Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are in New Orleans at the ATA Annual Conference. In this episode, Jess asks me about my takeaways from the conference, Cityblock’s $65 million raise, and Microsoft HealthVault shutting down. In terms of virtual care, it seems that there’s been low adoption of telehealth visits—but things are on the cusp, with lots of companies doing interesting things and with CMS expanding Medicare Advantage coverage of telehealth services. —Matthew Holt
Facebook is releasing an EMR? Jim Cramer is going to work at Epic? April Fools! On today’s actual Health in 2 Point 00 Episode 76, Jess asks me about the follow up from Health Datapalooza, which ended with the government saying they will be changing the world and that everyone should join them in their initiative to innovate digital health. AHRQ & CMMI ran digital health challenges, and CMMI will be doing an AI challenge for $1 million for startups in the space. Speaking of the government, Seema Verma was in the news for her PR spending and as I said “Evil Twin Seema” and “Good Seema” are joined at the hip and they should “not screw around on the PR front”. In other news, MountSinai launched a digital health institute to develop advances in artificial intelligence and other emerging health care technologies spaces. Clover Health laid off a ton of people, and according to me, they are starting to get serious because running a Medicare Advantage plan is hard work — Matthew Holt
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Bayer’s G4A team launched their 2019 program today, so here’s a little help for anyone curious about the state of pharma startup investment and what it takes to land a deal there these days.
I had the chance to pick the brain of Bayer’s Global Head of Digital Health, Eugene Borukhovich, during JP Morgan Healthcare Week and pulled out these three gloriously thought-provoking soundbites from our conversation to give you some insight as to the mindset over at big Bayer.
- “Digital therapeutics are shining light on the convoluted, complex mess of digital health”
If you’ve wondered what lies ‘beyond the pill’ for Big Pharma, wonder no more. It seems the answer is digital therapeutics. Eugene predicts that “within the next couple of years, ‘digital health’ as a term will disappear,” and calls out organizations like the Digital Therapeutics Alliance for their efforts to set standards around evidence-base and behavior modification so regulators and strategic investors alike can properly evaluate claims made by health tech startups. As time goes on, it looks like efforts to ‘pharma-lize’ the ways startups take their solutions to market will increase, pushing them into more traditional go-to-market pathways that have familiar and comforting guidelines in place. As Eugene says, “Ultimately, what we say in my team, is that it’s about health in a digital world today.” Sounds like that’s true for both the products he’s seeking AND the way pharma is looking to bring them to market…
- “These multi-hundred million [dollar] press releases are great to a certain extent, but what happened to the start-up style mentality?”
When asked about Big Tech getting into Big Health, in the end, it seems, Eugene shakes out to be in favor of the ‘Little Guy’ – or, at least, in their approach. Don’t miss his comments about “cockiness in our healthcare industry” and how Big Tech is working around that by partnering up, but the salient point for startups is that big companies still seem very much interested in buddying with smaller businesses. It’s for all the same reasons as before: agility, the ability to iterate quickly, and the opportunity to do so within reasonable budgets. Eugene offered this telling rhetorical musing: “Just because it’s a combination of two big giants…do you need to do $500 million? Or, do you give some…traction, milestone, [etc.]…to prove it, just like a start-up would?”
- “In large organizations, transformation equals time, and…we don’t have time.”
“To me,” says Eugene, “the biggest challenge is actually landing these inside the organization.” He’s talking about novel health solutions – digital therapeutics or otherwise – after learning from previous G4A cycles. Culture, precedent, and years of market success loom large in big healthcare companies across the ecosystem, which is one reason why innovation inside them is so challenging. Eugene says he’s “a big believer in a small team – even in large organizations – to take something by the cojones, and get shit done, and move it forward, and push the envelope from the bureaucracy and the process.” There’s a sense of urgency to ‘innovate or die’ in the face of the growing competition in the healthcare industry. “Back to this earlier conversation around whether it’s tech giants or other companies,” he adds, “it is a race to the speed of the organization. How quickly we learn and how quickly we make the decisions. Bottom line, that’s it.”
There’s plenty more great insights and trend predictions where these came from, plus the juicy details behind how G4A itself has pivoted this year. Check out the full interview now.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are at 10th annual Health Datapalooza in Washington D.C.! Jess talks to me about
By JESSICA DA MASSA, WTF Health
According to Toby Cosgrove, 2019 is “THE YEAR of telehealth.” The former CEO of Cleveland Clinic, who is currently an executive advisor to Google Cloud’s healthcare and life sciences team, proclaimed it as such to CNBC, saying that this year is “THE YEAR” telehealth becomes ubiquitous.
That’s a pretty bold statement – particularly as utilization rates for virtual visits continue to fall short of expectations – so we double-checked this prognostication with Teladoc’s CEO, Jason Gorevic.
Does he think 2019 is going to be telehealth’s turning point?
Well, although he’d rather call the space ‘virtual care’ instead of ‘telehealth’ (maybe this will be the difference maker?), he confesses he’s pretty much on board with Cosgrove’s assertion that more consumers than ever will visit virtual exam rooms this year.
How does 2019 become “THE YEAR” of virtual care? Is this going to be an industry-wide boon, or is Teladoc just banking on its partnership with CVS and their new family member, Aetna?
Tune in to hear Jason get real about what’s impacting utilization rates, how things are going to change this year, AND whether or not he’s worried about competing with Apple, Google, and Amazon for screen time. (Hint: He’s not.)
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are standing on a roof answering health tech questions from the Digital Health Commercialization Panel event in San Francisco. In this episode, Jess asks me about all the money that is being raised or spent in the health tech worlds of Europe and the US. DoctoLib, a company that is like ZocDoc in the US, raised 150 million Euro, which is probably the largest raise for a European company involved in health tech. Meanwhile, in the US, Teledoc also stretches its way into Europe, buying MédecinDirect, which is a telehealth company in France. We also see health tech companies in the employer health space taking home large piles of cash. Cleo, which is a platform entirely run by women serving women’s’ health postpartum, raises 27 million. UniteUs, which is a company focused on improving people’s social determinants of health, raises 30 million, but I still worry about this type of initiative and want to see if there is a market for this type of care and if hospitals are willing to pay for it– Matthew Holt
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF Health
Google’s Verily has a $1Billion dollar investment fund and a nearly limitless talent pool of data scientists and engineers at the ready. So, how are they planning to invest in a better future for health?
Luba Greenwood, Strategic Business Development & Corporate Ventures for Verily told me how the tech giant is thinking about the big data opportunity in healthcare – and, more importantly, what they see as their role in helping scale it in unprecedented ways.
So, where should other health tech investors place their bets, then? Luba’s previous successes investing in digital health and health technology while at Roche (FlatIron, MySugr, etc.) give her a unique perspective on the ‘state-of-play’ in healthcare investment…but has the game changed now that she’s in another league at Verily? Listen in to find out.
Filmed at the Together.Health Spring Summit at HIMSS 2019 in Orlando, Florida, February 2019.
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Health coaches are playing an ever-more important role in healthcare, but there’s no one single authority when it comes to finding one — or vetting them for that matter — until now.
Marina Borukhovich, CEO of startup YourCoach, talks about how she hopes to disrupt health coaching after she learned the value of having a ‘squad’ of experts help her through her breast cancer journey.
In fact, ‘Squads’ are the value-add that YourCoach is hoping will set them apart. The app’s signature feature is that it lets you build-your-own team of experts who can work together to tackle any aspect of health and wellness.
“We’re connecting coaches from around the world who are going to lead the client holistically,” explains Marina. “So, it could be diabetes support, it could be pull[ing] somebody in who does meditation, they could bring in a business coach. It just really depends on the person…and what you need as a person.”
“We’re building ‘Team YOU.”
Joining in on the fun in this interview is Eugene Borukhovich, who some of you will recognize as the face of Bayer’s G4A program.
Eugene serves as an advisor to YourCoach and is also Marina’s husband — possibly making them the “Beyonce & Jay-Z” power couple of digital health. Is this a blessing or a curse? Apparently, there are 3am pitch practices that sound like the solid foundation of any marriage.
Listen in to meet them both.
Filmed at JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, January 2019.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I power through a whopping six questions. In this episode, Jess asks me about the merger between Cambia Health Solutions and Blue Cross NC, Alex Azar getting grilled by Rep. Joe Kennedy on Medicaid work requirements, Omada Health adding connected blood pressure and glucose monitors, 23andMe’s new Type 2 Diabetes predisposition test, and raises by Akili Interactive and MAP Health Management. —Matthew Holt
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
At HIMSS19, the year-old ‘Digital Health Collaborative’ announced its relaunch as ‘Together.Health.’ More than just a feel-good name, the new moniker is indicative of how the organization is literally trying to help the health innovation world ‘get its #%&! together.’
“We’re building a hub-and-spoke model,” says Stephen Konya of the US Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC).
He and Nick Dougherty of MassChallenge Health Tech are founding co-chairs for Together.Health and the pair have managed to build a roster of more than 40 different partners – including almost every digital health accelerator and incubator in the country. Add into the mix some of the biggest health innovation investors in the biz, the usual healthcare incumbents, and a number of different government organizations and economic development groups with local, regional, and federal reach and one begins to clearly see how Together.Health is filling a void for ‘spokes’ that were definitely missing the connecting power of a ‘hub.’
But, what’s the real value of all this together-ness? According to Konya and Dougherty, faster uptake for innovation in healthcare.
For example, the organization’s first project is the development of a standard Business Associates Agreement (BAA) for startups and health systems to use to streamline the onerous paperwork process required before piloting or deploying new solutions. This is a process that currently takes 9-12 months and varies by health system. Together.Health thinks they can shorten that timeframe to 2-3 months just by getting the right people into the room and agreeing to keep 80% of the questions in the assessment in a standard format. The idea is meant to help prevent startups from ‘running out of runway’ (and their health system champions from simply ‘running away’ in frustration), while everyone waits for the necessary paperwork to make its way through Legal.
The pragmatism doesn’t stop there. Listen in to my interview with Stephen Konya to hear about the two other challenges Together.Health is taking on this year: putting together a common curriculum for health accelerator programs and mapping the US Health Innovation Ecosystem.
Want to get a jump on learning what’s happening in some of those health innovation pockets in the US? I had the opportunity to interview 10 ecosystem leaders at the Together.Health Spring Summit at HIMSS and the variety of conversations (and concerns) they share is pretty remarkable.
You can check out the whole Together.Health playlist here, or wait for a few of my favs (and their dishy gossip!) to make an appearance here on THCB over the next week.