This is interesting for a bunch of reasons. First it’s a good example of how technology is now being applied to help with the almost absurd complexity of modern medicine–complexity that technology has both added to and may yet cure. Secondly, Surveyor Health has been building its technology for several years and (FD) I’ve been advising them off and on since 2009 and know the principals well. Thirdly, and this is mostly for grins, it represents some of the absurd language used to describe our crazy health care system.
What does the tech do? Surveyor Health’s technology is very
complex optimization technology that examines the incredible number of symptoms
and interactions undergone by patients taking multiple medications. As you know
most chronically ill patients are on upwards of half a dozen medications and some
are on many more. The more medications, the more the potential for serious and
sometimes fatal drug-drug interactions, side effects and more. You only have to
think of the litany of celebrity drug deaths (Michael Jackson, Prince, Anna Nicole
Smith, Health Ledger, Tom Petty, to name a few) to understand the seriousness
of the issue. Erick von Schweber, a real theoretical physicist and CEO of
Surveyor Health tells me that when you get above 11 drugs the calculations
involved are more complex than what Google has to do to index the web. (And yes,
he now is allowing me to call it AI!)
Facebook is releasing an EMR? Jim Cramer is going to work at Epic? April Fools! On today’s actual Health in 2 Point 00 Episode 76, Jess asks me about the follow up from Health Datapalooza, which ended with the government saying they will be changing the world and that everyone should join them in their initiative to innovate digital health. AHRQ & CMMI ran digital health challenges, and CMMI will be doing an AI challenge for $1 million for startups in the space. Speaking of the government, Seema Verma was in the news for her PR spending and as I said “Evil Twin Seema” and “Good Seema” are joined at the hip and they should “not screw around on the PR front”. In other news, MountSinai launched a digital health institute to develop advances in artificial intelligence and other emerging health care technologies spaces. Clover Health laid off a ton of people, and according to me, they are starting to get serious because running a Medicare Advantage plan is hard work — Matthew Holt
Bayer’s G4A team launched their 2019 program today, so here’s a little help for anyone curious about the state of pharma startup investment and what it takes to land a deal there these days.
I had the chance to pick the brain of Bayer’s
Global Head of Digital Health, Eugene Borukhovich, during JP Morgan Healthcare
Week and pulled out these three gloriously thought-provoking soundbites from
our conversation to give you some insight as to the mindset over at big Bayer.
“Digital therapeutics are shining light on the convoluted, complex mess of digital health”
If you’ve wondered what lies ‘beyond the pill’
for Big Pharma, wonder no more. It seems the answer is digital therapeutics.
Eugene predicts that “within the next couple of years, ‘digital health’ as a
term will disappear,” and calls out organizations like the Digital Therapeutics
Alliance for their efforts to set standards around evidence-base and behavior
modification so regulators and strategic investors alike can properly evaluate
claims made by health tech startups. As time goes on, it looks like efforts to
‘pharma-lize’ the ways startups take their solutions to market will increase,
pushing them into more traditional go-to-market pathways that have familiar and
comforting guidelines in place. As Eugene says, “Ultimately, what we say in my
team, is that it’s about health in a digital world today.” Sounds like that’s
true for both the products he’s seeking AND the way pharma is looking to bring
them to market…
“These multi-hundred million [dollar] press releases are
great to a certain extent, but what happened to the start-up style mentality?”
When asked about Big Tech getting into Big
Health, in the end, it seems, Eugene shakes out to be in favor of the ‘Little
Guy’ – or, at least, in their approach. Don’t miss his comments about
“cockiness in our healthcare industry” and how Big Tech is working around that
by partnering up, but the salient point for startups is that big companies still
seem very much interested in buddying with smaller businesses. It’s for all the
same reasons as before: agility, the ability to iterate quickly, and the
opportunity to do so within reasonable budgets. Eugene offered this telling
rhetorical musing: “Just because it’s a combination of two big giants…do you
need to do $500 million? Or, do you give some…traction, milestone, [etc.]…to
prove it, just like a start-up would?”
“In large organizations, transformation equals time, and…we
don’t have time.”
“To me,” says Eugene, “the biggest challenge is
actually landing these inside the organization.” He’s talking about novel
health solutions – digital therapeutics or otherwise – after learning from
previous G4A cycles. Culture, precedent, and years of market success loom large
in big healthcare companies across the ecosystem, which is one reason why innovation
inside them is so challenging. Eugene says he’s “a big believer in a small team
– even in large organizations – to take something by the cojones, and get shit
done, and move it forward, and push the envelope from the bureaucracy and the
process.” There’s a sense of urgency to ‘innovate or die’ in the face of the
growing competition in the healthcare industry. “Back to this earlier
conversation around whether it’s tech giants or other companies,” he adds, “it
is a race to the speed of the organization. How quickly we learn and how
quickly we make the decisions. Bottom line, that’s it.”
There’s plenty more great insights and trend
predictions where these came from, plus the juicy details behind how G4A itself
has pivoted this year. Check out the full interview now.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are at 10th annual Health Datapalooza in Washington D.C.! Jess talks to me about Xealth’s $11 million round to develop out its company, and Change Healthcare is applying for a $100 million IPO. The big takeaways from Health Datapalooza are that many people and companies have integrated data into their systems, but they haven’t been able to gain many actionable insights from it. Also, if you haven’t heard of the complaint Andrea Downing, Fred Trotter, and David Harlow wrote to the FTC concerning the privacy and data that can be downloaded from Facebook’s groups, you better check it out. It details out the concern that Facebook is not protecting the data of patients as anyone can download sensitive data from the groups and use it — Matthew Holt
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are standing on a roof answering health tech questions from the Digital Health Commercialization Panel event in San Francisco. In this episode, Jess asks me about all the money that is being raised or spent in the health tech worlds of Europe and the US. DoctoLib, a company that is like ZocDoc in the US, raised 150 million Euro, which is probably the largest raise for a European company involved in health tech. Meanwhile, in the US, Teledoc also stretches its way into Europe, buying MédecinDirect, which is a telehealth company in France. We also see health tech companies in the employer health space taking home large piles of cash. Cleo, which is a platform entirely run by women serving women’s’ health postpartum, raises 27 million. UniteUs, which is a company focused on improving people’s social determinants of health, raises 30 million, but I still worry about this type of initiative and want to see if there is a market for this type of care and if hospitals are willing to pay for it–Matthew Holt
Health coaches are playing an ever-more important role in healthcare,
but there’s no one single authority when it comes to finding one — or vetting
them for that matter — until now.
Marina Borukhovich, CEO of startup YourCoach, talks about how she hopes to disrupt health coaching after she learned the value of having a ‘squad’ of experts help her through her breast cancer journey.
In fact, ‘Squads’ are the value-add that YourCoach is hoping will set
them apart. The app’s signature feature is that it lets you build-your-own team
of experts who can work together to tackle any aspect of health and wellness.
“We’re connecting coaches from around the world
who are going to lead the client holistically,” explains Marina. “So, it could be
diabetes support, it could be pull[ing] somebody in who does meditation, they
could bring in a business coach. It just really depends on the person…and what you
need as a person.”
“We’re building ‘Team YOU.”
Joining in on the fun in this interview is Eugene Borukhovich, who some
of you will recognize as the face of Bayer’s G4A program.
Eugene serves as an advisor to YourCoach and is also Marina’s husband —
possibly making them the “Beyonce & Jay-Z” power couple of
digital health. Is this a blessing or a curse? Apparently, there are 3am pitch
practices that sound like the solid foundation of any marriage.
Listen in to meet them both.
Filmed at JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, January 2019.
On Episode 62 of Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I are reporting from Nashville—while enjoying some delicious barbecue. We’re in town for AHIP’s Consumer Experience & Digital Health Forum, where Jess did an amazing job as a moderator and I was on a panel. In this episode, Jess asks me about my key takeaways from the forum, what the deal is with Tivity Health acquiring Nutrisystem, and how I managed to get into a fight on Twitter while at AHIP. —Matthew Holt