By

David Shaywitz

2
Apr
2021

Building An Easy On-Ramp For Consumer Fitness

A comprehensive 2018 review of the scientific literature commissioned by the Department of Health and Human Services reported that physical activity not only helps you “sleep better, feel better, and function better,” but also “reduces the risk of a large number of diseases and conditions,” including dementia, hypertension, diabetes, and a range of cancers. The report specifically highlights the benefits...
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28
Mar
2021

Needed: Planet Fitness for The Digital World

Digital platforms such as Peloton and Tonal have clearly learned how to use emerging technologies to cultivate healthy exercise habits and a loyal base of fitness-focused customers. These same technologies would seem ideally suited – if presented in the right way – to coax more people off the couch in the first place.  This represents an enormous health — and...
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27
Mar
2021

Digital Health: From Pharma To…Fitness?

Astute TR readers might have noticed that I’ve been writing a lot about digital fitness lately, in contrast to digital pharma.  This is deliberate, and represents an evolution of my thinking. I was first drawn to digital health over a decade ago, in the context of a translational medicine training program for medical scientists that I developed with Dr. Denny...
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25
Mar
2021

Can Digital Fitness Extend Beyond Hardy Base To Reach Those Who May Benefit Most?

Whether you are an “exercist,” who relentlessly talks up the benefits of regular exercise to anyone who will listen, or instead are like the vast majority of people and conscientiously avoid exercise, you will find something appealing in the recently published Exercised, by Harvard anthropologist Daniel Lieberman. Those who assiduously avoid unnecessary exertion – pretty much the definition of exercise...
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20
Mar
2021

Enticing Some With Social Cues, Others With Health, Exercise Rewards Body And Mind

I recently discussed the rise of digital fitness, and specifically how companies like Peloton are succeeding by delivering an engaging experience. The new crop of digital fitness companies have figured out how to make health-promoting activities that are intrinsically tedious – like riding a stationary bike – into something compelling and sustaining. A New York Times writer, Amanda Hess, captures...
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16
Mar
2021

Why Digital Fitness Companies Like Peloton and Tonal Are Exciting For Healthcare

A truism in healthcare is that a medicine only works if it’s taken. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the medicines they are prescribed. Adherence rates for many drugs – especially for preventive medicines like statins – tends to be remarkably low, as I’ve discussed in the New York Times.  About half of patients who start taking statins to reduce their...
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4
Mar
2021

What Pharma Data Scientists Can Learn from SpaceX, Health System Barriers, & the FDA

Three quick data science items: 1) How pharma companies could engage more constructively with data scientists. 2) How health system barriers to data sharing inhibit robust evaluation of the underlying science. 3) The savvy way the FDA is thinking about data science. Learning From SpaceX On Wednesday, Elon Musk’s SpaceX landed a prototype spacecraft vertically on the ground — a...
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27
Feb
2021

Digital Tools Helped Enable COVID-19 Vaccine Trials. What are the Lessons Learned?

Digital tools played a critical role in accelerating the development and evaluation of COVID-19 vaccines, according to leaders at the companies driving this effort.  Speaking at a recent virtual panel discussion organized by the Galien Foundation (and available here), leaders from Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Moderna, and the CRO IQVIA shared their experiences leveraging digital tools for vaccine development. Data Deluge...
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5
Feb
2021

Scientists Love Data – And Data Reveal Most People Prefer Anecdotes

The unreasonable effectiveness of personal narrative – and what it means for persuasion and health The goal of “alternative facts,” is “to flood the zone with sh*t,” as former Trump advisor Steve Bannon notoriously explained to the author Michael Lewis. The idea is to persuade us it’s just too difficult to know what to believe about anything.  This “manufactured nihilism,”...
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6
Jan
2021

mRNA Vaccines Inspire Hope for Emerging Technologies; Is Digital Pharma Next?

The mRNA vaccines for COVID-19, developed by Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer, were a conspicuous bright spot in a generally devastating year. Besides giving us a chance to bring the pandemic to an end, they remind us more generally of the profoundly transformative potential of emerging technologies.  Audacious scientific and entrepreneurial ambitions can take years of grinding persistence, often sounding unrealistic or...
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9
Dec
2020

Priority for Next Administration: Tech-Ready Health Leadership

From the moment Joe Biden takes the oath in January, his Administration will confront a brutal onslaught of urgent health challenges. The work starts with the complex distribution of a multi-dose vaccine to a remarkably skeptical public. To do this job, and countless others, there is a desperate need to upgrade the nation’s health data capabilities, which were pressure-tested by COVID-19...
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4
Nov
2020

Why Learning From Electronic Health Records Is So Appealing – And So Hard

The application of technology to medicine offers the promise of better, more intelligent care; yet success has proved elusive.  To better understand this, we will consider, first the broad ambition of the “learning health system,” understand the general challenges presented by electronic health records (EHRs), and then finally, consider the complexity of a topical use case: a consortia’s effort to...
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1
Nov
2020

Rebuffed as Overlords, AI Experts Return in Peace, Seeking Partnership with Clinicians

Why not healthcare? That’s the core question at the heart of efforts to apply emerging digital and data technologies to healthcare and life science.  As Suchi Saria, an entrepreneur and a computer scientist at John Hopkins, where she directs the Machine Learning and Healthcare Lab, puts it, in the 2000s, these technologies transformed sectors, such as banking, in a fashion...
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7
Oct
2020

Learning From COVID-19: The Lessons For Real World Data

The COVID-19 crisis created an urgent need for healthcare data. For starters, it was necessary to characterize the spread of the pandemic. Quickly, reports were needed on the capacity of healthcare facilities responsible for care of the severely afflicted. Then there was the urgent need to assess the trajectory, and outcomes, of patients admitted to hospitals.  The profound difficulty our...
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2
Sep
2020

Tech Impact Requires Deep Engagement With Biopharma Lead Users

In today’s Wall Street Journal, I review The Innovation Delusion, a new book arguing that innovation is overrated and maintenance is underrated; moreover, the authors assert, we have magical thinking around innovation, and often view it as fairy dust that can be imported from Silicon Valley then sprinkled on ossifying organizations to revive and rejuvenate them. (Steve Blank discussed the...
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26
Aug
2020

An Underappreciated Aspect of Power: Listening

As the summer draws to a close, I thought TR readers might enjoy a final August distraction. I’ve always been an avid reader, and lately, I’ve found myself increasingly drawn to the history and science of American politics.  On the history front, and inspired by Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer (an expert on power and leadership), I’ve started Robert Caro’s famously...
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31
Jul
2020

Closing Medicine’s Feedback Gap: Can Tech Help Integrate Clinical Care and Clinical Research?

Medicine is plagued by a feedback gap, or perhaps more accurately, a feedback paradox.  On the one hand, clinicians are bombarded by feedback. Every day, there are a slew of process and billing metrics to review, providing an accounting of the volume of patients seen, and the intensity of each visit.  How thorough was the exam? What procedures may have...
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30
Jul
2020

Jill Hagenkord’s Rags To Riches Story Reminds Us Why We Still Admire Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurial stories, often told through the narrative framework of the hero’s journey, are by now well past the point of cliché.  Yet, it’s important, perhaps even instructive, to remind ourselves every now and again about the exceptional, transformative power of entrepreneurship, the can-do thinking it motivates, and the remarkable progress it can propel. This potential emerged as a central theme...
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