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!
Attending HLTH 2021 in-person in Boston solidified that there is no comparison between attending live vs. virtual conferences. While content and presentations can be solid both virtually or in-person, it is the energy of the connections that are made between scheduled presentations and the conversations that are shared throughout that move the needle. Kudos to the organizers of HLTH 2021 for prioritizing the safety of all in-person attendees with COVID-19 vaccination requirements, proof of negative PCR testing within 3 days of arrival, and mask requirements on-site.
After reflecting on all the proceedings, the conversations, and the experiences at HLTH 2021, here are eight reflections on the event from the patient and carepartner perspective.
1)Patients and Carepartners (Not) Included
These words were the taglines of HLTH2021:
Dear Future: We’re coming for you. #HLTH2021
The largest and most important conference for health care innovation
A battle cry for improving health care, but I can’t help but wonder, who’s “we’re”?
The agenda and stages at HLTH2021 were filled with some of the biggest, most respected names in the health care ecosystem. Unfortunately, no patients were speaking from these stages. A search of the agenda and speaker list for “patient” showed entries for “patient experience” or “patient” in the form of an executive title. Many panels and discussions fell short of the real-world experiences of living life with a diagnosis or multiple comorbidities, the difficulties of barriers to healthier living that are caused by social determinants of health (SDoH), and disgraceful realities of the inefficiencies of workflows patients and their families face. There were no patient or carepartner champions sharing the positive impact that a company’s brand has had on their or their loved ones’ lives.
Bum knees, aching backs, and neck pain are literally a pain-in-the-neck for millions of people – making chronic pain one of the largest areas of healthcare spending. Is it time to disrupt the traditional delivery of physical therapy? Physera CEO, Dan Rubenstein, thinks so, and talks to us about how his healthcare startup is revolutionizing the way physical therapy is being delivered by taking it virtual and driving down the cost. With more than $10M in funding (their $6M Series A was led by BlueCross BlueShield’s Venture Fund) and a major contract with a nationwide health plan provider in the works, the health tech startup is on track to help millions of people feel better and avoid the crazy rush to the PT’s office.
Is Castlight Health suffering a case of ‘first-mover’ curse? One of digital health’s first unicorns, Castlight Health, IPO’d back in 2014 with a valuation of over $3 billion dollars (reportedly, 107 times revenue) at a share price of $40. Today, the stock trades around $1.20, and the company has endured years of frustration from shareholders who’ve complained about customer churn and questioned the company’s business model. A recent change in leadership at the top of the organization has ushered in new CEO Maeve O’Meara, a long-time employee of the trailblazing company, who’s now responsible for blazing a new path toward forward herself. Refreshingly candid about the road ahead, Maeve explains how some new high-touch (but cost-effective) offerings are opening up new markets for the biz and hints at potential partnerships emerging with Big Tech. A must-watch for any digital health startup, investor, or industry analyst who wants longitudinal perspective on health tech’s market resilience and the importance of timing. Maeve, who was a health investor herself before joining Castlight, sums up the challenge of trailblazing tech in healthcare like this: “In healthcare, you always want to be one step ahead and not two steps ahead — you can get burned easily by being two steps ahead.”
Before Livongo set digital health records for its IPO, it started 2019 by launching a brand-new category of healthcare company: the Applied Health Signals company. How is this category different than what we already think of when we think about digital health and healthcare? How is it distinct from health tech’s other emerging classification, digital therapeutics? Jennifer Schneider, Livongo’s President, explains why the company started the new category, which is intended for those who are working at the intersection of data science, clinical impact, and behavioral outcomes. Could your company be an Applied Health Signals Company? Listen in to hear Jenny talk about how Livongo’s “AIAI engine” drove the decision to start the new classification. If your tech works like hers…maybe you are!
The ‘virtual-care-for-behavioral-health’ space is getting a bit crowded these days, particularly as demand for such services reach new heights among patients. Russell Glass, CEO of health tech startup, Ginger (formerly known as Ginger.io) thinks his company has solved the supply-and-demand imbalance with their unique model that offers on-demand coaching, video therapy & psychiatry, and self-guided content by a range of different mental health care providers. Trained behavioral health coaches serve as the front-line of Ginger’s service, then act as care coordinators to bring in fully-licensed therapists and psychiatrists as needed. With 60 enterprise clients, double-digit patient engagement rates, and outcomes beating standard of care rates, Ginger’s got traction — and also cash. The company’s raised more than $70 million, having closed a Series C (with a follow on) in late 2019. Russ details scale up plans AND answers the question that all you health tech pundits are no doubt dying to ask: what happened to the ‘.io’?!
It used to be that patients would have to go see a doctor to get lab tests ordered to check their cholesterol or metabolism, but now, thanks to at-home testing companies like Everlywell, those tests (and 30 others, including STI tests) can be ordered online or picked up at some big box retailers. We chatted with Dr. Frank Ong, Everlywell’s Chief Medical and Scientific Officer, about what it means to put patients in charge of ordering their own lab work — and combing through their own testing results — vis a vie the Everlywell platform. As consumers demand more control over their healthcare dollar and the experience it buys, is there a point where patients risk getting in over their heads? How have doctors been responding to patients who come in armed with their own lab results? We check in on how at-home testing kits are ‘testing’ the reaches of patient-led care.
While the “healthcare ecosystem” sounds like a nice place to begin a career, the day-to-day can often make it feel like the industry is about survival of the fittest — especially for young professionals who are just starting out. Enter The Advancement League, an organization-slash-support-system for young leaders and entrepreneurs. Co-founders Alex Maiersperger and Antwan Williams started the organization as a way to unite bright-eyed, up-and-comers from health systems, health plans, and startups who not only want to build big careers in health, but who also want to apply their youthful optimism, new ideas, and tech to changing the experience of healthcare for the better. How can you get involved? Tune in for all the details about the organization’s events, especially their “big one,” the Young Health Leader’s Summit.
Ava Science is a FemTech company best-known for their fertility-predicting wearable device that collects biometric data from a woman’s wrist in order to track ovulation. The device predicts fertility with 89% accuracy (according to published clinical trial data) and is among one of the most well-funded FemTech startups out there, having raised a cumulative $47M. So what’s next? Lea von Bidder, Ava’s CEO, explains the data-driven vision for the company, which is currently one of the few medical device wearables that is approved for collecting digital biomarkers. The startup is eager to capitalize on that first-mover advantage in the women’s health space, and is looking at other ways to use their data. Lea talks through her plans for exploring a full-range of women’s health applications, from non-hormonal birth control to new products that might appeal to women during pregnancy or menopause.
Disruption of the healthcare payment model? We’re IN! Meet Ooda Health a two-year old startup that is working to change the way healthcare is paid for by changing WHEN it’s paid for: BEFORE the patient leaves the hospital or doctor’s office. How can we possibly live in a world without EOBs? We’re dying to find out. Seth Cohen, President & Co-Founder of Ooda Health, talks about the launch of the startup’s first service, Ooda Pay, which just went live with BCBS of Arizona, Blue Shield of California, and care provider, Common Spirit Health. How did it go? We may be closer to disrupting healthcare billing (and it’s paperwork and admin expense) than we thought.