Digital health news update: Novartis names its first chief digital officer, Aetna and Apple Watch, much more

August 30, 2017

Author: Matthew Arnold, Principal Analyst

 

  • What lessons will healthcare companies learn from the gathering  Google/Walmart vs. Amazon/Whole Foods battle royale? Both teams are looking at how to integrate predictive analytics, real-time data inputs, voice search and voice assistants into their businesses.

 

  • Aetna and Apple are in talks to make the Apple Watch available to the insurer’s 23 million members. We’ve seen similar enterprise deals involving Fitbit and other less sophisticated trackers, but this is the first for the Apple Watch, which boasts a back end suite of integrated software and is mounting a credible bid to serve as a dominant off-the-rack patient medical data home and a linchpin of tech-enabled clinical trials models. You can imagine the privacy implications of your insurer tracking your every step, as it were, with location data to boot! A former ONC official hails the deal as a big step towards better digital patient engagement.

 

 

  • Novartis is launching a major research effort using iPhones and Apple’s ResearchKit to study MS patients – a first for a pharma. Dubbed evaluateMS, the study will collect movement and symptom data in real time, and Novartis hopes it will provide proof of concept for new ways of measuring disease progression and treatment effectiveness.

 

 

  • Novartis’ $475,000-per-course CAR-T is as terrifying to payers as it is exciting to cancer patients and oncologists, but the company says it is engaged in a “groundbreaking collaboration” with CMS around indication-based pricing and outcomes-based reimbursement, which would be a milestone in the shift to value.  On the other hand, CMS wants to scale back or eliminate several smaller value-based payment initiatives implemented under the ACA – a move experts say will slow momentum toward alternate payment models (though ACOs are safe for now).

 

 

 

 

  • Google is adding a screener for depression, created in collaboration with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, that will appear in results on searches for “depression.” Severe scores will feature a link to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

 

 

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