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Are we primed for Amazon’s primary care?
Amazon’s $3.9 billion purchase of One Medical is the beginning of a new primary care experiment in the United States. But the announcement of the deal is just the first step in a long and uncertain process. One Medical isn’t profitable and gets a large chunk of its revenue from its partnerships with major hospitals, suggesting that individual subscriber revenue isn’t enough to sustain its care delivery operations. “Are they a business or not?” asked Jeff Goldsmith, president of the consultancy Health Futures. One Medical didn’t answer that question. And now they don’t have to. Amazon does.”
A new story by STAT’s Tara Bannow also raises another important question: Will Amazon’s effort to deliver better primary care to working people end up reinforcing health disparities in the U.S.? With Amazon and other upstarts catering to the needs of the healthy and wealthy, everyone else will be left with fewer options for effective care. “It’s the direction we’re going in a lot of ways,” Yale’s Howard Forman said.
The invisible harms of EHRs
In the wake of the latest inspector general report detailing patient harms caused by the rollout of Oracle-Cerner’s EHR, the Department of Veterans Affairs decided to hold off on converting any more medical facilities to the new system this year. Uncovering those troubling examples, though, took a concerted investigation and a level of transparency that’s rare in EHR rollouts, clinical informatics and patient safety experts said. Issues like the unmonitored “unknown queue” that resulted in lost patient orders and follow-ups are common in software transitions — but rarely reported. There are few incentives to report mistakes, said informatician Dean Sittig, and tying EHR issues directly to patient harms is a slog: “When the Boeing 737 MAX crashed, it made the news because 300 people died all at once,” he said. “With the EHR, it’s spread out all over the country.” Read more in Katie’s latest.
Patients want better protections for health data
As the overturning of Roe v. Wade draws attention to lackluster protections on health data, patients and providers are beginning to advocate for stronger regulation beyond HIPAA. In one sign of the shift, 92% of 1,000 patients surveyed by the American Medical Association think companies shouldn’t be able to buy their health data. A full 93% want transparency around how health apps handle their data, and 94% think companies that interact with health data should be held legally accountable. Not every use of health data sounds the alarm equally for patients, but they were especially concerned about social media sites, big tech companies, and prospective employers having access to private information.
It’s not just Neuralink
For all its hype, Elon Musk’s Neuralink is just one of many companies working to bring brain-computer interface research into the commercial sphere — and one of the youngest, too. Some of its competitors are far closer to bringing the first BCIs for paralyzed patients to market, like Blackrock Neurotech, which owns the IP to the foundational tech for BCIs. Founded in 2008, the company expects to receive FDA approval in early 2023, on the back of decades of clinical trials. There’s also Synchron, which aims to finish its first clinical trial by 2024. And both Paradromics and Precision Neuroscience are eyeing a 2023 start date for their first human trials. Read more about how their technology bridges the gap between gray matter and machine — and how they stand apart — in an expert analysis from STAT’s Elissa Welle.
A monster round with a chaser of layoffs
- Large funding rounds are getting rarer these days, but they haven’t disappeared entirely: Cleerly, which aims to head off heart attacks with algorithmic risk prediction based on medical images, pulled in $192 million in a Series C round led by T. Rowe Price and Fidelity Management and Research Company.
- Smaller seed rounds are still churning along, too, with pediatric telehealth startup Summer Health coming out of stealth with $7.5 million led by Sequoia and Lux Capital, with participation from Chelsea Clinton and more.
- Meanwhile Health Note, a company with a platform to streamline patient intake, landed a $17 million Series A led by SignalFire.
- But layoffs continue to come for young digital health companies, with a spate of announcements hitting the third letter of the alphabet. Digital pharmacy Capsule reduced its workforce by 13%, healthcare analytics company Clarify cut 5%, and digital weight loss program Calibrate laid off 24% of its staff.
A new hire worth noting
Edlogics, a digital health literacy company, tapped Seth Serxner to be its chief health officer. He previously served as chief health officer and a senior vice president for OptumHealth.
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