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Top 5 Reads of the Week

The Honesty Problem in Silicon Valley: “Being honest in Silicon Valley is like being the one member of an Olympic team that isn’t on steroids.” This week, Fast Company’s Christina Farr reported on the “culture of spin” in Silicon Valley, where fundraising entrepreneurs all-too-often succumb to pressure to gloss over failures, exaggerate accomplishments, and mire the mission of their companies in hyperbole and impenetrable jargon. Leaders at health tech companies are among the worst offenders, which may result in potential harm to patients. (Fast Company)

Teledermatology Study Finds Major Problems: A JAMA study raised concerns about the quality of direct-to-consumer telemedicine services in dermatology cases. In the study, researchers posing as patients received consults from 16 telemedicine companies. They found a variety of issues, the most serious being the misdiagnosis of life-threatening conditions such as syphilis, skin cancer, and a form of herpes that spreads through eczema. They also found that in a variety of cases patients were not seen by physicians licensed to practice in the state in which the patient resides (as required by law); patients were not told the names of their practitioners; and doctors did not offer to send records of the consult to the patient’s PCP. The study has called into question whether physicians provide substandard care when providing dermatology consults via a telemedicine platform. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Follow-Up Read: Not all studies find telemedicine to be lacking. This New York Time article references a variety of studies that suggest telemedicine and in-person visits result in comparable outcomes. Furthermore, telemedicine promises to decrease the number of hours patients spend seeking care, only 17% of which is actually spent in the presence of a physician, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Harvard Medical School and the Rand Corporation. (New York Times)

The Dangers of Unregulated Mobile Health Apps: “The Zuckerberg mantra ‘move fast and break things’ is great for social media, but in medicine when we move fast, we break people.” Healthcare is a heavily regulated industry; however, in the case of mobile health apps, regulators have struggled to keep up with mobile healthcare startups that, taking their cue from the tech industry more generally, are sprinting to market. This has resulted in the release of a variety of apps that are potentially unsafe for consumers. The FDA and FTC recently announced that they will begin regulating mobile apps, but in the meanwhile, consumers should be wary of which health apps they download. (Tech Crunch)

The Theranos Debacle Gets Worse: On Wednesday night the Wall Street Journal reported that Theranos has voided two years of results (2014 and 2015) from their Edison blood-testing devices after finding that the machines did not meet the company’s accuracy requirements. Theranos, said to have run 890,000 tests per year, may have provided patients and doctors with incorrect lab results. This massive recall is part of Theranos’ last-ditch efforts to avoid a slew of heavy sanctions from the CMS. Whether the company’s founder, Elizabeth Holmes, will be suspended from owning or running the company remains to be seen. (Wall Street Journal)

Naloxone Price Hike: Naloxone, the drug used to reverse prescription opioid overdose, has seen a significant increase in price over the past few years–in some cases as much as 17x– according to Politico. This spike in price coincides with increased public awareness of the nation’s opioid epidemic and the Obama administration’s push to make the drug more available. (Politico)

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