Investors are pumping funds into digital health, showing the most interest in big data and analytics, yet focusing on fewer companies as the market matures, according to data from StartUp Health, reported via Modern Healthcare. New funding in digital health hit $6.5 billion in 2014, vs. $2.9 million in the previous year. McKesson will be a deal-making leader in the space in 2015, with 15 to 25 deals possible in the next two to three years, notes Modern Healthcare, quoting one venture capitalist.

Healthcare providers often employ the soothing benefits of music in relations with patients, and patients have their own musical views about providers. BMJ researchers, as part of the journal’s holiday editorial package, evaluated music’s role in both sides of the doctor-patient relationship. Analyzing a 2012 Guardian blog, they found that pop songs portray doctors as drug dealers (5% of songs); as people who engage in inappropriate behavior, typically of a sexual nature; and as healers, often of broken hearts. Authors of a related editorial found that music is played in operating rooms 72% of the time, where surgical staff value its anxiety reducing benefits, and also suggest songs for surgery. Among BMJ author picks for which tunes surgeons should avoid: Radiohead’s “Knives Out.”


A study by scientists from the Robert Koch Institute in Berlin suggests that bats may be the origin of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, The New York Times reports. Scientists worked from reports that a toddler who died from the disease in December 2013 possibly caught the virus from bats living in a hollow tree, which burned down earlier this year. Using residual and fecal DNA found at the site, they identified long-tailed, insect-eating bats previously thought to be the source of an outbreak of a Sudan strain of the virus.


Walgreen and Alliance Boots have finalized a merger to form the “Walgreens Boots Alliance,” a global enterprise, with the completion of a two-step merger plan that began with a Walgreen’s investment in Boots in 2012. The merger creates a company spanning more than 25 countries with over 12,800 stores, and with 340 pharma distribution centers serving more than 180,000 pharmacies and other points of care. Stefano Pessina will become acting CEO of the new company as Walgreen president and CEO Greg Wasson retires with completion of the merger. The WSJ had earlier reported that the merger could spawn the world’s largest prescription drug purchaser.

Former US Senator from Alaska Mike Gravel has been tapped to head KUSH, a strategic business unit of research-based cannabis products firm Cannabis Sativa Inc. Gravel will lead efforts to develop cannabis-based products for recreational and medicinal use, including the “Kubby” lozenge, the firm says.