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As Lee Fang writes in The Intercept, the CEO of health insurance giant Aetna has basic facts wrong about single-payer healthcare, aka Medicare for All. Speaking at a conference in NYC, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini stated that Canada is not a country that’s an example of a single payer healthcare system, but an example of a “government-run health care system. They’re not single payer, they’re single everything.” But as Karen Palme, an adjunct professor at Simon Fraser University points out, that is a false statement: “Doctors in Canada are not employed by the government. They are self-employed, they are independent business people. The system is publicly funded but privately delivered.” Lee Fang reiterates this point: Canadian doctors and hospitals work in the private sector and medical claims for virtually all non-dental health care are paid by the government.
The suggestion, however, that Canada has a completely government-run health care system under which all medical professionals “work for the government” is false.
The Medicare-for-All bill sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders proposes something similar: Americans would be incrementally enrolled into Medicare and free to choose their private-sector health care providers.
Also, a tweet by Senator Sanders highlights the women’s health implications of the Republican plan to repeal the ACA: “These flags mark all the abortion restrictions in the Republican repeal of Obamacare. This is a major rollback of women’s rights.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., (pictured below), has called the legislation that could be Republicans’ last hope to repeal the Affordable Care Act ” a really crappy bill.”
“What the Genomic Revolution Means for Your Health“, an article I coauthored with Megan Lam for the summer issue of Innovation and Tech Today, is now available to read on the magazine’s website.
A paper patch developed by researchers at the State University of New York can monitor blood glucose levels during exercise and is powered by sweat. It may improve diabetes management plus help to prevent hypoglycemia during workouts.
The Lilu app and compression bra system is intended to help nursing mothers pump more milk and at a faster rate. The device is worn over or attached to a nursing bra and simulates the breast in a similar way to how mothers massage their breasts to stimulate the flow of milk and reduce the likelihood of clogged glands.
Users of the Apple Watch may enjoy an unexpected benefit: reduced smartphone addiction. Since you can now leave your smartphone at home and still be connected to the Internet, but on a smaller device with fewer distractions, you might not get sucked into digital distraction quite as easily.
In addition to reports of the Apple Watch 3 attempting to join unauthenticated Wi-Fi networks instead of cellular ones (hence not connecting), Canadian telecom wireless operator Bell says that the Watch may not be able to supply longitude and latitude location information to emergency 911 operators.
LIVING AND SOCIETY
Facebook is wishing some of its “Jewish” users a Happy New Year during Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Apparently, even users who aren’t Jewish received the message.
As part of its ‘frequently bought together’ algorithm, Amazon UK reportedly made product recommendations for making bombs, e.g. ball bearings, remote detonators, and chemicals for making black powder. This also indicates that people are shopping on Amazon for this purpose.
The California Department of Justice has ordered Pepsi subsidiary Gatorade to pay a $300,000 fine and stop make disparaging comments about water in its ‘Bolt’ video game.
With Apple’s new mobile operating system set to feature AR in a big way, here’s a video of 11 augmented reality apps in action on the iPhone, including one for visualizing your Strava runs or bike rides.
Uber has been stripped of its license to operate in London, UK due to an approach and conduct that created “potential public safety & security implications.
Artificial intelligence pioneer Yoshua Bengio is calling for the breakup of Big Tech. He says that their centralization of wealth, power, and capability is dangerous for democracy.
According to the American Hospital Association, nearly 75% of large healthcare organizations have either built a digital health innovation center or have plans to do so soon. With a few exceptions, these are in addition to the over 30 standalone digital health organizations and institutes focused on digital health and more than 80 startup accelerators and incubators around the globe that I’ve identified.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a revamped website for veterans who receive VA healthcare. According to a statement, “My HealtheVet offers you tips and tools to help you partner with your health care team, so together you may work to manage your health. Here you may find useful resources when you need them. The support tools on this page are designed to enrich your experience with My HealtheVet and help you make informed decisions.”
Sophia Genetics has raised $30M to accelerate its mission of democratizing data-driven medicine worldwide. According to the company, its “universal technology, Sophia AI, accurately analyses and detects all types of genomic variants to help clinicians better diagnose and treat their patients.”
Pymetrics has raised $8M to further grow its platform that utilizes AI and neuroscience games to match people with the best job. According to CEO Frida Polli, “We collect dense behavioral data from successful professionals in various roles and use machine learning to build models of which traits separate the successful professionals from the general population.”
British scientists have identified a genetic marker that plays an important role in human embryonic development. The scientists used CRISPR Cas9 to ‘knock out’ the gene, which could one day lead to its use to reduce the risk of miscarriage in the first few weeks of pregnancy as well as increase the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. According to the CDC, about 36% of IVF cycles result in a viable pregnancy and 24% produce a baby.
“What is this shit” –@michaelwhitney, referring to the overhauled Apple iOS 11 Control Center.
A digital metaphor for meditation… (probably needed by Michael after his experience with iOS 11 Control Center!)
The FDA has been very busy in digital health this week. The agency has selected the 9 participants for its Digital Health Precertification pilot program. According to the FDA’s press announcement, the program is intended to inform a tailored approach toward digital health technology by looking at the software developer or digital health technology developer, rather than primarily at the product. The goal of this new approach is for the FDA to, after reviewing systems for software design, validation and maintenance, determine whether the company meets quality standards and if so, to precertify the company. With the information gleaned through the pilot program, the agency hopes to determine the key metrics and performance indicators for precertification and identify ways that precertified companies could potentially submit less information to the FDA than is currently required before marketing a new digital health tool as part of a formal program. The FDA is also considering, as part of the pilot program, whether and how, precertified companies may not have to submit a product for premarket review in some cases.
The FDA has also just cleared Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre Flash wearable device and app system used for continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). Unlike competitor Dexcom’s CGM system, the Abbott solution does not require calibration via finger prick blood draws, which is a first for this type of digital health solution. It’s also reportedly more accurate and cheaper. According to the FDA’s Donald St. Pierre, “This system allows people with diabetes to avoid the additional step of fingerstick calibration, which can sometimes be painful, but still provides necessary information for treating their diabetes—with a wave of the mobile reader.”
Researchers in Australia have concluded that smartphone apps focused on mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and mood altering programs can help with mild-to-moderate levels of depression. Interestingly, self-contained apps outperformed combination therapies, i.e. apps integrating computer and/or human clinician feedback. The authors suggest that the comprehensiveness of stand-alone apps may explain their superior results.
Study coauthor—and co-director of the digital psychiatry program at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center—Dr John Torous, stated that “Patients and doctors are faced with a vast array of mental health apps these days, and knowing which ones are actually helpful is imperative. This research provides much needed information on the effectiveness of apps for depression, and offers important clues into the types of apps which can help patients manage their condition.”
The latest Trump and Republican plan to repeal Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, put forth by Senate Republicans appears as if it will not pass due a lack of enough votes. Susan Collins (R-ME) became the third and necessary Senator to announce she wold not back the measure. Senator Collins joins two other GOP senators who had come out against the bill as well: Rand Paul (KY) and John McCain (AZ).
LIVING AND SOCIETY
A UK mother and son are the first in the country to sell a £3,500 sex doll named ‘Samantha’. The doll has the capability to be switched between ‘family’ and ‘sex’ settings. Apparently, the doll can talk about philosophy and tell jokes. Of course, depending on the user, that cal fall under one of both settings.
Goal-setting business Pact has reached a $1.5M settlement with the FTC for allegedly charging users even when they successfully completed health-related tasks and failed to pay those customers rewards.
Eric Lefkofsky, the billionaire cofounder of Groupon, has raised $70M for Tempus, a startup focused on using genome sequencing to help doctors customize cancer treatments. According to Lefkofsky, “In oncology, and across healthcare more broadly, datasets have historically been small and disorganized. Thankfully, technology has opened the door to new possibilities and for the first time in history, it is possible to amass massive amounts of molecular and clinical data and put it to work for the benefit of patients.”
HealthRhythms has been awarded a $2.1M SBIR grant from the NIH to develop and validate an automated recommendation engine that delivers highly personalized and context specific behavior change suggestions to patients with depression and anxiety. According to a press release, this funding will expand the company’s behavior analytics platform to create a mobile app that functions like a highly skilled therapist who tailors treatment to each patient’s needs.
Researchers have developed a maze-like microfluidic chip that helps spot aggressive, stem-like cancer cells. The method is also faster than current methods. A second chip can be used to increase accuracy of the results.
Evolutionary biologist Professor Matthew Cobb writes in a BBC News piece that it was sixty years ago that Francis Crick gave his lecture “On protein synthesis” and permanently altered the logic of biology. Professor Cobb enumerates other key points made by Crick and how they set “the course for the genetic revolution we are now living through.”
The FDA has joined Interpol and m ore than 100 countries in a major crackdown on hundreds of online pharmacies suspected of illegally selling medicines over the Internet. Over 25 million illicit and counterfeit medicines were seized while the FDA also issued warning letters and seized nearly 100 website domain names.
Copyright © 2017 Paul Sonnier
Follow me on Twitter @Paul_Sonnier for all the news I share each day.
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