Someone using "Google" on their laptop
  • Alphabet’s Google Life Sciences Verily is working on developing the “Google of human systems biology” – a health search function that will reach into “difficult to crack domains” including smartphones for medical data and use machine learning to contextualize it.
  • The proliferation of retail clinics was expected to increase access to care while lowering the cost to payers. Well, that turned out to be half right. A study using Aetna claims data for eleven low-actuity conditions found a substantial increase in utilization and a modest increase in spending.
  • Having retreated from initially-planned medical applications for the Apple Watch, Apple filed a patent that envisions the watch alerting caregivers and/or HCPs to medical events (such as heart attack) detected by iPhone and Apple Watch sensors.
  • Merck gambled on personalized medicine and a value-added play with their pill-plus-diagnostic cancer treatment Keytruda. However, the drug’s chief rival, BMS’s Opdivo, is grabbing more than 60% of new starts with an old-school approach – in part because oncologists don’t have time to run the diagnostic that indicates Keytruda’s likelihood of working. Ouch.
  • Gilead spent $100 million on consumer advertising for their hep-C follow-on Harvoni. That’s not a shocking amount for a potential blockbuster, but given the cost of innovative hep C treatments and Gilead’s swashbuckling style on pricing, it’s raising eyebrows.
  • Novartis’ Joe Jiminez spotlights transformational healthcare trends – namely, connected health, regenerative medicine, precision medicine and targeted clinical trials.
  • Virtual assistants are about to become a big thing. Smart futuristy people think it “will change our relationship to AI.” What are the implications for healthcare? Well, for starters, patients might be willing – and able – to share information with an electronic voice in their head that they wouldn’t share with their Apple Watch.
  • Packaged food makers and grocery chains are slapping QR-coded labels on food that tell smartphone-equipped shoppers information on nutrition and where the grub was grown – even including profiles of farmers, in some cases. Easy to imagine pharmas using QR codes to deliver patient education or to pull patients to a website through their mobile devices.
  • A study published in JAMA looked at health apps and privacy, and found that out of 211 diabetes apps reviewed, 81% did not have privacy policies, and among those that did, privacy policies were weak – only 4 said they would ask users’ OK to share data.
  • Interesting tidbits about targeting and creating a coherent, engaging customer experience in this look at the state of play in omnichannel marketing. A representative sample:  “IBM says the engagement arsenal is growing fast, including more reliance on social media advertising, including buyable pins, video, and more opportunities for personalization as well as increasingly nimble email tools. However, engagement strategies work best when marketers forget about the word digital,’ says Jose Andrade, VP, director of creative technology at Flashpoint Medica, ‘and just replace it with human.’ Thanks in no small way to Apple and its fierce focus on customer-centric development, ‘marketers are backing away from kitchen-sink efforts, like creating websites and cramming as much into them as possible. The goal is to empower the user to engage in a faster, more meaningful way.’”
  • And here’s another smart piece on how the “digital deluge” HCPs face opens up opportunities for non-personal promotion.
  • The FDA will study the effect of superimposed text (“supers,” in adverlingo) in video ads for prescription drugs on consumer comprehension – in part because of the advent of new screens through which people view ads. Interesting that the agency is beginning to look at video ads in a screen-agnostic way – participants will view ads through TV and tablets.
  • Very moving anecdote in this post by a MyGIHealth founder on how data can help to detect domestic violence (and other threats to patient health).
  • Fascinating primer on the perils of “pointsification” and the barriers to gamification of healthcare.
  • A study by PatientView found that – surprise! – perceptions of the pharma industry have improved dramatically among patient groups since 2012, seemingly largely because of the recent boom in innovative drug development – though patient groups are very sour on industry pricing practices (no surprise there).

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