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Category: Health Technology

#Healthin2Point00, Episode 226 | DomaniRx, Connections Health Solutions, Veda, and Connie Health

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, we have more deals for you! First up, DomaniRx: Anthem, Humana, and a software company SS&C are teaming up to launch a PBM. Connections Health Solutions raises $30 million working on comprehensive behavioral health care, and Veda Data Solutions raises $45 million, bringing their total to $52.2 million, applying AI to provider data. Finally, Medicare navigation platform Connie Health raises $13 million, bringing their total to $16 million. —Matthew Holt

The Rise of the Health Coach: YourCoach.Health on Market Opportunity Between Healthcare & Wellness

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

According to the team at YourCoach.Health, health coaching is “the ‘glue’ that’s connecting the $4-trillion wellness economy with the $8-trillion healthcare economy.” And by learning about the growing number of nearly 2,000 health coaches who are engaged in their practice management solution – and the small and mid-sized employers who want to tap into it to provide health coaching to their workforces – its seems like they might be right.

YourCoach’s CEO Marina Borukhovich and COO Eugene Borukhovich walk through the work they are doing to build a platform that both helps health coaches do their jobs better AND find clients within the SMB health benefits market. While “coaching” might often get wrapped around everything from remote monitoring devices and digital therapeutics to care plans for chronic conditions and long-term illnesses, “health coaching” as a credentialed discipline is different.

Marina and Eugene de-mystify the terminology for us, along with the certifications required to be a health coach, the current reimbursement climate for the health service, and where they think the discipline is headed as demand for “human-led, compassion-driven” healthcare booms among both healthcare consumers AND practitioners. A couple little scoops in this one too as we learn about some soon-to-be-released tech features on their platform AND the seed-funded startup’s plans to raise a Series A.

Let’s Meet in the Metaverse

By KIM BELLARD

I really wasn’t expecting to write about the Metaverse again so soon, after discussing it in the context of Roblox last March, which itself followed a look at Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney’s vision for the Metaverse last August.  But darn that Mark Zuckerberg!

Not many noticed when Mr. Zuckerberg told Facebook employees in June that the company would become focused on building a metaverse, but he got some attention when he expanded on his vision for The Verge in late July.  Then last Monday Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of AR/VR, confirmed a product group had been formed to bring it about.  And, finally, in an earnings call last Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg and his executive team couldn’t stop gushing about the importance of the metaverse to the company, and the world.

So, yeah, the metaverse is in the news.  And, once again, I worry healthcare is going to be late to the party. 

I won’t go into too much detail about what the metaverse is; for those who want a deep dive, there’s Matthew Ball’s nine part primer, or you could just read Ready Player One.  Mr. Zuckerberg described it to The Verge as follows: “you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it.”  In the earnings call, he clarified: “The defining quality of the metaverse is presence – which is this feeling that you’re really there with another person or in another place.” 

Depending on your age/preferences, the concept of “an embodied internet” is either chilling or thrilling.  Maybe both.   

It’s potentially a big deal.  Gene Marks, writing in Forbes, says, “business interactions will forever change.”  The Conversation’s Beth Daley goes further, stating “creating a virtual world for users to interact with their friends and family is not just a fancy vision, it is a commercial necessity.”

It’s not VR, it’s not AR, it’s not 3D internet, although all those may be part of it.  It’s not gaming, it’s not entertainment, it’s not social network, although all of those will be part of it too.  Mr. Zuckerberg promises: “It’s going to be accessible across all of our different computing platforms; VR and AR, but also PC, and also mobile devices and game consoles.”  Not to overstate it, but he sees the Metaverse as the “next generation of the internet.”  Mr. Zuckerberg also described it as “the next computing platform.”

He is openly telling people that the goal is for Facebook to transition to a metaverse company, “within the next five years or so.”  Analysts on the earnings call pressed Facebook to confirm an estimate of a $5b investment, but only got an admission that, yes, the investment was “billions.”

Significantly, for Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg believes: “this is going to be not something that one company builds alone, but I think it is going to be a whole ecosystem that needs to develop.”   As Mr. Zuckerberg said in The Verge interview, “Hopefully in the future, asking if a company is building a metaverse will sound as ridiculous as asking a company how their internet is going.”

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THCB Spotlights: Marta Zanchi, Founder & Managing Partner at Nina Capital

Today on THCB Spotlight, Matthew sits down with Marta Zanchi, who is the founder and Managing Partner at Nina Capital. Nina Capital is a micro venture capital firm in Barcelona, and in this interview, Matthew asks Marta about her decision to move from Silicon Valley to Barcelona and start this fund. Marta talks us through some of the investments they’ve made in the past couple of years so tune in to find out more.

Mental Health Startup SonderMind Lands $150M to Tackle ‘THE’ Health Issue of Our Generation

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

SonderMind closes a $150M Series C funding round co-led by Drive Capital and Premji Invest, and we get CEO Mark Frank’s take on what sets THIS digital mental health startup apart from a pack of very well-funded competitors. SonderMind has its own behavioral health therapists, built its own tech stack, delivers care virtually AND in-person, is covered by some of the biggest health plans in the country — Aetna, Anthem, Bright Health, Cigna, Kaiser, Optum, and United Healthcare. (They can also namedrop health-tech-infamous Board member, Jonathan Bush, in an interview, but that’s beside the point!)

What’s most remarkable – and what Mark says most impressed investors this time around – is not only the health of SonderMind’s business model, but also its balance sheet. This raise marks the bulk of the total $183M the startup has raised to-date, and Mark reveals that they’ve only deployed about half of the $27M Series B funding they received in April 2020 in a round led by General Catalyst. How will such a “capital efficient” business begin to deploy these new funds? We hear Mark’s plans for nationwide expansion and improvements to that tech stack, particularly when it comes to better matching therapists and patients based on expertise and need, and more appropriately measuring process and outcomes. Two areas ripe for more tech integration as the mental health provider tackles what Mark calls THE defining health issue of our generation.

The Most Important Thing

By KIM BELLARD

Jack Dorsey has some big hopes for bitcoin.  In a webinar last week, he said: “My hope is that it creates world peace or helps create world peace.”  The previous week Mr. Dorsey announced Square was starting a decentralized financial services (DeFi) business based on bitcoin, joining the previously announced Square bitcoin wallet.  

None of this should be a surprise.  At the Bitcoin 2021 conference in June, Mr. Dorsey said: “Bitcoin changes absolutely everything.  I don’t think there is anything more important in my lifetime to work on.”

I’m impressed that someone with as many accomplishments as Jack Dorsey picks something not obviously related to those accomplishments and decides it is the most important thing he could work on.  So, of course, I had to wonder: what might accomplished people in healthcare say was the most important thing they wanted to be working on?

For many these days, of course, it is the COVID-19 pandemic.  Not much has had a higher priority.  Highly effective vaccines have been developed, COVID-19 treatments have greatly improved, supply chains have been adjusted and readjusted, and countless public health measures have been tried.  Healthcare professionals have worked themselves to extremes.

For others, perhaps, it would be to address the extreme financial hardships the U.S. healthcare system can cause.  A new study in JAMA confirmed what is hiding in plain sight – hundreds of billions of medical debt.   Debt continued to rise despite ACA, especially in states that perversely chose not to expand Medicaid.  Efforts such as requiring hospital “price transparency” have largely failed.  Many large hospital systems continue to sue patients who can’t pay.  These hardships are unfair, immoral, and unique to the U.S.; addressing them should be important.

However, both the pandemic and financial obstacles contributed to, but did not cause, the big health inequities in the U.S. healthcare system.  People of color, people in lower socioeconomic classes, even women all face numerous inequities in the health care they receive and in the health they achieve.   These may reflect broader social inequities, but no one in healthcare should look at these without wanting to address them. 

Digital health has never been hotter. The pandemic reminded people how valuable telehealth can be, and investors are pouring money into digital health at astounding levels – some $19b in the first half of 2021 alone.  We may be in bit of a manic phase right now, but few doubt that digital health is going to be a big part of healthcare’s future. 

Then there’s artificial intelligence (A.I.).  No industry in 2021 can be ignoring it. Some well-publicized mishaps with IBM’s Watson or Babylon Health notwithstanding, A.I. in healthcare has already made impressive strides, such as DeepMind’s recent protein predictions or its successes in imaging.  A.I. is going to be built into our health care in the future, either in a supporting role or directly, and working on it has to be on many people’s wish list.  

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#Healthin2Point00, Episode 224 | b.well, Quit Genius, Doktor.se, Sweetch, Kno2, and HealthifyMe

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I chat about the staggering medical debt in this country before diving into some more health tech deals. First up on Episode 224, personal health record company b.well Connected Health raises $32 million, bringing their total to $57 million. Next, Quit Genius raises $64 million in a Series C, bringing the digital addiction clinic’s total to $78.6 million, and Swedish telehealth company Doktor.se raises €29.5 million – there are some interesting investors in this one. Sweetch, a Bayer G4A company, raises $20 million for its behavior change app and Kno 2 raises $15 million in a Series A in yet another interoperability play. Finally, Healthify.Me raises $75 million, bringing its total to $100 million – this is like Noom plus exercise in India. —Matthew Holt

Nasdaq’s Dario Health ($DRIO) Does Double Acquisition to Build-out Chronic Condition Care Platform

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

The “platform-ization” of chronic condition care continues among digital health companies and Nasdaq-traded Dario Health ($DRIO) has acquired TWO different startups in 2021 alone to augment their core diabetes management offering and keep up. Both wayForward and Upright are now under the Dario Health banner and CEO Erez Raphael reveals the strategy behind the two buy-outs — which cost the company just about $30M each and will add digital behavioral health and musculoskeletal care for chronic pain to the Dario experience.

Erez believes that the promise of digital health and digital therapeutics is hyper-personalization, and that addressing multiple conditions at the same time, in a seamless integration, is the way to deliver on that value prop. But, he’s not alone. Teladoc’s Livongo, Vida Health, One Drop, and Omada Health are well-funded competitors pitching the same promise of integrated virtual care. So, how will Dario Health stand-out? Erez points to the company’s direct-to-consumer beginnings and tech expertise as differentiators – will that be enough in the crowded US employer and health plan market OR is the total addressable market large enough for Dario to grab a significant share? We chat chronic condition care market penetration strategy with one of its few publicly traded digital health companies.

#Healthin2Point00, Episode 223 | Carbon Health, Woebot, Eight Sleep, Aidoc, and OM1

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess has finally reclaimed her Twitter account! On Episode 223, Jess asks me about Carbon Health raising $350 million, this is a big competitor for One Medical with retail clinics plus telehealth. Next, for digital mental health care, Woebot gets $90 million for its mental health chatbot. Eight Sleep raises $76 million working on sleep fitness, with lots of celebrities in this one. Aidoc raises $66 million in a round led by General Catalyst, using AI to analyze medical images for chronic conditions. Finally, real world evidence company OM1 raises $85 million, bringing their total to $170 million. —Matthew Holt

Ginger for Teens Puts “Full-family Approach” to Mental Health Care in Hands of Employers

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Digital mental health unicorn Ginger has just launched ‘Ginger for Teens’ in an effort to help the 1-in-5 teens currently suffering from mental health disorders, amid what’s being called a “teen mental health crisis.” No doubt parents are at their wit’s end searching for care, and Ginger is hoping that its teen-friendly bundle of self-guided content, behavioral health coaching, and video therapy will support a “full-family” approach to mental health care that will help everyone feel a bit better.

Ginger’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Dana Udall, and Adolescent Services Coordinator, Dr. Dena Scott, share their insights on the teen mental health crisis, including the myriad factors they had to consider as they re-tooled Ginger’s offering to meet the needs of this new client base. Ginger for Teens will roll out to all of Ginger’s nearly 650 employer clients by the end of the year, helping teens gain access via their parents’ health plans at work. And beyond Ginger’s employer-sponsored health plan base? Will Ginger for Teens roll out to its health plan clients too? Don’t think we forgot about that first-of-its-kind national contract with Cigna and the potential that partnership could hold to help millions of families nationwide. So, what are the big plans for bringing up the supply-side of teen mental health care? Find out more by tuning in…

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