A break in the ‘Perpetual Battle of Stalingrad’ that is also a Pointer to the Big2Big Future
Last week US insurance giant Aetna announced a partnership with medical device Gargantua Medtronic to pilot a program for uncontrolled Type 2 diabetes. Aetna will use claims data to identify 300 members who meet candidate standards for insulin pump therapy, Medtronic will reach out to them through their physicians to enroll them in the Getting2Goal program–as long as the insulin pump is Medtronic’s. The two-year program’s metrics will evaluate overall health outcomes and medical costs such as reduced ER and hospital stays. This is a fairly solid, albeit small N program for both. Other Aetna/Medtronic partnerships are a program for congestive heart failure (CHF) detection announced at HIMSS14, where Aetna plans to monitor device data to track the extra water retention that is usually an indicator of progressing heart failure; and an implanted glucometer program to monitor insulin levels for diabetics to avoid hypoglycemia.
Is this a Pointer to a Limited Future for Small, Innovative Independent Companies? Is this now signalling the US’s Big Payers only want to deal with Big Medical Device? “Value-based arrangements with companies like Medtronic” (release) make it ‘one-stop shopping’ for payers when it comes to physician relationships, IT implementation, data sharing and analysis. Will the end result be that payers stifle the revenue opportunity for small to midsize innovators by saying ‘don’t bother to knock”? Are these financially and technologically the best solution for the patient and for outcomes? (It’s like specifying only one hip or knee implant for all, and may sound familiar to our UK readers who have been following our recent articles on a certain telecare provider.) Aetna release, MassDevice, MedCityNews
Recent rumors predicted changes at Healthagen, the rebranded ‘Emerging Businesses’ unit of health payer giant Aetna, and that these would be apparent at HIMSS14. Mobihealthnews attempts to ‘Sovietologize’ Aetna chairman Mark Bertolini’s appearance (sponsored by Healthagen, not Aetna) and what products were included in the Healthagen (not Aetna) show floor display. First, the booth: only Accountable Care Solutions and health info exchange Medicity were featured. Former star iTriage (the original Healthagen product) was relegated to a distant booth. The much-touted CarePass consumer wellness platform? Absent. InvolveCare, the Healthagen caregiver app introduced last fall? Announced to be discontinued 28 April. In the true tradition of Sovietology, omissions are as apparent as inclusions. Second, the keynote: oddly, there are no content points cited from Mr. Bertolini’s speech in Mobihealthnews. We turn then to the Dan Munro in Forbes article, where Mr. Bertolini calls for the ‘creative destruction of healthcare’, a stock rallying point since 2009 (Yes, it doesn’t work. No, it’s not sustainable. It’s an iron triangle. Etc.) The bottom line was his announcing that Aetna’s business going forward would be ACOs and “driving a consumer healthcare experience.” Hopefully that will mean access and quality for the rest of us. Will Healthagen CEO Charles Saunders be part of leading the charge? Not a mention. One could say that the Magic 8 Ball says ‘cloudy’ for the present situation at Healthagen. Perhaps more changes will be revealed in coming weeks.
Eric Dishman of Intel’s Health & Life Sciences Group credits genomics with changing the course of treatment for his life-threatening cancer about two years ago. With new treatment based on his genomic sequencing, he became cancer-free in three months and eligible for a kidney transplant, which he received in early 2013 from, as it turned out, a fellow Intel-er [TTA 12 Apr]. His keynote at HIMSS14 was about what he calls ‘N=1″ personalized medicine, which is based on three Bs plus one: body, biology and behavior, plus beliefs. Dishman also recounted a story around the original Intel Health Guide of a woman caregiving for a mother with Alzheimer’s whose diabetes worsened because she could not make clinic visits; with the addition of remote monitoring to the care plan this was reversed. No mention of Care Innovations (the Intel-GE JV), but he presented the Sotera Wireless ViSi Mobile wireless patient monitor as an ‘ICU on a wrist’ (Intel is an investor). Neil Versel reports in MedCityNews.
More on the data analytics and integration behind genomics from an unexpected source–the chief medical officer of Northrop Grumman. If like Editor Donna, you had no idea that this company had a footprint in healthcare, prepare to be surprised. Thanks to our friends at HITECH Answers.
HIMSS14 will tell. The big news that kicked off this snow-bound week in large parts of the US was Dr. Eric Topol joining Dallas, Texas-based AT&T ForHealth as Chief Medical Advisor. Well-known for his personality and evangelism of all things mHealthy, certainly Dr. Topol lends a certain star power to Big Blue’s efforts in this area–a shine that went completely dark in 2013 after a promising start in 2011 and strong partnering moves in 2012 (Alere and WellDoc diabetes management TTA 10 Aug 12; VRI monitoring in May). The quietude of 2013 deserves a closer look. Dr. Geeta Nayyar joined with fanfare in September 2011 as Chief Medical Information Officer and departed exactly two years later to join engagement company PatientPoint with the same title. ForHealth made no waves at International CES save for being an example in the controversial ‘sponsored data’ plan announcement (GeekWire). Even finding ForHealth on the AT&T website is not easy. It is buried under ‘Business>>Enterprise Business‘ and then in a dogpile of footer links as ‘Healthcare Solutions‘–not ForHealth. In marketing, this is a state usually termed ‘dead in the water.’ The fact that Dr. Topol is remaining as Chief Academic Officer at Scripps Health also indicates that he is no direct replacement for Dr. Nayyar, despite being cited by AT&T SVP Chris Hill as a “change agent” who will help “drive our competitive strategy”. We’ll see if HIMSS14 on 23-27 February where AT&T will be exhibiting and their subsequent activity marks a genuine reboot for ForHealth, putting Dr. Topol’s impressive abilities to work beyond a twinkle. AT&T press release, MedCityNews article