Technology swiftly improving healthcare

Technology is transforming healthcare, mostly for the good. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer at drug giant GSK, described how his firm is using genetic targeting to double the likelihood.

Technology swiftly improving healthcareHarvard epidemiologist Caroline Buckee described a project in Puerto Rico that used satellite imaging and mobile phone data to track disease outbreaks so they could be treated more efficiently.

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There’s always a downside to this kind of enthusiasm. Health-industry leaders love talking about whiz-bang technology. Coming up with solutions to the chronic problem of the underserved, not so much.

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Another downer: Peter Sands, the former banker who runs the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, observed that “the business community is not really engaged in global health in the way they are engaged in the environment.”

His group studied the Fortune 500 and learned that 74% of the companies have policies on the environment while just 10% formally addressed global health. And many of those are healthcare companies.

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Sands theorizes that environmental activists have done a far better job of engaging with corporations and that the global health community itself is deeply mistrustful of business. “I think the global health community needs to take a long, hard look at how it engages,” he said.

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