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Category: Jessica DaMassa

Vida Health’s CEO on Scaling Up in the Highly Competitive Chronic Condition Virtual Care Space

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

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.

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PBM Startup Capital Rx Starts Prescription Drug Pricing Shake-Up with Walmart Partnership

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

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.

Amwell’s Roy Schoenberg: Telehealth Post-Pandemic is “Entrenched Inside” Traditional Health Care

By JESSICA DaMASSA

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.

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THCB Gang: Episode 7

Episode 7 of “The THCB Gang” was live-streamed on Thursday, April 30th at 1pm PT- 4pm ET! You can see it below. If you’d rather listen, the “audio only” version is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

Joining me were regulars futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve), patient advocate Grace Cordovano (@GraceCordovano), quality expert Michael Millenson (@MLMillenson), with guests Raj Aggarwal (@docaggarwal) head of innovation at Jefferson Health System, and our very own health tech “IT girl” Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa) from WTF Health. We had a great conversation about the present and future of care delivery and finance. — Matthew Holt

Taking Healthcare Innovation Beyond the “Peloton Crowd” | Andy Slavitt, Town Hall Ventures

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and founder and partner at Town Hall Ventures, talks about how venture capitalists and health tech startups can help make healthcare more affordable and accessible for the 130 million Americans beyond the “Peloton crowd.” We ask Andy if he thinks “social determinants of health” is more than just an industry buzzword, get his advice for startups motivated to make a difference, and hear his predictions for what will change healthcare in this new decade.

Filmed at J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, January 2020.

The Digital Therapeutics Startup Following Pharma’s Formulary Model | David Klein, Click Therapeutics

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Click Therapeutics is a digital therapeutics company that develops and commercializes “software as medical treatments” — basically building digital formularies of prescribable software tools the same way a traditional pharma company would create a formulary of prescription drugs. CEO David Benshoof Klein stops by to talk about Click’s array of solutions and the support they’ve received from those traditional pharma companies, including investment from Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures (which led their last funding round of $27.4M in October 2018) and a new partnership with Otsuka America, Inc. to fully fund development of an app to combat Major Depressive Disorder.

Filmed at Frontiers Health in Berlin, Germany, November 2019.

Leading Mental Health Platform on DTx Reimbursement, Scaling | Ken Cahill, SilverCloud Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Digital mental health platform SilverCloud Health is the digital-therapeutic-of-choice for mental health services in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and serves nearly 250 healthcare organizations around the world, racking up 1.5 million therapy hours and 5 million clinical interactions. CEO Ken Cahill stops by to catch us up on SilverCloud Health’s impressive clinical outcomes and how he’s tackling challenges around reimbursement that are common for many digital therapeutics startups. His unique approach (spoiler alert: he partners with providers to approach payers for exception codes) may give some inspiration to those in a similar situation, but tune in for Ken’s full explanation and details on how the company plans to double over the next year.

Filmed at Frontiers Health in Berlin, Germany, November 2019.

A Hospital Chief Pharmacy Officer on Innovation Needs | Jennifer Tryon, Wake Forest Baptist Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Health system pharmacists are frustrated with the lack of time they spend connecting with patients. Why? Jennifer Tryon, Chief Pharmacy Officer for Wake Forest Baptist Health breaks it down for us by talking specifics about the outdated processes and old-school tech that are underpinning many health systems’ medication management programs — and holding back their pharmacists as a result. When she’s sourcing innovative new solutions for her pharmacy at Wake Forest Baptist Health, what are the pressing priorities that are getting her attention (and her budget)? Jennifer’s description of the challenges and opportunities for innovation in the health system pharmacy and medication management space is a MUST watch for anyone looking to learn more about taking their tech into this space.

Filmed at the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) Midyear Clinical Meeting in Las Vegas, December 2019.

The Digital-First Health Insurance Startup Changing Healthcare in Nigeria | Femi Kuti, RelianceHMO

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

RelianceHMO is a Nigerian-based health insurance startup that aims to turn the traditional health insurance world upside-down. CEO Femi Kuti delves into how his company is using mobile phones, telemedicine, data science, and even underwriting (!) to make health insurance cheaper — and more accessible. With more than 1800 hospital partners across Nigeria, RelianceHMO is making a name for itself, but how does it plan to scale throughout Africa? And, what can payers around the world learn from their approach as they seek to make health insurance easy and affordable for Nigeria’s 190M uninsured? We love talking about disrupting payment models in healthcare and after hearing Femi’s story, you’ll understand why.

Filmed at Bayer G4A Signing Day in Berlin, Germany, October 2019.

Ouchie, a Chronic Pain Management App Mapping “Pain Journeys” | Rachel Trobman, Upside Health

BY JESSICA DAMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Not only is ‘Ouchie’ what you say when you’re in pain, but now it’s also what you say when you need to find relief! Rachel Trobman, CEO of Upside Health, introduces us to Ouchie, a remote patient monitoring and treatment tool for chronic pain that patients can download onto their phones. Central to the patient experience of the app is the focus on documenting the patient’s “pain journey” where they answer a series of important lifestyle questions that inform the platform to come up with ways to receive support and other health resources. Not only does this self-reported data help patients identify triggers and patterns that impact their pain level, but it is also a treasure trove of information for physicians who can use it to better (and more quickly) tailor treatment to suit individual needs. The business behind Ouchie, called Upside Health, is starting to take off too and Rachel talks through revenue model, funding, and future plans.

Filmed at Frontiers Health in Berlin, Germany, November 2019.

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