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THCB Reader -- June 26, 2021


THCB Reader

June 26 · Issue #120 · View online

Everything you always wanted to know about the health care system. But were afraid to ask.

This week on THCB Reader, Mike Magee challenges full-speed-ahead health tech, Kim Bellard asks whether the U.S. will get everyone health insurance or broadband first, and Hans Duvefelt reflects on some physicians’ approaches to primary care. 
Now for some interviews: on WTF Health Jess DaMassa talks to Amwell CEO Roy Schoenberg about what’s happening in telehealth post-Covid, and Amwell’s market position. Jess also interviews senior care startup Papa’s CEO Andrew Parker. In this week’s episode of Health in 2 Point 00, we talk about a lot of IPOs and I give my take on DTx company Pear Therapeutics SPAC-ing out. Not necessarily a fan…
Meanwhile, on Thursday’s episode of THCB Gang, I was joined by special guest venture capitalist & massive over-achiever Justin Norden (@JustinNordenMD) from GSR Ventures as well as regulars, patient safety expert Michael Millenson (@MLMillenson); WTF Health host & Health IT girl Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa); futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve); & THCB regular writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard). Lots of talk about AI and its role in health care. Click here to see it.
And of course to listen any time you can subscribe to #THCBGang and #Healthin2Point00 podcasts with an easy click on Apple or Spotify.

And another note from my other life, WTF Health superstar Jess DaMassa & I are thrilled to announce a new digital health conference Policies, Techies & VCs: What’s Next For Health Care.
Confirmed speakers so far include Glen Tullman–CEO, Transcarent; Jonathan Bush–Executive Chairman, Firefly Health; Connie Chen–CMO, Lyra Health; Jeffrey Dachis–CEO, One Drop; Bill Tarranto–President, Merck GHIF; Kyle Armbrester–CEO, Signify Health and many more
Please visit our website What’s Next For Health Care to see about registration, speaking and sponsorship opportunities and hold the dates Sept 7-10
In this week’s health care tidbits, it’s time to talk drugs. Last week on THCB, health plan association chief (and former WaPo health reporter) Ceci Connolly demanded that we do something about drug pricing. She particularly called out the weaponization of the patent system–in which drug companies have been able to delay the introduction of cheaper generics to the market using a combination of lobbying, subterfuge, and straight up bribery.
Exhibit A has been Abbvie’s Humira remaining the world’s highest selling drug even though the original patents expired 6 years ago when it was bringing in $10bn a year. Five years later it’s bringing in more than double that!
This leads to an amazing situation in which policy analyst @OliviaWebbC can’t get that very expensive drug, which should have been off patent years ago anyway but isn’t because of Abbvie’s tricks, and because @Aetna @cvspharmacy can’t organize a piss-up in a brewery. Please read her piece and the follow up, and then wonder why we put patients through this, and what it would be like if the price of Humira were reasonable.
Follow me on Twitter @boltyboy and THCB at @thcbstaff for more similar insights/nonsense (and even the occasional sensible idea)! Enjoy! – Matthew Holt
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25 June, Mike Magee
Regulatory boundaries, full transparency, and self-imposed brakes on profit-infused optimism protect researchers, the public, and society overall. As Big Tech’s romance with Big Health flowers and blooms, our leaders need to step back and consider where we are going, and not just how fast we can get there.
22 June, Kim Bellard
Here’s a question that we don’t often ask: which is the U.S. more likely to accomplish – getting everyone health insurance, or broadband?  Hint: it’s probably not what you think. Even prior to the pandemic, some labeled broadband access as a public health issue—a “superdeterminant” of health. We can’t get the health care system, or health care outcomes, that we want unless we also “future-proof” broadband.   
23 June, Hans Duvefelt
I have known doctors that cultivated a dependence among their patients by suggesting their health and safety depended on regularly scheduled visits and laboratory testing for what seemed to me stable, chronic conditions. Compare the effort on the part of the physician with that type of practice versus seeing stable patients less often, doing more urgent care, and being more available for new patients. Hans prefers the latter.
One Drop is reimagining chronic condition care. Learn more at
One Drop is reimagining chronic condition care. Learn more at
#Healthin2Point00, Episode 218 | Bicycle, NexHealth, Stork Club, DrChrono & Pear Therapeutics
Healthcare’s New “Operating System”: Amwell’s CEO Says Incumbents are Re-Thinking Telehealth
Senior Caregiving Startup Papa: "Hanging Out & Helping Out" Backed by Health Plans & $91M in Funding
Hope you enjoyed the newsletter. As ever let me know if you have any comments or want to sponsor/advertise–this newsletter doesn’t write itself but about 17,000 people get it and 80-100K visit the blog every month!
Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt
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