Digital health news update: Sanofi and Verily target diabetes; Mississippi’s remote care play bears fruit

September 15, 2016

Author: Matt Arnold, Principal Analyst

Image source: mediaroom.sanofi.com

  • Sanofi is partnering with Google’s Verily on a diabetes joint venture dubbed Onduro. The companies were vague on the direction of the $500 million JV – the release states its mission as “developing comprehensive solutions that combine devices, software, medicine, and professional care to enable simple and intelligent disease management” – but it will take a “service-centric” approach, focusing on improving patients’ health decision-making, including medication management, and improving outcomes. The JV will work with health systems in Appalachia and Northern California to test the platform in a clinical care setting, and Sanofi says it could launch its first product within two to three years.

 

  • It’s the latest in a string of collaborations between tech giants and large pharmas, including Google/Alphabet’s partnerships with Novartis on a smart contact lens, J&J on robotics, GSK on bioelectronics and Biogen on MS progression. Elsewhere in the diabetes space, Novo Nordisk is working with IBM’s Watson on a cloud-based, cognitive learning-driven decision support tool for diabetes patients and/or providers.

 

 

 

  • And speaking of IBM’s Watson, they’re now working with “a cluster of cancer biotechs and academic experts based in Oslo, Norway.” Watson for Oncology recently pushed into China after being trialed at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and the cognitive computing platform is being deployed as part of the Vice President’s Cancer Moonshot 2020 initiative to match veterans with medicines based on genetic data.

 

  • Diabetes management/remote monitoring app maker Glooko aims to go global through a merger with Swedish mobile health firm Diasend. Glooko is a player in the burgeoning digital diabetes management space, boasting partnerships with Medtronic and Dexcom.

 

 

 

  • Apple released its second iteration of the Apple Watch last week, and while there were no new sensors with medical applications, the addition of GPS and messaging targeting runners represent a pivot to selling it as a standalone fitness device rather than an extension of the iPhone. Rumors about medical versions of or add-ons to the watch in development continue to burble up regularly in the tech press.

 

 

 

  • A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that physicians spent nearly half their office time on EHRs and desk work and little more than one quarter of their time with patients. Even after they clocked out, respondents who logged after-hours work reported spending 1-2 hours, on average, doing mostly EHR-related tasks. The imbalance, says athenahealth’s Jonathan Bush, is feeding a vicious cycle of dissatisfied physicians, immersed in their EHRs instead of patient care, treating frustrated patients, who feel they aren’t getting enough personal attention from their doctors. We’ve been talking about this trend in our physician research recently.

 

  • Cleveland Clinic’s Chief Experience Officer on app clutter and the patient experience: “"I just learned the Cleveland Clinic has 22 apps, many of which haven’t been updated for several years. That is not a seamless, cohesive digital platform.”

 

  • PBM giant Express Scripts is pushing back on anti-inflammatory drug prices with its Inflammatory Conditions Care Value Program, which combines “indication-specific formulary management and refunds for early discontinuation of therapy” to “better align a drug’s price with the value that drug provides a patient.” Happy news for employers that rely on Express Scripts to cut costs, but it puts patients using the restricted drugs in a bind. Express Scripts is also aggressively pushing their Accredo specialty pharmacy for autoimmune disorder patients, which the Times notes would build Express Scripts’ mail order business, “essentially locking in patients whose employers opt in to the new program, then making money by filling the prescription.”

 

 

  • Patients and economists have very different views of healthcare costs. “if we were ever to tell an average person that we’re living in a period of historic moderation in health-care costs, they would probably think we’re out of our minds — because what they pay out of pocket has been going up over time. ... That’s kind of the pain index for people."

 

  • The University of Mississippi Medical Center ran a pilot remote monitoring program in which 141 mostly rural patients were given tablets and connected devices and prompted to check in with vitals data daily and participate in an education session. If they failed to check in or their vitals were concerning, a physician reached out. Medication adherence rose to 96% from a Mississippi average of 60%, while weight and A1C levels fell modestly.

 

 

 

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