Highlights from CES and the demise of HealthSpot: 5 must-read stories from MedCity News this week

Also, an infograph of which drugs are going off-patent in 2016, a company that’s taking a similar approach to Theranos, and the 200th birthday of the stethoscope.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2fuC2ICxy4]

We had a particularly lively MedHeads discussion this week – in that it was live from the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, with MedCity News reporter Stephanie Baum reporting on site. Reporter Neil Versel joined the fray, wearing Vegas-y attire to try and keep on theme.

On top of covering the general themes we saw at CES, a big topic we covered was the demise of venture darling HealthSpot, the kiosk-based telehealth service provider that went under this week.

We were also joined by John Lynn, founder and editor of HealthcareScene.com and owner of HealthcareITCentral. The discussion was moderated by MedCity Editor Chris Seper.

Watch the archived video above, and also check out five important stories we covered this week – the first of which being the center of our MedHeads discussion:


1. Why did HealthSpot fail? The telemedicine industry weighs in.

Was HealthSpot mismanaged? Were freestanding kiosks too expensive, 1990s technology in a world of 2010s smartphones? Did HealthSpot pick the wrong revenue model? Opinions vary.

What’s known is that, according to CrunchBase, HealthSpot brought in $43.8 million in venture capital and debt financing between July 2011 and January 2015, yet that still wasn’t enough to remain viable.

“That was a lot of money to raise for this stage of a company,” said Skip Fleshman, a partner with digital health investment firm Asset Management Ventures, Palo Alto, California. “Silicon Valley investors typically don’t back ideas and teams like this.”

2. Happy 200th birthday, stethoscope. Why are you still here?


Welcome to 2016, the 200th anniversary of the invention of the stethoscope.

If Dr. Eric Topol had had his way, the venerable stethoscope would have been relegated to the dustbin of history by now, as he called for in a memorable TEDMED presentation in 2009.

Digital photography may have killed film in what seems like the space of seven years, but let’s face it, medicine moves so much more slowly than the rest of the world when it comes to embracing change. That was the focus of a Washington Post article over the weekend, examining the future of an iconic, ubiquitous but decidedly old-fashioned medical device.


3. NOWDiagnostics is using quick fingertip-prick blood testing to identify disease, and it’s fully approved… (A step above Theranos?)

A focus on relatively painless, quick diagnostic testing didn’t just bring Theranos to the forefront (despite its recent hurdles). Companies like NOWDiagnostics, established in the beginning of 2014, have had a similar focus and have found success in taking a drop of blood from the fingertip and allowing for solid results in just minutes.

CEO Kevin Clark spoke in an interview about what makes NOWDiagnostics’ ADEXUSDx product different and the particular value it holds in this area of healthcare.

4. Which drugs are going off-patent in 2016? 

This year will be a doozy in terms of drugs going off-patent – undoubtedly a point of contention that will be discussed at length at next week’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Dickson Data put together an excellent infographic that illustrates the various drugs that will be prey for generics makers this year.

5. Facebook healthcare ambitions: 4 areas to watch in 2016

Facebook has been making tentative steps in the health tech realm. I’m not referring toMark Zuckerberg’s philanthropic ambitions. But the social media network has demonstrated an interest in some diverse areas from genomic testing to public health. There’s even more going on with its Internet.org division but the company has been pretty tight-lipped about new developments on this front with most information on healthcare projects coming from entrepreneurs rather than the technology company. Here are a few areas that could grow in 2016.