Most Americans use the interwebs to shape their decisions about personal health care, according to a Pew Research poll that says 61 percent of our fellow citizens regularly check the Web for information on personal health.
That’s nearly twice the number of people who use the intertubes to contact their insurance providers and slightly more than those who use the Internet as a research tool.
Things get interesting when it comes to where folks go for their health-related info. People are more likely to look at user-generated content such as blogs, community forums or ratings sites where users rank doctors and hospitals, according to the poll.
Apparently the healthcare revolution will not be televised after all — sorry Gil Scott-Heron — but it will be appearing on a computer screen near you.
The interconnectedness bled onto the New York Times‘ op-ed page this week, in a piece about doctors using Twitter to keep up with patients. Pauline Chen says the social networking tool could be instrumental in helping doctors provide the personalized attention patients desire.
Bullish on bad backs
The recession is a real pain in the neck, which apparently is a good thing for companies in the spinal device sector, according to one CEO who says that the recession hasn’t affected his company one bit.
“I think what we’re seeing from the surgeons is that there’s absolutely no drop-off whatsoever,” Alexis Lukianov tells Dow Jones.
Lukianov, the chief executive at San Diego-based cervical implants maker NuVasive, is positively bullish on the prospects for his company and the spinal market in general. Spinal surgeons are seeing no letdown in demand for procedures compared to last year, he says.
NuVasive makes a suite of products for minimally invasive spinal procedures, including technology that helps surgeons avoid disrupting nerves and an artificial cervical disc which is in trials to see if it can replace a degenerated disc.
So why is Lukianov so bullish in this Kodiak of bear economies? As MassDevice’s own David Spenciner wrote a while back, about 80 percent of Americans complain of lower back pain at some point in their lives. Losing 50 percent of your retirement egg doesn’t help either.
Or it may be that Lukianov knows that he can always try sell NuVasive to his former employer, which also made some news in the spinal world this week.
Medtronic’s Memphis-based spinal and biologics business received FDA approval for its Bryan cervical disc system to treat single-level cervical disc disease.
The device is a titanium-polyurethane prosthetic that’s inserted between the vertebrae to replace a natural spinal disc.
Medtronic is the market leader in spinal products, which may explain why it’s always sunny in Minnesota, even when it’s zero degrees.
Medtronic sings the recall blues
There was a cloud over Medtronic after some bad news broke: The FDA announced it classified as a Class 1 recall the company’s previously announced advisory about its Kappa and Sigma series pacemakers.
The medical products colossus said last month that there was a problem with the wiring in a small portion of the pacemakers, making them susceptible to separation. The problem could lead to “loss of rate response, premature battery depletion, loss of telemetry, or no output, potentially causing patient symptoms such as fainting and lightheadedness.”
A Class 1 recall means the federal watchdog believes there’s “reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.”
Medtronic created a website to keep its customers informed.
Capitol Hill starts in on comparative effectiveness
A House bill introduced Wednesday by Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey and Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas would create an artificial joint registry to help “improve patient safety and outcomes and get rid of poorly performing devices,” Pascrell tells the Times .
The move is the first step in fulfilling President Barack Obama’s push for comparative effectiveness research and is, of course, not very popular with some industry groups, according to the Times.
Venturing into medical devices
Venture capital firms are looking to increase investment activity in medical devices over the next three years, according to the “2009 Global Venture Capital Survey” by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and the National Venture Capital Assn.