The Digital Health Update by Paul Sonnier ⋅ Mar 12, 2017 ⋅ #264

Dear Group,

The Trump administration and Republican lawmakers put forth an Obamacare (Affordable Care Act (ACA)) replacement plan known as the American Health Care Act (AHCA) and it is being roundly opposed by every part of the healthcare system, including organizations from the American Medical Association to the American Association of Retired Persons (full list). The projections are that the AHCA would result in 24 million fewer having health insurance, gives a $1B windfall to the health insurance industry (plus financially enrich insurance company CEOs), and an almost-$600B handout to wealthy Americans who have no trouble paying for health insurance. In one astonishing comment, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), said that Americans, “Rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and they wanna go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest it in their own health care.” There are just a few problems with this statement: Not only is a smartphone an essential tool for modern living, it’s also becoming critical for health and healthcare, even clinical trials. How many of us make a doctor appointment with our phone or use it as a vital connection with family, employers, and emergency services? Simply put, iPhones are not the reason people lack healthcare. In fact, it would take 23 iPhone 7 Pluses to equal two year’s worth of health care insurance premiums and deductibles. And when it comes to digital health, as Neil Versel points out in Forbes, unlike the ACA, the GOP’s healthcare plan is silent on health IT innovation and care delivery.

As if the above weren’t bad enough, Republicans in Congress have also introduced a bill which would let employers require that workers take genetic tests and provide the results to them as part of workplace wellness programs. If employees refuse, they would have to pay penalties in the thousands of dollars. This potential egregious invasion of privacy is currently prohibited by the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act and GINA, the 2008 genetic privacy and nondiscrimination law. Notably, the Obama administration’s ACA already allows employers to charge employees 30-50% more for health insurance if they refused to participate in “voluntary” workplace wellness programs.

An app that Apple once banned because it might enable and promote vigilantism is now back under a new name. Previously known as Vigilante, it’s now named Citizen, and will have the controversial ‘report incident’ feature removed.

While digital tools in professional sports are widely used for training and improving athletic performance off the field and on the sidelines, their in-game on-field has been prohibited. But in a first for U.S. professional sports, Major League Baseball has approved WHOOP’s wearable tech device to continuously measure biometrics of professional baseball players during games. The WHOOP device measures sleep, recovery, and muscle strain to the tune of 100 megabytes of data each day. Company founder Will Ahmed calls it “Moneyball 2.0”.

A new wearable device by British Condoms is not only a fitness tracker for the penis, but also promises to detect signs of sexually transmitted diseases. The ring—which is used in addition to a condom—is embedded with a nanochip that uses Bluetooth to communicate with a smartphone and app. The battery-powered ring allows up to eight hours of usage on a single charge.

Also on the topic of sexual health, Canadian company Standard Innovations, manufacturer of the We-Vibe bluetooth-connected vibrator, has agreed to pay a $3.75 million legal settlement over claims it secretly tracked users of the device.

Digital Health World Congress 2017 takes place May 23-24 in London, UK.
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Copyright © 2017 Paul Sonnier

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Paul Sonnier
Keynote Speaker ⋅ Management Consultant ⋅ Social Entrepreneur
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