Digital health news update: an ACA repeal bill, and pharma digital spending's eggs-to-baskets ratio

March 7, 2017

by Matthew Arnold, Principal Analyst

  • House Republican leadership released their ACA “Repeal and Replace” plan. The American Health Care Act looks more like the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act than previous Republican plans, preserving the individual marketplaces (if with far less generous support) and the Medicaid expansion (well, temporarily) and keeping some of the more popular elements, including the prohibition on denying coverage based on preexisting conditions and allowing children to remain on their parents’ insurance to age 26. However, it nixes the ACA’s individual mandate, instead encouraging people to buy insurance by penalizing gaps in coverage, and it eliminates the basic standards of benefit design. In general, it makes coverage more expensive for older, sicker people and less expensive for younger, healthier people, and would likely mean an increase in the number of uninsured Americans. It also defunds Planned Parenthood and eliminates funding for vaccines and disease prevention efforts. The legislation may face a tough road in the Senate and even the House, and the White House has offered a tepid non-endorsement and a couple congratulatory (but non-committal) Trump Tweets.

 

  • Trump also Tweeted that “I am working on a new system where there will be competition in the Drug Industry,” promising that “Pricing for the American people will come way down!” Ooo-kay? And the President took time in his State of the Union address last week to lambast what he cast as a snail-like approvals process at FDA. Industry figures remain skeptical of his plans for the agency.   

 

 

  • The Economist looks at digital disruption of the healthcare industries, which is pitting “traditional innovators” like pharma against “incumbent players (payers)” and tech “insurgents,” and forecasts a clash of cultures between the techies’ cavalier treatment of user data and the medical world’s preference for informed consent.

 

  • Does Watson’s big breakup with MD Anderson mean machine learning isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for medicine? It’s evident that murky business side dealings played a role, and IBM says the project, an oncology decision support tool, performed. “But inside the University of Texas,” Forbes reports, “the project was apparently seen as one that missed deadlines and didn’t deliver,” in stark contrast to Watson’s successful partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering.

 

 

  • Facebook is enlisting AI to combat an alarming trend of young people live-streaming suicides on the service. Facebook has added reporting and chat support functionality to Live to facilitate interventions, and is testing the use of AI to flag posts and comments suggestive of suicidality.

 

  • Speaking of AI, our friends at Klick survey the promise – and the perilous hubris – surrounding it, and point to Microsoft’s Healthcare NExT as an example of “strategy focused on making AI central to and continuous throughout the patient experience, rather than a bright and shiny add-on tactic.”

 

  • Takeda is running a pilot using Apple Watch to track physical activity as well as mood and cognition data in depression patients – the better to “understand the patient experience and assist healthcare professionals in creating improved patient care pathways,” the company said.

 

  • Teva used social listening to better understand the differences in how men and women talk about cancer online. Now they’ve launched My Day, a cancer portal built around insights gleaned from that research.

 

 

  • We’ve been talking about this Vice piece on the supposedly decisive (or not!) impact that psychometric profiling based on Facebook ‘Likes” is having on political campaigns. Neither the article nor the techniques discussed are new, exactly, but the implications for targeting content are ever more relevant as Facebook continues to eat nearly all of digital publishing.

 

 

 

  • What if marketers could read your face when watching content to determine if you were paying attention, or even how it made you feel? Several companies are now fielding set top devices that monitor TV viewers to give advertisers a clearer picture of whether consumers are actually watching their spots, and with many of us watching more content through digital devices, expect this trend to continue.

 

 

 

 

 

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