New York, NY — Thanks to our brilliant contributors, we have another collection of healthcare experiences and innovations to share. These great finds include news on how your heartbeat can unlock your car, how to get med school credit for fixing up wikipedia pages, the next generation of mobile health management from J&J, and, of course, some incredibly brave stories from the frontlines of healthcare. Let’s get to it:


Your heartbeat unlocks your digital stuff

The average person has 30 to 50 accounts requiring a password, but uses only about five different passwords. And the most common password is still “password.” Not exactly awe-inspiring security.

Jeff Giermek sent us this clever wearable that uses your heartbeat to create an ultra-secure, password-free environment. The Nymi is a bracelet that uses biometrics to authenticate identity. When you’re wearing it, it can wirelessly take control of your computer, smartphone, car, and much more.


Lara Ewen Faces the Music

Joy Hart shared this Narratively story about a singer-songwriter living with MS. For years, she struggled to give herself interferon injections and labored under the side effects they left behind. In this story, a photographer planned to take provocative shots of life with the needle, but found an incredible amount of real pain.

“A year into the self-injecting ritual, Ewen was a dab hand with a syringe. Her dread was palpable but didn’t influence her efficiency as she plunged the two-inch needle into her thigh until it disappeared from view.” Full Story.


Art museum co-creates iPad app for senior health

One more from Joy: The CJE Senior Life (formerly Council for Jewish Elderly) and The Art Institute of Chicago recently launched an iPad app called Art in the Moment. It’s designed to encourage conversation and engagement in older adults with cognitive disabilities. It works by showing a series of well-known pieces of art arranged by themes, like “Celebrations,” and prompting a discussion about the pieces.

“In 2008, NYU Center of Excellence for Brain Aging and Dementia released an evidence-based efficacy evaluation of MoMA’s educational program for adults with dementia, Meet Me at MoMA. The evaluation noted that participants found Meet Me at MoMA’s warm and interactive educators, intellectual stimulation, and shared experiences for families contributed to the success of the program.” Full Article.


A Physician’s Perspective: Medicine Is More Than Carrots and Sticks

Dhruv Khullar was recently at a conference when a heated debate about whether to tie reimbursements to how well physicians managed hemoglobin A1c levels sparked. The arguments were set aside for a moment when a distinguished KOL stood and asked, “What on earth are we teaching these young doctors?” The incentive programs train them to follow rote tasks, to avoid risk instead of thinking with empathy and creativity. Khullar’s perspective is an interesting one. So, too, is the Robert Wood Johnson report on incentives that he references.

“Today’s physicians are trained in an environment in which discussions of costs and incentives are as much a part of our education as conversations about duty and humanism. It’s an environment in which words like ‘provider’ and ‘consumer’ are used as frequently as ‘healer’ and ‘patient.’ … A mentor of mine recently took issue with the shifting vocabulary created by discussions of money in medicine. ‘I don’t drag my butt out of bed at 2 a.m. for a customer,’ he said. ‘But I’d do that any night of the week for my patients’.” Full article. Robert Wood Johnson report.


Editing Wikipedia Pages for Med School Credit

Surely this must be a sign that all our online self-diagnosing has gotten entirely out of hand. In an effort to improve the quality of medical articles on Wikipedia, medical students at the University of California, San Francisco, will be able to get course credit for editing them. The program’s designers think the opportunity will benefit the medical students, too, by helping them learn to communicate without relying on jargon and insider terminology.

“If we want to get high-quality information to all the world’s population, Wikipedia is not just a viable option, but the only viable option,” Dr. Azzam said. Read more.


Living With Cancer: Feeling Older Than My Age

Maybe you’re already following the New York Times Living With Cancer series. It’s a powerful series that collects the voices and stories of people fighting cancer. In this particular essay, Susan Gubar writes about how cancer has changed her – not just her body, but her perception of herself. It aged her in an instant and in doing so took away everything that’s natural about growing older.

“Before cancer, I felt the way Oliver Wendell Holmes did: ‘Old age is 15 years older than I am.’ Now, though, a humbling acknowledgment permeates the atmosphere of little-old-lady-land: a realization that I cannot do what I used to do, a sense of being feeble or vulnerable, physically as well as mentally.” Full essay.


Janssen Launches Mobile Health Manager

Roughly 50% of adults living with a chronic disease don’t take their medications as prescribed. JHI is increasing their investment in mobile reminders to help more people stick with their treatments. With the Care4Today Mobile Health Manager 2.0, consumers can set up reminders for any kind of medication or nutritional supplement or any other activity. Each reminder message prompts a response that is recorded in the user’s adherence report.

The latest version of the app includes new motivating features, like raising money for charity or supporting family members:

  • Care4Family™ – Support your family members and loved ones by monitoring their medications and encouraging them to stay on schedule.
  • Care4Charity™ – Select a charity that will receive a donation from the sponsors for each day that you indicate that you have taken all of your medications.
  • Reports – Share graphs on how you’re doing on your medication schedule with loved ones and your healthcare provider. Get the app.


Aspen institute releases a Rx for healthcare innovation

In 2011, the Aspen Institute and WellPoint teamed up to launch the Health Innovation Project, a new initiative aimed at highlighting clinical innovation and uncovering new opportunities for systemic improvement in healthcare. The report focuses in on why the American health system is so breathtakingly innovative in the development of medical treatments and procedures, but so lacking in delivery system innovation.

“…patients often do not ask critical questions about their condition or their plan of care, and leave appointments unable to assess the benefits and risks of different interventions, or even remember what they were told. In a more ideal system, they would be comfortable articulating their needs for information and guidance, without the concern that their demands will upset their relationships with their providers. They would also have the knowledge they need to navigate the delivery system easily, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of providers as well as the full cost of services, so they can traverse the system without fear of unexpected charges or personal harm.” Download the report.


Send us what you’re reading, too!

Posted by: Leigh Householder

About the Author:

As Managing Director of Innovation and Insights for Syneos Health Communications, Leigh is responsible for building and scaling a global team of healthcare experts who together help life science leaders better understand the complex lives, influences and expectations of their customers. Specifically, they uncover actionable insights that fuel empathy and creativity; lead co-creation events that let marketers learn from peers, trends, and new possibilities; and help clients identify the most valuable and useful new customer experiences to create.

Leigh has worked with Fortune 1000 companies to craft their digital, mobile, social and CRM strategies for nearly 20 years.She’s worked for category-leading agencies in retail, public affairs, B2B technology, and higher education. Prior to moving to Syneos Health Communications, she held several leadership roles at our largest agency, GSW.  There, she founded an innovation practice fueled by the zeitgeist and spearheaded digital and innovation thinking across the business.

Leigh has taken a special interest in complex healthcare products that can change lives in meaningful ways. She was recently a strategic lead on the 3rd largest launch in pharmaceutical history: Tecfidera. Before that she had keys roles with Eli Lilly Oncology, Abbott Nutrition, Amgen Cardiovascular, and Eli Lilly Diabetes.

A critical part of Leigh’s work is trends and new ideas. Every year, she convenes a group of trend watchers from across our global network to identify the shifts most critical to healthcare marketers. This year, she led over 250 experts to experts to focus on the most important changes in the commercial, consumer, marketing, digital and healthcare landscapes. (See reports at

Leigh is a sought-after writer and speaker. Recognized as one of the most inspiring people in the pharmaceutical industry by PharmaVoice and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts of 2017 by MM&M, Leigh also was recognized  as a Rising Star by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA) for her overt passion, industry thought leadership and significant contributions in new business, strategy and mentoring.