It is again the time of the year when we can kick back, spend time with family, and dream of healthcare apps that may yet arrive before Christmas. In the past, I focused primarily on iPad apps, but since that device has grown a little long in the tooth and you can now buy Android tablets in six-packs, I felt it was time to expand the universe of operating systems.
Anyway, here are five apps I hope show up in your virtual stockings before Dec. 25th:
1. The Martin Shkreli Legal Fund App
Platform(s): iOS, Android, The Court of Public Opinion
Martin Shkreli first made headlines earlier this year for buying the rights to the 63-year-old drug Daraprim and raising its price more than 5,000 percent. Now that pharma's most beloved executive is facing federal fraud charges, use this app to help ensure the appropriate outcome in his criminal case. All payments made through this app are remitted directly to the U.S. Department of Justice's Trials Division, Office of the Prosecutor.
2. The Price Transparency You Can See Through App
Platforms(s): iOS, Android, An Old Soapbox
Price: Uh...We'll get back to you on that!
Under pressure from financially burdened patients to provide clearer pricing for procedures? This app helps you create a website that sounds like you are actually providing clear pricing, but is marvelously opaque. It provides a wide range of prices ($377 to $1.7 million) for procedures such as joint replacement surgeries and getting a Band-Aid for your boo-boo in the emergency room. It also includes boilerplate language congratulating your hospital for providing a valuable service to patients and their families, as well as disclaimers saying that charges may be dependent on your type of insurance, the services rendered, billing codes used, and of course, the weather.
3. The "Will The FTC Block My Hospital Merger!?!?" App
Platform(s): iOS, Android, The conference table in my system's board room
Price: Potentially millions in legal fees
Given how aggressive the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has been in recent months blocking potential hospital and healthcare system mergers (it's taken actions against three--out of hundreds), this app will prove invaluable in setting all your anxieties aside. Plug in data regarding the locales of the merging parties, patient base, market power and many other variables, and it will quickly render a decision. Answers include: "It Is Decidedly So," "Signs Point To Yes," "Cannot Predict Now," and "Jeez, You Guys Are The Only Providers For A 200-Mile Radius. Whaddya Think?" For those CEOs looking for a new job, this can be used in conjunction with the Martin Shkreli app to make donations directly to the Justice Department.
4. The ACA "I Kick The Can" App
Platform(s): iOS, Android, The lobbyists waiting in line in the halls of Congress
Price: Your re-election (if you don't buy it)
Members of Congress recently delayed implementing the Cadillac tax and medical device tax, which benefits both big employers and big biotech companies while ensuring the Affordable Care Act (ACA) saves U.S. taxpayers less money. This app allows members to decide how long they'll delay those two taxes after those years are up. You have to go deep into "settings" to change the default mode from "indefinitely." Your friendly lobbyist can show you how to work the controls. You may even get your phone back one day.
5. The Medicaid Expansion Guessing App
Platform(s): iOS, Android, The backs of poor, sick people
Price: Billions of dollars/millions of healthier lives
GOP-dominated Alaska and Montana joined the ranks of states that expanded Medicaid eligibility under the ACA this year, bringing the total up to 30. That leaves 20 states still on the fence. This app helps you guess which states will be next. Tennessee? Louisiana? South Dakota? The big challenge is to see which one will be 50th. That both Siri and "Okay Google" are programmed to say "one Mississippi...two Mississippi...three Mississippi?" in final countdown mode is a bit of a tell.
Happy holidays to everyone, and look forward to seeing you all in 2016! – Ron (@FierceHealth).
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