Digital health companies hire physicians, but do they listen?

Healthcare startups and big tech companies aim to tackle a variety of challenges in the healthcare industry, but the "move fast and break things" culture of Silicon Valley doesn't translate as well to healthcare.

A recent CNBC article outlined the challenges some digital health companies have in the healthcare space, noting recent examples of tension between tech companies and the physicians or medical professionals brought onboard. Here are four examples:

1. At Nurx, members of the team with a medical background said they were ignored. The company, known as the "Uber for birth control," according to an article in the New York Times, aimed to deliver birth control prescribed by Nurx physicians and nurse practitioners virtually. The company has received criticism for telling potential patients about the risk of taking birth control and allowing them to make the decision, even when risks are high; in at least one case outlined in the New York Times, a woman at high risk decided to take birth control pills and suffered blood clots.

2. Direct-to-consumer testing company uBiome closed down earlier this year after the FBI raided it in May over controversial billing practices. According to CNBC, the company billed patients multiple times consent and urged physicians to approve tests "with minimal oversight." The report also mentioned a physician was "dismissed and replaced for not approving tests quickly enough."

3. Hims, a men's health startup that aims to make treatment for men with stigmatized conditions, including impotence or hair loss, available via telemedicine came under fire recently according to Business Insider. Some of the physicians working with the company told BI about its efforts to expand patients who could be treated with generic drugs for erectile dysfunction, and they felt pressure to become more lenient in their prescriptions. Hims, however, denied that in a statement.

4. Apple is reportedly losing talent it hired from the healthcare industry reportedly due to tensions within its healthcare unit. In August, CNBC reported employees grew "disillusioned with the group's culture" as the company focused its vision on wellness and prevention instead of tackling the big problems in healthcare. There were also disagreements about how transparent Apple should be with its work in healthcare, reported in August, and the company has remained secretive. Fellow tech giant Google has come under scrutiny recently over its partnership with St. Louis-based Ascension that included patient data collection without directly notifying patients.

The article also examines how other companies aim to avoid disastrous decisions by integrating healthcare professionals into their workflow and placing high value on their recommendations.

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