Brainstorm Health: Digital Mental Health Therapy, State of Obamacare, Johnson & Johnson Verdict

October 18, 2017, 6:36 PM UTC

Hey there, readers! This is Sy.

Woebot Labs is on a mission to make mental health talk therapy accessible online. Its platform offers an AI-fueled chatbot—available via Facebook Messenger—as a digital therapist that’s available around the clock. Designed by Stanford University experts, Woebot can chat with users about how they’re feeling and present strategies for coping with stress and depression. And now, it has the support of Andrew Ng, a machine learning and AI pioneer who is now joining Woebot’s board of directors as its chairman.

“If you look at the societal need, as well as the ability of AI to help, I think that digital mental-health care checks all the boxes,” Ng tells MIT Technology Review. “If we can take a little bit of the insight and empathy [of a real therapist] and deliver that, at scale, in a chatbot, we could help millions of people.”

Ng was previously the chief scientist at Baidu and helped found Google’s Brain initiative.

Read on for the day’s news.


CVS Health, Epic team up on drug price transparency project. Electronic medical records giant Epic is teaming up with CVS Health in an effort to lower prescription drug spending by sharing more data about which treatments may be more appropriate and cost-effective for patients. "Working in collaboration with CVS Health allows for enhanced and efficient data integration and decision support for clinicians while relieving administrative burden," said Dr. Gregory Rosencrance, chairman of Cleveland Clinic Medicine Institute, in a statement.


Johnson & Johnson wins reversal of $72 million talc powder cancer suit verdict. Drug giant Johnson & Johnson has been grappling with a series of brutal jury verdicts centered on alleged links between its talc powder products (often used for feminine hygiene) and ovarian cancer. But the company got a reprieve Tuesday when one $72 million verdict was reversed by a federal appeals court. (Fortune)


What in the world is going on with Obamacare? Are you confused about what is happening with the Affordable Care Act? Don't worry, so is everyone. Following the Trump administration's series of actions aimed at dismantling Obamacare provisions last week, two Senators announced a bipartisan deal on legislation to shore up the health law's marketplaces on Tuesday. But while President Donald Trump initially appeared sympathetic to the proposed compromise, he has since indicated he cannot support it because he considers it a "bailout" for insurance companies. House Speaker Paul Ryan isn't particularly enthusiastic about it, either.


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