No copays. No coinsurance. No surprise out-of-network anesthesiologist fees or pre-op imaging bills. Just one, single price (that you see in advance) tells you EXACTLY what you’ll be paying for your surgical care on Carrum Health. Backed by the recent close of a $40M Series A funding round, the health tech startup’s CEO Sach Jain talks through all the ways his company is looking to disrupt how we buy surgical care. Standardized bundle pricing is just the beginning. Carrum requires its Centers of Excellence (and each of their docs) to pass a proprietary 50-point inspection before they can join the platform, AND every surgery must be backed by a 30-day Warranty! How have they convinced providers to jump through these kinds of hoops? With a growing client-base of self-insured employers (Sach says they have several Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 clients) and payment-in-full made to providers upon discharge, the case for additional revenue and zero A/R days is pretty compelling to a health system. And what about the other side of the business model? Tune in to find out why Sach believes Carrum Health’s “marketplace” approach will appeal to the growing base of “activist” employers whose HR benefits administrators are becoming more and more adept at building-their-own healthcare networks.
Last December, Express Scripts — now a part of Evernorth — became the first PBM to go to market with a digital health formulary. Basically, adapting the vetting, organizing, and pricing functions of a traditional medication formulary to the digital (health) age. Mark Bini, Chief Patient Experience Officer, spearheaded the effort, meant to alleviate the burden faced by Evernorth’s clientbase of 4,000 employers and health plans, who’s HR benefits teams want to make digital health solutions available to the 100+ million members of their health plans, but don’t have a frictionless, repeatable way to do so. As Mark puts it, “if you’ve seen one digital health startup, you’ve seen one.” And, for an HR benefits administrator whose inbox is inundated by digital health companies, the challenge of dealing with different levels of clinical validation, different data needs, different contracts, and, probably, most frustrating, different payment models that are often separated from their health benefit and pharmacy benefits, Evernorth’s Digital Health Formulary eases a real burden. So, a year in… how’s it going? Have Evernorth’s clients bought into more digital health solutions as a result of the formulary? What’s uptake been like among the populations they manage? And, how has this been working out for digital health startups? Mark gives us an update, talks through the details of the selection process, AND reveals what he’s got planned next. Spoiler: The evolution of the Formulary means adding more cohorts of digital health solutions more frequently, increasing the number of digital health solutions covered under drug benefits, getting a beat on longitudinal digital health engagement, and working out how to help consumers navigate all the various health tech options that are available to them.
Food-as-Medicine startup, Epicured, looks and acts a lot like the consumer meal delivery startups booming during this pandemic (think Freshly, which was just acquired by Nestle for $1.5B) but with one important difference: all the meals are based on diets that have been clinically validated as treatments for chronic disease. The three year old company got its start in GI disorders, turning complex Low FODMAP diets, gluten-free diets, etc. into home-delivered, ready-to-eat dishes that patients with Crohn’s disease, Colitis, IBS, IBD, celiac, or other gastro conditions could actually integrate into their daily lives. (Just Google the list of restrictions on a Low FODMAP diet and imagine the lack of adherence over a 6-8 week period while trying to calm an IBS flare-up…)
Richard Bennett, Epicured’s CEO & co-founder, stops by to talk about why he believes this more convenient, yummy, and easy solution will not only continue to win the hearts of healthcare consumers, but why, ultimately, healthcare payors will look to invest more into innovation around nutrition, particularly as its proven to help with other, more common and costly conditions like diabetes, renal disease, and cancer. Backed in part by Mount Sinai (which not only invested in their seed round, but also lent their GI team to the co-design a special IBS menu), Rich let’s us know a bit about some yet-to-be-released clinical study results AND how Epicured has taken a page out of the “digital therapeutics playbook” by partnering with AbbVie to wrap their solution around one of the pharma co’s drugs as a way to improve medication adherence. Chicken Cacciatore wins over companion app any day!
Despite the fact that kids make up 20% of our national patient population and that their parents are likely just the tech-savvy market of health consumers that most digital health companies are targeting with their own virtual care solutions, very little has been done to use technology to ‘transform’ the way that they take care of their kids. One of the founders hoping to push this market into a growth spurt is Naomi Allen, co-founder & CEO of pediatric behavioral health company Brightline.
From seed to Series A in just 8 months ($25M total funding), Brightline is already looking to scale out its full-stack clinical model to help tackle the behavioral health issues that are often under-diagnosed and under-treated in kids. Naomi says that 75% of all severe mental illness manifests before age 14, but that only 1 in 5 kids will ever even get a behavioral health diagnosis. And more shocking? Of those that are diagnosed, only 1 in 5 of those kids will ever even receive any care.
The supply-and-demand equation is off — stymied not only by a clinician shortage, but by literally poor reimbursement from health plans concerned about the lack of quality metrics, measurements, and processes in pediatric behavioral health despite the prevalence of those kinds of quality guidelines around adult mental health care.
So, how is Brightline going to fix this? Technology, clinicians, coaches. A full-stack clinical model with a “scaffolding” of support for parents built around it using telehealth, digital tools, and, for those health plans, metrics. Tune in to find out more about their business model, what Brightline’s kids are saying, and how you can find their services yourself if you think your child might need help.
Big Health bills itself as a “complete 24-hour solution for mental health,” offering Sleepio to those who have trouble sleeping and Daylight to those who suffer from worry and anxiety during the day. Fresh off a $39M Series B in June 2020 (total $54.3M) — and having just landed Daylight onto CVS Health’s digital health formulary to join Sleepio there as a “point solution” payors can easily integrate into their benefits offerings — co-founder & CEO Peter Hames stops by for an ENORMOUS conversation about the ‘state-of-play’ for digital mental health companies like his own. Has CVS Health’s digital formulary made it any easier to contract with employers and get the attention of health consumers? And, what of the attention being paid to Big Health itself? As we hit “peak platformization” in digital health, is the company a prime acquisition target? (Note: Omada Health’s CEO Sean Duffy is a friend and investor and we get a good laugh around the 15-minute mark when we fact-check some rumors… ) Finally, another “insight highlight” worth mentioning: some candid conversation on what’s happening in digital therapeutics (DTx) as Peter is the Chair of the category’s industry org, the Digital Therapeutics Alliance. Does Big Pharma still have an appetite for DTx despite some rough news about partnerships with startups in recent months? You’ll want to tune in around 17:30 for more on that too.
One Drop just landed a $98.7M deal with Bayer — and we got the details from CEO Jeff Dachis. The timing of this deal is nothing short of impeccable: less than a year after the life sciences giant led One Drop’s Series B with a $40M investment, and amidst a veritable funding frenzy aimed at growing digital health companies focused on chronic condition management. So, how is One Drop planning to use this investment (part Series C/part development fees) to expand their data science platform known for diabetes and hypertension into some of Bayer’s biggest areas of focus — cardiology, oncology, and women’s health? And how does this even-closer relationship with such a consumer health brand help One Drop further evolve the retail side of its go-to-market strategy? Don’t forget — One Drop is sold direct-to-consumer via CVS, Walmart, and Amazon in addition to the more traditional routes via employers and payers. It’s a full breakdown of the deal and a walk through the key points of differentiation Jeff sees as integral to shaping One Drop’s move for greater global market share.
“Next-gen” healthcare might just be getting its start in primary care. So says Crossover Health’s CEO, Scott Shreeve, who laughingly channels Justin Timberlake and says he’s “bringing sexy back” to it too. With Walmart launching its own Healthcare Super Centers, Walgreens partnering with VillageMD in a $1-billion-dollar three-year deal, and some soaring post-IPO stock prices for OneMedical and Oak Street Health — it appears he’s onto something. And, hopefully, it’s something big that’s borne from Crossover’s recent partnership deal with Amazon. Will this be the tech giant’s next foray into healthcare? We’ve got the analysis on Amazon, Scott’s insider insights on what’s next for the primary care market, AND some phenomenal perspective on the “rise of the ‘Health Activist Employer’” as healthcare’s “most innovative payer.”
JUST before the Teladoc-Livongo merger was announced, I had a chance to catch up with Doctor on Demand’s CEO, Hill Ferguson. The future for telehealth, he said, is “bright green” — and I’m pretty sure it’s looking even greener now! Doctor On Demand has stood out among telehealth companies for being particularly early on virtual primary care and it sounds like they’re going to continue developing that line of business — in which they have key partnerships with Humana and Walmart — with the $75M series D funding they just received.
Add to that a brand-new, first-of-its-kind telehealth program for the Medicare Part B population, and crazy consumer-focused type UX features like same-day scheduling for behavioral mental health care (yes, that’s right, dynamic scheduling for healthcare is here, folks!) and you can start to see how DOD is strategizing to pull away from the pack.
With the competitive landscape shifting, especially after Teladoc-Livongo, how does Hill view the onslaught of new entrants like digital health companies who added telehealth in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, or potential unicorns like Ro or HIMS, who are focused on tying the prescription drug business into virtual care delivery? It’s the insider insight you’ve been waiting for in this era of ‘tele-everything’ healthcare.
Even before Covid19, virtual care for chronic conditions was a hot and competitive area, with the heat turned up by Livongo Health’s IPO last year and big funding rounds for companies like Omada Health, Virta Health, and One Drop. Another contender in the space, Vida Health, has been best known for taking a “platform” approach to chronic condition management before “platforming out” became the-move-to-make for scaling health tech companies. Their digital health biz actually started out with a “whole health approach” to helping patients manage all their conditions at once, integrating care for diabetes, hypertension, COPD, high cholesterol, mental health conditions, and more from the get-go. Contrast that to some of their biggest competitors, who have adapted to that approach by adding on treatments for co-morbidities as their core businesses evolved.
Is there a benefit to starting out with a holistic care model that those who build it along the way can’t capture? We caught up with Vida Health’s founder & CEO, Stephanie Tilenius, to find out what advantage starting out as a platform play has brought to her business, which just closed a $25M funding round in April and is now available to more than 1.5 million people through employers and health plans.
How will the company scale from here? How will they remain competitive in such a crowded space? Stephanie talks through some of Vida Health’s post-pandemic plans AND how lessons learned from her “previous life” as an exec in Big Tech during that industry’s growth era of the 2000s & 2010s has shaped her thinking about the uptake of technology in healthcare. Not only did Stephanie work at eBay, PayPal, and Google during the birth of the online payment era, BUT she also helped take an online pharmacy company (Planet Rx) public during the dotcom boom.
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.