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Health in 2 Point 00, Episode 243|Quartet, Ribbon, Lyn Health, Medallion & Safely You

I cough my way through this episode of Health in 2 Point 00 in his original interview sweater. There’s $60m for Quartet (mental health), Ribbon Health gets $43.5m to fix provider lists, Lyn Health reinvents the medical group with $10m (sort of), Medallion gets $30m to fix cross-state line provider credentialing & Safely You gets $30m to use AI to prevent falls in nursing homes. -Matthew Holt

WTF Health: Early-Stage Med Device Startup Acorai is Turning Smart Phones into Heart Failure Monitoring Devices

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Acorai is an early-stage medical device startup working with Bayer to improve the way we manage the world’s 65 million patients living with heart failure by using their own smart phones. CEO Filip Peters shows the Acorai device, which is basically an extended smart phone case packed with four different kinds of sensor technologies that work together to measure the pressure inside a patient’s heart, by simply holding their phone against their chest. Of course, the real magic is the algorithm that turns these readings into early detection of a potential incident. How does this stack up against the status-quo way we’re currently caring for these types of patients? Filip says that, right now, the alternative for such monitoring is an IMPLANTED sensor, which many patients aren’t even able to get. As a result, most of the early warning signs of impending heart failure are missed; Acorai’s tech has the potential to be truly revolutionary as it’s able to detect the signs that lead to heart failure hospitalizations up to 30 days in advance.

Acorai has been selected as one of four “Growth Track” companies in Bayer G4A’s Digital Health Partnerships Program, and Filip talks to us about the potential Bayer sees in the daily data stream of information Acorai’s device makes available to cardiologists. A fascinating look at the future of cardiac care!

Inside FarmboxRx’s Groundbreaking Work in SNAP/EBT Benefits to “Eradicate Food Deserts Overnight”

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

HUGE news on the “food-as-medicine” front for Medicaid/Medicare Advantage beneficiaries! Now, they can get fresh fruits and veggies delivered directly to their doorsteps and they can pay for them using their SNAP/EBT benefits. FarmboxRx is behind this first-of-its-kind partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and here to talk through EXACTLY why this is groundbreaking (and what precedent it could set for the food-as-medicine movement in terms of payor support) is founder and CEO, Ashley Tyrner.

As Ashley explains it, FarmboxRx’s produce deliveries have been previously covered by Medicare Advantage and Medicaid, but only under the limited ‘over-the-counter’ healthy foods benefits those plans provide. In some states, this nets to just $20-$25 per month for a family of one. With the addition of SNAP/EBT funding, the budget available for spending on these farm-to-table deliveries expands to $164-$230 per month. A potential game-changer.

We unpack Farmbox further and get into how they’re differentiated from Amazon and Walmart, which also take food stamps online, but don’t deliver produce nationally like Farmbox does. This is a move Ashley describes as having the ability to “eradicate food deserts overnight.” There’s so much more about food insecurity, the way FarmboxRx is working with health plans to use food as member engagement and trust-building tool, and, of course, the backstory behind the business which is basically BOOTSTRAPPED (there’s some venture debt) and raising a Series A.

WTF Health: Accolade Navigates Itself into New Territory: CEO on Personalized Healthcare & Tech Infrastructure

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Healthcare navigator Accolade (NASDAQ:ACCD) is on the move. Not only are they now cruising in care delivery territory with two new primary care/mental healthcare offerings that let them personally guide their 9M members further into the healthcare system, BUT they’re also starting to talk more and more about their tech infrastructure and the “operating system” they’ve built to power that healthcare GPS with shared data and access.

CEO Rajeev Singh stops by to walk us through the strategy behind both sides of this (especially interesting when you consider his tech startup background in the context of those “operating system” statements) and why Accolade launched its own new category (personalized healthcare) as a framework for talking about the new course they’re charting.

We get into the September debut of Accolade Care, which bundles primary care and mental health in a per-employee-per-month model, and Accolade One, which wraps the full Accolade ecosystem around the Care product in a value-based model. At-risk models seem to be rising in popularity these days, and I get Rajeev’s perspective on why Accolade chose to go-to-market with one of those…and one that falls into the usual PEPM structure.

More interesting to me, however, is this whole “operating system” thing and how it’s playing out behind-the-scenes to strengthen integration across the businesses Accolade has acquired (Health Reveal being the most recent) and point solutions its partnering with like Virta, Headspace Health, Sword Health, RxSavings Solutions, and Carrot Fertility. The “purpose-built” architecture Rajeev describes sounds like it’s not only giving Accolade what it needs to better manage population health outcomes within its own offerings but that it, in and of itself, could be a new offering for partners who don’t want to build a tech platform themselves.

New directions explored…next moves discussed…AND Raj’s six-year CEO Anniversary celebrated! Watch now.

How Unhappy are Patients with Info Coming from Providers, Payers? Pega’s Survey Shows It’s Not Good

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Is this a big surprise? Even during Covid, Pega’s annual 2,000-person Patient Engagement Survey shows that 63% of patients are unhappy with the communication they receive from their payers and providers. Which begs the question… just how bad was it before? (Answer: 86% unhappy– yikes!)

Pega’s VP of Healthcare & Life Sciences, Kelli Bravo, has run this survey three years and counting and drops in to share the highlights (if we can really call them that) of the survey results and how she thinks enterprising young health tech startups can capitalize on the opportunity to help.

For those in the business of trying to talk to patients — which is all of us — let’s look at this as a wake-up call. Let’s stop speaking “health care” and start using language everyone can understand about their care, what it will cost, and what all the options really are. Pega is attempting to do its part in that department, and we get an update on how they’re fairing at helping to make healthcare feel more like retail. The rise of the healthcare consumer is a real thing. Now, with new data to back up claims about what they’re demanding in terms of how they prefer to be talked to and communicated with.

Click to see the data and report on Pega’s site.

WTF Health: Transcarent, Walmart & The “Re-making” of Healthcare Payers: Glen Tullman on the Power of Big Retail

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Days after announcing their deal with Walmart, Transcarent’s Executive Chairman & CEO Glen Tullman and meet again (in-person!) to pick up our conversation right where it left off. For the details about the deal, see our last interview; for what the deal signifies for the disruption of the healthcare payer and the ultimate rise of the healthcare consumer, tune in now and take note.

The plot of Transcarent’s story is starting to take shape. Their conflict is with the “big middle” of healthcare where drugs are marked up, care needs pre-authorizations, and docs labeled “this is NOT a bill” are ridiculous artifacts of a payer-first healthcare experience.

“The system behind our healthcare today is working exactly as its designed: for payers. We want to re-design that,” says Glen. “It’s not, ‘how do we get through that better?’ That would be navigating. It’s ‘how do we go completely around that and re-design the experience?’”

Glen talks us through the leverage retailers like Walmart and Amazon really have to help take on non-innovative payers what role Transcarent is playing in all of this, and how startups like GoodRx, Ro, and Capsule who are successfully challenging PBMs are demonstrating that payment model innovation is possible.

And, while we wait for the next big deal to come from ‘healthcare’s best dealmaker, we’ve got some foreshadowing: a quick mention of Oscar Health that registered on my radar as interesting, along with some very specific details about how Transcarent will expand its offering next, looking at MSK, cancer care, behavioral health (particularly for teens), and bringing in more “human voices” for their members to turn to for advice.

CareCentrix CEO on Walgreens Taking Majority Stake, How Post-Acute Care Will Fair in Retail Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

The same day Walgreens announced its $5.2B investment in VillageMD to snag a majority stake in the growing primary care clinic, it ALSO revealed it had made a $300M investment in CareCentrix that scored 55% of that company and another opportunity to expand its reach beyond the pharmacy – this time into the home.

CareCentrix’s CEO John Driscoll takes us behind the deal, which lands Walgreens into the world of post-acute care (home nursing, hospital discharge recovery, home infusion, palliative care, etc.) which he describes as the “long-form sexy-cool” segment of the healthcare market that’s not only worth $75B annually now, but that’s also set for massive growth over the next 20 years.

Walgreens is clearly seeing the opportunity John’s seeing, particularly when it comes to positioning its pharmacies as “local health distribution and support centers” – hubs that leverage both the trust patients have in their pharmacists and the frequency with which they visit a Walgreens store compared to a doctor’s office or hospital. In the Walgreens Health strategy, what’s the vision for how CareCentrix and VillageMD will ultimately work together to take care of these regular Walgreens customers? Will post-acute care fair as well as primary care when it comes to a retail distribution channel? And, of course, we HAVE to go behind the scenes on the deal itself and ask John what we were all wondering: Why didn’t Walgreens just acquire both VillageMD and CareCentrix outright??

Update from Olive: CEO Sean Lane on Putting $850M+ Funding to Work

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

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!

Woman’s Health Startup Pollie Wins Bayer G4A’s Attention With Female-Focused Chronic Condition Play

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Forget being pigeon-holed as a “femtech” company! VERY early-stage women’s health startup, Pollie, is taking an integrated care approach to complex chronic conditions that either just affect women, OR impact women differently or disproportionally than men. Think not only about conditions caused by hormone imbalances like PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) or endometriosis, but also auto-immune disorders and digestive disorders that present differently or more frequently in women.

Co-Founder and CEO, Jane Sagui, drops by to talk us through the platform Pollie is building (and I mean, building-as-we-speak) which will ultimately teach women how to manage their chronic conditions via a highly-personalized program that includes all possible treatment management solutions, from pharmaceuticals to lifestyle-based treatments like diet and exercise. The company is currently piloting a version of their solution with a cohort of PCOS patients, but, has grand plans to expand their multi-modality pill-plus approach into other categories of women’s health that are NOT reproductive system related. Their biz has already caught the eye – and some investment dollars – from Bayer, as the company is one of four that’s been selected for this year’s Growth Track within G4A’s Digital Health Partnerships Program.

Jane gives us the details behind Pollie: their business, the pilot, the round they’re currently raising, and the types of partners they’re seeking as they evolve their offering. What’s also exciting? An early-stage bet from a big pharma co like Bayer that signals a future for women’s health care that may (finally) be about MORE than just reproductive health.

#Healthin2Point00, Episode 240|Tebra, Notable, Wellinks, Aktiia, and Enlace Health

Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I talk briefly about Frontiers Health – frontiers.health – a digital health company with a deep therapeutics focus. Kareo and Patient Pop merge to form Tebra and get $65 million dollars from a PE firm. A notable raise from Notable, $100 million in a Series B brings to total up to $119 million. Wellinks gets $25 million in a Series C in the COPD space. Constant Blood Pressure monitoring company Aktiia gets $17.5 million, bringing their total up to $28 million. Aver Inc. rebrands, becoming Enlace Health, and raises 58 million dollars bringing their total up to $111 million. Investment efforts in Enlace were led by Cox Inc., and the relationship between Cox and Enlace seems very tight. -Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt

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