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Advice for Health Tech: Focus on Results, Mission, & Critics | Molly Coye, AVIA

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Molly Coye has spent more than two decades working to advance technology initiatives in healthcare, serving roles as diverse as the Commissioner of Health for the State of New Jersey, Chief Innovation Officer for UCLA Health, and now Executive in Residence for AVIA, which mentors more than 50 large health systems on tech selection, adoption, and implementation. With such rich experience working with healthcare incumbents, we asked Molly to size up the current class of innovators, technologists, developers, and investors bringing the latest health tech solutions to market. What have they gotten right? Where do they need to improve? “We’re not so good at cost of care and lack of access,” says Molly, who also sees potential for that to change thanks to the work of organizations like Health Tech for Medicaid and an increased focus on solutions that address the health needs of ALL patient populations.

Filmed at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, January 2020.

Advanced Professionalism and Fitzhugh Mullan

By MIKE MAGEE, MD

As a Petersdorf Scholar-in-Residence at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) in 2002, Dr. Thomas S. Inui opened his mind and heart to try to understand whether and how professionalism could be taught to medical students and residents. His seminal piece, “A Flag In The Wind: Educating For Professionalism In Medicine”, seems written for today. 

Nearly two decades ago, Inui keyed in on words. In our modern world of “fake news”, concrete actions carry far greater weight than words ever did, and the caring environments we are exposed to in training are “formative”—that is, they shape our future capacity to express trust, compassion, understanding and partnership.

Inui reflected on the varied definitions or lists of characteristics of professionalism that had been compiled by multiple organizations and experts, commenting:

“From my own perspective, I have no reservations about accepting any, or all of the foregoing articulations of various qualities, attitudes, and activities of the physician as legitimate representations of important attributes for the trustworthy professional. In fact, I find it difficult to choose one list over others, since they each in turn seem to refer largely to the same general set of admirable qualities. While we in medicine might see these as our lists of the desirable attributes of professionalism in the physician, as the father of an Eagle Scout I know that Boy Scout leaders use a very similar list to describe the important qualities of scouts: ‘A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent (respecting everyone’s beliefs).’ I make this observation not to descend into parody, but to make a point. These various descriptions are so similar because when we examine the field of medicine as a profession, a field of work in which the workers must be implicitly trustworthy, we end by realizing and asserting that they must pursue their work as a virtuous activity, a moral undertaking.”

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Mainstream Adoption of Virtual Care is Like…Online Dating? | Stephany Verstraete, Teladoc Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

The shift in thinking required to go to a “virtual first” healthcare system may not be as unique to the health industry as we think. Teladoc Health’s new Chief Engagement Officer, Stephany Verstraete, got her start at Match.com — and explains the parallels she sees between the mainstream adoption of telehealth and what she experienced introducing online dating to the masses. Think about it: overcoming skepticism, addressing privacy concerns, and what Stephany says is most important, changing an ingrained behavior — are all challenges currently being faced by virtual care co’s. It’s not a bad idea to flirt with as we talk bigger trends in telehealth engagement.

Filmed at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, January 2020.

Understanding #Medicare4All & the Democratic Primaries

By MATTHEW HOLT

Since Saturday’s Nevada primaries, confusion seems to be reigning about how Bernie Sanders seems to be winning. Time (and not a lot more of it) will tell who actually ends up as the Democratic nominee. But the progressive side (Bernie + Warren) is doing much better than the moderate side (Biden/Butt-edge-edge/Klobuchar) expected, while we wait to see how the  Republican side of the Democratic primary (Bloomberg) does in an actual vote. The key here is the main policy differential between the two sides, Medicare For All.

Don’t get too hung up in the details of the individual plans, especially as revealing said details may have hurt Elizabeth Warren. But do remember that there is one big difference between Sanders/Warren and the moderates. It comes down to whether everyone is in the same state-run single payer system (a modified and expanded version of Medicare) or whether the private employer system is left as it is, with expanded access to something that looks like Medicare (the public option) for everyone else. Note that no Democrat wants to stand pat on Obamacare “as is”. Everyone is way to the left of what Obama ran on in 2008 (or at least what he settled for in early 2009).

Why has this changed? Well there’s been a decade of horror stories. I’m not talking about the BS anti-Obamacare stories from people forced to give up their junk insurance, I’m talking about people with insurance being bankrupted or put through horrendous experiences, like this mother who was put through the ringer by various insurers when her 1 year old son was killed and husband injured in a road accident. Or this health tech CEO, who was an MD & JD and had to put $62,000 on his American Express card to get surgery

About 3 years ago as the dust was clearing from the Obamacare implementation, the impact of this started showing up in the polls.Continue reading…

Consulting for Health Tech Startup CEOs From the Guy Who Knows | Matthew Holt, SMACK Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

To hear Matthew Holt tear apart a pitch deck—or worse, a demo—one thinks of another Brit with a penchant for criticism and tell-it-like-it-is tough love. Could Matthew Holt be the Simon Cowell of health tech? Or maybe he’s got a point underneath all that gruff? Having co-founded Health 2.0, Matthew helped bring digital health and health tech startups into the mainstream by providing a friendly forum for entrepreneurs and established healthcare incumbents. Along the way, he’s suffered through his fair share of demos and pitches, and watched all corners of the healthcare market as it reacted to (and invested in) tech health solutions. Now bringing that 30 years of wisdom to startups seeking coaching, help with strategy, business model design, fundraising, and, of course, demoing and pitching, Matthew explains how he hopes to help the current class of up-and-coming health startups via his consulting biz, SMACK Health.

Filmed at HLTH 2019 in Las Vegas, October 2019.

Who’s in Your Supply Chain?

By KIM BELLARD

Tesla is now, by market cap, the second largest auto manufacturer (after Toyota).  Its market cap exceeds U.S. auto makers Ford, G.M., and Fiat/Chrysler — combined.  This despite selling less than 400,000 vehicles in 2019, a figure that is more than the prior two years combined.   

Tesla has made its bet on the future of electric cars.  It didn’t invent them.  It isn’t the only auto manufacturer selling them.  But, as The Wall Street Journal recently said

Investors increasingly see the future of the car as electric—even if most car buyers haven’t yet. And lately, those investors are placing bets on Tesla Inc. to bring about that future versus auto makers with deeper pockets and generations of experience.

 A recent analysis suggested a big reason why, and its findings should give those in healthcare some pause.  Tesla’s advantage may come, in large part, from its supply chain.

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Consumer Health Tech Market Outlook for 2020 | Robert Garber, 7Wire Ventures

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

7Wire Ventures is a venture fund that invests in early-stage healthcare companies that are focused on connecting with the healthcare consumer — kind of like one of the most successful companies in its portfolio, Livongo, which went public in 2019. Robert Garber, a partner with the firm, stops by to share his point-of-view on where the consumer health tech market will be headed in 2020, if we’ll see more exits, and whether or not consumer health will be able to gain traction with healthcare’s established players like payers and health systems.

Filmed at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, January 2020

Out of Network? Cigna, RICO and where’s the line?

By MATTHEW HOLT

Sometimes you wonder where the line is in health care. And perhaps more importantly, whether anyone in the system cares.

The last few months have been dominated by the issue of costs in health care, particularly the costs paid by consumers who thought they had coverage. It turns out that “surprise billing” isn’t that much of a surprise. Over the past few years several large medical groups, notably Team Health owned by Blackstone, have been aggressively opting out of insurers networks. They’ve figured out, probably by reading Elizabeth Rosenthal’s great story about the 2013 $117,000 assistant surgery bill that Aetna actually paid, that if they stay out of network and bill away, the chances are they’ll make more money.

On the surface this doesn’t make a lot of sense. Wouldn’t it be in the interests of the insurers to clamp down on this stuff and never pay up? Well not really. Veteran health insurance observer Robert Laszewski recently wrote that profits in health insurance and hospitals have never been better. Instead, the insurer, which is usually just handling the claims on behalf of the actual buyer, makes more money over time as the cost goes up.

The data is clear. Health care costs overall are going up because the speed at which providers, pharma et al. are increasing prices exceeds the reduction in volume that’s being seen in the use of most health services. Lots more on that is available from HCCI or any random tweet you read about the price of insulin. But the overall message is that as 90% of American health care is still a fee-for-service game, as the CEO of BCBS Arizona said at last year’s HLTH conference, the point of the game is generating as much revenue as possible. My old boss Ian Morrison used to joke about every hospital being in the race for the $1m hysterectomy, but in a world of falling volumes, it isn’t such a joke any more.

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Behind the Big Deal: Teladoc Health’s Acquisition of InTouch Health | Joe DeVivo, InTouch Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

It was a seminal moment in virtual care as Teladoc Health acquired Intouch Health for $600 million, effectively taking its mostly direct-to-consumer telehealth platform directly into more than 2,500 care providers — or, as they say, “from hospital to home.” We caught up with InTouch Health’s CEO, Joe DeVivo, to hear his thoughts on the deal, including what it means for the further advancement of virtual care and for the digital health industry at-large.

Filmed at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, January 2020

The Legacy of Forced Sterilizations

Brooke Warren
Phuoc Le

By PHUOC LE, MD and BROOKE WARREN

In the 1970s, Jean Whitehorse, a member of the Navajo Nation, went to a hospital in New Mexico for acute appendicitis. Years later, she found out the procedure performed was not just an appendectomy – she had been sterilized via tubal ligation. Around the same time, a Northern Cheyenne woman was told by a doctor that a hysterectomy would cure her headaches. After the procedure, her headaches persisted. Later, she found out a brain tumor was causing her pain, not a uterine problem. Like Whitehorse and the Northern Cheyenne woman, thousands of Native American women have suffered irreversible changes to their bodies and psychological trauma that continues to this day. Most medical providers are unaware of our own profession’s role in implementing these racists policies that have direct links to the Eugenics movement.

Eugenics was a “movement that is aimed at improving the genetic composition of the human race” through breeding. From its origin in 1883, eugenics became the driving rationale behind using sterilization as a tool to breed out unwanted members of society in the United States. With the 1927 Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell permitting eugenic sterilization, 32 states followed suit and passed eugenic-sterilization laws. Although the outward use of sterilization declined after World War II because of its association with Nazi practices, sterilization rates in poor communities of color remained high throughout the United States.

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