The Surprising Health Care Companies Changing the World: Brainstorm Health

August 19, 2019, 9:12 PM UTC

Hello and happy Monday, readers—I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Fortune is out with its fifth annual Change the World list, a collection of companies that are “doing well by doing good.” Unlike nonprofits and NGOs which, of course, do critical work to lift people out of poverty and improve quality of life around the world, the firms featured on the 2019 Change the World list are very much driven by the profit motive (hey, we’re a business magazine, after all).

As you might suspect, health care plays such an integral role in every day life that several companies working to lift access and improve outcomes made this year’s cut. What might catch you by surprise is that a few of those outfits aren’t traditional health care firms at all.

Take the number four company on this year’s list: TE Connectivity, a Switzerland-based firm that specializes in sensor and connectivity technology to serve a spectrum of industries, from aerospace to oil and gas.

But the reason TE made the cut is for its recent foray into the health care provider setting, where the company has provided guide wires and microcatheters to help cardiac and stroke patients. These threads are about the the diameter of noodle—and doctors can use them to precisely guide medical devices to the exact part of the brain where a clot needs to be broken up or bleeding staunched, all with a simple incision in the femoral artery, according to the company.

Alright, so at least TE is somewhat in the device and device-tangential space, which can clearly be useful in medicine. But what about Accenture, global consulting giant and number 21 on the 2019 Change the World? The company has developed a learning platform that uses simple flip phones and text messages to help train tens of thousands of community health workers in Kenya in a partnership with Amref Health Africa.

While Amref is a nonprofit, Accenture still has the bottom line on its mind: “If you’re not working with NGOs around the world, you’re missing out on growing your business,” Roger Ford, managing director and global co-lead for Accenture Development Partnerships, told Fortune in an interview.

There are plenty of other names to peruse, including: Illumina, which lands at number 35, and has advanced rapid genomic sequencing to the point that critically ill newborns can be sequenced and diagnosed with rare disease in anywhere from 20 hours to just a few days; insurer Centene, which has upped its commitment for American patients with disabilities; GoodRx, whose website makes a valiant effort at untangling the Gordian knot of U.S. drug prices; and many others.

Check out the entire list of companies, and the potentially unexpected reasons they made it, right here.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy,


World Health Organization releases digital health guidelines. In a first, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on digital health technology's role in global health interventions. These include 10 overarching recommendations covering everything from proper use and deployment of telemedicine to how medical decision-making may be complemented, rather than hampered or obfuscated, by new technologies. Here's the main issue the WHO is trying to tackle in a still-nascent field: "Amid the heightened interest, digital health has also been characterized by implementations rolled out in the absence of a careful examination of the evidence base on benefits and harms. The enthusiasm for digital health has also driven a proliferation of short-lived implementations and an overwhelming diversity of digital tools, with a limited understanding of their impact on health systems and people’s well-being." (ModernHealthcare)


FDA approves new antibiotic—and it'll come at a price. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday approved Nabriva Therapeutics' Xenleta, a new antibiotic meant to treat community-acquired bacterial pneumonia, a condition that kills approximately 50,000 Americans each year (and hospitalizes a million). But it won't come cheap; the oral and injectable versions of the drug will be priced at more than $200 per day (although that's not necessarily what patients will wind up paying out of pocket). (Reuters)


There have been nearly 100 cases of a lung disease reportedly linked to vaping. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is perplexed by (and investigating) a spate of serious lung disease cases which appear to be connected to vaping and e-cigarette use. There have been nearly 100 cases so far, and while there hasn't been definitive proof vaping is to blame, the initial circumstantial evidence appears to point that way. One patient reportedly said he got sick after buying THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) off the street and vaping it. (Ars Technica)

Planned Parenthood ditches Title X over rule changes. Planned Parenthood will begin rejecting federal Title X funds after the Trump administration proposed new rules that would bar family planning organizations that provide or refer most women seeking abortion services from receiving them. Under the administration's proposal, organizations can only provide these medical or counseling services to patients in the cases of rape, incest, or a medical emergency. The rules are currently being challenged in court. (NPR)


America's CEOs Seek a New Purpose for the Corporationby Alan Murray

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon on Automation, Training 2.2 Million Workers, and the Tragedy in El Pasoby Brian O'Keefe

How to Compete With Technology in the Age of Automationby Gwen Moran

When the Venture Capital Subsidies Dry Upby Adam Lashinsky

Find past coverage. Sign up for other Fortune newsletters.

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet