Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess is reporting back to us from the future… On Episode 91, Jess asks Matthew about Babylon and MetaMe’s recent raises and CVS rolling out their new CarePass service. It’s been weeks and we haven’t had any more IPO’s, but Babylon’s $550 million raise—the largest ever in digital health, bringing its valuation to $2 billion—comes pretty close. Babylon is big and complex in what it offers, but at its core, it is an AI-based symptom checker. In the UK, they’re working with primary care doctors and in China, they’re working with insurance companies, but this latest round of funding points to where they’ll be focusing in the US. In other news, MetaMe raised $3.8 million to create a hypnosis-based digital therapeutic for IBS treatment and there’s been a lot going on in this space. Finally, now that CVS has finished its pilot, it will be rolling out CarePass nationwide. Do they have a shot at competing with Amazon Prime? —Matthew Holt
By JOE GRACE
Amazon has quietly put together a syndicate including Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to provide better and more affordable health care for their combined 1.2 million workers.
The joint effort, called Haven, makes sense because many companies of size today are self-insured to provide health care at lower costs. But this is different. Jeff Bezos, Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett seem to be personally involved in the development of Haven. So, what could they possibility have up their sleeves?
At the same time, many Democrats running for president are promising single payer health care (Medicare For All) as the solution to controlling costs and providing quality health care for everyone. Republicans argue that this is socialism and will result in unacceptable increases in taxes that will ruin our economy.
While politicians debate, Amazon’s real objective may be to create a health care payer to rival all payers with tens of millions of Amazon Prime Members as health plan members.
With Amazon’s buying power, scale and capabilities, the ecommerce giant could create a health payer offering that could render the need for a single payer system moot.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess is braving the oncoming blizzard in Boston for MassChallenge. In this episode, Jess asks me about some crazy things happening in health tech, from the recently announced Microsoft-Walgreens partnership to compete with Amazon, to Google buying new smartwatch technology from Fossil, to Jim Cramer’s suggestion that Apple should buy Epic. Also in some HIMSS news, Atul Gawande has pulled out of HIMSS. But—I’ve got a booth for Smack Health at HIMSS this year, so stop by to find some Smack startups & Jess doing WTF Health interviews as well. –Matthew Holt
By CLAUDIA WILLIAMS
Amazon has transformed the way we read books, shop online, host websites, do cloud computing, and watch TV. Can they apply their successes in all these other areas to healthcare?
Just last week, Amazon announced Comprehend Medical, machine learning software that digitizes and processes medical records. “The process of developing clinical trials and connecting them with the right patients requires research teams to sift through and label mountains of unstructured clinical record data,” Fred Hutchinson CIO Matthew Trunnell is quoted saying in a MedCity News article. “Amazon Comprehend Medical will reduce this time burden from hours to seconds. This is a vital step toward getting researchers rapid access to the information they need when they need it so they can find actionable insights to advance life-saving therapies for patients.”
Deriving insights from data and making those available in a user-friendly way to patients and clinicians is just what we need from technology innovators. But these tools are useless without data. If an oncology patient is hospitalized, her provider may not be informed of her hospitalization for days or even weeks (or ever). And the situation is repeated for that same patient receiving care from cardiologists, endocrinologists, and other providers outside of her oncology clinic. When it comes to personalized health and medicine, both the quantity and quality of data matter. Providers need access to comprehensive patient health data so they can accurately and efficiently diagnose and treat patients and make use of technology that helps them identify “actionable insights.”
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I report from a hedgehog cafe in Tokyo. In this episode, Jess asks me about Bright Health’s $200 million raise and the significance of Amazon’s new EMR product. We also talk about Health 2.0 Asia-Japan, which is happening right now (December 4-5) in Tokyo, showing us the health care market outside of the U.S. Look forward to hearing from some great speakers at the conference, including John Bass from Hashed Health on blockchain, Fred Trotter on security, David Ewing Duncan on the new wellness and personalized medicine, and Adam Pellegrini from Fitbit. And, of course, Jess will be interviewing just about everyone—including a hedgehog—about innovation for WTF Health —Matthew Holt
Jessica DaMassa cracks her whip and in just 2 minutes gets answers out of me about the bidding for #athenahealth, the new clinics at #Amazon, the #FDA approving #NaturalCycles as a contraceptive, and the tech giants getting on stage unprompted at ONC’s Blue Button 2.0 day to tell the world that they are going to fix the interoperability problem. Oh, and a shout out to THCB’s 15th birthday–Matthew Holt
Back in the US of A to celebrate the nation’s birthday, Jessica DaMassa asks about Amazon buying Pill Pack, GE spinning off its health division, and what Rock Health and Startup Health’s numbers say about health tech investment–Matthew Holt
I’m back. After the takeover editions, I’m answering Jessica DaMassa about Atul Gawande as the CEO of the ABC new venture, the demise of Caresync, Ooda Health and its demand for a female VC, and whole bunch more blather! — Matthew Holt
Jessica DaMassa asks me about Jonathan Bush’s exit and the future of Athenahealth, celebrity suicide and the future of mental health apps, and who Amazon/Buffet/Chase should choose to be their CEO — Matthew Holt
… all rumored to be in the mix to acquire athenahealth.
a) Apple doesn’t do “verticals.” It’s that easy. Apple sells products that anyone could buy. A teacher, a doctor, my mom. Sure – they have sold high-end workstations that video editors can use, but so could a hobbyist filmmaker. Likelihood of Apple buying athenahealth? ~ .01%
b) Cerner? Nah. While (yes) they have an aging client-server ambulatory EHR that needs to be replaced by a multi-tenant SaaS product (like the one athenahealth cas built), they have too much on their plate right now with DoD and VA and the (incomplete) integration of Siemens customers. Likelihood of Cerner buying athenahealth? ~ 1%
c) Microsoft. Like Apple, it’s uncommon for MSFT to go “vertical.” They have tried it. (Who remembers the Health Solutions Group?) But the tension between a strong product-focused company that meets the needs of many market segments, and a company that deeply understands the business problems of health (and health care) is too great. The driving force of MSFT, like Apple, is to sell infrastructure to care delivery organizations. Owning a product that competes with their key channel partners would alienate the partners – driving them to AMZN, GOOG and APPL. Likelihood of Microsoft buying athenahealth? ~ 2%
d) Salesforce. I’d love to see this. But it’s still unlikely. athenahealth has built a product, and they (now) have defined a path to pivot the product into a platform. This is the right thing to do. Salesforce “gets” platform better than everyone (aside from, perhaps, Amazon). But Salesforce has struggled with health care. They’ve declared n times in recent years that they are “in” to really disrupt health care, and with the evolution of Health Cloud, and their acquisition of MuleSoft, they have clearly made some investments here, but the EHR is not the “ERP of healthcare” as they think it is. (Salesforce’s success in other markets has been that they dovetail with – rather than replace – the ERP systems to create value and improve efficiencies.) The way that Salesforce interacts with the market is unfamiliar (and uncomfortable) to most care delivery organizations. So if Salesforce “gets” platform, and athenahealth wants to be a platform when it matures, could these two combine? It’s the most likely of the three, but I still see the cultures of the two companies (I know them both well) as very different, and not quite compatible. Likelihood of Salesforce buying athenahealth? ~ 10%
e) IBM. yup. I forgot that one. Many recent acquisitions. This would fit. I don’t think it would work very well, but it could happen. ~6%