In this episode of #healthTechDeals Jess DaMassa is hoping Matthew Holt disappears, possibly on Elon Musk’s rocket to Mars. Matthew just wants him to buy Chelsea FC. And then there’s actual funding deals for Osmind ($40m), Turquoise Health ($20), Mahmee ($9) & Simplifed which got $6m despite having Matthew help!
In this episode of #HealthTechDeals, Jess is enjoying Cinqo de Mayo in an Addams Family-themed hotel where she is playing “the mummy” introducing health tech companies coming back from the dead. There’s gossip about Amazon’s pharmacy operation over supplying insulin, and there’s deals for Levels ($38m) in CGM analysis, Waltz Health ($35m) in pharmacy search, Safety Wing ($25m) for health insurance for nomads & Implicity ($23m) doing cardiac implantable monitoring in France.
BY JESS DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
With 61% of American adults reporting a negative behavior change – troubled sleep, changes in diet, increased alcohol consumption, more time on screens, etc. – as a result of the pandemic, AND healthcare payers looking at 2022 cost increases in the range of 8-10%, one has to wonder just how bad our collective health has become thanks to the past two years.
Jeff Ruby, CEO of tech-enabled habit change provider, Newtopia, shares some startling stats about our population’s health, particularly when it comes to those lifestyle-related metabolic disorders that his company is trying to prevent. And, thus, we get into a fiery conversation about condition prevention versus condition management… at-risk payment models versus per-member-per-month models… behavior change versus prescription drugs… and whether or not a biz like Newtopia (running at-risk on goals related to prevention) is better placed or worse off as a result of this population that, though sicker and riskier than before, is showing up in greater numbers to try their program.
It’s clear where Jeff stands with his genetics-plus-behavioral-psychology-based platform, but questions about how to best handle our population’s health as the pandemic wans are still very much up for debate. Even on the public markets – Newtopia was one of the first digital health companies to go public during the pandemic, hitting the Canadian TSX as $NEWUF in March 2020 – investors’ sentiment for virtual care just isn’t what it used to be. Maybe we can apply some behavior change psychology there too? (wink, wink) Though Jeff talks about “uncertainty about how US healthcare works” in the context of the market, it seems like that “uncertainty” is also pervasive in our approach to spending for chronic care – especially now. Are dollars toward prevention dollars that are better spent? A compelling case is made…
#HealthTechDeals Episode 26: Hello Heart, Concert Health, Vivian Health, Curebase, Mendel.ai & Blue Spark
It’s the May the 4th be with you day! In Episode 26 of #HealthTechDeals, Jessica is huddling in Boston after the American Telehealth Association conference, and has Star Wars-related trivia. There’s gossip there, there’s more gossip about Cerebral & its ADHD med strategy. Meanwhile a lot of copy cats in deals today with Hello Heart ($70m) for hypertension, Concert Health ($40m) for mental health, Vivian Health ($60m) for nurse staffing, Curebase ($40m) for DCTs, Mendel.ai ($40m) for NLP & Blue Spark ($40m) for RPM — all joining very crowded markets.
By JESS DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Micky Tripathi the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS says this year will be a “transformative” year for Health IT as the decade-long, $40 billion dollar effort to lay an electronic foundation for healthcare delivery heads to the next level. Why is this year THE YEAR when it comes to the digital exchange of health information? Where is federal health IT strategy headed in order to provide the standards and policies health tech co’s need to be able to kick up the pace of innovation?
We get into a SWEEPING chat about the technology and business implications of all the work coming out of ONC, including implementation of those new information blocking regulations, goals for API standardization, and TEFCA (Trusted Exchange Framework & Common Agreement). Micky not only gives the background on the regulations and policies, but also provides some analysis on what they actually mean for those health technology companies trying to do business in-and-around a more digital healthcare ecosystem.
BY JESS DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
More traction in Pharmacy Benefits Management (PBM) innovation, this time coming out of care-navigation-plus-PBM startup Rightway. CEO Jordan Feldman and Chief Pharmacy Officer Scott Musial (who Jordan calls the “Godfather of PBMs”) drop in to talk about their 1500 employer client base and how the business is now even winning over health plans who are tired of working with the ‘Big Three PBMs.’
The NextGen PBM story is the headliner here, with Rightway customers saving an average 18% in their first year with the “new-to-the-world PBM” the company has built.
What’s different? Two big things. First, the PBM’s payment structure for the employer. Jordan shares how these are usually rebates-driven or based on spread pricing; Rightway is actually innovative in offering the PBM benefit on a per-member-per-month basis instead.
That leads to the second twist, which is based on gaining cost savings for the employer by pairing the PBM with navigation. According to Scott, this changes the conversation from one that’s solely focused on managing the price of the drugs to managing how employees are utilizing the formulary instead – creating opportunities for lower-priced generics or alternatives that Rightway is happy to point to because it’s not dealing with rebates or dispensing.
So, who is Rightway competing with? Navigators like Accolade, Inc. or Included Health? PBMs like CVS/Caremark, Optum or Express Scripts? Or other emerging ‘combo’ businesses like Transcarent?
We get into the competitive landscape, more about PBMs than you might have ever wanted to know, and what Jordan and Scott are hearing from hard-hit employers looking to recruit and retain employees in the face of the Great Resignation.
Well Health Wants To Stay Unknown: The White Label Platform Behind Provider-to-Patient Text Messages
BY JESS DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Well Health is flying under-the-radar as a white-label patient communications platform that lets more than 400 healthcare providers text message their patients via their hospital’s EMR. In the “is it a feature or is it a company?” debate that often surrounds digital front door startups, I ask CEO Guillaume de Zwirek why Well Health has decided to go out as an infrastructure play rather than own the patient relationship itself. How does he see this strategy lending itself to long-term growth?
One of the best-funded startups that I’ve never heard of (they’ve quietly raised $97 million from the likes of Dragoneer, Lead Edge Capital, Twilio Ventures and others) we get into the details behind the business model, the tech that’s supporting their patient comms platform, and why I haven’t heard about these big fundraises.
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Two of the most notable payer venture funds, Optum Ventures and Cigna Ventures, just headed up a $30 million dollar Series A funding round for Flume Health, a startup that basically builds “challenger” health plans. How did this go down? Cédric Kovacs-Johnson CEO & Founder of Flume introduces us to his company which offers providers, digital health co’s, brokers, reinsurers, and just about any other healthcare org a tech stack for creating their own hyper-niche, super personalized health plans.
The suite of services to “build-a-plan” includes things like claim processing, payments, enrollment management, digital health point solutions integration, and other API functionality – replacing the traditional TPA with tech and the one-size-fits-all plan with a new opportunity for nichey-ness that can customize coverage for patient populations based on health conditions, location, employer, and so on.
Cédric talks us through the benefit to his target client – the care provider – who, while taking on more risk anyway, may consider building their own plan to capture more premium dollars and gain better control over the end-to-end patient experience. Wait a minute – is all this “Challenger Health Plan” talk just a re-brand of value-based care? I ask point-blank and get a new buzz phrase in return; welcome to the lexicon, “Commercial Advantage.” Lots to unpack in this one including Flume’s rev-gen model and plans for growth – they’re already onboarding one new challenger plan per month!
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Turns out, the Clarify Health Solutions story is about a lot more than data and analytics these days. Value-based payments? Acquisition of provider-focused, behavioral science startup Embedded Healthcare? Opportunities in real-world evidence??
Good thing founder & CEO Jean Drouin and I caught up at ViVE 2022. Not only do we get into the backstory of the business, which has built a self-service analytics platform for payers, providers, and life science co’s on top of “one of the largest-ever patient datasets” in the industry, but we also talk about the strategy that’s driving Clarify into the world of value-based contracting and how Embedded Healthcare’s tech will be used to augment and refine that new offering.
Jean talks in detail about his client mix, business model, and the two “healthcare golden rules” Clarify lives by as it scales up its business: 1) figure out how the payment method is going to work and 2) don’t mess with the work-flow.
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Sprinter Health bills itself as “the “DoorDash for lab draws” – sending nurses and phlebotomists out to patients’ homes to collect blood samples and urine samples, check vitals, and even perform Covid tests. Their model has been received with some skepticism (most notably by my Health Tech Deals co-host and legendary health care curmudgeon Matthew Holt) so we get down to the bottom of what’s REALLY going on with CEO Max Cohen.
The long-term play is NOT to just rove the streets like some nomadic Quest Diagnostics; it’s to support the emerging market of virtual care and telehealth-based next-gen healthcare companies that will, ultimately, be limited in their abilities to diagnose-and-treat unless they can easily – and inexpensively – get patients lab tests.
Sprinter hopes to be that logistics company, extending the ‘value of virtual’ so it can live up to its promise of providing less expensive, more convenient care to patients. Max says only 15-20% of their business is made up of consumer-directed concierge calls; instead, the focus is on having a provider – think home health providers, specialty labs, virtual-first primary care clinics – dispatch Sprinter instead. Their pricing is built to attract these kinds of providers, giving Sprinter an advantage over, say the kind of medical transport services that are typically engaged to bring home health patients to the lab instead of the other way around.
Less than one-year old, Sprinter has already raised more than $37 million and counts health-tech-famous funds like Andreesen Horowitz, General Catalyst, Accel, Google Ventures – and even the real DoorDash’s co-founder and CEO Tony Xu – as investors. So, what’s ahead in the short-term to expand services out of LA, San Francisco, and Sacramento? We talk geographic expansion (hello, Texas and Georgia) and how Max is planning to continue to expand the utility and value of virtual care without increasing cost.