Health care must-reads: Alexa’s future in health care and startups’ tech-first focus

The tech world got a lot of attention in SmartBrief for Health Care Leaders this week, with Amazon’s Alexa seeking work in health care and an article about why health care startups are making their pitches as tech companies first and health care companies second.

Amazon sees bright future in health care for Alexa

New opportunities are opening for Amazon's Alexa since the company gained permission to use patient health records protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. While Alexa now can handle a small number of health-related tasks, Amazon sees much wider potential roles, including helping to diagnose illnesses and detect heart attacks, and a number of providers are experimenting with Alexa-connected products.

Full Story: Kaiser Health News

Health care startups brand as tech companies first

Health care startups increasingly are branding themselves as technology companies first and health care companies second because the health care label comes with several weaknesses, write Weill Cornell Medicine assistant professor Dr. Samyukta Mullangi and Harvard Medical School student Medha Vyavahare. Health care lags in adapting to change, does not pay enough attention to the customer, and has a delivery system linked to unpredictable third-party payers, regulatory constraints and market volatility that can turn away venture capitalists.

Full Story: STAT (tiered subscription model)

Administration proposes pathway to US drug importation

The Trump administration on Wednesday outlined a two-part plan aimed at creating the foundation for safely importing prescription drugs from other countries to reduce costs. The first part would be a pilot project allowing states, drug companies and pharmacists to develop proposals for importing drugs from Canada, and the second part encompasses FDA guidance to manufacturers about FDA-approved medications that could be imported from other countries.

Full Story: The Washington Post (tiered subscription model)FierceHealthcare

Pfizer, Mylan reportedly in talks for off-patent drugs entity

Pfizer is in discussions with generic-drug manufacturer Mylan to form a combined off-patent drugs business through a stock deal, sources say. A merger, which reportedly could be announced early this week, would help provide lower-cost medicines and revive flagging sales.

Full Story: ReutersThe Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model)

Report ranks MD Anderson as no. 1 US cancer center

U.S. News & World Report ranked the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center as the top cancer hospital in the country, followed by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Johns Hopkins Hospital and Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center. The rankings are based on hospital performance measures in the categories of structure, process and outcomes.

Full Story: Medscape (free registration)

Tom Parks is a health editor at SmartBrief who focuses on health care, leadership and nursing as well as care at the beginning and end of life. He launched and edits the SmartBrief for Health Care Leaders newsletter.

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This "most read" feature reflects the most read items in SmartBrief for Health Care Leaders from the previous week. Sign up for SmartBrief for Health Care Leaders to get news like this in your inbox, or check out all of SmartBrief’s health care newsletters, covering health IT, news for insurers, news for providers and more.