Welcome to Insider Healthcare. I’m healthcare editor Leah Rosenbaum, and this week in healthcare news:
- We spoke to experts of all kinds to figure out what we know so far about the new Omicron COVID-19 variant;
- Major hospital systems told us how technology will change the future of patient care — and what’s overhyped;
- We dug into the new ways powerful drug-industry middlemen are driving up costs.
A lot of news came out this week about the new Omicron COVID-19 variant, a strain of the virus with several mutations that are making scientists very nervous.
Drug companies are already preparing for the worst; Andrew Dunn spoke with experts, including Pfizer’s top scientist Mikael Dolsten, about how pharma companies are already responding to this new threat.
Recently, we learned that there have already been several confirmed cases of the Omicron variant in the US — and there could already be up to 2,000 cases, according to an expert that spoke with health correspondent Hilary Brueck.
We don’t yet know though how Omicron will fare against our current COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, but scientists are racing to find out.
And speaking of COVID treatments: this week, an FDA panel narrowly recommended the first pill to treat COVID-19.
Omicron has drug companies preparing for the worst. Here are their plans to counterattack the newest COVID-19 variant.
Mohana Ravindranath spent time talking to the leaders of 8 of the largest healthcare systems across the country. She asked them all about the future of health — and also about what technologies are currently overhyped.
- Right now, lower-tech tools including electronic medical records are making a big difference in patient care.
- But in the future, experts say that mobile apps and wearable devices will have a big impact.
- Some technology hasn’t lived up to the hype, however. These include augmented reality and even telehealth.
Drug-industry middlemen have reorganized the drug supply chain, Shelby Livingston reports.
Several of these companies are joining forces to get better deals from drugmakers — but they are also driving up costs for patients.
It creates a convoluted system full of secrets, money and medicine.
Powerful drug-industry middlemen have quietly launched businesses to get better deals from drugmakers. It could drive up costs for patients.
More stories that kept us busy this week:
- Shelby also wrote about how big retail chains including Walmart and Walgreens plan to approach healthcare in 2022.
- Jade Khatib wrote about Penn Medicine’s plan to replace a closed hospital in a low-income Philadelphia neighborhood.
- Hilary wrote about how to choose which booster shot is right for you.
- Hilary also found that South Africa isn’t a haven for new variants — it’s just one of the countries with the best sequencing infrastructure.
- Tech correspondent Melia Russell got into mental-health startup Spring Health and revealed a culture of burnout.