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Meet Wheel: The Mysterious, White-Label Telehealth Startup Bolstering ‘Next-Gen’ Virtual Care

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Stealthy telehealth startup Wheel just closed a $50M series B and CEO Michelle Davey is here to reveal the mystery behind the company’s very behind-the-scenes approach to selling white-label virtual care. The business model is built on a network of clinicians that Wheel has curated and credentialed specifically for virtual care delivery – for a rotating cast of clients, under any brand, at any time. Unlike the market-leading incumbent telehealth co’s that also sell virtual care infrastructure, Wheel does NOT have a patient front door, isn’t angling for one, and is so protective of its clients’ brands that Michelle won’t even name names about who her company is working with. She simply describes her clientele as those in the biz of “next gen” virtual care: retail players, care-plus-pharmacy-delivery startups, asynchronous care providers, labs, remote patient monitoring companies, and so on.

Wheel experienced 300% year-over-year growth — and 1200% growth from Q4-2020 to Q1-2021 — but is it sustainable as the pandemic wans and other plug-and-play telehealth infrastructure services also gain market traction and funding? And, what about the common criticism that telehealth is too transactional and that both patients AND physicians prefer the opportunity to build deeper relationships? Do providers really want to practice for multiple companies at the same time? We get a look inside Wheel’s 90% clinician retention rate to see what else might be satisfying the clinician’s need to connect, and talk about areas for growth now that the company’s received fresh funds.

Does Newly IPO’d Privia Health’s Climbing Stock Price Prove Value-Based Care Can Scale?

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Privia Health ($PRVA) went public a few weeks ago and the stock not only popped when it hit the market, but has continued to rise. When you look at the numbers – and hear about the business model from CEO Shawn Morris – it’s easy to get excited and see why. Privia calls itself a “physician enablement” business, which is the two-word marketing way of saying that they bring together different docs in a region and give them the systems to become part of a value-based care network while also maintaining their private practices. They’re more or less building accountable care organizations (ACOs) in a hub-and-spoke fashion, uniting docs around Privia’s common tech systems, workflow processes, value-based care strategies, and contracting power with commercial and government payers. The model is appealing to docs who want to make the switch to value-based care, but still want the autonomy of their own practices. The value prop has already attracted more than 2,700 providers in 650 different locations netting the biz $817 million in revenue in 2020 – and Shawn says they’ll only expand from here. What’s the growth plan? Value-based care models are often criticized as “un-scalable” – what does Shawn say to combat that? A great, detailed chat that pitches a hopeful end to fee-for-service healthcare and a promising future for a newly public healthcare co.

Sharecare ($SHCR) Hits NASDAQ Tomorrow, CEO Jeff Arnold on Closing the SPAC IPO

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Sharecare ($SHCR) starts trading on the NASDAQ tomorrow and CEO Jeff Arnold has come back to catch us up on what’s happened since April when we first spoke and took a deep-dive into Sharecare’s population-health-slash-care-navigator-slash-health-security business model. That interview (watch here: https://youtu.be/P6DzFbtiLWg) digs into the $400 million/year revenue model Jeff’s built so far, and now THIS CHAT picks up where we left off — mere hours before Sharecare heads into the public market. valued at just under $4 billion dollars, with ZERO Debt and $400 million in cash to invest in scaling up.

Turns out a lot can happen while you’re waiting for your paperwork to be signed! So what’s new? How about the $50 million dollar private placement Anthem has made into business? Jeff explains how this kind of backing from the country’s second largest health insurance company is not only a win when it comes to securing a customer base, but also how it will likely impact product roadmap. The Anthem investment was closely linked to Sharecare’s January acquisition of health tech startup Doc.AI, which had been working with Anthem on some very payer-friendly tools that will likely be expanded. And speaking of expansion? Jeff’s already made more than a dozen acquisitions to build up Sharecare’s three main verticals over the years– what else could they possibly need now? Tune in for all the last-minute news and numbers before $SHCR pops tomorrow!

Did Glen Tullman Just Launch Another New Category? Transcarent the ‘Health Experience Company’

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

For those keeping score at home, Glen Tullman is scaling up Transcarent faster than he did Livongo. The startup just closed a $58M Series B, bringing its total funding just shy of $100M. In less than 8 months. What’s the hurry? Have we ordered the balloons for the IPO yet? Glen says he’s out to fix the core problem first, and, in this interview, we get into the details about what that problem statement is all about and you might be surprised.

This is more of a payment model story than anyone may have all initially realized. And, while we may keep trying to put Transcarent into the “healthcare navigator” box or call it a “second opinion service” or a “centers of excellence play,” the truth is that those are all means to achieve a much larger end, which is about redefining the healthcare experience and its payment model for self-insured employers. Remember when Livongo created its own category of care (applied health signals) because they didn’t fit in with what a ‘chronic condition management’ company meant to the market? Well, I think Glen just used this interview to soft-launch a new category of healthcare company here again with Transcarent…

“People always try to put us in a category,” says Glen. “Are you a navigator? No, we’re not a navigator. We do navigation. Are you a health management company? No, we’re not. Are you a supplier? No, we’re not. Are you a PBM? No, we’re not. But we do all of those things to create an experience and that’s why, when you think about it, we’re a health experience company and that’s a new category that no one has.”

I get Glen to talk specifics about what this really means — directly managing healthcare spend for employers in a ‘category-creating’ completely at-risk way – and the examples really do help bring it to life. So does hearing about how he sees Transcarent as completely different than Accolade or Grand Rounds, which are often listed as competitors.

What other trouble do we get into in this 30-minute mega chat? OF COURSE I get his take on this year’s record-breaking investment into health tech, whether or not he thinks we’re in a bubble, and how Amazon, Walmart, and other non-traditional players are going to impact healthcare moving forward. Lots of insights in this one!

Healthcare’s New “Operating System”: Amwell’s CEO Says Incumbents are Re-Thinking Telehealth

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

“We have to look at telehealth as an operating system.” Amwell ($AMWL) President & CEO Roy Schoenberg has a way with analogies, and some of his best land in this interview as we get a highly detailed, insider’s perspective about how payers and health systems are rethinking telehealth as a result of their experiences during the pandemic.

Bottom line: The pandemic taught us that telehealth can be used to deliver a much wider variety of healthcare services than just urgent care and, so the whole idea of ‘telehealth’ is changing from healthcare product to healthcare infrastructure. Mental health care, physical therapy, medication management, primary care, and more have all moved to telehealth and, along with that shift, the “rules of engagement” around those services have started to change.

Payers are looking to become the “digital front door” for their members – providing primary care and navigation. Health Systems are increasingly looking to use their own docs for urgent care, rather than outsource that relationship and miss the potential to build trust with local patients. And, in all this, Roy argues that healthcare’s biggest buyers have stopped looking at telehealth as a “product” and, instead, are starting to see the opportunity to “rewrite their future” around a view of telehealth as infrastructure, as one of healthcare’s “foundational systems” intertwined with (and as mission-critical as) their EHRs or claims and eligibility systems.

My favorite analogy starts around the 20-minute mark, when Roy explains this operating system idea by drawing comparison to how individual Microsoft programs (think Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint) would be infinitely less powerful if they were not running on the same operating system and able to easily transfer information. Another good one? How both the buying and provisioning of healthcare is being re-thought digitally, just as online shopping not only changed buying habits but also changed supply chain for retailers. If you’re looking to hear the latest on what’s happening in telehealth post-Covid, learn how things have changed for payers and health systems, AND also want to dip into Amwell’s market positioning a bit, you’ll love this deep-dive.

Senior Caregiving Startup Papa: “Hanging Out & Helping Out” Backed by Health Plans & $91M in Funding

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Since it was founded in 2017, “family-on-demand” senior care startup Papa has raised a whopping $91M from a veritable who’s who of health innovation investors. How has this startup that matches “authentically nice people” up with seniors to “help out and hang out” convinced the likes of Tiger Global, Comcast Ventures, and Canaan Partners (and those are just the investors who chipped in for Papa’s $60M Series C round this April) to invest? And, probably more importantly, how has Papa won more than 40 health plans as clients (a number set to triple for 2022) EAGER to foot the bill to provide their members with the support of a Papa Pal?

Founder & CEO Andrew Parker walks us through the business model and what it will and won’t be providing in the near future. Companionship, house help, chatting, and grocery shopping all fall under the purview of a Pal – so does filling non-clinical gaps in care like making annual check-up appointments, picking up prescriptions, and providing telehealth tutorials. Andrew says Pals are like “ninjas for a health plan,” building relationships and trust one weekly visit at a time. With 240 million people that could get access to a Papa Pal either via a Medicare, Managed Medicaid, or even employer sponsored health plan (good employees with aging parents need caregivers…) the potential for growth is tremendous. Will the biz hit a ‘supply’ issue? How long do Pals stick around? As we work to combat loneliness, isolation, and a myriad of social determinants of health issues within a rapidly expanding senior population, find out what Andrew thinks will keep Pals around and the service sticky for seniors, their real families, and their health plans.

Jonathan Bush Launches Zus with $35M & “Build-Your-Own EMR” Proposition for Health Tech Startups

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Jonathan Bush has “More Disruption Please-d” himself and is back at it with a new company, Zus (get it…like the father of Athena) backed by a $35M Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz, F-Prime Capital, Maverick Ventures, & Rock Health.

“It’s ‘Build-A-Bear’ for EMR, patient relationship management, CRMs…” says Jonathan, and meant to help digital health startups work around incumbent EMR companies by providing a developer kit of components common to the “middle” of a health tech stack — AND a single shared record backend where all Zus clients can land and access patient data.

The intention is to help digital health startups reduce the time and cost of developing their tech by eliminating the redundant, generic aspects of building a healthcare tech stack in the same way companies like Stripe or Twilio have taken the burden out of writing code to process payments or integrate messaging. Zus intends to be the go-to for code used to make an appointment, create a patient profile, connect to a telehealth platform, etc. And the shared record on the back end? Does that make Zus a next-gen EMR company?? Find out more about Zus’s business model, current client list, and why, exactly, Jonathan believes that NOW is the time that the dream of the shared patient medical record is within reach.

UpHealth Hits the NYSE: CEO & President on SPAC Merger Completion, Virtual Care Competition & More

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

Another virtual care company hits the New York Stock Exchange as UpHealth ($UPH) emerges from the combined merger of UpHealth Holdings and Cloudbreak Health with the GigCapital2 SPAC. We’ve got UpHealth’s CEO Ramesh Balakrishnan and President Jamey Edwards here on “Listing Day” to catch us up on the strategic developments and integrations that have occurred since UpHealth’s SPAC IPO was first announced at the end of 2020.

You might remember this deal as the one that brought together six different companies across four of the fastest growing areas of digital health: global telehealth, integrated care management, digital pharmacy, and behavioral health. The story there is still the same, but the value proposition around the combined offering has gelled. UpHealth views itself as a partner to local healthcare providers around the world who need a hand building the integrated digital care model needed to meet growing patient demands and economic realities of a “digitally transformed” healthcare experience. How is this different than what we’re seeing from other publicly-traded telehealth companies like Amwell, Teladoc, and Hims? Or, what about those telehealth-empowered retail giants like Amazon, Walmart, and CVS Health who, like UpHealth, see a lot of upside in the duality of both making care more convenient digitally, while also seamlessly integrating with local in-person care centers? We’ve got all the talk you’ll want about UPH’s positioning, business model, revenue guidance (still $180M-190M for 2021) AND even some client name dropping (Amazon? Really?!) as the stock hits the market.

Bonus: Want to go deeper into this deal? For more on UpHealth, check out our earlier chat with Chairman Chirinjeev Kathuria, Jamey Edwards, and Al Gatmaitan from February 2021. The link is right here: https://youtu.be/50PIVdUjnPU

Teladoc Health’s Mental Health Move: Unite Best of Livongo, Virtual Care in myStrength Complete

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

The Teladoc Health-Livongo merger continues to expand Teladoc Health’s virtual care capabilities — this time in mental health. Dr. Julia Hoffman, Head of Mental Health Strategy for Teladoc Health, gives us the inside story on the launch of myStrength Complete, the souped-up, next-gen version of the digital mental health app that Livongo acquired in 2019 and integrated into its “AI-plus-AI whole person health” platform. So, what’s new now that all this is part of Teladoc? Think full-service mental health care, akin to what you might find in a digital mental health point solution, but with more providers… sitting on top of a gold-standard telehealth and remote monitoring infrastructure… and ready-to-move on an outsized opportunity for integration into Teladoc’s virtual primary care offering, Livongo for Diabetes, Livongo for Hypertension, and so on.

myStength Complete is now more than just a smart, cognitive behavioral therapy app; it’s the entry point into an entire mental health care continuum of services. Teladoc Health’s physicians stand ready for telehealth consults alongside a robust portfolio of coaching and self-service mental health care programs that are bolstered by the data-driven “health nudges” made famous by Livongo’s ever-improving AI-AI engine. Looking forward, the data integration strategy has a lot of potential to do a lot of good. Julia talks about how her team is already leveraging learnings from the Livongo products into a better intake process for members, helping them more quickly, easily, and accurately find the type of care they need. This is no small feat, especially when we find out that Teladoc Health consumer survey data shows that about 60% of people seeking mental health care say they have no idea where to start, or what their diagnosis would be. We get into all those survey findings (a little gold mine for those interested in consumer sentiment and digital mental health) and a full “under-the-hood” poking around of myStrength Complete in advance of its July roll-out to employers. This interview is one to watch now for the full details on how Teladoc Health is pushing further into virtual mental health care.

Komodo Health’s CEO on $220M Series E & What’s REALLY Happening with Big Data in Healthcare

By JESSICA DaMASSA, WTF HEALTH

You know all that “magic” that machine learning is meant to bring to seemingly lackluster healthcare data and our limited understanding of it? Komodo Health’s co-founder & CEO Arif Nathoo demystifies the wizardry of one of our favorite buzz phrases, “The Algorithm,” and gives us a colorful overview of how his startup is making data useful to the way payers, health systems, and pharma co’s study populations at-scale. Komodo’s raised $314M to-date, closing a MASSIVE $220M Series E backed by Tiger Global Management, Casdin Capital, ICONIQ Growth, Andreessen Horowitz, and SVB Capital in April, and after hearing this enthusiastic explanation of what they’re working on – and the market potential for it – we understand why.

At its most simplistic, Komodo is using de-identified healthcare claims data as a base from which to learn how patients flow through the healthcare system. Other data sets are brought in and layered onto that “patient-flow, dollar-flow” claims trail in effort create a new vantage point for seeing what’s happening within the system, at a population level. That insight can then be used to predict patient behavior and provide evidenced analysis for how the system can be improved. Don’t worry: Arif provides lots of detailed examples and talks through exactly what kind of data can (and currently can’t) be pulled into the mix. If you want to get smart on the “Big Data” opportunity in healthcare and how it’s going to be impacting the future of care delivery and virtual care delivery, this is one chat you won’t want to miss!

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