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LGBTQ adults say they avoid healthcare services due to fears of discrimination.
Morning Brew June 07, 2023

Healthcare Brew


It’s Wednesday, and during Pride Month, we want to continue to highlight the disparities LGTBQ+ people face in accessing healthcare. As of July 2022, more than one in eight LGBTQ+ adults live in a state where healthcare providers can legally deny treatment based on a patient’s sexual orientation. Sixteen percent of LGBTQ+ adults surveyed said they avoid seeking healthcare over fears of discrimination, according to a 2019 study.

In today’s edition:

Private equity and DSOs

Asian American mental health

WHO warns of AI

—Maia Anderson, Kristine White


Money talks

A dentist holds equipment and a graphic of a tooth Natali_mis/Getty Images

In recent years, private equity money has saturated the budding dental support organization (DSO) industry.

Private equity firms own 27 of the top 30 DSOs, according to Eileen O’Grady, research and campaign director of Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a nonprofit organization that researches the effect of private equity dollars on various industries. A DSO is a company that takes on all the business-related tasks necessary to run a dental practice, like IT support, accounting and billing, marketing, and facility maintenance.

The rise in private equity ownership of DSOs raises concerns among industry watchdogs and government officials, who claim the business model may incentivize profit over patients and ultimately put patients at risk.

“Payment structures between DSOs and dentists have been found to create perverse incentives that lead to overtreatment of patients, misleading advertising schemes, Medicaid fraud, and other problematic practices in order to reach revenue targets set by DSOs and maximize profit,” O’Grady wrote in a 2021 research report. DSOs are attractive to private equity firms, according to O’Grady, because the DSO industry is “incredibly fragmented,” and private equity firms often take fragmented industries and consolidate them.

Kyle Francis, founder and president of Professional Transition Strategies, a firm that helps dentists buy and sell practices, said the dental industry grows at a very standard rate over time, and since there are no big spikes or dips in revenue, DSOs are attractive to private equity firms.

“We know for a fact that private equity firms will keep investing in DSOs,” O’Grady said. “Private equity interest in DSOs has not slowed down significantly even during the pandemic.”

Keep reading here.—MA

Do you work in healthcare or have information about the industry that we should know? Email Maia at [email protected] For completely confidential conversations, ask Maia for her number on Signal.



The real power couple


Nope, not your favorite A-listers. We’re talking compliance and information security, the match made in privacy heaven. As the digital health industry becomes more accessible, affordable, and efficient, security standards are changing too. Join IT Brew and Thoropass for a chat about maintaining compliance as the industry evolves.

You’ll hear from Helix’s CTO Jim Chou as he digs into the latest in the compliance and infosec world and how it’s affecting health tech. The conversation will also cover what you need to know about compliance and protecting patient information, including:

  • privacy
  • fraud mitigation and prevention
  • how IT is evolving to meet new demands

And finally, the focus shifts to you. Thoropass will highlight how you can streamline and automate your compliance processes.

Don’t miss this matchup. Save your spot today.


Removing stigma

An elderly Chinese woman stares at a window. Pamelajoemcfarlane/Getty Images

Rates of depression and anxiety among Asian Americans increased during the Covid-19 pandemic—a time that coincided with rising reports of anti-Asian hate crimes.

That toll highlighted the need for mental health services, which are not just hard to come by but also underutilized, due to taboos around seeking treatment and a lack of culturally competent care, Joo Han, deputy director of the Asian American Federation (AAF), said in a May 25 webinar on Asian American mental health.

Less than a third of Asian American New Yorkers with depression receive mental health treatment, compared to more than half of their white peers, a 2021 study from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene found.

“Mental health needs have risen exponentially in the past few years, and compounded by a fear of Covid infection, loss of loved ones, social isolation, and anxiety arising from hate crimes and xenophobic attacks against Asians across the country,” Sophia Silao, program officer at the New York Health Foundation, said during the webinar. “The need for culturally and linguistically appropriate care is great.”

Stigma surrounding mental health is the “number one deterrent” keeping more Asian Americans from seeking care, Han said. Many Asian Americans feel that they have to be self-sufficient and are not used to asking for help, Han noted.

The model minority myth that assumes all Asian Americans are successful, high earning, and well educated only adds to that stigma: It puts pressure on Asian Americans to meet those standards, sometimes at the cost of their mental well-being, nonprofit research organization the Urban Institute found.

“Many folks in the Asian community don’t see mental health as a legitimate health concern, so that deters them from seeking help as they might for a physical ailment, where they would go to a doctor for help,” Han said.

Keep reading here.—KW

Do you work in healthcare or have information about the industry that we should know? Email Kristine at [email protected] For completely confidential conversations, ask Kristine for her number on Signal.



AI concerns

A person hovers their finger over a touch screen chat bot Laurence Dutton/Getty Images

Maybe think twice before using ChatGPT in a healthcare setting.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends caution when implementing artificial intelligence (AI)-generated large language model tools (LLMs) into routine healthcare. Concerns such as data biases or lack of protection for patient health data highlight the need for rigorous oversight to ensure that AI is used safely and ethically in healthcare.

“Precipitous adoption of untested systems could lead to errors by healthcare workers, cause harm to patients, erode trust in AI, and thereby undermine (or delay) the potential long-term benefits and uses of such technologies around the world,” according to the WHO.

AI has already made its way into healthcare, and has the potential to save the industry $360 billion annually. More healthcare organizations are utilizing AI for administrative and clinical tasks, such as optimizing operating room schedules or interpreting medical scans. Some patients at Philadelphia-based Jefferson Health are already turning to AI instead of physicians for diagnoses.

Still, there are some problems health systems need to contend with if administrators use AI.

Data used to train these AI technologies “may be biased, generating misleading or inaccurate information that could pose risks to health, equity, and inclusiveness,” the WHO found.

“Bias in data used to develop AI tools can reduce their safety and effectiveness for patients who differ—whether genetically or in socioeconomic status, general health status, or other characteristics—from the population whose data were used to develop the tool,” according to a 2020 report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Keep reading here.—KW


State of the Industry

State of the Industry

Our State of the Industry Report reveals the disruptive trends reshaping the sector, from labor shortages accelerated by the pandemic to the rising influence of tech companies. Gain valuable insights and stay ahead of the curve. Don’t miss out—secure your copy here.


A laptop tracking vital signs is placed on rolling medical equipment. Francis Scialabba

Today’s top healthcare reads.

Stat: A company that sells a ~$1,000 test that allegedly detects cancer inaccurately told about 400 customers they might have the disease. (CBS News)

Quote: “These unconscionable contracts effectively trap these workers in debt bondage, making it impossible for them to leave their jobs.”—Martina Vandenberg, president of the Human Trafficking Legal Center, on hospital policies that heavily fine immigrant workers who fill vacant healthcare positions (NBC News)

Read: Public health leaders are fighting to keep vaccine policies in place following the pandemic, which has made it difficult to implement new vaccine proposals. (Politico)

Daily news for busy professionals: Morning Brew delivers top business news in a quick-to-read daily newsletter. Save time and stay informed when you subscribe today!

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  • Merck sued the Biden administration on Tuesday over a proposal that would allow Medicare to negotiate directly with drug manufacturers.
  • The types of treatment for addiction range, and experts say there’s no “one size fits all” model.
  • Two in five food poisoning outbreaks were linked to sick restaurant workers.
  • State and federal regulators are concerned about the growing market of “mood-altering mushroom products.”


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