A visual history of human knowledge – Manuel Lima – TED Talk

“When everything is connected to everything else, for better or for worse, everything matters.” Bruce Mau

From natural ranking order to network relationships, data visualization has always been present even in the early ages of humanity. However, that wish to classify and find an order is actually not relevant anymore in today’s world. Linear relationships cannot show what networks can communicate and promote: those notions of decentralization, interconnectedness and interdependence.

It is fascinating to see that this web architecture is widespread to several fields like knowledge, history, social ties between people, online social collaboration, terrorism, life sciences, species, ecosystems…

“This metaphor of the network, is really already adopting various shapes and forms, and it’s almost becoming a growing visual taxonomy. It’s almost becoming the syntax of a new language. And this is one aspect that truly fascinates me. And these are actually 15 different typologies I’ve been collecting over time, and it really shows the immense visual diversity of this new metaphor,” highlighted Manuel Lima.

Having an understanding of complex systems, with the support of IT technology, is crucial today as any decision could have unexpected effets.

How simulation could help us understand better elderly population’s needs and behavior – Scenario Magazine


Simulation allows us to think about what the future might be. It also helps us to understand the current reality and day-to-day life of people, in this article, elderly ones.

Drafting global strategies for an improved care of that fragile population as one of the results of those simulations is crucial in today’s world. Actually, we need to plan for their evolution and needs as they will soon represent the majority of the society.

Read more

Additional resources:

A Silver Tsunami Invades The Health Of Nations – Forbes – 2015

Implications of long-term care capacity response policies for an aging population: A simulation analysis – Health Policy – 2014 (subscription required)

Ageing and the Macroeconomy – NAP – 2012 (free registration to access free PDF)

Video: MIT constructs old-age-simulator suit to make young people feel elderly – Popular Science – 2012

The silver tsunami – The Economist – 2010


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The world’s first true “smart drug” enhances cognition and is deemed safe by health experts

Serendipity or “making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which we were not in quest of” is again one of the best source for innovation in the drug industry.
This is the story of a sleep disorder pill (modafinil or Provigil) that has been deemed the first pure cognitive enhancer.

The dream of the universal flu vaccine might come true – Wired

Researchers found and tested a prototype of a universal flu vaccine. The first results on animals are good.

Scientists worked with a piece of viral protein so it can teach immune systems to fight groups of viruses rather than just a single strain.

As we all know, the real issue with flu comes from its mutations. It explains why the vaccine may not be so protective against seasonal flu as the virus can change.

It is probably the beginning of a new era of hope because flu kills.

Read more: Wired Article

Additional Articles:

Science Mag


Financial Times (subscription required)

The Guardian


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A Better Understanding of the US Drug Pricing Landscape and Financial Risks Associated – Health Affairs Blog

An excellent article posted on the Health Affairs blog takes a step back regarding US drug pricing and the financial risks associated with drug development well beyond the clinical trials stage.

Key quotes from the article:

  • It may be helpful for the policy discussion to think of a drug’s value as the clinical performance and patient outcomes, while the price reflects both the value and the growing uncertainty around in-market risks of market consolidation and restricted access, branded therapeutic competition, mandatory discounts, and restrictive coverage policy.
  • As competition heats up, each sector and each entity strives to reduce input costs and maintain or improve prices — and consolidation can be an important tool to accomplish these goals. Specific to biopharma, consolidation strengthens payers’ and providers’ ability to press for drug discounts that are contractual, proprietary, and confidential.
  • Net lifetime revenues of new biopharma therapies declined from profitability in the late 1990s to slightly negative profitability by the end of the first decade of 21st century.
  • In addition to cross-sector market competition through payer and provider consolidation, there is growing intra-sectorial competition among generics, biosimilars, and branded therapeutic alternatives.
  • We should not underestimate the potential effect of mandatory price discounts on drug launch prices.
  • In-market risks for biopharma are very significant today. Because of rapid changes in the market environment, revenue expectations established when the decision is made to proceed with product development can be very different than actual revenue several years later when a product is launched.


Additional Resources

When Is a Virtual Business Model Suitable for Biopharmaceutical Companies? – BioProcess International – 2015

Understanding the pharmaceutical value chain – IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics – 2014

Innovative Business Models in the Pharmaceutical Industry: A Case on Exploiting Value Networks to Stay Competitive – International Journal of Engineering Business Management – 2014

The Real Cost of “High-Priced” Drugs – Harvard Business Review – 2014

Rapid growth in biopharma: Challenges and opportunities – McKinsey – 2014


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Google Willingness to Help Life Sciences – Wired

Google, or Alphabet, wants biomedical research and life sciences to be more than just side projects.

Several years ago, its efforts under way in that field were probably not considered seriously by the industrial stakeholders like Big Pharma and biotech companies.

Today it is different after several investments commited lately.

Discover more in the Wired article


Additional Resources

4 of the biggest healthcare challenges Google is tackling – HealthcareDIVE – August 2015

Here’s why Google Ventures invests so much money in life-science companies – Business Insider – May 2015

Andrew Conrad – Google Life Sciences – The 25 most influential people in biopharma in 2015 – FierceBiotech – May 2015

Google Continues To Build Upon Its Life Sciences Ecosystem – Forbes – September 2014

Meet the Google X Life Sciences Team – WSJ – July 2014



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Not Vaccinating Children Is the Greater Risk – The New York Times

This New York Times article takes a step back on childhood immunizations and gives us an overview of the diseases and complications that could be avoided with vaccines.

As most of us already know, vaccines are probably one of the most important health and lifesaving advances of the last century. However, misinformation and scaremongering is damaging the perception and the adoption of that innovation.

When too many people opt out of immunizing, outbreaks of preventable diseases happen, with sometimes deadly consequences for some.

Childhood diseases could lead to serious complications doubled by debilitating infections.

It’s a shame not to use all the available technology to protect us and our loved ones from potentially deadly diseases. It’s like riding a motorbike without helmet.

Who would do it today?

Additional resources

History of Vaccines

Understanding Vaccines – Public Health

Vaccines & Immunizations – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Vaccines.gov – US Government

Vaccines & Autism – Science-Based Medicine

Australia takes a stand against anti-vaxxers with a proposed $11,000 penalty – Quartz – September 2015

732,000: American Lives Saved by Vaccination – The New York Times – September 2015

U.S. vaccination rates high, but pockets of unvaccinated pose risk – Reuters – August 2015

Here’s How the Anti-Vaxxers’ Strongest Argument Falls Apart – TIME – August 2015

Vaccine hesitancy: A growing challenge for immunization programmes – WHO – August 2015

How This South Dakota Nurse Convinced A Religious Community To Vaccinate – Huffpost – August 2015

Vaccine Safety: Examine the Evidence – American Academy of Pediatrics – April 2013

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The difficult implementation of value-based healthcare – The Commonwealth Fund


“A new survey from The Commonwealth Fund and The Kaiser Family Foundation asked primary care providers—physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants—about their experiences with and reactions to recent changes in health care delivery and payment.

Providers’ views are generally positive regarding the impact of health information technology on quality of care, but they are more divided on the increased use of medical homes and accountable care organizations.

Overall, providers are more negative about the increased reliance on quality metrics to assess their performance and about financial penalties. Many physicians expressed frustration with the speed and administrative burden of Medicaid and Medicare payments. An earlier brief focused on providers’ experiences under the ACA’s coverage expansions and their opinions about the law.”

Probably each start of a new system is painful and requires people to adapt to it. However, it will have to be carefully monitored as adoption by healthcare providers is crucial for the success of the new system. It will validate the concept of value-based healthcare.

Read more

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US healthcare coverage increased from 85 to 90% – TIME

In a little less than 4 years, US healthcare coverage increased from 85 to 90% according to a TIME article.

“Decreasing the number of uninsured is a key goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides Medicaid coverage to many low-income individuals in states that expand and Marketplace subsidies for individuals below 400% of the poverty line.” as stated in an article of KFF.

However, it will be difficult to have a full coverage of the population as some individuals refuse to buy healthcare insurance as they do not see how they could take advantage of the money spent in it. Some of them could simply not afford to buy coverage despite the subsidies.

Moreover, some issues arise with the methodology used to count the number of insured/uninsured people (see the Health Affairs article at the end of the post for more details).

In conclusion and despite all the issues with people not willing to adhere or counting methodology, it is a real progress to expand coverage, especially because US were lagging behind some emerging countries (have a look at the OECD Publication “Health at a Glance 2013” on page 138-139).

And what’s really interesting is the impact of more coverage on global health as a blog post pointed out.

Additional information

Estimating the Affordable Care Act’s Impact on Health – The Commonwealth Fund – August 2015

Meet the Health-Law Holdouts: Americans Who Prefer to Go Uninsured – WSJ – June 2015

Survey: America’s Uninsured Rate Is Down To 10% – And Falling – Forbes – June 2015

Counting The Uninsured: Are We Getting It Right? – Health Affairs – May 2015

Key Facts about the Uninsured Population – Kaiser Family Foundation – October 2014

Is the Affordable Care Act Working? – The New York Times – October 2014

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MicroHealth Helps Patients Manage Chronic Illnesses

We know that chronic diseases account for the majority of health expenditures. Helping patients with digital tools improving the management of their condition is a great step forward!

Effect of price caps and reference pricing on generics entry – GABI


A fascinating article on GABI Online and study written by researchers on the effect of price caps and reference pricing on generics entry. Another study is also available here.

The key points (quotes from the article):

Question: how the use of a price cap along with reference pricing affects the entry of generics after patent expiry?


  • For reference pricing to stimulate generics entry, the price effect needs to be sufficiently small relative to the demand effect.
  • If price cap regulation is introduced, the negative effect of reference pricing on generics entry can be reversed, and that reference pricing is more likely to result in cost savings than under free pricing.
  • If the price cap is sufficiently strict, introducing reference pricing may actually increase the number of generic drugs on the market.
  • The reason for this is that binding price cap regulation reduces the brand-name price difference between reimbursement schemes with and without reference pricing. Generics makers may therefore obtain higher market shares under reference pricing. Reference pricing is more likely to stimulate generics entry and facilitate cost savings when prices are regulated than in the free pricing equilibrium.

These studies show the price dynamics in the pharmaceutical markets and the impact of price control tool ont generics entry.


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Big Pharma Q2 2015 Financial Results Wrap Up

In the following table, the top pharma companies (by 2014 annual sales) key stats for Q2 2015.

Currency  Q2 2015 sales
Growth yoy
 Q2 2015 operating profit (bn) Op Margin (%) Publication date
1 Novartis USD 12.69 6.0% 2.28 18.0% 21.07.2015
2 Pfizer USD 11.85 -7.0% 3.68 31.1% 28.07.2015
3 Roche CHF 11.75 7.0% 3.86 32.8% 23.07.2015
4 Sanofi EUR  9.38 4.9% 2.57 27.4% 30.07.2015
5 Merck & Co. USD 9.79 -11.0% 1.74 17.8% 28.07.2015
6 Johnson & Johnson USD 17.79 -8.8% 4.92 27.6% 14.07.2015
7 GlaxoSmithKline GBP 5.89 7.0% 1.35 22.9% 29.07.2015
8 AstraZeneca GBP 6.31 2.0% 1.81 28.7% 30.07.2015
9 Gilead Sciences USD 8.13 26.1% 5.62 69.1% 28.07.2015
10 Takeda JPY 446.30 6.1% 49.60 11.1% 30.07.2015
11 AbbVie USD 5.48 19.4% 1.85 33.8% 24.07.2015
12 Amgen USD 5.37 4.0% 2.08 38.7% 30.07.2015
13 Teva USD 4.97 -2.0% 1.61 32.4% 30.07.2015
14 Lilly USD 4.98 1.0% 0.80 16.1% 23.07.2015
15 Bristol-Myers Squibb USD 4.16 7.0% 0.05 1.2% 23.07.2015
16 Bayer Healthcare EUR 5.91 28.0% 0.95 16.1% 29.07.2015
17 Novo Nordisk DKK 27.06  25.0%  12.48  46.1% 06.08.2015
18 Astellas JPY 343.66 16.4% 67.82 19.7% 31.07.2015
19 Allergan
(former Actavis)
USD 5.73 Undisclosed  2.50 43.6% 05.08.2015


– For Roche the operating profit figure is an estimate as the company only published sales for Q1.

– It should be named Q1 for Japanese companies as the majority of them has a fiscal year ending in March.

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10 thoughts from 5 great healthcare minds – Becker’s Hospital Review

5 important people gave their thoughts about our current healthcare system in this Becker’s Hospital Review article:

– Jonathan Bush, founder and CEO of athenahealth (Watertown, Mass.)

– Malcolm Gladwell, journalist and best-selling author

– Chuck Lauer, former publisher of Modern Healthcare, and author, public speaker and career coach

– Nancy Schlichting, CEO of Henry Ford Health System (Detroit)

– John Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (Boston)

My favorite thoughts in a nutshell:

– On healthcare’s sustainability: new infrastructure is essential. Obsolete systems are a burden and a brake when it comes to innovation and efficiency.

– On changing the practice of medicine: doctors will have to consider the patient as a whole and spend time taking care of all the aspects of his/her health.

– On high-price medicine: prices should be linked with the innovation the product brings to the patient and the other stakeholders including the health system.

– On sharing healthcare data: data sharing with the goal of improving the life of each patient by learning and analytics could be a game-changer in the next future.

All these quotes could inspire leadership styles and help us create, implement and deliver better care for the patients in need.

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