Digitizing Self-Healthcare with Google, Pfizer, Under Armour, Walgreens and WebMD

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

How can digital technologies enable self-healthcare in novel ways? This was the theme of a meeting sponsored by Pfizer Consumer Healthcare and hosted by Google, with the title, “Advancing Consumer Health through New Technology and Next Generation OTC Healthcare” held on 12th April 2016 at Google offices in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Pharmaceutical brand drugs switching to over-the-counter packaged goods, the Cellscope Otoscope used by parents checking their young children’s earaches, connected shoes and earbuds for athletic enhancement, and omni-channel retail shopping….these are a few of the signals we see emerging to enable consumers’ to drive healthy behaviors, wellness and self-healthcare. Speakers from companies covering these market segments presented their views on health care consumers’ demand and use of digital tech for their own and their families’ health.

David Pogue, technology raconteur, moderated the session, kicking the discussion off with the scenario of a patient recently admitted to an ER with chest pain where clinicians took advantage of the patient’s Fitbit data. Based on that patient-generated data, the doctors were able to connect the data-dots in time to prevent the fellow from dying. Pogue ticked off many examples of tracking devices, covering sunlight exposure, posture, weight and BMI, heart-tracking t-shirts, smart shoes, earbuds, forks to slow down eating, and finally the SexFit Bondero for the gentlemen-folk. (more…)

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It’s the Holiday Season: Do You Know Where Your Meds Are?

swhr_icon-2-solidThe post below was first published on HUFFPOST Healthy Living.

What do you think of when it comes to Thanksgiving? Spending time with friends and loved ones? A giant turkey or tofurky with all the fixings? You’re likely thinking of all the planning, cooking, and entertaining — and storing your medications couldn’t be further from your mind, right?

If the answer is “yes,” you are not alone. But drug misuse or abuse can happen, especially during the holidays with guests in your home — even those you may know well. It’s important to ensure they do not accidentally or purposefully misuse your medications.

Nearly 10,000 emergency room visits each year for children under the age of 18 are attributed to misusing medication; including accidentally swallowing pills or taking too much of something [1]. (more…)

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The Pathologizing of Children

ec_crop (1)He’s suspended from school for defying his teacher and clashing with classmates. She’s a sullen, sometimes belligerent foster child.  He’s a toddler who cries frequently and doesn’t sleep through the night.  Their common denominator? All these children have been prescribed psychiatric medications.

The likely overprescribing of psychotropic drugs for children is a serious issue. In the face of disturbing data and a lack of scientific evidence about safety and efficacy, some parents and professionals are speaking out.

According to a report in The New York Times, about one in 54 children aged six through 17 covered by private insurance were taking at least two psychotropic medications in 2012 – a 44 percent increase in four years.  Rates among children covered by Medicaid have also increased. Together about a million kids are currently on various combinations of psychotropics, despite a lack of empirical evidence about their safety, efficacy, and side effects. (more…)

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November Man of the Month: Pablo Graiver

Pablo Graiver

Photo credit: Edu Ferrer

Pablo is the CEO and co-founder of TrialReach, a health tech startup focused on matching patients to clinical trials.

You’ve spent your career in the startup world, and seem to be committed to life as an entrepreneur. What does that say about you?

To want to start from the ground up and create something new, you have to be a little bit fearless. More importantly, you need to have an incredible amount of resilience. Anybody can have an idea but it takes resilience to drive that idea into something that can grow and to navigate all sorts of complications.

You started TrialReach after helping to get Kayak off the ground in Europe. Do you find a lot of similarities between travel searching and trial searching? (more…)

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Teens and Prescription Drug Use: Do You Know When to Intervene?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Natalie W.* was a beautiful, vivacious 12 year old. Yes, this is a true story and yes, she was 12 – not as uncommon as you might think.  Her energy and kindness were contagious. In spite of her parents’ divorce 3 years earlier, she seemed happy during her weekend visits to her father’s house. She nurtured a kitten she found in the street and enjoyed playing with her baby brother, her half-brother from her mother’s remarriage. There were no signs that Natalie would be difficult for her parents, until the day that she didn’t come home after school and was brought to the door late that night by a police officer, intoxicated and aggressive. The first time it was pot, the second time alcohol, and when she was finally arrested, it was hydrocodone.

Natalie’s father didn’t know how to handle her. He tried to stop her from sneaking out by putting bars on her windows. Although he considered it, he couldn’t bring himself to send her to a detoxification boot camp. Unfortunately, the state took over and Natalie ended up in prison with DWI and illegal drug possession convictions. Now 22, Natalie lives with her boyfriend and her baby daughter in a trailer. She suffers from bipolar disorder and can’t hold a job. Medications that she takes to control her anxiety and depression have caused her to gain 100 pounds which doesn’t sit well on her petite 5’1” frame. (more…)

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Health Politics: Learning From History in Art from the Reagan/AIDS Era

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn

7.27 1Today’s post first ran on Health Populi on July 24.

The high cost of specialty drugs, opaque information on risks of many existing prescription drugs, and lack of cures for diseases impacting millions of people are forces driving patients into activism, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the emergence of AIDS.

I was reminded this yesterday, not inside the Beltway at an FDA or Congressional hearing, or in an online social network of patient activists.

I was visiting the newly re-opened and re-built Whitney Museum, an architectural gem now re-energizing the Meatpacking District in Lower Manhattan.

It wasn’t the building design (which is getting rave reviews from architecture critics) that turned my mind toward a déjà vu on health politics, but in the Neil Bluhm Family Galleries on the 5th floor which features artworks created during the AIDS crisis beginning in the early 1980s. (more…)

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Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse: Are You Doing Your Part?

Terri Prof Headshot 0412Do you know what your teen is up to when you’re not looking?  What about your spouse, your parents and your friends?  Hopefully they aren’t rummaging through your medicine cabinet to find something they can take to get high. Many of us would never think to use a prescription drug for something other than its intended purpose, or to take something that wasn’t prescribed for us and absolutely necessary.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of other people who not only consider this, but act on the impulse to misuse and abuse prescription drugs.  Sometimes they work the system and see a doctor, or multiple doctors, and get the prescription for themselves, but often, they are looking through your medicine cabinet when you’re in the other room, getting them for free from friends or buying them online or from dealers.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem; according to the Centers for Disease Control it is an epidemic.  Just like any addiction, it can ultimately ruin or even end someone’s life.  (more…)

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Pioneers Do Not Fall Apart

Art by Melissa Brooks- 2004

Today our author, who chose to publish anonymously, provides us with an intimate look inside her life and experience with depression, loss and  the journey to finding herself.

Though I moved to Brooklyn in 2008, I will never be able to shake the Midwest from my bones. I grew up in Detroit, MI, a rather complicated place that I’ll never give up on. In contrast to the razor-sharp headlines that have recently grabbed hold of the collective consciousness, Detroit isn’t the place where dreams go to die. It’s the place where dreams – the American Dream, come to life. My grandfathers were autoworkers, pioneers of the Great Migration. Those men worked hard so that their children could carve out a life for themselves that was maybe a little better than their own. Gene & Sandra worked just as hard as their fathers, earning advanced degrees, getting married and having two children of their own. Meatloaf for dinner. Manicured lawns. Ballet lessons and baseball. My childhood was ideal and I am grateful.

Traversing miles and wrangling steel Mustangs makes for sturdy individuals who raise hearty individuals. Like the Stoics before them, pioneer-stock have perfected the art of the levelheaded countenance in the midst of turbulence. I never saw the sweat on my parents’ brow, the struggle in their eyes. They wore their frustrations on the inside and my brother and I reaped the benefits. And for that I am grateful. I am grateful and also wary. For within these romanticized and stalwart walls of strong, black Americana, there is no room to go to pieces. Pioneers do not fall apart. (more…)

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Sunscreens: True Protection or Just An Invisibility Cloak?

eblacklerAs the weather continues to improve, we will all likely spend more time outdoors. Many of us will venture out without adequate protection from the sun. However, as Melanoma Girl  previously warned, that summer glow may be the difference between healthy skin and melanoma. (more…)

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National HIV Testing Day

NealToday is National HIV Testing Day: a reminder to get tested, get re-tested and to tell everyone you know to do the same. To get tested, call your doctor, use this locator to find a nearby testing center, or search the web to find one of many organizations offering free or reduced-cost HIV testing on June 27th. If none of those options are appealing, you can even test yourself using products like OraQuick In-Home HIV Test, a saliva-based test that yields results in the privacy of your own home in as little as 20 minutes. (more…)

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Saturday mail delivery and the law of unintended consequences

rx_deliveryMost of you have probably heard the news: The U.S. Postal Service plans to stop delivering mail on Saturdays starting in August, barring action from Congress to prevent this. Many people in government and business are concerned about the effect this will have on commerce. The Postal Service has agreed to continue the delivery of packages on Saturdays in order to prevent a major disruption.

But there’s another concern that Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth has brought up: what about prescription drug delivery? (more…)

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The trials and tribulations of electronic medical records and e-prescribing

Leslie RottIn April 2008, at the age of 22, Leslie Rott was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. This post originally appeared on her blog, Getting Closer To Myself, which she started to create awareness about autoimmune diseases.

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So, every once in awhile, I move away from posts that are extremely personal, emotional, and philosophical, to talk about the more practical aspects of being a patient, with some old-fashioned research thrown in for good measure. (more…)

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One in six: Teen addiction lurking in the medicine cabinet

The Partnership at Drugfree.orgOne in six teens admits to using a prescription drug (when a doctor had not prescribed it for them) in order to get high or change their mood. This makes medicine abuse as common as online bullying, car accidents in new drivers and drinking when visiting a college campus. Parents are much more aware of these issues than medicine abuse, and that must change because stakes are high for teens. (more…)

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  • November 21st, 2011 Unrelieved Pain in Terminal Ill Patients – An End of Life Tragedy
    By Glenna Crooks
  • Buck for the bang: Premium med-tech pricing

    The following originally was featured as a  blog post on Medical Device Daily on October 31st. It is written by Adi Renbaum, senior VP for health policy and reimbursement, Neocure Group.

    Cook Medical’s Zilver PTX is likely to become the first peripheral drug-eluting stent (DES) to be approved in the U.S., after an FDA advisory panel voted unanimously in favor of the device on Oct. 13. Approval would give the sponsor, Cook Medical (Bloomington, Indiana) access to a peripheral arterial disease (PAD) market valued at $1 billion, depending on whose figures one relies.

    I attended the Oct. 13 advisory committee hearing for the device and observed the panel members comment that this was among the best submissions they had seen in some time. Cook presented a clear study that met all primary endpoints and showed improvement over percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, the current standard of care. To non-FDA experts like myself, it seemed as though Cook was recognized for setting a new bar for conducting clinical trials and collaborating with the FDA.

    I imagine that Cook Medical’s leadership was able to make all the right clinical trial investments necessary for the long-term viability of the product’s market value, not just the ones that were on display at the advisory panel meeting. (more…)

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