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Jenny Schneider on Homeward’s $50M Series B, 30K-Patient Partnership with Priority Health

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Just FIVE MONTHS after launch, rural health startup Homeward is proving its potential for growth with MORE funding – today announcing its $50 million Series B (that’s $70 million total for the folks keeping score at home) – AND a huge 30,000-patient partnership with Priority Health. Co-founder & CEO Dr. Jennifer Schneider is here to breakdown both bits of news and give us some context about what they indicate about the rural healthcare market.

There are a couple surprising facts in this one that add up to why investors like ARCH Venture Partners and Human Capital (co-leads), General Catalyst (which led the Series A), and Lee Shapiro and Glen Tullman (old buddies and former Livongo colleagues who went in on this with personal funds outside of their fund 7wireVentures) were excited to jump into a quick Series B.

Surprising Fact 1: 90% of all rural Medicare beneficiaries are covered by just 7 payers, which makes the Priority Health deal a bigger deal than even that massive 30K patient population might indicate.

Surprising Fact 2: Homeward’s market of rural Americans is actually TWICE as large as the diabetes market that spurred the investment and growth of Livongo.

For all the math, the details on how the business actually works five months in, and how Homeward is actually going to market as a ‘healthcare infrastructure’ provider rather than just a next-gen medical group, you’re going to have to give this one a watch!

The Tech Layer for Home-Based Care? Tomorrow Health Hopes To Network-ize Home Health

BY JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Home-based healthcare is the stuff of tomorrow – literally. Tomorrow Health just closed a $60M Series B to grow their tech infrastructure biz into what CEO Vijay Kedar hopes will ultimately streamline and optimize how home health is ordered, delivered and paid for. This is the software that *could* be the thing that not only gets patients into home-based set-ups faster (vastly improving upon the up-to-90-minutes it currently takes providers to set-up home care for patients) but also creates a system for all stakeholders to track and monitor patient outcomes with an aim at the much larger, long-term opportunity: to realign incentives on value instead of fee-for-service.

Vijay came out of Oscar Health, meaning there is definitely a payer slant to the way this software is designed and deployed. Payers are Tomorrow Health’s clients, and it offers them a way to organize (or completely create, in some cases) home care networks out of the hundreds of different small, local market suppliers and providers that get medical equipment, skilled and unskilled services, and other in-home care elements to the doorsteps of the patients who need them. For a Geisinger Health Plan or Aetna – two of Tomorrow Health’s marquee clients – the software alleviates the pain of scaling this concept in every market while also providing a way to track what’s happening with the patient and build a “bridge” back into the health system that’s leading the patient care team.

With so many other players working in the home-health space – everyone from retail players like Walgreens/CareCentrix and Best Buy/Current Health to upstarts like Signify Health, Honor, and more – how will this tech stack approach play out against others that are one-stop-shops with frontline care and coordination layered on top? Will these ultimately be Tomorrow’s next clients?? Tune in to find out.

How Happify Health Became Twill: Inside the New Biz Model & What’s Next

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Mental health digital therapeutics startup Happify Health has spent the past 5 years quietly ‘self-actualizing’ into a brand-new, tech platform company that just launched this week: Twill. This is a big pivot – not just a brand change – and we’ve got co-founder & President Ofer Leidner and newly-hired Chief Operating Officer Megan Callahan (who formerly ran Lyft Health) here to tell us how it all went down AND what will happen to the old Happify app.

Wellness-app-no-more, Twill has emerged as a health tech infrastructure company. Its core product (called Sequences) is the open architecture, digital back-end that ties together a health plan, employer, or pharma co’s various digital point solutions – wellness apps, digital therapeutics, virtual coaching, peer support groups, telehealth platforms, etc. etc. – to create one neat-and-tidy, hyper-personalized, automagically-navigated patient care journey based on condition or patient population.

Big brands like Elevance Health (Anthem), Biogen, and Almirall have already bought-in, with products already in market for conditions as diverse as maternal health, multiple scleroses, and psoriasis. Not forgetting its mental health roots, Twill is bringing in its own vast resources from the ole Happify days to run digital mental health support under each of these disease-specific point solutions. Ofer and Megan say that Sequences can be developed for ANY condition or to target specific populations of patients and they plan to launch 2-3 new Sequences each year.

What else is ahead for Twill now that it’s revealed from its stealthy start? Happify Health had raised $73 million in March 2021 in a big round lead by Deerfield Management Company – what should we expect next? Tune in for all the details on the transformation, the new products, and how other digital health companies can expect to work with Twill in the future.

Inside Vida Health’s Move Into Musculoskeletal Care

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

In the ‘point solution versus platform’ debate, mark another score for integration as Vida Health jumps into the musculoskeletal (MSK) care space. This is a move we’ve seen before among the digital health chronic condition management set (remember when Omada acquired Physera, Dario Health acquired Upright, and everyone was waiting to see if Livongo would make a play for Sword or Hinge?) so why is Vida just jumping in now?

Dr. Patrick Carroll, Vida Health’s Chief Medical Officer, lets us in on the strategy behind the startup’s move into the MSK space and what it signals about how employers (and their employees) are starting to view digital health and virtual care within the larger scope of available care options out there.

As for Vida’s MSK program, it’s different than what you might expect. According to Pat, the program is strictly focused on lower back pain and helping members quickly find the physical therapy and, if needed, mental health care that can make a real difference to their overall health in a manner of weeks. If something more complex is discovered, Pat says Vida is working with partners – including those digital-first MSK clinics – to refer out. Is this the long-term play or will Vida eventually build out or buy its way further into MSK? We find out what’s ahead for the cardiometabolic care company as it launches yet another new offering to improve access to care.

Quantifying Caregiving: ARCHANGELS CEO Alexandra Drane on The Caregiver Intensity Index

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

“Being an unpaid caregiver is the epicenter of Life Sucks Disease,” says Alexandra Drane, Co-Founder & CEO of ARCHANGELS, “but it’s also one of the most glorious, one of the most magnificent jobs we’ll ever have.” So, what’s the trick to managing the “sucky” side of caregiving? Data.

Alex’s company ARCHANGELS has invented the Caregiver Intensity Index, which she describes as a “two-and-a-half minute Cosmo quiz” that helps caregivers quantify the intensity of their caregiving experience and identify the top two things driving that intensity and the top two things alleviating it. The score coming out of this helps caregivers validate the intensity of their experience, offers a framework for communicating about it, and, as Alex puts it, delivers “data that gives them permission to believe” that the stress they are feeling is real. ARCHANGELS then uses the info to crosswalk caregivers to existing resources that can help them manage those intensity-driving challenges – whether they be related to financial stress, workplace stress, relationship stress or otherwise.

Knowing that health plans and employers are starting to “see the light” when it comes to caregiving and its impact on their workforce, Alex and I talk about just how much payers are really willing to contribute to supporting the resources needed to support caregivers and how the data ARCHANGELS is providing is helping demonstrate need and connection to health and well-being. Lots of interesting data points on caregiving in this one – particularly when it comes to mental health and how things have changed through the pandemic. Watch now!

Forget Micro-Networks: How Avaneer Health is Building The One Health Data Exchange to Rule Them All

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

What BIG thing is Avaneer Health building with its $50 million SEED round backed by not-just-investors-but-also-partners CVS Health, Aetna, Anthem, Cleveland Clinic, HCSC, PNC Bank, Sentara Healthcare and IBM Watson Health? CEO Stuart Hanson stops by to clear-up the mystery that IS Avaneer Health, and how the massive data exchange platform it’s building is meant to connect the data coming out of the biggest payers and biggest providers in healthcare, directly and in real-time.

Hang on – is this the blockchain-based data exchange healthcare has been talking about for more than a decade?? It sure is trying to be. And what Stuart says is different about Avaneer’s effort is, indeed, the fact that it’s backed by some of the biggest brands in the business and that they see the business case in being able to more effectively share their data with one another. As he explains it, “this problem of data interoperability and data fluidity is bigger than any competitive business model that they need to worry about…”

Stuart is careful to explain what Avaneer IS and what it IS NOT, and this is critical to the company’s growth plans and revenue model. Avaneer is NOT a data intermediary; it’s not about aggregating data, normalizing it, de-identifying it, or applying any fancy machine learning algorithms to it to deliver “insights” on it. Avaneer is strictly a platform for secure, compliant data exchange, so, for example, Anthem can connect to Cleveland Clinic in real-time and verify insurance coverage. The revenue model is currently built around access to the network and will one-day-soon also take in fees from ‘Solutions Innovators’ (aka data-aggregating, algorithm-loving, insights-dropping health tech companies) that will offer their services as add-on’s to Avaneer’s customers who are plugged into the network.

What’s ahead for this stealthy start-up as it scales? Could they REALLY be looking to raise a follow-on seed round?? Find out what kind of investors they’re looking for and what’s ahead on their product roadmap in this in-depth chat.

7WireVentures’ Lee Shapiro: What’s Ahead for Investment in Health Tech

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

What’s Lee Shapiro’s take on the health tech market’s state-of-play? 7wireVenture’s Co-Founder and Managing Partner stops by to talk early-stage investment, what’s hot and what’s not post-pandemic, and how he views the digital health funding frenzy of the past couple years which, one could argue, was kicked into high-gear by portfolio-company-slash-previous-employer Livongo.

Lee says there’s “enough broken business processes in healthcare to last a lifetime,” which means a lot of opportunity for consumer-minded health tech startups to change things, but does the recent slowdown in venture funding and pummeling of public market health tech stocks indicate that the category is in trouble before it even gets a chance to make a real impact? We get Lee’s opinion on whether or not the market is cooling, what he thinks will happen next with valuations, and what he views as the best way to scale a healthcare startup – particularly as we watch Glen Tullman run the ‘Livongo playbook’ at new business Transcarent. And, speaking of Glen… did Lee really teach him everything he knows?? We’re starting some trouble in this one!

The Mental Health ‘Formulary of the Future’? Otsuka’s Work in DTx, Psychedelics, & More

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!

ATA’s CEO Ann Mond Johnson Takes on the “Telehealth Cliff”

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.

Digital & Tech Are Changing Pfizer: Pharma Co’s Chief Digital & Technology Officer Takes Us Inside

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.

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