Shots have been fired. Hear the crickets? Maybe it’s the chirping from health technology twitter, particularly on the lack of deals? NO! That sound you hear is the stunning silence from our epic burns this episode. Shoutout to our new sponsor AHIP – check out the AHIP Conference 2022 taking place in Las Vegas! Common (the rapper) will be there. Tickets are $100 off with code THCB. Some deals: Hint Health raises $45 million; Moxe Health raises $30 million; uMotif raises $25 million; Fairtility raises $15 million; Circles raises $16 million.
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Otsuka Pharmaceuticals is expanding its mental health formulary – looking beyond traditional medications to psychedelics, and to the “intersection of technology and psychiatry” with digital therapeutics currently in clinical trials for Major Depressive Disorder. Kabir Nath, Senior Managing Director of Otsuka’s Global Pharmaceutical Business, lets us in on the thinking behind these bold moves, why the pharma co is even innovating to expand the spectrum of treatments available for mental illness in the first place, and how soon these new therapies will reach patients.
“Follow the science” is a key undercurrent of this conversation, particularly as we talk through Otsuka’s investments in psychedelic medicine start-ups Compass Pathways and, more recently, Mindset. Kabir says the body of clinical evidence for these therapies is building and we get his prediction on when they might become more mainstream and readily available.
We also get his take on digital therapeutics (DTx) and the work Otsuka is doing with Click Therapeutics in Major Depressive Disorder. Their clinical trial, done in partnership with Verily, is the first-ever fully remote clinical trial conducted in this space, and the hope is that it not only generates evidence to support the emerging DTx category, but that it also sets a precedent for a new, tech-enabled way to run clinical trials.
This is just the beginning. There’s lots more on the innovations changing pharma and the future of mental health care in this one. Watch now!
You know what Jess just realized? We haven’t heard my opinion on Cerebral! Scandal! Firings! Intrigue! Legal Issues! Risk! Skyrocketing! Dying! Cerebral offers quite some food for thought. Check out the episode for my opinion on this incredibly fast-brewing story as well as more multi-million deals: Homethrive raises $20 million; Greater Good raises $10 million; Parallel Learning raises $20 million; Cayaba Care raises $12 million; Miga Health raises $12 million.
BY JESS DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Just as HHS extends the Covid-19 public health emergency waivers until July, we kick-off a brand-new monthly interview series about the state-of-play for all things telehealth and digital care policy and reimbursement. Called the WTF Health Virtual Care Regulatory Round-up, we’re partnering with our friends at Wheel to feature health policy experts, lobbyists, health plan folks, and other virtual care experts and insiders who can keep us updated on the changing regulations and what they will mean to those health tech co’s whose businesses rely on virtual care.
Attorney-to-the-stars-of-telehealth, Nathaniel Lacktman, who chairs the Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team at Foley & Lardner and is a Board member of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), kicks the series off for us with an update on those public health waivers and how he is coaching health tech businesses in preparing for the inevitable transition of care that will come when they come to an end.
What will happen to patients who live across state lines from their virtual care providers? What business decisions need to be made to avoid abandoning patients and maintaining continuity of care? Nate’s not bullish on a federal national license, but there are some cases where cross-state patient-provider relationships can continue to exist – they just might not work for everyone’s business model.
And, on the subject of telehealth business models, Nate gives us his take on where he thinks reimbursement will be headed, how policy around virtual prescribing will be impacted post-pandemic (particularly around controlled substances), and whether or not Medicare’s originating site requirement will be put back in place. We also get Nate’s perspective on which virtual care business models seem to be working best among health tech startups and what legal risk those more ‘reckless’ players might be creating for the rest of the field without even realizing it. Great education on virtual care and what’s happening in the space RIGHT NOW. Watch!
Special thanks to our series sponsor, Wheel – the health tech company powering the virtual care industry. Wheel provides companies with everything they need to launch and scale virtual care services — including the regulatory infrastructure to deliver high quality and compliant care. Learn more at wheel.com.
CVS Health’s Head of Enterprise Virtual Health Weighs-in: ‘What’s Next’ for Telehealth at CVS, Aetna
BY JESS DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
What are the BIG questions a BIG healthcare company like CVS Health is trying to answer when it comes to virtual care and creating the healthcare business model of the future? I’ve got Dr. Creagh Milford, CVS Health’s Head of Enterprise Virtual Health, who’s purview covers both CVS Pharmacy (9,000+ stores including 1,100 Minute Clinics) and Aetna, which provides health insurance to 39 million people.
Creagh’s big concern right now: how to weave together existing care models with virtual so 1) the consumer has a single front door and 2) the provider workforce – which includes everyone from pharmacists to primary care docs and beyond – is coordinated and working together. As you’ll hear, there’s a lot of thinking about “pivot points,” or where the patient and provider meet in the virtual-and-in-person ecosystem. The goal is to make those interactions easy and seamless – for both patient and provider alike – and we get into the strategic thinking, clinical operations, and tech underpinnings that are evolving to make those transitions possible.
Long-term, Creagh believes that healthcare consumers have “voted with their fingertips” and that virtual care is here to stay, but as part of a hybrid model in which questions about quality and cost are still being worked out. Will incentives ultimately realign to make virtual care more enticing across the healthcare system? What types of technology will be next to augment the hundreds of thousands of virtual visits a year coming out of Minute Clinic, or happening as part of an Aetna plan benefit? Here’s how one of the biggest healthcare companies in the country is driving virtual care forward. Watch now!
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
The BIG takeaway from ATA’s Annual Meeting is best bottom-lined by ATA’s big boss, CEO Ann Mond Johnson, in this interview: “From an overall perspective, we just don’t want to go over that ‘telehealth cliff.’”
ATA, the re-branded American Telemedicine Association, has not only evolved along with virtual care through the pandemic, but has also been critical in redefining telehealth as modality for healthcare and re-framing access to it as a bipartisan issue that everyone in DC can get behind.
Ann talks through the high-level changes she’s witnessed for telehealth adoption over the past two years and gives us her predictions for what’s going to happen next – particularly when it comes to the business of virtual care, consumer demand, and, most importantly, regulations and reimbursement. Lots happening thanks to ATA’s new affiliated trade organization, ATA Action, which is lobbying to ensure that the waivers that enabled the acceleration of telehealth during the Covid-19 public health emergency become permanent. The time is NOW for health tech co’s to get involved! Tune in to find out how.
It’s Friday 13th, the unluckiest day and many on the stock market were feeling it. But there were some deals. Alan in France raises 183m Euros, HealthMap Solutions gets $25m for kidney care, Icelandic Sidekick Health gets $55m for DTx & Dialogue buys Tictrac for $43m US.
Following last week’s extraordinary special on cancer & navigation, this week’s #THCBGang on May 12 was a deep dive into digital health. Including data, education, business models and the knowledge gap; and of course quite a bit of discussion about the future of the data and digital health around abortion.
Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) were WTF Health host & Health IT girl Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa), privacy regulation expert Deven McGraw (@HealthPrivacy); & surgeon & startup guy Raj Aggarwal (@docaggarwal). Special guest this week is Olympic rower for 2 countries and all around dynamo Jennifer Goldsack, (@GoldsackJen), CEO at the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe).
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
What does digital transformation look like at a global healthcare giant like Pfizer? Lidia Fonseca, Pfizer’s Chief Digital & Technology Officer, shares her strategy for building the life sciences company’s digital data and technology solutions, including her thinking about digital therapeutics, digital diagnostics, and digital biomarkers. As Lidia puts it, this is not about trying to simply implement a “digital strategy,” but is, instead, about building a “business strategy for digital world.”
There’s probably no better story that illustrates how that “business strategy for a digital world” is playing out than the fascinating example of how Pfizer’s Digital team helped accelerate the development of the Covid19 vaccine and oral treatment. Lidia takes us inside and talks through how her team used tech to safely speed-up everything from development timelines to clinical trials and even go-to-market in areas around the globe that were experiencing outbreaks.
Beyond the tech team’s ability to effectively wield data that changed the game when it came to Covid, Lidia also shares what’s next for the pharma co when it comes to digital health and digital medicines. Beyond the pill? Around the pill? Instead of the pill? What’s Pfizer’s position on digital therapeutics as it continues to work to bring new breakthrough medicines to patients? We get into all the ways digital and technology are manifesting themselves within an organization like Pfizer AND get Lidia’s best advice for other healthcare organizations who are redefining their businesses with technology.
By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH
Big news coming out of Vida Health today as the chronic condition care startup announces that it will now be able to prescribe meds, med devices, lab tests, and more to its members. This puts Vida Health among the first of the digital health chronic care companies to evolve its offerings beyond apps-and-coaching, leading on this trend to take digital health chronic care into a more full expression of virtual care.
Vida Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Patrick Carroll, introduces us to the new offering which he tipped us off about when we met him a few months ago, new to his role at Vida and coming in hot from Hims & Hers where he built similar services as he took that company public as CMO.
The new prescribing services will cover both sides of Vida Health’s integrated model: mental health and cardiometabolic health, but in different ways. On the mental health side, Pat says members will be able to receive prescription meds for anxiety and depression ONLY at this time; on the cardiometabolic side, members working with Vida Health will NOT be able to get prescription drugs to help with diabetes or heart health, but would instead be able to get continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) prescribed, specialized diets, and labs, like A1C testing, that require a script.
Do these prescribing services begin to turn Vida Health into a primary care provider? If not, how do these new prescribing and medication management roles integrate with whatever other primary care offering is in place through a member’s plan or employer without adding cost or confusion to the patient experience? We talk through the evolution of both care model and business model as Vida Health adds another layer to its full-stack chronic condition management platform.