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
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 $140bn, the NYPD vaccination rate being 20 points below the state average, diversity as structural problem in medical school and beyond, and whether we could give everyone in America concierge primary care (the numbers add up! Almost…)
Next week #THCBGang is off on vacation!
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
The “platform-ization” of chronic condition care continues among digital health companies and Nasdaq-traded Dario Health ($DRIO) has acquired TWO different startups in 2021 alone to augment their core diabetes management offering and keep up. Both wayForward and Upright are now under the Dario Health banner and CEO Erez Raphael reveals the strategy behind the two buy-outs — which cost the company just about $30M each and will add digital behavioral health and musculoskeletal care for chronic pain to the Dario experience.
Erez believes that the promise of digital health and digital therapeutics is hyper-personalization, and that addressing multiple conditions at the same time, in a seamless integration, is the way to deliver on that value prop. But, he’s not alone. Teladoc’s Livongo, Vida Health, One Drop, and Omada Health are well-funded competitors pitching the same promise of integrated virtual care. So, how will Dario Health stand-out? Erez points to the company’s direct-to-consumer beginnings and tech expertise as differentiators – will that be enough in the crowded US employer and health plan market OR is the total addressable market large enough for Dario to grab a significant share? We chat chronic condition care market penetration strategy with one of its few publicly traded digital health companies.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess has finally reclaimed her Twitter account! On Episode 223, Jess asks me about Carbon Health raising $350 million, this is a big competitor for One Medical with retail clinics plus telehealth. Next, for digital mental health care, Woebot gets $90 million for its mental health chatbot. Eight Sleep raises $76 million working on sleep fitness, with lots of celebrities in this one. Aidoc raises $66 million in a round led by General Catalyst, using AI to analyze medical images for chronic conditions. Finally, real world evidence company OM1 raises $85 million, bringing their total to $170 million. —Matthew Holt
By KIM BELLARD
I think of hospitals as the healthcare system’s nuclear power plants. They’re both big, complex, expensive to build, beset with heavy regulatory burdens, consistently major components of their respective systems (healthcare and electric generation) yet declining in number. Each is seen to offer benefits to many but also to pose unexpected risk to some.
Interestingly, there’s a “micro” trend for each, but aimed towards different ends.
Micro hospitals have been with us for several years. They usually have only around ten beds, along with an emergency room, lab and imaging. Dr. Tom Vo, CEO of Nutex Health, says: “We position ourselves between urgent care and a big hospital.” A micro-hospital Chief Medical Officer admits: “We still partner with our larger hospital partners for patients who might require surgery or intensive care.”
They’re not trying to reinvent hospitals so much as to support them and offer more convenience to patients. Not so with micro reactors; they’re looking to revitalize their industry, which is in trouble.
According to the U.S. Energy Administration (E.I.A.), there are 94 U.S. nuclear reactors, at 56 nuclear power plants, in 28 states. Only one new reactor has gone active in the U.S. since 1996, while almost two dozen are in various stages of decommissioning and only two new ones are under construction. Overall, the U.S. gets about 20% of its power from nuclear reactors, while 13 countries get at least a quarter of their electricity from nuclear, with France leading the pack at 75%.
We talk a lot about transitioning away from using fossil fuels to generate electric power, but none of the renewable options currently offers a realistic path towards replacing them. Nuclear power is the proven alternative, but, as Dan Van Boom wrote in CNET, nuclear power has a PR problem. No one wants a nuclear power plant in their backyard, no matter how big that backyard is.Continue reading…
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Digital mental health unicorn Ginger has just launched ‘Ginger for Teens’ in an effort to help the 1-in-5 teens currently suffering from mental health disorders, amid what’s being called a “teen mental health crisis.” No doubt parents are at their wit’s end searching for care, and Ginger is hoping that its teen-friendly bundle of self-guided content, behavioral health coaching, and video therapy will support a “full-family” approach to mental health care that will help everyone feel a bit better.
Ginger’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Dana Udall, and Adolescent Services Coordinator, Dr. Dena Scott, share their insights on the teen mental health crisis, including the myriad factors they had to consider as they re-tooled Ginger’s offering to meet the needs of this new client base. Ginger for Teens will roll out to all of Ginger’s nearly 650 employer clients by the end of the year, helping teens gain access via their parents’ health plans at work. And beyond Ginger’s employer-sponsored health plan base? Will Ginger for Teens roll out to its health plan clients too? Don’t think we forgot about that first-of-its-kind national contract with Cigna and the potential that partnership could hold to help millions of families nationwide. So, what are the big plans for bringing up the supply-side of teen mental health care? Find out more by tuning in…
Each week I’ve been adding a brief tidbits section to the THCB Reader, our weekly newsletter that summarizes the best of THCB that week (Sign up here!). Then I had the brainwave to add them to the blog. They’re short and usually not too sweet! –Matthew Holt
In this week’s health care tidbits, Shannon Brownlee and her fellow rebels at the Lown Institute decided to have a bit of fun and compare which non-profit hospitals actually made up for the tax-breaks they got by providing more in community benefit. A bunch of hospitals you never heard of topped the list. What was more interesting was the hospitals that topped the inverse list, in that they gave way less in community benefit than they got in tax breaks. That list has a bunch of names on it you will have heard of!
Given how many of that list run sizable hedge funds and then do a little health care services on the side, perhaps it’s time to totally re-think our deference to these hospital system monopolies. And I don’t just mean making it harder for them to merge and raise prices as suggested by Biden’s recent Executive Order.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I cover Availity raising $50 million bringing their total to $200 million and a valuation at over a billion. Revenue cycle management company Visiquate raises $50 million, bringing their total to $70 million. Truveta raises $95 million for its data analysis platform, and finally Bayesian gets $15 million using AI to predict sepsis. —Matthew Holt
Episode 62 of “The THCB Gang” will be live-streamed on Thursday, June 17th at 1pm PT -4PM ET. Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) will be joined by regulars futurist Jeff Goldsmith; policy expert consultant/author Rosemarie Day (@Rosemarie_Day1); Suntra Modern Recovery CEO JL Neptune (@JeanLucNeptune); and medical historian Mike Magee (@drmikemagee).
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Stealthy telehealth startup Wheel just closed a $50M series B and CEO Michelle Davey is here to reveal the mystery behind the company’s very behind-the-scenes approach to selling white-label virtual care. The business model is built on a network of clinicians that Wheel has curated and credentialed specifically for virtual care delivery – for a rotating cast of clients, under any brand, at any time. Unlike the market-leading incumbent telehealth co’s that also sell virtual care infrastructure, Wheel does NOT have a patient front door, isn’t angling for one, and is so protective of its clients’ brands that Michelle won’t even name names about who her company is working with. She simply describes her clientele as those in the biz of “next gen” virtual care: retail players, care-plus-pharmacy-delivery startups, asynchronous care providers, labs, remote patient monitoring companies, and so on.
Wheel experienced 300% year-over-year growth — and 1200% growth from Q4-2020 to Q1-2021 — but is it sustainable as the pandemic wans and other plug-and-play telehealth infrastructure services also gain market traction and funding? And, what about the common criticism that telehealth is too transactional and that both patients AND physicians prefer the opportunity to build deeper relationships? Do providers really want to practice for multiple companies at the same time? We get a look inside Wheel’s 90% clinician retention rate to see what else might be satisfying the clinician’s need to connect, and talk about areas for growth now that the company’s received fresh funds.