Straight out of stealth and launching today! Lyn Health is out to provide specific, personalized care for patients with three or more chronic conditions in a way that’s meant to compete with healthcare navigator-advocators like Accolade, Transcarent, and Included Health INSTEAD of the crowd of digital health chronic condition management platforms like Teladoc’s Livongo, Vida Health, One Drop, Omada Health, etc. etc.
With employers and health plans getting increasingly burnt-out on point solutions for chronic care – leading many of those businesses to “platform out” themselves in recent years – will a niche-market navigator really stand-out? Is effective care for polychronic patient populations so specialized that it merits adding a specific, targeted service on top of the more general navigator, primary care provider, or chronic care platform solution that an employer or plan might already have in place?
Lyn Health’s CEO Rick Abbott stops by to introduce us to this seed-funded startup, which has raised $10M (backed by Summer VC) and has already attracted some yet-to-be-named health plan and Fortune 500 employer clients. Rick explains that market need that Lyn Health is aiming to satisfy, and how he’s leveraged what he’s learned about the cost of polychronic care from his past life at Premera Blue Cross into an approach that he believes will work to help employers both reduce spend and improve the day-to-day patient experience of managing multiple chronic conditions. Lyn Health is set-up to deliver care with its own physicians and social workers, connecting with patients in a digital-plus-bricks-and-mortar format. And, as for that business model, we get into the big question: at-risk or not?
Excited to meet this startup on the day of its official launch!
Acorai is an early-stage medical device startup working with Bayer to improve the way we manage the world’s 65 million patients living with heart failure by using their own smart phones. CEO Filip Peters shows the Acorai device, which is basically an extended smart phone case packed with four different kinds of sensor technologies that work together to measure the pressure inside a patient’s heart, by simply holding their phone against their chest. Of course, the real magic is the algorithm that turns these readings into early detection of a potential incident. How does this stack up against the status-quo way we’re currently caring for these types of patients? Filip says that, right now, the alternative for such monitoring is an IMPLANTED sensor, which many patients aren’t even able to get. As a result, most of the early warning signs of impending heart failure are missed; Acorai’s tech has the potential to be truly revolutionary as it’s able to detect the signs that lead to heart failure hospitalizations up to 30 days in advance.
Acorai has been selected as one of four “Growth Track” companies in Bayer G4A’s Digital Health Partnerships Program, and Filip talks to us about the potential Bayer sees in the daily data stream of information Acorai’s device makes available to cardiologists. A fascinating look at the future of cardiac care!
HUGE news on the “food-as-medicine” front for Medicaid/Medicare Advantage beneficiaries! Now, they can get fresh fruits and veggies delivered directly to their doorsteps and they can pay for them using their SNAP/EBT benefits. FarmboxRx is behind this first-of-its-kind partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and here to talk through EXACTLY why this is groundbreaking (and what precedent it could set for the food-as-medicine movement in terms of payor support) is founder and CEO, Ashley Tyrner.
As Ashley explains it, FarmboxRx’s produce deliveries have been previously covered by Medicare Advantage and Medicaid, but only under the limited ‘over-the-counter’ healthy foods benefits those plans provide. In some states, this nets to just $20-$25 per month for a family of one. With the addition of SNAP/EBT funding, the budget available for spending on these farm-to-table deliveries expands to $164-$230 per month. A potential game-changer.
We unpack Farmbox further and get into how they’re differentiated from Amazon and Walmart, which also take food stamps online, but don’t deliver produce nationally like Farmbox does. This is a move Ashley describes as having the ability to “eradicate food deserts overnight.” There’s so much more about food insecurity, the way FarmboxRx is working with health plans to use food as member engagement and trust-building tool, and, of course, the backstory behind the business which is basically BOOTSTRAPPED (there’s some venture debt) and raising a Series A.
Healthcare navigator Accolade (NASDAQ:ACCD) is on the move. Not only are they now cruising in care delivery territory with two new primary care/mental healthcare offerings that let them personally guide their 9M members further into the healthcare system, BUT they’re also starting to talk more and more about their tech infrastructure and the “operating system” they’ve built to power that healthcare GPS with shared data and access.
CEO Rajeev Singh stops by to walk us through the strategy behind both sides of this (especially interesting when you consider his tech startup background in the context of those “operating system” statements) and why Accolade launched its own new category (personalized healthcare) as a framework for talking about the new course they’re charting.
We get into the September debut of Accolade Care, which bundles primary care and mental health in a per-employee-per-month model, and Accolade One, which wraps the full Accolade ecosystem around the Care product in a value-based model. At-risk models seem to be rising in popularity these days, and I get Rajeev’s perspective on why Accolade chose to go-to-market with one of those…and one that falls into the usual PEPM structure.
More interesting to me, however, is this whole “operating system” thing and how it’s playing out behind-the-scenes to strengthen integration across the businesses Accolade has acquired (Health Reveal being the most recent) and point solutions its partnering with like Virta, Headspace Health, Sword Health, RxSavings Solutions, and Carrot Fertility. The “purpose-built” architecture Rajeev describes sounds like it’s not only giving Accolade what it needs to better manage population health outcomes within its own offerings but that it, in and of itself, could be a new offering for partners who don’t want to build a tech platform themselves.
New directions explored…next moves discussed…AND Raj’s six-year CEO Anniversary celebrated! Watch now.
To hear Vida Health’s CEO Stephanie Tilenius talk about what she’s hearing from payers, providers, and employers about at-risk value-based models, the shift to virtual care, and the growing importance of mental health services as a culture-builder for businesses forced into a part-virtual-part-in-office world, you get a sense of how her past work leading the various payments and commerce businesses of Google, eBay, and PayPal probably comes in handy. For example, the shift to virtual care, she says, is, “like the Internet in 1999…It’s happening.”
We get an update on exactly how Vida Health is making it happen themselves, and how they expect their newly expanded at-risk model will help. Vida’s always been fees-at-risk on physical outcomes related to diabetes management, hypertension, etc. BUT the mental health side of their offering (which experienced 6000% growth year-over-year during the pandemic) is now at-risk on outcomes too. With so much happening across the industry to move to value-based models, we deep-dive with Stephanie to hear what she’s hearing from her clients, including client-and-investor Centene and hear about growth in the employer market where she sees a major shift in how employers are thinking about healthcare as the new sexy job perk. “Instead of snacks or transportation or other benefits,” says Stephanie. “It’s all about healthcare.”
Is this a big surprise? Even during Covid, Pega’s annual 2,000-person Patient Engagement Survey shows that 63% of patients are unhappy with the communication they receive from their payers and providers. Which begs the question… just how bad was it before? (Answer: 86% unhappy– yikes!)
Pega’s VP of Healthcare & Life Sciences, Kelli Bravo, has run this survey three years and counting and drops in to share the highlights (if we can really call them that) of the survey results and how she thinks enterprising young health tech startups can capitalize on the opportunity to help.
For those in the business of trying to talk to patients — which is all of us — let’s look at this as a wake-up call. Let’s stop speaking “health care” and start using language everyone can understand about their care, what it will cost, and what all the options really are. Pega is attempting to do its part in that department, and we get an update on how they’re fairing at helping to make healthcare feel more like retail. The rise of the healthcare consumer is a real thing. Now, with new data to back up claims about what they’re demanding in terms of how they prefer to be talked to and communicated with.
Days after announcing their deal with Walmart, Transcarent’s Executive Chairman & CEO Glen Tullman and meet again (in-person!) to pick up our conversation right where it left off. For the details about the deal, see our last interview; for what the deal signifies for the disruption of the healthcare payer and the ultimate rise of the healthcare consumer, tune in now and take note.
The plot of Transcarent’s story is starting to take shape. Their conflict is with the “big middle” of healthcare where drugs are marked up, care needs pre-authorizations, and docs labeled “this is NOT a bill” are ridiculous artifacts of a payer-first healthcare experience.
“The system behind our healthcare today is working exactly as its designed: for payers. We want to re-design that,” says Glen. “It’s not, ‘how do we get through that better?’ That would be navigating. It’s ‘how do we go completely around that and re-design the experience?’”
Glen talks us through the leverage retailers like Walmart and Amazon really have to help take on non-innovative payers what role Transcarent is playing in all of this, and how startups like GoodRx, Ro, and Capsule who are successfully challenging PBMs are demonstrating that payment model innovation is possible.
And, while we wait for the next big deal to come from ‘healthcare’s best dealmaker, we’ve got some foreshadowing: a quick mention of Oscar Health that registered on my radar as interesting, along with some very specific details about how Transcarent will expand its offering next, looking at MSK, cancer care, behavioral health (particularly for teens), and bringing in more “human voices” for their members to turn to for advice.
There was lots of chatter at HLTH 2021 about the fact that healthcare AI unicorn, Olive, showcased its brand-bedecked touring bus on the show floor. Some expressed disdain about whether or not this was really the best use of more than $850M in funding, while others quickly (and literally) jumped on the bandwagon of the company’s quest to go door-to-door to win over hospital-after-hospital with its “Internet of Healthcare” vision. But, to hear CEO Sean Lane talk about it all – including what’s happening at Circulo, the less-than-a-year-old Medicaid plan being built on top of Olive’s infrastructure – the bus might actually be a grand metaphor for a company continuing to “move fast and fix things” despite the typical stop-and-start nature of innovating in healthcare.
Sean gets us up-to-speed on the latest at Olive: its growth (he says the company is “growing by one mid-sized company each month”)… its expanding client base which now also includes more and more payers…and its own new status as a full-service clearinghouse, thanks to its Olive Assures product that instant pays claims to hospitals and completely eliminates the cost of collection associated with these types of payments. And this is just what you can see of the road ahead from the dashboard! On the horizon, is whatever will be built on top of the Olive infrastructure, and Sean gives us insight as to what’s on the itinerary.
Olive launched “The Library” at HLTH, which is a “marketplace” where other tech companies, including competitors, can sell into Olive’s client base any technology – clinical, operational, administrative, or otherwise – that can help automate healthcare. Sean talks about how this marketplace, along with Olive’s recently launched venture fund, are just parts of what they’re doing to build healthcare’s first TRUE platform business. (You’ll have to listen in to hear how he’s defining platform…) So, what’s in store for our legacy “platforms” like EMRs in the future if/when this more open, democratic type of platform thinking takes off? And, what about the first company already being created from scratch on said platform? You can see how passionate Sean is about building Circulo as the “Medicaid Plan of the Future,” and we get into some examples of elements this new plan will offer its members: primary health sites, “Circulators” that bring telehealth into neighborhoods via tricked-out Sprinter vans for those on the other side of the digital divide, and payment model features (zero prior auths, zero denials, payment immediately) that sound a lot like what Olive is enabling in hospitals with traditional payers. There’s a lot to hear in this one!
A sign of effective ‘merging-and-acquiring’ among innovative healthcare companies? How about a new brand-name? The company known as “Grand Rounds Health and Doctor on Demand,” which merged in March 2021 and quickly acquired LGBTQ+ virtual care company, Included Health, announced that the company would be moving forward as Included Health from here on out. We get into the strategy behind that name-change – and, more importantly, how the integration of the three companies is going – from CEO Owen Tripp.
This quick update covers how the navigation-plus-virtual-care co is prioritizing integration at-scale for millions of members – unlike other growing healthcare companies who Owen says have, “acquired companies, but haven’t put them together.” From member experience, clinician experience, and the business model backing all of this, we get a state-of-play on Included Health, including Owen’s take on the rising popularity of at-risk models among competitors Accolade Health and Transcarent, the legacy relationship the company has with Walmart, and how small/mid-sized employers are increasing area of focus for growth.
Bayer’s $98M co-development-plus-investment in One Drop from August 2020 has yielded its first new product: a highly-personalized, AI-powered digital program aimed at preventing cardiovascular disease. While the solution itself is impressive in terms of its predictive analytics and integration into One Drop’s chronic condition precision health platform, what’s really remarkable about this milestone is that it demonstrates what’s possible when a pharma co and health tech startup are truly aligned as businesses, from R&D to go-to-market.
Bayer Pharmaceuticals’ CIO and Head of Digital & Commercial Innovation Jeanne Kehren and One Drop’s CEO Jeff Dachis take us inside their collaboration, with a very candid conversation about how their two orgs have not only developed a new product here today but how they’ve established a solid foundation for a working relationship that’s poised to revolutionize chronic care and define a new market around precision health.
We talk strategy: for Bayer-One Drop… for what the “digital disruption” will bring to pharma… and for “putting a lab on everybody’s arm” via One Drop’s sensor that’s under development. This chat reveals how the thinking behind incumbent-disruptor partnerships has truly evolved, and what it will mean for bringing digital technologies into healthcare in a big and meaningful way. For me, hearing Jeanne say, “it all starts with pharma being ‘self-aware’” and that they need to “we stop slicing things into therapeutic areas and consider the individual” AND recognize that “not everything is going to be process-oriented and shaped like we do for drugs” is a sea-change from what we were hearing only a few years ago from pharma execs about partnering with health tech companies. Things are changing! Tune in to hear so much more.
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