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Category: Health Tech

Up, Please

By KIM BELLARD

When I think of elevator operators, I think of health care.

Now, it’s not likely that many people think about elevator operators very often, if ever.  Many have probably never seen an elevator operator.  The idea of a uniformed person standing all day in an elevator pushing buttons so that people can get to their floors seems unnecessary at best and ludicrous at worse. 

But once upon a time, they were essential, until they weren’t.  Healthcare, don’t say you haven’t been warned. 

Elevators have been around in some form for hundreds of years, and by the 19th century were using steam or electricity to give them more power, but it wasn’t until Elisha Otis debuted the safety elevator that they came into their own.  New engineering techniques such as steel frames made skyscrapers possible, but safe elevators made them feasible; no one wanted to climb stairs for 10+ stories. 

Those generations of elevators weren’t quite like the ones we’re used to.  The speed and direction had to be controlled manually, the elevator had to be carefully brought to a stop at a floor, and the doors had to be opened and closed.  Managing all this was not something that anyone wanted to entrust to passengers.  Thus the role of the elevator operator.

But, of course, technology evolved, allowing for more automation.  According to elevator engineering expert Stephen R. Nichols:

Elevator buttons were introduced in 1892, electronic signal control in 1924, automatic doors in 1948, and in 1950 the first operatorless elevator was installed at the Atlantic Refining Building in Dallas. Full automatic control and autotronic supervision and operation followed in 1962, and elevator efficiency has steadily increased in other ways.

Elevator operators gradually transitioned from being mechanical operators to concierges, helping passengers find the right floors and making them more comfortable.  A 1945 elevator operators strike in New York City had a crippling effect.  As Henry L. Greenidge, Esq. wrote on Linkedin, “The public refused to go near the controls despite having watched the operators work the levers numerous times. The thought that a layperson could operate an elevator was simply an outrageous thought.” 

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#Healthin2Point00, Episode 221 | Funding for Novacardia, Wellthy, Osso VR, and Form Health

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, the funding reports are out: Rock Health is saying $14.7 billion for the first half of the year, and Startup Health is saying $20.1 billion. Those numbers are pretty much what the numbers were for ALL of 2020. Now onto some deals: on Episode 221, Jess asks me about Novacardia raising $57 million for its cardiology practice management business. Wellthy raises $25 million, bringing its total up to $50 million – this is a caregiving navigation concierge firm aimed at employers. Osso VR raises $27 million in a Series B, less than a year after closing their A, working on virtual reality for practicing surgery. Finally, Form Health raises $12 million in a Series A for its obesity telehealth platform. —Matthew Holt

Does Newly IPO’d Privia Health’s Climbing Stock Price Prove Value-Based Care Can Scale?

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Privia Health ($PRVA) went public a few weeks ago and the stock not only popped when it hit the market, but has continued to rise. When you look at the numbers – and hear about the business model from CEO Shawn Morris – it’s easy to get excited and see why. Privia calls itself a “physician enablement” business, which is the two-word marketing way of saying that they bring together different docs in a region and give them the systems to become part of a value-based care network while also maintaining their private practices. They’re more or less building accountable care organizations (ACOs) in a hub-and-spoke fashion, uniting docs around Privia’s common tech systems, workflow processes, value-based care strategies, and contracting power with commercial and government payers. The model is appealing to docs who want to make the switch to value-based care, but still want the autonomy of their own practices. The value prop has already attracted more than 2,700 providers in 650 different locations netting the biz $817 million in revenue in 2020 – and Shawn says they’ll only expand from here. What’s the growth plan? Value-based care models are often criticized as “un-scalable” – what does Shawn say to combat that? A great, detailed chat that pitches a hopeful end to fee-for-service healthcare and a promising future for a newly public healthcare co.

CONFERENCE UPDATE–Policies|Techies|VCs: What’s Next For Health Care?

By MATTHEW HOLT & JESS DAMASSA

Policies|Techies|VCs: What’s Next For Health Care? is the conference bringing together the CEOs of the next generation of virtual & real-life care delivery, and all the permutations thereof. Today we add to last week's fantastic list of speakers with another 14 great speakers, including one CEO of  a company that has just SPACed onto the public market (Sharecare), and another that is about to (Babylon Health)! You can register here or learn how to sponsor. This week's new additions are:

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Ali Parsa
Babylon Health

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Julia Hu
Lark

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Niko Skievaski
Redox

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Rushika Fernandopulle
Iora Health

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Andy Coravos
HumanFirst

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Iyah Romm
Cityblock

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Pauline Lapin
CMMI

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Michelle Davey
Wheel

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Blake McKinney
CirrusMD

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Jeff Ruby
Newtopia

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Sami Iniken
Virta

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Deena Shakir
Lux Capital

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Jeff Arnold
Sharecare

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Stephanie Tilenius
Vida

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Cancer Centers Rebounding From COVID-19 Can Grow By Making the Most of New Technologies for Clinical Trials

For community cancer centers that rely on patient reimbursement to stay afloat, a smart data-driven approach to clinical trials provides a foundation for future growth.

Brenda Noggy
Dr. Tandy Tipps

By TANDY TIPPS and BRENDA NOGGY

Covid-19’s tragic, devastating impact on cancer treatment is now well documented. Cancer screenings dropped by almost 90 percent at the peak of the pandemic. Billing for some leading cancer medications dropped 30 percent last summer. Studies found a 60 percent decrease in new clinical trials for cancer drugs and biological therapies.

Cancer centers, like every part of the US health system, have a lot of ground to make up. Those community cancer centers without grants and other institutional advancement funds, experience financial and human resources as major constraints to charting a path to growth. For them, successful programs which generate revenues for expansion or break even help them maintain fiscal health. Often, unfortunately, too often their research programs lose money.

Clinical trials have not been a viable revenue source because of the difficulty in accurately predicting patient enrollment and the challenges of managing trial portfolios, a task that requires streamlined feasibility processes that include querying baseline populations for new trials and potentially eligible patients.

The hard work of patient screening and trial matching requires clinical coordinators, physician investigators and research support staff to spend between three to eight manually scouring databases of electronic medical records and unstructured files to find patients eligible for trials based on increasingly complex inclusion and exclusion criteria. This costly process does not take into consideration the pre-screening efforts in patient matching that may not be reimbursable.

Resources are also needed to implement feasibility processes to accurately predict how many patients might enroll in a trial if they are eligible. Most community-based sites do not have an accurate ability to query their current patient populations by disease cohort or mutation in real time. They often rely on physicians’ memories to estimate patient numbers for trial feasibility questionnaires, which must returned to sponsors quickly, usually before cancer centers have definitive recruitment numbers.

As a result, before COVID, an average of only 5 percent of patients had a chance of participating in trials, 50 percent of clinical trials failed to meet enrollment goals and less than 14 percent were completed on time. Cancer centers still incur the administrative and clinical resources required to maintain the protocols in the first place, however.

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THCB Gang Episode 61 – Thurs July 8

On Thursday’s #THCBGang Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) was joined by regulars, employer health expert Jennifer Benz (@jenbenz); patient safety expert and all around wit Michael Millenson (@MLMillenson); THCB regular writer Kim Bellard (@kimbbellard);  privacy expert and now entrepreneur Deven McGraw  (@HealthPrivacy); and–we were thrilled to have back–fierce patient activist Casey Quinlan (@MightyCasey). Lots of discussion about Casey’s latest patient experience as she continues to undergo the #METSparty.

If you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels

Make Mine Bioresorbable

By KIM BELLARD

I learned a new word this week: bioresorbable.  It means pretty much what you might infer — materials that can be broken down and absorbed into the body, i.e., biodegradable.  It is not, as it turns out, a new concept for health care – physicians have been using bioresorbable stitches and even stents for several years.  But there are some new developments that further illustrate the potential of bioresorbable materials. 

It’s enough to make Green New Deal supporters smile.

Bioresorbable stents and stitches are all well and good – who wants to be stuck with them or, worse yet, to need them removed? – but they are essentially passive tools.  Not so with pacemakers, which have to monitor and respond.  Medicine has made great progress in making pacemakers ever smaller and longer lasting, but now we have a bioresorabable pacemaker. 

Researchers from Northwestern University and The George Washington University just published their success with “fully implantable and bioresorbable cardiac pacemakers without leads or batteries.”  What their title might lack in pithy is more than offset by the scope of what they’ve done.  Fully implantable!  No leads!  No batteries!  And bioresorbable! 

Most pacemakers are, of course, designed to be permanent, but there are situations where they are implanted on a temporary basis, such as after a heart attack or drug overdose.  Dr. Rishi Arora, co-leader of the study, noted: “The current standard of care involves inserting a wire, which stays in place for three to seven days. These have potential to become infected or dislodged.” 

Dr. Arora went on to explain:

Instead of using wires that can get infected and dislodged, we can implant this leadless biocompatible pacemaker. The circuitry is implanted directly on the surface of the heart, and we can activate it remotely. Over a period of weeks, this new type of pacemaker ‘dissolves’ or degrades on its own, thereby avoiding the need for physical removal of the pacemaker electrodes. This is potentially a major victory for post-operative patients.

The device is only 15 millimeters long, 250 microns thick and weighs less than a gram, yet still manages to deliver electric pulses to the heart as needed.  It is powered and controlled using near field communications (NFC); “You know when you try to charge a phone wirelessly? It’s exactly the same principle,” GW’s Igor Efimov, a co-leader of the study, told StatNews

It dissolves over a period of days or weeks, based on the specific composition and thickness of the materials.

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#Healthin2Point00, Episode 220 | Olive’s massive raise, Ro buys Kit, plus funding for Tendo & SWORD

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, I’m cheering England’s win against Germany this week – but Jess keeps us on track with health tech deals. Olive gets another $400 million, bringing their total up to $902 million – with $802 million of that since March 2020. Tendo Systems gets $50 million in a Series A, working on communication between providers and consumers. General Catalyst strikes again, this time in a round with SWORD Health raising $85 million in a Series C, bringing their total to $135 million. This is an MSK company, with a lot of good investors here. Finally, Ro buys Kit an at-home testing company – how does Hims stack up now? And, in case you missed it, Sharecare hits the NYSE today – get the scoop from Jess’s interview with their CEO yesterday. –Matthew Holt

CONFERENCE UPDATE–Policies|Techies|VCs: What’s Next For Health Care?

By MATTHEW HOLT & JESS DAMASSA

Last month we told you about the new conference bringing together the CEOs of the next generation of virtual & real-life care delivery and all the permutations thereof. That's all those companies raising huge venture rounds and really getting to scale. You’ll see them at Policies|Techies|VCs: What’s Next For Health Care?, and they include Glen Tullman (Transcarent), Jonathan Bush (Zus Health) Roy Schoenberg (AmWell) and 17 more leaders in digital health.

Now we are announcing another 16 great speakers, including 2 publicly-traded digital health company CEOs!  And we'll announce a further 16 next week! You can register here or learn how to sponsor. This week's new additions are:

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Owen Tripp
Grand Rounds

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Paul Johnson
Lemonaid Health

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Mario Schlosser
Oscar

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Anil Sethi
Ciitizen

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Ashwini Zenooz
Commure

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Russ Johannesson
Glooko

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Jim Pursley
Hinge Health

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Peter Hames
Big Health

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Daniel Brillman
Unite Us

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Arif Nathoo
Komodo Health

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Raj Singh
Accolade

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Tim Barry
VillageMD

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Steve Yaskin
Health Gorilla

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Sean Duffy
Omada Health

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Stephanie Papes Strong
Boulder Care

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Abner Mason
ConsejoSano

THCB Gang Episode 60 – Thurs July 1

Episode 60 of “The THCB Gang” was live-streamed on Thursday, July 1st. Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) was joined by policy consultant/author Rosemarie Day (@Rosemarie_Day1); THCB Editor and soon-to-be medical student at Yale, and first time #THCBGang participant Christina Liu (@ChristinayLiu) and–making a rare but welcome appearance –venture investor & soccer mogul Marcus Whitney @marcuswhitney We had a great wide ranging chat about Medicaid, venture capital and the unnecessarily excessive rigors of applying to medical school, and what that means for health equity.

The video is below but if you’d rather listen to the episode, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

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