UP, UP AND AWAY FROM HOSPITAL HELIPADS An emergency medical technician pilot who flies the Teddy Bear Transport helicopter for Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas, is concerned about a potentially hazardous Christmas toy: drones. You’ve heard about the danger of drones before in this space, but the problem apparently is getting worse. EMT Gary Colecchi told the Dallas-Fort Worth TV station with the ironic call letters WFAA that last summer an emergency flight to pick up a patient was delayed for 20 minutes because someone was flying a drone around the hospital. The Federal Aviation Administration has no formal rules, or laws to enforce, regarding where drones can fly. The FAA’s suggestion that drones not operate within five miles of an airport includes hospital helipads. But it’s just that, a suggestion. With an FAA estimate that 700,000 drones may be sold this year, the FAA soon will be requiring drone operators to be registered with the government.
COMPUTER NEWS: WATSON TURNS HIS GAZE TOWARD PEDIATRIC KIDNEY DISEASE Boston Children’s Hospital, which has been in the news a lot lately, is working with IBM’s Watson to help physicians diagnose and determine the best treatments for children’s kidney diseases. The supercomputer can use patient data and the latest medical literature to quickly come up with possible treatment pathways in particularly complex or rare diseases. “One of Watson’s talents is quickly finding hidden insights and connecting patterns in massive volumes of data,” Deborah DiSanzo, general manager of IBM Watson Health told the Boston Herald.
MORE COMPUTER NEWS: THIS ONE IS CHOOSING INSURANCE PLANS The Atlantic reports on HoneyInsured.com, which tries to help determine the best health plan for an applicant’s budget and anticipated health spending, and then helps to complete the transaction. The site uses the healthcare.gov back-end database, makes a recommendation and connects potential customers to the plans. It is one of more than 50 Web broker marketplaces available, but The Atlantic points out that HoneyInsured is unique because it makes a recommendation as to what’s best for the visitor.
LAST BIT OF COMPUTER NEWS: SURPRISINGLY, A DRUG COMPANY CEO DOESN’T WANT HIS DRUGS PRICED BY COMPUTERS Eli Lilly Chairman, President and CEO John Lechleiter writes in Forbes this week that drug companies and the prices they seek for their products are threatened by “groups of number-crunchers … with limited understanding of the nature of your business, the needs of your intended customers, or the product’s real potential — armed with algorithms.” Lechleiter warns of the rise of value-assessment mechanisms that will use academic models to assess the value of medicines. In his opinion piece, he states such models that use cost per quality-adjusted life year beg the questions: “How do you measure and score quality of life? How do you account for the fact that the same treatment can produce very different outcomes in different patients? How do you accurately determine cost if, for example, a treatment reduces expenses that otherwise would have occurred elsewhere in the health care system?” And more. “If the resulting products are not given a chance to succeed on their merits, in real-world patient care,” he warns, “then investments in future discoveries simply will evaporate.”
HOW ABOUT PAYING FOR A DRUG ONLY IF IT WORKS? In other drug pricing news, The Boston Globe reports that Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has agreed to cover an expensive new cholesterol drug in exchange for a discount, from drug maker Amgen Inc., along with potential rebates if the treatment fails to meet performance traits. The companies said the deal was the first pay-for-performance contract for the cholesterol drug Repatha.