Oh, gosh, two of my favorite things are in the news together: Twitch and chess.
Just kidding. I barely know what Twitch is, and the last time I played chess was, well, not in this century (and, even then, not well). But I’m not kidding about their convergence. Chess has become a big hit on Twitch, especially in these COVID times.
I figure, if two such seemingly divergent things are meshing, there must be some lessons there, even for healthcare.
For those of you over, say, fifty, Twitch is an online service that facilitates livestreaming, particularly of gaming. That is, people watch other people playing games, such Fortnite or League of Legends.
As I write, 2.7 million people are livingstreaming on Twitch. Its all-time concurrent viewers peak is just over 6 million. There were 1.6 billion hours watched in August, with over 11 billion year-to-date. It draws more viewers than network television hits. There are 93,000 live channels at this moment.
It’s Health in 2 Point 00’s 150th Episode or Sesquicentennial anniversary! On this episode, we have the return of Softbank money—$100M goes to Biofourmis platform for AI & Clinical Trials. Next, Amwell prices their IPO at $14-16 a share, and Grand Rounds raises $175 million led by the Carlyle Group. Finally, we have real foul play to report – former Zocdoc CEO Cyrus Massoumi filed a lawsuit accusing his fellow cofounders and CFO of foul play, so Jess asks me to dish the dirty details.—Matthew Holt
Episode 24 of “The THCB Gang” was live-streamed on Thursday, September 10th! Watch it below!
Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) were some of our regulars: WTF Health Host Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa), patient & entrepreneur Robin Farmanfarmaian (@Robinff3), writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard), policy & tech expert Vince Kuraitis (@VinceKuraitis), and guest Mike Magee, a medical historian & health economist (@drmikemagee). The conversation was incredibly wide-ranging and one of the best we’ve had in a while–not the least because Mike Magee gave us a great base with how our non -health system somehow did actually act as a cohesive force in society before tech, then COVID19 broke it up!
If you’d rather listen to the episode, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels — Zoya Khan
In surprising news this week, CMS (the Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services) in the USA approved the first reimbursement for AI augmented medical care. Viz.ai have a deep learning model which identifies signs of stroke on brain CT and automatically contacts the neurointerventionalist, bypassing the first read normally performed by a general radiologist.
From their press material:
Viz.ai demonstrated to CMS a significant reduction in time to treatment and improved clinical outcomes in patients suffering a stroke. Viz LVO has been granted a New Technology Add on Payment of up to $1,040 per use in patients with suspected strokes.
This is enormous news, and marks the start of a totally new era in medical AI.
Especially that pricetag!
Doing it tough
It is widely known in the medical AI community that it has been a troubled marketplace for AI developers. The majority of companies have developed putatively useful AI models, but have been unable to sell them to anyone. This has lead to many predictions that we are going to see a crash amongst medical AI startups, as capital runs out and revenue can’t take over. There have even been suggestions that a medical “AI winter” might be coming.
Yesterday it was Fortune’s 40 under 40, and a lot of great people, most of whom I thought were much older or at least seem to have been around a while, got listed in the health care section–including Andre Blackman, Ambar Bhattacharyya & Julia Cheek. Lisa Suennen (@venturevalkyrie) and I got into a Twitter exchange about whether we were eligible for the under 40 category or for that matter the category above that. The answer was, amazingly, “no”. Somehow she came out with the line that “we are old”. Knowing her love for 80s pop, I reminded her that this was the inverse of the first line of the Pat Benatar classic “Love is a Battlefield.” Somehow this ended up in us tweeting a new set of lyrics for that song to each other all day. Of course I feel compelled to share them with you. I encourage you to play the video below and sing along!
We are old Wheelchair to wheelchair we sit…. No Promise ring, yes Depends Don’t want my age revealed
Before Long They will all sing our swan song Scans of our hearts show something wrong Both of us slowing.. Don’t want my age revealed
Ads begging me to Ro Then making me pay Why do my knees hurt so bad? It would help me to know Should I stand a different way? My hip hurts too, I might add
If you work in a large organization, especially one that has been around for at least a few decades, the words “legacy system” probably strikes angst in you. If you’ve dealt with such an organization, legacy systems probably contributed to problems you may have had with them. Think about health insurance claims systems, hospital billing systems, financial institution account records, or practically any government system.
Though these systems run practically every aspect of our lives, we don’t give them a second thought because, for the most part, they function. It doesn’t even occur to us that IT is something that needs constant attention to be kept in working order.”
Because they usually work OK, management often doesn’t want to risk the potential disruption of replacing or modernizing them, so they get older and older, with more and more layers built on them, and with the people who originally built them or understand the language they are written in (e.g. COBOL) gone.
On today’s Health in 2 Point 00, Jessica is distracted playing video games, and rants about the unbearable maleness of wearables. Meanwhile Komodo Health raises $50m for more analytics (presumably of patients playing Pong), Picnic Health gets $25m as PHRs will not go away, Hazel Health gets $33 million to take telehealth back to school, and then there’s Amazon Halo — and our stars’ alter egos make an appearance — Matthew Holt
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.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess might be a little wary of my colonoscopy story, but it reveals just how well insurance companies communicate. In this episode, Jess and I cover GoodRx filing an S1 to go public, Trellus Health raising $5 million in seed funding for its platform for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other chronic conditions, Klara Health raising $15 million for patient engagement, and Castor raising $12 million for its clinical trial platform. —Matthew Holt