Author Archive



Enhancing the “Coolness Factor” in our Later Years

June 17th, 2014
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Biomedical advances over the last century have advanced our life spans to degrees that would seem miraculous to a late 19th century observer. But as a 100-year lifespan begins to approach “normal,” do we have a plan on how these extra 30 to 50 years should be lived?

 

Recently, I spoke at the spring meeting of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, where topics ranged from better ways to prevent diabetes, to drug development for an aging population, to the importance of social networks among the aging, and other clinical and scientific approaches.

 
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Conversation about Veterans Administration’s Woes Has Not Yet Hit the Right Note

June 11th, 2014
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The Veterans Administration’s (VA) recent efforts to handle a huge influx of medical cases of former soldiers has quickly reached “scandal” proportions in Washington, D.C. and received widespread national media attention. But as revelations surface about the ways many of the agency’s offices tried to hide long wait times for veterans seeking care, the conversation about how to resolve the VA’s problems has not yet hit the right notes.

 

Current proposals to correct the VA’s course include firing Secretary Eric Shinseki (who resigned on May 30), ordering a criminal investigation by the FBI, and providing more funding to the VA. Meanwhile, the VA has seen an influx of 1.5 million veterans in the past three years, and 200,000 of them suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or traumatic brain injury, according to Senator Bernie Sanders, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

 

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A Meeting of Minds on the Value of Healthcare IT

February 19th, 2014
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As healthcare providers face challenges from empowered patients, the increasing impact of the internet and mobile technology on patient care, and more outcomes-focused regulatory requirements, the role of information technology in healthcare has never been more important. To both gain more perspective and to help align Popper and Company’s strategies with the latest advances and issues, I will be attending the annual HIMSS14 (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) conference in Orlando starting next week.
 
At Popper and Company, we’ve helped guide our clients around a wide range of healthcare IT issues, ranging from mobile health, to patient engagement, to establishing the value of healthcare IT—all “hot topics” at this year’s HIMSS meeting. I expect that some of the issues we’ve discussed in the past will be part of this year’s conference, namely:
 
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Q&A, Part Two: Addressing an Enormous Public Health Problem with a Simple Technology Solution

January 17th, 2014
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Inadequate handwashing is a huge problem in hospitals, contributing to as much as 70% of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seth Freedman, co-founder and CEO of IntelligentM, and his partners believe they have a simple, innovative solution to boosting hand-washing rates—a smartband that contains electronic sensors to determine whether or not a healthcare worker is washing his or her hands effectively. In this second part of our interview, I discuss the barriers and challenges to introducing a new healthcare technology.
 
An Interview with IntelligentM Co-Founder Seth Freedman ­– Part Two
 
What obstacles have you encountered with creating a market for your new product?

The hardest issue for us is that it’s very difficult to sell new technology to hospitals. That is a historical pattern. If you look at the introduction of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and smart infusion technology, they weren’t accepted immediately either. Hospitals are large, bureaucratic organizations, often reluctant to change. It’s a difficult environment with lots of approval points and long sales cycles. Smaller, product development companies are all experiencing this reluctance now. So, we’re talking with early adopters of technology products at hospitals, and at specific healthcare facilities that are known to be early adopters of technology. Once those organizations validate electronic hand hygiene compliance products, ours and our competitors, then the purchasing and usage of these products becomes more widespread.
 
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Q&A: Addressing an Enormous Public Health Problem with a Simple Technology Solution

January 10th, 2014
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Inadequate handwashing is a pervasive public health problem, contributing to hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), which cost American society in the tens of billions of dollars and cause at least 100,000 deaths each year. While many potential solutions have been developed, none have been particularly effective at encouraging sanitary behavior among hospital employees. In this two-part post, I talk with Seth Freedman, co-founder and CEO of IntelligentM, which was created to introduce a simple technological solution to spot incorrect – and to encourage proper – hand-washing techniques.
 
An Interview with IntelligentM Co-Founder Seth Freedman ­– Part One
 
How did you get started?

IntelligentM was founded about three years ago by a serial entrepreneur, a technologist and a surgeon based on the principle that technology, if used correctly, could reduce the staggering problem know as hospital-acquired infections (HAIs).
 
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Cigna’s Decision on Genetic Testing Exposes Educational Gaps in Today’s Healthcare

August 20th, 2013
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“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” Confucius’ ancient saying underscores a current issue in healthcare; how well do the major players in healthcare—patients, providers and payors—really understand the latest advances in genetics and disease? A recent Bloomberg News article about Cigna’s decision to require genetic counseling before approving a breast cancer genetic test has exposed this educational gap. In this post, we consider the implications of this decision.
 
Cigna’s requirement for patient counseling in advance of a specific genetic test being covered demonstrates that the balance of power in the healthcare trilogy is by no means set. While in this case, the payor has directed what it considers to be the appropriate use of genetic testing, Cigna’s action raises these important questions:
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Heading to Belgium to Save More Than a Few (Healthcare) Bucks

August 6th, 2013
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What does that tell us about consumerism in healthcare?
Reading Sunday’s New York Times article, “For Medical Tourists, A Simple Math,” I was struck both by the reporting of drastic price differences between surgical procedures here and in Europe (Belgium, in this case) and the subsequent interest the article generated. Upon reviewing comments from readers, I noticed that most indicated that they were more than willing to travel overseas to find high quality – but cheaper – health services. And, in general, there was much broader interest in health service costs than in the past. I got the distinct impression that customers are “tuned in.”
 
We’ve discussed the evolving role of patients as consumers, and clearly prices may start to become transparent (or at least comparable) enough for true consumer market power to chip away at healthcare costs. The article profiles an American who compared hip replacement surgery options in Belgium and the United States: Belgium won the contest with a cost of $13,660, versus $78,000 on this side of the Atlantic. At that differential, and with rising co-pays and self-insurance, many among us would be willing to catch a flight across the ocean. Read the rest of this entry »

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Medicare’s Data Release Places More Power in Hands of Informed Medical Consumers

May 8th, 2013
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Today, Medicare is releasing data on in-patient hospital costs across the country to provide consumers/patients with cost comparison information. Unsurprisingly, the data are interesting and price discrepancies staggering, but the release of the data itself is also fascinating as yet another example of big government opening its vaults, so to speak, as well as adding more momentum to the power shift in healthcare from physicians/providers toward consumers/patients.
 
This move clearly speaks to the idea that access to information can drive behavior/decision making and that access to cost information can harness the power of the medical consumer to drive costs down.
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Welcoming Stephanie Kreml, M.D. as Newest Team Member

April 3rd, 2013
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I’m pleased to announce that Stephanie Kreml, M.D. has returned to Popper and Company, joining our core team of life science advisors as Principal.
 
Like all of our team members, Stephanie is committed to delivering perspective, value, and high-quality, hands-on service to clients across the life sciences spectrum.  As a practicing physician with an engineering background, Stephanie brings a unique multi-disciplinary perspective to helping life sciences companies address diverse healthcare issues.  She is an excellent addition to our existing team of experts whose operational backgrounds span clinical, technology, marketing and finance in a variety of capacities in the diagnostics, medical device, pharmaceuticals and digital health industries.
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Designing for Women – Are They More Efficient Thinkers?

March 13th, 2013
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Scientists have puzzled over cognitive differences between men and women for at least 100 years. And the results of their work support the reality that should be on the minds of everyone working in healthcare; one size doesn’t fit all.
 
Researchers in Madrid and at UCLA recently tested men and women on cognitive tasks, including spatial reasoning, inductive reasoning, keeping track of tasks, and attention to numbers. Women, although they have smaller brains ­– and most importantly because of its role in memory, emotion and reason – a smaller hippocampus than men, ­­­were nonetheless better able to handle most of these tasks (except spatial), while showing less brain activity on an MRI. Thus, women require less neural material (and energy) to perform cognitive tasks on an equal level with men.
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