March 20, 2018

Hello, readers—and a happy first day of spring! This is Sy.

I hope you’ve been following along with our 3rd annual Fortune Brainstorm Health conference in California. (You can catch the livestream of events here and read up on the latest updates here.) The meeting has already featured a fascinating mix of conversations about the role of data, AI, and new technologies in transforming health care (and the obstacles holding back that transformation).

Here’s one slice of the kinds of discussions we’ve been having. On Tuesday, Kristen Hamilton, the co-founder and CEO of Koru, Inc, (an AI-fueled staffing company) spoke on the potential for predictive analytics to change the way that firms, including hospitals, hire their employees. Reducing employee turnover at an organization by just 20-30% could save the average hospital $2 million, according to Hamilton. “What’s happening in the world of hiring is similar to what happened in marketing, when we moved from the Mad Men era to math,” she said.

Koru’s platform incorporates hundreds of data points from existing employees (such as cognitive abilities, technical skills, and “soft” skills) and compares the metrics from long-lasting, high performers versus workers who didn’t quite make the cut or left the organization. The process, as with so many things AI, may make some uncomfortable. According to Hamilton, though, such predictive analytics in hiring (and especially in medicine, where there’s an urgent need for qualified medical staff) has proven lucrative in these early days: She cites organizations that cut their turnover rates from 50% to 13% within three months with the help of this kind of technology.

This is far from the only conversation about the role of AI in health care and business featured at Fortune Brainstorm Health. Once again, you can follow along with all of the discussions and debates here.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee

The confidence boost of virtual reality. A new Stanford study finds that the use of virtual reality imaging can actually boost the confidence of radiologists, or the experts in charge of diagnosing and treating injuries with the help of medical imaging. That may sound highly technical (and, well, it kind of is)—but it could also have a tangible impact on patient care given how critical this kind of imaging is to treatment. (MobiHealthNews)


China plans a "zero" tariff for cancer drugs. Drug giants like Roche, AstraZeneca, and Novartis just got some welcome news out of China: The country will cut down tariffs on cancer-fighting drugs from abroad, according to Chinese premier Li Keqiang. "We aim to further bring down overall tariffs across the importing process, with tariff rates for important day-to-day consumer goods, including drugs, slashed. And we also plan to phase in zero tariff for the much-needed anti-cancer drugs," said Li on Tuesday. (FiercePharma)


15 week abortion ban blocked by judge. On Tuesday, a federal judge blocked (for the time being) a new Mississippi law that would effectively ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. This is a temporary injunction against what would be the most restrictive abortion law in the country; the issue may eventually make its way to the Supreme Court, which has previously shot down laws that ban abortion before 20 weeks. (Reuters)


This Is the Correlation Between Gun Laws and Gun Deathsby Nicolas Rapp

Xi's Reign May Outlast China's Boomby Grace Donnelly 

How McDonald's Plans to Cut Its Greenhouse Gas Emissions By More Than a Thirdby David Meyer

One Woman's Incredible Quest to Fight Her Son's Bone Cancerby Andrew Nusca

Produced by Sy Mukherjee

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