Rerun: Happy 2nd birthday to the Health Business Blog

The Health Business Blog is on vacation this week and re-running some classic posts. This one is from March 2007, the second birthday of the Health Business Blog.

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The Health Business Blog is two years old now, with over 1100 posts and counting. For the first birthday I picked out a favorite post from each month. I’ve decided to make it a tradition.

March 2006: “Unsales” unconvincing

Some health plans are “counter-detailing,” sending reps to physician offices to encourage the use of generics and –even better from the health plan perspective –OTC products. The idea has some merit, but it’s untrue that these “unsalesmen” are unbiased.

April 2006: Grand Rounds 2:31

Hosting Grand Rounds was a lot of fun and a lot of work as usual. I couldn’t resist leading with a story about a ChronicBabe wearing a Holter monitor who invites her boyfriend over for sexcapades.

May 2006: Angry

This was bad. A friend in Canada died of pneumococcal meningitis when the Canadian health system let her down.

June 2006Big pharma finds a new way to put the squeeze on generics

Merck engaged in a bit of game theory to throw Teva off balance as generic Zocor was launched. Merck somehow got generic Zocor in the preferred spot on some formularies, including United’s. Was it an attempt to loosen state laws that require automatic generic substitution?

July 2006: Is the MA Health Care Reform Law built on shaky assumptions?
Insured people actually use the ER more than the uninsured. That’s a problem, especially since universal insurance laws (such as MA’s) are built on the conventional wisdom that people go to the ER because they lack insurance.

August 2006: When bias isn’t bad

An advocacy group claims that the FDA is “biased” toward approving new drugs and devices. Bias is a word with strong negative connotations and the FDA rejected the allegations. But the FDA should be biased toward approval. I’d rather have more therapies available and rely on physicians, health plans and patients to figure out the best course of treatment.

September 2006: Can Wal-Mart save the American health care system?

Wal-Mart’s $4 generic plan could fundamentally shift the market by making routine items cheap enough that insurance isn’t even worth the hassle. Car insurance doesn’t cover gas and oil changes. Sure that’s an oversimplified analogy but it should get us thinking.

October 2006: Information is the answer

ABC News ran a week-long series on health care and asked me to contribute a post. The best hope for reforming US health care lies in utilizing information. We need to generate more and better information, make better use of the information we have, and be willing to use information to make tough choices. (I’m thinking of using this theme as the basis for a book.)

November 2006: A better idea than biogenerics

Biogenerics are a foolish idea to address the high and growing cost of biotech drugs. Instead, we should allow biotech drugs to be approved and marketed as they are now, without price regulation. After patent expiration or after a certain number of years on the market, price should be regulated. The price could be based on cost of goods, a percent of the previous selling price, or some other mechanism.

December 2006: In health care, the rich and powerful really aren’t insulated

Overall, the rich and powerful are highly constrained in their ability to get exceptional service and quality in health care compared to other spheres in their lives. That’s one reason that corporate executives are interested in improving the quality quality and service levels of the US health care system. They are not insulated from commoners in health care the way they are everywhere else.

January 2007: Taking a whack at tobacco use
Are you ready for your employer to pry into your off-the-job habits like smoking? You might want to get used to it. On the other hand, this is one of the trends that may lead to the end of employer-sponsored health care.

February 2007: The role of retail

I’m not rushing to MinuteClinic, but I am grateful for the new quick clinics, which will spur office-based physicians to improve their customer service levels.

Dear reader, thanks for reading! I’m looking forward to another year on the beat. There always seems to be plenty to write about.

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