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More and More Pills for 25-30% Better Odds of This, That and The Other – Some Patients Want That, and Some Will Run the Other Way

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

I scribbled my signature on a pharmaceutical rep’s iPad today for some samples of Jardiance, a diabetes drug that now has expanded indications according to the Food and Drug Administration. This drug lowers blood sugar (reduces HbA1c by less than 1 point) but also reduces diabetes related kidney damage, heart attacks, strokes and now also admission rates for heart failure (from 4.1% to 2.7% if I remember correctly – a significant relative risk reduction but not a big absolute one; the Number Needed to Treat is about 70, so 69 out of 70 patients would take it in vain for the heart failure indication. The NNT for cardiovascular death is around 38 over a three year period – over a hundred patient years for one patient saved). There are already other diabetes drugs that can reduce cardiovascular risk and I see cardiologists prescribing them for non-diabetics.

It’s a bit of a head scratcher and it makes me think of the recently re-emerged interest in the notion of a “Polypill” with several ingredients that together reduce heat attack risk. The tested Polypill formulations are all very inexpensive, which is a big part of their attraction. Jardiance, on the other hand, costs about $400 per month.

The “rep” asked whether this medication would be something I’d be likely to discuss with my diabetic patients.

“Well, you know I’ve only got fifteen minutes…” dampened his expectations. But I told him about the Polypill studies. I think patients are still not ready to make the distinction between on the one hand medications that treat a more or less quantifiable problem like blood sugar levels, blood pressure or the much less straightforward lipid levels and on the other hand ones that only change statistical outcomes. Most of my patients have trouble wrapping their head around taking a $400 a month pill that doesn’t make them feel better or score a whole lot better on their lab test but only changes the odds of something most people think will never happen to them anyway.

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Why Former FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, Joined the Aetion Board | Carolyn Magil, CEO Aetion

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Big news from Aetion CEO, Carolyn Magil, as she talks about the addition of former FDA Commissioner, Scott Gottlieb, to her Board. WHOA. What a HUGE endorsement of support for what Aetion is building…which is what, exactly? Carolyn explains how the company is using real world data (any data outside of clinical trial data) to figure out how different people will react to the same drug. That means they’re using data from health insurance claims, EMRs, wearables, pharma registries, etc. to ultimately save the time, money, and headache of finding out which medicines will work best for which patients. What’s more? A priority for Aetion is helping bring to light how populations usually under-represented in clinical trials (women, seniors, kids) will react to certain treatments. Backed by $77M in funding, and now the former FDA head, tune in to find out what’s next for Aetion.

Filmed at the HIMSS Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA in September 2019.

Give One Minute to Add Healing into Healthcare

By LISE ALSCHULER, ND, FABNO

I am a naturopathic doctor, and because I operate outside of insurance-based medicine, I have, what most healthcare providers would consider, lots of time with my patients. My typical first patient appointment is 90 minutes long and my follow-up visits are 30 minutes long. 

What, you may ask, do I do with all this time? I get to know my patients by listening to their stories, their concerns and their hopes. We delve into their health concerns, we review their medical records, and we explore lifestyle-based strategies to optimize their healing and wellbeing. 

In short, I listen and apply what I know in partnership with each patient with the goal of empowering them towards greater wellness. Over and over, I hear from my patients how unusual this is. They speak about the 5-minute visits with their doctors that feel rushed and disconnected. They express frustration and dismay about being a diagnosis, not a person, when seeing their healthcare providers.

A recent survey conducted by the New York Times found that two-thirds of Americans support some form of change to the current healthcare system and favor moving towards greater insurance coverage for all. My experience for almost 25 years leads me to conclude that underlying this vision of healthcare is a deep-seated desire for patients to be cared for and listened to. 

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Announcing GuideWell’s 2020 Scale Up Accelerator: Aging in Place

SPONSORED POST

By CATALYST @ HEALTH 2.0

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of American seniors will grow to over 71 million by 2030. To address critical problems that the growing elder population faces, GuideWell is hosting a health and wellness accelerator program for companies and innovators focused on senior care. GuideWell’s Scale Up Accelerator: Aging in Place is seeking solutions that provide affordable, accessible health care or holistic solutions for diverse aging populations.

10 companies will be selected to participate in an exciting eight week program that consists of a two-day kickoff boot camp, followed by weekly mentoring sessions and a series of virtual workshops that focus on challenges in the health care industry (e.g. customer acquisition, regulatory compliance, etc.).

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More Disruption from Jonathan Bush…This Time It’s Primary Care | Jonathan Bush, Firefly Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Health tech rabble-rouser, Jonathan Bush, marked his return to digital health with an appearance on the Health 2.0 stage, and quick chat with WTF Health about his new role as Executive Chairman at Firefly Health. As if conquering EMRs wasn’t enough, JB’s planning on disrupting primary care for his second act. With $10.8M series A funding and a huge addressable market, this may not be such a crazy idea after all. So, what made us miss this guy so much during his year-long hiatus from health tech? Just watch. This interview goes from the “Kabuki theater of the doctor’s office visit” to “Marie Kondo-ing” healthcare to Machiavelli and universal healthcare’s impact on the health tech market. Welcome back, JB.

Filmed at the Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA in September 2019.

Why Isn’t Price Transparency Working in Healthcare?

By TAYLOR CHRISTENSEN, MD

I strongly believe that getting people the information and incentives necessary to choose higher-value providers and insurers is the solution to improving value in healthcare (see my Healthcare Incentives Framework). But, you say, we’ve tried that and it doesn’t work, and current efforts are a waste of time!

Here’s an example of some great research that you might use to support your opinion:

Examining a Health Care Price Transparency Tool: Who Uses It, and How They Shop for Care (Sinaiko and Rosenthal, Health Affairs, April 2016)

The news media would see this and report the main findings–that only 3% of enrollees used Aetna’s price comparison tool–and argue that even people who have the opportunity to shop for care will not do it, which they will interpret to mean any “consumer-driven” healthcare effort is proven through evidence not to work. People can wrest information to prove whatever they want.

But what if you actually read the study?

Sinaiko and Rosenthal found that only about 60% of enrollees even had a claim during their study period. And of those 60%, I’m guessing a large percentage of those were outpatient visits (primary care or specialty) with established providers, which are claim types that people historically do not shop for. Think about it, if you have your favorite hairdresser who knows you best, you have a relationship with that person, and you like how they cut your hair, are you going to price shop every single time you need to get your hair cut?

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THCB Spotlight: Two old men reminisce about the glory days!

Today on THCB spotlight I have a bit of fun with Ryan Tarzy. Ryan has been to every Health 2.0 conference in a number of guises and now has a new gig at Prealize. We saw each other at the very glitzy, very full HLTH conference last week, so you might title this, “2 old men reminiscing about the glory days of digital health & Health 2.0” —Matthew Holt

Clinical Depth: The Power of Knowing More than the Minimum

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

In medicine, contrary to common belief, it is not usually enough to know the diagnosis and its best treatment or procedure. Guidelines, checklists and protocols only go so far when you are treating real people with diverse constitutions for multiple problems under a variety of circumstances.

The more you know about unusual presentations of common diseases, the more likely you are to make the correct diagnosis, I think everyone would agree. Also, the more you know about the rare diseases that can look like the common one you think you’re seeing in front if you, rather than having just a memorized list of rule-outs, the better you are at deciding how much extra testing is practical and cost effective in each situation.

Not everyone with high blood pressure needs to be tested in detail for pheochromocytoma, renal artery stenosis, coarctation of the aorta, Cushing’s syndrome, hyperaldosteronism, hyperparathyroidism or thyroiditis. But you need to know enough about all of these things to have them in mind, automatically and naturally, when you see someone with high blood pressure.

Just having a lifeless list in your pocket or your EMR, void of vivid details and depth of understanding, puts you at risk of being a burned-out, shallow healthcare worker someday replaced by apps or artificial intelligence.

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The Untold Reality of Medical Device Shortages in the U.S.

Chaun Powell
Soumi Saha

By CHAUN POWELL, MBA and SOUMI SAHA, PharmD, JD

Say the word “shortage” to a healthcare professional and chances are the first thing that will come to mind is drug shortages. With good reason, too – there are more than 100 drugs currently at risk or not readily available for U.S. hospitals, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) drug shortage list. 

Shortages don’t just apply to drugs, however, and as 2019 has shown, healthcare providers must become more focused on shortages of the medical device variety. The shutdown of multiple medical device sterilization facilities in 2019 is poised to jeopardize the availability of devices that are critical to routine patient care. On Nov. 6, the FDA is hosting a panel to hear from stakeholders, including hospital epidemiologists and healthcare supply chain experts, on the risks associated with facility shutdowns and potential action steps.

The industry as a whole is in need of meaningful solutions. As taxpayers, patients and key stakeholders in healthcare, we must collaborate to eliminate interruptions to our healthcare supply chain. For those invested in improving healthcare from the inside, this means working across competitive boundaries and borrowing best practices from sister industries as we work to identify the root cause of these issues and provide meaningful and preventative solutions.

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The Health Data Goldilocks Dilemma | Vince Kuraitis & Deven McGraw

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Which is better: sharing access to all health data across platforms so that interoperability is achieved, or protecting some data for the sake of privacy? Health data privacy experts Vince Kuraitis, founder of Better Health Technologies, and Deven McGraw, Chief Regulatory Officer at Ciitzen, are crowdsourcing opinions and insights on what they are calling The Health Data Goldilocks Dilemma. How much data protection is ‘juuuust right’? What should be regulated? And, by whom? The duo talks through their views on the data protection conversation and urge others to join in the conversation via their blog series called, “The Health Data Goldilocks Dilemma,” on The Health Care Blog.

Filmed at the HIMSS Health 2.0 Conference in Santa Clara, CA in September 2019.

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