It’s interesting enough that Optum’s Vice President for Direct-to-Consumer is not only a serial digital health entrepreneur, but she’s also a behavior change scientist. Dr. Kate Wolin stops by to share some background on behavior change science, and how healthcare companies large and small are looking to drive health and wellness outcomes by integrating its principles and techniques into product design strategy.
Behavior change science appears to be having a “moment” here in healthcare, peppering conversations about everything from business models and consumer engagement strategies to product design, particularly in the chronic care and mental health spaces. Optum obviously has an interest in the discipline, with Kate in such a critical leadership role. And, our friends at life sciences giant, Bayer, also seem keen on exploring the approach, as it’s both the focus of one of the sessions of Bayer G4A’s free digital health forum, Health for All, on September 9, AND the reason Kate’s here to provide a deep-dive into the subject as a special prequel to the event.
So, what are the key takeaways? Well, it turns out there are a lot of misconceptions about behavior change science. Kate sets us straight, explains why she’s NOT a fan of the term “nudges,” and talks about what digital health companies usually get wrong (and right) about incorporating behavior change techniques into their products and services. Does behavior change require human intervention in order to make it sticky? Or, can technology be just as effective in achieving the right levels of personalization needed to make an ongoing impact on a person’s behavior? We get smart on this trending approach, and Kate gives us her prediction for how healthcare will be looking to increasingly incorporate this science into its future.
Special Note: To hear more from Kate and a host of other healthcare experts during Bayer G4A’s special global event “Health for All – A Digital Health Forum” on September 9, 2021, register at www.g4a.health.
There’s been a steady drip of announcements coming out of One Drop in recent months about their data capabilities (28 billion biometric data points to be exact), the predictive power of their platform (remember blood glucose predictions and blood pressure insights) and NOW a partnership deal with top-of-the-line smart device manufacturer, Withings. What is this all adding up to? How about some HUGE NEWS?! Rachel Yap Martens, One Drop’s SVP of Commercial Strategy, stops by with a big reveal about the cohesive strategy behind these moves, and how they are all leading to One Drop’s launch of a first-of-its-kind, minimally invasive BIOSENSOR that will bring “continuous health sensing” to the market in the next year or so.
Health tech die-hards will remember One Drop’s acquisition of Sano Intelligence’s sensor technology in April 2020, but that was only the beginning. That sensor tech has been evolved, adapted, and refined, and works by detecting analytes in the body’s interstitial fluid, which – if you look it up – holds important things like glucose, salt, fatty acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium and more. Jump ahead to the 15-minute mark in this interview if all you want to hear about is this, BUT word to the wise: the really compelling part of the sensor is how it will plug right into all the other biometric data collection points in the One Drop ecosystem. Says Rachel, the goal is to help One Drop members “to know what is happening with their bodies right now, to know what is going to happen to their bodies next, and to know how to take action.” Exciting interview!!
Digital health continues to gain a lot of attention from investors, so we’ve checked in with one to get some perspective on what’s hot (and what’s not) midway through the sector’s largest funding year yet. Larry Leisure, of Chicago Pacific Founders (whose enterprise health benefits company, Jiff, was acquired by Castlight Health) weighs in on the exuberance investors are showing for the health innovation space and whether or not it will last.
Are valuations and funding rounds a little overblown? Are investors concerned about some of the recent complaints of ‘digital health fatigue’ that employers and health plans are starting to vocalize as they wade through an expanding portfolio of point solutions? Larry brings us in on some of the closed-door conversations he’s had with payers and employers about the health tech startup scene, and how their thinking is starting to shift his own ideas about where to place his bets next. Healthcare navigators…care-plus-behavior-change platforms…underserved markets…the digital front door…the end of the per-member-per-month business model and SO MUCH MORE. Love getting a high-level look at the field of play!
What’s better than being the CEO of one blazing-hot disruptive health tech company that’s raised $450M to build “the internet of healthcare”? How about becoming the CEO of a second company – a new managed Medicaid health plan company – that’s to be built on top of your first company’s machine learning platform, which is chock-full of hospital data and learning how to automate healthcare admin expertise? So is the fate of Sean Lane, CEO of Olive and now, also CEO of Circulo.
What does a built-from-scratch, tech-first Medicaid plan look like? Sean talks through the strategy behind the new health insurance co, which is aiming to use Olive’s tech to automate every aspect of the way a payer functions in effort to 1) strip away health plan admin costs and 2) create a never-before-seen relationship between patient, payer, and provider. On this latter point, it’s the fresh approach to payer-provider relations that seems to really have Sean excited. With Olive already built into hundreds of health systems, and conveniently located on the desktops of those providers, Sean says Circulo will be poised to take advantage of that network’s data and distribution to forever alter the healthcare payment model. Submitting claims goes away. Denials go away. Costs drop. Care improves.
Backed by a fresh $50M from Olive’s investors (Drive Capital and General Catalyst led Circulo’s Series A with participation from Oak HC/FT and SVB Capital) the new plan is currently building team and tech and aiming “to cover one life, bring on one provider, and earn one dollar of revenue by the end of the year.” It’s early days, but we dive into the details behind the strategy and also explore how this fits into the “health assurance thesis” that’s lurking behind General Catalyst’s latest investments, particularly those spearheaded by Hemant Taneja, who literally co-wrote the book on the subject with Jefferson Health’s Steve Klasko, and is the CEO of the Health Assurance Acquisition Corporation ($HAACU) SPAC that’s just out there waiting to take a health tech business public.
Despite nearly 900 employer clients (including big brands like Burger King, Kroger, and DoorDash), a net promoter score of 84, and a new pharmacy benefits management (PBM) program launched mid-pandemic, healthcare navigator startup, Rightway, seems to have come out of left field with its $100M Series C fundraise and $1.1B valuation. CEO Jordan Feldman introduces us to the company he’s built and its pretty impressive ability to achieve double-digit decreases in the cost of healthcare for mid- and large self-insured employers.
We walk through the business model, talk about the well-funded competition in both the care navigation and PBM spaces, and get acquainted with Rightway’s plans for scaling up and attracting new clients. An added little point of intrigue? As Rightway looks to gain a foothold working with health plans, Jordan mentions some interesting ties via its Series C investors. While the round was led by Khosla Ventures, with participation by Tiger Global and existing investors, it’s Thrive Capital, also an investor in the health insurance startup Oscar Health, that sounds like it might help Rightway make its way into the payer market.
As if one consumer digital health company with an $18.5B exit wasn’t enough, Livongo founder Glen Tullman has decided to give the transformation of healthcare another go – this time as Executive Chairman & CEO of Transcarent. Matthew Holt and I sit down with Glen to hear about the “new kind of experience” that Transcarent is offering self-insured employers and their employees: one focused on providing unbiased information, guidance for accessing high-value healthcare, and an at-risk model that promises to share back the financial benefits associated with better healthcare decision-making.
Could you consider Transcarent an aggregator, a healthcare navigator-PLUS, or is it more like a next-gen health plan that does everything but process claims? Glen talks about how his team was “asked” to jump into providing a better experience for this kind of healthcare service, details what the company needs next, and explains the role of Bridge Health, which merged with Transcarent in October 2020 when the company closed its $44M Series A. Familiar investors, General Catalyst and Glen’s own 7Wire Ventures, have led the funding for Transcarent and we find out if there will be any additional support from the Health Assurance Acquisition Corporation (the SPAC that Glen launched in partnership with General Catalyst’s Hemant Taneja and others) that could potentially provide a vehicle for taking the business public. And, what about Teladoc Health? With a seat on TDOC’s Board, does Transcarent’s commitment to offering “unbiased” direction to the best possible healthcare put Glen into a conflict of interest? This is one catch-up chat you’re not going to want to miss!
Symptom checker startup Buoy Health’s $37.5M Series C caught a lot of attention among health tech market watchers because of the collaborative support the funding round garnered from health plans. THREE payor orgs – UnitedHealth’s Optum, Humana, and Cigna – participated in the round, and co-founder and CEO Andrew Le is here to tell us why.
What’s interesting is how the health tech startup’s model has evolved past “symptom checking” and into patient decision-making to better solve the underlying uncertainty that typically causes a patient to “shotgun into care” that’s often a poor fit clinically AND financially. “If you don’t solve the clinical uncertainty first,” says Andrew, “then nothing else matters.” Health plans, though, are likely also seeing the potential of making sure that their members are routed to the right kind of “covered” care. And Buoy’s big plan is to help that along with a full-on marketplace of curated solutions – think telehealth, digital health apps, digital therapeutics, and so on – that round out the benefit design of a traditional health plan. Suddenly, symptom checking seems a means to a very different end…
Chronic disease prevention is often lumped into chronic disease management – but should it be? Aren’t there different nuances to preventing diseases than to treat them? Making the case that healthcare’s “primary prevention” businesses deserve their own category is the CEO of Newtopia, Jeff Ruby. Newtopia’s just announced the creation of a new category of healthcare provider, the Habit Change Provider, in effort to more accurately describe the role of companies working to change the way people behave in their everyday lives. What they eat, whether or not they exercise, how they deal with stress and anxiety – in short, this is the business of influencing the many micro-decisions that, cumulatively, add up to our overall health and whether or not we’ll be impacted by “lifestyle diseases” like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental health issues, and more.
Newtopia’s been in this business for over a decade, starting its path to commercialization with Aetna and a three-year randomized control trial of more than 2,800 Aetna employees that proved the power of prevention: physical risk reduction, clinical cost savings, and the “holy grail” of any population health model, in-year ROI. So confident is Newtopia in their approach that the company goes at-risk on outcomes, a compelling enough value proposition to attract clients like Accenture, JP Morgan Chase (and it’s now defunct joint-venture with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway, Haven) and the whole of CVS Health (which acquired Aetna.)
Is this starting to sound different than those chronic condition management companies yet? Listen in to hear more about the details behind Newtopia’s approach, which even leverages genetic testing to “remove blocks for habit change” by helping people identify what they’ve inherited from their parents (slow metabolism, difficulty processing fats, body’s ability to handle stress signals) so they can get past blaming themselves and start developing healthy lifestyle improvements.
Just 45 days after Teladoc Health closed its $600 million acquisition of hospital telehealth provider InTouch last year, it turned around and announced a surprise $18B acquisition of Livongo, extending its reach into patients’ homes via the digital health startup’s remote monitoring platform for diabetes, hypertension, and more. Now, four months past the signing of that deal, and at the start of yet-another pandemic year expected to be big for virtual care, the two big questions healthcare market watchers have for Teladoc Health are: 1) how’s that double integration going? and 2) just how much pushback are you getting from health system clients that look at this “hospital-to-home” virtual care pathway as a little too close to their own business models? Jess DaMassa gets the latest from InTouch Health’s former CEO, now Teladoc Health’s President of Hospital and Health Systems, Joe DeVivo and Livongo’s former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bimal Shah, who’s now Teladoc Health’s Chief Medical Officer for Product and Analytics.
What’s the integration been like for our old friends from the InTouch and Livongo teams? What areas of the “hospital-to-home” digital infrastructure are priority for 2021? And, what about data integration? With more than 1-billion data elements from Livongo, 10.5 million visits on Teladoc’s platform, and 3.5-million Teladoc-enabled visits via hospital clients, it sounds like interoperability to provide “intelligence, not data” is paramount to the company’s strategy for driving growth. As Joe says, “Teladoc has just positioned itself to be “THE” partner to institutionalize virtual care for healthcare systems. Excellence around the delivery of care will always sit in the health system, but to the extent that we can improve the consumer experience in the onboarding into the healthcare system and to prop up our health system customers, all the better.” For lots more on winning over hospitals, outflanking the competition, and fully leveraging the AI-plus-AI engine Livongo built, tune in now.
The executive leadership team of UpHealth, the self-described “global digital health super-company” that’s headed toward the public market via a SPAC that’s brought together six companies, 10-years of health tech innovation, and a war chest of $285M dollars, stops by to talk about growth plans and grabbing market share. UpHealth’s Chairman & Founder, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, Co-CEO & President Dr. Al Gatmaitan, and future COO Jamey Edwards talk through what Jamey says is “really a revenue story” about the fastest growth areas of digital health. Global telehealth, integrated care management, digital pharmacy, and behavioral health will be UpHealth’s sweet spots. The newco is positioning itself as a “one-stop shop” for the digital healthcare infrastructure that will support a local healthcare organization in rolling out digital care services and integrating them with their in-person care continuums. This is different than, say, a Teladoc or an Amwell, which in addition to providing infrastructure also have their own tech-enabled medical groups, which can sometimes be viewed as competitive to their customers. The global nature of UpHealth is another differentiator, particularly in how it hopes to ultimately make it possible for highly specialized care from the US to be “exported” to countries abroad AND for lower cost care for lower acuity issues to be “imported” in. With $190M in revenue projected for 2021 – and that’s NOT dependent on integrating the six companies – we talk through areas for potential growth, that aforementioned competitive landscape, and whether or not UpHealth is feeling the pressure to hurry their integration.
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