This week’s health care innovation roundup includes a smart speaker's health care skills, the financial challenge of breakthrough cures, obstacles to innovation at large organizations, and more.
Amazon’s smart speaker, known as Alexa, is in millions of homes. And even though several well-respected hospitals, like Boston Children’s Hospital and the Mayo Clinic, have “skills” on the Alexa, the speaker probably isn’t ready to diagnose illnesses or manage chronic conditions, a Quartz article asserts. “Although she is wonderfully helpful with basic questions, her knowledge of the complex medical world is limited,” according to Quartz. “Our tests suggested Alexa health skills provide mediocre health advice in the best-case scenarios.”
Scientists have created new drugs that can cure a variety of diseases that were formally chronic or deadly. But the industry needs new innovative ideas to finance the curative drugs, wrote Dr. Robert Dubois, executive vice president and chief science officer of the National Pharmaceutical Council, in a STAT News opinion piece. “We are already living in the ‘tomorrow’ of biomedical research. We must now create the tomorrow of health care financing to account for these innovations.”
Many health care organizations are large and complex, which may make them hostile to new, innovative ideas, according to a Harvard Business Review article. The biggest innovation obstacles include turf wars, cultural issues and inability to act on critical signals.
In a LinkedIn article, Bill Gates announced a focus on improving Alzheimer’s diagnostics with a large investment in a fund called Diagnostics Accelerator. The fund is what Gates calls a “venture philanthropy vehicle” as opposed to a charitable organization or venture capital fund. “It incentivizes a bold, risk-taking approach to research with an end goal of a real product for real patients,” he wrote.
Several former health system leaders and even a past FDA commissioner have found new posts at Alphabet, the parent company of Google, STAT News reports. These hires, according to the article, “are a sign of Alphabet’s rise as a formidable player in health care — even as the hype and funding so far outpaces tangible accomplishments.”