Category: Science and Other News

Health Care One Quarter of August Job Growth

This morning’s Employment Situation Summary, which showed slow job growth overall, contained a big jump for health services: 23 percent of last month’s jobs were in health services (see Table I).

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Of the 41,000 health jobs, a little more than half were in ambulatory settings. Because of a long-term shift in the location of care, there are now almost seven million people working in ambulatory settings, versus just under five million working in hospitals. This is a positive development.

The FDA Wants to Regulate Feces Like a Drug

Slang words describing human feces are often used to denote products of poor quality or that have absolutely no value whatsoever. A product that is substandard is sometimes derisively referred to as “crap” — or worse. Now, a company in Massachusetts is collecting fecal material into a “stool bank,” and selling the screened preparations to hospitals for $385 apiece. The material is later injected into sick patients’ digestive tracts infected with Clostridium difficile.  These are difficult-to-treat bacterial infections that kill an estimated 14,000 people annually. The donated feces are obtained from healthy donors, who are paid $40 per donation. The average donation is screened and divided into four preparations, enough to treat four patients. In a clinical trial, the results from using donated fecal material were superior to using antibiotics.

Don’t Eat That Salad! It’s Bad for You; Bad for the Planet!

According to an article in the Washington Post, “There’s one food, though, that has almost nothing going for it. It occupies precious crop acreage, requires fossil fuels to be shipped, refrigerated, around the world, and adds nothing but crunch to the plate.”

The culprit is the ubiquitous salad. As any meat-eater will tell you, salads are worthless and should be banned from the dinner table! Salad vegetables are very low in nutrition. Salads mislead dieters and fools them into loading up on high fat additives to make them palatable. Salads are also the chief source of vegetable food waste; about one billion pounds of uneaten salads are “tossed” out annually. Salad is also a vector for food-borne diseases; nearly one-quarter of food poisonings are from salads.

“Free” Canadian Health Care At $12,000 Per Family

The Fraser Institute has released a study estimating the costs of Canada’s government monopoly, a.k.a. single-payer health system. A typical Canadian family of four will pay $11,735 for public health care insurance in 2015. The study also tracks the cost of health care insurance over time: Between 2005 and 2015, the cost of health care for the average Canadian family (all family types) increased by 48.5 per cent, dwarfing increases in income (30.8 per cent), shelter (35.9 per cent) and food (18.2 per cent).

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Zombies Stalk the Health Care Landscape!

Accenture, the management consulting firm, has concluded that the flood of venture capital into digital health startups is not only maturing, it has created a race of zombies that will be bought up on the cheap by established players. In language not usually employed by the elite ranks of sober-minded management consultants:Zombies

Accenture predicts that more than half of digital health start-ups funded between 2008 and 2013 are not likely to survive longer than 20 months. Some healthcare companies will look to buy these “zombie start-ups” to drive growth by infusing top talent, fueling innovation and bolstering existing solutions.

While digital health and healthcare IT start-up funding is accelerating, the reality is that few start-ups will stand out. Even fewer will survive. Of the nearly 900 digital health start-ups that Accenture studied, 51 percent are zombie start-ups, at risk to die. These are companies that each received less than $50 million in total funding between 2008 and 2013 and have not received funding in 20 months or more.

Hospital Job Growth Up Vs. Other Health Jobs

The July Employment Situation Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed health services jobs growing at about the same pace as other jobs: 0.18 percent growth versus 0.15 percent growth. This is a break from most previous months, when health services job growth outpaced other nonfarm civilian jobs significantly. 28,000 of the 215,000 jobs added in July were in health services.

However, there was a significant uptick in the rate of jobs growth in hospitals: Adding 16,000 jobs, hospital employment counted for significantly more than half of health services jobs growth (see Table I).

20150807 Health Workforce TI

Jobs growth in nursing care facilities continued to stagnate, where employment in has been flat for twelve months (See Table II).

Private Cost of Public Queues for Health Care

Suppose you lived in an otherwise free country where you were forced to get medical care from a government-controlled monopoly funded by your taxes. Suppose that country made it almost impossible, by law and regulation, to get medical care outside that monopoly within its borders.

Because the government’s rationing of care would affect your ability to work or otherwise enjoy life, it would impose a private cost upon you greater than the tax burden. That country would be Canada, and the average cost imposed on patients by the government monopoly is $1,289, according to The Fraser Institute.

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Goldman Sachs: $32.4 Billion Digital Health Market; Savings “Indefinitely Large”

GS LogoGoldman Sachs analysts, covering medical technology, life sciences, capital goods, and healthcare supply chain and services, to produce a research report on the potential for the “Internet of Things” to disrupt health care.

The conclusion: The total addressable market is $32.4 billion, and the savings resulting from digitizing health care are “indefinitely large” (see Exhibit 2).

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Rock Health: $2.1 Billion in Digital Health Funding Q2

Rock LogoRock Health has published its account of 2015 Q2 funding of digital health ventures. According to Rock Health, funding so far this year is keeping pace with 2014.

What is especially interesting about Rock Health’s report is that it compares venture funding of digital health to other areas and concludes that digital health is growing at a significantly faster rate than other areas, especially biotech and medical devices.Rock

Digital Health Market is Maturing

StartUp LogoStartUp Health has published its analysis of 2015 Q2 digital health funding. Covering a somewhat broader portfolio than Mercom Capital does, StartUp Health reports $1.7 billion in new funding.

By far the biggest deal discussed in the report was Zenefits’ $500 million raise. Zenefits, I get. The deal I don’t get is Oscar, which comes a distant second with $145 million raised. Oscar is the only health insurer in America that actually wants to enter Obamacare’s exchanges. What are they thinking? I can’t figure it out, but Goldman Sachs is an investor, and it’s not a good idea to bet against Goldman Sachs.StartUp IPO

The report also notes that there have been some significant IPO’s in digital health, providing liquidity and some transparency in valuations.