Archive for May, 2015

Pharma Moves Into Digital Health

digital healthThe announcement that Novartis and Qualcomm Ventures have formed a joint venture to invest $100 million in digital health is significant and suggests that big pharma is transitioning from talk to action in the strategy to “move beyond the pill.”

This new move builds on their ongoing relationship, which includes a partnership to use Qualcomm Life’s 2net technology for Novartis’ clinical trials.

What did Novartis see in Qualcomm and why does this partnership raise the bar for pharma?

First, a little about Qualcomm’s technology and how it is relevant for healthcare. The 2net is a device, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, that plugs into a normal wall outlet. There are multiple wi-fi, Bluetooth and cellular technologies built into the device that are able to connect with dozens of different wireless activity trackers, symptom trackers and wireless glucose monitors and then upload the data to a secure personalized web portal, where patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals can review.

Most of the top medical and consumer devices available right now automatically pair with the 2net, so users don’t have to go through the sometimes frustrating “pairing” exercise. This solves one of the “last mile” user experience hurdles to easy device connectivity, especially for consumers who aren’t mobile savvy.

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The Two-Edged Sword of Healthcare Reform for Pharma

The Economist recently published a report on the cost impact of healthcare reform in the US.

Healthcare Spending TrendsThe data shows that the fundamental idea of bending the cost curve by changing the way healthcare is reimbursed — moving from a fee-for-service to a fee-for-outcomes — is actually working. Hospitals are actually doing fewer unnecessary tests than they previously did. According to the report, before Obamacare, hospitals did as many tests and procedures as they could, because that’s how they made money.

Now that the focus is on patient outcomes —  keeping patients out of the hospital and feeling better after they’ve been discharged — costs are going down. Bundled payments for procedures is limiting out-of-control expense growth.

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