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 $100 million – this is like Noom plus exercise in India. —Matthew Holt
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
The “platform-ization” of chronic condition care continues among digital health companies and Nasdaq-traded Dario Health ($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.
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
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…
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I cover Availity raising $50 million bringing their total to $200 million and a valuation at over a billion. Revenue cycle management company Visiquate raises $50 million, bringing their total to $70 million. Truveta raises $95 million for its data analysis platform, and finally Bayesian gets $15 million using AI to predict sepsis. —Matthew Holt
By KIM BELLARD
When I think of elevator operators, I think of health care.
Now, it’s not likely that many people think about elevator operators very often, if ever. Many have probably never seen an elevator operator. The idea of a uniformed person standing all day in an elevator pushing buttons so that people can get to their floors seems unnecessary at best and ludicrous at worse.
But once upon a time, they were essential, until they weren’t. Healthcare, don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Elevators have been around in some form for hundreds of years, and by the 19th century were using steam or electricity to give them more power, but it wasn’t until Elisha Otis debuted the safety elevator that they came into their own. New engineering techniques such as steel frames made skyscrapers possible, but safe elevators made them feasible; no one wanted to climb stairs for 10+ stories.
Those generations of elevators weren’t quite like the ones we’re used to. The speed and direction had to be controlled manually, the elevator had to be carefully brought to a stop at a floor, and the doors had to be opened and closed. Managing all this was not something that anyone wanted to entrust to passengers. Thus the role of the elevator operator.
But, of course, technology evolved, allowing for more automation. According to elevator engineering expert Stephen R. Nichols:
Elevator buttons were introduced in 1892, electronic signal control in 1924, automatic doors in 1948, and in 1950 the first operatorless elevator was installed at the Atlantic Refining Building in Dallas. Full automatic control and autotronic supervision and operation followed in 1962, and elevator efficiency has steadily increased in other ways.
Elevator operators gradually transitioned from being mechanical operators to concierges, helping passengers find the right floors and making them more comfortable. A 1945 elevator operators strike in New York City had a crippling effect. As Henry L. Greenidge, Esq. wrote on Linkedin, “The public refused to go near the controls despite having watched the operators work the levers numerous times. The thought that a layperson could operate an elevator was simply an outrageous thought.”Continue reading…
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Privia Health ($PRVA) went public a few weeks ago and the stock not only popped when it hit the market, but has continued to rise. When you look at the numbers – and hear about the business model from CEO Shawn Morris – it’s easy to get excited and see why. Privia calls itself a “physician enablement” business, which is the two-word marketing way of saying that they bring together different docs in a region and give them the systems to become part of a value-based care network while also maintaining their private practices. They’re more or less building accountable care organizations (ACOs) in a hub-and-spoke fashion, uniting docs around Privia’s common tech systems, workflow processes, value-based care strategies, and contracting power with commercial and government payers. The model is appealing to docs who want to make the switch to value-based care, but still want the autonomy of their own practices. The value prop has already attracted more than 2,700 providers in 650 different locations netting the biz $817 million in revenue in 2020 – and Shawn says they’ll only expand from here. What’s the growth plan? Value-based care models are often criticized as “un-scalable” – what does Shawn say to combat that? A great, detailed chat that pitches a hopeful end to fee-for-service healthcare and a promising future for a newly public healthcare co.
Cancer Centers Rebounding From COVID-19 Can Grow By Making the Most of New Technologies for Clinical Trials
For community cancer centers that rely on patient reimbursement to stay afloat, a smart data-driven approach to clinical trials provides a foundation for future growth.
By TANDY TIPPS and BRENDA NOGGY
Covid-19’s tragic, devastating impact on cancer treatment is now well documented. Cancer screenings dropped by almost 90 percent at the peak of the pandemic. Billing for some leading cancer medications dropped 30 percent last summer. Studies found a 60 percent decrease in new clinical trials for cancer drugs and biological therapies.
Cancer centers, like every part of the US health system, have a lot of ground to make up. Those community cancer centers without grants and other institutional advancement funds, experience financial and human resources as major constraints to charting a path to growth. For them, successful programs which generate revenues for expansion or break even help them maintain fiscal health. Often, unfortunately, too often their research programs lose money.
Clinical trials have not been a viable revenue source because of the difficulty in accurately predicting patient enrollment and the challenges of managing trial portfolios, a task that requires streamlined feasibility processes that include querying baseline populations for new trials and potentially eligible patients.
The hard work of patient screening and trial matching requires clinical coordinators, physician investigators and research support staff to spend between three to eight manually scouring databases of electronic medical records and unstructured files to find patients eligible for trials based on increasingly complex inclusion and exclusion criteria. This costly process does not take into consideration the pre-screening efforts in patient matching that may not be reimbursable.
Resources are also needed to implement feasibility processes to accurately predict how many patients might enroll in a trial if they are eligible. Most community-based sites do not have an accurate ability to query their current patient populations by disease cohort or mutation in real time. They often rely on physicians’ memories to estimate patient numbers for trial feasibility questionnaires, which must returned to sponsors quickly, usually before cancer centers have definitive recruitment numbers.
As a result, before COVID, an average of only 5 percent of patients had a chance of participating in trials, 50 percent of clinical trials failed to meet enrollment goals and less than 14 percent were completed on time. Cancer centers still incur the administrative and clinical resources required to maintain the protocols in the first place, however.Continue reading…
By KIM BELLARD
I learned a new word this week: bioresorbable. It means pretty much what you might infer — materials that can be broken down and absorbed into the body, i.e., biodegradable. It is not, as it turns out, a new concept for health care – physicians have been using bioresorbable stitches and even stents for several years. But there are some new developments that further illustrate the potential of bioresorbable materials.
It’s enough to make Green New Deal supporters smile.
Bioresorbable stents and stitches are all well and good – who wants to be stuck with them or, worse yet, to need them removed? – but they are essentially passive tools. Not so with pacemakers, which have to monitor and respond. Medicine has made great progress in making pacemakers ever smaller and longer lasting, but now we have a bioresorabable pacemaker.
Researchers from Northwestern University and The George Washington University just published their success with “fully implantable and bioresorbable cardiac pacemakers without leads or batteries.” What their title might lack in pithy is more than offset by the scope of what they’ve done. Fully implantable! No leads! No batteries! And bioresorbable!
Most pacemakers are, of course, designed to be permanent, but there are situations where they are implanted on a temporary basis, such as after a heart attack or drug overdose. Dr. Rishi Arora, co-leader of the study, noted: “The current standard of care involves inserting a wire, which stays in place for three to seven days. These have potential to become infected or dislodged.”
Dr. Arora went on to explain:
Instead of using wires that can get infected and dislodged, we can implant this leadless biocompatible pacemaker. The circuitry is implanted directly on the surface of the heart, and we can activate it remotely. Over a period of weeks, this new type of pacemaker ‘dissolves’ or degrades on its own, thereby avoiding the need for physical removal of the pacemaker electrodes. This is potentially a major victory for post-operative patients.
The device is only 15 millimeters long, 250 microns thick and weighs less than a gram, yet still manages to deliver electric pulses to the heart as needed. It is powered and controlled using near field communications (NFC); “You know when you try to charge a phone wirelessly? It’s exactly the same principle,” GW’s Igor Efimov, a co-leader of the study, told StatNews.
It dissolves over a period of days or weeks, based on the specific composition and thickness of the materials.Continue reading…
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Sharecare ($SHCR) starts trading on the NASDAQ tomorrow and CEO Jeff Arnold has come back to catch us up on what’s happened since April when we first spoke and took a deep-dive into Sharecare’s population-health-slash-care-navigator-slash-health-security business model. That interview (watch here: https://youtu.be/P6DzFbtiLWg) digs into the $400 million/year revenue model Jeff’s built so far, and now THIS CHAT picks up where we left off — mere hours before Sharecare heads into the public market. valued at just under $4 billion dollars, with ZERO Debt and $400 million in cash to invest in scaling up.
Turns out a lot can happen while you’re waiting for your paperwork to be signed! So what’s new? How about the $50 million dollar private placement Anthem has made into business? Jeff explains how this kind of backing from the country’s second largest health insurance company is not only a win when it comes to securing a customer base, but also how it will likely impact product roadmap. The Anthem investment was closely linked to Sharecare’s January acquisition of health tech startup Doc.AI, which had been working with Anthem on some very payer-friendly tools that will likely be expanded. And speaking of expansion? Jeff’s already made more than a dozen acquisitions to build up Sharecare’s three main verticals over the years– what else could they possibly need now? Tune in for all the last-minute news and numbers before $SHCR pops tomorrow!