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Category: Health Tech

The Rise of the Health Coach: YourCoach.Health on Market Opportunity Between Healthcare & Wellness

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

According to the team at YourCoach.Health, health coaching is “the ‘glue’ that’s connecting the $4-trillion wellness economy with the $8-trillion healthcare economy.” And by learning about the growing number of nearly 2,000 health coaches who are engaged in their practice management solution – and the small and mid-sized employers who want to tap into it to provide health coaching to their workforces – its seems like they might be right.

YourCoach’s CEO Marina Borukhovich and COO Eugene Borukhovich walk through the work they are doing to build a platform that both helps health coaches do their jobs better AND find clients within the SMB health benefits market. While “coaching” might often get wrapped around everything from remote monitoring devices and digital therapeutics to care plans for chronic conditions and long-term illnesses, “health coaching” as a credentialed discipline is different.

Marina and Eugene de-mystify the terminology for us, along with the certifications required to be a health coach, the current reimbursement climate for the health service, and where they think the discipline is headed as demand for “human-led, compassion-driven” healthcare booms among both healthcare consumers AND practitioners. A couple little scoops in this one too as we learn about some soon-to-be-released tech features on their platform AND the seed-funded startup’s plans to raise a Series A.

Let’s Meet in the Metaverse

By KIM BELLARD

I really wasn’t expecting to write about the Metaverse again so soon, after discussing it in the context of Roblox last March, which itself followed a look at Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney’s vision for the Metaverse last August.  But darn that Mark Zuckerberg!

Not many noticed when Mr. Zuckerberg told Facebook employees in June that the company would become focused on building a metaverse, but he got some attention when he expanded on his vision for The Verge in late July.  Then last Monday Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of AR/VR, confirmed a product group had been formed to bring it about.  And, finally, in an earnings call last Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg and his executive team couldn’t stop gushing about the importance of the metaverse to the company, and the world.

So, yeah, the metaverse is in the news.  And, once again, I worry healthcare is going to be late to the party. 

I won’t go into too much detail about what the metaverse is; for those who want a deep dive, there’s Matthew Ball’s nine part primer, or you could just read Ready Player One.  Mr. Zuckerberg described it to The Verge as follows: “you can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it.”  In the earnings call, he clarified: “The defining quality of the metaverse is presence – which is this feeling that you’re really there with another person or in another place.” 

Depending on your age/preferences, the concept of “an embodied internet” is either chilling or thrilling.  Maybe both.   

It’s potentially a big deal.  Gene Marks, writing in Forbes, says, “business interactions will forever change.”  The Conversation’s Beth Daley goes further, stating “creating a virtual world for users to interact with their friends and family is not just a fancy vision, it is a commercial necessity.”

It’s not VR, it’s not AR, it’s not 3D internet, although all those may be part of it.  It’s not gaming, it’s not entertainment, it’s not social network, although all of those will be part of it too.  Mr. Zuckerberg promises: “It’s going to be accessible across all of our different computing platforms; VR and AR, but also PC, and also mobile devices and game consoles.”  Not to overstate it, but he sees the Metaverse as the “next generation of the internet.”  Mr. Zuckerberg also described it as “the next computing platform.”

He is openly telling people that the goal is for Facebook to transition to a metaverse company, “within the next five years or so.”  Analysts on the earnings call pressed Facebook to confirm an estimate of a $5b investment, but only got an admission that, yes, the investment was “billions.”

Significantly, for Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg believes: “this is going to be not something that one company builds alone, but I think it is going to be a whole ecosystem that needs to develop.”   As Mr. Zuckerberg said in The Verge interview, “Hopefully in the future, asking if a company is building a metaverse will sound as ridiculous as asking a company how their internet is going.”

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Digital Health Investor Larry Leisure’s Picks for the Next Hot Areas for Healthcare VC Investment

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

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!

THCB Spotlights: Marta Zanchi, Founder & Managing Partner at Nina Capital

Today on THCB Spotlight, Matthew sits down with Marta Zanchi, who is the founder and Managing Partner at Nina Capital. Nina Capital is a micro venture capital firm in Barcelona, and in this interview, Matthew asks Marta about her decision to move from Silicon Valley to Barcelona and start this fund. Marta talks us through some of the investments they’ve made in the past couple of years so tune in to find out more.

#Healthin2Point00, Episode 225 | Amwell acquires SilverCloud & Conversa – plus more deals

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, we have a deal so big it’s brought me out of vacation just for this episode! Amwell acquires not one, but TWO companies – DTx mental health company SilverCloud Health and chatbot company Conversa Health for a combined $320 million. In other news, mental health company Sondermind raises $150 million, bringing their total to $188 million, and femtech company Elvie raises $80 million, bringing their total to $133.9 million. —Matthew Holt

THCB Spotlights: CJ Wilson, CEO of MyHealth.US

Today on THCB Spotlights, Matthew Holt interviews CJ Wilson, the CEO of MyHealth.US. MyHealth.US provides wearable QR codes for instant access to emergency health information, as well as a digital platform to track your health data and house medical records. CJ shows us some of their offerings and explains how they’re working with unions and schools in NYC along with the company’s future plans for funding and growth.

Mental Health Startup SonderMind Lands $150M to Tackle ‘THE’ Health Issue of Our Generation

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

SonderMind closes a $150M Series C funding round co-led by Drive Capital and Premji Invest, and we get CEO Mark Frank’s take on what sets THIS digital mental health startup apart from a pack of very well-funded competitors. SonderMind has its own behavioral health therapists, built its own tech stack, delivers care virtually AND in-person, is covered by some of the biggest health plans in the country — Aetna, Anthem, Bright Health, Cigna, Kaiser, Optum, and United Healthcare. (They can also namedrop health-tech-infamous Board member, Jonathan Bush, in an interview, but that’s beside the point!)

What’s most remarkable – and what Mark says most impressed investors this time around – is not only the health of SonderMind’s business model, but also its balance sheet. This raise marks the bulk of the total $183M the startup has raised to-date, and Mark reveals that they’ve only deployed about half of the $27M Series B funding they received in April 2020 in a round led by General Catalyst. How will such a “capital efficient” business begin to deploy these new funds? We hear Mark’s plans for nationwide expansion and improvements to that tech stack, particularly when it comes to better matching therapists and patients based on expertise and need, and more appropriately measuring process and outcomes. Two areas ripe for more tech integration as the mental health provider tackles what Mark calls THE defining health issue of our generation.

The Most Important Thing

By KIM BELLARD

Jack Dorsey has some big hopes for bitcoin.  In a webinar last week, he said: “My hope is that it creates world peace or helps create world peace.”  The previous week Mr. Dorsey announced Square was starting a decentralized financial services (DeFi) business based on bitcoin, joining the previously announced Square bitcoin wallet.  

None of this should be a surprise.  At the Bitcoin 2021 conference in June, Mr. Dorsey said: “Bitcoin changes absolutely everything.  I don’t think there is anything more important in my lifetime to work on.”

I’m impressed that someone with as many accomplishments as Jack Dorsey picks something not obviously related to those accomplishments and decides it is the most important thing he could work on.  So, of course, I had to wonder: what might accomplished people in healthcare say was the most important thing they wanted to be working on?

For many these days, of course, it is the COVID-19 pandemic.  Not much has had a higher priority.  Highly effective vaccines have been developed, COVID-19 treatments have greatly improved, supply chains have been adjusted and readjusted, and countless public health measures have been tried.  Healthcare professionals have worked themselves to extremes.

For others, perhaps, it would be to address the extreme financial hardships the U.S. healthcare system can cause.  A new study in JAMA confirmed what is hiding in plain sight – hundreds of billions of medical debt.   Debt continued to rise despite ACA, especially in states that perversely chose not to expand Medicaid.  Efforts such as requiring hospital “price transparency” have largely failed.  Many large hospital systems continue to sue patients who can’t pay.  These hardships are unfair, immoral, and unique to the U.S.; addressing them should be important.

However, both the pandemic and financial obstacles contributed to, but did not cause, the big health inequities in the U.S. healthcare system.  People of color, people in lower socioeconomic classes, even women all face numerous inequities in the health care they receive and in the health they achieve.   These may reflect broader social inequities, but no one in healthcare should look at these without wanting to address them. 

Digital health has never been hotter. The pandemic reminded people how valuable telehealth can be, and investors are pouring money into digital health at astounding levels – some $19b in the first half of 2021 alone.  We may be in bit of a manic phase right now, but few doubt that digital health is going to be a big part of healthcare’s future. 

Then there’s artificial intelligence (A.I.).  No industry in 2021 can be ignoring it. Some well-publicized mishaps with IBM’s Watson or Babylon Health notwithstanding, A.I. in healthcare has already made impressive strides, such as DeepMind’s recent protein predictions or its successes in imaging.  A.I. is going to be built into our health care in the future, either in a supporting role or directly, and working on it has to be on many people’s wish list.  

Continue reading…

#Healthin2Point00, Episode 224 | b.well, Quit Genius, Doktor.se, Sweetch, Kno2, and HealthifyMe

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I chat about the staggering medical debt in this country before diving into some more health tech deals. First up on Episode 224, personal health record company b.well Connected Health raises $32 million, bringing their total to $57 million. Next, Quit Genius raises $64 million in a Series C, bringing the digital addiction clinic’s total to $78.6 million, and Swedish telehealth company Doktor.se raises €29.5 million – there are some interesting investors in this one. Sweetch, a Bayer G4A company, raises $20 million for its behavior change app and Kno 2 raises $15 million in a Series A in yet another interoperability play. Finally, Healthify.Me raises $75 million, bringing its total to $100 million – this is like Noom plus exercise in India. —Matthew Holt

THCB Gang Episode 63 – Thurs July 22

Episode 62 of “The THCB Gang” was live-streamed on Thursday, July 22nd. Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) was joined by regulars: patient safety expert and all around wit Michael Millenson (@MLMillenson); fierce patient activist Casey Quinlan (@MightyCasey); and futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve).

We got into it on delta variant, medical debt at $140bn, the NYPD vaccination rate being 20 points below the state average, diversity as structural problem in medical school and beyond, and whether we could give everyone in America concierge primary care (the numbers add up! Almost…)

Then video is below. If you’d rather listen, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes  & Spotify channels.

Next week #THCBGang is off on vacation!

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