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Category: Health Tech

Kelsey Mellard, CEO Sitka

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!)

THCB Gang Episode 45, Thursday March 4, 1pm PT – 4pm ET

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!

You can see the video below live and the audio will be on our podcast channel (Apple/Spotify) from Friday

Wanna Buy Some Bitcoin

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…

#Healthin2Point00, Episode 188 | MDLive, Devoted Health, Medisafe, January AI

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

Can You Trust Digital Health Firms To Trust You?

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…

Buoy Health Wins Over Three Health Plans, Turns Symptom Checking into Patient Decision-Making

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Symptom checker startup Buoy Health’s $37.5M Series C caught a lot of attention among health tech market watchers because of the collaborative support the funding round garnered from health plans. THREE payor orgs – UnitedHealth’s Optum, Humana, and Cigna – participated in the round, and co-founder and CEO Andrew Le is here to tell us why.

What’s interesting is how the health tech startup’s model has evolved past “symptom checking” and into patient decision-making to better solve the underlying uncertainty that typically causes a patient to “shotgun into care” that’s often a poor fit clinically AND financially. “If you don’t solve the clinical uncertainty first,” says Andrew, “then nothing else matters.” Health plans, though, are likely also seeing the potential of making sure that their members are routed to the right kind of “covered” care. And Buoy’s big plan is to help that along with a full-on marketplace of curated solutions – think telehealth, digital health apps, digital therapeutics, and so on – that round out the benefit design of a traditional health plan. Suddenly, symptom checking seems a means to a very different end…

#Healthin2Point00, Episode 187 | Redox, Nanit, Innovacer & MindMed

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess makes me pronounce some impossible words while we cover lots of funding deals. Redox has raised $45 million in a Series D, bringing their total up to $95 million. Nanit, another baby monitoring company, raises $25 million in a Series C, Innovaccer raises a $105 million D round, and psychedelic biotech company MindMed acquires digital health company HealthMode. —Matthew Holt

THCB Gang Episode 44, Thursday Feb 25, 1pm PT – 4pm ET

Joining me, Matthew Holt (@boltyboy), on this week’s THCB Gang were consultant/author Rosemarie Day @Rosemarie_Day1),  Suntra Modern Recovery CEO JL Neptune (@JeanLucNeptune), and health futurist Jeff Goldsmith (@JeffcGoldsmith) and a late add Ian Morrison (@seccurve).

We will also had a special guest who is possibly the most successful corporate venture capitalist in health tech–Merck’s Bill Taranto. He had a decent run last decade– you may have heard of Livongo which he was a big investor in! We talked with Bill about the future of investing, what role investing in digital health has for drug business and what he’s expecting in the big health care realignment. Apparently Merck treasury took all the cash he made with Livongo so he couldn’t give it to us, but he has $500m+ top spend and as he said, “you want a Billion Dollar exit? Put me on the board”

You can see the video below live and the audio will be on our podcast channel (Apple/Spotify) from Friday

Amwell’s CEO Roy Schoenberg on Telehealth as “Healthcare Infrastructure”

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

“Telehealth has a much bigger role to play than just carrying out transactions,” says Amwell’s President & CEO, Roy Schoenberg, who joins Jess DaMassa for a sweeping philosophical discussion about how telehealth’s role will continue to evolve through the covid19 pandemic and the changes its forced on the healthcare market. Conversations about telehealth that were once about the value of improving “access to care” are now about the technology’s potential to drive “quality of care.” And Amwell – which says it is a “technology infrastructure company” focused on helping traditional healthcare players transition into digital distribution – is pushing past the old notion that virtual care is merely a “product to get a Z-pak.”

Roy gives us updates on Amwell’s much-buzzed-about partnerships with United Healthcare and Google, the later being focused on how the telehealth co is looking at integrating some of those famous Google technologies (think natural language processing, translation, and geolocation-ala-Maps) into virtual care delivery in a way that sounds like a lot more than just a “switchboard.”

Two other colorful Roy Schoenberg soundbites to tease you into this conversation about the immediate future of telehealth from the leader of one its biggest players: 1) “the notion that we are no longer looking at the home as an illegitimate place of care is drama in in every sense” and 2) “I think the next war-zone, the next place where there’s going to be a lot of heated confrontations and conversations, is state licensure.”

#Healthin2Point00, Episode 186 | Bad jokes about Circulo, Eden Health, Carevive & Loyal

On Episode 186, of Health in 2 Point 00 – I have bad jokes about Olive.ai-related Circulo raising $50m, online/offline clinic Eden Health grabbing $60m, cancer app Carevive getting $18m & provider engagement play Loyal getting $12m. Will Jess DaMassa think the jokes are funny? You’ll have to watch to find out but you can make a pretty good guess!—Matthew Holt

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