• The telemedicine “revolution is finally here,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Mercy health system’s virtual ICU has brought about a 35% decrease in average length of stay and a 30% decline in mortality! However, doubts linger about the quality of virtual visits, and insurers continue to balk at reimbursing telehealth services at the same rate as in-person care.
  • A behavioral psychiatrist writes about Tweets as emerging vital sign, tipping off healthcare providers to dangerous bouts of depression and other mental health issues. It’s reminiscent of the recent news that Microsoft researchers were able to pinpoint search queries from undiagnosed pancreatic cancer sufferers, suggesting a means of early detection.
  • Researchers poring over Sunshine Act data have found a positive correlation between lunch-and-learns and prescribing. A study published in JAMA found that doctors treated to a single pharma-sponsored lunch were 18% more likely to prescribe Crestor, 70% more likely to prescribe Bystolic and 52% more likely to prescribe Benicar.
  • BI digital honcho predicts that “in five to ten years, maybe more, maybe less, every therapeutic will come with a corresponding digital asset,” and that with patients managing multiple comorbid conditions and medications, digital clutter will pose a major problem.
  • A look at AstraZeneca’s multi-brand AZhelps mobile app, which includes Rx savings, lifestyle advice and click-to-chat functionality.
  • Novartis sponsored a patient community app for people with hives called Target My Hives. Users can be matched with patients with similar symptoms and can interact through a “facebook-like platform.”
  • Pharma advertising spend for DTC grew more than that of any sector, rising 15.6%, according to LNA – far outpacing the growth of adpsend for travel (up 10.1%) and apparel (6.9%) companies. Novo Nordisk was the fourth fastest-growing spender, with spend up 195% to $261 million, followed by Valeant (up 88% to $441 million) and GSK (up 56% to $948 million). Sanofi’s adspend rose 47% to $901 million and Gilead’s 36% to $391 million. Novo, by the way, just launched a big TV campaign for their Tresiba insulin.
  • Forget no-see doctors for a minute and worry about no-see consumers who take their TV streaming and their online content ad-blocked. The phenomenon is forcing advertisers to go native and get creative.
  • The Wall Street Journal took a look at the “flurry of startups that have emerged touting technology platforms designed to help advertisers connect with, and run ads, using social influencers.” Social platforms and social media marketers say they’re mostly flim-flam artists trading on scraped data and lacking relationships with the influencers themselves.
  • The Cannes Lions Health awards were held last week, and Philips took the Grand Prix with a COPD awareness campaign featuring a choir composed entirely of people with lung ailments. Philips makes a line of oxygen devices including the SimplyGo Mini, a portable oxygen concentrator used by the 18 choir members featured in the campaign. Meanwhile, Bayer made BBDO yank ads the agency ran on behalf of a Bayer aspirin brand in Brazil and give back the award they won for the campaign, which many deemed kind of creepy.
  • At Cannes, AstraZeneca’s Elizabeth Egan talked about how they “co-created absolutely everything with patients” for a lung cancer awareness campaign, and Twitter’s Mary Ann Belliveau said digital had brought about “a big step change” toward more patient-centric communication.
  • Klick Health has a fascinating glimpse into the opportunities 3D-seeing phones may afford pharma
  • Oscar Health, the youthful, disruptastic Health Insurance 2.0 startup that was going to pwn the ACA individual marketplace by selling low-cost, high-CX plans to healthy, low-cost young people, is not doing so well, and that, coupled with UnitedHealth’s recent exit from most ACA state markets, is fueling questions about the viability of participation for insurers.
  • Whatever its shortcomings, the Affordable Care Act is “bending the cost curve” as promised – to the tune of trillions, according to a report. Meanwhile, across the aisle, Republicans have finally offered a long-promised alternative plan.
  • Privately-insured patients may not appreciate the cost-savings achieved by the ACA because they’re seeing more of the costs of care up-front. A study published in JAMA quantified this cost-shift, finding that from 2009 to 2013, out-of-pocket costs borne by insured patients who were hospitalized grew 6.5% each year – more than twice the rate of overall healthcare spending.
  • In the same week that the CEO of the AMA blasted a glut of “digital snake oil,” England’s NHS, famous for cutting costs and not suffering fools gladly, announced it would reimburse apps and devices for diseases like heart disease and diabetes. The lesson for Silicon Valley? “Move fast and break things just won’t work.”
  • What does Brexit mean for pharma? Potentially “a less efficient and lengthier regulatory process for companies seeking approval” in those markets, among other things.
  • Doctor ratings sites and price transparency tools were supposed to help consumers shop around for healthcare providers and services, but pricing remains opaque and the daunting complexity of the health system is deterring smarter consumer behavior. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports took a look at drug pricing and urged consumers to talk to their doctors about cost and shop around online.
  • Harvard Pilgrim becomes the latest big payer to hammer out outcomes-based payment arrangements – in this case, for Novartis’ Entresto, in which payment is pegged to hospital reimbursements, in part, and for Lilly’s Trulicity, which rewards greater efficacy versus competitors.
  • Facebook’s Sean Parker is funding the first clinical trial to use CRISPR to attack cancers. Eyebrows are arching among the medical ethics and prurience crowd.
  • Do antidepressants even work? A writerly psychiatrist has trawled the study data and produced a book concluding that yes, they do, if not as powerfully as often supposed -- but his research raises awkward questions about the veracity and reliability of published clinical trials data.
  • And finally, just for fun, this is almost certainly the weirdest pharma story you will read this week.

How Glympse Bio oversubscribed their Series B funding amidst the pandemic

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