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As Balwani and Holmes Head To Jail…Will Others in Health Tech Follow?

by MIKE MAGEE

This week’s headlines seemingly closed a chapter on the story of medical research criminality in America. Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, former president and COO of Theranos was sentenced to 13 years in prison for fraud. That’s 2 years more than his former business and romantic partner, Elizabeth Holmes.

White crime criminal defense attorney for all things science tech, Michael Weinstein, took the opportunity to trumpet out a confident message that crime doesn’t pay in Medicine with these words, “It clearly sends a signal to Silicon Valley that puffery and fraud and misrepresentation will be prosecuted, there will be consequences and the end result is potentially decades in prison.”

The smooth talking fraudsters played a good hand for years, buoyed by a Board, asleep at the $9 billion valuation wheel, with the likes of George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch and Larry Ellison. But attorney Weinstein and all associated with Health Tech entrepreneurship would do well to read again a classic piece of health journalism from fifty-six years ago.

On June 16, 1966, the New England Journal of Medicine published an article titled “Ethics and Clinical Research.” Written by a highly respected Harvard physician, Henry K. Beecher, the head of anesthesiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, the article referred to “troubling charges” that had grown out of “troubling practices” at “leading medical schools, university hospitals, private hospitals, governmental military departments (the Army, the Navy and the Air Force), governmental institutes (the National Institutes of Health), Veterans Administration hospitals and industry.”

Beecher then reviewed 50 distinct contemporary American clinical studies with ethical violations judged by standards at Beecher’s own Massachusetts General Hospital.

Continue reading…

THCB Gang Episode 109, Thursday December 8, 1pm PT 4pm ET

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday December 8 will be futurist Jeff Goldsmith; privacy expert Deven McGraw (@healthprivacy), and employer & care consultant Brian Klepper (@bklepper1). Deven has a bunch of insights from her new study on health data access!

You can see the video below & if you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

HLTH 2022: Calibrate Launches Enterprise Product to Bring GLP1 Weight Loss Drugs to Payers/Employers

by JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Telehealth weight loss clinic Calibrate is expanding its two-year old D2C biz and taking it into the workplace with the launch of ‘Calibrate for Enterprise,’ which makes its program of GLP-1 weight loss drugs and behavior change coaching now available to payers and self-insured employers as a packaged employee health benefit. CEO Isabelle Kenyon shares the news here and reveals that the enterprise offering actually launched in stealth-mode a little more than a month ago with three clients and already has signed up more members in one month than it had its entire first six months D2C. How does the math work on ‘Calibrate for Enterprise,’ when GLP-1 drugs are $700-$1,300 per month? Isabelle explains how they’re making the total cost of care equation work for payers and employers AND addresses common concerns about what happens to all that successful weight loss when employees eventually come off their meds.

Give Kids a Healthy Itch

by KIM BELLARD

Someday I’ll probably write about Neuralink, but these days I don’t feel like giving Elon Musk any extra publicity. I also had the notion to take OpenAI’s newly announced ChatGPT down a rabbit hole about U.S. healthcare, just to see where it would go, but Mr. Musk has his fingerprints on that organization too.  Then I saw something worth celebrating: Scratch has hit 100 million users worldwide

What’s that? You’re not familiar with Scratch? Well, me neither, until last week. Now that I know a little about it, I kind of feel how I felt when I first discovered TikTok, found out about Roblox, or learned about Raspberry Pi. In all cases, there were big ecosystems aimed at young people, getting them to view tech-related things (e.g., gaming, coding, even building computers) as something natural, something fun, something easy to do, and those ecosystems were largely invisible to most adults.

I’m still waiting for the ecosystem that makes health like that for young people.   

Scratch modestly describes itself as a “coding platform for children.” 

Continue reading…

THCB Quickbite: Julian Flannery, CEO, Summus

Julian Flannery is CEO of Summus, which I can’t pronounce (it’s Sue-mus like lawsuit not Sum-mus like math, despite the 2 Ms!). It’s a multidimensional referral platform which combines primary and specialty virtual care for employers, a white-label service for hospitals to deliver their specialty care, and now a peer-to-peer escalation model for specialists to talk to AMC-based specialists & get 2nd opinion reviews. Around 1.4m members on the platform and it’s seen massive usage growth in last 12 months–Matthew Holt

HLTH 2022: Wheel Adds More Telehealth Tech Infrastructure with Acquisition of GoodRx’s Care Software

by JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Health tech infrastructure startups remain HOT and, given the industry-wide rise of the “omnichannel care” strategy, none might be hotter than telehealth infra biz, Wheel. CEO Michelle Davey talks about providing white label virtual care services that will now not only include telehealth and EMR technology, clinical care, and end-to-end lab technology, but also the back-office tech that has powered GoodRx all these years. We dive into the acquisition of GoodRx’s care engagement software, how it will enable Wheel to expand its behind-the-scenes reach into the healthcare market, and whether or not Michelle sees all this clamoring about omnichannel care as ultimately eroding Wheel’s biz…or as the force that will propel its growth long into the future.

OK, trying more AI to write this

by MATTHEW HOLT

In the far oft halcyon days of last month, I used an AI system from Lex.Page  to write something about digital health. In the past few days the world has gone nuts about a new AI author called ChatGPT. So I tought I would compare and contrast.

Last month Lex.page was asked about Digital Health and it said

Digital Health is one of the most rapidly growing and important sectors in health care today. It is a broad term that encompasses the use of technology to improve health and health care.

Today I asked ChatGPT the same thing. In fact I just wrote “Digital Health” as the Q and this was the A

Digital health, also known as telehealth, is the use of digital technologies to deliver healthcare services remotely. This includes the use of video conferencing, mobile health apps, remote patient monitoring, and other digital tools to provide healthcare services to patients. Digital health can be used to improve access to primary care, reduce costs, and improve patient outcomes.

OK, pretty much a longer version of the same thing but with more details. So then I went BACK to Lex.page to ask it. But I had to ask it “What is Digital Health”

Digital health is a term used to describe the use of technology to improve healthcare. It covers everything from diagnostic tools and monitoring devices to electronic medical records and healthcare analytics. It’s an exciting and rapidly evolving area that has the potential to revolutionize the delivery of healthcare.

So in a month Lex.page has gotten a lot better!

Last month Lex.page said in response to my question/statement, “The biggest challenges for primary care are”

-Access to care

-Cost of care

-Quality of care

So it seems that digital health can help with all of those things. By providing tools that help patients better self-manage their health, digital health can help to improve access to care. By providing tools that help to lower the cost of care, digital health can help to make care more affordable. And by providing tools that help to improve the quality of care, digital health can help to make

I put the same sentence into GPTChat and at the bottom it told me Warning: Your text ends in a trailing space, which causes worse performance due to how the API splits text into tokens. But I asked it anyway and it gave me

A: 1. Accessibility: Ensuring that everyone has access to quality primary care services.

I surmised that it had more answers so I kept hitting submit! It got to another 12 answers with no new question!

Q: A: 2. Cost: Finding ways to make primary care services more affordable and accessible to all. Q: A: 3. Workforce: Recruiting and retaining a sufficient number of primary care providers to meet the needs of the population. Q: A: 4. Technology: Incorporating new technologies into primary care to improve efficiency and patient outcomes. Q: A: 5. Coordination: Improving the coordination of care between primary care providers and other healthcare professionals. Q: A: 6. Quality: Ensuring that primary care services are of the highest quality and meet the needs of patients. Q: A: 7. Education: Educating patients about the importance of preventive care and the value of primary care services. Q: A: 8. Mental Health: Integrating mental health services into primary care to better address the needs of patients. Q: A: 9. Population Health: Developing strategies to improve the health of the population as a whole. A: 10. Data: Utilizing data to inform decision-making and improve patient outcomes. A: 11. Payment: Developing new payment models that incentivize quality care and reduce costs. Q: A: 12. Social Determinants of Health: Addressing the social and environmental factors that influence health outcomes.

OK so those are all separate statements, but it’s pretty damn impressive. How is Lex.page doing? Well I asked it’s chatbot the same statement and it now answered:

The biggest challenges for primary care are likely to be related to access and cost. In many areas of the world, access to quality primary care is limited by geography, poverty, or both. Cost is also an issue, especially in countries with expensive healthcare systems. Additionally, many primary care providers struggle to effectively manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, due to a lack of resources, funding, and staff. Finally, the rapid advancements in technology have presented a challenge in terms of staying up to date with the latest medical developments.

That’s not only pretty smart but it’s quite an advance on the answer it gave me to the same vague question/statement just 31 days ago.

We are seeing a technology emerge right before our eyes.

Presumably the next step is to set it to read some of my favorite pieces on THCB and just have it write for me! Then I will be happily replaced by a robot!

New VC Fund Angelini Ventures Launches to Find Next Big Digital Health & Biotech Disruptors

BY JESS DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

NEW VC Fund! Angelini Ventures just launched their $300 million dollar investment fund to support early-stage biotech and digital health startups in the US, Europe, and Israel. CEO & Managing Director Paolo Di Giorgio and Managing Director Elia Stupka explain the fund’s thesis which is different than the usual corporate investment funds because of its “very long-term” strategy and interest in supporting disruptive health innovation that doesn’t necessarily need to relate to the core businesses of its multi-national parent, Angelini Industries. Find out more – including details about where this fund has already placed some investment dollars – from this quick chat in Milan.

THCB Gang Episode 108, Thursday December 1

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) on #THCBGang on Thursday November 17 were futurist Jeff Goldsmith; THCB regular writer and ponderer of odd juxtapositions Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard); patient safety expert and all around wit Michael Millenson (@mlmillenson); fierce patient activist Casey Quinlan (@MightyCasey); and Olympic rower for 2 countries and all around dynamo Jennifer Goldsack, (@GoldsackJen). This was quite the conversation!

You can see the video below & if you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

‘Breaking Down Interstate Barriers to Telehealth Delivery’ Tops ATA’s Priorities for 2023

by JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Just one week before the ATA EDGE Policy Conference (12/7-12/9 Washington DC) we get a SNEAK PEEK at what’s topping the agenda – and the American Telemedicine Association (ATA)’s list of priorities for 2023 – to ensure that digital health and virtual care providers avoid the ‘telehealth cliff’ that could send us back to pre-pandemic scaling issues of both practice and reimbursement.

Kyle Zebley, SVP of Public Policy at the ATA and Executive Director of ATA Action (the ATA’s affiliate advocacy organization) gives us the skinny on where policies currently stand at the federal and state level and, more importantly, what’s in jeopardy of changing soon. The list is long – everything from interstate practice to originating site stipulations, in-person visit requirements (especially for tele-mental health visits), and a number of favorable reimbursement policies that made telehealth a covered benefit at federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, and under some high-deductible health plans. And, these are just to name a few…

Right now, the pandemic’s public health emergency is still in effect until mid-January, and, though it is expected to be renewed, the renewal will only get us into the second quarter of 2023. Kyle gives us the in-depth details on what ATA is advocating for and how they’re doing it. Of particular interest is the work being done to preserve clinicians’ ability to deliver cross-state care. The details here are fascinating. Kyle explains the nuances of tactics like licensure compacts and common sense exceptions that are being explored to permanently extend cross-state telehealth care, as well as the role the federal government can play in helping these policies along by incentivizing states to adopt these them through a “carrot-and-stick approach.”

The time to get involved is now, Health Tech! Get your start by watching this in-depth chat with Kyle to get caught up on where things stand, then check out ATA’s site for information on what you can do to support these on-going efforts to keep virtual care a growing vehicle for healthcare delivery.

* Special thanks to Wheel, sponsor of this special monthly WTF Health series on the policies that are changing telehealth and virtual care. Wheel is the health tech company powering the virtual care industry, provides companies with everything they need to launch and scale virtual care services — including the regulatory infrastructure to deliver high quality and compliant care. Learn more at www.wheel.com.

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