A startup PBM? Partnered up with Walmart to bring “everyday low prices” to prescription drug pricing? Is this too good to be true? A.J. Loiacono, founder & CEO at Capital Rx, gives us a quick primer on “Pharmacy Benefit Managers” (PBMs) and why they’ve become known for the element of mystery they bring to prescription drug pricing. With three big PBMs (CVS’s Caremark, Express Scripts, and UnitedHealth’s OptumRx) controlling three quarters of the total market, it’s no surprise that VC-backed challenger companies in this space are rare. So, how does A.J. believe Capital Rx will shake things up? Learning about this new kind of tech-enabled, customer-focused PBM not only inspires hope for a clear future of prescription drug price transparency, but also makes one wonder about the new vision for American healthcare unfolding at Walmart.
Episode 20 of “The THCB Gang” was live-streamed on Thursday, July 30th! Watch it below!
Joining Matthew Holt were some of our regulars: writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard), MD & hospital system exec Rajesh Aggarwal (@docaggarwal), health futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve), WTF Health Host Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa), and guest Jennifer Benz, communications leader at Segal Benz (@jenbenz). We discussed how employers & health plans need to build trust in order to improve engagement data, how health consumers’ are changing the way they interact with health care, and how to support patients when they are accessing the system.
If you’d rather listen, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels — Zoya Khan
There is still health tech funding going on in late July? Wow! On Episode 138 of Health in 2 Point 00, Jess asks me about Ro getting $200M from General Catalyst to expand their telehealth platform, Indigo Diabetes raising 38M Euros to develop its CGM Sensor, Angle Health landing $4M to create a health plan for startups, and Sidecar Health closing a $20M for their point-of-service payments! — Matthew Holt
Today on Episode 137 of Health in 2 Point 00, Jess questions if “Jack in the Bean Stalk” is actually abut how VCs are growing into the health tech space. Listen to Jess’s take on the comparison as she asks me about Sprout getting $10M in a seed round to grow its Autism platform, Gyant securing $13.6M to improve its AI & Chatbot functions for providers, Meditopia receiving $15M for its medication app, Caption Health raising $53M to help people conduct ultrasounds, and Kind Body raising $32M for its fertility care platform. Enjoy! — Matthew Holt
There are few better positioned to speculate on what’s next for telehealth than Roy Schoenberg, co-CEO & President, of Amwell. After 15 years, more than $710M in total funding, and probably the best analogies out there for describing telehealth’s potential as a disruptive technology, Roy weighs in on just how unprecedented COVID19 has been for the uptake and evolution of virtual care.
“Historically, people thought, could telehealth be as good as a physical visit? The reality of COVID,” says Roy, “has literally opened the door to the question, can telehealth be better?”
From the near-term “new wave” of telehealth that has already begun to “eclipse the urgent care telehealth” to how Amwell’s clientele of clinicians, healthcare delivery systems, and payers are shifting to accept the idea of the technology as “the start of healthcare,” Roy talks of a future of telehealth that is “entrenched inside the system.” And how Amwell is meant to act as “facilitator.”
“When we start thinking about telehealth as a switchboard — not as a product, but as an infrastructure for the redistribution of healthcare — we’re talking about a completely different experience for us as Americans on what healthcare is available to us and how we can consume it.”
“To me, and I’ll fast forward to the end here, we want to get to the point that telehealth changes our expectation when we grow old as to where we can grow old. We want to be in a place where we can stay at home…where we don’t have to be in the ‘belly of the beast’ to get healthcare.”
How far away is this future that Roy describes, midway through telehealth’s biggest year yet? Is the appetite there among incumbents? And what of those Amwell IPO rumors? How might that kind of funding help rush things along? Tune in to this episode of ‘WTF Health – What’s the Future, Health?’ with Jessica DaMassa to find out.
Matthew Holt and Jessica DaMassa gave a talk at the “Going Digital: Behavioral Health Tech Conference” on June 17, 2020. They spoke about how technology is evolving the mental health space, along with their thoughts on where the future of the industry is headed.
Jess & Matthew first start off with their “Health in 2 Point 00” segment, discussing all of the funding deals in the mental health space, from Headspace to Mindstrong raising money in Q1, to Kaiser rolling out MyStrength to its members.
Then they jump into a deeper dive segment, where they discuss how the money is being distributed in the mental health space, and how startups are coming up with creative solutions to package their services. Some mental health companies are wrapping solutions into other digital health platforms that already manage chronic conditions, like Livongo & Omada, others are working to directly address and treat mental health issues, and some are developing digital therapeutic solutions to manage mental health problems. As this part of the industry grows, Matthew & Jess predict how the mental health tech space will change & develop with increasing demand, more investments, and a lot more innovative tools to serve the population’s needs.
Zoya Khan is the EIC of The Health Care Blog & a Strategy Manager at SMACK.health
On Episode 136 of Health in 2 Point 00, Jess has 15 new deals to talk about (and its only been a day since the last episode!). Jess asks me about CityBlock getting $54M for their Series B round to provide primary care services to dual-eligible Medicare and Medicaid members in New York, Medly raising $100M & NowRx crowdsourcing $20M to grow their telepharmacy platforms, the mega-merger of Curavi, Carepointe, and U.S. Health Systems (now called Arkos Health) to develop out a care coordination platform, and DoorDash partnering with Walgreen to distribute non-prescription drugs. —Matthew Holt
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, it’s the 4th shoe! On Episode 135, we’ve got Amazon’s entry into primary care through its pilot program with Crossover Health, UnitedHealth Group launching Level2, their own digital health diabetes prevention program, Health Catalyst acquiring healthfinch, Truepill raising $25 million and then investing in Ahead, a company which matches psychiatrists to patients. —Matthew Holt
Today on Episode 134 of Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I cover Livongo’s stock price swinging, Brian Dolan’s PPP “Black List” for Health Tech Startups, and Oak Street Health & GoHealth filing their S-1’s. We also get Matthew’s take on Walgreen’s deal with Village MD to become a primary care center, and Doctor on Demand closing a $75M round, bringing its total to $235M in funding —Matthew Holt
Episode 133 of Health in 2 Point 00 is brought to you by the letter P — that’s P for PBMs, of course. In this episode, Jess and I talk about Genome Medical extending their series B and getting another $14 million on top of the $23 million they already raised for their remote genetic counseling services, the FCC adding another $198 million to their rural health program, bringing the funding to a whopping total of $802 million, Anthem’s PBM IngenioRx acquiring pharmacy startup Zipdrug, and Capital Rx, a startup PBM, announced a deal with Walmart. —Matthew Holt