The Weekender: Facebook wants to improve MRIs, art heists + CalPERS tackles health costs

Spotlighting original BirdDog reporting and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash



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1. Facebook is doing research to help speed up medical imaging — here’s why

Chrissy Farr, CNBC

Tech and media companies are looking for opportunities in the health care industry since they already have a direct line to consumers, and see an opportunity to generate incremental revenue with a somewhat captive audience.

Facebook and New York University doctors are pairing up “on a research project that aims to make MRI imaging scans up to 10 times faster.” It’s an unlikely partnership, and as Farr notes will raise questions about whether Facebook can be trusted with medical records.

Comcast and Independence Health Group, an insurer out of Philadelphia, are working on a digital platform via a joint venture that, in theory, will give people a better way of communicating with clinicians.

Read more in MarketWatch: Big media companies are branching into health care. Here’s why

2. Seattle’s Apprenti seeks to take its tech apprenticeship program nationwide

Anna Hensel, VentureBeat

This piece spotlights the opportunity and traction that Apprenti, a tech training program out of Seattle, has found in a only a few short years. The program, which trains workers for Amazon, is trying to reinvent the apprenticeship model so that it makes sense for tech jobs given pent-up demand for workers and an ever-evolving toolbox needed for the tech industry.

The Nashville Technology Council is currently gearing up to launch Apprenti Tennessee, an offshoot of the Seattle template. The first class of apprentices will be in workplaces around Nashville in January 2019.


3. The case for building $1,500 parks

Kelsey Campbell-Dollaghan, Fast Company

Dr. Eugenia South, an emergency medicine physician, and four other doctors looked at the  “cause and effect between access to ‘greened’ vacant lots and improved mental health through a randomized controlled trial.” South research focuses on ways to prevent violence by identifying and remedying its underlying causes.

The Philadelphia study observed changes in well-being after vacant lots were converted to green space.

Excerpt: “Participants took a Kessler-6 Psychological Distress Scale survey before and after the greenings, revealing a 40% reduction in feeling depressed and a 50% reduction in feeling worthless. The impact was even more pronounced in participants living below the poverty line.


4. The Great Chinese Art Heist

Alex W. Palmer, The Great Chinese Art Heist

A thrilling read.

Excerpt: “Strange how it keeps happening, how the greatest works of Chinese art keep getting brazenly stolen from museums around the world.”


5. CalPERS Health Chief Wields The Power Of Data To Tame Costs

Alex Leeds Matthews, CaliforniaHealthline

CalPERS’ chief information officer uses the data at her fingertips “to analyze health care trends and recommend policies to stem rising costs.” CalPERS, which has 1.4 million retirees, is linking some deductibles to behaviors, such as flu shots and second opinion, that save money.

CalPERS is a market mover in whatever industry its involved (in a previous life, I reported on its various investments in the power and renewables space, in which it was considered a top shelf partner) so its efforts to stem increasing health care costs will ripple.

Its board approved a proposal from the CIO in June to expand a prescription reference pricing program in 2019.

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