In late 2015 I received a lot of spam LinkedIn invitations, many from people who listed their positions as “Research Associate at Self-Employed.” It’s a weird title for a self-employed person. As I wrote at the time (How many self-employed research associates does it take to change a light bulb?) I think it was some kind of phishing attempt. In particular, the aim seemed to be to build an impressive network and gain access to contact info and credentials. Maybe it was related to the 2016 election. The profiles were pretty bare and obviously not of real people, if you bothered to look. But I noticed that quite a few of my contacts were connected with these accounts.
I haven’t heard from any self-employed research associates in a while, but I got a message recently that reminded me of those days.
This one was a little more clever. It said, “We have done some truly path-breaking work in Healthcare using AI and Machine Learning which has resulted in significant savings and benefits for Healthcare Institutions. Would love to share more with you. Please let me know when we can talk.” The invitation came from Sonu Gandhi, listed as a “Manager” in Albany, NY.
This message is similar to legit ones I received, usually pitching story ideas for my blog. But something seemed a bit off.
LinkedIn gives two options in the email: View profile or Accept. I clicked “view profile” and saw that this is a nothing person –no photo, no current or former employer, no education, but a member of several healthcare related groups and someone with 237 connections, including with 8 of my connections.
Sonu, if you’re out there for real I’d love to talk. And in any case I have access to several self-employed Research Associates in search of a Manager.
The Denver Post (Tracking your pregnancy on an app may be more public than you think) has published an interesting and disturbing article about the rise of Ovia, an app that collects detailed and personal data from pregnant women and those hoping to conceive. I’m not surprised that the business model is to provide data to employers about their workforce in order to save on medical costs and reduce time away from work. But I am a little surprised at how much data employees are willing to enter on topics like their sex life, color of cervical fluid, miscarriages and so on, while the app also track things like what medical conditions they looked up.
“Maybe I’m naive, but I thought of it as positive reinforcement: They’re trying to help me take care of myself,” said [Diana] Diller, 39, an event planner in Los Angeles for the video-game company Activision Blizzard. The decision to track her pregnancy had been made easier by the $1 a day in gift cards the company paid her to use the app: That’s “diaper and formula money,” she said.
As I remind people using “free” apps –or ones they are paid to use– you’re not the customer, you’re the product. There’s plenty written on this topic so I won’t bother to rehash it here, but it’s worth remembering that the data provided by Diller and others can be combined with tons of other data from their use of Google, Facebook, Waze, exercise trackers, and more to create incredibly detailed and personal profiles.
In 2008 I wrote a brief blog post called Baby formula in the mailbox. “Honey, is there something I should know?” I was puzzled to see that it still gets a lot of hits in 2019 and that readers are still commenting about their own experiences. Back then, an au pair who worked for us had received baby formula from Abbott Nutrition. Somehow, some marketer thought she was pregnant. It was kind of embarrassing and of course could be problematic for a family relationship or if the pregnancy had ended prematurely.
Online data gathering has come a long way in the past decade. If Abbott once guessed you were pregnant, imagine how much more they –or many others– knows about you now. Maybe the users of these apps aren’t naive, just fatalistic about the idea that everyone knows everything anyway, so why not just take the formula and diaper money and run?
In a few years, Diller’s child will probably find the Denver Post article or maybe even this blog post. If that person is you, I’d be interested to know how you feel about it.
Interoperability has a been a buzzword in healthcare for about a decade, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like we’ve gotten that far. In this podcast, Rhapsody’s EVP of Product & Strategy, Drew Ivan and I discuss interoperability: its past, present and future.
Here’s what we covered:
0:20 What is interoperability anyway?
2:50 Why do we hear about interoperability so much in healthcare? Is it an issues in other industries?
5:11 How does interoperability in the US compare to the situation elsewhere?
6:51 Does interoperability matter to patients?
9:20 Has interoperability failed in the past? What new models are being tried?
11:54 What’s the business model for interoperability?
13:42 Are there any downsides? Does interoperability create any new problems?
14:54 How will interoperability evolve in the coming year?
My main job is president of Health Business Group, a boutique healthcare strategy consulting firm I founded in 2003. As a sideline, I write the Health Business Blog, where I provide a behind the scenes look at the business of healthcare, featuring my spin on healthcare topics in the news, interviews with entrepreneurs, and policy prescriptions.
Tufts Health Plan CEO Tom Croswell is a veteran of the health plan world. I sat down with him to discuss value based care, collaboration, diversity and how Tufts tries to set itself apart in a crowded market. Tufts is best known for serving Massachusetts but is also expanding into neighboring states. It has a joint venture in New Hampshire and had just announced its entry into Connecticut in partnership with Hartford HealthCare.
The news was full of stories about merger discussions between Partners HealthCare and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. No one denied the reports, so we can assume there was some truth to the rumors. But why would these organizations contemplate a merger and how likely would it be to happen? I compared it to a scene from a Cheech & Chong movie.
A month after Harvard was talking about merging with Partners, the company’s CEO was out. It had something to do with his behavior… Both the Globe and Herald wanted to hear what I had to say about departed CEO, Eric Schultz.
Nurse triage lines have gone through three phases of evolution. In phase 1 they were implemented to ‘check the box’ for member education, phase 2 brought “demand management” to keep patients out of the emergency room, and now in phase 3 health plans are creating a gateway to innovative programs and services.
I discussed these topics with a leading company in the field.
We don’t normally think of Senator John McCain as a healthcare leader, and yet he played a significant role over the years in various policy matters. CareCentrix CEO, John Driscoll and I paid tribute in a short edition of #CareTalk.
Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) claim to keep drug costs under control, but their convoluted business models and tactics don’t always result in the best deal for employers. Reference based drug pricing is an interesting alternative approach. It’s used for drug cost control in other parts of the world and within the US for things like elective surgery.
“Consumer directed health plans” were all the rage in the mid 2000s. The big idea was that if patients had ‘skin in the game’ in the form of greater financial participation in the cost of their care, they would use their well honed shopping skills to find the best deals and thereby drive costs down and value up. Employers embraced the idea, since it could reduce their costs and keep employees happy.
Healthcare was on the minds of mid-term voters in November. Candidates emphasized healthcare in their campaigns and voters in at least six states had an opportunity to weigh in on healthcare via ballot questions.
Voters were being asked to decide some fairly technical questions, including whether dialysis center profits should be capped in California, whether hospitals should have to maintain specific nurse staffing ratios in Massachusetts, and whether Medicaid eligibility should be expanded or current expansions extended in Idaho, Utah, Nebraska and Montana.
In this end-of-2018 edition of #Caretalk, Carecentrix CEO John Driscoll and I banter about Amazon, drug pricing, immigration, home health, Russia, the ACA and more. I wanted to call this episode “If You Want to Destroy my Healthcare” but was told the Weezer reference was too obscure.
The term ‘Medicare for All’ is being bandied about as the campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination gets underway. Declared and potential candidates are warming to the idea. It’s easy to see why.
However, I’d much rather see attention turn to continued expansion of Medicaid, specifically by offering people the opportunity to ‘buy-in’ to Medicaid coverage.
Biotech company Agenus is launching a “digital security offering” that will let people invest directly in a single biotech product, rather than the whole company. Jeff Ramson, founder and CEO of strategic communications firm PCG Advisory Group, became fascinated by the concept and reached out to me to discuss it, even though he is not involved in the offering. (And neither am I.)