The science behind a fond farewell

September 23, 2021, 10:56 PM UTC

Good afternoon, readers.

There’s a segment of psychology dedicated to what’s called motivation science. This is, as the name implies, an exploration of how the mind keeps going. The mental nutrients on which it relies to best nourish our ability to complete daily tasks and the broader search for a fulfilling life. Simply put, it’s the study of what keeps us keeping on.

You might think that motivation is best fueled by new opportunities. After all, the excitement of venturing into the unknown can be innately motivating. But it turns out that a farewell, said well, is just as important in fueling motivation and reducing stress as one transitions from one stage of their life to another.

A 2020 examination across seven studies by researchers Schwörer, Krott, and Oettingen published by the American Psychological Association (APA) tackles this phenomenon, parsing how closure is critical to minimizing angst and regret during these liminal periods in our lives. For instance, in one study, foreign exchange students ending their visits abroad with a well-rounded goodbye to classmates and teachers felt more fulfilled when moving on compared to those who didn’t. Closing the loop on relationships, setting expectations for the future, and nixing potential regrets surrounding things left unsaid had a measurably beneficial effect.

“The findings point to the importance of ending in a well-rounded way so as to experience more positive affect, fewer regrets, and easier life transitions,” according to the study authors.

This can translate into more practical benefits in turn. In one study, strangers who were having a Skype conversation were split into two groups, one of which received prior warning that the conversation would end in two minutes and to prepare a well-rounded goodbye, and another not given the same heads up. “Those participants who were given the instructions of a well-rounded ending significantly excelled in a subsequent test measuring executive function skills,” writes the APA. “Apparently, the one-sentence reminder of ending the conversation in a well rounded way was enough to increase the performance on a task in the subsequent phase.”

Dearest readers, while I don’t know how well-rounded it is or how it may affect my executive function skills down the line, this is my own farewell. Tomorrow is my last day at Fortune after five and a half wonderful years here. In fact, it’s my last day as a journalist, the only career I’ve ever known over the course of nearly a decade, for the foreseeable future. You will be left in the best of hands, and the Capsule will continue to land in your inbox every Thursday with insights on the week’s most important health care developments. And if you want to remain in touch, I’m not hard to find on social media. Slide into my DMs, as the kids say.

I came to Fortune to join our former editor-in-chief Clifton Leaf in producing this newsletter, all the way back when we were called Brainstorm Health Daily. There have been many changes here since then, including this newsletter’s transition to the weekly Capsule and Cliff’s own departure this past summer. Such is the inevitable nature of life, and I’ve been immeasurably lucky to be surrounded by some of the finest business journalists around during my time here. They have taught me how to become a stronger writer and reporter and, most importantly, the fundamental lesson that you’re never really done learning, changing, and improving (or at least you shouldn’t be). I will miss my colleagues and my thoughtful interactions with you, our readers, terribly.

In this space I’ve always strived to (and failed many times, I’m sure, based on some readers’ more frank feedback) at least provoke a conversation if not always provide definitive answers. That job will soon be someone else’s. Thank you all for bearing with the musings of this ink-stained wretch in the meantime. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Fortune has an upcoming health webinar on October 7 exploring price transparency in health care. You can register for it if interested right over here (it’s open to all).

For now, as always, and one final time from me, read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


GE Healthcare to buy BK Medical in $1.45 billion deal. GE Healthcare is snatching up BK Medical, a surgical imaging company, in a $1.45 billion deal meant to bolster GE's $3 billion ultrasound business. "Our mission to help surgeons make critical decisions using active imaging aligns well with GE Healthcare’s mission to help physicians make more informed decisions and improve patient outcomes, and we are eager to begin this new chapter," said BK Medical President and CEO Brooks West in a statement. On a practical level, the deal, which is expected to close in 2022, will help GE grow its ultrasound segment beyond diagnostics and into surgery, as MobiHealthNews reports. (MobiHealthNews)


The monoclonal antibody bottleneck. As health system demand for monoclonal antibody therapies to treat COVID-19 patients and keep them out of the hospital soars, the Biden administration is seeking to prevent a bottleneck of the precious medical products by limiting orders for the drugs "based on COVID-19 burden" across individual state health departments. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now allocating the antibody treatments, such as Regeneron's REGEN-COV and Eli Lilly's combination therapy bamlanavimab and etesevimab, rather than have providers place orders directly with drug distributor AmeriSourceBergen. (CBS News)

Biogen continues to struggle with its Aduhelm launch. The woes continue for Biogen's controversial Alzheimer's treatment Aduhelm. The latest hitch? Biogen sales reps being barred from entering certain neurology clinics, including a prominent Washington, D.C. neurological center. That particular center points to the fierce Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disagreements over the drug's approval despite scant evidence of its efficacy, a decision which eventually led to the resignations of three experts from an independent advisory panel to the FDA in protest. Biogen executives have also noted that the continuing controversy and confusion over Aduhelm has prevented it from hitting its sales goals for the first-ever therapeutic meant to treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer's disease. (FiercePharma)


The cost of COVID treatment. In my final reported piece for Fortune, I spoke with industry experts and health care professionals on the delicate issue of medical cost-sharing in the middle of a pandemic. Specifically, I explore the unpredictable and potentially catastrophic out-of-pocket costs which may be borne by seriously ill COVID-19 patients as health insurers end voluntary arrangements to waive the costs of this kind of care. Several experts noted that such as is the nature of a risk/benefit industry, and that the availability of vaccines plays a major role in insurers' recent decisions. But from a patient standpoint, it's still hard to know how much you may be on the hook for after a serious and potentially deadly bout with COVID-19. "It's one of the features of our health care system. There are thousands of permutations of health plans, and there are as many cost-sharing arrangements as there are health plans," one former senior health insurance executive-turned-reform advocate tells me. "So you don't know. You do not know. And there is not enough transparency for anyone to have any ability to know what you might be facing." (Fortune)


43.7% of the world's population has received a COVID vaccineby Erika Fry & Nicolas Rapp

Meet Facebook's new tech chiefby Jonathan Vanian

2 new quantum computing breakthroughs reveal the tech's commercial potentialby Jeremy Kahn

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