Virgin Pulse has been a big name in workplace wellness for a long time – working with health plans and employers (including 25% of the Fortune 500) to provide care navigation, well-being services, health coaching and access to digital health point solutions for years. Yet, it raised some eyebrows at the end of last year when it announced its acquisition of data-driven wellness company, Welltok. So, what happens when one of the biggest names in worker wellbeing suddenly has access to a dataset of 250M healthcare consumers? Virgin Pulse’s CEO Chris Michalak stops by to talk about the value of that data, which he believes will not only turbo-charge Virgin Pulse’s engagement rates, but also provide new ways for the business to serve as a “full-on navigation capability” for employers, plans, and health systems.
As Chris puts it, Virgin Pulse has always been an “engagement company” but the addition of Welltok’s data turns it into an “activation company.” As Virgin Pulse continues to partner up with digital health point solutions, bring digital therapeutics into the fold, and build-out primary care relationships as a lead stream, the platform Chris describes starts to sound more and more like a navigation business that competes with the likes of Accolade or Included Health. Will Virgin Pulse one-day dip into primary care themselves and add their own virtual care providers? Will they build their own digital therapeutics with data derived from that rich Welltok database? We get into the ‘what’s next’ for the business as it integrates its latest acquisition and seeks to win more C-suite attention from employers seeking to better manage their employees’ access to healthcare benefits.
In this episode of Health Tech Deals, Jess thinks the music has stopped as Rock Health reports Q1’s funding total being below Q4 2022! No $100m rounds today! But still $37m for Real; $40m for Iris Telehealth; only $16m for 9am Health but lots of Livongo connections; $30m for Eko and $15m for Papa-lookalike Duos
3 big deals for this episode of Health Tech Deals! Tiger, General Catalyst, and e-Patient Dave are back! Check out this episode to hear my thoughts on them and on new deals in health tech: Viz.ai raises $100 million, PocketHealth raises $16 million, Eleanor Health raises $50 million, Recora raises $20 million, and Vytalize Health raises $50 million.
What’s with my baseball hat? Find out in this episode! Apparently, someone thinks my hair is a bit out of control and needs some trimming. In this episode of Health Tech Deals, Jess and I review Clarify Health raising $150 million; Season raising $34 million; Altoida grabbing $20 million; nirvanaHealth getting $60 million; and Pluto Health raising $9 million–Matthew Holt
Matthew Holt categorized the triple-merger between Cricket Health, Fresenius Health Partners, and InterWell Health as a “take out merger” — proposing that Fresenius orchestrated the deal to “take out” rising-star kidney care startup, Cricket Health. Well, Cricket Health’s CEO Bobby Sepucha (who will also be CEO of the newly combined entity) “takes issue” with the health tech curmudgeon’s “take out” call and we find out the reasons why.
Listening to Bobby’s explanation, it sounds like the shrewd move Fresenius might be making here in giving up its value-based care arm, Fresenius Health Partners, and its joint-venture with 600 nephrologists in InterWell Health is one that better positions their core dialysis business for the value-based care future that is headed straight toward specialty medicine.
As Bobby puts it, “when you deliver a healthier patient to kidney failure, you don’t obviate the need for dialysis.” Instead, he says, you open up options for other treatments like transplant or home dialysis along the way, as well as the kinds of patient quality outcomes that satisfy the clinical accountability of providers in value-based arrangements.
The other gain is a move upstream for Fresenius. While there are 600,000 dialysis patients each year, the population of Americans with late-stage kidney disease who remain “wildly unmanaged” is 36 MILLION. And they represent $170 Billion in healthcare costs. If InterWell works the way it’s supposed to – with the first value-based care-designed model for late-stage kidney disease management – the potential to impact that patient population is what this merger is all about. Tune in and tell us what you think!
Livongo Alumni Updates from ViVE 2022 continue! Former CEO Zane Burke drops in to talk about his new gig as CEO of Quantum Health, the “original” healthcare navigator biz, and how he’s bullish on the notion that navigators aren’t going anywhere any time soon.
Now, for those who’ve followed Livongo’s founder Glen Tullman as he’s launched his new business Transcarent – and a whole lot of “navigators aren’t working” rhetoric to position it – one might find it very interesting to hear Zane’s take, particularly how what he learned at Livongo has led him to adopt a viewpoint so opposite Glen’s.
Is the market large enough for both approaches to employer benefits optimization – and all the other permutations with and without primary care in between – to win? And for those of you who remember when Zane and Glen ran opposing EMR companies…is this Cerner versus Allscripts all over again?? And speaking of, I get a GREAT candid take on what IS happening in the EMR market today and whether or not Zane thinks challenger tech co’s will finally be able to win over health systems and unseat the EMR incumbents.
May the luck of the Irish be with the health tech sector and may everybody’s valuation go back to where it was for the St. Patrick’s Day episode of Health Tech Deals! In today’s episode, Jess asks me about Doctolib’s €500 million raise with a massive €5.8 billion valuation – this is a doctor booking service and more in Europe. We also cover specialty pharma company House Rx’s $25 million raise, bringing their total up to $30 million, SmithRx’s $27 million raise for its flat-fee PBM, Synapse Medicine’s $28 million raise doing medication management, and Kintsugi’s $20 million raise for its voice biomarker mental health tech. —Matthew Holt
What’s that over there? Is that a little leprechaun sitting next to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow? No, it’s just Matthew Holt. May the luck of the Irish be with the health tech sector and everybody’s valuation goes back to where it was in the summer of 2021. It can only be the March 17th ,St. Patty’s day, episode of Health Tech Deals.
So, Jessica you’re from Chicago, right?
And they have the big St. Patrick’s Day Parade there and they dye the river green?
They dye the river green. Nobody believes it but it’s true.
So why don’t they dye it blue the rest of the year?
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.
Turns out, that if you’re lucky enough to catch Glen Tullman in an impromptu chat just off the main stage at ViVE 2022, he’s warmed up enough (we could maybe even call it ‘fired up’ enough) to kick it into overdrive, roar past the usual talking points, and tell us what he REALLY thinks about what’s happening in the healthcare market today.
Things are changing. And, if you listen to this chat from start-to-finish, one of the key, overarching themes is payment model reform. From the news about Civica RX’s commitment to $30-dollars-or-less insulin (an initiative Glen helped lead and fund via his family foundation) to the 10X growth of virtual care coming out of the pandemic and the rise of “Big Customer” (aka Walmart and Amazon) in healthcare, the bottom line is that we’re no longer talking about fixing the way care is paid for – it’s actually starting to happen.
What is Transcarent’s role in all this? For those who might still be confused, tune in. This IS confusing, but I think the candor of our situation here may have given rise to one of the best descriptions of the business yet. Glen goes point-by-point on the way Transcarent is attempting to shift the paradigm for cost-and-quality across five (5!!!) different aspects of care at one time, using different strategies, novel technologies, cross-industry partnerships, and never-before-seen relationships with health systems to deliver what “20 years working with payers and 5 years working navigators didn’t deliver” for self-insured employers and their employees.
BREAKING! Livongo-famous Jenny Schneider stops by to talk to us first, on-site at ViVE in Miami, about the brand-new business she’s just launched today to “rearchitect” rural health and care. Called Homeward, the startup is coming out with a $20 million Series A backed by General Catalyst, and a novel model that will integrate virtual-and-in-person primary care and cardiology care for Medicare beneficiaries in rural markets. We get into the business model, care model, some shocking statistics about just how dire the market need is, AND all the gossip about the old friends she’s bringing into the business with her. PLUS: Bonus dishing on Glen Tullman’s new business Transcarent, and what connection Homeward might have to the SPAC that Jenny co-founded with Glen, Hemant Teneja and Steve Klasko of General Catalyst. Coming at you fast with this one!
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