By

David Shaywitz

11
Jun
2020

AstraZeneca Opens Its Digital Komono

AstraZeneca has emerged with a reputation as one of the industry’s most imaginative pharmas – it was named the “most innovative” global pharma company by IDEA Pharma in November 2019, and was cast as Gallant to GSK’s Goofus in a recent Financial Times piece examining their contrasting trajectories. In this context, I was especially excited when I saw what looked...
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5
Jun
2020

Tech Integration Into Pharma: A Report From The Front Line

Most biopharma companies can talk at some length about embracing data science, and sometimes it’s hard to get beneath the surface of what they’re doing, at least publicly. But it was my privilege recently to frame and moderate a very insightful recent conversation – recorded for on-demand viewing at this year’s virtual BIO 2020 conference. This provided an unusual opportunity...
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20
May
2020

Pharma’s Digital Champions Should Focus On Solving One Problem Well

Come for the tech, stay for the culture.  That seems to be the hope of most digital champions inside large pharma companies. These executives hope to instill in their organizations not only important new capabilities, but also a “Silicon Valley” mindset, an innovative spirit characteristically associated with tech entrepreneurs. The reality, of course, is more complicated; pharma executives – and...
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19
May
2020

COVID Doctors Navigate Tension Between Individual Autonomy and Systematized Care

I was recently speaking with a friend of mine, a pulmonologist at a large academic medical center in the Midwest, about his COVID-19 experience. I was especially interested, in the context of iterative experimentation, to learn how his hospital was working on improving the care of COVID-19 patients, especially those in the ICU, which he oversees.  It’s real problem, he...
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7
May
2020

Randomized Controlled Trials For Healthcare Delivery Work; Now Let’s Do More At Scale

The value of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in healthcare delivery was highlighted earlier this year with the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) of a paper that rigorously evaluated a deeply appealing hypothesis: that you can improve care and reduce costs by focusing on “superutilizers” – the patients who consume the most healthcare resources.  I discussed this...
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22
Apr
2020

Build Back Better

As the nation has struggled to cope with the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has become the voice so many have looked to for support and leadership. What Cuomo seems both to offer and effectively communicate is not just a mastery of the facts, but also a grounded yet hopeful narrative. The story he projects...
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7
Apr
2020

George Yancopoulos, That Rarest Of Species – A Physician-Scientist Still In Charge Of A Pharma

Growing up in an academic household (my parents are both professors at Yale Medical School, still engaged, as ever, in dyslexia research), it was perhaps inevitable that, outside of my parents, my first role model was the brilliant President of Yale University, the late Bart Giamatti (you know- Paul’s dad).  The elder Giamatti inspired me so much as a teenager...
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31
Mar
2020

Diagnostic Test Developer Points to Academic Blind Spot That Hampers Translation

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for reliable diagnostic tests for the new  SARS-CoV-2 virus, and treatments that can cure or mitigate its devastating effects.  To have an impact, these diagnostic tests can’t just work brilliantly in a single academic lab. They ultimately need to be rapidly deployable across this large country with 330 million people. Developing an approach...
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26
Mar
2020

Adjusting to Telemedicine: A First-Hand Account

One consequence of the present crisis is the urgent embrace of telemedicine, as I recently discussed. Whether the adoption is sustained beyond the crisis period remains to be determined, although use seemed to be increasing overall even before the pandemic hit.  As more physicians and patients find themselves pressed to adopt telemedicine, I thought it might be helpful to better...
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24
Mar
2020

Digital Tools in Clinical Trials Find Opportunity During Pandemic

The current crisis represents a potentially defining moment for at least some health technologies and technology-enabled services.  Telehealth, as discussed in my last column, is one conspicuous example, and the jury is still out. The potential benefit seems especially striking at a time when so many Americans are being told to stay at home, yet there are also serious concerns,...
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22
Mar
2020

Why Telehealth Champions Are Worried About Trust

Crises can serve as catalysts. History has shown they increase the recognition that change is needed, and lower the activation energy required for it to occur. The COVID-19 crisis has already been widely recognized as potential catalyst for telemedicine, and more generally for the accelerated adoption of digital tools in both clinical medicine and clinical trials. In just the last...
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16
Mar
2020

The Value And Necessity Of Tinkering

This week, I reviewed for the Wall Street Journal a pair of books about the increasing use of experimentation by businesses and other organizations: Experimentation Works, by Harvard Business School professor Stefan Thomke, and The Power of Experiments, by Michael Luca and Max Bazerman, also of Harvard Business School.  These books in some ways represent the sequel to one of...
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9
Mar
2020

Our Tightly Networked World: Blessing and Curse

Technology has been hailed for its ability to connect us; we’ve tended to view this is a positive development, but as rare, high-impact events like the coronavirus epidemic reminds us, a densely-networked world may also be more fragile. The mixed blessing of interconnectivity was acknowledged back in 2005 by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who observed: “…we are now...
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18
Feb
2020

Techlash Offers Health And Tech Opportunity To Reset Relationship, Rediscover Mutual Respect

Technology companies are experiencing a staggering reversal of reputational (though not financial) fortune; their stature seems reduced with each successive news cycle.  Gone is the halo many tech companies once enjoyed. The implicit (and often explicit) assumption that tech innovation inevitably makes the world a better place has been replaced by real concerns that the picture may be far more...
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26
Jan
2020

Challenging Core Assumptions, Tech Backlash Paves The Way for More Thoughtful HealthTech

Digital transformation (as I recently discussed), and the implementation of emerging technologies more generally, is routinely pitched by enthusiasts like Tom Siebel as both urgent and inevitable, something organizations need to embrace or risk irrelevance, if not extinction.  Yet the “embrace or die” assertion is under increasing, and healthy, scrutiny, as the “techlash” (technology backlash) gains steam.  “Surveillance Capitalism”: Tech...
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23
Jan
2020

Incrementalism is the new Disruption, Trust is the New Black, and Positive Change (for now) at FDA: Takeaways from the 2020 Precision Medicine World Conference

I had the privilege of serving as emcee for the “Data Science and AI” track on the first day of this week’s Precision Medicine World Conference (PMWC) in Santa Clara, CA, as well as chairing a panel discussion on data mining and visualization.  I came away with a sense of optimism and need, organized around several key themes. In Praise...
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16
Jan
2020

Understanding The Ideology Of Digital Transformation

The phrase resounding in corporations these days is “digital transformation.” What does that really mean? According to proponents, digital transformation reflects the assertion that in order to remain competitive in the modern era, organizations need to radically rethink their approach to how they collect, manage, and analyze information.  Change is clearly afoot, but the ideology informing this hasn’t been entirely...
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