Guy attaching a wearable device to his jeans pocket
  • UnitedHealthcare and Qualcomm launched UnitedHealthcare Motion, a device-enabled cash-for-fitness-goals employee wellness plan. Enrollees get a souped-up step tracker (the custom-built Trio Tracker), which sends data to an app powered by Qualcomm Life’s 2Net connected health platform. They are rewarded for meeting benchmarks – up to $4 per day and $1,460 per year. “This is a cardiovascular prescription,” says Qualcomm’s chief medical officer. “What you are seeing in this announcement is the first breakthrough of wearables into this medical-grade arena.”
  • (incidentally, if you haven’t seen UnitedHealthcare’s ICD-code-themed ads touting their virtual clinic, apps, and ratings and cost transparency, go take a look – they’re pretty clever).
  • Meanwhile, a handful of companies, including Amgen, are offering employees Apple Watches for $25 – provided they meet individualized fitness goals every month for two years. It’s predicated on an appeal to what behavioral types call “loss aversion” – the opposite approach to UnitedHealthcare’s.
  • “Exercise oncology” is attempting to quantify the value of exercise in preventing recurrence of cancers.
  • Researchers released data sets from a study of the mPower app, designed through ResearchKit to monitor Parkinson’s patients using iPhones. The study tracked 9,500 patients and promises “unprecedented insight into the daily changes in symptoms and effects of medication for people with Parkinson's,” according to nonprofit app designer Sage Bionetworks.
  • The American Sleep Apnea Association launched a ResearchKit app powered by IBM’s Watson Health Cloud. The SleepHealth app and study will span several years and aims to assess the impact of sleep disorders on health outcomes.
  • J&J’s Lifescan is partnering with WellDoc to integrate WellDoc’s FDA-approved BlueStar type 2 diabetes app into Lifescan’s OneTouch blood glucose monitoring system and app.
  • Look out, Gut Guy and anthropomorphic QB toe! FDA announced plans to study how animated characters in pharma TV ads impact consumer comprehension of risk-benefit information.
  • Pharma mobile advertising is about to get a lot more targeted as Crossix lets advertisers serve ads according to an individual’s likelihood of having a disease – this, in turn, gleaned from purchase, medical claims and refills data. (h/t Klick Blog)
  • Pharma marketers aren’t the only ones frustrated with FDA’s lack of precise guidance. Developers of clinical decision support software are clamoring for further direction on what’s regulated and what’s not, and CDER says it’s coming, but they’re running four years late already.
  • Digital health devs need to pay less attention to the affluent worried well and address areas of unmet need among underserved low-income populations in America, writes very smart person Jane Sarasohn-Kahn in a report from the California Health Care Foundation. Jane identifies some interesting pain points and use cases here.
  • Payer pressure was the biggest challenge cited by respondents in MM&M’s Healthcare Marketers Trend Report, followed by delivering beyond-the-pill solutions.
  • Here’s an interesting look at the PillCam and the emerging field of medical “edibles.”
  • Physician Assistants continue to gather more autonomy at the state level as the Affordable Care Act pushes them to the fore in primary care.
  • Nearly a third of Medicare payments are now tied to qualitative measures – an indication of how the ACA is gradually lowering the curtain on fee-for-service medicine.
  • Social media giants are trying to bring FDA around on guidance. Google’s head of industry for healthcare told ePharma attendees: “We [Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Yahoo] spent a lot of time educating the FDA last year and a lot of what we did was relay it back to platforms that they were more comfortable with — helping them understand how online video is very similar to broadcast television. But we really need pharma companies to partner with us to try out new things because we can't get approval.”
  • This week in pharma-as-election-year-political-punching-bag: Hillary Clinton is up with an ad highlighting Valeant’s pricing of a migraine drug in which she vows: “I’m going after them. This is predatory pricing, and we’re going to make sure that it stops.”
  • Donald Trump released a healthcare platform. It’s mostly a hodgepodge of familiar conservative healthcare policy planks, with one addition of interest to pharma – it calls for allowing importation of prescription drugs, an approach favored by liberals and hotly opposed by pharma – and one interesting omission, namely Trump’s earlier talk of letting Medicare negotiate drug prices directly with pharmas.

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