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Category: Jessica DaMassa

“You’ve Gotta Shoot Some Sacred Cows:” MSU Health Care’s CIO On Health Systems & Tech Transformation

By JESSICA DAMASSA

If I continue to hear how difficult it is for hospitals to make money, I would like for them to see what it’s like to operate a real business. They are overstaffed…they are overpaying…they are not responsible for quality or outcomes…there are no guarantees on their services…they can block competition from entering their markets…they can buy up market share – that’s not a real business.

Well, lesson learned. If you ask Roger Jansen, Michigan State University Health Care’s Chief Innovation & Digital Health Officer, how he think things are going in US health systems when it comes to digital transformation and the integration of technology and value-based business models in hospitals, be prepared for a blunt conversation about how US healthcare model is failing and how the lack of incentive for change is keeping us all stuck in the same-old, same-old.

From digital health and telehealth to EMR and value-based care business models, we cover a lot of health innovation ground in this chat and get a reality check on whether or not things are really evolving inside health systems – and which stakeholders Roger believes hold the key to driving that change. (Hint: He identifies them as those who are already “footing the bill for the lavish lifestyles that healthcare administrators live that are probably well out-of-balance with the value that they actually bring to their corporations.”)

Roger on digital health? There’s better adoption and receptivity when it’s combined with “a service component that doesn’t add additional burden to the clinical component.” On virtual care and telehealth?

Down 70% since the pandemic’s lockdown days and more of a “behavior change problem” at this point than anything else.

When we get to EMRs around the 19-minute mark, things get extra spicy and we take a turn into “all this gibberish about volume versus value” and how value-based care models aren’t gaining meaningful traction either. It’s a big, bold reality check on the state-of-play of health tech, virtual care, and healthcare payment model innovation in health systems… watch now and let us know what you think!

Particle Health, Complete Patient Records & ‘The Business’ of the Information Blocking Rule

By JESSICA DAMASSA

Particle Health’s CEO Troy Bannister stops by to not only talk about the API platform company’s $25M Series B, but to also explain exactly what’s going on in that patient data ‘exchange-standardize-and-aggregate’ space that, these days, looks poised to pop as the 21st Century Cures Act Information Blocking Rule stands ready to make hospitals share data like never before.

Troy calls Particle a “network of networks” and what that means is that their API pulls patient records from organizations and businesses that are already aggregating them (so aggregating the aggregators) to get all the lab data and medical data a clinician would want to in order to have a more complete picture of their patient. For clients like One Medical or Omada Health, who deliver value-based care and take on risk, having such a robust historic data set on patients – along with a more complete picture of their comorbidities – helps improve decision making and outcomes.

So, how is Particle Health working now – and what will change – as the Information Blocking Rule gets implemented? Troy’s written about this for Forbes, and explains what has him fired up here too. Turns out their model has room to accommodate a big pivot: giving patients access to their own ‘network of networks’ record. Find out what sets Particle off in this new B2B2C direction and how they will be using that Series B funding to build out deeper analytical tools to help everyone make better sense of what the data in all those records can show us.

Link to Troy’s Forbes piece on Anti Information Blocking Rules

Link to Jess’s chat with Micky Tripathi, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS, on Anti Information Blocking & TEFCA:

Next-Gen PBM Capital Rx Becomes a Tech Co: Inside New PBA Biz, $106M Series C & Big Plans

by JESSICA DAMASSA

What’s the bigger news coming out of Capital Rx: that the next-gen PBM just closed a $106 million dollar Series C? Or, that the health tech startup’s business model has expanded significantly over the past 18 months, from PBM-only to PBM-plus-PBA, meaning that instead of just servicing the pharmacy benefits management needs of employer groups directly, that now they’re also adding to their business by selling THEIR TECH to other carriers and health systems so they can use it to administrate their benefits plans??

Capital Rx’s CEO AJ Loiacono takes those questions in stride, lets us in on which “side” of the business fueled their 200% year-over-year growth in 2021, and gives us the details on that tech that his business developed and why its standout compared to the inefficient infrastructure that currently exists to administrate and process pharmacy claims.

The big deal here is that AJ and team are tackling one of the biggest friction points in the cost of pharmacy benefits: the cost to administer a plan. They reduce that cost, and the “net cost” of every drug is reduced. AJ says its in this way that Capital Rx operates at one-seventh the cost of his competitors, the “Big Three PBMs” (CVS’s Caremark, Express Scripts, and UnitedHealth’s OptumRx) and saves its customers an average 27% on their prescription drug spend.

Now that Capital Rx has their slick enterprise software, will the business continue to operate a dual PBM-plus-PBA model, or will they double-down on the PBA side? AJ lets us know what’s next and (spoiler alert) it sounds like things might go in a surprising direction. If Capital Rx’s software is so effective at doing all the things it takes to manage pharmacy claims — underwriting sequences, implementation management and onboarding, communication, patient portals, network management, reimbursement networks, eligibility checks, etc. – what stops Capital Rx from processing other kinds of healthcare claims? Is a step into the medical claims processing side of the healthcare world on the roadmap? Tune in and find out!

Virtual Care Regulatory Round-Up: Dobbs & the ‘Weaponization’ of Digital Health Data

BY JESSICA DaMASSA

How will the reversal of Roe v. Wade impact virtual care and digital health companies from a health data privacy standpoint, particularly as States crack down on the use of telehealth as a mechanism for obtaining abortions and begin to look at digital health data as potential evidence in criminal cases where abortions are illegal?

Health data privacy expert and rightfully-so-self-proclaimed HIPAA Scholar, Deven McGraw, who spent three years as Deputy Director of the Health Information Privacy Office at HHS and currently leads Data Sharing and Stewardship at Invitae, gives us her hot take on what’s happened from a health data privacy standpoint and how it will impact health tech businesses and healthcare consumers in the short and long terms.

Deven’s take: “We’ve really jumped the shark in terms of what the consequences are of health data falling into the hands of people who intend to use it in order to pursue a criminal case either against a woman (or a man) seeking a service, or the provider that performed the service…” So, what does that mean for those who are dealing with digital health data? What are the limitations as far as what HIPAA can protect for patients and what it can’t? What loopholes have Deven worried about the privacy law’s ability to stand-up to the challenges now posed by the Dobbs decision? And, what does all this mean for the telehealth-based businesses that are providing services to these patients?

We have a sweeping conversation about the shifting health data privacy landscape in the wake of Roe’s reversal in this latest episode of our special monthly Virtual Care Regulatory Round-up Series, sponsored by the health tech company powering the virtual care industry, Wheel.

Jenny Schneider on Homeward’s $50M Series B, 30K-Patient Partnership with Priority Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Just FIVE MONTHS after launch, rural health startup Homeward is proving its potential for growth with MORE funding – today announcing its $50 million Series B (that’s $70 million total for the folks keeping score at home) – AND a huge 30,000-patient partnership with Priority Health. Co-founder & CEO Dr. Jennifer Schneider is here to breakdown both bits of news and give us some context about what they indicate about the rural healthcare market.

There are a couple surprising facts in this one that add up to why investors like ARCH Venture Partners and Human Capital (co-leads), General Catalyst (which led the Series A), and Lee Shapiro and Glen Tullman (old buddies and former Livongo colleagues who went in on this with personal funds outside of their fund 7wireVentures) were excited to jump into a quick Series B.

Surprising Fact 1: 90% of all rural Medicare beneficiaries are covered by just 7 payers, which makes the Priority Health deal a bigger deal than even that massive 30K patient population might indicate.

Surprising Fact 2: Homeward’s market of rural Americans is actually TWICE as large as the diabetes market that spurred the investment and growth of Livongo.

For all the math, the details on how the business actually works five months in, and how Homeward is actually going to market as a ‘healthcare infrastructure’ provider rather than just a next-gen medical group, you’re going to have to give this one a watch!

How Happify Health Became Twill: Inside the New Biz Model & What’s Next

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Mental health digital therapeutics startup Happify Health has spent the past 5 years quietly ‘self-actualizing’ into a brand-new, tech platform company that just launched this week: Twill. This is a big pivot – not just a brand change – and we’ve got co-founder & President Ofer Leidner and newly-hired Chief Operating Officer Megan Callahan (who formerly ran Lyft Health) here to tell us how it all went down AND what will happen to the old Happify app.

Wellness-app-no-more, Twill has emerged as a health tech infrastructure company. Its core product (called Sequences) is the open architecture, digital back-end that ties together a health plan, employer, or pharma co’s various digital point solutions – wellness apps, digital therapeutics, virtual coaching, peer support groups, telehealth platforms, etc. etc. – to create one neat-and-tidy, hyper-personalized, automagically-navigated patient care journey based on condition or patient population.

Big brands like Elevance Health (Anthem), Biogen, and Almirall have already bought-in, with products already in market for conditions as diverse as maternal health, multiple scleroses, and psoriasis. Not forgetting its mental health roots, Twill is bringing in its own vast resources from the ole Happify days to run digital mental health support under each of these disease-specific point solutions. Ofer and Megan say that Sequences can be developed for ANY condition or to target specific populations of patients and they plan to launch 2-3 new Sequences each year.

What else is ahead for Twill now that it’s revealed from its stealthy start? Happify Health had raised $73 million in March 2021 in a big round lead by Deerfield Management Company – what should we expect next? Tune in for all the details on the transformation, the new products, and how other digital health companies can expect to work with Twill in the future.

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.

Quantifying Caregiving: ARCHANGELS CEO Alexandra Drane on The Caregiver Intensity Index

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

“Being an unpaid caregiver is the epicenter of Life Sucks Disease,” says Alexandra Drane, Co-Founder & CEO of ARCHANGELS, “but it’s also one of the most glorious, one of the most magnificent jobs we’ll ever have.” So, what’s the trick to managing the “sucky” side of caregiving? Data.

Alex’s company ARCHANGELS has invented the Caregiver Intensity Index, which she describes as a “two-and-a-half minute Cosmo quiz” that helps caregivers quantify the intensity of their caregiving experience and identify the top two things driving that intensity and the top two things alleviating it. The score coming out of this helps caregivers validate the intensity of their experience, offers a framework for communicating about it, and, as Alex puts it, delivers “data that gives them permission to believe” that the stress they are feeling is real. ARCHANGELS then uses the info to crosswalk caregivers to existing resources that can help them manage those intensity-driving challenges – whether they be related to financial stress, workplace stress, relationship stress or otherwise.

Knowing that health plans and employers are starting to “see the light” when it comes to caregiving and its impact on their workforce, Alex and I talk about just how much payers are really willing to contribute to supporting the resources needed to support caregivers and how the data ARCHANGELS is providing is helping demonstrate need and connection to health and well-being. Lots of interesting data points on caregiving in this one – particularly when it comes to mental health and how things have changed through the pandemic. Watch now!

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