For the second year, a small Health Affairs team attended Spotlight Health in beautiful Aspen, Colorado. With life-sized scrabble games and lemonade stands by Jack, Spotlight Health is different from your typical health conference. This year's topics ...
For the second year, a small Health Affairs team attended Spotlight Health in beautiful Aspen, Colorado. With life-sized scrabble games and lemonade stands by Jack, Spotlight Health is different from your typical health conference. This yearâ€™s topics also went beyond typical â€” opioids, planetary health, healthy eating, gender, and child development were some of the issues covered in sessions.
Here are a few of the ideas we heard that are worth sharing.
1.Â Curbing the Opioid Epidemic
The opioid crisis is disproportionately affecting those in rural areas. The US Department of Agriculture (yes, you read that right) is investing millions of dollars in expanding access to mental health clinics and treatment in rural areas because 76 percent of the shortage areas that exist in treatment for substance use and mental health are in rural areas. The rate of both opioid abuse and suicides is also much higher in rural areas.
2. Organ Donation: How Do We Share a Precious Resource?
Thousands of people are dying each year on the transplant waiting list. To meet the demand will require creativity and innovation to increase live donors or find an alternativeÂ way to increase organ supply. One way to accrue moreÂ live donors could be modeled after a program in Sweden that texts people whenever their blood saves someoneâ€™s life. Technological advances to boostÂ organ supply within reach include modifying animal organs with stem cells or CRISPR or growing organs in a lab.
3.Â Drug Prices and Access to Medicine
Pharmacy benefit managers are supposed to negotiate down the prices of drugs, but whose money are they saving? Consumers are not seeing a price difference, particularly when it comes to generic drugs, which are actually increasing in price over time.
4.Â Big Data, Big Indicators, andÂ Facebook
Facebook is a better indicator of weather than radar. Because Facebook is now the second largest social entity on the planet, it has the data to see things that no one else can. Take the weather â€” as soon as it starts raining there is a stable, replicable drop in the emotional salience in Facebook postings of people getting rained on.
5. The Battle Over Contraception
Chinaâ€™s â€œone-childâ€ policy has resulted in a number of unintended consequences. Rather than decreasing birth rates through increasing education and access to contraception for women, China did so by force. This has led to a demographic imbalance that will have a long-term impact â€” millions of â€œmissing women,â€ 30 million unmarried men, and an aging population with fewer workers.
6.Â Humans, Animals, and Infectious Disease
Sixty percent of diseases (including Zika and Ebola) that affect humans spend some portion of their life in wild animals. A better understanding of how humans and animals are coming into contact across the globe will help us understand where the infectious disease risks are.
7.Â The Real Mismatch in Pharmaceuticals
We have a real mismatch in pharmaceutical affordability and supply. Thirty-five percent of medications are left at the pharmacy counter, and half are not taken as prescribed. A quarter of working age people canâ€™t afford their prescriptions. But thereâ€™s also about $5 billion of unused medicine every year in the US supply chain.
Feel free to take a deeper dive. Our own Editor-in-Chief Alan Weil moderates the session on Drug Prices and Access to Medicine (video below).
Associated Topics: Costs and Spending, Drugs and Medical Technology, Equity and Disparities, Global Health, Population Health, Public Health
Tags:Â Access, big data, Contraception, opioid epidemic, Pharma
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