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Morning Read: Why Nancy Reagan mattered to medical innovation

Also, HIMSS keynote strategy mocked, ACOs continues to be pummeled, and a new European initiative to speed up approval of innovative drugs.

Nancy Reagan healthcare


It’s hard to quantify the late Nancy Reagan’s value to medicine – but not so much to the role of the First Lady in impacting policy. She’s the best example of how that position can move health initiatives forward. Consider these actions over her time as First Lady and afterward:

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  • The “Just Say No” campaign against drugs
  • Her role in President Reagan’s policies toward HIV/AIDS
  • Her push for stem cell research
  • Her advocacy for Alzheimer’s disease
  • Her willingness to talk openly and publicly about her breast cancer when many found it impolite to do so

This isn’t an easy list to come to grips with. For example, depending on who you speak to Nancy Reagan was either complicit with President Reagan’s poor reaction to AIDS or she was pivotal in inching him forward to do anything to begin battling HIV.

But she was undeniably crucial in other key issues that have transformed medicine. Nancy Reagan’s speech in 2004 advocating stem-cell research began to separate the issue from abortion and other issues conservatives abhorred.

Nancy Reagan is a reminder that health policy changes not just through legislation but the potency of the bully pulpit. Michelle Obama’s wellness efforts follow this tradition. We should hope future First Ladies are equally as active.STAT, The Advocate, FOX News, The Sacramento Bee, Huffington Post


European regulators today unveiled their new PRIME initiative, meant to  mimic the FDA’s breakthrough designation and speed up approval of innovative drugs.  The European Medicines Agency said it expected around 100 applications a year for its new PRIME scheme, which aims to foster better planning of medicine development to help companies generate the data needed for approval more rapidly. – Reuters

Fifteen companies are working on a Zika vaccine. – The Wall Street Journal

Regenerative medicine company Avita Medical won FDA approval to expand its Compassionate Use Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) for its skin-graft product, ReCell. – Marketwired

An osteoporosis drug that was discovered by researching a community in South Africa with abnormally dense bones has shown how rare genetic traits can provide clues about how to treat more common conditions. – Financial Times


Another human solution to the doc shortage: states are giving physician assistants more autonomy to increase access to patients. – Forbes

Why is there so little progress on accountable care organizations? Kip Nelson fires off his third essay on the woes of managed care. This time it’s the culture: “Just as organisms maintain and strengthen attributes that contribute to their evolutionary success, so the managed care movement nourished the dysfunctional habits that contributed to its political success.” – The Health Care Blog


HISTalk smooshes HIMSS’ obsession with “rock star” keynote speakers:

Here’s my formula for becoming a highly-paid, well-received HIMSS keynote speaker, not inspired by Michael Dell since I didn’t attend any HIMSS keynotes:

1. Be famous for any reason. Healthcare relevance is unnecessary and even detrimental – the goal is to raise the spirits of attendees by making them think they are as cool, rich, good-looking, or smart as the celebrity podium-gripper.
2. Negotiate a speaking fee of several hundred thousand dollars, making sure to insert contractual clauses requiring approval of the introduction and the freedom to sell whatever product or service the speaker offers on the side.
3. Arrange travel to minimize the time hanging out with the insufferably fawning organization people who hired you and who therefore think they’re entitled to face time or the privilege of escorting you through the exhibit hall that makes you glaze over.

It keeps going. Keep reading. – HISTalk

I hate this and I love this: human-like robot may one day care for dementia patients. – Reuters

A greater primer on how 3D printing is transforming healthcare. – Harvard Business Review

Fascinating in our era of genetics and convergence:

A research collaboration that combines novel ‘big-data’ informatics tools with expertise in basic biology has uncovered details of an essential process in life: how a crucial enzyme locates the site on DNA where it begins to direct the synthesis of RNA. This finding may aid in the discovery of new antimicrobial medicines, and the powerful technological approaches developed for this research may shed light on other essential cellular processes.

Science Daily


Healthcare got a mild once over in last night’s Democratic debate, but Sen. Bernie Sanders is getting punished for using the mentally ill as a prop to swipe at Republicans. – Forbes

The Obama administration, responding to consumer complaints, says it will begin rating health insurance plans based on how many doctors and hospitals they include in their networks. – The New York Times


Raymond Tomlinson, the inventor of modern email and selector of the “@” symbol, has died. – The Associated Press

Photo: Getty Images