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Category: Health Tech

What can $100 get you?

I don’t use THCB much to point out what good we all can do—I keep that for my year-end letter—but my favorite charity (Saigon’s Childrens Charity) is at its financial year end and just sent me the reports for the kids I support. I’ve asked people who want to talk to me in the past to “buy a kid a bike.” And as it’s late on a Friday and I’m about to go out and take my wife to dinner, I thought you might all think about alternate uses for the $100 I’m about to spend (Yes, she’s a cheap date). Here’s what $100 buys for a very, very poor kid in Vietnam (and because of the recession donations are off this year, so they need more help).

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We’ll be back here in 2016, unless

I’ve been meaning for a while to put up a common sense post that points out that if we don’t do reform now, we’ll end up with cost at close to $30K per family as opposed to the $15K as they are now, and in turn that will mean 80–100 million uninsured as opposed to 50–60 million we have now, and of course the end result will be a health care industry that looks like General Motors.

But luckily Joe Paduda just wrote the post for me and added a date—go read at Managed Care Matters.

Which just leads to one conclusion. The health care industry had better buckle down with the Blue Dogs, put more on the table, and get something passed that they can live with now. AND in addition, they need to figure out some way to stop the loony fringe at the town halls and listening to Rush Limbaugh from making the next best alternative be doing nothing—which is what they want.

Otherwise the conversation they’ll be having with the President and the Chinese central bank in 2016 will be very, very unpleasant.

“Money driven medicine” on PBS tonight

Tonight the documentary based on Maggie Mahar’s book Money-Driven Medicine is on Bill Moyers’ show on PBS.

Meanwhile if you haven’t seen this clip of Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn seriously suggesting to a completely desperate woman that her neighboors should be the ones helping her look after her husband with a traumatic brain injury, you’ll be illuminated by how out of touch (and that’s putting it very kindly) he and lots of his colleagues are on the real life actual needs of people suffering now as opposed to inciting vitriol from the fringe over vague concerns in the future.

Donald Light sticks it to PhRMA and Tauzin, again

Over the years PhRMA must be getting pretty sick of Univ of Medicine and Denistry of New Jersey Professor Donald Light. He’s made a cottage industry of pissing on the commonly-trumpeted propaganda that only American drug research is effective, and that high prices for drugs in the US cross-subsidize lower prices elsewhere in the world. And in Health Affairs this week he does it again. Essentially Light shows that the added R&D spent in the US compared to Europe doesn’t give much bang for the buck, and that not many breakthrough drugs have been created anyway—something that PhRMA knows all to well as it looks at its shrinking pipelines.

In global NCEs, European research productivity was about the same as U.S. productivity in the first period but increased by 30 percent in the second period (1993-2003), while U.S. research productivity declined 26 percent (Exhibit 3). In first-in-class drugs, European relative innovativeness moved from well behind the United States in the first period to well ahead in the second. These are the most commercially and therapeutically important types of new chemical entities.

Now personally I think that, in an era in which all drug research is pretty much international, the basic premise of the argument about which system does more effective drug research is pretty silly. But of course it’s a one-two punch. And the upper-cut that would leave pharma staggering if it didn’t have control of the microphone is this quote from Light:

Congressional leaders and others concerned about high prices of new patented drugs will be heartened by this analysis, because lower European prices seem to be no deterrent to strong research productivity.20 A previous analysis using industry-based data showed that pharmaceutical companies recover all costs and make a good profit at European prices.21 Europeans are not “free riders” on American patients–another myth promoted by industry that assumes that countries are separate R&D/market silos that should each pay for themselves.

Given that Billy Tauzin at PhRMA has already cut a deal with the Obama Administration (albeit one that seems to be unofficially official), none of this matters very much. But it’s good to see that it might just be possible to reduce the very high margins earned by big Pharma without necessarily ending scientific advancement as we know it.

SXSW–Vote for me, or those other guys!

So in Austin every year they have this SXSW conference. Indu goes every year and raves about it. Last year Jay Drayer from CareFlash put me on a panel (but it didn’t get selected). This year he has a different group. But don’t worry, Feelgoodnow.com has proposed a panel entitled Sick Clicks: The Evolution of Health Online that will feature me and other buds including Susannah Fox, Associate Director of Digital Strategy at the Pew Internet & American Life Project,Catherine Ulbricht, founder of Natural Standard and Jay Parkinson, founder of HelloHealth.com.

The bizarre thing is that SXSW is a democratic event and you have to vote for it. So please go vote for us here. And if you want to vote for Jay Drayer’s motley crue, well they’re here (and they’re pretty damn good too…)

Data drives decisions? Crowd-sourcing as the future of research

So, I get back from lounging on the beach in Hawaii to find that two strands of the THCB and Health 2,0 worlds have connected! At the Health 2.0 Conference we’re going to be hearing from 23andme, PatientsLikeMe, Pfizer, MedHelp, Within3 and more about the role that crowd-sourced data has on the future of decisions and discovery.

And then in the NY Times today there’s an excellent article all about this called Research Trove – Patients Online Data. And the author is THCB alumna Sarah Arnquist, who is now in Africa studying health care in Uganda.

Interview with Al Waxman, Psilos Group

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Al Waxman is a healthcare entrepreneur who these days runs the Psilos Group, a venture firm that invests in health care services, health care IT and device and instrumentation companies. Among their better known investments are Active Health Management, Health Hero Network and Definity Health–now all acquired by publicly traded companies. This is a wide ranging conversation about Al’s investment philosophy, his desire to get VCs more involved in health care, his mistrust of politicians and where he thinks health care technology is headed. Here’s the interview.

Al will also be on a panel at Health 2.0 on October 6-7 talking about whether Health 2.0 can make health care more affordable.

JSK & Joe DeLuca on KQED

One of the best local talk shows anywhere is Michael Krasny’s Forum on 88.5 KQED, San Francisco’s establishment NPR station (SF of course has a rebel NPR station KALW which has had me on a couple of times but I’m too scruffy for KQED!).

At 10 am PST Forum has a show about health IT which has Robbie Pearle from the Permanente group and 2/3 of my old HIO project team at IFTF, Joe DeLuca and Jane Sarasohn-Kahn.

You can listen in here

Interview: Bob Wachter on reform, safety, primary care and everything

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One of the best commentators around on the issues of patient safety, health care quality and basically everything to do with health care organizations is UCSF Professor Bob Wachter. Bob has been in the trenches as one of the leaders in the hospitalist movement, a major driver behind improving patient safety, and has also straddled the worlds of medical practice as a PCP, academia at UCSF, and been publicizing this all to a wider audience–particularly with his 2005 book Internal Bleeding and his more recent book Understanding Patient Safety. Then of course there are his occasional blog posts both on Wachter’s World and here on THCB.

This was a really fun conversation and somehow Bob remains an optimist. Here’s the interview.

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