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Category: WTF Health

Inside Owlet’s SPAC IPO: From Smart Sock Baby Monitor to Data-Driven Pediatric Healthcare Co

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Oh Baby! Connected digital nursery startup, Owlet Baby Care, just announced their SPAC IPO and intention to take their infant smart sock from baby monitor to FDA-approved medical device. I talk with Owlet’s co-founder & CEO, Kurt Workman, to find out why the baby health tech company (which has raised $48M in venture funding) has decided to take the business public in order to pursue its plans for growth as a pediatric healthcare company caring for baby “from conception to kindergarten.” Kurt gets into the details behind the work Owlet’s team is doing now to get their device FDA-approved in two different ways, and how they’re using Livongo Health’s remote monitoring/data analytics/telehealth model as a precedent for pursuing health insurance reimbursement. There may be lots of market skepticism out there about wearables – particularly socks, and especially with infants – but this deep-dive into Owlet’s vision for data-driven parenting provides a pretty compelling vision for both better and more cost-effective baby care, and the bonus of a better night’s sleep for new parents. Owlet’s calling it an $81 BILLION DOLLAR addressable market, and Kurt believes that it stands alone in terms how its bringing together full-stack connected technology and a consumerized healthcare experience to bridge the gap from hospital to home.

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…

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.”

The Habit Change Provider? Newtopia & the Case for a New Category of Healthcare Provider

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Chronic disease prevention is often lumped into chronic disease management – but should it be? Aren’t there different nuances to preventing diseases than to treat them? Making the case that healthcare’s “primary prevention” businesses deserve their own category is the CEO of Newtopia, Jeff Ruby. Newtopia’s just announced the creation of a new category of healthcare provider, the Habit Change Provider, in effort to more accurately describe the role of companies working to change the way people behave in their everyday lives. What they eat, whether or not they exercise, how they deal with stress and anxiety – in short, this is the business of influencing the many micro-decisions that, cumulatively, add up to our overall health and whether or not we’ll be impacted by “lifestyle diseases” like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, mental health issues, and more.

Newtopia’s been in this business for over a decade, starting its path to commercialization with Aetna and a three-year randomized control trial of more than 2,800 Aetna employees that proved the power of prevention: physical risk reduction, clinical cost savings, and the “holy grail” of any population health model, in-year ROI. So confident is Newtopia in their approach that the company goes at-risk on outcomes, a compelling enough value proposition to attract clients like Accenture, JP Morgan Chase (and it’s now defunct joint-venture with Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway, Haven) and the whole of CVS Health (which acquired Aetna.)

Is this starting to sound different than those chronic condition management companies yet? Listen in to hear more about the details behind Newtopia’s approach, which even leverages genetic testing to “remove blocks for habit change” by helping people identify what they’ve inherited from their parents (slow metabolism, difficulty processing fats, body’s ability to handle stress signals) so they can get past blaming themselves and start developing healthy lifestyle improvements.

Modern Health’s CEO on Becoming Digital Mental Health’s Latest Unicorn

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Digital mental health startup Modern Health just closed a $74M Series D, bringing their funding total to $170M, and earning the company a $1.17B valuation that makes it the FASTEST-EVER female-founded company to hit unicorn status. CEO Alyson Watson explains what sets Modern Health apart in the incredibly crowded, well-funded, and highly-competitive mental health tech space where the growing issue of skyrocketing demand for care is likely soon to become a shortage of care providers.

Modern Health is hoping to win here by becoming a one-stop-shop for a full-suite of mental health services. They’re bundling together all the different kinds of mental health point solutions currently out there – from tech-enabled self-service cognitive behavioral therapy programs and peer-to-peer group therapy all the way to one-on-one virtual visits with clinicians – and differentiating by designing a better way to intake patients, so care can be more accurately and cost-effectively matched to patient needs. Says Alyson, “If you’re just solving mental health through the old-school way of connecting someone to a therapist, and that’s your be-all-end-all and your only solution…well, eventually, that bubble will burst.”

Founded in 2017, the company has grown both its client-base (220 employers) and coffers quickly. They’ve already acquired Kip, another digital mental health biz, and are looking for more. Tune in to hear what Alyson’s got on deck for 2021 and what she expects to be driving further growth in the mental health virtual care market.

Signify Health IPO: CEO Kyle Armbrester on $7.1B Market Debut

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Signify Health’s CEO Kyle Armbrester stops by on IPO day! Hours after ringing the bell on $SGFY’s launch on the New York Stock Exchange, Jess DaMassa digs into the health tech company’s $7.1B valuation and plans to help providers, payers, and self-insured employers scale-up their value-based care offerings. Kyle calls it “Value-Based Care 2.0” and, for the uninitiated, does a great job of stepping back and explaining this healthcare payment model’s history and how Signify is building its next-gen approach from the groundwork laid over the past decade.

What’s unique about Signify Health’s model is that it’s not just relying on tech to make it easier to find where managed care organizations can help cut healthcare costs and drive better outcomes – they also provide in-home health services that send nurses, doctors, and social workers out into patient’s homes to physically look for potential roadblocks to recovery and wellness. It’s in this critical “last mile” where Signify is possibly making the greatest impact, connecting the social determinants of health (physical environment, social support networks, economic status, etc) back into the healthcare system in a way that not only helps patients, but is also aligned with how all the stakeholders along the care continuum are incentivized. (And that includes Signify, which goes at-risk along with their clients and only gets paid when they drive better outcomes and cut-out costs.) So, what is the ultimate opportunity for this kind of “deep healthcare” business? We get into Signify Health’s business model, the competition, and its plans for growth and M&A activity now that they’re backed by $564M in capital from their initial day on the public market.

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.

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