Less data, more money, but no problems with FDA Credit: 23andMe

Less data, more money, but no problems with FDA Credit: 23andMe

  • 23andMe’s consumer genome service returned to market last week, two years after the FDA made them take it offline – in part, for fear that consumers, ill-equipped to interpret complex genetic information, would make bad healthcare decisions as a result. The revised offering, with the blessing of the FDA, is streamlined, contextualized and twice as expensive. Not that 23andMe has been on hold in the intervening years – they morphed into a very promising data-driven drug development firm with a small consumer front end and signed up a bevy of pharma clients.
  • Privacy concerns could one day become a challenge for services like 23andMe’s which collect consumer health data and sell it – in de-identified form, of course – on to drug makers and other interested parties. But everybody in healthcare is collecting data these days, including pharma. Amgen made headlines and raised eyebrows recently when they began asking applicants to their Repatha financial assistance program to sign over rights to their personal health info.
  • The AMA is developing CPT codes for telemedicine reimbursement, despite continuing resistance from some providers to policies payment structures that might speed adoption. If you reimburse it, they will come.
  • Is Epic, the 800-pound gorilla of the EHR world, holding up interoperability through “information blocking” and other means in order to preserve its dominant market position?
  • gov just got a major update. Among the new features is a tool that helps users find insurance plans that cover their prescription drugs.
  • A study of chronic kidney disease patients found evidence of a digital divide in patient portal use, as patients that were older, poorer, unmarried, black or enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid were less likely to use portals to manage their condition.
  • Among EU healthcare consumers, digital engagement correlates with insurance status – specifically, those supplementing publicly-provided care with private insurance are more engaged than their peers who pay for their care entirely out of pocket or rely entirely on national health systems.
  • Public health officials are looking to social ratings sites like Yelp to detect outbreaks of food-borne illnesses at restaurants.
  • Smart meditation/linguistic interrogation of where the “healthcare consumer” ends and the “patient” begins, and what we want from technology in each role.
  • Figure 1 exploded into the consciousness of digital health nerds with a flurry of news items dubbing it “Instagram for doctors” a few months back. But what’s their business model? Well, they’re still working on that bit, though they do have an insta-poll service they’re rolling out for pharmas and others that might want to survey their healthcare professional users.
  • Some hospitals issue red blankets to VIP patients, thereby signaling to providers that they should get white glove treatment, a practice this physician calls “trickle down healthcare” – a concerning trend in light of mounting evidence that a better patient experience can mean better patient outcomes.
  • “Sick people don’t actually like to shop for healthcare” and other things to keep in mind when designing the healthcare customer experience.
  • Valeant, the pharma famous (or notorious) for price hikes and long contemptuous of the notion that large pharmas should do more than commercialize drugs, is singing a different tune, promising a big boost to R&D spending and more modest price increases on its products in the future. Meanwhile, Valeant’s ties to specialty pharmacies  are under scrutiny and prompting headlines like “Is Valeant the Next Enron?
  • Theranos’ terrible, no good, very bad news cycle isn’t getting any better, with FDA declaring the company’s itty-bitty vials to be “uncleared medical devices” and Walgreens pressing pause on a planned roll-out of Theranos tests in stores.
  • A big military healthcare program is now pushing its 9.5 million beneficiaries to go through Express Scripts’ mail order service to get their prescription drugs. That could be bad news for the big retail pharmacy chains like Walgreens and CVS.
  • Speaking of which, the ACA-fueled consolidation binge in healthcare continues as Walgreens, fresh from its acquisition of UK pharmacy giant Alliance Boots, announced plans to acquire Rite Aid, the third-largest retail pharmacy chain in the U.S., for $9.4 billion.

If you haven’t already, check out DRG’s new eBook on patient engagement. It’s chock full of useful insights and data points for healthcare company execs eager to catch up to their consumer-facing counterparts in delivering a better customer experience.

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