The Apixio Blog

Top 5 Healthcare Podcasts of 2015

If 2014 was the year of Snapchat and 2013 the year of Instagram, 2015 was the year of the podcast. Podcast are digital audio files that can be downloaded to a computer or smartphone. Everyone from Goldman Sachs to Shaq has a podcast these days, including many notable healthcare organizations. But if you totally missed the podcast boat, we’ve got you covered. Here are the top 5 healthcare podcast episodes of 2015; listen to them to understand the year in digital health.

a16z: “Bio Meets Computer Science

The a16z podcast is created by Bay Area venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. In this episode Vijay Pande, Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon discuss three areas they are excited about at the intersection of biology and computer science.

The first is digital therapeutics, or companies who provide medical care online, through telemedicine, analytics, or social networks. This method of care delivery is conducive to treating diseases caused by patients’ own lifestyles, which will be especially prevalent in the future. The second field is cloud biology. The cloud allows lab research to happen for a fraction of the previous cost. The last field is computational medicine, or leveraging the power of data to help doctors make decisions. This is actually the field Apixio is in, so it is particularly interesting to us.

Given a16z’s influence in the investor community, it’s worth listening to this episode to read the tea leaves of healthcare venture capital funding.

The Weekly Briefing:  “Don’t Believe the Hype”

The Weekly Briefing is the podcast of the DC-based health consulting firm The Advisory Board Company. In this episode, hosts Dan Diamond, Rivka Friedman, and Rob Lazerow discuss whether the Theranos scandal was really all that scandalous. The company serves hospitals and health systems in this country, so the podcast serves as a good gauge for provider thought around major healthcare issues.

Friedman points out that many companies speak to dreams, rather than realities, in their marketing materials, and wonders whether what Theranos did was all that different. Diamond points out that being disingenuous with patients is different than being disingenuous with ordinary customers, and that healthcare companies are held to a higher standard because of the stakes involved in their business.

Rock Health: “Frank Williams and James Park on Life After the Digital Health IPO

Rock Health is a San Francisco venture and research fund focused on digital health. They host an annual conference which attracts the luminaries and rising stars of digital health, and their podcasts offer recorded versions of their conference talks. This episode is a joint interview with James Park, CEO of Fitbit, and Frank Williams, CEO of Evolent Health.

The episode is interesting because though Park and Williams are both very successful, the interview makes clear they are very different CEOs. Sometimes in Silicon Valley, we fall into the trap of thinking that there’s one “right” mold of a CEO (a.k.a. Steve Jobs) and this interview makes it clear that’s not true. Frank also answers tough questions about Evolent’s business model and revenue numbers, and James answers questions about FitBit’s low engagement numbers.

The Weeds: “Why health premiums rise and how partisans discriminate

The Weeds is a health policy podcast by Vox Media, a DC-based news and opinion website. This episode asks the question: Is healthcare getting more expensive? Vox’s coverage of health policy is unparalleled, and this episode in particular is a must-listen for anyone in healthcare.

Hosts Sarah Kliff, Ezra Klein, and Matthew Yglesias discuss cost-sharing, premium increases, and the future of Obamacare’s exchanges. One interesting point made: While policymakers intended for money employers saved via high deductible plans to be returned to employees in the form of wages, that rarely happens. Another one: part of the reason insurance premiums have risen so much is because people are reluctant to shop around for coverage and switch cheaper plans, hurting the market’s dynamics.

Slate Money: “The ‘Monetizing Others’”

Slate Money is a podcast  hosted by the opinion site Slate, featuring writers Felix Salmon, Cathy O’Neil and Jordan Weissmann. In this episode, they discuss privacy concerns regarding the use of health data by consumer startups. Privacy is a critical issue for health technology products (for all technology products, really), and this episode is a strong reminder of that.

O’Neil, the author of a popular mathematics blog, says that she gets many pitches from such startups: “They plan to get entire medical systems to wear Fitbits, so they can keep track of whether [patients’] diabetes are under check…the big data people could sell that to your potential employer, who is legally allowed to not give you a job based on this data.” Salmon points out that this doomsday scenario has not happened yet.

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