With a $75 million investment from Softbank last week, and the addition of former FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Anand Shah to its Board of Directors this week, Big Health has sure kicked 2022 off with some noise! But, this is more than just big news for Big Health as CEO Peter Hames is here to tell us. This is a story about the market potential for an all-tech approach to mental health care, AND an important endorsement for digital therapeutics – specifically, those that do NOT require a prescription.
Big Health sits at the intersection of two of the hottest health-tech markets: digital mental health care and digital therapeutics. Its approach, via apps Daylight (for anxiety) and Sleepio (for insomnia), has been flagged as unique because 1) unlike other leading digital mental health companies like Headspace Health or Lyra Health, Big Health’s approach to care is tech-driven and does not depend on coach or clinician intervention, and 2) unlike its digital therapeutics rivals, Pear Therapeutics or Click Therapeutics, Big Health’s business model isn’t relying on prescriptions to get paid.
Big Health is, in other words, proving the market potential for a different “breed” of tech-first, PBM-backed digital therapeutics, and I ask Peter about it head-on as we discuss Softbank’s investment. The mega-fund has placed bets on all sides now, having invested in Cerebral, which delivers clinician-first mental health care and prescription medication, and prescription DTx company Pear, which went public in December 2021. So, what should the market make of the fact that Softbank sees room for Big Health alongside Cerebral and Pear? How have high-profile deals with CVS Health and the NHS in Scotland proven out the model? And, what does the addition of Anand Shah (and his insider perspective on the FDA’s sentiment toward digital therapeutics) indicate about what’s ahead when it comes to the regulatory environment for DTx in the future? So many market dynamics at play, so much to talk about!
How many more beloved TV characters does Peleton have to give a heart attack to before somebody steps in? Jess can’t take it anymore, and we hash out some new deals: Infermedica raises $30 million; Wellster gets a fresh $20 million; Casana the smart toilet seat maker raises $30 million; Babylon buys DaytoDay Health and Higi; Atlas Health raises $40 million. -Matthew Holt
In Milan, just outside the Frontiers Health conference, I caught up with Roberto Ascione, conference Chairman and CEO of Healthware Group, about his newly released book, “The Future of Health: How Digital Technology Will Make Care Accessible, Sustainable, and Human.”
A primer on digital health and its role in shaping care and well-being, the book is intended to provide an overview of the digital health market and what it means for the way healthcare will be delivered and consumed in the future.
Loaded with real-world examples and guest perspectives from a number of Roberto’s fabulous friends from across the healthcare and life sciences industries, the book aims to tell the story of health-and-tech in a way that is fun and fast – and doesn’t require healthcare expertise to understand!
Roberto and I quickly cover the main themes of the book, and why it’s so important RIGHT NOW for patients, clinicians, and healthcare entrepreneurs, investors, and innovators to read about where health tech came from, where it’s at, and where it’s headed. You know your market category is coming-of-age when it hits the bookshelves!
Vida Health’s new Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Carroll is bringing a very unique expertise to the chronic condition management startup’s C-suite: pharmacy. Pat just left virtual pharmacy co, Hims & Hers, where he helped take the company public as CMO after building-out their virtual primary care practice. Before that, he was CMO at Walgreens…
We get to know Pat – brand-new in his role as Vida Health’s first-ever CMO – and catch glimpses of how his years of experience as a primary care doc and executive leader at leading consumer-focused pharmacy businesses will likely be shaping Vida’s future delivering care to poly-chronic patients.
Vida Health’s current approach to diabetes management and mental health care has stood apart for being fully-integrated from the get-go, tackling the mind-body connection through digitally-based coaching and counseling. While Pat acknowledges that this approach has thus far yielded “remarkable outcomes,” he definitely seems interested in finding out if those outcomes could be even better if a virtual prescriber group were involved as well.
Will this be a partnership with a medical group? Or something Pat sees Vida Health building out itself to fully support its 100% at-risk-on-outcomes model? A compelling set of questions, particularly when you consider Vida Health’s investor-and-client relationship with the largest managed Medicaid plan in the U.S. (Centene participated in their $110 million Series D round in May 2021), the prevalence of complex diabetes cases (30% are multi-chronic), and the interesting data point Pat shares about Vida’s ability to get more people to see their primary care docs, increasing PCP visit rates by 10%. Interesting opportunity for Vida Health to further compete with Teladoc-Livongo and other virtual-first primary care providers aiming to deliver on the chronic condition care spectrum.
Headspace Health CEO Russell Glass says the merger-of-equals between on-demand mental health care provider, Ginger, and consumer meditation app, Headspace, is starting its upward trajectory on the “merger J-curve” and this monster 30-minute chat gets into the how-and-why.
We start out talking about the company’s recent acquisition of chatbot-based self-care app Sayana, but quickly turn to the integration of Headspace and Ginger and where things stand in terms of bringing those offerings together after three months of operationalizing. A combined vision and set of values have been launched with all 900 employees, and Russ says its enterprise clients (there are now 3,500 of those) are just weeks away from getting a fully-integrated platform that proves reporting for both Headspace and Ginger, allows launch from a single eligibility file, and offers communication that spans both service lines.
What’s “extra” in all this – and gives us a real glimpse of where Headspace Health is headed in terms of positioning itself to health plans and employers as standout from the Lyra Health / Quartet Health / Modern Health pack – comes out when Russ is describing the company’s partnership with Blue Shield of California at the 15:25-minute mark. The plan’s members can now access Headspace Health’s full-spectrum of services (meditation to therapy) via Blue Shield of California’s Wellvolution platform, which provides intelligent intake, smart patient routing, ongoing measurement and adjustment of services, and the ultimate ability to help prove-out mental health care’s connection to the reduction of downstream healthcare costs over time. As Russ says, “All of this is part of a long-term vision for what this could mean to a broader population, not just those who may need acute care, but to think about the entire population and how you pull the cost out of healthcare by managing behavioral health in a smart way.”
The big finish to this BIG conversation is Russ’s take on what’s ahead for both Headspace Health AND the digital mental health care market in 2022. Tune-in around the 20-minute mark to start this segment off with the IPO question that I never get answered, then lots of detail on where Headspace Health is looking to acquire and expand, what he thinks the headline story will be when it comes to the business of mental healthcare this year, and which patient population will rise to the top in terms of mental healthcare need.
Who is going to get to the end of the alphabet first? Covid-19 or Lyra Health? Jess and I talk about a Series F, some big healthtech deals, and more: Wheel gets $150 million; Topography Health gets $21.6 million; Lyra gets $235 million; Big Health gets $75 million.
In this episode of Health Tech Deals, Jess’s productivity this weekend was brought to a show-stopping halt thanks to some Microsoft updates. Does adding unnecessary clicks and creating useless toolbars mean that Microsoft is finally ready for healthcare IT? Jess and I talk about this and some more deals in health tech: TigerConnect gets $300 million, Verana Health gets $150 million, Waymark gets $45 million, Formel Skin gets $30 million Euros, and RCM acquires competitor Cloudmed for $4.1 billion.
Like the new intro? We sure do! In this episode of Health Tech Deals, Jess and I talk about the latest health tech deals and fundraising efforts: DexCare raises $50 million; Avaneer Health raises $50 million; Deepscribe raises $30 million; Little Otters gets $22 million; Ianacare gets $12 million.
Insight on what’s ahead for the future of clinical research, real-world evidence, and personalized healthcare from none other than former FDA Principal Deputy Commissioner and current President of Verily Life Sciences’ Clinical Research Platforms, Amy Abernethy.
Amy testified before Congress a few weeks ago to answer their questions about some of the buzziest tech and new virtual models emerging to re-shape the way clinical data is collected for regulatory approval of medical devices, drugs, and digital health applications. We get the inside scoop here on what they asked, how they reacted to her answers, and what she thinks is ahead in terms of the investments they might make and the policies they are likely to explore in order to use more technology and decentralized clinical trials to bring greater equity, diversity and safety to the development of new medical products and prescription drugs. And that’s not all! We also get into a little chat about 21st Century Cures 2.0 and how the FDA is thinking about leveraging real-world data and real-world evidence for high-level regulatory questions. Hot space to watch, and Amy is excited!
Beyond this “fresh off the Beltway” analysis of what’s ahead in health tech policy, Amy talks too about what’s next for Verily. Sounds like the business might have an acquisition in its future…
What’s this? A new show? Sort of: Health in 2 Point 00 is now called Health Tech Deals! In our first episode, Jess and I reminisce a bit on our previous 247 episodes, and talk about new huge deals in health tech: Transcarent raises $200 million, bringing their total to $298 million and bringing their valuation to over $1 Billion, more than their competitor Accolade; Medically Home raise $110 million, bringing their total to $274 million; Vera Whole Health buys Castlight for $370 million; Stryker buys Vocera for $2.97 billion.
-By Matthew Holt
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