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Despite Youth On Farm, Abbott Ventures Chief Avoids Spreading Manure

By MICHAEL MILLENSON Michael Millenson

Abbott Ventures chief Evan Norton may have spent part of his youth on a farm, but there’s no manure in his manner when speaking of the medical device and diagnostics market landscape. The key, he says, is to avoid being blindsided by the transformational power of digital data.

“We’ve been competing against Medtronic and J&J, so that has the risk of us being disintermediated by other players that come into the market,” Norton told attendees at MedCity Invest, a meeting focused on health care entrepreneurs. “Physicians are coming to us and asking for access to data for decisions, and they don’t care who the manufacturer [of the device] is. Are we enabling data creation?”

Abbott, said Norton, wrestles with whether they are simply data creators or want to get paid for providing algorithmic guidance on how the data is used. (Full disclosure: I own Abbott shares.) Other panelists agreed making sense of the digital data deluge remains the central business challenge.

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Google Is Quietly Infiltrating Medicine — But What Rules Will It Play By?

By MICHAEL L. MILLENSON Michael Millenson

With nearly 80 percent of internet users searching online for health-related information, it’s no wonder the catchphrase “Dr. Google” has caught on, to the delight of many searchers and the dismay of many real doctors.

What’s received little attention from physicians or the public is the company’s quiet metamorphosis into a powerhouse focused on the actual practice of medicine.

If “data is the new oil,” as the internet meme has it, Google and its Big Tech brethren could become the new OPEC. Search is only the start for Google and its parent company, Alphabet. Their involvement in health care can continue through a doctor’s diagnosis and even into monitoring a patient’s chronic condition for, essentially, forever. (From here on, I’ll use the term Google to include the confusing intertwining of Google and Alphabet units.)

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Creating an Infrastructure of Health Data to Support Amazon’s Leap into Healthcare

By CLAUDIA WILLIAMS Claudia Williams, Manifest MedEx, Amazon

Amazon has transformed the way we read books, shop online, host websites, do cloud computing, and watch TV. Can they apply their successes in all these other areas to healthcare?

Just last week, Amazon announced Comprehend Medical, machine learning software that digitizes and processes medical records. “The process of developing clinical trials and connecting them with the right patients requires research teams to sift through and label mountains of unstructured clinical record data,” Fred Hutchinson CIO Matthew Trunnell is quoted saying in a MedCity News article. “Amazon Comprehend Medical will reduce this time burden from hours to seconds. This is a vital step toward getting researchers rapid access to the information they need when they need it so they can find actionable insights to advance life-saving therapies for patients.”

Deriving insights from data and making those available in a user-friendly way to patients and clinicians is just what we need from technology innovators. But these tools are useless without data. If an oncology patient is hospitalized, her provider may not be informed of her hospitalization for days or even weeks (or ever). And the situation is repeated for that same patient receiving care from cardiologists, endocrinologists, and other providers outside of her oncology clinic. When it comes to personalized health and medicine, both the quantity and quality of data matter. Providers need access to comprehensive patient health data so they can accurately and efficiently diagnose and treat patients and make use of technology that helps them identify “actionable insights.”

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Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 62- AHIP in Nashville!

On Episode 62 of Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are reporting from Nashville—while enjoying some delicious barbecue. We’re in town for AHIP’s Consumer Experience & Digital Health Forum, where Jess did an amazing job as a moderator and I was on a panel. In this episode, Jess asks me about my key takeaways from the forum, what the deal is with Tivity Health acquiring Nutrisystem, and how I managed to get into a fight on Twitter while at AHIP. —Matthew Holt

THCB Spotlight: Jesse Ehrenfeld, AMA

By ZOYA KHAN

Today, we are featuring Dr. Jesse Ehrenfeld from the American Medical Association (AMA) on THCB Spotlight. Matthew Holt interviews Dr. Ehrenfeld, Chair-elect of the AMA Board of Trustees and an anesthesiologist with the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. The AMA has recently released their Digital Health Implementation Playbook, which is a guide to adopting digital health solutions. They also launched a new online platform called the Physician Innovation Network to help connect physicians with entrepreneurs and developers. Watch the interview to find out more about how the AMA is supporting health innovation, as well as why the AMA thinks the CVS-Aetna merger is not a good idea and how the AMA views the role of AI in the future of health care.

Zoya Khan is the Editor-in-Chief of THCB as well as an Associate at SMACK.health, a health-tech advisory services for early-stage startups.

The Internet of Medical Things Gold Rush (And My Grandfather’s Wooden Leg)

By MICHAEL MILLENSON 

The most intriguing aspect of the recent Connected Health Conference was the eclectic mix of corporations claiming cutting-edge expertise in the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT).

HP, a legend in computer hardware, was touting a service that scoops data from Web-enabled home devices such as bathroom scales up into the cloud and then manages the information on behalf of your doctor. This presumably fulfills their corporate vow to “engineer experiences that amaze.”

Verizon, not content with deploying its cable TV clout to “deliver the promise of the digital world,” is connecting to a chip on the lid of your pill container that can monitor whether you’re taking your medications.

Even Deloitte, rooted in corporate auditing, has translated its anodyne assertion that “we are continuously evolving how we work” into a partnership with Google. DeloitteASSIST uses machine learning to translate verbal requests from hospital patients into triaged messages for nurses.
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Silencing Noisy Health Care?

By MATTHEW HOLT

As you’ve probably heard (enough!) from me and Indu Subaiya over recent months on video, at Health 2.0 or here on THCB, we are finally arriving at the point where health care tech is “flipping the stack” — where we realize that we can’t practice the old way, and instead need to move the care of the chronically ill to an always on, always monitoring, always measuring, always messaging tech platform.

But we need to figure out a way to both create that platform and the services for the people who need help–without overwhelming them. Too often we are putting too much technology into patients’ and clinicians’ lives and creating too much noise. While I’ve been aping Bob Wachter calling for an air traffic control function in health care, one of the most interesting new companies in health tech/services, Livongo, has been working on a  related idea. They’ve been promoting it by looking to #SilenceNoisyHealthCare on Twitter and Linkedin recently

Tuesday 30th at 1 ET – 10 PT I’m hosting a webinar with Livongo’s CEO Glen Tullman & Chief Medical Officer Jennifer Schneider, M.D. Jessica DaMassa tweeted that Glen and I are in a cage match, and it is an Oxford v Cambridge affair (although Jennifer brings some Stanford & Hopkins class to the proceedings).

But what’s really going on is that Livongo is adopting a new philosophy that they think will silence the noise and fix the patient experience. What do they mean by that? Join me on the webinar to learn more

 

THCB Spotlights: Livio AI

By ZOYA KHAN

Today we are featuring another #TechCrunchDisrupt2018 THCB Spotlight. Matthew Holt interviews LivioAI, which is an AI hearing aid created by Starkey Technologies. Worldwide, there are 700 Million people with hearing loss but only 10% wear a device to help them. That number is appalling especially because there are a number of co-morbid illnesses linked with hearing loss, like cognitive and physical decline! That is where LivioAI comes in to play. LivioAI is completely controlled by your iPhone, tracks all types of movements (it is always counting your steps so the steps you miss when you put down are also accounted for), classifies acoustic environments to measure your social engagement (it can register the difference between a noisy restaurant and a library to figure out how much you are participating in a situation), and even translates foreign languages directly into your ear with its voice-activated platform. It is connected with Apple Health and Google Fit and can measure data to observe patterns of co-morbid illnesses. It is the new Fitbit, but for the ear! As LivioAI’s motto goes “Hear better, Live better.”

Zoya Khan is the Editor-in-Chief of THCB as well as an Associate at SMACK.health, a health-tech advisory services for early-stage startups.

Hoarding Patient Data is a Lousy Business Strategy: 7 Reasons Why

By VINCE KURAITIS & LESLIE KELLY HALL

Vince Kuraitis

Leslie Kelly Hall

Among many healthcare providers, it’s been long-standing conventional wisdom (CW) that hoarding patient data is an effective business strategy to lock-in patients — “He who holds the data, wins”. However…we’ve never seen any evidence that this actually works…have you?

We’re here to challenge CW. In this article we’ll explore the rationale of “hoarding as business strategy”, review evidence suggesting it’s still prevalent, and suggest 7 reasons why we believe it’s a lousy business strategy:

  1. Data Hoarding Doesn’t Work — It Doesn’t Lock-In Patients or Build Affinity
  2. Convenience is King in Patient Selection of Providers
  3. Loyalty is Declining, Shopping is Increasing
  4. Providers Have a Decreasingly Small “Share” of Patient Data
  5. Providers Don’t Want to Become a Lightning Rod in the “Techlash” Backlash
  6. Hoarding Works Against Public Policy and the Law
  7. Providers, Don’t Fly Blind with Value-Based Care

Background

In the video below, Dr. Harlan Krumholz of Yale University School of Medicine capsulizes the rationale of hoarding as business strategy.

We encourage you to take a minute to listen to Dr. Krumholz, but if you’re in a hurry we’ve abstracted the most relevant portions of his comments:

“The leader of a very major healthcare system said this to me confidentially on the phone… ‘why would we want to make it easy for people to get their health data…we want to keep the patients with us so why wouldn’t we want to make it just a little more difficult for them to leave.’ …I couldn’t believe it a physician health care provider professional explaining to me the philosophy of that health system.”

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Make Hackathons Fair Again

By FRED TROTTER

On Oct 19, I will begin to MC the health equity hackathon in Austin TX, which will focus on addressing healthcare disparity issues. Specifically, we will be using healthcare data to try and make an impact on those problems. Our planning team has spent months thinking about how to run a hackathon fairly, especially after the release of a report that harshly criticized how hackathons are typically run.

A Wired article written earlier this year trumpets a study called “Hackathons As Co-optation Ritual: Socializing Workers and Institutionalizing Innovation in the ‘New’ Economy,” which criticizes the corporate takeover of hackathons. Hackathons are inherently unfair to participants according to these two sociologists.

They argue that hackathons have become a way for corporations to trick legions of technologists into working for free. To a sociologist, that looks like exploitation, and it is hard to see how they are wrong.

After reading the article, I was struck by how many things about typical hackathons are backward:

  • Hackathons romanticize workaholism and celebrate insomnia – With hackathons typically running 24-72 hours straight, sleep is for the weak. Those who don’t sleep are seen as heroes.
  • Junk food is the only option – Most hackathons provide unhealthy snacks, high in fructose and low in protein. Participants are expected to fuel their unpaid work sprints with sugar and caffeine. These are frequently the only eating options available.
  • Healthy work patterns ensure that there are breaks. Opportunities to chat, or walk and take a break from work. And the idea of encouraging people to get up and move, let alone stretch, is unheard of at these hackathons. Hundreds of geeks, unable to shower, or leave the room, can create a pretty bad smell.
  • Judging is at best arbitrary, and in some cases completely rigged, with winners sometimes chosen in advance.

On occasion, I have seen harder stimulants used. Although I have never seen anyone on cocaine win, it does make for super-engaging project presentations. The presentations were not good, mind you, just engaging… In the “Holy Moses, this guy is about to present when he is clearly high AF” sense.

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