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9 Healthcare Companies Who Changed the 2010s

By ANDY MYCHKOVSKY

In order to celebrate the next decade (although the internet is confused whether its actually the end of the decade…), we’re taking a step back and listing our picks for the 9 most influential healthcare companies of the 2010s. If your company is left off, there’s always next decade… But honestly, we tried our best to compile a unique listing that spanned the gamut of redefining healthcare for a variety of good and bad reasons. Bon appétit!

1. Epic Systems Corporation

The center of the U.S. electronic medical record (EMR) universe resides in Verona, Wisconsin. Population of 13,166. The privately held company created by Judith “Judy” Faulkner in 1979 holds 28% of the 5,447 total hospital market in America. Drill down into hospitals with over 500-beds and Epic reigns supreme with 58% share. Thanks to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and movement away from paper records (Meaningful Use), Epic has amassed annualized revenue of $2.7 billion. That was enough to hire the architects of Disneyland to design their Google-like Midwestern campus. The other amazing fact is that Epic has grown an average of 14% per year, despite never raising venture capital or using M&A to acquire smaller companies.

Over the years, Epic has been criticized for being expensive, non-interoperable with other EMR vendors, and the partial cause for physician burnout. Expensive is probably an understatement. For example, Partners HealthCare (to be renamed Mass General Brigham) alone spent $1.2 billion to install Epic, which included hiring 600 employees and consultants just to build and implement the system and onboard staff. With many across healthcare calling for medical record portability that actually works (unlike health information exchanges), you best believe America’s 3rd richest woman will have ideas how the country moves forward with digital medical records.

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Disrupting Healthcare Payment with Mobile Platform M-TIBA | Maarten Ras, CarePay

BY JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

What’s the future of healthcare payment? Could it be mobile?? CarePay is a health tech startup that is revolutionizing the way people in Africa send, save and spend funds for medical treatments via their mobile app M-TIBA. Maarten Ras, Regional Commercial Director shares how M-TIBA digitizes healthcare insurance schemes for the Kenyan government, allowing patients access to their healthcare benefits — and a way to pay for medical services — from their phone. A dream-scenario for health systems around the world that are looking for versatility, transparency and accountability in payment management, but is it really scalable? We find out who’s using M-TIBA right now, and how far CarePay is trying to go. Surely, a startup working so closely with national governments (including one that enrolled 2.5 million people just four months ago) is bound for big things?

Filmed at Bayer G4A Signing Day in Berlin, Germany, October 2019.

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Hypersonic Missiles Aimed at Healthcare

By KIM BELLARD

The end of one decade and the beginning of another seems to be a time when various pundits like to look back and/or forward.  In particular, I’ve seen a lot of such articles about tech, both noting important technologies of the 2010’s and speculating on the tech coming in the 2020’s.  

Oddly enough, the article about new tech that struck me the most was one that seemingly has nothing to do with healthcare, but which I think has important lessons for it.  It is the introduction of hypersonic missiles.  

Avangard missile. Credit: Russian Defense Ministry

If you don’t follow weapons development closely (and I don’t usually), hypersonic missiles are ones that can fly at several multiples of the speed of sound, such as Mach 5 and above.  They fly so fast that there is virtually no defense against them.  Existing anti-missile defenses are problematic enough against conventional missiles, but a hypersonic missile is at its target before a defense system can react, due to its speed, low altitude, and maneuverability.  

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Will At-Home Lab Tests Change Healthcare Diagnostics Forever? | Frank Ong, Everlywell

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

It used to be that patients would have to go see a doctor to get lab tests ordered to check their cholesterol or metabolism, but now, thanks to at-home testing companies like Everlywell, those tests (and 30 others, including STI tests) can be ordered online or picked up at some big box retailers. We chatted with Dr. Frank Ong, Everlywell’s Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, about what it means to put patients in charge of ordering their own lab work — and combing through their own testing results — vis a vie the Everlywell platform. As consumers demand more control over their healthcare dollar and the experience it buys, is there a point where patients risk getting in over their heads? How have doctors been responding to patients who come in armed with their own lab results? We check in on how at-home testing kits are ‘testing’ the reaches of patient-led care.

Filmed at HLTH 2019 in Las Vegas, October 2019.

Chronic Disease Drugs are Big Business, Antibiotics are Not

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

I have noticed several articles describing how antibiotic development has bankrupted some pharmaceutical companies because there isn’t enough potential profit in a ten day course to treat multi-resistant superbug infections.

Chronic disease treatments, on the other hand, appear to be extremely profitable. A single month’s treatment with the newer diabetes drugs, COPD inhalers or blood thinners costs over $500, which means well over $50,000 over an effective ten year patent for each one of an ever increasing number of chronically ill patients.

Imagine if the same bureaucratic processes insurance companies have created for chronic disease drug coverage existed (I don’t know if they do) for acute prescriptions of superbug antibiotics: It’s Friday afternoon and a septic patient’s culture comes back indicating that the only drug that would work is an expensive one that requires a Prior Authorization. Patients would die and the insurance companies would be better off if time ran out in such bureaucratic battles for survival.

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THCB Spotlights: Carolyn Magill, CEO of Aetion

Today on THCB Spotlights, Matthew interviews Carolyn Magill, CEO of Aetion. Aetion is a real world evidence analytics company working to accelerate time to regulatory grade insights. In fact, Aetion recently did a study with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey where they analyzed the type 2 diabetes population, identified a subset of patients who should be on a different class of drugs—which are more expensive—that would improve health outcomes and bring down the total cost of care, saving about $5 million for Horizon. Find out where the data and intelligence for this platform came from, and how this female CEO works to empower women both internally and externally.

Doctors Lack Knowledge about Medical Cannabis Use. Their Patients Can Help.

By DOUGLAS BRUCE, PhD

On January 1, 2020, recreational cannabis use became legal in Illinois. More than 80,000 people in Illinois are registered in the state’s medical cannabis program. Surprisingly, many of their doctors don’t know how to talk with them about their medical cannabis use. 

As a health sciences researcher, I have a recommendation that is both practical and profound: Physicians can learn first-hand from their own patients how and why they use medical cannabis, and the legalization of recreational cannabis may make them more comfortable discussing its usage overall.

Nationwide, physicians too rarely discuss cannabis use with their patients living with chronic conditions, such as chronic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, and Crohn’s disease—all conditions with symptoms that evidence shows cannabis may effectively treat. Why don’t physicians talk with their patients about cannabis use? Research from states with longer histories of legalized medical cannabis shows that many physicians do not communicate with patients regarding their medical cannabis use for a variety of reasons. 

First, physicians aren’t well trained in cannabis’ medical applications. Unlike the endocrine or cardiovascular systemsthe endocannabinoid system—comprised of receptors which bond with the compounds THC and CBD found in cannabis—is not taught in medical school.

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A Clinically Validated Game Teaching Mental Health Coping Strategies | Swatee Surve, Litesprite

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

How can helping a cartoon fox also help your mental health? Enter Socks the Fox and Sinasprite, a world exploration game that teaches players evidence-based treatments and coping methods for anxiety and depression. How does it work? Litesprite CEO Swatee Surve explains that players are charged with helping Socks the Fox become a Zen master (of course) and, in doing so, work through a series of challenges and exercises that teach coping mechanisms that range from journaling to diaphragmatic breathing. With its super-sticky storyline (Socks is adorable) the clinically validated game offers a new, upbeat way to bring tech and game theory into the way we treat mental health disorders.

Filmed at Bayer G4A Signing Day in Berlin, Germany, October 2019.

2020: Entering the Year of the Midwife

By MICHELLE COLLINS, PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN

The World Health Organization has named 2020 the Year of the Nurse and Midwife. However, most Americans have never experienced a midwife’s care. In my over 30 years working in maternal-child health, I’ve heard plenty of reasons why. Families are understandably nervous about that with which they are unfamiliar, and nervous about pregnancy and birth in general, with good reason. The cesarean birth rate in the US has more than quadrupled since the early 1970’s, yet we aren’t seeing healthier mothers and babies as a result. In fact, compared to the prior generation, women in this country are 50% more likely to die in childbirth, and for women of color (particularly black women) that risk is three to four times higher than white women, regardless of the woman’s education level or socioeconomic status. For those expecting a baby in the new year, let me set the record straight about midwifery care.

Today’s certified nurse-midwives (CNM) and certified midwives (CM) have earned a minimum of a Master’s degree, as well as have passed a rigorous certification exam. A third category, certified professional midwives, are not required to have an academic degree, but they must also must pass a certification exam “based on demonstrated competency in specified areas of knowledge and skills.” Midwives are intensely educated both in normal, as well as in complications of, pregnancy and childbirth, and are well-prepared to address emergencies as they arise.

Midwives generally care for women with low-risk pregnancies; however, most pregnancies are low-risk. And in those instances when a patient’s pregnancy or birth becomes high-risk, the midwife collaborates with physician colleagues to provide comprehensive team care to result in the best outcome for mother and baby.

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Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 103 | ACA Ruling, Sutter Health Settlement, & Bright Health

Today, I’m closing out the year of Health in 2 Point 00 from the ski slopes. In Episode 103, Jess asks me about the ACA ruling that the individual mandate is unconstitutional, whether Sutter Health got what they deserved after the $575 million settlement, health insurer Bright Health raising a huge $635 million round, and a rumor about a $250M Softbank investment coming next week. Wishing you all a very happy 2020! —Matthew Holt

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