care includes on-demand diagnostic testing, including the tracking of lab results and proof of vaccine administration in support of the post-COVID-19 “new normal,” he said.

 

Safe Health Group got its start three years ago by developing a mobile app to track and verify a user’s sexual health. That app, called Safely, enables users to import test results from almost any doctor or lab and then show their verified STD status privately on their phone, Mayer said.

The company was able to leverage that technology to develop the HealthCheck app. Mayo Clinic wanted to work with Safe Health Group on the app because the company has a track record of developing apps that understand testing workflows and laboratory ordering even within a complex compliance and regulatory landscape, Halamka said.

When using the app, a user’s COVID-19 test result is recorded permanently in their phone in way that is not “fakeable,” Halamka said.

“It will provide you a QR code to show your employer, your school, or to show before attending an event,” he said.

Mayo Clinic and Safe Health Group have been working on the digital health app for the past nine months. The venture comes as employers are looking for back-to-work solutions and major airlines including American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and United have begun offering COVID-19 tests to passengers, allowing them to bypass quarantine restrictions.

 

Mayo Clinic’s role in the partnership is to provide lab testing and clinical expertise.

“It’s a really wonderful way of bringing together an agile software developer with great clinical expertise and lab capacity,” Halamka said.

The SAFE platform enables the rapid implementation of custom digital health applications, which combine digital provider services, artificial intelligence-based care automation and remote point-of-care diagnostics. The current COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for remote diagnostic and digital care services, the organizations said.

“Safe Health Systems represents the originality, creativity and optimistic belief required to yield innovative and transformative health care solutions,” says Steven Lester, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and founder and medical director of the MedTech Accelerator program. “The SAFE platform will support a digital revolution in health care and embodies how the MedTech Accelerator program supports innovative companies in their quest to advance patient-centric health care solutions.”

Mayo Clinic has invested in Safe Health Systems, as it is a strategic component of the Mayo Clinic Platform, the health system said.