Today on Health in 2 Point 00, primary care appears to have jumped the shark because there is a deal in this episode in which the investors on the round are probably Jess’s favorite group of investors ever. Forward Health raises $225 million in a Series D – there’s Softbank money in this round as well as The Weeknd – but why didn’t they just go public? Patient billing company Cedar raises $200 million, bringing their valuation up to $3.2 billion, although I’m not too impressed by the concept. Finally, Babylon is making inroads into the U.S. from the U.K., buying a California-based provider group. —Matthew Holt
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Oh Baby! Connected digital nursery startup, Owlet Baby Care, just announced their SPAC IPO and intention to take their infant smart sock from baby monitor to FDA-approved medical device. I talk with Owlet’s co-founder & CEO, Kurt Workman, to find out why the baby health tech company (which has raised $48M in venture funding) has decided to take the business public in order to pursue its plans for growth as a pediatric healthcare company caring for baby “from conception to kindergarten.” Kurt gets into the details behind the work Owlet’s team is doing now to get their device FDA-approved in two different ways, and how they’re using Livongo Health’s remote monitoring/data analytics/telehealth model as a precedent for pursuing health insurance reimbursement. There may be lots of market skepticism out there about wearables – particularly socks, and especially with infants – but this deep-dive into Owlet’s vision for data-driven parenting provides a pretty compelling vision for both better and more cost-effective baby care, and the bonus of a better night’s sleep for new parents. Owlet’s calling it an $81 BILLION DOLLAR addressable market, and Kurt believes that it stands alone in terms how its bringing together full-stack connected technology and a consumerized healthcare experience to bridge the gap from hospital to home.
THCB Gang featured lawyer & privacy expert Deven McGraw, (@Healthprivacy), Health IT girl and WTF Health Host Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa), and policy expert consultant/author Rosemarie Day @Rosemarie_Day1). We’ve had far too many Y chromosomes on lately but also joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) for this one will be futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve) and Fard Johnmar (@fardj), from digital health consultancy Enspektos.
We dove into the health care implications of the new $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, and had a great chat about where health and digital health go next.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, we’re wishing Jess a happy belated birthday! On Episode 189, Jess asks me about DispatchHealth raising a massive $200 million Series D, bringing their total up to $403 million, providing in-home urgent care. TytoCare raises another $50 million for their Series D, bringing their total up to $155 million, providing tech-enabled health at home with their device and providers. Finally there’s a partnership with Highmark Health, Google Cloud, Verily, and OnDuo – what’s going on with this lot? —Matthew Holt
By KIM BELLARD
I must admit, after I wrote about digital currency last week, I did not expect to be writing about crypto anytime soon. Then I heard about “non-fungible tokens” (NFTs) and got a sense of the hype they were causing — how I could I resist?
There may even be a connection to health care.
You may have seen the Nyan Cat (pictured below), which is not new; it turns 10 in April. What is new is that last month its creator “sold” it. You may be thinking, wait, the GIF is everywhere, anyone can download it, so in what sense could he “sell” it?
That’s where NFTs come in. As you may know, “fungible” means that two things can be interchanged; one dollar is just like any other dollar, one bitcoin is like any other bitcoin, one electron is like any other electron. Non-fungible, then, means the item in question is unique, and this is where the “token” comes in. Basically, NFTs use digital certificates via blockchain to mark that something is one-of-a-kind, a claim of digital ownership.
Nadya Ivanova, chief operating officer of research firm L’Atelier explained NFTs to The Wall Street Journal:
Think of it like a digital passport that comes with an asset. They allow for this trust and authenticity to be established in a way that we haven’t been able to do before, whether it’s with physical assets or digital assets.
Artists have been using NFTs for a few years now, and auction house Christie’s is auctioning off the “First Purely Digital NFT-Based Work of Art Ever Offered by a Major Auction House,” featuring the digital artist Beeple (aka Mike Winklemann). Christie’s promises:
…the buyer receives the artwork file containing a digital signature from the artist and all vital details including time of creation, edition size and a record of any prior sales. These details are permanently attached to the artwork, providing an enduring guarantee of value.
NFTs have gone beyond art. The NBA is all over this, with NBA Top Shot selling highlight clips; one of Lebron dunking just went for $200,000. Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban is a big proponent. “The tech is real,” he told CNBC. “The impact is real, and permanent.”Continue reading…
By MATTHEW HOLT
Kelsey Mellard is CEO of Sitka, one of the emerging companies that’s providing specialty consults online to primary care docs. They’ve been building a specialty care network that can be accessed by asynchronous video, slightly different to some of their competition. Most of their customers are capitated medical groups, like ChenMed, trying to reduce their spend on specialty physician care (as Kelsey calls it the “unmanaged Part B spend bucket”). I asked her how it works, where the company is going (think virtual care integration), and whether it will be needed in the future. (You can guess her answer to the latter!)
Joining me, Matthew Holt (@boltyboy), on this week’s THCB Gang will be THCB regular writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard), medical historian Mike Magee (@drmikemagee), policy & tech expert Vince Kuraitis (@VinceKuraitis), patient safety expert and all around wit Michael Millenson (@MLMillenson), and consumer expert and current President of the Medical Board of California, Denise Pines.
Vaccines at warp speed, some “Neanderthal” state governors opening up, but also a pandemic bill passes the house with some health policy implications. Plus lots of fun and games in the world of digital health and startup health plans. We should have something to discuss!
By KIM BELLARD
To healthcare organizations, digital currency is the thing you’re forced to deal with when your systems are held for ransomware. To the rest of the world, it’s increasingly starting to look like the future.
Tesla caused somewhat of a stir last month when it disclosed that it had bought $1.5b of bitcoin. It also said it would start accepting bitcoin payments for its cars. CEO Elon Musk added to the furor, saying: “I do at this point think bitcoin is a good thing. I’m late to the party, but I am a supporter of bitcoin.”
Most of us are late to the digital currency party.
Bitcoin’s market cap hit $1 trillion in mid-February, although it now hovers just over $900b, with Ethereum another almost $200b. Tesla is making more money from its bitcoin investment than from its core businesses. In the scheme of global financial markets, digital currencies are still small, but are not something any CFO should be ignoring.
Tesla is not the only major company accepting digital currencies; Overstock, Starbucks and Twitch do, as three wildly different examples. Twitter is thinking about paying vendors or even employees with bitcoin. Facebook expects to launch its own cryptocurrency this year.
I’m not aware, though, of any major healthcare companies accepting or paying with digital currencies. No Tesla-type breakthroughs in healthcare.Continue reading…
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, we cheat a little bit and go overtime. On Episode 188, Jess asks me about MDLive getting acquired by Cigna’s Evernorth division, Devoted raising a whopping $380 million, Medisafe getting $30 million in a round led by Sanofi, and January AI raising $8.8 million bringing its total up to $21 million. —Matthew Holt
By MICHAEL MILLENSON
What kind of health care organization would let a 10-year-old child make an instructional video for patients? And what might that decision teach health tech companies trying to gain the trust of consumers?
I found myself pondering those questions while listening to Dr. Peter Margolis, co-chair of a National Academy of Medicine committee on health data sharing and stakeholder trust and a speaker at the recent (virtual) Health Datapalooza annual conference. Margolis is also co-director of the Anderson Center for Health Systems Excellence at Cincinnati Children’s, the institution that allowed 10-year old kids with a condition necessitating a feeding tube to create videos showing other children how to insert one. Parents, meanwhile, were recruited to help develop new technology to help their child.
The payoff for this and similar efforts by the shared learning communities Cincinnati Children’s has birthed has been significantly improved outcomes and national renown. But for this type of initiative to succeed, Margolis told me when I visited a few years ago, clinicians and administrators “have to be comfortable with a very different kind of role.”
As consumers gain access to information once limited to medical insiders, that advice seems increasingly prescient. Federal rules requiring providers to make electronic health data available to patients at no cost take effect April 5. Meanwhile, voluntary electronic sharing of physician clinical notes is rapidly morphing from the unthinkable to the unremarkable, while apps to make all this data actionable are proliferating. As a result, long-simmering issues related to transparency and trust and are coming to the fore.Continue reading…