Horizons Newsletter – week 26 // 2019
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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Distributing digital therapies
Digital therapies are slowly merging into mainstream therapies. Known as digital therapeutics, these software solutions form a subset of digital healthcare. They are characterized by the fact that they provide evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients to treat medical disorders or diseases. Clinical studies are showing the value of these digital therapies, but distributing them to patients remains a challenge. Last month saw a major development in this area, when CVS Health, owner of a large pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) in the U.S., made the automated, personalized digital sleep improvement program Sleepio available to its clients. PBMs act as an intermediary between insurers and other members of the healthcare industry and negotiate to get the best rates for medicines, including digital ones. By adding digital therapeutics to their offer, PBMs enable the distribution and reimbursement of these digital treatments in a scalable way. It is another vote of confidence for digital therapeutics and a major step in their further implementation, as it makes specialized treatments more affordable and more accessible for patients.
A new phase for the liberal world order
In January 2018, Trump slapped his first round of tariffs on U.S. imports as part of his America First policy to reduce the U.S. trade deficit. Initially, these “Trump tariffs” were primarily aimed at China, but recently focus also shifted towards other countries, such as Japan, India, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland and the EU. Many of these are important and longstanding U.S. allies, being liberal democracies with relatively open markets and a shared hostility towards China’s “authoritarianism”. American isolationism is now alienating these countries and forcing them to take a more active role in sustaining and future proofing the democratic and liberal world order that the U.S. used to promote. For example, many of these countries co-founded the Democratic Order Initiative that aims to engage public support for an open, multilateral rules-based system. They also support the new Alliance of Democracies Foundation that wants to “strengthen the spine” of the world’s democracies. Faced with Chinese authoritarianism and U.S. isolationism, these initiatives herald a new era for the liberal democratic world order.
Navigating the attention economy
Today’s world is full of external stimuli that attract our attention. From the start in the 1990s, the internet grew from one website to almost 2 billion. In the same period, the average number of items in a U.S. grocery store increased from 7,000 to 40,000. Research shows that the number of external stimuli in our daily lives has increased fivefold since the eighties. There is simply too much stuff constituting a non-distinctive offer, to make good choices. However, it is not the mere increase in stimuli, but rather the way we deal with the overload that leads to a loss of concentration. Neuroscientist Mark Tichelaar states that our brain is well-prepared to face multiple stimuli, but that we have to discipline ourselves not to switch constantly between tasks or sources of information in order to keep focus. Increasing neuroscientific insights are already leading to adjustments in the work and education environment, by teaching the younger generation critical thinking to navigate the overload of information and redesigning work environments to support concentration.