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Teladoc Health Integration Update: Former Livongo & InTouch Health Execs Weigh-In

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Just 45 days after Teladoc Health closed its $600 million acquisition of hospital telehealth provider InTouch last year, it turned around and announced a surprise $18B acquisition of Livongo, extending its reach into patients’ homes via the digital health startup’s remote monitoring platform for diabetes, hypertension, and more. Now, four months past the signing of that deal, and at the start of yet-another pandemic year expected to be big for virtual care, the two big questions healthcare market watchers have for Teladoc Health are: 1) how’s that double integration going? and 2) just how much pushback are you getting from health system clients that look at this “hospital-to-home” virtual care pathway as a little too close to their own business models? Jess DaMassa gets the latest from InTouch Health’s former CEO, now Teladoc Health’s President of Hospital and Health Systems, Joe DeVivo and Livongo’s former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bimal Shah, who’s now Teladoc Health’s Chief Medical Officer for Product and Analytics.

What’s the integration been like for our old friends from the InTouch and Livongo teams? What areas of the “hospital-to-home” digital infrastructure are priority for 2021? And, what about data integration? With more than 1-billion data elements from Livongo, 10.5 million visits on Teladoc’s platform, and 3.5-million Teladoc-enabled visits via hospital clients, it sounds like interoperability to provide “intelligence, not data” is paramount to the company’s strategy for driving growth. As Joe says, “Teladoc has just positioned itself to be “THE” partner to institutionalize virtual care for healthcare systems. Excellence around the delivery of care will always sit in the health system, but to the extent that we can improve the consumer experience in the onboarding into the healthcare system and to prop up our health system customers, all the better.” For lots more on winning over hospitals, outflanking the competition, and fully leveraging the AI-plus-AI engine Livongo built, tune in now.

And, for the die-hards… to catch a bit more on Teladoc Health’s vision for the future of virtual care, watch Dr. Bimal Shah and Joe DeVivo here: https://perspectives.teladochealth.com/

UpHealth’s Exec Leadership Team on the Digital Health Super-Company’s Plans for Market Growth

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

The executive leadership team of UpHealth, the self-described “global digital health super-company” that’s headed toward the public market via a SPAC that’s brought together six companies, 10-years of health tech innovation, and a war chest of $285M dollars, stops by to talk about growth plans and grabbing market share. UpHealth’s Chairman & Founder, Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, Co-CEO & President Dr. Al Gatmaitan, and future COO Jamey Edwards talk through what Jamey says is “really a revenue story” about the fastest growth areas of digital health. Global telehealth, integrated care management, digital pharmacy, and behavioral health will be UpHealth’s sweet spots. The newco is positioning itself as a “one-stop shop” for the digital healthcare infrastructure that will support a local healthcare organization in rolling out digital care services and integrating them with their in-person care continuums. This is different than, say, a Teladoc or an Amwell, which in addition to providing infrastructure also have their own tech-enabled medical groups, which can sometimes be viewed as competitive to their customers. The global nature of UpHealth is another differentiator, particularly in how it hopes to ultimately make it possible for highly specialized care from the US to be “exported” to countries abroad AND for lower cost care for lower acuity issues to be “imported” in. With $190M in revenue projected for 2021 – and that’s NOT dependent on integrating the six companies – we talk through areas for potential growth, that aforementioned competitive landscape, and whether or not UpHealth is feeling the pressure to hurry their integration.

Local Doctors Get the “Centers of Excellence” Treatment: Embold Health’s CEO on Data-Driven Quality

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Apparently, self-insured employers hot on better managing their healthcare spend are finding truth (and dollars) in Embold Health’s mantra that “quality is the best, most sustainable way to control costs.” This health tech startup is applying the old “Centers of Excellence” framework to the individual physician level; helping identify high-performing primary care docs and specialists in local markets for employers who not only want to offer their employees better quality care, but also improve the healthcare system in the communities in which they live and work.

Daniel Stein, Embold Health’s co-Founder & CEO, explains the company’s model, which is being perfected with one of the most demanding-yet-coveted “health activist” employers out there: Walmart. In this particular case, Walmart is actually incentivizing its employees to go to the providers ranked highest by Embold’s assessment, which looks at physician performance along three categories: 1) appropriateness of care; 2) outcomes; and 3) cost-effective compared to peers in-market. Backed by the robust national BlueCross BlueShield dataset, the information Embold Health is collecting, analyzing, and doling out to employers can definitely cause some health systems to take pause — and their docs to bristle. So, how does Embold Health diffuse potential blowback? Here’s where the competitive nature of local healthcare, particularly in the world of primary care, becomes clutch. Tune in to hear the details, including some very interesting stats, as well as Embold’s latest endeavors to help docs make better referrals to specialists.

One-Price, 30-Day Warranty, Payment at Discharge: Carrum Health’s CEO on Changing How We Buy Surgery

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

No copays. No coinsurance. No surprise out-of-network anesthesiologist fees or pre-op imaging bills. Just one, single price (that you see in advance) tells you EXACTLY what you’ll be paying for your surgical care on Carrum Health. Backed by the recent close of a $40M Series A funding round, the health tech startup’s CEO Sach Jain talks through all the ways his company is looking to disrupt how we buy surgical care. Standardized bundle pricing is just the beginning. Carrum requires its Centers of Excellence (and each of their docs) to pass a proprietary 50-point inspection before they can join the platform, AND every surgery must be backed by a 30-day Warranty! How have they convinced providers to jump through these kinds of hoops? With a growing client-base of self-insured employers (Sach says they have several Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 clients) and payment-in-full made to providers upon discharge, the case for additional revenue and zero A/R days is pretty compelling to a health system. And what about the other side of the business model? Tune in to find out why Sach believes Carrum Health’s “marketplace” approach will appeal to the growing base of “activist” employers whose HR benefits administrators are becoming more and more adept at building-their-own healthcare networks.

Medable’s CEO: Covid19 Vaccine Will Start Big Pharma’s Era of De-Centralized Clinical Trials

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Covid 19 vaccine development may have mainstreamed questions about how to hasten drug development timelines, but Medable, a health tech startup that offers researchers a way to de-centralize clinical trials, has been working to solve this problem for five years. Freshly funded with a $91M Series C raise, co-founder and CEO Michelle Longmire talks through the benefits of “liberating” clinical trials from academic research centers and sending them onto devices into patient’s homes. Traditionally, drug development processes average more than 10 years, cost millions of dollars, and are limited in the diversity of patients they can recruit because of the heavy focus on the geographic location of the research team conducting the trial. Medable’s digital platform breaks these limitations, reducing drug development timelines and costs by making it easier for researchers to draw study participants from anywhere. More importantly, it makes the novel medicines being tested by the trial available to a bigger, more diverse array of patients. Despite the gains made in 2020 toward the de-centralized clinical trial model (Medable’s revenue shot up 500%), there’s concern that Big Pharma may return to the business processes of old once the pandemic is under control. Does Michelle think last year make enough of an impact to change their business model for good? Find out what’s ahead for the future of pharma.

Hims & Hers CEO on IPO, Push into Primary Care, Target & More

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

On the eve of the finalization of their SPAC IPO and New York Stock Exchange debut as $HIMS, Hims & Hers CEO, Andrew Dudum, sat down with Jess DaMassa to talk about his wellness company’s transition into full-on healthcare provider. With new primary care, mental health care, and covid19 testing services launched as a result of the pandemic, Hims & Hers has expanded beyond their initial dermatology and sexual health core to provide telehealth-plus-pharmacy services for a growing range of chronic conditions, mental health issues, and everyday health concerns commonly tackled by PCPs. How far into healthcare delivery will Hims & Hers go? What types of acquisitions or innovations will be necessary to compete with the likes of Teladoc/Livongo, Optum, or the slew of virtual-first primary care clinics currently vying to be healthcare’s “digital front door”? And, what are we to make of that fact that Hims & Hers has gone retail: appearing on the shelves of every Target store in the US? Healthcare’s changing, and we get a fired-up Andrew to wax philosophical on why companies like his — that are consumer-focused, disrupting the healthcare “experience,” AND slowly eroding the healthcare payment model with a customer base willing to pay out-of-pocket — will be leading the way to a next-generation healthcare model.

Hinge Health’s CEO on $3B Valuation, Stretch Toward 2022 IPO

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Hinge Health kicked off 2021 with a massive $300M Series D, driving the digital health musculoskeletal care company to a $3B valuation that, normally, would have sent health tech pundits into full-on IPO rumor mode…except that Hinge Health’s co-founder & CEO Daniel Perez beat them to it! We get into the details behind those comments (from what shall now be known as “the chatty Reuters interview”) where he not only revealed the company’s IPO plans, but also talked about how Hinge is well on it’s way to hit $200M in revenue. If 2021 is a year that Dan says will be focused on getting the business “operationally mature” enough to go public, what, exactly will be on the agenda? We dive into the competitive landscape, talk market size (Dan says more than 50% of employees on employer sponsored plans already have access to Hinge Health), and explore whether or not there are designs to expand into comorbidities common to back and joint pain, like mental health, obesity, diabetes, etc. Says Dan, “We’re going to use the capital to really invest in our innovation and R&D team and to stay different. We’re not just going to do the obvious moves.” Tune in for all the details on exactly what that means and why Dan thinks it’s central to Hinge Health’s market leadership in the MSK care space.

Olive CEO Sean Lane on 2020’s Big Numbers: 3 Funding Rounds, $450M, & a 5-Point Plan for the Future

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Arguably 2020’s hottest health tech startup, Olive (olive.ai) closed THREE funding rounds this year, totaling $450M and valuing the company at $1.5B. Backed by a “who’s who” of technology, healthcare, and health tech venture capital, Sean Lane, CEO, clues us in about just what makes Olive so damn fund-able. The company boasts a “healthcare AI workforce” that tackles all the back-office processes hospitals use to run their organizations. This is not sexy stuff — filing and tracking insurance claims, ordering inventory, managing suppliers, etc. What’s hot, though, is how Olive is able to automate these tasks (according to Sean, currently many of these processes are handled by spreadsheets and faxes), “learn” as she’s doing it, and create efficiencies and cost savings across all of Olive’s 600+ hospital client-base as she does. Could this be the end of “admin expense” in healthcare? If what Olive is currently doing isn’t enough, we dive deep into Olive’s strategic plan — ALL FIVE POINTS OF IT (!) — to learn what’s next. My favorite? Number 3. The one where Olive starts to INSTANT PAY CLAIMS to completely disrupt hospital cash flow.

The Evernorth Digital Health Formulary & the Disruption of the Digital Health Payment Model

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Last December, Express Scripts — now a part of Evernorth — became the first PBM to go to market with a digital health formulary. Basically, adapting the vetting, organizing, and pricing functions of a traditional medication formulary to the digital (health) age. Mark Bini, Chief Patient Experience Officer, spearheaded the effort, meant to alleviate the burden faced by Evernorth’s clientbase of 4,000 employers and health plans, who’s HR benefits teams want to make digital health solutions available to the 100+ million members of their health plans, but don’t have a frictionless, repeatable way to do so. As Mark puts it, “if you’ve seen one digital health startup, you’ve seen one.” And, for an HR benefits administrator whose inbox is inundated by digital health companies, the challenge of dealing with different levels of clinical validation, different data needs, different contracts, and, probably, most frustrating, different payment models that are often separated from their health benefit and pharmacy benefits, Evernorth’s Digital Health Formulary eases a real burden. So, a year in… how’s it going? Have Evernorth’s clients bought into more digital health solutions as a result of the formulary? What’s uptake been like among the populations they manage? And, how has this been working out for digital health startups? Mark gives us an update, talks through the details of the selection process, AND reveals what he’s got planned next. Spoiler: The evolution of the Formulary means adding more cohorts of digital health solutions more frequently, increasing the number of digital health solutions covered under drug benefits, getting a beat on longitudinal digital health engagement, and working out how to help consumers navigate all the various health tech options that are available to them.

Bayer G4A Agents of Change: Watch the Panels, Meet the Co’s that Got Deals

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Bayer G4A, the global life science company’s digital health innovation arm, held their splashy “Agents of Change” event last month to not only introduce their latest cohort of health tech partners, but to also demonstrate the pharma co’s commitment to digital transformation. The entire C-suite of Bayer’s Pharma division became a panel itself — marking the first time the full leadership team of a major pharmaceutical company appeared together to talk strategically about tech’s role in shaping the pharma business model of the future. 

The rest of the program’s agenda teased out G4A’s priorities: consumer health, health disparities, women’s health, and investing. Matthew and I both moderated “star-studded” panels with health tech greats: he tackled health tech investment, ridiculous valuations, and advice for startups with a powerhouse crew of investors, while I led my women’s health panel past the usual talk of period-tracking and into a real push for a paradigm shift in thinking about what actually constitutes women’s health data. Rounding out the program were fascinating discussions about health equity and access led by Indu Sabiaya, and a ‘who’s-interviewing-who-here’ fireside about patient-centered tech with OneDrop’s Jeff Dachis and DiabetesMine founder Amy Tenderich, both entrepreneurs with diabetes who have a lot to say about how most tech misses the mark when it comes to grappling with patient needs in everyday life.

And… if you’re curious about what Bayer G4A actually invested in and who they decided to sign partnership agreements with, check out my exclusive WTF Health interviews featuring these companies by way of the playlist below. 

Spoiler Alert: Not a single digital therapeutic. 

What else could there possibly be for a pharma co to invest in? Watch and see. But, so you know a bit about what you’ll be getting into:

  • Caria is women’s health startup focused on menopause 
  • Sweetch is using just-in-time-interventions linked to mobile data to help “outsmart” chronic diseases
  • ONCARE is a care plan content management platform that lets any healthcare provider upload a care pathway that a patient can then follow via an app on their phone
  • Decipher Biosciences is using genomic testing to disrupt the way prostate cancer is diagnosed and treated 
  • Elly is helping improve the quality of life for cancer patients and those with chronic disease by way of educational and motivational content delivered via voice technology

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