Apple, at it again

Backed by the “who’s who” of US hospitals, Apple recently launched the Apple Health Records feature, which will aggregate existing patient-generated data in a user’s health app with data from their EHR. For a screen shot of the app/feature go here. With names like Stanford, Duke, and Vanderbilt already signed on, you might think we’re talking about your busted NCAA bracket. We’re not. The Apple “feature” has been in beta for a bit and Dr. Paul Testa of NYU has used it to enable 35 ER doctors, through Apple Watch’s push notifications, to request vital lab results be delivered so they see the results and respond quickly to patient needs. Pretty Star Trek-ish. While Apple has plans to go where no one has gone before, this just might be their one shining moment. RIP the NCAA tournament.

He’s wearing a wire

What do Gordon Gekko and Google have in common? (and please don’t say they both start with “G” – you’re smarter than that) They both know that the most valuable commodity is information. To that end, Google’s latest healthcare initiative has the company teaming up with Stanford physicians to audio record your doctor visit. Creepy? Maybe, but there’s more. Called a “digital scribe” the pilot program is designed to use the audio recording to populate your electronic health record (EHR), freeing the physician from taking and transcribing notes. Researchers will then use machine learning algorithms to detect patterns from the recordings that can be used to automatically complete a “progress note.” That sounds better. And really, how bad can it be? It’s not like the physician will be wearing a wire, right?

Well, isn’t that special

Specialty pharmaceutical products are doing quite well these days and many have progressed in their life cycle to the point where they are obtaining approvals for new indications. See here for a 2017 list. If you look about half way down the list you will see Sovaldi and Harvoni (both Hep C medications from Gilead). FYI, sales of these two products were ~$14B (with a B) in 2016. As the Church Lady would say, “Isn’t that special?” (Side note: it doesn’t hurt having the CDC help your marketing efforts.) There could be a trend emerging that boosts recommended testing for various conditions. By programming alerts into EMR systems, researchers found hepatitis C virus (HCV) screening rates jumped five-fold. Maybe soon we will see pharma companies helping EMR companies program alerts into their systems.