May 24, 2021

People moves: Kettering Health, Cerner and CVS

3 min
We round up the latest movements and shake-ups in healthcare

We round up the latest movements and shake-ups in healthcare. 

Kettering Health appoints chief innovation and transformation officer 

US healthcare provider Kettering Health has appointed Dr Thomas Graham as its new senior vice president and first chief innovation and transformation officer.  

Dr. Graham is a world-renowned orthopaedic hand surgeon, author and entrepreneur. He has previously served as Cleveland Clinic’s chief innovation officer, and vice chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He has founded four medical device companies and published over 100 academic articles and the book Innovation the Cleveland Clinic Way.

In a statement, Kettering said that role Dr Graham "will focus on defining and translating the creative, innovative culture established in the spirit of Kettering Health’s namesake, Charles F. Kettering as well as ensuring Kettering Health continues to deliver advanced, high-quality care to those we serve." 

CVS Health appoints new CFO

US pharmacy retailer CVS Health has appointed Shawn Guertin as executive vice president and chief financial officer. 

Guertin joins after spending eights at health insurers Aetna as Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Enterprise Risk Officer. While at Aetna he helped the company grow through expansion and acquisitions and was a key leader in shaping the merger with CVS Health in 2018. During this time he was consistently recognised by Institutional Investor magazine as a top CFO.

"This is an exciting time for CVS Health" Guertin said of his new organisation. "No other company has both the strong business and the customer reach and relationships to transform healthcare at scale. The pandemic has changed how Americans want to receive care and I'm excited to help CVS Health lead in a rapidly evolving marketplace."

Cerner CEO to step down

Cerner Corporation is searching for a new chief executive officer, as current CEO Brent Shafer has announced he is stepping down. 

The decision was made jointly between Shafer and the organisation's board. He has been Cerner's CEO for three years, succeeding Neal Patterson who led the company for almost 40 years until his death from cancer in 2017. 

Shafer has said he will remain in post until a new appointment is made, after which he will stay on as a strategic advisor. 

Teladoc names new chief innovation officer

Teladoc Health has hired Claus Jensen as chief innovation officer to lead its research and development team. Jensen brings with him more than 20 years' of experience leading digital transformation at enterprise healthcare and technology organisations. 

He joins Teladoc from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), where he served as chief digital officer and head of technology, overseeing the integration of data and technology resources. Prior to that, Jensen worked at CVS Health-Aetna and IBM, where he was a trusted advisor on business and IT transformation journeys for many of the Fortune 100 companies.

"We are excited to welcome Claus to the Teladoc Health team to lead our innovation efforts,” Jason Gorevic, Teladoc Health chief executive officer said in a statement. “With deep experience transforming hospital systems and health plans, Claus is the right leader at the right time to accelerate Teladoc Health’s vision of connecting the healthcare experience from hospital to home.”

Solvay names first head of diversity, equity and inclusion

Solvay, a leading manufacturer of materials and chemicals for the healthcare sector among industries, has appointed Nathalie van Ypersele as head of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). 

The move is part of Solvay's programme to drive cultural change around diversity, equity and inclusion with concrete targets to be achieved by 2025. The program will reinforce the company’s commitment to eliminate any form of discrimination and cultivate an inclusive and diverse environment that fosters equal opportunities to employees of all backgrounds, ages, genders, races, nationalities, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, identities, and abilities.

Ypersele will oversee the programme's nine ambitious targets that include a commitment to gender parity, attracting diverse talent, assessing and closing pay gaps, fostering an inclusive ‘speak up’ culture and making the workplace more accessible for those with disabilities.

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Jun 14, 2021

Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies

4 min
Neuroplasticity expert Ashok Gupta tells us about the symptoms of long Covid, how it affects the brain, and digital therapies

It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain. 

Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain. 

What is long Covid exactly? 

Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.

How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!

When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover. 

If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus. 

The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.

What symptoms does this cause? 

These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.

In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.

This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.

How does long-haul Covid affect mental health? 
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.

How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.” 

We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain. 

We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and  running half marathons again.

At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response. 

The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival. 

What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid? 
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy. 

What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and  become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.

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