Dear fellow digital health enthusiasts,

After a short hiatus due to the heat, the Patagonia fleece vest is back on the streets. We counted at least three yesterday. Winter is coming!

«Data is the new oil», you can hear that statement at every conference at least five times. Like in the past with oil companies, the players in the health care data industry are defining and defending their territory. Conflicts are bound to occur: Act I – Amazon versus CVS. Amazon’s PillPack was recently cut off access to prescription data from Surescripts (a medication data vendor, owned by CVS, Express Scripts and others). Without the medication data, PillPack would need to manually collect the data for its pharmacy delivery service ultimately driving up its prices. Good news for incumbents who protect their monopoly and arbitrage price policy! This is part of a larger problem: There are huge inefficiencies in health care but various interests that profit greatly from these asymmetries. [≈4min]

Social determinants of health (financial stability, mental health, diet) are in vogue right now. Rightly so. While the idea of «prevention is the best care» has been around for a while, the concept of social determinants of health takes this a step further by actively analyzing the effects of the environment on one’s health. Aetna president Karen Lynch outlines its relevance for their business: «It’s clear that consumers are making holistic health a priority». While this is true for some, let’s not forget that a huge part of the population does not have the time nor capacity to do so. Social determinants of health are mainly an economic question. [≈3min]

Livongo, Phreesia and Health Catalyst are testing the IPO waters for digital health companies and are thus ending a three-year digital health IPO drought. Livongo started trading last Thursday under the ticker “LVGO” and priced its shares at USD 28 apiece. The stock surged 46% to close at USD 41 a share yesterday. Our friend Matthew from The Health Care Blog wrote a great summary about the recent IPO market and what it tells you about the major problems in healthcare. [≈8min]

«There are lots of examples where simple metrics, like how you live your life, are a much better predictor of your risk of any downstream disease than any of the features that a physician or biomedical enterprise would measure.» Calum MacRae, Vice Chair for Scientific Innovation in the BWH Department of Medicine

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Have a productive week,

Dominik & Min-Sung