52 episodes

Health Tech is a GeekWire podcast that explores the cutting edge of digital health. On each episode, we bring you stories about innovative technologies for patients, doctors and more, giving you a window into the future of health. Our fifth season is sponsored by Premera Blue Cross. Learn more about Premera here: https://www.premera.com/premera-voices/

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Health Tech is a GeekWire podcast that explores the cutting edge of digital health. On each episode, we bring you stories about innovative technologies for patients, doctors and more, giving you a window into the future of health. Our fifth season is sponsored by Premera Blue Cross. Learn more about Premera here: https://www.premera.com/premera-voices/

    Testing Amazon's COVID Test

    Testing Amazon's COVID Test

    Amazon made headlines at the height of the pandemic for developing its own COVID-19 testing system for its workers. The same test is now available to the public for $40. You can order the test on Amazon.com, take it at home and ship it to Amazon to get your results. 

    So what is it like to take Amazon’s COVID test? We decided to find out.

    On this episode, GeekWire reporter Charlotte Schubert goes hands-on with Amazon’s COVID-19 test, adding to our understanding of the tech giant’s emerging health initiatives. We also hear from an expert in the field, Jerry Cangelosi, a University of Washington professor who has studied the effectiveness of these types of self-administered COVID-19 tests. 

    Read more in this GeekWire story.

    Thanks to the sponsor of Health Tech Season 5, Premera Blue Cross.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min
    What it's like to use Amazon Pharmacy

    What it's like to use Amazon Pharmacy

    Amazon's move into healthcare is multifaceted, including COVID-19 testing, its Halo health band and service, cloud services for healthcare and life sciences, and even primary care for its employees.

    A major motivation for the company: the sheer size of the healthcare market, and the massive problems to be solved.

    "Amazon is a big company now, still with big growth ambitions, and so they need to tackle big markets," said John Rossman, a former Amazon business leader and the author of The Amazon Way, speaking on a recent episode of GeekWire's Day 2 podcast. "Healthcare is going to become a bigger and bigger component of what their strategy is going to be, from every angle."

    But one of the tech giant's healthcare initiatives seems especially well-positioned to benefit from Amazon's traditional e-commerce expertise: prescriptions by mail. The company launched its Amazon Pharmacy service in November 2020, building on its 2018 acquisition of prescription-by-mail company PillPack.

    "Really, we wanted to make a pharmacy experience that was just as easy to use as Amazon generally," said TJ Parker, the PillPack CEO and vice president in charge of Amazon Pharmacy, and a former practicing pharmacist himself.

    Amazon is competing against traditional pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens and RiteAid, big retail rivals such as Walmart and Target, and healthcare technology companies such as GoodRx — whose chief financial officer, Karsten Voermann, sought to downplay the competitive threat from Amazon on a recent earnings call.

    "Based on third-party data, they have not been successful," Voermann said of Amazon. "Mail order prescriptions only make up about 5% of fill count in the U.S. ... Third-party data indicates that Amazon Pharmacy is not gaining momentum and that their volume remains incredibly small."

    But this is Amazon, a company with the resources and tenacity to pursue big challenges and opportunities for many years.

    So what's it like to use Amazon Pharmacy?

    To find out, GeekWire's Todd Bishop signed up to test the service on a routine prescription refill. Amazon Pharmacy impressed him with its convenience and privacy. But he also encountered obstacles, some due to kinks in the healthcare system outside of Amazon's control, that made the overall experience less than seamless.

    On this episode of GeekWire's Health Tech Podcast, Todd talks with Amazon's TJ Parker to learn more about the Amazon Pharmacy, using his experience to inform the discussion.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 31 min
    Son's rare disease inspires dad to disrupt drug development

    Son's rare disease inspires dad to disrupt drug development

    Before their son was born, Sanath Kumar Ramesh and his wife Ramya had normal first-time-parent jitters. Ramesh, who works for Amazon as a software engineering manager, was so excited to welcome his little boy. He was ready for the challenges and rewards of parenthood.

    In August 2018, Raghav was born, and Ramesh’s life began changing in ways he’d never expected.

    On this episode of GeekWire's Health Tech Podcast, we’re reconnecting with Ramesh to hear more of his compelling, inspiring story. We previously reported on Ramesh and Raghav’s doctors and their efforts to treat Raghav. In this podcast we go deeper into Ramesh’s experience as both a father and a talented tech engineer working to help both his son and others struggling to save loved ones battling rare diseases.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 21 min
    How AI will accelerate the response to the next pandemic

    How AI will accelerate the response to the next pandemic

    The speed of the creation of vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 was a modern marvel. You might already have already gotten yours.

    But what if vaccines and therapeutics could emerge even faster in response to the next pandemic. That’s one of the goals of a $5 million gift from Microsoft to the Institute for Protein Design at the University of Washington School of Medicine. 

    On this episode, we talk with Microsoft’s chief scientific officer, Eric Horvitz, and the director of the UW institute, David Baker, about the new age of artificial intelligence and biotechnology, and the potential to engineer a very different future.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 27 min
    Walter Isaacson on the gene editing revolution

    Walter Isaacson on the gene editing revolution

    Walter Isaacson has studied and written extensively about the physics and technology revolutions as the biographer of such figures as Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs. But after writing his latest book, he is convinced there's a far more momentous revolution in the works.

    "The next few decades are going to be the era of biotech," he said in a GeekWire podcast conversation about his new book, The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing and the Future of the Human Race. "We'll be able to do totally amazing things that will not only make us healthier but in some ways will transform our species. So as much as I love the digital revolution, I think this is the big one."

    The book explores the history and implications of gene editing through the stories of scientists and other key figures in the field. The central character is Jennifer Doudna, the UC Berkeley biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2020 with French geneticist Emmanuelle Charpentier for their discoveries and work in CRISPR gene editing.

    Isaacson is a professor of history at Tulane who was previously CEO of The Aspen Institute, chair of CNN and editor of Time. 

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min
    Finding secrets of life in close brushes with death

    Finding secrets of life in close brushes with death

    To help people live, Mark Roth scrutinizes those who've come frighteningly close to dying. People who have been lost in the frozen wilderness in a Mount Rainier whiteout or stowed away in the wheel well of a trans-Pacific jet. People who have suffered massive heart attacks or body-crushing car wrecks.

    Roth, a biochemist and cell biologist at Seattle's Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, sees a thread connecting these catastrophes with something seemingly quite different: immortality. Both conditions "press pause" on life, he said. It's playing dead without being dead.

    An entrepreneur and past winner of a MacArthur "Genius Grant," Roth built a career on making unlikely, unconventional, scientific connections. He shares the story of his extraordinary work on this episode of GeekWire’s Health Tech Podcast, reported and hosted by GeekWire reporter Lisa Stiffler.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 24 min

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