By

David Shaywitz

1
Aug
2022

A Glimpse Into the Adjacent Possible: Incorporating AI Into Medical Science 

The implementation of emerging technologies requires front-line users to figure out what to do with the technology – how to adapt the technology to the problems users are actively trying to solve.    The most impactful use cases often are not immediately obvious – for example, Edison envisioned the phonograph would be predominantly used to record wills.    Moreover, effective adoption typically requires...
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10
Jul
2022

Innovators Require An Exception-Oriented Mindset

Living in innovative domains like biomedical research requires an appreciation for the exceptional, the outlier. You might even argue that the goal of innovators – at least those who hope to see their ideas gain acceptance, or their inventions adopted – is to institutionalize the exceptional and make it routine.  In the Perez model of technology adoption, this is the...
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24
May
2022

Seeking Wellness Through More Data, Less Technology, and Better Habits

It only took a pandemic, but well-being has at last emphatically arrived in the corporate world. Before the pandemic, wellness was often viewed as just another item on the HR benefit menu. Some companies offered limited reimbursement for fitness classes, or subsidized access to select health and wellness apps. But in the turbulent wake of COVID-19, well-being is increasingly viewed...
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2
May
2022

Biopharmas: Digitizing, But Not Quite Digital

What a difference two years makes. In January 2020, I left my role as a senior partner at a corporate life-science venture fund to pursue my interest in what I recognized as a captivating frontier: the intersection of biopharma with emerging digital and data technology. I set up an independent consultancy, and advised senior R&D executives in both large and...
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7
Mar
2022

Peacetime vs Wartime CEO: A Useful Lens for Transformative Leaders?

As biotech execs cope with challenging market conditions (the XBI biotech index is off about 50% from its high of February 2021), I found myself revising a now-classic 2011 essay by venture capitalist Ben Horowitz of Andreessen-Horowitz, arguing that extremely challenging times require very different management skills, and a different leadership style.  He describes and contrasts the approaches of what...
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9
Jan
2022

Beware of the Expert Fallacy, But Don’t Fall Into The Cynicism Trap

In December, a team led by two University of Pennsylvania scholars, psychologist Angela Duckworth (best known as author of Grit) and behavioral economist Katy Milkman published in Nature the results of a colossal study on behavior change. The researchers evaluated the impact of a huge range of behavioral interventions – 54 – that were thought to potentially influence gym attendance...
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23
Dec
2021

Improving Health and Wellness in 2022

As we start to think about 2022 and improving our health and wellness in the New Year, we make ambitious resolutions and urgently try to identify the optimal diet and best exercise program to achieve our health goals. Stop Searching For The One As intuitive as this approach sounds, it’s almost certainly the wrong mindset. What behavior change experts, including...
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8
Dec
2021

Three Core Questions Underlying Durable Behavior Change

Each of us would be happier and healthier if we could adopt and maintain healthier behaviors. Many of us – including providers, organizational heads, community leaders, parents – hope to cultivate healthier behavior in others.    The difficulty we experience attaining these common goals reflects three underlying questions around behavior change. Is the most effective locus of intervention the individual...
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5
Dec
2021

Corporate Health and Wellness Has New Urgency And Vision

Like no other event in our collective experience, the pandemic reminded us of the need for an integrative view of wellbeing beyond traditional measures of physical health. Focusing exclusively on cholesterol level and bone density, for example, would be hopelessly inadequate for the needs of today.  I continued to be haunted by Zak Kohane’s description of the many children’s hospitals...
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29
Nov
2021

Obesity Is Rising; Can Health Coaches & Tech Drive Durable Behavior Change?

As we enter the holiday eating season – quickly followed by the New Year get-in-shape resolution season – let’s look at obesity challenge head-on.  Expert physicians who study obesity recognize the condition as a complex disease associated with profound health consequences. It also represents, for many health tech entrepreneurs, a high-value problem to be solved. Obesity has been ratcheting upward...
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18
Nov
2021

Precision Health’s Next Great Challenge: Behavior Change

Humility may not be the first word you associate with “genetics,” “precision medicine,” and “Harvard,” but it was unquestionably the theme of the day at a fascinating panel this week convened by the Harvard Data Science Initiative. The discussion (video here), was remarkably grounded. It reflected hard-earned learnings from experts who have tried to implement data-driven, “precision” health solutions outside the...
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15
Nov
2021

Motivating a Modicum of Exercise: The Healthtech Opportunity

“It’s been a busy few weeks for product announcements in the world of fitness,” industry observer Anthony Vennare recently commented, citing the latest offerings from the Peloton, Mirror, Tempo, and other digital fitness platforms. On the one hand, these developments are encouraging, offering customers pursuing fitness — and who are willing and able to afford the steep premiums — a...
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7
Nov
2021

Aspiring Healthtech Companies Require A Nuanced Understanding Of Healthcare’s Human Dynamics

The best concise summary I’ve seen of tech industry travails in healthcare comes from Blake Dodge, a reporter at Business Insider. Dodge had just written a piece about Apple Health, and took to LinkedIn to share an additional quote that didn’t quite make the final copy.  “I think they came to it pure of heart, really thinking that they could...
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4
Oct
2021

Pharma’s Digital Transformation: Enduring Challenges, Sustained Hopes, And A Progress Report From Lilly’s CEO

When it comes to emerging digital and data technologies, most pharma CEOs today are singing from the same hymnal. They all emphasize their commitment to digital transformation, and assert that the adoption of digital processes are key to their companies’ success, and vital for the industry’s future.  A recent Lazard survey of healthcare leaders echoes this message. The investment bank...
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20
Sep
2021

What Should I Read? A Few Suggestions for Biotech Pros

Although we are all impossibly busy, most people I know in the biotech industry still make time to read books.  Books may sometimes have a hard time competing with flashier forms of media in the online attention economy, but they aren’t going away anytime soon. This seems especially true now that so many titles are available in audiobook form, enabling...
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15
Sep
2021

Hero Narratives Inspire Entrepreneurs But Obscure Uncomfortable Trade-Offs

In today’s Wall Street Journal, I discuss Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale, a new book by the renowned Silicon Valley entrepreneur (PayPal, LinkedIn), investor (Facebook, Airbnb), and podcast host that proposes to distill the secrets of successful business and social entrepreneurs.  The review speaks for itself, of course, but Hoffman’s account, and others like it (there are many – for...
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15
Jun
2021

After Devastating New Study, Is There A Future For Workplace Wellness – And Has Peloton Figured It Out?

This is a story about the tension between what we desperately want to believe and what the data suggest we should believe, and — surprise! — this isn’t about the contentious recent approval of the Biogen drug aducanumab for Alzheimer’s Disease. Rather, it’s about a powerful and important study just published in Health Affairs, examining the outcomes of a workplace wellness program in a...
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27
May
2021

From Fitness To Flourish: Expanding the Scope of Digital Exercise

Sometimes the most relevant digital health companies have the least elaborate technology. More than a decade ago, I discussed UpToDate, a fairly basic medicine e-textbook, served through a web-based app. It was then, and still remains, a go-to site for timely, high-quality medical information relevant to clinicians. There’s nothing fancy about it, it just works. Recently, I discovered a similar...
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15
May
2021

Learning From Post-It: Your Solution Is Not My Problem – Except When It is

A frequent – and frequently correct – critique of entrepreneurs bearing technology is “your solution is not my problem.”  Healthcare – among many other domains, perhaps all domains – has been beset by “solutionism,” the idea that my clever technology will solve your hideously complex problem.  But perhaps it makes no more sense to instinctively reject this mindset as it...
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