Survey results. Healthcare openings at CB Insights. Apple in health.

And We're Back!

Hi there, 

Welcome to the (re)launch of the Healthcare Insights newsletter — more on that in a bit.

A few weeks ago, we asked for your opinions on disruption in healthcare. Here are the survey results. For all you statisticians out there, we had 625 responses (percentages are rounded for simplicity).

Tech Giants

Amazon was the clear winner among tech giants people thought would disrupt healthcare — meaningfully beating Google and Apple (check out our recent report on Apple in Healthcare here).

It's interesting that apart from the PillPack acquisition, Amazon has done relatively little in terms of actually bringing healthcare solutions to market compared to most of the other tech giants.

Meanwhile, Apple has a functional personal health record on the phone with EHR integrations, the first consumer medical device via the Apple Watch with ECG detection, software development kits for researchers that already have hundreds of thousands of participants, and most recently has held talks with Medicare Advantage plans to subsidize the Apple Watch.

You can read about the healthcare strategies of these tech giants 

Disruptive technologies

When it comes to the most disruptive technologies, 55% of you voted for artificial intelligence. This is probably a function of the broad applications for AI and the many different segments of the population and healthcare sector it could impact.

Notably, a number of our conversations at JPM suggested that AI was over-hyped and under-delivering (though 2018 was a pivotal year for AI in diagnostics — IDx's FDA approval for example). Speaking of over-hyped, what happened to blockchain, coming in with just 5% of the vote? 

You can see our pieces on blockchain, immunotherapies, AI, etc. and how they impact healthcare 


Most at-risk

The final question saw the most spread in responses. Insurance carriers and hospital systems were neck-and-neck as perceived disruption targets. Two underlying themes potentially driving this sentiment include: 

1) Our means of pricing and paying for healthcare goods/services have reached a breaking point.

2) Consumer-facing businesses will have to be more competitive as patients — armed with data — have more agency in making healthcare decisions and look for better customer experiences.



New year, new newsletter

This month we are kicking off the relaunch of two of our vertical newsletters (CPG relaunch is next week, so stay tuned).

Aside from a more streamlined look, we're expanding the scope to the healthcare industry as a whole. In every edition, we will look at the business models, competitors, and technologies that will define the future of healthcare.

You will also be hearing from more analysts on our team, as well as from analysts focused on AI and other transformative technologies and topics. Until then ...


Stay healthy,



P.S. Do you love healthcare as much as we do? We are growing the healthcare team! We are hiring for a Senior Healthcare Intelligence Analyst and a Healthcare Intelligence Associate.

P.P.S. We're partnering with The New York Times for the third year to highlight the top 100 venture capitalists. Make sure your data is up to date for consideration by submitting it to The Editor here.

Research Spotlight

How (and where) are people dying of medical error? Professors from the University of Washington investigated the causes and rates of death due to “Adverse Effects of Medical Treatment” (AEMT) between 1990 and 2016. 

Some key findings:
  • Overall, the rate of deaths due to medical error went down 21.4% between 1990 and 2016. This isn’t surprising given the medical advances in the last few decades, but is encouraging, nonetheless (though it appears we are seeing a small uptick over the past two years). 
  • There was significant variation by state. Age-standardized mortality rates per 100,000 in 2016 were as low as 0.84 in California and as high as 1.67 in Mississippi. Washington D.C. saw the biggest drop in mortality due to medical error between 1990 and 2016 (-39.9%), while Oklahoma remained mostly unchanged (-4.4%).

  • Surgeons are getting better, but more people are dying due to drugs’ side effects. Surgical and peri‐operative adverse events accounted for 73.9% of AEMT related deaths in 1980 to 57.4% in 2014. The proportion due to drug adverse effects rose from 6.2% in 1980 to 14% in 2014. The rise in deaths due to side effects may be the result of more powerful drugs increasing toxicity in patients, especially for cancer.
  • There is plenty more to tease out from the figures, tables, and supplemental content released with the study. Reply with anything else you may find interesting.

CB Insights Hits

Our Best Healthcare Research All In One Place

CB Insights produces healthcare research across digital health, pharma, medical devices, biotech, and much more. You can find our most popular research organized by theme and function. See the research.

Apple Is Going After The Healthcare Industry, Starting With Personal Health Data
The market opportunity in healthcare is huge, and Apple sees healthcare and wellness as a core part of its app, services, and wearables strategies. Now the company is aiming to become your personal health record, jumping into research, medical devices, and more. Read the report. 


Medicare Advantage: The Incumbents, The Upstarts, and The Road Ahead [Expert Intelligence]

Medicare Advantage currently accounts for 34% of the Medicare population, and it's expected to reach 60-70% between 2030 and 2040. Healthcare companies are jumping on the opportunity. We examine the industry's incumbents, startups, and some of the challenges ahead. Expert Intelligence clients can read all about it here.

The Future of Aging

How do we slow down aging? From new classes of pharmaceuticals to blood transfusions, we dive into the latest research on how we may be able to lead longer & healthier lives. See the briefing.

Healthcare Deals, News & Perspectives

Notable deals

The Pill Club raised a $51M Series B from VMG Partners, Google Ventures, and others. The company plans to expand its telemedicine and direct-to-consumer women’s health offerings. The company joins consumer-focused NuRx, Roman, and Hims (and Hers) in the women’s and men’s health spaces.

Limelight Health raised $33.5M from Principal Life, ACA, Aflac, and other large insurers. Limelight offers medical and ancillary carriers services such as quoting, rating, proposal generation, renewals, underwriting, and enrollment support. 
MedCity News

Ciitizen raised a $17M Series A from Andreessen Horowitz, Section 32, Verily Life Sciences. The cancer health record startup is the second effort from the creators of Gliimpse, which was acquired by Apple in 2016.


PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest lobbying group, spent a record $27.5M on lobbying in 2018. Increased bipartisan pressure on the drug pricing debate led to the group outspending their previous high in 2009, when the Affordable Care Act was created.  

Most Americans favor “Medicare for All”, but it has many definitions. 71% favor guaranteed health insurance for all Americans, but only 37% favor the idea if it requires most to pay more in taxes.


One third of the $5B raised on GoFundMe since 2010 has gone towards medical expenses. More than 250,000 medical campaigns are conducted each on the site.
Modern Healthcare


Walgreens and Microsoft partnership. The companies will focus on virtually connecting people with Walgreens stores and provide services on therapeutic areas ranging from preventative self-care to chronic disease management.

Johnson & Johnson to use Apple watch. A new partnership between Johnson & Johnson and Apple using an app on the Apple watch aims to detect irregular heart rhythms of people with atrial fibrillation before life-threatening events can occur.
Wall Street Journal

The strange marketplace for diabetes test strips. The second-hand market for unused diabetes test strips is both legal and thriving. Insured patients are offered cash for their extra strips, allowing sellers to cut more than half the price off the products to the uninsured.
New York Times

An alternative drug pricing model that just might work. Doctors from University of Southern California, the RAND Corporation, University of Miami, and the National Bureau of Economic Research propose a drug pricing model that delays most payment for a drug until its proven to be effective. The authors argue their model would result in lower initial prices for drugs, less spending on ineffective drugs, and potentially higher profits for pharmaceutical manufacturers if their drug exceeds expectations.
New England Journal of Medicine

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