I made this announcement to 55,007 members of the Digital Health group on LinkedIn. If you’re on LinkedIn, please do join the group, which allows you to opt in to receiving these announcements in addition to connecting with thousands of other global stakeholders in digital health. I’m also now using Constant Contact to send an html and image-rich version of my announcements. You can subscribe to that version here.
After encountering a technical glitch with LinkedIn group announcements I have started using the Constant Contact (CC) email newsletter service to send out my weekly insights and news update. While group announcements are once again working, I have sent out two updates during this period. You’ll notice how much better the html text and images make the announcements look in the CC email format, which I’m really pleased with. I’ll still send group announcements, but you can subscribe to The Digital Health Update via the link below.
Here are links to the two CC email newsletters plus I’ve copied and pasted the text from them below for better web-search (SEO) and archival purposes.
Announcement #1: The Digital Health Update for March 25, 2017 — #266
Announcement #2: Are Medical Billing and Life Extension Efforts Part of Digital Health? The Digital Health Update for March 27, 2017 — #267
Subscribe to The Digital Health Update here
I’m also excited to announce my new role as Contributing Editor at Innovation & Tech Today, a national magazine that showcases the latest cutting edge, innovative technologies, and those individuals driving the industry forward. Promo description: “Every quarter our experts and writers aim to find fascinating stories, products, and people across a variety of industries. While we often focus on education, energy, transportation, STEM, wearables, health and medical technology, smart homes, business, and sustainability, those are ultimately just a few of the many areas we cover. No matter where the innovation is happening, we’ll be there capturing it all!”
Innovation & Tech Today is a print magazine available in bookstores and airport newsstands, plus available digitally on ISSUU and Apple’s iTunes. You can see/subscribe the latest issue and read my piece in the new Spring issue, “Let’s Get Physical: How the Digital Age is Improving Health and Removing Costs” here. Also, the cover of the Spring 2017 issue is viewable here.
Announcement #1: The Digital Health Update for March 25, 2017 — #266
While the draconian Obamacare replacement bill put forth by President Trump and Republicans failed in spectacular fashion (apparently Americans want healthcare as a right), a separate bill that would allow employers to require genetic testing of employees is still in the legislative pipeline. In a NYT op-ed, Dr. Louise Aronson writes that the “Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act” could result in “state-sanctioned health discrimination” of “genetic mutants” like her, including people who are overweight, diabetic, have high blood pressure, or poor exercise habits. As for an alternative or expansion of Obamacare that would drive down the $3.2T in U.S. healthcare spending (2015) and provide care to all Americans, economist Dean Baker has a few suggestions, including open source drugs (savings of $200-360B/yr), immigrant doctors (savings of $100B/yr), and a public option (savings of $20-29B/yr). While corporate welfare and protectionist trade policies that create inertia in these structural features of healthcare are unlikely to shift anytime soon, digital health’s external disruption can continue to chip away at the stranglehold exerted by the healthcare establishment on cost reduction efforts. One such solution is Nomad Health, which was just featured in the WSJ. Company founder Dr. Alexi Nazem says the company’s “goal is to be the Airbnb of health care”, thereby offering doctors a business-to-business path into the gig economy.
Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners In Health and professor of global health and social medicine at Harvard University, has an op-ed in the NYT pointing out that humans aren’t winning the war on TB. With approximately 1.5 million deaths per year due to the disease, Tuberculosis is currently the No. 1 infectious killer (exceeding HIV), with early diagnosis and treatment being the biggest hurdles. Paul points to new drugs in development that may help in treatment, while on the detection side a new, low-cost blood test providing same-day results could help as could a new genome sequencing diagnostic.
By applying genetic testing to gain insights into results of different types of exercise for aging bodies, a study by Mayo Clinic researchers discovered that interval exercise trainers had nearly 400 genes activated and working differently as opposed to only 33 for weight lifters and 19 for moderate exercisers. Many of these genes may influence the number and health of our mitochondria, which serves as a sort of correction for cellular aging.
In a 20-year-long study by researchers at UC Davis, it turns out that telemedicine saves time, travel costs, and improves air quality. It was calculated that telemedicine visits saved patients over 8 years of travel time, 5 million commuter miles, and $3 million in total costs. It’s important to note that when discussing healthcare cost reductions, the burden of patients should always be considered. Moreover, air quality is a major public health issue. Outdoor air pollution kills about 3.5 million people worldwide every year.
In a randomized clinical trial of patients using a mobile app to facilitate home monitoring following surgery, it was demonstrated to a statistically significant degree that app-users had fewer in-person visits for follow-up care during the first 30 days after hospital discharge as opposed to patients in the in-person follow-up care group.
The unraveling of Theranos, the lab-on-a-chip blood testing startup that didn’t deliver on its technology promises, continues. The WSJ’s John Carreyrou, who, along with Christopher Weaver, has been the main investigative reporter on this story from day one, reports that the company is shielding itself from lawsuits by board members via offering them shares in the company taken from the personal stake of founder Elizabeth Holmes. Rupert Murdoch and famous lawyer David Boies have already taken the deal on their way out. Even Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, who Trump picked as U.S. Secretary of State, exited the board of directors back in January. Walgreens, a former partner has sued the company, as has the state of Arizona, which alleges that the company defrauded consumers. The unfortunate story of Theranos casts an undeserved cloud over the many other digital health lab-on-a-chip microfluidics technologies and companies. Here’s a partial list of nearly 300.
While we typically don’t think of medical billing as being a part of digital health, it is in fact mostly conducted using computers and is an integral part of the current U.S. healthcare system, ergo it’s digital health. And when it goes one step further, and actually empowers patients and providers to make vital healthcare decisions at the point of care, it’s even more significant in digital health terms. Backed by $25 million in funding, medical billing startup Eligible—founded by group member Katelyn Gleason—was featured in TechCrunch this past week.
Can billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech research succeed in making death optional? That’s the question reporter Tad Friend asks in his New Yorker piece, “Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever”. With genomics playing a big role in efforts like the National Academy of Medicine’s $25 million Aging & Longevity Grand Challenge, many life extension initiatives do fall within the realm of digital health. But as I’m often compelled to do, I disabuse people from the notion that life extension is a major goal of digital health. It’s certainly a potential outcome, but I feel it’s more important to focus on healthy living, quality of life, and improving healthcare as the main objectives of digital health.
Trials have shown that artificial intelligence (AI) systems can outperform human medical experts in certain types of diagnosis. Writing in The New Yorker, Siddhartha Mukherjee takes an in-depth look at the state of the art: “The Algorithm Will See You Now”. On a related note, you may recall Vinod Khosla’s comments that “It is inevitable that, in the future, the majority of physicians’ diagnostic, prescription and monitoring, which over time may approach 80-percent of total doctors’/internists’ time spent on medicine, will be replaced by smart hardware, software, and testing. ”
We’ve all heard the stories of people resorting to crowdfunding to pay their medical bills in the United States. Writing in JAMA, Harvard’s Michael J. Young, MD, and Ethan Scheinberg, JD take a look at the promise and ethical perils of crowdfunding in healthcare. As they state, “GoFundMe’s most successful campaign to date has raised more than $2 million through more than 37,000 donations slated to help a young girl with a rare neurological disease. Owing in part to virtually no regulatory reporting standards for crowdfunding portals, robust data on the frequency and scope of medical crowdfunding are limited.”
Three well known digital health app makers—Cardiio, Runtastic, and Matis—have reached a total of $30,000 in settlements with the New York Attorney General’s office, thereby resolving allegations they used misleading claims and engaged in irresponsible privacy practices.
And finally, a little bit of cuteness overload for you: “Rayna meets a robot” is a short and adorable video. I’ll spare you the cliché about this showing our dystopian future at work.
Copyright © 2017 Paul Sonnier
Follow me on Twitter @Paul_Sonnier for all the news I share each day.
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