Friday, September 21, 2018
Blog Page 2

Disrupting the Cholesterol Test: Finnish Startup Nightingale Health

1

Today’s cholesterol test is about to be disrupted. Nightingale Health, a five-year-old startup based out of Finland, has built a better blood test that – among other things – is about to disrupt the cholesterol test of today.

Their blood test collects 50 times more biomarker data than the standard test – boasting a 20% better prediction rate for diabetes and cardiovascular disease – and they’re offering it at the same price point as the existing industry standard. Why does this matter? Well, for clinicians, researchers, or those working on new drug development, the Nightingale test is not only offering an unprecedented amount of metabolic data, but it’s an unprecedented amount of AFFORDABLE metabolic data that can impact the health care cost curve as far as the eye can see.

What’s more – and this has gotten investors’ blood pumping – they haven’t even fully realized the full potential of their panel. Listen in as Kristiina Tolvanen talks with me about the company’s priorities to build their evidence base and find out what else their biomarker analysis platform can potentially displace. Freshly funded with a $30M round – and a very prestigious partnership with the UK Biobank to analyze 500,000 blood samples – this is one to watch.

Filmed at Upgraded Life Festival in Helsinki, Finland, June 2018. Find more interviews on health and technology here or check out www.wtf.health

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 48

0

Jessica DaMassa asks me about Cricket Health’s $24m raise for kidney disease services, Rx.Health from Mount Sinai and a whole bunch of big money in little China. All in 2 minutes–Matthew Holt

Is Universal Health Care Socialism?

4

By ETIENNE DEFFARGES

The November midterms elections are approaching, and one of the major topics is health care. Democrats are campaigning on retaining Obamacare, in many cases advocating that we move towards universal health care.

That would be pure socialism, retort Republicans, who would rather repeal the Affordable Care Act as they attempted in 2017, even if this leads to 20 million Americans losing coverage.

Is Universal Health Care Socialism?

Only if we believe that every other developed market-based economy in the world is socialist since the U.S. is the only one without universal coverage. We spend almost $10,000 per year per capita on health care, about twice as much as most developed countries. However, in terms of major health outcomes, such as infant mortality or life expectancy, we are laggards. In a recent OECD survey, we ranked 27th out of 35 countries in life expectancy. Japan spends about $4,000 per year per capita in health care, yet the average Japanese has a life expectancy of 84 years, versus 79 for the average American. Why?

Every developed country other than the U.S. has had universal care for decades. While Prussia’s “Iron Chancellor” Otto Von Bismarck implemented the first universal care system…in 1883, our health care history is a patchwork of partial reforms, an inefficient collage of private and public institutions. We first tied health insurance to employment in 1946, because business and conservative opposition would not allow universal coverage; then added Medicare in 1965 so that our seniors would have coverage after they retired; then Medicaid, a different one for each one of our fifty states; 

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 47

0

Jessica DaMassa asks me about Patrick Soon-Shiong and his Verity hospital chain going bankrupt, whether Peerfit can justify its $8m raise, and who I’m going to see at TechCrunch Disrupt this week–Matthew Holt

Can CMS’ Proposed ACO Changes Really Help Medicare Beneficiaries?

3

By REBECCA FOGG

Earlier this month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma proposed bold changes to Medicare’s Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), with the goal of accelerating America’s progress toward a value-based healthcare system—that is, one in which providers are paid for the quality and cost-effectiveness of care delivered, rather than volume delivered.

CMS has created a number of ACO programs over the last six years in an effort to improve care quality and reduce care costs across its Fee-for-Service Medicare population. In a Medicare ACO, hospital systems, physician practices and other voluntarily band together and assume responsibility for the quality and cost of care for beneficiaries assigned to them by Medicare. All ACOs meeting quality targets at the end of a given year receive a share of any savings generated relative to a predetermined cost benchmark; and depending on the type of ACO, some incur a financial penalty if they exceed the benchmark.

According to CMS’ recent analyses, ACOs that take on higher financial risk are more successful in improving quality and reducing costs over time. So one important objective of CMS’ proposed changes is to increase the rate at which ACOs assume financial risk for their beneficiaries’ care.

Is Medical Imaging a Ricardian Derived Demand?

6

By SAURABH JHA

Medical Imaging and the Price of Corn

After the Napoleonic wars, the price of corn in England became unaffordable. The landowners were blamed for the high price, which some believed was a result of the unreasonably high rents for farm land. Economist David Ricardo disagreed.

According to Ricardo, detractors had the directionality wrong. It was the scarcity of corn (the high demand relative to its supply) that induced demand for the most fertile land. That is, the rent did not increase the price of corn. The demand for corn raised the rent. Rent was a derived demand.

Directionality is important. Getting directionality wrong means crediting the rooster for sunrise and blaming umbrellas for thunderstorms. It also means that focusing on medical imaging will not touch healthcare costs if factors more upstream are at play.

Medical imaging is a derived demand. The demand for healthcare induces demand for imaging. Demand is assured by the unmoored extent to which we go for marginal increases in survival.

Why Cochrane is Wrong About Hypertension. Very Wrong.

6

By SWAPNIL HIREMATH, MD

Archie Cochrane and the Cochrane Collaboration

Archie Cochrane was born in Scotland, educated in London (King’s College, University College and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and worked in Cardiff, Wales. His work as a doctor during the Spanish Civil War and World War II, especially in a prisoner of war camp in Salonica, is credited with his push towards generating higher quality evidence. In his description of the clinical trial he conducted, he mentions James Lind as his hero. Ironically, that clinical trial – with weak randomization, open allocation, non-blinding of investigator or participants, and use of surrogate outcomes, would rate poorly in the Cochrane risk of bias tool.

But the scientific method of measuring stuck with him, and among many other achievements, he did perform a proper randomized clinical trial (RCT) a few decades later. He continued to be a strong supporter of RCTs and pushed for the Medical Research Council (MRC) to move from purely fundamental research towards applied clinical research. As an aside, the first proper RCT in the modern era was funded by the MRC and was published in 1950 – on the use of Streptomycin vs para-aminosalicylic acid, or a combination, in tuberculosis. Far more influential was his paper (and later book) published as part of the Rock Carling Fellowship, available here freely and worth a read. It’s where he puts forward the vision for RCTs in moving towards what he termed an ‘effective, efficient health service’.

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 46

1

Jessica DaMassa asks me about single payer polling high, big VC for women’s pelvic floor digital therapeutic Renovia, 23andme cutting off API access to its data, plus guest mentions for Shafi Ahmed and Glen Tullman. All in 2 minutes (more or less!)–Matthew Holt

Prior Authorizations: Will They Become Damocles Sword?

28

By NIRAN AL-AGBA

Niran Al-Agba, MD, FAAP

In July 2009, the family of Massachusetts teenager Yarushka Rivera went to their local Walgreens to pick up Topomax, an anti-seizure drug that had been keeping her epilepsy in check for years. Rivera had insurance coverage through MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid insurance program for low-income children, and never ran into obstacles obtaining this life-saving medication. But in July of 2009, she turned 19, and when, shortly after her birthday, her family went to pick up the medicine, the pharmacist told them they’d either have to shell out $399.99 to purchase Topomax out-of-pocket or obtain a so-called “prior authorization” in order to have the prescription filled.

Prior authorizations, or PAs as they are often referred to, are bureaucratic hoops that insurance companies require doctors to jump through before pharmacists can fulfill prescriptions for certain drugs. Basically, they boil down to yet another risky cost-cutting measure created by insurance companies, in keeping with their tried-and-true penny-pinching logic: The more hurdles the insurance companies places between patients and their care, the more people who will give up along the way, and the better the insurers’ bottom line.

PAs have been a fixture of our health care system for a while, but the number of drugs that require one seems to be escalating exponentially. Insurance companies claim that PAs are fast and easy. They say pharmacists can electronically forward physicians the necessary paperwork with the click of a mouse, and that doctors shouldn’t need more than 10 minutes to complete the approval process.

Comprehensiveness is Killing Primary Care

19

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

Dr. Hans Duvefelt

In most other human activities there are two speeds, fast and slow. Usually, one dominates. Think firefighting versus bridge design. Healthcare spans from one extreme to the other. Think Code Blue versus diabetes care.

Primary Care was once a place where you treated things like earaches and unexplained weight loss in appointments of different length with documentation of different complexity. By doing both in the same clinic over the lifespan of patients, an aggregate picture of each patient was created and curated.

A patient with an earache used to be in and out in less than five minutes. That doesn’t happen anymore. Not that doctors and clinics wouldn’t love to work that way, but we are severely penalized for providing quick access and focused care for our well-established patients.