Misinformation and disinformation (intentionally wrong information) have plagued the storyline of the Covid19 vaccine since the early days of its development, creating a healthcare communications crisis that has not only stalled U.S. vaccination rates, but has also raised questions about how medical and scientific experts will ever again win trust across audiences and communications platforms that are becoming increasingly fragmented, and sometimes hostile.
Yesterday, on the two-year anniversary of the first Covid case in the U.S., I sat down with Dr. Carlos del Rio, Professor of Infectious Diseases & Epidemiology at Emory University, and Jon Reiner, Editorial Director at 120/80 MKTG, to check-in on the vaccine conversation and, more generally, what we in the health innovation community can learn from this situation as we attempt to introduce other new medicines, breakthrough technologies, and scientific advances to the world.
Dr. del Rio served as a vaccine expert in a public service campaign that 120/80 MKTG put together called “Just the Facts on Vax,” which sought to combat vaccine disinformation early-on with a series of bite-sized, social-media-ready videos that put infectious disease experts front-and-center to answer common questions about the vaccine. The full campaign can be viewed on 120over80 MKTG’s YouTube channel, but can it still have an impact? And, in the grand scheme of things, when it comes to people’s personal health, evolving medical or scientific information, and a litany of communication platforms that can position nearly anyone as an expert, how do real experts build trust? An interesting – and timely – chat about the power of information and the “trusted expert” archetype in the context of one of the most unique healthcare stories of our lifetime.
Who is going to get to the end of the alphabet first? Covid-19 or Lyra Health? Jess and I talk about a Series F, some big healthtech deals, and more: Wheel gets $150 million; Topography Health gets $21.6 million; Lyra gets $235 million; Big Health gets $75 million.
In November 2021, 15 prominent organizations including NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) and Well Being Trust joined together to reimagine what a crisis response system might look like. Their Consensus Approach included the response to mental health crises, cases of suicidal behavior, and instances of substance use disorder. They argued that “Without a systems approach to transformation, simply implementing a new number to call will have little impact on those who are in need.”
The Consensus Approach detailed seven critical pillars upon which a new crisis response system could be based, including Equity and Inclusion, Integration and Partnership, and Standards for Care. Pillar #4 stated that “Law enforcement should take a secondary role in crisis response.” This, they said, would be “a paradigm shift” that recognizes mental health conditions as “matters of health care, not criminal justice.”
In this episode of Health Tech Deals, Jess’s productivity this weekend was brought to a show-stopping halt thanks to some Microsoft updates. Does adding unnecessary clicks and creating useless toolbars mean that Microsoft is finally ready for healthcare IT? Jess and I talk about this and some more deals in health tech: TigerConnect gets $300 million, Verana Health gets $150 million, Waymark gets $45 million, Formel Skin gets $30 million Euros, and RCM acquires competitor Cloudmed for $4.1 billion.
You may have seen the news that Kaiser Permanente has signed on to be an organizing member of Graphite Health, joining SSM Health, Presbyterian Healthcare Services, and Intermountain Healthcare. Graphite Health, in case you missed its October launch announcement, is “a member-led company intent on transforming digital health care to improve patient outcomes and lower costs,” focusing on health care interoperability.
That’s all very encouraging, but I’m wondering why it isn’t a DAO. In fact, I’m wondering why there aren’t more DAOs in healthcare generally.
Like the new intro? We sure do! In this episode of Health Tech Deals, Jess and I talk about the latest health tech deals and fundraising efforts: DexCare raises $50 million; Avaneer Health raises $50 million; Deepscribe raises $30 million; Little Otters gets $22 million; Ianacare gets $12 million.
What’s this? A new show? Sort of: Health in 2 Point 00 is now called Health Tech Deals! In our first episode, Jess and I reminisce a bit on our previous 247 episodes, and talk about new huge deals in health tech: Transcarent raises $200 million, bringing their total to $298 million and bringing their valuation to over $1 Billion, more than their competitor Accolade; Medically Home raise $110 million, bringing their total to $274 million; Vera Whole Health buys Castlight for $370 million; Stryker buys Vocera for $2.97 billion.
An essay in Aeon had me at the title: The Waste Age. The title was so evocative of the world we live in that I almost didn’t need to read further, but I’m glad I did, and I encourage you to do the same. Because if we don’t learn to deal with waste – and, as the author urges, design for it – our future looks pretty grim.
Transcarent raises a whopping $200 million Series C funding round that values the year-ish old business at over $1.6 billion – valuing the up-start higher than quasi-competitor, Accolade, which is sitting on the NASDAQ with a $1.3 billion dollar market cap. Executive Chairman & CEO Glen Tullman shares some very revealing details about the round, why he’s deliberately added leading hospital systems onto his cap table, and what he’s got to say to the doubters who might question whether not Transcarent is a billion-dollar business just yet. (Spoiler alert: Glen says Transcarent didn’t even take the highest valuation they were offered…)
The investors are interesting for all those who want to read into the strategic messaging there: late-stage Livongo investor Kinnevik led the round alongside Human Capital and Ally Bridge Group, existing investors came back in, and, probably most surprising, are hospital systems Northwell Health, Intermountain Healthcare, and Rush University Medical Center. Apparently, other hospitals wanted in too but missed the chance thanks to a tight timeline. Glen explains his rush and why the capital is essential to further build out Transcarent’s offering in light of the market opportunity he’s seeing among employers.
This is a payment model innovation play, folks, that is basically arming those large, self-insured employers with the bargaining power and healthcare ingenuity of Glen Tullman, and what he says is the best executive leadership team he’s ever assembled. The pieces are certainly starting to come together, and it looks a lot like a new age payer to me. Transcarent’s basically got the prescription drug pricing power of a PBM in its relationship with Walmart… a national network of top-end health systems who are either partners or have skin in the game thanks to this funding round… the centers of excellence business it bought with BridgeHealth… AND some ‘coming soon’ care-at-home, cancer care, and behavioral health offerings Glen teases us about here. All that is offered to employers at full risk to Transcarent, which takes no copays or coinsurance from members, doesn’t charge any per-employee-per-month fees to their employers, and is keeping providers happy with payment up-front. If it’s not a payer because it’s better than our current definition of a payer, that might be the only reason why!
Still, Glen tells us that partnerships with some of the market’s “most innovative” payers are coming soon, along with new customer announcements. And, what will he spend this $200 million on to further build-out Transcarent’s offering? I’m not afraid to ask if there’s a chronic condition management co he’s got his eye on acquiring!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Let’s break Jess’s New Year’s Resolutions a tiny bit and look at some 2021 healthcare deal holdovers. Healthcare.com raises $180 million, bringing their total to $212 million; Found raises $100 million, bringing their total to 132 million; Well raises $70 million, bringing their total to 135 million, and Garner Health raises $45 million, bringing their total to $70 million.
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