Axios Vitals

A briefcase with a red cross on the front.
April 06, 2018

Good morning ... Congress is back next week, so enjoy these last few days of (relative) sanity while you can.

Facebook explored getting health records

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook asked large hospital systems to share patients’ health records, CNBC’s Christina Farr reports. Facebook wanted to match patients’ health records — what illnesses they have — with its own data about the same people, such as their age and how many children they have close by.

  • The company told CNBC that the idea was focused on care for people who don’t have many social connections in their area — which really can be an obstacle to care, especially in situations like a recent hospital discharge, though of course Facebook connections do not actually capture all of a person’s community relationships.
  • Facebook was still in talks with health systems as recently as last month, but shelved the project amid the broader concerns over how it handles users’ data, the report said.

🚨“The issue of patient consent did not come up in the early discussions,” according to CNBC.

  • Facebook proposed obscuring patients’ names and some other identifying information, but not to make those records completely anonymous, since the whole point was to link two sets of data about the same person.

Why you'll hear about this again: This project never ended up happening, but it’s more evidence of how much personal data Facebook at least wants to collect, amid mounting questions about how it uses that data.

More doubts on Amazon/JPMorgan partnership

How many times do we have to tell you to lower your expectations for the big health care ... thing ... from Amazon, JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway? If you still aren't convinced that its aims will likely be pretty modest, JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon provided some more evidence yesterday.

The "details," such as they are: Dimon laid out a handful of specific ideas in his annual letter to investors, Bloomberg reports. They include:

  • Better workplace wellness programs and more access to telemedicine.
  • "Figuring out why so much money is spend on end-of-life care."
  • "A bipartisan group of experts whose direct charge is to fix our [health care] system."

Reality check: There's not much to be impressed by here. Everybody claims to use "big data." Everybody claims to be working toward a delivery system that focuses on value, not quantity. These aren’t new ideas, and it’s still not clear whether these companies are looking for a systemwide solution, or just a better deal for themselves.

Kentucky wants to regulate PBMs

Both chambers in Kentucky’s legislature have passed a bill that would change how pharmacy benefit managers operate in the state’s Medicaid program, my colleague Bob Herman reports. Gov. Matt Bevin’s office did not tell Bob whether the governor would sign the bill. 

The main provisions:

  • PBMs would have to report how much the state’s Medicaid insurers paid them for their services.
  • PBMs would have to report how much they pay pharmacies. 
  • Kentucky’s Medicaid program would have the authority to set payment rates between PBMs and pharmacies.

Between the lines: Pharmacists across the country have amplified their displeasure with PBMs, which has forced state officials to act. PBM regulation is, and will continue to be, more of an issue in more states.

A new approach for stroke recovery

Two mice reaching for tiny objects as part of drug experiment for stroke recovery
Two mice reach for a pinpoint object after receiving a therapeutic drug post-stroke. Photo: H. Abe et al., Science (2018)

A new drug compound can successfully speed up rehabilitation for animals recovering from a stroke, according to research published in Science Thursday. If it works in humans, it could eventually extend the time for repairing some brain functions after stroke, Eileen Drage O'Reilly reports.

The big picture: An estimated 1.7 million people suffer a traumatic brain injury in the U.S. every year and almost 800,000 of those are from a stroke. Strokes kill 140,000 people a year and are the leading cause of serious long-term disability, CDC says.

Go deeper: Read the full story here.