To prevent “cognitive entrenchment,” think like a scientist and be wrong often

In a rapidly changing world, it’s important to be able to adapt and change rather than stubbornly adhering to old ideas and opinions. This was one of the lessons of 2020, a year that forced us to question many of our assumptions about what behaviors are safe, how work and school can be conducted, and how we connect with others.

“In a changing world, you have to be willing and able to change your mind. Otherwise, your expertise can fail, your opinions get out of date, and your ideas fall flat,” says organizational psychologist Adam Grant, author of the new book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know.

In his book, Grant explains why it’s so important for people to be humbler about their knowledge and stay open to learning and changing their minds. The book is filled with fascinating research and guidance on becoming more flexible … Read the rest

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AppliedVR raises $29M to help make virtual reality the standard of care for treating chronic pain

AppliedVR Raises $29 Million for Immersive Headsets (LA Business Journal):

Century City-based AppliedVR, Inc. announced March 23 that it has raised $29 million in Series A funding that will be used to continue development of an immersive headset to help patients with chronic pain.

… The company is building a headset called EaseVRx that will display immersive environments like campfires, mountains and other animated nature scenes to help patients dealing with chronic pain, including fibromyalgia and chronic intractable lower back pain…

AppliedVR Chief Executive and co-founder Matthew Stoudt said that the pandemic has generated more need for pain treatments that can be administered away from medical settings.

The Announcement:

AppliedVR Secures $29 Million in Series A Funding to Make Virtual Reality the Standard of Care for Chronic Pain (press release):

AppliedVR provides virtual reality-based treatments aimed at comprehensively treating chronic pain. Combining well-established cognitive behavioral therapies with mindfulness exercises, the company’s

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Crucial Balance

When Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Ga., began planning a replacement for its dated and undersized 1970s-era emergency department (ED), the Ebola epidemic was still top of mind. It was 2016, and issues like how to screen potentially infectious patients before entering a facility and the need for isolation rooms were important topics in conversations about healthcare design. That reality influenced the 263,000-square-foot, 166-bed replacement ED, which opened in July 2020 and includes an outdoor decontamination area, 14 negative pressure rooms, and spaces to serve as de-escalation/isolation/decontamination for patients presenting with infectious disease, behavioral health, or chemical contamination issues. “I give [Wellstar] credit for thinking ahead,” says Matthew Manning, principal at ESa who served as design manager on the project, a collaboration between ESa (Nashville, Tenn.) and Huddy HealthCare Solutions (Fort Mill, S.C.).

Those strategies have now served the ED during the current COVID-19 pandemic. “We’ve actually managed quite well … Read the rest

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Better Use: The David H. Koch Center For Cancer Care In Manhattan

As a longstanding leader in cancer care treatment, Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) set out to build its new outpatient facility in a manner that could serve as a model for cancer care in the 21st century. Recognizing design and technology as central to achieving that goal, MSK tapped ICrave (New York) to lead the experience design strategy at The David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care in Manhattan, having previously collaborated on MSK’s Josie Robertson Surgery Center in New York.

Together, the organizations embarked on a mission to reinvent how people experience cancer treatment within the 750,000-square-foot, 25-floor project completed in January 2020. The team started by examining experience at every turn and the myriad ways in which a patient—as well as their families and caregivers and medical teams—could have a better, more productive experience.

That was all the more important due to the sheer volume of time patients and … Read the rest

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Tip for digital health start-ups: To navigate regulatory gray areas, “engage early and engage often” with the FDA

FDA’s enforcement discretion for digital health is more ambiguous than ever in 2021 (MobiHealthNews):

The digital health ecosystem has swelled to encompass a broad range of products over the years.

On one end of the spectrum is software-as-medical-devices (SaMD) and prescription digital therapeutics, product categories for which a comprehensive regulatory strategy and engagement with the FDA are mandatory. On the other are wellness apps and other low-risk digital tools that likely spend more time worrying about oversight from the Federal Trade Commission than the health regulator.

However, a growing number of companies are finding themselves in a gray area of enforcement discretion, a term the FDA uses for lower-risk products that meet the definition of a medical device, but do not require regulatory submission, review and authorization before heading to market … Early-stage companies that haven’t yet internalized these concepts of documentation and transparency should take an “engage early and

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PHOTO TOUR: Blossom Court, St Ann’s Hospital

In July, St Ann’s Hospital, a healthcare campus and the headquarters for Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust in London, opened the first phase of a new campus. The 46,285-square-foot, $26 million Blossom Court mental health inpatient building houses four mental health wards.

The four wards are arranged around two private courtyards, allowing abundant daylight to penetrate interior spaces and providing patients with a positive focal point as they traverse the building.

To support physical health, exercise equipment is provided in both the courtyards and the building’s terraces. As the outdoor spaces can be independently accessed, patients are able to engage in activity at the time they feel most comfortable, without staff assistance.

The building exterior is designed to integrate with future phases, including a neighboring residential community. By internalizing the outdoor spaces, the building itself provides its own secure enclosure without the need for perimeter fences.

 … Read the rest

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Four trends accelerating mental health innovation in the COVID/ post-COVID era

The money behind mental health: How the pandemic increased innovation, investment in behavioral health care (Fierce Healthcare):

Earlier this month, Modern Health marked a milestone few companies ever reach: unicorn status.

With the help of its latest $74 million funding round, the startup, which serves as a mental health benefits platform for employers, topped a $1 billion valuation.

… And while Modern Health was already attracting plenty of interest before the pandemic, CEO Alyson Watson said her company is among those in the behavioral health space that have seen what can only be described as a seismic shift across the industry in the wake of COVID-19. In the first half of 2020 alone, digital behavioral health startups scored $588 million, roughly the annual funding for this segment in any previous year, Rock Health wrote in a report last year … That’s translating to some real changes in the industry, including

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Innovation in COVID times: Otsuka and Click Therapeutics announce fully virtual clinical trial, leveraging Verily’s Project Baseline

Otsuka launches pivotal trial of digital therapeutics for depression (MedCity News):

Otsuka Pharmaceutical is launching a virtual study to see if digital therapeutics can reduce depression symptoms.

It’s the next step in a partnership between the Tokyo-based drugmaker and Click Therapeutics, a digital health startup that is developing programs for smoking cessation, depression and insomnia.

They plan to enroll up to 540 patients in a randomized, controlled trial that will test the digital therapeutic’s efficacy in patients that are taking antidepressants. The remote trial will be conducted using Verily’s Project Baseline platform…

“Specifically, in mental health, we do think that digital therapeutics will provide additional benefits for patients and that’s the reason why we are not only interested in one intervention but also obviously are committed to broaden this with other approaches that are meant to improve the life of patients,” (Otsuka Chief Medical Officer Christoph) Koenen said. “We do

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On Brain Awareness Week, mental health innovation, tDCS, biofeedback, psychedelics, and more

Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, starting with some ideas to get in the mood for Brain Awareness Week next month (March 15–21st). May BAW 2021 be a hundred times more upbeat than last year’s…

#1. Seven brain teasers and a neuroplasticity podcast to celebrate Brain Awareness Week 2021

#2. Imagine what this capability may mean just a few years from now. Should/ will Google alert Gmail users about their (future) cognitive status? Study: Artificial intelligence program identifies linguistic markers that predict, with 70% accuracy, who gets Alzheimer’s Disease years later

#3. Similar to what happened to Thync back in 2016, Halo Neuroscience struggled to commercialize tDCS as a non-medical device and the technology is being repurposed for clinical use. Neuromodulation developer Halo Neuroscience closes its doors; Flow Neuroscience acquires assets

#4. Here you have a couple recent meta-analyses suggesting a growing adoption in the near future of web-based, … Read the rest

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Happify Health raises $73M to deepen partnerships with pharmaceutical companies and insurance payers

Happify Health raises $73M to expand its digital therapeutic care delivery capabilities (MobiHealth News):

Founded in 2012, Happify is best known for digital programs that provided automated self-guided support across various areas of mental health and wellness, such as stress management for employees or health plan members. Should the user need additional support, the platform can also facilitate a referral to third-party coaching, therapy, telemedicine or other available resources.

In more recent years the platform has expanded to address more than a dozen other chronic conditions, such as heart health and psoriasis, that can overlap with mental health conditions…

“Today, our platform covers more than 20 million lives, with more than 5 million individuals having received care through our platform,” said Tomer Ben-Kiki, cofounder and CEO of Happify, in a statement.

“We are also working with five leading pharmaceutical partners on digital therapeutic solutions and four out of the five

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