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Christina Liu

Inside Vida Health’s Move Into Musculoskeletal Care

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

In the ‘point solution versus platform’ debate, mark another score for integration as Vida Health jumps into the musculoskeletal (MSK) care space. This is a move we’ve seen before among the digital health chronic condition management set (remember when Omada acquired Physera, Dario Health acquired Upright, and everyone was waiting to see if Livongo would make a play for Sword or Hinge?) so why is Vida just jumping in now?

Dr. Patrick Carroll, Vida Health’s Chief Medical Officer, lets us in on the strategy behind the startup’s move into the MSK space and what it signals about how employers (and their employees) are starting to view digital health and virtual care within the larger scope of available care options out there.

As for Vida’s MSK program, it’s different than what you might expect. According to Pat, the program is strictly focused on lower back pain and helping members quickly find the physical therapy and, if needed, mental health care that can make a real difference to their overall health in a manner of weeks. If something more complex is discovered, Pat says Vida is working with partners – including those digital-first MSK clinics – to refer out. Is this the long-term play or will Vida eventually build out or buy its way further into MSK? We find out what’s ahead for the cardiometabolic care company as it launches yet another new offering to improve access to care.

Forget Micro-Networks: How Avaneer Health is Building The One Health Data Exchange to Rule Them All

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

What BIG thing is Avaneer Health building with its $50 million SEED round backed by not-just-investors-but-also-partners CVS Health, Aetna, Anthem, Cleveland Clinic, HCSC, PNC Bank, Sentara Healthcare and IBM Watson Health? CEO Stuart Hanson stops by to clear-up the mystery that IS Avaneer Health, and how the massive data exchange platform it’s building is meant to connect the data coming out of the biggest payers and biggest providers in healthcare, directly and in real-time.

Hang on – is this the blockchain-based data exchange healthcare has been talking about for more than a decade?? It sure is trying to be. And what Stuart says is different about Avaneer’s effort is, indeed, the fact that it’s backed by some of the biggest brands in the business and that they see the business case in being able to more effectively share their data with one another. As he explains it, “this problem of data interoperability and data fluidity is bigger than any competitive business model that they need to worry about…”

Stuart is careful to explain what Avaneer IS and what it IS NOT, and this is critical to the company’s growth plans and revenue model. Avaneer is NOT a data intermediary; it’s not about aggregating data, normalizing it, de-identifying it, or applying any fancy machine learning algorithms to it to deliver “insights” on it. Avaneer is strictly a platform for secure, compliant data exchange, so, for example, Anthem can connect to Cleveland Clinic in real-time and verify insurance coverage. The revenue model is currently built around access to the network and will one-day-soon also take in fees from ‘Solutions Innovators’ (aka data-aggregating, algorithm-loving, insights-dropping health tech companies) that will offer their services as add-on’s to Avaneer’s customers who are plugged into the network.

What’s ahead for this stealthy start-up as it scales? Could they REALLY be looking to raise a follow-on seed round?? Find out what kind of investors they’re looking for and what’s ahead on their product roadmap in this in-depth chat.

7WireVentures’ Lee Shapiro: What’s Ahead for Investment in Health Tech

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

What’s Lee Shapiro’s take on the health tech market’s state-of-play? 7wireVenture’s Co-Founder and Managing Partner stops by to talk early-stage investment, what’s hot and what’s not post-pandemic, and how he views the digital health funding frenzy of the past couple years which, one could argue, was kicked into high-gear by portfolio-company-slash-previous-employer Livongo.

Lee says there’s “enough broken business processes in healthcare to last a lifetime,” which means a lot of opportunity for consumer-minded health tech startups to change things, but does the recent slowdown in venture funding and pummeling of public market health tech stocks indicate that the category is in trouble before it even gets a chance to make a real impact? We get Lee’s opinion on whether or not the market is cooling, what he thinks will happen next with valuations, and what he views as the best way to scale a healthcare startup – particularly as we watch Glen Tullman run the ‘Livongo playbook’ at new business Transcarent. And, speaking of Glen… did Lee really teach him everything he knows?? We’re starting some trouble in this one!

The Mental Health ‘Formulary of the Future’? Otsuka’s Work in DTx, Psychedelics, & More

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Otsuka Pharmaceuticals is expanding its mental health formulary – looking beyond traditional medications to psychedelics, and to the “intersection of technology and psychiatry” with digital therapeutics currently in clinical trials for Major Depressive Disorder. Kabir Nath, Senior Managing Director of Otsuka’s Global Pharmaceutical Business, lets us in on the thinking behind these bold moves, why the pharma co is even innovating to expand the spectrum of treatments available for mental illness in the first place, and how soon these new therapies will reach patients.

“Follow the science” is a key undercurrent of this conversation, particularly as we talk through Otsuka’s investments in psychedelic medicine start-ups Compass Pathways and, more recently, Mindset. Kabir says the body of clinical evidence for these therapies is building and we get his prediction on when they might become more mainstream and readily available.

We also get his take on digital therapeutics (DTx) and the work Otsuka is doing with Click Therapeutics in Major Depressive Disorder. Their clinical trial, done in partnership with Verily, is the first-ever fully remote clinical trial conducted in this space, and the hope is that it not only generates evidence to support the emerging DTx category, but that it also sets a precedent for a new, tech-enabled way to run clinical trials.

This is just the beginning. There’s lots more on the innovations changing pharma and the future of mental health care in this one. Watch now!

ATA’s CEO Ann Mond Johnson Takes on the “Telehealth Cliff”

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

The BIG takeaway from ATA’s Annual Meeting is best bottom-lined by ATA’s big boss, CEO Ann Mond Johnson, in this interview: “From an overall perspective, we just don’t want to go over that ‘telehealth cliff.’”

ATA, the re-branded American Telemedicine Association, has not only evolved along with virtual care through the pandemic, but has also been critical in redefining telehealth as modality for healthcare and re-framing access to it as a bipartisan issue that everyone in DC can get behind.

Ann talks through the high-level changes she’s witnessed for telehealth adoption over the past two years and gives us her predictions for what’s going to happen next – particularly when it comes to the business of virtual care, consumer demand, and, most importantly, regulations and reimbursement. Lots happening thanks to ATA’s new affiliated trade organization, ATA Action, which is lobbying to ensure that the waivers that enabled the acceleration of telehealth during the Covid-19 public health emergency become permanent. The time is NOW for health tech co’s to get involved! Tune in to find out how.

Health Care Through the Back Door: The Dangers of Nurse Visits

By HANS DUVEFELT

In some practices, patients with seemingly simple problems are scheduled to be seen by a nurse or medical assistant. Sometimes they can even just drop off a urine sample in case of a suspected urinary tract infection.

This is a dangerous trap. What if the patient rarely gets urinary infections, has back pain and assumes it is a UTI instead of a kidney stone or shingles on their back just where one kidney is located; what if they have lower abdominal pain from an ovarian cyst or an ectopic pregnancy?

Another dangerous type of “nurse visit” is when patients focus on one symptom or parameter, thinking for example that as long as their blood pressure is okay, their vague chest pressure with sweating and shortness of breath isn’t anything serious. It’s one thing if I want a couple of blood pressure checks by my nurse, but a whole different thing when it is the patient’s idea, assumption or self diagnosis.

In many cases, a telephone call with the provider or a triage nurse can be safer and more diagnostic than starting with a nurse visit. Because the symptom history is usually more important when making a diagnosis. And nurse visits tend to be skimpy when it comes to the clinical history, even though the provider assumes responsibility for the diagnosis and treatment of a patient they didn’t talk to or examine.

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Digital & Tech Are Changing Pfizer: Pharma Co’s Chief Digital & Technology Officer Takes Us Inside

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

What does digital transformation look like at a global healthcare giant like Pfizer? Lidia Fonseca, Pfizer’s Chief Digital & Technology Officer, shares her strategy for building the life sciences company’s digital data and technology solutions, including her thinking about digital therapeutics, digital diagnostics, and digital biomarkers. As Lidia puts it, this is not about trying to simply implement a “digital strategy,” but is, instead, about building a “business strategy for digital world.”

There’s probably no better story that illustrates how that “business strategy for a digital world” is playing out than the fascinating example of how Pfizer’s Digital team helped accelerate the development of the Covid19 vaccine and oral treatment. Lidia takes us inside and talks through how her team used tech to safely speed-up everything from development timelines to clinical trials and even go-to-market in areas around the globe that were experiencing outbreaks.

Beyond the tech team’s ability to effectively wield data that changed the game when it came to Covid, Lidia also shares what’s next for the pharma co when it comes to digital health and digital medicines. Beyond the pill? Around the pill? Instead of the pill? What’s Pfizer’s position on digital therapeutics as it continues to work to bring new breakthrough medicines to patients? We get into all the ways digital and technology are manifesting themselves within an organization like Pfizer AND get Lidia’s best advice for other healthcare organizations who are redefining their businesses with technology.

Vida Health Starts Prescribing: Meds, Labs, Devices, & More for Mental Health & Diabetes

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Big news coming out of Vida Health today as the chronic condition care startup announces that it will now be able to prescribe meds, med devices, lab tests, and more to its members. This puts Vida Health among the first of the digital health chronic care companies to evolve its offerings beyond apps-and-coaching, leading on this trend to take digital health chronic care into a more full expression of virtual care.

Vida Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Carroll, introduces us to the new offering which he tipped us off about when we met him a few months ago, new to his role at Vida and coming in hot from Hims & Hers where he built similar services as he took that company public as CMO.

The new prescribing services will cover both sides of Vida Health’s integrated model: mental health and cardiometabolic health, but in different ways. On the mental health side, Pat says members will be able to receive prescription meds for anxiety and depression ONLY at this time; on the cardiometabolic side, members working with Vida Health will NOT be able to get prescription drugs to help with diabetes or heart health, but would instead be able to get continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) prescribed, specialized diets, and labs, like A1C testing, that require a script.

Do these prescribing services begin to turn Vida Health into a primary care provider? If not, how do these new prescribing and medication management roles integrate with whatever other primary care offering is in place through a member’s plan or employer without adding cost or confusion to the patient experience? We talk through the evolution of both care model and business model as Vida Health adds another layer to its full-stack chronic condition management platform.

#HealthTechDeals Episode 16: Doctolib, House Rx, SmithRx, Synapse Medicine, and Kintsugi

May the luck of the Irish be with the health tech sector and may everybody’s valuation go back to where it was for the St. Patrick’s Day episode of Health Tech Deals! In today’s episode, Jess asks me about Doctolib’s €500 million raise with a massive €5.8 billion valuation – this is a doctor booking service and more in Europe. We also cover specialty pharma company House Rx’s $25 million raise, bringing their total up to $30 million, SmithRx’s $27 million raise for its flat-fee PBM, Synapse Medicine’s $28 million raise doing medication management, and Kintsugi’s $20 million raise for its voice biomarker mental health tech. —Matthew Holt

TRANSCRIPT

Jessica DaMassa:

What’s that over there? Is that a little leprechaun sitting next to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? No, it’s just Matthew Holt. May the luck of the Irish be with the health tech sector and everybody’s valuation goes back to where it was in the summer of 2021. It can only be the March 17th ,St. Patty’s day, episode of Health Tech Deals.

Matthew Holt:

So, Jessica you’re from Chicago, right?

Jessica DaMassa:

I am.

Matthew Holt:

And they have the big St. Patrick’s Day Parade there and they dye the river green?

Jessica DaMassa:

They dye the river green. Nobody believes it but it’s true.

Matthew Holt:

So why don’t they dye it blue the rest of the year?

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