• Matt Arnold 1Among the new crop of apps for Apple’s ResearchKit: an app which uses the iPhone camera to analyze children’s emotional reactions as a means of diagnosing autism; and one which uses AppleWatch sensors (the accelerometer and heart rate monitor) to predict and detect seizures. Mobihealthnews speculates that developers are using ResearchKit as a proving ground for medical apps that will eventually need FDA clearance.
  • There’s hope for Boomers and mobile health, says a report from the California Healthcare Foundation, which notes that 41 million of them own smartphones and that higher exposure to healthcare costs could make them more amenable to digital tech-enabled self-care, despite poor adoption so far. CHCF identifies privacy concerns as a barrier – a finding that resonates with DRG digital health consumer survey data.
  • Speaking of privacy worries, it seems law enforcement agencies are showing growing interest in trawling the databases of genetic testing services like those of Ancestry.com and 23andMe.
  • One of the ways the ACA was meant to “bend the cost curve” was by prodding insurers to offer plans which exposed consumers to more of the cost of healthcare products and procedures, thereby giving them “skin in the game” and making them savvier healthcare shoppers. However, a study of high-deductible plans suggests that many may simply avoid care altogether.
  • This profile of Pfizer’s Ian Read gets at a conundrum pharmas face: even as their price-hiking practices come in for withering scrutiny (thanks, Martin Shkreli!), consumers are balking at being asked to pay more of the costs of drugs. Read would deflect blame on insurers, but as long as drugs are the most visible healthcare cost consumers face, they’ll put it all on pharma.
  • Best piece on drug pricing I’ve yet read. A taste: “North Korea and the drug industry are the last bastions of Marxism.”
  • Here’s the strange tale of a woman who used a crowd-diagnostics site called CrowdMed to diagnose her SCM Syndrome (or so it seemed, anyway, until another doctor issued a much more concerning diagnosis). It’s a sort of parable of the dangers of too much data in an age of Meaningful Use-mandated patient portals.
  • Theranos, the “disrupt lab tests” startup whose huge valuation has made its telegenic young founder, Elizabeth Holmes, a billionaire, ran into a PR buzz saw last week as The Wall Street Journal ran a deeply-sourced piece questioning its opacity and the reliability of the technology underpinning its tests.
  • FDA is studying how older consumers handle complex info about risks and benefits in DTC TV ads. Which seems very last century, but then, pharma still spends the vast majority of its consumer promotional budget on TV.
  • Facebook’s walled garden now features concierge service.

Just three weeks left to get your tickets to Pharmapalooza, people.

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