Social determinants of health

As insurers attempt to set health plan prices, they understandably try to pull in as much info as they can get their hands on. But patient advocates say they could be going too far by collecting ‘lifestyle data.’ That’s the subject of an NPR/ProPublica story on how providers are amassing a trove of data on consumers’ “race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth … what you post on social media, whether you’re behind on your bills, what you order online.” Insurers say they’re just using the data to improve patient outcomes, while companies that sell this data to insurers say it shouldn’t be used for pricing. But there’s not technically anything that would stop them from doing so, which is encouraging. Makes you want to live in Europe (kinda.)

Side effects may include…

Sanofi got a ton of free press last week from hundreds of thousands of Twitter users. To update the (blissfully) uninformed, comedian Roseanne Barr had recently used the social media platform to make a racist statement about a former White House aide. Presumably in damage control mode afterwards, Barr tweeted an apology saying she had been “Ambien tweeting.” So Sanofi—who makes Ambien—had the opportunity to engage in some, uh, brand management. The company’s response thus makes very clear that, “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.” Their tweet blew up, with nearly 69k retweets and over 185k likes. And while they note no Sanofi medication has side effects of racism, they weren’t clear on other companies’ drugs. Your move, social media managers.

Bam! – cook with your kids

The best-known cooking catchphrase: Bam! is a great place to start this article. If watching Emeril Lagasse doesn’t get you fired up to cook, maybe this will. Results of a study conducted over the past 15 years by Jennifer Utter, University of Auckland, New Zealand on Minneapolis-Saint Paul teens (Minnesota, USA) concludes that “developing cooking skills as a young adult may have long-term benefits for health and nutrition.” In a world of social media screen time, this study serves as a gentle reminder that basic skills, like cooking, can have a substantial impact on childhood development. According to the study, “if those who perceived their cooking skills as adequate had families, they ate more frequent family meals and less frequent fast food meals.” So, let’s not pull a Julia Child (via Dan Aykroyd) and do better than the Bass-O-Matic and teach our kids to cook.

To post, or not to post, that is the question

Hamlet would probably advise that MDs chill out on the whole posting thing. According to a new study led by Dr. Kevin Koo of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, young doctors are having an issue with hitting “Post” well beyond the lines of professionalism and ethics. The study, which focused on urologist new grads, found that 40% of those with publicly identifiable Facebook profiles contained iffy content. And by iffy we mean those “What happened last night?” pictures all the way to divulging patient information. Great. Apparently, millennials grow up to be doctors, too. Remember, when in doubt, hit delete. Here are the AMA’s guidelines for social media use for all you docs who skipped ethics class. What do you think? See this week’s FastPoll™ question below.

5. Kard-#ad-shians

Social media is the wild west of the marketing world. Very little law/regulation and swift punishment for doing something wrong – i.e. Duchesnay and the social media queen, Kim Kardashian, whose Diclegis debacle intimidated the entire pharma industry from venturing into this space. Sure the FDA has set guidelines, but they make as much sense as why the Kardashians are famous to begin with. Pharma can’t ignore social media forever, though, and thanks to TruthInAdvertising.org, a door may have just been opened. Because of them, the whole Kardashian clan is now using “#ad” in all of their endorsements – adding more transparency to advertisements, which is what the FDA is really looking for. Still, good luck fitting all the benefits and risks of your product into 140 charact…

1. Twitter to the rescue?

UnitedHealthcare has announced that Medtronic will soon become the sole in-network insulin pump manufacturer for UHC’s commercial and Medicaid plan members. Though patients are permitted to continue using their existing pump until it is out of warranty and needs to be replaced, patients are not exactly jazzed about this new lack of options.  Patients, advocacy groups, and not surprisingly, Medtronic’s competitor Tandem Diabetes Care, are pushing back publically. Patients and advocacy groups are using Twitter hashtags #DiabetesAccessMatters and #MyPumpMyChoice to voice their displeasure.  One tweet reads, “If you can’t decide what to have for lunch just ask @MDT_Diabetes & @myUHC they know everything #MypumpMyChoice.” Whether sarcasm and tweets will be enough to change UHC’s policy remains to be seen.