Category Archives: International

mHealth Israel founder Levy Shapiro shares plans for conference in Jerusalem

 

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Innovative Israeli technology companies have a huge impact around the world. Now, more of the country’s entrepreneurs are turning to connected health. mHealth Israel is at the center of this surge. Its upcoming mHealth Israel conference on September 14 will be the culmination of a nationwide week of activities.

I had planned to speak at the conference, but sadly won’t make it to Jerusalem this time around.

Levy shared his perspectives on mHealth in Israel and provided background on the upcoming mHealth conference.

  • (0:13) What’s the state of digital health in Israel? How does it differ from markets in the US and Europe?
  • (1:58) Israel is a small market and doesn’t trade much with its neighbors. Are most of these companies focused locally or are they looking at external markets?
  • (3:09) Describe the ecosystem. What is the typical interaction between the startup companies, hospitals and larger companies?
  • (7:10) What are some of the major themes you are seeing in health startups this year? Is it a change from the last couple years?
  • (9:38) What is mHealth Israel?
  • (11:30) You are running an Israel startup competition over the summer. What is it? When are the entries due?
  • (12:40) What are the highlights of mHealth week?
  • (14:02) Who are some of the speakers at the upcoming conference?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Medial EarlySign: machine learning for population health (podcast)

Medial EarlySign analyzes standard EHR data to identify individuals at high risk for disease. The company’s first solution, ColonFlag uses longitudinal blood test data to identify patients who are at high risk for colorectal cancer.

I spoke recently with Medial executive Tomer Amit, who filled me in on the company’s approach and explained why the company has been named a Cool Vendor in AI by Gartner.

  • (0:15) What unmet need are you serving?
  • (1:05) You talk about using data that’s already available. What kind of data?
  • (3:02) When you mention “historical data” are you talking about longitudinal data for an individual patient or aggregated data for a population?
  • (4:18) Why is colorectal cancer an initial focus for the company, with your ColonFlag solution?
  • (5:13) Does ColonFlag replace colonoscopy or encourage someone to get one if they have an indicator that they are at greater risk?
  • (6:38) I see how it could help an individual. Would it actually help at the population level?
  • (7:45) You started in Israel and the EU, which have strong longitudinal medical records. Can the approach be applied in the US where that’s not the case?
  • (10:41) You have run your tests in different places around the world. Does the model differ by population or is there a universal algorithm?
  • (12:10) How do you protect your intellectual property? Once you are out there, are there just rules of thumb people can use instead of working with you?
  • (13:14) What traction have you gained with customers or partners? What industry recognition have you received?
  • (14:45) Are there other domains you are investigating beyond colon cancer? Other data beyond blood tests?
  • (15:58) What’s your 5-10 year vision of what’s possible and what Medial’s role will be?

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Health Business Group announces leader for its Australia/Asia practice

I’m excited to announce that Dan Segal will join Health Business Group as a principal, leading our practice in the Australia and Asia. The press release is below:

Dan Segal joins Health Business Group

Industry veteran will lead consulting firm’s practice in Australia and Asia
Dan Segal, Principal, Health Business Group
Dan Segal, Principal, Health Business Group

BOSTON – June 20, 2017 – PRLog — Health Business Group a leading strategy consulting boutique advising companies, non-profits and investors in health care services, digital health, pharmaceutical services, and medical devices has appointed Dan Segal as Principal. Mr. Segal will lead Health Business Group’s efforts in Australia and Asia; a major focus will be on supporting overseas clients’ entry and growth in the US market.

Segal was a co-founder of Brain Resource Ltd., a publicly traded neuroscience company, where he served as COO and a board member for the past 15 years. He has extensive experience in commercializing healthcare technologies in the US and globally, including strategic planning, regulatory navigation, clinical trial planning and execution, IT development, ISMS and GCP systems, business development, and reimbursement.

“We are thrilled that Dan has joined our team,” said David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group. “He brings the knowledge, skills, and contacts needed to support Australian and Asian healthcare companies as they navigate the lucrative but complex American market, and he will be a strong addition to our client service teams.”

“I am pleased to be joining the Health Business Group,” said Segal. “They are a highly experienced team that I have known for many years and hold in the utmost regard. Working with a Boston-based firm will provide my clients with strong links into the US healthcare ecosystem that are just not available remotely.”

Segal will divide his time between Australia, Asia and the US, and will work closely with Health Business Group colleagues in Boston, New Jersey and the West Coast.

Earlier in his career, Segal was a Director in the Equities Research Department of Citigroup, where he was highly ranked as a telecommunications and technology sector analyst. He has been a member of the Australian Institute of Chartered Accountants for 30 years and has qualifications in Science and Commerce: Bachelor of Commerce from the University of New South Wales, Bachelor of Science (Honors) from the University of Sydney and a Master of Science (Physics) from the University of New South Wales. He retains an active research interest in connections between physics and the brain and has authored both science and business articles, ranging from personalized medicine and digital health to semiconductor physics.

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About Health Business Group:

Health Business Group http://www.healthbusinessgroup.com is a leading strategy consulting boutique, advising companies, non-profits, and investors in healthcare services, digital health, medical devices, and pharmaceutical services. Our client service professionals average more than 20 years of health care consulting, industry and start-up experience.

Contact
Karen Donovan
(617) 512-4582

Looking abroad for healthcare answers

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Serious students of the US healthcare system understand that costs are high and quality is uneven. While there are some incredible components of our system, it’s clear to me that we should look elsewhere for best practices that we could apply in the US. That outlook led to my interest in “medical tourism,” which I spent some time focusing on just before the Obamacare era.

A Harvard Magazine article (Global Health at Home) starts with the same premise, and cites a statement from the World Bank president that “situations of scarcity lead to innovation.” This gets right to the heart of the matter, because in the US high and rising costs are taken for granted, and budgets are not really a constraint. As a result we are not forced to think differently and creatively.

I was a bit surprised that the authors then jump to the conclusion that the solution is global health, which is “premised on taking responsibility for all people in a given location.. and at all levels of income. Philosophically, global health is guided by the words of… Paul Farmer, co-founder of Partners in Health: ‘The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.’ Equity is the soul of global health.”

The authors use the term “Global Health at Home,” to describe their concept of bringing this global health approach, developed for poor countries, back to the US. Their solutions are pretty sensible: a holistic approach to chronic diseases, attention to identifying and addressing the social determinants of health, deployment of community workers, and an emphasis on care at home. These are good ideas but we don’t have to go abroad to learn them and frankly I don’t see that equity is the key lever for cost containment in the US or elsewhere.

I’m thinking about how scarcity has led to innovation in other fields: like how farmers in Israel innovated in irrigation to compensate for the lack of water or how earlier computer programmers developed elegant programming approaches when memory was a scarce resource (unlike the typical bloatware we see today).

What are the equivalent opportunities in healthcare, from both a process and product standpoint? What clever and efficient approaches are being taken for diagnosis and treatment in resource constrained settings? Can we apply them to the US? If we do, are there trade-offs that we need to consider?

What barriers are in place and can or should they be lowered? These may include regulatory requirements, malpractice risks, and payment methodologies.

It’s a topic worthy of systematic inquiry. I assume people are working on it, so if you’re aware please let me know on Twitter @HealthBizBlog

As a sidenote, it’s inspiring that the lead author of the Harvard article is in his 90s and still going strong!

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

The case for healthcare cooperation with Cuba

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I learned quite a bit from a brief Perspective in the New England Journal of Medicine (The United States and Cuba –Turning Enemies into Partners for Health).

A June Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Cuban Ministry of Public Health lays out a wide variety of areas for cooperation, including infection diseases like Zika, plus cancer and chronic conditions.

Thanks to the embargo, products developed in Cuba aren’t available in the US because they are not allowed into the FDA approval process. As a result, certain drugs like Heberprot-P, to reduce amputation risk for diabetic foot ulcers, aren’t available in the US even though they are on the market in many other countries.

We don’t need to copy the Cuban health system, but there are some lessons to be learned from Cuba’s experience with population health, community-based programs, disease control, and chronic care management.

It isn’t possible to fully implement the MoU now, because the embargo remains in place and only Congress can lift it. If Democrats take control of Congress, that could happen soon. If not, the author argues that the President has the authority to allow Cuban products into the US regulatory process just like products from any other country. He’d also like to see the President allow US students to attend medical school in Cuba, where some have been offered scholarships.

These all sound like good ideas to me and I hope they are implemented.

Image courtesy of taesmileland at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Canada is looking better and better

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O Canada!

In almost every election cycle people talk about moving to Canada if a presidential candidate they despise takes office. In practice few make the move. Things could be a little different this time around if a certain nationalist strongman comes to power.

There’s something else to fear this year: the Zika virus. According to NIH director Tony Fauci, mosquitoes with Zika are likely to arrive in the US mainland within the next month or two. One species will be all over the South, another will come up the East Coast as far as New England. Already, close to 300 pregnant women in the US are infected.

Congress is dithering with the President’s request for funds to combat Zika’s spread and is toying with the idea of canceling Ebola funds to partially support the Zika fight. It’s pretty irresponsible.

In the past I would have assumed that Congress would get it’s act together and do the right thing. But after seeing some members unconcerned about preventing a default I no longer take good intentions and common sense for granted.

Zika is serious and its spread could have a big impact on economic growth. In El Salvador, the government has advised women not to get pregnant for the next two years, lest they give birth to babies with severe birth defects. Can you imagine the impact such an advisory would have in the US?

Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

The false link between mental illness and gun violence

It would be nice if we could eliminate mass shootings by improving the mental health system, coaxing (or forcing) potential shooters into treatment before they have a chance to wreak havoc.  As the Washington Post (Most mass shooters aren’t mentally ill. So why push better treatment as the answer?) reports:

“It would be ridiculous to hope that doing something about the mental-health system will stop these mass murders,” said Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons and author of “The Anatomy of Evil,” which examines the personalities of brutal killers. “It’s really folly.”

This seems pretty obvious, and yet Republican and Democratic leaders, along with the general public and the media seem to think mental illness is the root cause of shooting sprees and that improving the mental health system can fix the problem.

After mass shootings, reporters often jump quickly to mental illness as the cause. Remember after the Sandy Hook shooting when there was speculation that the shooter’s Asperger’s diagnosis was to blame?

Asperger’s? Are you kidding me?

The danger of our fixation on mental illness as the root cause of violence is that we end up stigmatizing people with mental illness –and developmental disorders– while ignoring more direct causes of gun violence, such as ready access to guns.

Mass shootings are rare outside the US. Is there someone who can tell me with a straight face that the difference is due to better mental health systems abroad?

Meanwhile, Australia has seen a major decrease in gun violence over the past 20 years since adopting strong gun control after a mass murder. That seems like a more evidence and logic based response than what we’ve tried here.

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.