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The Digital Health Update from Europe: Startups, Funding, Frontiers Health & More

BY JESSICA DaMASSA

Roberto Ascione, CEO of European marketing and innovation consultancy, Healthware Group, and Chairman of Europe’s premier digital health conference, Frontiers Health, literally has a front-row seat to all the happenings in Europe’s scaling digital health, digital therapeutics, and telehealth markets.

With juuuust enough time for American investors and innovators to snag their own ticket for a seat at Frontiers Health in Milan on October 20-21, 2022, we check in with Roberto to see if European health tech startups are fairing any better than their US-based counterparts, if EU-based investors are just as flush with funding as they have been through the pandemic, and if enthusiasm is still high for virtual care and digital health among government healthcare organizations, their health systems, and their patients.

Europe is NOT the same market as the US, and Roberto details some notable differences in the state-of-play and top-of-mind issues facing health tech across the pond. Many of these topics will take center stage at Frontiers Health, including some important governance conversations around digital therapeutics. For the gossip on what’s happening in health tech in Europe, check out this interview and for more on what’s on the agenda at Frontiers (which can be attended virtually for those averse to Milan 😉) head on over to www.frontiers.health.

NeuroFlow & The Tech that Jumps the Care Gaps Between Physical Check-ups & Mental Health Care

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Mental health infrastructure company, NeuroFlow, is a tech platform that integrates into care management systems and EHRs to help clinicians and care managers identify behavioral health conditions in patients as they are getting physical health exams like annual check-ups, post-partum exams, and more. Founder & CEO Chris Molaro joins us from NeuroFlow’s new headquarters just hours before their grand opening to talk about how the startup – which has raised a total $32 million, including a $20 million Series B led by Magellan Health – is helping health systems and health plans integrate and automate workflows so they can better identify, risk-stratify, and serve patients who need mental health services.

Right off the bat, Chris starts out by explaining what NeuroFlow IS by what it IS NOT; NeuroFlow is not a telehealth company and it doesn’t directly deliver mental health care to any patients. Instead, it is a platform that makes it easier for those who are working with patients to be able to more consistently screen for mental health issues, provide follow-up support, and transition patients to the right level of mental health care via a step-care model complete with referral pathways.

The care management component of NeuroFlow gets splashier from here, with the ability to integrate and analyze data from wearable devices and free-form data sources like text messages with providers to flag anomalies in everyday behaviors that might be clues that could indicate that someone may in distress. How else does the tech help build a bridge from physical check-up to mental health care providers, particularly in an era where the supply-and-demand imbalance for mental healthcare is so off? We talk all things scaling-up, how the “modular” business model works, AND we find out why NeuroFlow’s new offices are so important to the company and its Philly roots. Watch now!

The Future of Clinical Trials at Pfizer

BY JESSICA DaMASSA

From de-centralized clinical trials to real world data (RWD), real world evidence (RWE), and even social media, the future for clinical research at Pfizer sounds increasingly tech-enabled and focused on meeting and engaging patients where they are.

Pfizer’s Head of Clinical Trial Experience, Judy Sewards, and Head of Clinical Operations & Development, Rob Goodwin, drop in to chat about what Pfizer’s approach to clinical research looks like now, after the rapid evolution it underwent to “lightspeed” the development of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The big change? Rob says they are “obsessed” with de-centralized trials, with nearly 50% of clinical trial visits still happening virtually. And, beyond the convenience factor, both point to de-centralization as a critical factor in being able to recruit more patients into trials as well as improve the diversity of their participant groups. In the end, the decentralized approach, says Judy, is “not just a matter of equity, but good science as well.”

And what about improvements to the cost of drug development? Is it too soon to tell if de-centralization will make an impact on the bottom line? Innovation may be expensive to implement at first, but, explains Rob, “If you can recruit your trial faster, overall, the cost of development goes down and speed to the patient goes up.”

We chat through the full suite of benefits that de-centralized clinical trials are bringing Pfizer and its patient populations, and get into the utility of real-world data, which also saw new notoriety when the Covid-19 vaccine was being developed. How is RWD impacting clinical research even when it’s not being used as evidence in a regulatory approval process? Watch and find out more about how data innovation is shaping the future of pharma!

Ribbon Health & Provider Data’s Holy Grail: The Accurate Provider Directory

BY JESSICA DaMASSA

It’s one of the greatest mysteries of the era of health data digitization: Why is provider directory still so hard to get right?? Ribbon Health’s co-founder & CEO Nate Maslak explains how Ribbon (which started out in the symptom-checker biz) pivoted to take on, once-and-for-all, the miserable state of provider data management to not only fix provider directories (which are still wrong 50% of the time!), but also referral management systems, health plan enrollment data, and now, thanks to those new price transparency rules, price lists.

“All of the different use cases we focus on around enrollment, referral management, provider data management for directory…” explains Nate, “These are actually the same problem that use different words to describe it because of the different parts of the ecosystem that we’re in.” So, as Ribbon gets the process right for provider directory by building an underlying tech platform that uses predictive analytics and network effect methodologies to work its magic to validate-and-verify that kind of healthcare data, then it can apply that framework to ANY healthcare data to the same end. And, maybe one day, layer member-facing services – like instant-booking with a doc – on top of them.

Backed by nearly $54 million from Andreesen Horowitz and General Catalyst, and we get into what makes this startup’s take on one of the oldest healthcare infrastructure issues so appealing. From platform to business model (which serves a mix of health plans, provider orgs and patient-facing solutions) to grand plans for the future (which include figuring out how “API as a platform” can further productize provider data management and power care decisions) we chat with Nate on all things Ribbon Health.

Meet Voice Tech Start-Up Cardiokol

BY JESSICA DaMASSA

Early-stage health tech start-up Caridokol is developing technology that listens to the sound of a patient’s voice over a mobile phone, landline phone or smart speaker to detect and analyze vocal biomarkers that indicate that the patient may be suffering from disease. The voice tech co is proving its case first in detecting arrhythmias, which are often asymptomatic and usually go undetected until they’ve led to a more serious issue like a stroke.

Cardiokol’s CEO James Amihood explains the tech behind this first use case – which already has one US patent granted and is pending approval on three more – and his plans to expand the company’s base of vocal biomarkers to enter into new disease states and new markets. The company is currently raising a Series A funding round and is planning to expand from Israel and Europe to the US. How could the technology change the game for disease prevention, starting with strokes? James connects the dots to the big vision for the company’s future as he explains how Cardiokol’s tech is already providing those most at-risk of arrythmia a very cost-effective, simple-to-use way to screen and monitor their long-term heart health.

BREAKING: Headspace Health Acquires Shine App, A Diversity & Inclusion Self-Care Platform

BY JESSICA DaMASSA

Headspace Health’s CEO Russell Glass and The Shine App’s co-Founder & co-CEO Naomi Hirabayashi give us the inside story on deal that makes The Shine App’s award-winning, inclusive self-care and mental health platform a part of the Headspace Health family.

This is Headspace Health’s second acquisition this year, and we find out why they chose to ‘buy instead of build’ when it came time to refine and enrich the inclusiveness of their meditation, self-care, and mental health care offerings.

The Shine App brings 45,000 subscribers and 90 enterprise clients to the table, but what Russ points to as ‘stand-out’ is the quality of the content that Shine is built on, and the depth of understanding that their team has realized when it comes to the unique mental health issues that are facing minorities and other traditionally underserved populations. For example? Naomi talks about “representation burnout” which is its own brand of burnout that is often-experienced-but-not-often-named by people who suffer the pressures of being the “lone representative” of a minority population in a vastly homogenous workforce. Wow.

Tune in for more on what this acquisition will mean for Headspace, what Naomi and her co-founder Marah Lidey intend to do as new Headspace employees, how Shine will help Headspace’s Leadership Training program, AND some extra surprise bonus gems. Apparently, the BIGGEST DEAL yet for the full integration of Headspace-plus-Ginger is on the horizon and, OF COURSE, I find out if Russ got a chance to meet John Legend as part of Headspace’s Super Bowl commercial shoot.

Deep-Dive Into Availity’s Acquisition of Diameter Health

by JESSICA DAMASSA

“There’s $4-$4.5 trillion dollars of annual spend in the healthcare system. A trillion of that is administrative. And, some big chunk — some BIG number that you measure in the 100’s of billions of dollars – is waste. So, the TAM for what Availity and Diameter Health are going to do together is huge.” Russ Thomas, Availity’s CEO, is clearly excited about his company’s recent acquisition of Diameter Health and we ask him – and Diameter’s President & COO Mary Lantin – why this is such a big deal.

In the end, what this comes down to is making more sense of all the data that flows between providers and payers to automate where possible, find insights to improve business processes and workflows, and, ultimately, cut out that notorious “admin expense” that adds to healthcare cost without creating any value.

For twenty years, Availity’s been in the business of “translating” data from providers into a language health plans can understand, so payors could refine their own business processes and automate pre-auths, pay claims, etc. Diameter, on the other hand, deals in the world of clinical data and “upcycles” it into concepts and “digestible bites” that a health plan can use to automate an administrative workflow process with a provider and – get this – build a longitudinal health record that now Availity’s robust supply of claims and health plan data can fully flesh out.

How excited are Russ and Mary about the idea of this comprehensive, longitudinal, fully-integrated clinical-plus-claims patient record? Much more excited than even I anticipated! Tune in for all the details on the merger and this BIG vision for scaling up the fight against healthcare’s massive spend on administrative waste.

Particle Health, Complete Patient Records & ‘The Business’ of the Information Blocking Rule

By JESSICA DAMASSA

Particle Health’s CEO Troy Bannister stops by to not only talk about the API platform company’s $25M Series B, but to also explain exactly what’s going on in that patient data ‘exchange-standardize-and-aggregate’ space that, these days, looks poised to pop as the 21st Century Cures Act Information Blocking Rule stands ready to make hospitals share data like never before.

Troy calls Particle a “network of networks” and what that means is that their API pulls patient records from organizations and businesses that are already aggregating them (so aggregating the aggregators) to get all the lab data and medical data a clinician would want to in order to have a more complete picture of their patient. For clients like One Medical or Omada Health, who deliver value-based care and take on risk, having such a robust historic data set on patients – along with a more complete picture of their comorbidities – helps improve decision making and outcomes.

So, how is Particle Health working now – and what will change – as the Information Blocking Rule gets implemented? Troy’s written about this for Forbes, and explains what has him fired up here too. Turns out their model has room to accommodate a big pivot: giving patients access to their own ‘network of networks’ record. Find out what sets Particle off in this new B2B2C direction and how they will be using that Series B funding to build out deeper analytical tools to help everyone make better sense of what the data in all those records can show us.

Link to Troy’s Forbes piece on Anti Information Blocking Rules

Link to Jess’s chat with Micky Tripathi, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS, on Anti Information Blocking & TEFCA:

Jenny Schneider on Homeward’s $50M Series B, 30K-Patient Partnership with Priority Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Just FIVE MONTHS after launch, rural health startup Homeward is proving its potential for growth with MORE funding – today announcing its $50 million Series B (that’s $70 million total for the folks keeping score at home) – AND a huge 30,000-patient partnership with Priority Health. Co-founder & CEO Dr. Jennifer Schneider is here to breakdown both bits of news and give us some context about what they indicate about the rural healthcare market.

There are a couple surprising facts in this one that add up to why investors like ARCH Venture Partners and Human Capital (co-leads), General Catalyst (which led the Series A), and Lee Shapiro and Glen Tullman (old buddies and former Livongo colleagues who went in on this with personal funds outside of their fund 7wireVentures) were excited to jump into a quick Series B.

Surprising Fact 1: 90% of all rural Medicare beneficiaries are covered by just 7 payers, which makes the Priority Health deal a bigger deal than even that massive 30K patient population might indicate.

Surprising Fact 2: Homeward’s market of rural Americans is actually TWICE as large as the diabetes market that spurred the investment and growth of Livongo.

For all the math, the details on how the business actually works five months in, and how Homeward is actually going to market as a ‘healthcare infrastructure’ provider rather than just a next-gen medical group, you’re going to have to give this one a watch!

The Tech Layer for Home-Based Care? Tomorrow Health Hopes To Network-ize Home Health

BY JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Home-based healthcare is the stuff of tomorrow – literally. Tomorrow Health just closed a $60M Series B to grow their tech infrastructure biz into what CEO Vijay Kedar hopes will ultimately streamline and optimize how home health is ordered, delivered and paid for. This is the software that *could* be the thing that not only gets patients into home-based set-ups faster (vastly improving upon the up-to-90-minutes it currently takes providers to set-up home care for patients) but also creates a system for all stakeholders to track and monitor patient outcomes with an aim at the much larger, long-term opportunity: to realign incentives on value instead of fee-for-service.

Vijay came out of Oscar Health, meaning there is definitely a payer slant to the way this software is designed and deployed. Payers are Tomorrow Health’s clients, and it offers them a way to organize (or completely create, in some cases) home care networks out of the hundreds of different small, local market suppliers and providers that get medical equipment, skilled and unskilled services, and other in-home care elements to the doorsteps of the patients who need them. For a Geisinger Health Plan or Aetna – two of Tomorrow Health’s marquee clients – the software alleviates the pain of scaling this concept in every market while also providing a way to track what’s happening with the patient and build a “bridge” back into the health system that’s leading the patient care team.

With so many other players working in the home-health space – everyone from retail players like Walgreens/CareCentrix and Best Buy/Current Health to upstarts like Signify Health, Honor, and more – how will this tech stack approach play out against others that are one-stop-shops with frontline care and coordination layered on top? Will these ultimately be Tomorrow’s next clients?? Tune in to find out.

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