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Walmart Launches Neuroscience Behavior Change Health App | David Hoke of Walmart

How is Walmart leading the convergence of clinical care and retail? With global scale that allows for everyday low prices in every community, Walmart is innovating both the clinical and lifestyle sides of healthcare. From pharmacy, food, sporting goods, and more, Walmart is creating an ecosystem that is homebase for a healthy lifestyle.

As the world’s biggest private health plan—with 1.4 million associates worldwide —Walmart is also expanding its associate wellbeing program by partnering with Fresh Tri, an innovative app that uses neuroscience to change behavior by offering practical suggestions, combating iterative thinking to meet specific goals.

Filmed at AHIP’s Consumer Experience & Digital Health Forum in Nashville, TN, December 2018.

Hyperscaling: Startup Advice from Softbank | Sakshi Chhabra Mittal, VP Softbank Vision Fund

Softbank Vision Fund is a $100 billion technology-focused fund with an eagle eye on the tech that is poised to disrupt large markets, including healthcare. From hyperscaling to detailed advice on pitching, VP Sakshi Chhabra Mittal goes deep on what they’re looking for from startups, especially those that have closed their Series A and are looking for a B.

Filmed at the Frontiers Health Conference in Berlin, Germany, November 2018.

Selling Your EMR Startup to Apple…Then Leaving Apple to Start-up Again | Anil Sethi, Ciitizen

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Anil Sethi had the health tech exit every startup dreams about: a buyout by Apple. Not content to ride that unicorn into the sunset, Anil’s back at it with his new startup Ciitizen, which is another take on better a patient health record. What’s different? Why come back? Tune in for more and this and Anil’s great advice for other health entrepreneurs.

WeightWatchers Acquired This Health Tech Startup That Helps Kids Lose Weight | Kurbo, Thea Runyan

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Kurbo just became a wholly owned subsidiary of WW (aka WeightWatchers) with its app that helps kids lose weight. Co-founder Thea Runyan explains how the digital health solution is changing unhealthy lifestyles for teens and kids everywhere and talks about her company’s successful exit to the weight loss giant.

Filmed at HIMSS/Health 2.0 Europe in Helsinki, Finland in June 2019.

HardCore Health Podcast| Episode 3, IPOs, Privacy, & more!

On Episode 3 of HardCore Health, Jess & I start off by discussing all of the health tech companies IPOing (Livongo, Phreesia, Health Catalyst) and talk about what that means for the industry as a whole. Zoya Khan discusses the newest series on THCB called, “The Health Data Goldilocks Dilemma: Sharing? Privacy? Both?”, which follows & discuss the legislation being passed on data privacy and protection in Congress today. We also have a great interview with Paul Johnson, CEO of Lemonaid Health, an up-and-coming telehealth platform that works as a one-stop-shop for a virtual doctor’s office, a virtual pharmacy, and lab testing for patients accessing their platform. In her WTF Health segment, Jess speaks to Jen Horonjeff, Founder & CEO of Savvy Cooperative, the first patient-owned public benefit co-op that provides an online marketplace for patient insights. And last but not least, Dr. Saurabh Jha directly address AI vendors in health care, stating that their predictive tools are useless and they will not replace doctors just yet- Matthew Holt

Matthew Holt is the founder and publisher of The Health Care Blog and still writes regularly for the site.

Barcelona Health Hub Launches to Advance Digital Health Solutions from Spain | Josep Carbo, Founder

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Barcelona has emerged a global hot-spot when it comes to healthcare innovation and health tech startups. And now, finally, Spanish startups with digital health apps, digital therapeutics, novel med devices, and other tech-enabled therapies can call the Barcelona Health Hub their home. What’s all the hype about? Barcelona Health Hub co-founder and VP, Josep Carbo, gives us the scoop on who’s there, what they’re doing, and how you can get plugged in.

Filmed at HIMSS/Health 2.0 Europe in Helsinki, Finland in June 2019.

“Alexa, Open Symptom Checker” Gets You This Health Startup’s App | Piotr Orzechowski Infermedica

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

One of Europe’s top health tech startups, Infermedica out of Poland just closed a $3.65M funding round for its suite of tools that help patients figure out the best place to go to get care. It’s a patient-routing / symptom-checker with “AI under the hood” that is delivered via an app, chatbot, and voice application for Alexa. (In fact, they “own” the symptom checker that opens when you ask Alexa to “open symptom checker.”) Piotr Orzechowski talks about the full range of ways Infermedica is engaging patients and how they are scaling up their provider facing products as a result of this influx of funding.

Filmed at HIMSS/Health 2.0 Europe in Helsinki, Finland in June 2019.

Whole Genome Sequencing Heads for Consumers – Rodrigo Martinez of Veritas Genetics

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

DNA testing companies like 23andMe and Ancestry have made DNA testing mainstream, with adoption skyrocketing among consumers. Meanwhile, health tech startups like Veritas Genetics are starting to push the trend even further – from genotyping to whole genome sequencing. What’s the difference? Well, genotyping looks at less than half of 1% of your genome, while whole genome sequencing looks at over 99% of your genome.

Veritas is betting that consumers are ready for what’s revealed by looking at more than 6.4 billion letters of DNA and are promising that the value of that information will only get richer as time goes on and the science that makes sense of our genome achieves new breakthroughs.

In fact, Veritas is positioning their $999 test as “a resource for life” and Rodrigo Martinez, their Chief Marketing & Design Officer who I chat with here, shares a vision for the future that includes asking Alexa to scan your genome before taking medications or risking allergic reactions to foods.

This is fascinating proposition for the future of health (investors are jazzed too, having poured $50M into the company), but ethical questions abound. How do you make this information useful and actionable? How do you handle situations where major health issues are reveled? And what about data privacy? This is about as personal as personal health information can get. Rodrigo weighs in…

Snoop Last Year’s Bayer G4A Startups, Then Apply

SPONSORED POST

By JESSICA DA MASSA, WTF HEALTH

With the application deadline for Bayer’s G4A Partnerships program coming up on Friday, I thought I’d throw out a little inspiration to would-be applicants by featuring an interview I did with one of last year’s program participants at the grand-finale Launch Event.

Not only was this a great party, but a microcosm of the G4A program experience itself: a way to meet Bayer execs en-masse, an opportunity to sell directly to key decision-makers across Bayer’s various global business units, and a chance to feed off the energy of like-minded innovators eager to see ‘big health care’ change for the better.

While the G4A program itself has changed a bit this year to be more streamlined and to allow for bespoke deal-making that may or may not involve giving up equity (my favorite new feature), startups questioning whether or not they have what it takes should take a look at some alums.

There’s a playlist with nearly two dozen interviews waiting for you here if you’re REALLY up for some procrastinating, or you can click through and just check out my chat with Joe Curcio, CEO of KinAptic. A healthtech startup taking wearables to the bleeding edge, Joe shows us a mock-up of the KinAptic ‘smart shirt’ which features their real innovation: printed ink electronics that look and feel like screenprinting ink, but work bi-directionally to both collect data from the body AND apply signals back to it. Is it AI-enabled? Did you have to ask? Listen in for a mindblowing chat about how this tech can change diagnostic analysis and treatment and completely redefine our current limitations when it comes to healthcare wearables.Once you’re inspired, don’t forget to head over to www.g4a.health and fill out your own application for this year’s partnership program.

Jessica DaMassa is the host of the WTF Health show & stars in Health in 2 Point 00 with Matthew Holt

Investment State-of-Play in Big Pharma: Bayer’s Eugene Borukhovich Weighs In

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Bayer’s G4A team launched their 2019 program today, so here’s a little help for anyone curious about the state of pharma startup investment and what it takes to land a deal there these days.

I had the chance to pick the brain of Bayer’s Global Head of Digital Health, Eugene Borukhovich, during JP Morgan Healthcare Week and pulled out these three gloriously thought-provoking soundbites from our conversation to give you some insight as to the mindset over at big Bayer.

  • “Digital therapeutics are shining light on the convoluted, complex mess of digital health”

If you’ve wondered what lies ‘beyond the pill’ for Big Pharma, wonder no more. It seems the answer is digital therapeutics. Eugene predicts that “within the next couple of years, ‘digital health’ as a term will disappear,” and calls out organizations like the Digital Therapeutics Alliance for their efforts to set standards around evidence-base and behavior modification so regulators and strategic investors alike can properly evaluate claims made by health tech startups. As time goes on, it looks like efforts to ‘pharma-lize’ the ways startups take their solutions to market will increase, pushing them into more traditional go-to-market pathways that have familiar and comforting guidelines in place. As Eugene says, “Ultimately, what we say in my team, is that it’s about health in a digital world today.” Sounds like that’s true for both the products he’s seeking AND the way pharma is looking to bring them to market… 

  • “These multi-hundred million [dollar] press releases are great to a certain extent, but what happened to the start-up style mentality?”

When asked about Big Tech getting into Big Health, in the end, it seems, Eugene shakes out to be in favor of the ‘Little Guy’ – or, at least, in their approach. Don’t miss his comments about “cockiness in our healthcare industry” and how Big Tech is working around that by partnering up, but the salient point for startups is that big companies still seem very much interested in buddying with smaller businesses. It’s for all the same reasons as before: agility, the ability to iterate quickly, and the opportunity to do so within reasonable budgets. Eugene offered this telling rhetorical musing: “Just because it’s a combination of two big giants…do you need to do $500 million? Or, do you give some…traction, milestone, [etc.]…to prove it, just like a start-up would?”

  • “In large organizations, transformation equals time, and…we don’t have time.”

“To me,” says Eugene, “the biggest challenge is actually landing these inside the organization.” He’s talking about novel health solutions – digital therapeutics or otherwise – after learning from previous G4A cycles. Culture, precedent, and years of market success loom large in big healthcare companies across the ecosystem, which is one reason why innovation inside them is so challenging. Eugene says he’s “a big believer in a small team – even in large organizations – to take something by the cojones, and get shit done, and move it forward, and push the envelope from the bureaucracy and the process.” There’s a sense of urgency to ‘innovate or die’ in the face of the growing competition in the healthcare industry. “Back to this earlier conversation around whether it’s tech giants or other companies,” he adds, “it is a race to the speed of the organization. How quickly we learn and how quickly we make the decisions. Bottom line, that’s it.”

There’s plenty more great insights and trend predictions where these came from, plus the juicy details behind how G4A itself has pivoted this year. Check out the full interview now.

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