Categories

Category: Health Tech

THCB Gang Episode 129, Thursday July 6

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday July 6 at 1pm PST 4pm EST were futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve); writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard); health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (@healthythinker); & patient advocate Robin Farmanfarmaian (@Robinff3);

Two special guests joined us today, Bob Rebitzer, these days at Manatt Health & brother Jim Rebitzer Professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. We discussed their new book Why Not Better & Cheaper

The video is below. If you’d rather listen to the episode, the audio is preserved from Friday as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels

The Business Reality of Healthcare AI

BY KIM BELLARD

I was at the barbershop the other day and overheard one barber talking with his senior citizen customer about when – not if – robot AIs would become barbers. I kid you not.

Now, I don’t usually expect to heard conversations about technology at the barber, but it illustrates that I think we are at the point with AI that we were with the Internet in the late ‘90’s/early ‘00s: people’s lives were just starting to change because of it, new companies were jumping in with ideas about how to use it, and existing companies knew they were going to have to figure out ways to incorporate it if they wanted to survive. Lots of missteps and false starts, but clearly a tidal wave that could only be ignored at one’s own risk. So now it is with AI.

I’ve been pleased that healthcare has been paying attention, probably sooner than it acknowledged the Internet. Every day, it seems, there are new developments about how various kinds of AI are showing usefulness/potential usefulness in healthcare, in a wide variety of ways.  There’s lots of informed discussions about how it will be best used and where the limits will be, but as a long-time observer of our healthcare system, I think we’re not talking enough about two crucial questions. Namely:

  • Who will get paid?
  • Who will get sued?

Now, let me clarify that these are less unclear in some cases than others.  e.g., when AI assists in drug discovery, pharma can produce more drugs and make more money; when it assists health insurers with claims processing or prior authorizations, that results in administrative savings that go straight to the bottom line. No, the tricky part is using AI in actual health care delivery, such as in a doctor’s office or a hospital. 

Continue reading…

THCB Gang Episode 128, Thursday June 29

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday June 29 at 1PM PT 4PM ET are futurist Jeff Goldsmith: medical historian Mike Magee (@drmikemagee); and patient safety expert and all around wit Michael Millenson (@mlmillenson).

You can see the video below & if you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

Matthew’s health care tidbits: Time to get Cynical

Each time I send out the THCB Reader, our newsletter that summarizes the best of THCB (Sign up here!) I include a brief tidbits section. Then I had the brainwave to add them to the blog. They’re short and usually not too sweet! –Matthew Holt

Plenty of reason to worry about the future of American health care this week. The biggest for-profit hospital chain–HCA–was accused of aggressively pushing patients into hospice care, sometimes in the same room, in order to make their hospitality mortality numbers look better. Most of the leading benefits consulting companies were exposed as taking payments from PBMs–yup, the same organizations their employer clients thought they were negotiating with on their behalf. And one of the biggest names in digital health, Babylon Health, tumbled into destitution, taking billions of dollars with it and leaving uncertain the fate of the medical groups in California it bought less than two years ago. Even the most successful capitalists in health care — United HealthGroup and its fellow insurers — saw their stock fall because apparently outpatient surgery volume is ticking up

On the policy front the malaise is spreading too. The end of the public health emergency (remember Covid?) is being used as an excuse by the old  confederate states to kick people off Medicaid. Georgia and Arkansas appear to be bringing back work requirements, even though I thought CMS has banned them and every study has acknowledged that they are cruel and ineffective. About 20 million people got on to Medicaid during the public health emergency and KFF estimates up to 17 million may be kicked off, while over 1.7 million already have.

Finally an article by Bob Kocher and Bob Wachter in Health Affairs Scholar remins us that big academic medical centers are nowhere near ready for value-based care (VBC). Jeff Goldsmith has been vocal on THCBGang and elsewhere about how VBC is becoming a religion more than a reality. And I remind you that Humana’s MA program is still basically a Fee-For-service program in drag (even though that’s now illegal in their home state). 

I grew up in American health care expecting that eventually a combination of universal insurance mixed with value-based purchasing would lead to a series of tech-enabled companies doing the right thing by patients and making money to boot. With the managed care revolution, the ACA and the boom in digital health all firmly in the rear view mirror, the summer of 2023 is a lesson that you can never be too cynical about health care in America.

.

THCB Gang Episode 127, Thursday June 22

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday June 22 at 1PM PT 4PM ET are delivery & platform expert Vince Kuraitis (@VinceKuraitis); privacy expert and entrepreneur Deven McGraw (@HealthPrivacy); and back after way too long of an absence, health economist Jane Sarasohn-Kahn (@healthythinker).

The video is below. If you’d rather listen to the episode, the audio is preserved from Friday as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels

THCB Gang Episode 126, Thursday June 15

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday June 15 were double trouble futurists Jeff Goldsmith and Ian Morrison (@seccurve); patient safety expert and all around wit Michael Millenson (@mlmillenson); Suntra Modern Recovery CEO JL Neptune (@JeanLucNeptune); and policy expert consultant/author Rosemarie Day (@Rosemarie_Day1). Lots of discussion about United and their hold on the US health care system, the continued hype around AI, and where the rubber is meeting the road or not on health equity.

You can see the video below & if you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

THCB Gang Episode 125, Thursday June 8

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday June 8 at 1PM PT 4PM ET are privacy expert Deven McGraw (@healthprivacy); Queen of employer benefits Jennifer Benz (@Jenbenz); THCB regular writer and ponder of odd juxtapositions Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard); and policy expert consultant/author Rosemarie Day (@Rosemarie_Day1);

You can see the video below & if you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

Interview with Dr Pamela Tenaerts, Medable

Pam Tenaerts is the Chief Scientific Officer of Medable, which went from being a small company creating software helping clinical researchers to design their own experiments to being the big dog in remote clinical trials during the pandemic. Medable has raised over $500m in the past 3 years. Pam has a stellar research background and this interview covers the gamut about how clinical trials work, which companies are involved, how remote (or hybrid) trials actually work, and what the likely outcome for clinical research will be. If you have any interest in understanding the state of play in pharma R&D, this is compulsory viewing–Matthew Holt

Matthew’s health care tidbits: Hedge Funds that Do Health Care on the Side

Each time I send out the THCB Reader, our newsletter that summarizes the best of THCB (Sign up here!) I include a brief tidbits section. Then I had the brainwave to add them to the blog. They’re short and usually not too sweet! –Matthew Holt

Lots of news about bad behavior in health care this week, with real shots about patient & staff safety at home care company Papa, and Grail misinforming 400 people that they had cancer. But the prize for tone deafness this week comes from another very well funded health care provider system being heartless to its poorest patients. 

This week it’s Allina, a Minnesota “nice” system which actually amended its Epic system so that clinicians could literally not book appointments or provide care to patients who owed Allina money. Clinicians on the sharp end of this were so appalled that they went on the record about their own employer to NY Times’ reporter Sarah Kliff. The most egregious example was a doctor unable to write a prescription for a kid that had scabies–an infectious parasitic disease–who was sharing one bed with two other kids!

Of course Allina also is on the low end of charity care provision (below 1% of revenues). In contrast ten employees make more than $1m a year and another 10 make more than $500,000

We all know about egregious private equity funds investing in payday loans and other scummy outfits that prey on the poor. Turns out that if you let a non-profit hospital become beholden to its financial, rather than moral, north star, it starts to behave in a similar manner. Allina, of course, had a smidge under $4bn in its “investment reserve” at the end of 2021. It’s by no means special. UPMC has over $7bn in its reserves (unclear if this includes the investments it has made in startups), while Ascension has a formal private equity fund that controversially paid its former CEOs over $10m as part of its $18bn reserves.

Somehow having hedge funds that provide a little health care service on the side doesn’t leave the best taste in the mouth for how we should be organizing this health care system.

THCB Gang Episode 124, Thursday June 1

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday June 1 at 1PM PT 4PM ET were double trouble futurists Jeff Goldsmith and Ian Morrison (@seccurve), and delivery & platform expert Vince Kuraitis (@VinceKuraitis). Lots of discussion about Kaiser and Geisinger and what this means about the model for the future of care delivery. Do incentives or professionalism matter more?

The video is below. If you’d rather listen to the episode, the audio is preserved from Friday as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels