Calling all digital health startups! If you are actively seeking Series A funding, then apply to Traction: Health 2.0’s Startup Championship. The deadline for applications is Aug 29th, so don’t miss out on this great opportunity.

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Traction has plenty to offer for anyone who is interested in learning more about the digital health industry and to see some of the hottest startups of 2014. Between the startups pitches we’ll feature two panel discussions by industry leaders who explain current trends in digital health investment.

The Corporate Investor Perspective:

Joe Volpe of Merck, Noah Lewis of GE Ventures, and Jack Young of Qualcomm will share their perspectives on what criteria are most important for digital health investors. Get the scoop on the must-haves for young startups seeking funding.

The Equity Analyst Perspective:

What is the future for Health Tech? Now that some Health 2.0 companies have IPOed, equity analysts have lots to say about the industry. Hear three leading analysts discuss the prospects for the health tech sector. Andrew Colbert of Ziegler Corporate Finance, David Francis of RBC Capital Markets, Sean Wieland of Piper Jaffray, and Steven Wardell of Leerink Partners will shed light on digital health valuations.

Not to mention our growing list of venture capitalists and health care professionals that will be judging the pitches and mentoring our finalists.


Noah Lewis

At GE Ventures, Noah focuses on MedTech and SaaS investing with a special interest in disease management tools that integrate with smart devices, software analytics and services. He was named a “Top 10 Healthcare VC on Twitter” and will definitely be a source for business development tips.


Esther Dyson


Esther Dyson

As an early investor in some of the hottest tech companies including Square, Esther knows how to spot a high growth company. With her recently launched “Way to Wellville” project to build healthy communities, digital health will be a central focus.



Mohit Kaushal

Building on his experience as the first Director of Connected Health with the FCC, in his role at Aberdare Ventures, Mohit contributes an understanding of the essential elements a digital health startup needs to gain traction.


With industry leaders, startups, investors, and interested parties attending, who knows who you’ll meet here? Maybe it will be your next business partner. Maybe it will be your next team member. You’ll only know if you sign up, get your tickets today!

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Ceci ConnollyWhile fierce debate continues to envelop much of the Affordable Care Act, financial data for many of the nation’s health systems reveal one clear fact: the optional Medicaid expansion has resulted in hospital haves and have nots.

An analysis by PwC’s Health Research Institute (HRI) of newly released earnings and patient volume data shows a clear financial split between healthcare providers operating in states that expanded Medicaid and those that have not. The law as written would have provided Medicaid coverage to every American earning less than 138% of the federal poverty level ($16,105 for an individual). But a June 2012 Supreme Court ruling made the expansion optional for states, creating a patchwork of coverage.

Health systems and physician groups delivering care in the 26 states and the District of Columbia that have embraced the federally-funded expansion have reported a significant rise in patient volumes and paying consumers and a measureable reduction in uncompensated care levels.

This year alone LifePoint Hospitals has seen a 30.3% reduction in its uninsured and charity care patients, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Tenet Healthcare, which operates in five Medicaid expansion states, saw uninsured and charity care admissions decline by 46% in the expansion states, coupled with a 20.5% increase in Medicaid inpatient admissions in those same states, according to an HRI analysis which will be released next week.

In all, HRI analyzed financial data from the nation’s five largest for-profit health systems—HCA Holdings, LifePoint, Tenet, Community Health Systems and Universal Health Services, representing 538 hospitals in 35 states. Our team also reviewed data from several mid-sized hospitals, government reportsand industry surveys.

Continue reading “Medicaid 2.0″

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Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 11.38.01 AMIn the past few years, we’ve seen headline after headline marveling at the advancements of medical technology. From wearable tech and micro sensors to 3D printing and health-oriented apps, it’s evident that technology and medicine have merged into an industry that’s pushing healthcare to a new level.

Yet many in the health tech industry are also voicing concerns about government regulators and their standards for healthcare technology. Some have even gone as far as accusing the FDA of “stifling” the creativity of healthcare tech and hindering the value these devices and apps could bring to the public.

In early 2014, legislation was introduced in an attempt to redesign the regulatory framework for certain types of technologies and lessen the FDA’s control over this growing industry. But are the FDA’s standards and actions so bad?

I’m in the tech field myself, and while I’ve heard many arguments against the FDA’s regulations, I strongly feel that it’s completely within its rights as a regulatory agency to place limits on medical technology. The FDA’s standards are put in place to protect consumers and to correct disingenuous manufacturer claims — an alarmingly frequent trend in today’s digital world.

The FDA Isn’t the Bad Guy

In the tech world, I often hear “It’s easier to ask for forgiveness later” as an excuse for consciously crossing the line. But when it comes to the medical field, overstepping boundaries could be a matter of life or death.

Too often, companies rush to release new products and technologies to beat competitors or cash in on a trend rather than out of consumer need. Regulations aimed at slowing these companies down to maintain patient safety are completely justified.

With the increased interest in all things health and wellness, we’re seeing more healthcare apps pop up in Apple’s and Google’s app stores. Many apps claim to be able to provide accurate biometric readings using the native tools on smartphones, but buried deep within the fine print (that people don’t read) are explanations that these apps are for “recreational purposes” and are “not FDA-cleared medical devices.”

Apps like these are dangerous and misleading to consumers who might trust their readings.

Continue reading “Are Federal Regulations Stifling Disruptive Healthcare Technologies in the US?”

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In the past few years, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that Facebook is to the mind what sugar is to the body. Facebook feed is easy to digest. It has made it easy to consume small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of photos and status updates, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Sadly, we are still far away from beginning to recognise how toxic Facebook can be.

Continue reading “Facebook Is Bad For You. And Giving Up Using It Will Make You Happier”

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Screen Shot 2014-08-27 at 10.40.39 AMHow much does a colonoscopy cost? Well, that depends.

If you’re uninsured, this is a big question. We’ve learned that cash or self-pay prices can range from $600 to over $5,400, so it pays to ask.

If you’re insured, you may think it doesn’t matter. Routine, preventive screening colonoscopies are to be covered free with no co-insurance or co-payment under the Affordable Care Act.

However, we’re learning that with colonoscopies, as with mammograms, people are being asked to pay sometimes. It’s not clear to us in every case that they should pay, and since we don’t know all the details of these events, we can only offer some general thoughts. We’ve also heard from Medicare enrollees without supplemental Medicare policies that they think they’re responsible for 20 percent of the charged price — so 20 percent of $600 vs. 20 percent of $5,400 is a big deal.

If you’re on a high-deductible plan and the charge to you will be, say, $3,600, you can probably ask around and find a lower rate.

A thorough view of some colonoscopy billing issues is in this article in The New York Times by Libby Rosenthal, who has been covering health costs for the paper. We’ve heard also about in-network providers using out-of-network anesthesiologists, so it pays to pay attention.

Continue reading “How Much Is My Colonoscopy Going to Cost? $600? $5,400?”

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flying cadeuciiWant to achieve effective health care, reduced costs, increased quality, population health, widespread prevention and seamless health information access?

It’s easy, says this article in Population Health Management: mix one part PHO with one part HRB to create a HAPPI.

This correspondent was confused too, but that’s what’s proposed by three smart academics from Johns Hopkins, Arizona State University and UC Berkeley.

As I understand it, Population Health Organizations (PHOs) would be responsible for all medical, public health, community and social services in a defined geographic area and coordinate them with local education, housing and labor. Much of it would be paid for by a pooled risk-adjusted global or capitated payment (budget) from all insurers.

Each organization would be paired with a Health Record Bank (HRB), which would act as a huge data warehouse that not only stores all medical information, but any other publically available information on every individual enrolled in the PHO. The HRBs would be owned and operated by “trusted custodial organizations.” Data access would be ultimately controlled by each patient.

The authors believe that patient payments would be a source of additional revenue for their PHOs. Examples include buying “apps” that are tailored to their individual health needs, or selling their personal health information, especially if it means helping physicians buy an electronic health record or access cutting edge research.

Continue reading “Doubling Down on ACOs and Health Information Networks”

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Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 11.45.17 AMCelebrating its 40 anniversary this year, Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance bears several distinctions.  It is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the eventual bestseller that was rejected by more publishers than any other, 121.  It went on to sell more than 5 million copies, making it the most popular philosophy book of the past 50 years.  And it focuses on a truly extraordinary topic, which its narrator refers to as a “metaphysics of quality.”

Quality is a hot topic in healthcare today.  Hospitals and healthcare systems are abuzz with the rhetoric of QA and QI (quality assessment and quality improvement), and healthcare payers including the federal government are boldly touting new initiatives intended to replace quantity with quality as the basis for rewarding providers.  Yet as Pirsig’s narrator, Phaedrus (see Plato’s dialogue of the same name), comes to realize, quality is very difficult to define.

In fact, giving an account of quality is so difficult that it drove Zen’s author mad.  And this is a man whose IQ, 170, would make him one of the most intelligent people in any health system.  The problem, of course, is that there is a big difference between intelligence and wisdom, and in the quest for wisdom, mere intelligence often leads us dangerously astray.  Something similar is happening in healthcare today, where schemes to improve quality often precede sufficient efforts to understand it.

For example, we seek to gain greater control over healthcare outcomes through measurement, only to discover, to our chagrin, that people are massaging the data to meet their numbers.  We create new programs intended to increase patient throughput, only to discover unintended perverse effects on the quality of relationships between patients and physicians.  Initiatives intended to reduce error rates turn out again and again to stifle innovation. Continue reading “Zen and the Quest For Quality”

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Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 6.53.07 PMWhere: Harvard Medical School
When: September 16th, 2014
What: Primary Care Innovations Pitch Off

By 2015 the U.S. will need an additional 52,000 physicians to meet the country’s needs. Primary care providers are in particularly high demand for the valuable role they play in managing chronic conditions, providing preventive care services and leading patient-centric care delivery models. The health care community is coming together to ask: What does the future of primary care look like?

What innovations are already being implemented?

The Primary Care Challenge

For two months, we will be accepting submissions as part of the effort to raise the profile of innovative ideas in primary care delivery. Any U.S. medical student, resident or physician is encouraged to submit a description of a creative program that their practice has implemented around primary care delivery. A variety of prizes will be offered to finalists and participants, including an all-expenses paid trip to Boston for five finalists to share their proposals in-person with experts and peers at our Primary Care Innovations event.

Starting this month you can check out the Primary Care Challenge website for step-by-step instructions on how to submit your program and take advantage of this great opportunity. Feel free to share your thoughts with us on Twitter and use #PCC14

Continue reading “Share Your Primary Care Innovations”

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Matthew Holt
Founder & Publisher

John Irvine
Executive Editor

Jonathan Halvorson

Alex Epstein
Director of Digital Media

Munia Mitra, MD
Chief Medical Officer

Vikram Khanna
Editor-At-Large, Wellness

Joe Flower
Contributing Editor

Michael Millenson
Contributing Editor

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