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Investment State-of-Play in Big Pharma: Bayer’s Eugene Borukhovich Weighs In

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.

The Future of Genome Sequencing | Veritas Chief Marketing & Design Officer Rodrigo Martinez

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

DNA testing companies like 23andMe have opened the genome market in the last decade, with adoption skyrocketing on both consumer and clinical sides. Now the trend is pushing even further, from genotyping technology to whole genome sequencing and the health implications are massive. While genotyping looks at less than half of 1% of your genome, whole genome sequencing looks at over 99% of your genome. That’s about 6.4 billion letters of DNA! With elite awards from MIT, Fast Company, and more, Veritas Genetics is not only designing great, user-friendly experiences for people to engage with their personal genome information, but taking it a step further by providing actionable insights that actually result in a healthier life.

Filmed at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, CA, January 2019.

Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health

A Mental Health Chatbot that Can Reduce Symptoms of Depression by 13-18% | Michiel Rauws of X2AI

Mental health chatbot startup, X2AI, uses a text-based chatbot to respond to people experiencing depression, addiction, and thoughts of suicide via customized text conversations. More than 4 million people have paid access to the service, which has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression by 13-18%. Founder Michiel Rauws talks about how machine learning helped develop the bot (called Tess) and what’s on tap next for his company.

Filmed at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, CA, January 2019.

Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health


The Neobiological Revolution | Jane Metcalfe, CEO NEO.LIFE & Founder Wired Magazine

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Jane Metcalfe founded Wired Magazine 25 years ago to talk about the tech revolution. Today, her new publication, NEO.LIFE is reporting from the the front lines of the “Neobiological Revolution.” From the most astounding developments in neuroscience, genome sequencing, and longevity to biohacking, synthetic biology, fertility, and human performance, NEO.LIFE covers the bleeding edge of health innovation. From that vantage point, we got Jane to weigh in on all the big questions…like how is today’s health tech scene reminiscent of the burgeoning tech scene of the 90’s? And, of course, why the f%$! are there still fax machines in hospitals?!

Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 75 | Rounds & IPOs, Health Datapalooza, & the Facebook Controversy

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 Xealth’s $11 million round to develop out its company, and Change Healthcare is applying for a $100 million IPO. The big takeaways from Health Datapalooza are that many people and companies have integrated data into their systems, but they haven’t been able to gain many actionable insights from it. Also, if you haven’t heard of the complaint Andrea Downing, Fred Trotter, and David Harlow wrote to the FTC concerning the privacy and data that can be downloaded from Facebook’s groups, you better check it out. It details out the concern that Facebook is not protecting the data of patients as anyone can download sensitive data from the groups and use it — Matthew Holt

Teladoc, CVS, Utilization Rates, & Apple in ‘THE YEAR of Telehealth’ | Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

According to healthcare leader Toby Cosgrove, THIS is “the year of telehealth.” Although Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic would rather use the phrase ‘virtual care’ to describe the space, he’s pretty much on board with the idea that more consumers than ever will jump onto the virtual care bandwagon this year. How will Teladoc’s partnership with CVS play a role? Any other acquisitions on the horizon? Gorevic gets real about what’s impacting utilization rates and whether or not he’s worried about Teladoc competing with Apple, Google, and Amazon. (Hint: He’s not.)

Filmed at JP Morgan Healthcare 2019 in San Francisco, January 2019.

Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health

Teladoc, CVS, Utilization Rates, & Apple in ‘THE YEAR of Telehealth’

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.

But, why?

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.)

Is the ‘Applied Health Signals’ Category the New ‘Digital Health’? | Glen Tullman, Livongo

By JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

One of the fastest growing chronic condition management companies in healthcare, Livongo just made some big new hires and minted a new category in health tech called “Applied Health Signals.” What’s this? Well, if your new health solution ties together devices, data science, coaching, and clinical management, YOU might be an Applied Health Signals company. CEO Glen Tullman walks us through the new concept, shares his insight on the good & bad of consumer tech companies heading into health… then explains the strategery behind changes to the company’s C-suite and confronts the rumors I’ve been hearing about an IPO.

Filmed at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, CA, January 2019.

Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health

Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 74 | European Money, Postpartum Care, & Social Determinants of Health

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

Insights from a Verily Venture Investor on Health Data & Dollars

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.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health

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