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Angels Have Our Health Data

A holiday song from @MLMillenson, December 2019

Angels we’ve heard from the Cloud on high
Or maybe it was Spotify.

Our health data’s floating hither and yon
Monetized by Google and Amazon.

Gloria, in excessive profits
Gloria, in excessive profits                                                                      

Investors, why this jubilee?
’cause you’ve made us healthy and absent pain?
Is care improved and costs controlled?
Or our data just fuels your capital gains?

Gloria, in excessive profits
Gloria, in excessive profits

Come to Silicon Valley and see
Start-ups whose birth the VC’s sing.
Come adore on bended knee
Promises of health care transforming.

Gloria, in excessive profits
Gloria, in excessive profits

Glen Tullman’s Advice for Health Startups | Glen Tullman, Livongo

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

A must-watch for any startup looking to make it big in the digital health world. Glen Tullman, Chairman of Livongo, shares his best advice for new and emerging startups seeking to disrupt healthcare. On the heels of his company’s IPO, and just after closing the company’s biggest contract to-date with the US Federal Government, Glen talks closing deals, building a great team, what it’s like to navigate the contracting process with a big org like the US government, and more. Entrepreneurial spirit abounds at the Bayer G4A Signing Day event in Europe. Does that mean that Livongo will be jumping into the European market any time soon? Tune in to find out!

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

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Patient-Directed Uses vs. The Platform

By ADRIAN GROPPER, MD

This piece is part of the series “The Health Data Goldilocks Dilemma: Sharing? Privacy? Both?” which explores whether it’s possible to advance interoperability while maintaining privacy. Check out other pieces in the series here.

It’s 2023. Alice, a patient at Ascension Seton Medical Center Austin, decides to get a second opinion at Mayo Clinic. She’s heard great things about Mayo’s collaboration with Google that everyone calls “The Platform”. Alice is worried, and hoping Mayo’s version of Dr. Google says something more than Ascension’s version of Dr. Google. Is her Ascension doctor also using The Platform?

Alice makes an appointment in the breast cancer practice using the Mayo patient portal. Mayo asks permission to access her health records. Alice is offered two choices, one uses HIPAA without her consent and the other is under her control. Her choice is:

  • Enter her demographics and insurance info and have The Platform use HIPAA surveillance to gather her records wherever Mayo can find them, or
  • Alice copies her Mayo Clinic ID and enters it into the patient portal of any hospital, lab, or payer to request her records be sent directly to Mayo.

Alice feels vulnerable. What other information will The Platform gather using their HIPAA surveillance power? She recalls a 2020 law that expanded HIPAA to allow access to her behavioral health records at Austin Rehab.

Alice prefers to avoid HIPAA surprises and picks the patient-directed choice. She enters her Mayo Clinic ID into Ascension’s patient portal. Unfortunately, Ascension is using the CARIN Alliance code of conduct and best practices. Ascension tells Alice that they will not honor her request to send records directly to Mayo. Ascension tells Alice that she must use the Apple Health platform or some other intermediary app to get her records if she wants control.  

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Scaling Health Insurance Disruption | Ali Diab, Collective Health

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Ali Diab, CEO & Co-Founder of Collective Health, wants to talk about healthcare affordability and the fact that consumerism doesn’t really exist when it comes to healthcare because we don’t really have a functioning market. The “Real” buyers — from the federal government to large employers — have no idea what things cost in traditional health plans and are making healthcare purchases for their constituents without full price transparency. So, what has he and Collective Health learned now that they’re 6 years into trying to offer these buyers an alternative to that traditional health plan experience? Nothing is more complex than health insurance innovation, but Collective Health is making significant headway and, according to Ali, has made it past the “homicide phase” of being a digital health startup.

Filmed at HLTH 2019 in Las Vegas, October 2019.

Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health

The Public Health To-Do List is Choking Doctors and Jeopardizing Patients’ Lives

By HANS DUVEFELT, MD

“By the way, Doc, why am I tired, what’s this lump and how do I get rid of my headaches?”

Every patient encounter is a potential deadly disease, disastrous outcome, or even a malpractice suit. As clinicians, we need to have our wits about us as we continually are asked to sort the wheat from the chaff when patients unload their concerns, big and small, on us during our fifteen minute visits.

But something is keeping us from listening to our patients with our full attention, and that something, in my opinion, is not doctor work but nurse work or even tasks for unlicensed staff: Our Public Health to-do list is choking us.

You don’t need a medical degree to encourage people to get flu and tetanus shots, Pap smears, breast, colon and lung cancer screening, to quit smoking, see their eye doctor or get some more blood pressure readings before your next appointment. But those are the pillars of individual medical providers’ performance ratings these days. We must admit that the only way you can get all that health maintenance done is through a team effort. Medical providers neither hire nor supervise their support staff, so where did the idea ever come from that this was an appropriate individual clinician performance measure?

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Will ‘Digital-First’ Health Plans Usher in Telehealth At-Scale? | Danielle Russella, American Well

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Is healthcare on the way to ‘telehealth at-scale?’ We checked in with American Well’s Danielle Russella, President & GM of Health Plan Solutions, to rumor-check the buzz we’ve been hearing about “digital-first health plans” and what that means for the future of health plan coverage for telehealth services. From provider uptake and payment parity to patient awareness and utilization, Danielle weighs in on the state-of-play of telehealth/health plan relations and how digital health seems to finally becoming part of payer strategy talks within the C-suite. At American Well, that’s meant more growth in last 2 years than in the previous 8 years, says Danielle. Is that why we’re hearing those IPO rumors? Tune in to find out if there’s any merit to that chatter.

Filmed at HLTH 2019 in Las Vegas, October 2019.

“Chasing My Cure”: A Book Review

By CHADI NABHAN, MD, MBA, FACP

Have you thought about your own mortality?

Who hasn’t, given the frequency of seeing death and grief depicted in the media or through real life encounters with friends, relatives, neighbors, or patients? These incidents trigger uncomfortable and sometimes uneasy thoughts of how we might personally deal with potential illness and disease. The same thoughts are soon displaced by the busyness of living. 

Despite dealing with the death of his mother from a brain tumor, we learn David Fajgenbaum was healthy, living life to its fullest, and a future doctor in the making. He may have thought about his own mortality as he grieved the death of his mother, but likely never imagined anything dire would happen to him. Fajgenbaum was pushing forward on several fronts, including leading a non-for-profit organization for grieving college students, symbolically named “Actively Moving Forward” or “AMF” after his mother’s initials, all while first playing college football and then attending medical school. By all accounts, this was a vigorous young man, meticulous about his diet and physicality.  When he became ill, it was a blunt reminder that life is unpredictable.

In his book “Chasing my Cure”, Dr. Fajgenbaum takes us back to the time when he first got ill.  He vividly describes his physical symptoms and various scans which detected his enlarged nodes. Interestingly, we learn how long he was in denial of these symptoms, thereby delaying medical attention in favor of studying. This neglect of self-care highlights part of his personality, but also represents the pressure and expectations placed upon a majority of medical students. 

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How Health Plans Pick Startups for Partnerships & Investment | Bryony Winn, BCBS North Carolina

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

It’s the ‘holy grail’ of advice for health tech startups. BlueCross BlueShield of North Carolina’s Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Bryony Winn, tells what it takes for digital health and digital therapeutics startups to gain partnership agreements, reimbursement, and possible investment from health plans. How do you figure out how to “align incentives” in a way that perks up a payer’s ears? Bryony gives us some VERY FRANK advice about how startups can bring innovation to BCBS of North Carolina, other Blues plans, or their VC funds (which in this case is Echo Health Ventures where BCBS North Carolina partners with Cambia Health Solutions.) To play the game, you have to know the players. Tune in for more.

Filmed at HLTH 2019 in Las Vegas, October 2019.

Presenting Complaint: Social Injustice

By ANISH KOKA, MD

Bobby

It took some doing, but I had finally made it to Bobby’s home.

It was a rowhome tucked into one of those little side streets in the city that non-city folks wouldn’t dream of driving down. As I step in, I’m met by the usual set up – wooden steps that hug the right side of the wall leading up to the second floor.  Bobby certainly hasn’t made it up to the second floor in some time. At the moment she is sitting in her hospital bed in the living room. The bed is the focal point to a room stuffed to the gills with all manners of stuff. At least three quarters of the stuff seems to be food. Cinnamon buns, Doritos, donut holes, chocolate frosted Donuts, crackers, Twinkies. The junk food aisle at Wawa would be embarrassed by the riches on display here.

Bobby weighs in at four hundred pounds, 5 foot 5 inches. She has a tracheostomy from multiple prior episodes of respiratory failure that have required ventilatory support. I’m here at the request of a devoted primary care physician that still makes home calls. I’ve looked through the last number of hospital stays. The last few discharge summaries are carbon copies of each other. Hypoxemic respiratory failure related to pulmonary edema complicated further by morbid obesity. Time on the vent. Antibiotics. Diuretics. Home. Return to the hospital 2 weeks later. The last echocardiogram done was 3 admissions ago. A poor study. Not much could be seen due to ‘body habitus’.

I sit on the side of the bed trying to acquire my own images of her heart. I talk to her as I struggle. Bobby is 58, the youngest of three sisters, and the only surviving member of the family. Her elder sisters died of respiratory complications as well. They both died with tracheostomies. The conversation is circular. The problem according to Bobby is the tracheostomy. Everything was fine before that. I explain that a prolonged period of time on the ventilator on a prior admission prompted the tracheostomy, and that the multiple recent admissions to the hospital that required a ventilator seemed to validate that decision. She doesn’t waver. Both her sisters died shortly after they got tracheostomies. Bobby thinks the physicians taking care of her sisters had a hand in their demise. “They didn’t care.” “We told them they were sick.”

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The AMA’s Digital Health Investment Fund | Andrew Elkind & Stas Sokolin, Health2047

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

The American Medical Association (AMA) announced Health 2047, its accelerator and investment fund in 2018. A year later, Andrew Elkind and Stas Sokolin, both Principals at the fund, stop by to get us up-to-speed on the progress the AMA has made so far with its $45 million accelerator fund and $30 million investment fund. What kinds of health tech startups are piquing the attention of this physician-led fund? Get the details behind the Health 2047 investment thesis here!

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