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Morning Read: Wellpoint bets on telehealth

Highlights of the important and the interesting from the world of healthcare: Wellpoint bets on telehealth: Wellpoint plans to join UnitedHealthcare in offering online video chat services to members, another signal that telehealth’s long-awaited time might finally be here. Wellpoint’s telehealth program, which uses American Well’s software, will be offered in “select areas”–meaning the company […]

Highlights of the important and the interesting from the world of healthcare:

Wellpoint bets on telehealth: Wellpoint plans to join UnitedHealthcare in offering online video chat services to members, another signal that telehealth’s long-awaited time might finally be here. Wellpoint’s telehealth program, which uses American Well’s software, will be offered in “select areas”–meaning the company isn’t yet saying in which of its 14 states it’ll available. Regardless, Wellpoint’s embrace of telehealth begins the process of knocking down what’s thus far been the field’s greatest barrier in physicians’ eyes–getting paid.

Top med schools fail at social mission: A recent study ranked 141 medical schools on their “social mission”–number of graduates in primary care, how many work in what are classified by the government as areas with a shortage of health professionals, and how many belong to minorities that don’t have enough doctors serving them. By this measure, the top performers were state schools and those originally set up to teach minorities, such as No. 1-ranked Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. The school that finish in the top three of the much-hyped U.S. News and World Report rankings–Harvard, Penn and Johns Hopkins–ranked 62nd, 122nd and 129th.

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Neurocrine signs $575M deal with Abbott: San Diego-based Neurocrine Biosciences has signed a $575 million exclusive licensing deal with Abbot Laboratories for its endometriosis therapy, Elagolix.

An iPad in the operating room: An orthopedic oncologist in Virginia wrapped his iPad in a sterile plastic bag and still had no problems using the touch screen. “Where I can see the iPad being an asset in the OR will be the ability to bring in relevant medical imaging directly to the operative site, the ability to review relevant anatomy at the point of care (huge), and the opportunity to enhance resident teaching.”

The most powerful woman in venture capital? It could be OutCast Communications cofounder Margit Wennmachers, who was just hired as partner at VC heavyweight Andreessen Horowitz. Women make up just 14 percent of VCs, and even fewer are partners.

Pfizer adds new R&D unit: Pfizer has set up a new research unit that will be devoted to developing new biologics to treat rare diseases and based in biotech innovation hotbed Cambridge, Massachusetts. Leading the group will be Dr. Edward Mascioli, the founder and CEO of life sciences private equity firm Dapis Capital.

Photo from flickr user conorwithonen

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