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Health Startup Digest - 6/24/16

Startup Highlight: AVIA Innovator Network In the quickly shifting tech landscape of health care today
Issue #18  •  June 24  •  View online  •  Suggest a link
The latest news and information about innovations in healthcare.
Startup Highlight: AVIA Innovator Network
In the quickly shifting tech landscape of health care today, many hospitals have a hard time selecting the best emerging tech to solve their issues. Many hospital CEOs simply get inundated with requests for pilots, meetings, and sales pitches with no end in sight. AVIA is looking to provide a smart path for hospitals to connect with curated sets of emerging technologies. I am a big believer in technology’s ability to improve care, but it is impossible to separate the signal from the noise for hospitals. Hopefully AVIA can help. 
As always, if you come across news, announcements, videos, or podcasts that you think the other 5,000+ entrepreneurs, technologists, providers, and investors that subscribe to this digest would benefit from, e-mail me at or tweet @R_Scott_Munro and subscribe to the digest, here.
This is an amazing piece on drug adherence. We often think of drug adherence interventions as solving “accidental” non-compliance issues (i.e. someone doesn’t take the pill because they forget); however, there is a large portion of the population that does not comply with stated instructions on purpose. The article goes into decision theory and how we can hope to help that second group to adhere to prescription guidelines to solve one of the biggest issues in unnecessary health costs.   •   Share

This is a comment on a study that was published this week in JAMA that was pretty damning in terms of the behavioral impact of “buying lunches” for physicians. Spoiler alert: they end up buying more from the companies that woo them in this way. The conflict of interest (COI) debate has been going back and forth recently, with some saying we’ve gone too far with “pharma-scolding.” This study, as the author of this piece notes, would seem to put the nail in the coffin of COI. It will be interesting to see what sort of counter-arguments surface in the coming weeks.

Practice Fusion has had some fairly questionable moves when it comes to marketing (i.e. point of care marketing for physicians). They’re actually in hot water for a wholly different reason: tricking patients into reviewing their doctors via deceptive e-mails. The company seems to be positioning itself for an acquisition, but things are certainly not looking good.

As always, we need to be very wary of digital interventions for health care (lest we fall into the “snake oil” trap). The AHA looked at a number of different interventions for cardiac arrest and stroke. While many of them seemed “promising” more work still needs to be done. As the author of this article noted, “[w]hile no research to date has shown negative results of using digital tools for emergency cardiac or stroke care, the authors raise the issue of unintended consequences to patients due to inaccurate information being provided via digital tools, which could lead to medical errors and higher costs, and the risk of disclosing patients’ health information in violation of federal privacy law.”

This is a comprehensive study conducted by Health Affairs on the strategies for opioid monitoring in 49 states, and their impacts on opioid related deaths in each state. In a nutshell, the study found, “that a state’s implementation of a program was associated with an average reduction of 1.12 opioid-related overdose deaths per 100,000 population in the year after implementation. Additionally, states whose programs had robust characteristics—including monitoring greater numbers of drugs with abuse potential and updating their data at least weekly—had greater reductions in deaths, compared to states whose programs did not have these characteristics.” It’s a long read, but check out the entire study above.

The folks at Frog Design have been looking at how human-centered design can be used to improve the chances of behavior changes taking hold in patients. The main point I took away from this was the idea of “co-creating interventions.” I think many of the points the team brings up will be intuitive to health care professionals and entrepreneurs, but co-creating interventions is a rather new concept that represents the more consultative (as Dr. Gawande calls it “interpretive”) approach to medicine which seems to be the best way to help patients along their care journey.

A quick look at everything that could go wrong now that humans are fair game for CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing. Well, cancer patients are fair game, for now. And it is still the safety portion (i.e. phase 1) of the study, so we have a long way to go. If you’re curious about how exactly CRISPR can fail, and what could go wrong with this trial, look no further than this STAT article.

Quote of the Week:
“Having just returned from Japan, I have been struck by the number of obvious, often simple, low-cost ‘low-tech’ measures that societies can adopt to improve health and indeed overall quality of life. These measures compare markedly with the ‘high-tech’ digital healthcare world that is my usual professional environment, yet one that is often prone to carte-blanche enthusiasm for any technological innovation, particularly from the start-up scene.”
- Len Sternes
This Digest is curated by:
I am a classical languages nerd turned digital health geek. I spend my days researching medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotech companies + helping clinicians efficiently collaborate.
I have a passion for the intersection of health and technology, and wholeheartedly believe we are at the beginning of the most exciting eras of health care.
Techstars Startup Digest Health is curated by:
Alaedine Benani Alaedine Benani - MD PhD Trainee - MSc in Data Science & Entrepreneurship
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