Each week I’ve been adding a brief tidbits section to the THCB Reader, our weekly newsletter that summarizes the best of THCB that week (Sign up here!). Then I had the brainwave to add them to the blog. They’re short and usually not too sweet! –Matthew Holt
For my health care tidbits this week, it’s time to bring up the disconnect between the continual collapse of #DigitalHealth stock prices and the continued increase in private sector investment and valuation in the same sector.
All of nine months ago, way way back in March 2021 market leader Teladoc hit a stock price of $308. Last week it hit a low of just under $90. Meanwhile several companies have IPOed or SPACed this year and almost all of them have seen their stock fall dramatically. For example, pioneer online mental health company Talkspace is now at a market cap of under $300m. This week a different mental health company Cerebral which was only founded in January 2020 raised $300m at a private valuation of over $4 billion. Yes they could have bought out Talkspace for that amount! In October Medicare Advantage plan Devoted Health raised money at a $12 billion valuation which exceeded the market cap of rivals Clover, Bright Health and Oscar–each of which has more members.
So what’s going on? Part of this is the wash of money still going into venture funds. Interest rates are historically low, while inflation is picking up, so that money has to go somewhere. Additionally some of the companies that SPACed out were probably unable to get such a good valuation in a private round. But it can’t be that all the 50 or so public companies are lower quality than the private ones. That indicates that either the private valuations aren’t real (because there are so many protections built into the deal for investors), or that the private and public valuations are going to get closer together. There is of course one more possibility–some of the private companies may pursue M&A and buy out some of the public ones. But in any event, this current arbitrage cannot last forever.
It’s not unlikely the public stocks may pick up. But we’ve seen private and public market bubbles before and the aftermath isn’t usually pretty.
In this interview Sophie Park, Chief Strategist at Bayer G4A, talks about the pandemic’s effect on the digital health landscape, digital health’s promise of Health Equity and Bayer G4A’s upcoming Digital Health Forum.
G4A is Bayer’s digital health partnerships and investments team dedicated to scaling digital health companies to change the experience of health.To attain this goal, G4A works with startups, innovation groups, commercial partners, thought leaders, health systems, and public institutions to accelerate and expand digital health innovations. In that context, G4A is offering opportunities for early stage to advance digital health companies to partner with Bayer.
Sophie, Covid-19 has clearly opened everyone eyes on the need to better our healthcare systems and raised awareness for digital health solutions. From your perspective, did the pandemic accelerate digital health on a long-term basis?
Clearly, the Covid-19 crisis spurred a momentum for digital health. During the crisis, I have observed two dynamics which advanced digital health in a never before seen pace.
On the one side, the needed adoption of digital health tools led to a mindset shift and more openness among health consumers and providers. The pandemic was a great chance for many people to get familiar with digital health tools and acknowledge their value. Covid-19 made it clear to individuals that their own health is a personal responsibility as well. Therefore, people more actively took care of their own health(care) and became more open to collect and securely share healthcare data. I believe that all these factors will lead to increasing use of digital health tools also in post-Covid times.
On the other hand, the pandemic exposed the pain points of our healthcare systems. The quality of care one gets is determined by social determinants- where you live, where you are from, what education you receive and what job you have. The pandemic left no doubt that there is still a long way to go to reach health equity and better health access. At Bayer G4A we believe that digital health can and should play a vital role in closing existing care gaps and ensuring health for all.
“Health for All” – that is the goal. Not only is it Bayer G4A’s leading vision it also is the title of this year’s Digital Health Forum hosted by G4A on September 9th. Why did you choose that theme for this year’s event?
An email interview with the Co-CEO’s of Evidation Health
Over the last few weeks I’ve been conducting a back & forth email interview with Christine Lemke (L) & Deb Kilpatrick (R), the co-CEOs of Evidation Health. They raised $153 million in a Series E back in March (almost a small round these days!) but I wanted to understand a bit more about what the “new” Evidation was doing—Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt: Congrats on the latest funding. Clearly Evidation has evolved since its founding, but focusing first on the clinical trial study aspect, can you explain how the Achievement panel is structured? How was it put together? What are the typical ways that your clients use it, and what is the member experience?
Deb Kilpatrick: Our Achievement platformis the largest virtual connected research cohort in the United States, with more than 4 million users across all 50 states and representing nine out of every 10 ZIP codes. Through the platform, accessible via our app or through a browser, individuals have the opportunity to contribute to ground-breaking medical research in a number of ways: they can connect smartphones, wearables, and connected devices—think Apple Watches, Fitbits, CGMs, etc—that generate heart rate, activity, sleep quality, and other health-related data; they can connect health apps like Strava and MapMyFitness; and they can participate in surveys and provide patient-reported outcomes (PROs) of many forms.
And they do so with strong privacy protections for both data collection and data use, including use-case specific consents that can be sequential over time. This goes for new Achievers and those who have used the platform for years. And Achievers always have the option to remove themselves from any research project, and/or the platform altogether, at any time.
What do we do with that data? Evidation partners with leading health care companies, including nine of the top 10 biopharma companies in the world, to understand health and disease outside the clinic walls while measuring real world product impact. We’ve conducted virtual trials for almost a decade now, totaling more than 100 real-world studies across therapeutic areas.
Last year was a remarkable time for digital health. Obviously it was pretty unusual and tragic for the world in general as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc. We mourn those lost, and we praise our front line health workers and scientists. But for digital health companies, in almost no time 2020 changed from fear of a market collapse to what became a massive funding boom.
But no-one has reported from the ground what this means for digital health companies, of which there are perhaps 10-15,000 worldwide with maybe 6-8,000 based in the United States. Despite the headlines, most are not pulling down $200m funding rounds or SPACing out. So working with professional services firm Wipfli, we at Catalyst @ Health 2.0 decided to find out what digital health companies experienced in this most extraordinary year.
Between Thanksgiving 2020 and mid-March 2021, we surveyed more than 300 members of the digital health ecosystem, focusing on leaders from more than 180 private (and a few public) digital health companies. We asked them about their market, their experience during COVID-19, and what they thought of the environment. We also asked them about the mechanics of running their businesses. The results are pretty interesting.
The Key Message: COVID-19 was very good for digital health companies–on average. Most are very optimistic but, despite the massive increase in funding since the brief (but real) post-lockdown crash, most digital health companies remain small and struggling for funding, revenue, and customers.
We also heard from investors, and a bigger group we called “users” (mostly payers, providers, pharma, non-healthcare tech companies, e-patients & consultants). While these “users” also saw a big trend towards the use of (and, to a lesser extent, paying for) digital health tools and services, they were not as gung-ho as were digital health companies or investors, who were even more optimistic.
The summary deck containing the key findings is below and there is more analysis and commentary below the jump.
TODAY Tuesday, May 11th at 2pm ET/11am PT — RSVP here
Back in November of last year, Catalyst @ Health 2.0, supported by professional services firm Wipfli, launched the Survey on the State of Digital Health, with the goal of creating a comprehensive analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on digital health companies and the rest of the ecosystem. Between the end of 2020 and thru March 2021 we received detailed responses from 300+ digital health aficionados including 180 digital health companies. We’re sure this is the most detailed assessment of what’s happening on the ground in digital health companies you’ll find anywhere.
Join us at 2pm ET/11am PT on Tuesday, May 11th for The Catalyst @ Health 2.0/Wipfli Survey on the State of Digital Health Results Presentation, you’ll see the full results from me & Catalyst’s Elizabeth Brown, hear from Wipfli’s Paul Johnson & Girish Ramachandra, and get reaction to the results from our guests Ryan Johnson, lawyer at Fredrikson & Byron; Sunny Kumar, investor at GSR Ventures;, and digital health CEOs Helena Plater-Zyberk, Supportiv; and Mudit Garg, Qventus.
I think the zoom is full, but you can see it livestreamed below at 11 am PT – 2pm ET – Matthew Holt
What kind of health care organization would let a 10-year-old child make an instructional video for patients? And what might that decision teach health tech companies trying to gain the trust of consumers?
The payoff for this and similar efforts by the shared learning communities Cincinnati Children’s has birthed has been significantly improved outcomes and national renown. But for this type of initiative to succeed, Margolis told me when I visited a few years ago, clinicians and administrators “have to be comfortable with a very different kind of role.”
As consumers gain access to information once limited to medical insiders, that advice seems increasingly prescient. Federal rules requiring providers to make electronic health data available to patients at no cost take effect April 5. Meanwhile, voluntary electronic sharing of physician clinical notes is rapidly morphing from the unthinkable to the unremarkable, while apps to make all this data actionable are proliferating. As a result, long-simmering issues related to transparency and trust and are coming to the fore.
Catalyst @ Health 2.0, supported by professional services firm Wipfli, is launching a survey about the state of Digital Health. We hope to get a comprehensive analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on digital health companies and the rest of the ecosystem. This survey should take under 8 minutes to complete (and probably less). For your time we will get you a copy of the results when they are released. As an added bonus TWO respondents drawn at random who complete the survey will get advertising for their company for 6 months on The Health Care Blog (worth $5,000).
We are interested in hearing from leaders working in digital health companies, or those connected to digital health in health systems, payers, life sciences, consulting or investment companies.
NOTE–None of the data from this survey will be shared by Catalyst @ Health 2.0 (even with our friends at Wipfli) other than as aggregate survey results. So you can be assured that your answers are completely confidential.
Matthew Holt is Co-Chairman of Catalyst @ Health 2.0 & Publisher of THCB
From chronic disease management to prevention, G4A’s goal is to empower people with the tools and access they need to take control of their health. G4A does this through fostering a diverse and vibrant ecosystem of digital health partners to support their growth and impact.
On April 20th, G4A launched its 2020 Partnership Program with an open call for applications. The aim of the Partnerships Program is to work with companies across the globe on healthcare’s toughest challenges and innovate together towards a future of integrated care. This year G4A is seeking to collaborate with companies that are making an impact in the following areas:
Cardiometabolic and Renal Diseases – Heart health requires a 360-approach that encompasses lifestyle behaviors, remote monitoring, biomarker review, risk stratification, and more
Oncology – Utilizing targeted therapies and patient performance technologies can identify patients efficiently and slow disease progression
Women’s Health – Novel approaches are needed to manage gynecological conditions such as PCOS and Endometriosis, as well as Menopause, and provide answers to the unique needs of women’s health
Pharmacovigilance – The opportunity for innovation in drug safety is huge, specifically as it relates to adverse event detection
As healthcare systems around the world grapple with the coronavirus, ‘virtual-first healthcare’ is fast becoming the global response of private and public healthcare systems alike. In Australia, the federal government recently committed to investing $500M to built out its country’s ‘virtual-first’ healthcare infrastructure, so we caught up with Louise Schaper, CEO of the Australasian Institute of Digital Health (AIDH), to find out what that means for telehealth, remote monitoring, and digital health companies looking to capitalize on the market opportunity in Australia.
With a population of 25 million people (roughly the number of people in Florida) and a set of newly-minted reimbursement codes that makes telehealth available to all of them via the government-funded public healthcare system, the appetite for investing in new health tech solutions has grown ravenous.
Says Louise, “Anyone who has solutions that are already market-tested and approved, I’d actually expand your networks globally now. There’s not a section of the globe that hasn’t been impacted by [covid19] and we’re all needing to work out how to deliver healthcare differently.”
As in other parts of the world, the government codes reimbursing telehealth and other virtual-first services are temporary (Australia’s are set to expire September 30, 2020), but organizations like the AIDH, the Australian Medical Association, and others are advocating for their permanence and are optimistic.
The prevailing sentiment is that, like in the US, the benefits of virtual care to healthcare consumers and clinicians are going to be difficult for the government to ignore. Add to that the potential of linking virtual care to the Aussie government’s AUD$2 billion dollar build of its MyHealthRecord system — a centralized, cloud-based EMR that holds the healthcare data of 90% of all Australians — and the prospect grows even more appealing.
Join us as we talk through the basics of the Australian healthcare system and get an insider’s look at the demand for digital health, remote monitoring, and telehealth Down Under.
“It’s fair to say that, in Italy, we are doing 10 years of digital health evolution in 10 days.”
Our “man-on-the-street” in Italy (well, man-sheltered-in-place in Italy) Roberto Ascione, CEO of Healthware, reports in on the Covid-19 outbreak and what’s happening with digital health startups, health system partners, and hospitals as Italians continue battling at the forefront of the coronavirus outbreak.
A few weeks ahead of the U.S., there are many things to learn about Covid-19 testing, treatment, outcomes, and timing from the experience in Italy, including some foresight on how pathways for telehealth and digital health continue to evolve as conditions become more serious and the outbreak progresses. (For all you Gretzky fans, this is “skating to where the puck will be” kind of stuff…)
Some navigational guidance on this chat which took place March 26, 2020:
Update on Italian Covid-19 outbreak from health industry insider
10:25 minute mark: Digital Health startup case study, Paginemediche, self-triage chatbot data from 70K Italians, data sharing with Italian government & WHO, telehealth model flipping to give overwhelmed physicians opportunity to triage and “invite” patients based on needs
19:10 mark: How to work with Italian digital health startups to advance Covid-19 work