The Takeaways: Week 49 of 2021

A periodic review of articles, newsletters, and podcasts that I found interesting, inspiring, or otherwise worth remembering.


Kevin O'Leary and Ryan Russell, Weekly Health Tech Reads December 5, 2021

United Health Group Investor Day Highlights: a member story discussing UHG's Comprehensive Medication Management Program, one of their many offerings for high risk members. What caught my attention about this video, though, is that the intervention basically has nothing at all to do with medications at all really, but rather UHG providing a support resource, identifying that the member needed stable housing, and connecting him with a local group, the Ozanam Inn, to provide him with that housing. That opens the opportunity for them to ship him medications to his apartment, help him stay on those medications, and out of the hospital. It's a good example to think through what healthcare activities should happen at a national level versus at a local level, and what interventions are really driving cost savings.

Also HT on the Philadelpia Magazine story about Fabric Health below.


Laura Brzyski, Philadelphia Magazine. This Local Healthcare Startup Is Bringing Community Wellness Into Neighborhood Laundromats (December 1, 2021)

According to Fabric Health co-founders Allister Chang and Courtney Bragg, laundromats are the perfect place to “meet community members where they are” and provide them health-related services “in the time they have.” Though the number of Americans who rely on laundromats is not measured, the Coin Laundry Association estimates that the industry generates $5 billion in gross revenue every year — in other words, there’s a fairly high number of people using community machines. Plus, washing and drying typically takes about one hour each, leaving folks with lots of idle time.

Grayson Haver Currin, NPR. When Making Music Breaks Your Body (December 4, 2021)

Hearing loss and tinnitus, tendonitis and arthritis, mouth calluses and vocal cord nodules: These are only a sliver of the vast collection of maladies a musical life can bring. A 2017 study of more than 700 orchestral musicians in Germany found that two-thirds of them endured chronic pain, many for at least five years. And while it's fairly well understood that music careers are an endurance sport, requiring rigorous practice and few days off, the physical consequences often go unadvertised, hidden from fans for the sake of shows that must go on.

Philip Kennicott, Lo Bénichou, Shikha Subramaniam and Kolin Pope, The Washington Post. Millions of Americans can trace their ancestry back to tenements like this one (December 7, 2021)

Take a look inside to see how the Tenement Museum has preserved its history.

Step into its cramped spaces to follow this brick structure [the Tenement Museum at 87 Orchard Street in New York City] along the y-axis of time, as landlords and residents grappled with such diseases as tuberculosis, cholera and influenza, — and as the fear of fire and bad air, even immigrants themselves, left indelible marks on its design and structure.

Lydia Kiesling, The New York Times. Hollywood Loves a Monstrous Mommy. Can It Do Her Justice? (December 7, 2021)

We can’t ask any one movie or show to encompass the entirety of a particular human experience. But we can point out what they show and what they obscure about our culture at a moment when the values and requirements of caregivers are argued in the corridors of power. We need more: more help, but also more art — art that is expansive, challenging, fair.

Kathleen McLaughlin, STAT. Growing use of home Covid-19 tests leaves health agencies in the dark about unreported cases (December 7, 2021)

Complicating matters is that health agencies have little idea how many home tests are performed in their states and communities, and thus how many results they’re missing. Indications are that home testing nationally has already surpassed the number of PCR tests — which are processed by labs that are required to report results to health agencies. In contrast, most of the home tests have no mechanism to enable patients to easily report their results. Only two of the approved home tests include an app to report results, and it’s unclear whether those are used in most states. Most people are also too busy to bother, and the Centers for Disease Control last month dropped guidance urging users of home tests to report results to public health agencies.

Rebecca Pifer, Healthcare Dive. New CVS primary care locations to include physicians for first time (December 10, 2021)

CVS' strategy relies on linking its new clinics, telemedicine and teams of doctors, nurses and pharmacists to focus more intensely on managing consumer health, as it increasingly looks to double down on primary care.... CVS plans to directly own some of the primary care clinics and will ink relationships with others through management services organization agreements, wherein an organization manages multiple affiliated physician practices and clinics.

Christine Spolar, KHN. Data Science Proved What Pittsburgh’s Black Leaders Knew: Racial Disparities Compound Covid Risk (December 7, 2021)

Mapping covid testing centers and analyzing data proved sobering, [Fred Brown, president of the nonprofit Forbes Funds] said. It turned out that the people most likely to be tested lived in Pittsburgh’s predominately white neighborhoods. Largely employed in tech, academia and finance, they could easily adapt to lockdowns. They had round-the-clock internet at home and could afford food deliveries to limit the chance of infection. Later, they could access vaccines quicker.