As a healthcare researcher, I was curious to see if I could get prescription painkillers after my procedure. I was happy to discover that it’s not as easy as I imagined: the office provided no paper prescriptions and it would only write me one if I tried over-the-counter options first.
It’s clear that some entities are trying to take the opioid epidemic seriously. This sobering chart should make it clear why.
As the toll rises, more companies are addressing their role in the situation and creating plans of action to combat it. We analyzed our earnings call transcripts to see how many times “opioids” were mentioned and who talks about them the most (or avoids the subject completely). See the full analysis here.
This epidemic highlights two very large problems that we see frequently in the healthcare system that extend beyond just opioids.
First the number of middlemen and opacity in healthcare means a diffusion of responsibility: no one owns the problem, and there’s a lot of finger pointing. The only way this changes is if players in healthcare begin to assume more responsibility over patients’ entire health journey and outcomes, as has begun to happen with insurers and clinics teaming up (CVS and Aetna) or outcomes-based pricing (Omada Health and digital therapeutics). The opioid crisis might be bigger than any one partnership though.
Secondly, healthcare issues are harder to address because they tend to occur over very long timelines instead of during very acute events which focus people’s attention (terrorist attacks, natural disasters, etc.).
This shows in the data. Despite being on the FDA’s radar since 2013, opioid overdose received serious media attention only after several high-profile deaths (as seen with our Trends tool below).
Increased media attention means more people are demanding answers, but who is actually going to fix this problem? Media scrutiny has forced some companies like drug distributors to address the issue head on (as we talk about in the analysis), while others like insurance carriers have largely remained relatively mum. Cigna is among the few exceptions addressing it directly, removing Oxycontin from its group commercial coverage list and pushing people to non-opioid alternatives.
We put a list together of high-potential companies that are finding new ways to help people manage pain for our expert clients. See them here.
Thanks to everyone who attended our A-ha! conference in SF earlier this month. It was great to meet some of you.
We’ll be writing recaps of the different sessions and releasing videos of them.
Strava CEO Mark Gainey came to speak with us about how Strava turned its global community of cyclists and fitness-trackers into a data business with over 30,000 API partners.