August 2018 Healthcare Hot Takes: GlaxoSmithKline and 23andMe look to improve the future of pharma with genomics

Written August 07, 2018 by Ramesh Munnangi

Healthcare Hot Takes is Luma Health’s monthly rundown of healthcare innovations happening right now. Check out what the industry is thinking, reading, doing.

STORY #1

GlaxoSmithKline is acquiring a $300M stake in 23andMe to overhaul its drug research and development.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is staking $300M into everyone’s favorite DNA home test kit company 23andMe in order to revamp its drug discovery process and stay competitive in the pharmaceutical industry. The company hopes to use genetic data to hone in on drug targets and to better identify patients for clinical trials.

The four year collaboration will aim at making the entire drug process more efficient. Currently, there is “incredibly low probability for success” in terms of discovering a blockbuster. Consequently, and due to the increasing costs of finding and testing potential drug candidates, pharma companies are seeking to streamline their entire research and development activities.

Luma’s Hot Take: It’s refreshing to see a major pharmaceutical company partner with one of the leading direct to consumer genomics companies. 23andMe has a wealth of genetic and personal health data that GSK can leverage to ultimately get drugs to market faster and into the hands of patients that need them.

STORY #2

Walgreens launches a digital platform connecting patients to local providers and prices.

Walgreens is releasing a new digital marketplace for its mobile and online visitors to see prices for local and digital healthcare services at select Walgreens locations. The platform, entitled “Find Care Now,” will allow customers to receive information from local providers regarding various services such as lab tests, physician consults, and even urgent care, based on location and health condition. Customers will also receive accurate and updated pricing information.

The marketplace will include providers from 17 local and national-based healthcare organizations, with more slated to join in the future. With over 5 million active users on the Walgreens app each month, participating providers can expect to see a bump in business.

Find Care Now is part of a series of innovations to offer a true omnichannel experience for Walgreens customers, as we work with others in the health care community to improve access to affordable health care services in the communities we serve.” - Richard Ashworth, Walgreens President of Operations

Walgreen’s move, as well as that of other retailers offering health care services (See: CVS and Walmart), is a clear response to Amazon’s recent push into healthcare. With growing fear over Amazon’s dominance in the industry, these retailers are making moves in order to stay competitive within the market. To differentiate, Walgreens is emphasizing its ties to local providers, which is something that Amazon can’t offer.

Luma’s Hot Take: We love that Walgreens is combining its strong local footprint with digital transparency around health care services and prices. This should have a large impact on improving patient access throughout communities.

STORY #3

Amazon’s Alexa is not a replacement for your doctor.

The abundance and convenience of smart speakers in the home have led some Americans to utilize them for health related questions. Specifically Amazon’s Alexa, which is currently in 20 million American households (over 70% of the total market), is being used to self-diagnose more than ever. Unfortunately, consulting Alexa is not the same as consulting your doctor. One problem is that the internet is quite vague and widespread when it comes to health care, which can lead self diagnosers (like myself) to unnecessarily freak out or even worse, to completely miss a crucial symptom.

Now that’s not to say that Alexa and other smart speakers are totally useless when it comes to managing one’s own health. Consumers can use them to fact check on medications, symptoms, general health concerns, and more. Yet, when it comes to health advice and actual medical treatment, physicians are your best bet.

Check out Quartz’s article here to learn more.

Luma’s Hot Take: This is the rare instance of us highlighting when technology and healthcare don’t necessarily form a perfect marriage. Although smart speakers (and technology for the most part) can help inform consumers around their health, they are not meant to replace medical experts. At Luma, we work with providers and care teams everyday and know just how important they are to driving patients towards the best health outcomes.

STORY #4

OpenNotes partners with UC San Diego Health to allow patients to read medical notes taken by providers during office visits.

In a move to be more transparent and give patients more control over their care, UC San Diego Health has partnered with OpenNotes to allow patients to read medical notes taken by their care providers during their clinic visits.

Launching in June 2018, UC San Diego has rolled out the initiative to providers in primary care, internal medicine, family medicine, urology, hematology and oncology. Having access to these notes should help patients with complicated medical histories keep track of what went on during their individual visits. Patients are able to access these notes within their secure MyUCSDChart patient portal.

OpenNotes has a proven track record of improving patient-physician communication as evidenced in their pilots at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Geisinger Health System. Out of a patient population of 20,000, more than 77% said that the having access to their physician’s medical notes made them feel more in control of their care. More than 60% taking medications reported better medication adherence. Finally 85% said they would choose a clinician based on he or she participating in the OpenNotes program.

“Sharing medical notes with patients helps strengthen the provider-patient partnership, enhances patient safety and empowers patients to take an active role in their health and health care.” - Marlene Millen, MD, Chief Medical Information Officer for Ambulatory Care at UC San Diego Health

Luma’s Hot Take: When patients feel they have some measure of control and transparency over their care, then they are more likely to be satisfied with their overall care experience. OpenNotes is able to accomplish this in a relatively non-disruptive way and we are excited to see them expand into more health systems across the nation.

 

Picture of Ramesh Munnangi

Ramesh is the Director of Business Development at Luma Health. He has a B.A. in Public Policy Studies from Duke University and an M.B.A. in Healthcare Management from Tufts University. He is passionate about healthcare and loves learning about new innovations in the digital health space. In his spare time, he likes to try new restaurants, travel to exotic locations, and root for Bay Area sports teams.