When Accolade went public in July at a $1.2B valuation, the BIG question facing the health tech unicorn pre-dated the covid-19 pandemic and the chaos facing its clientbase of large, self-insured employers: Could they scale? Raj Singh, Accolade’s CEO, tackles the question head-on, buoyed by customer growth that has doubled twice over a fiscal-year-and-a-half and an expanded need for his company’s high-touch, concierge health benefits navigation services. As beleaguered employers struggle with making sure their employees have the health benefits they need to weather the pandemic, Accolade’s focus on making sure that those benefits remain as cost-contained as possible seems to be more attractive than ever. What else is resonating with self-insured employers these days? Raj talks about what will (and won’t) change when it comes to population health management in 2021 and gives us a reality check on whether or not employers and their employees are really using digital health tools like Livongo, Virta, Hinge, Kaia, Ginger, et. al when baked into their benefits ecosystem.
Looking for more proof that telehealth has truly become a global trend in healthcare delivery? Our “man-on-the-street” in Italy, Roberto Ascione, CEO of Healthware Group, offers a detailed state-of-play on virtual care uptake across Europe, including how policy-makers, entrepreneurs, and investors are playing much more significant roles in spurning an increasingly “digital friendly” healthcare ecosystem in the wake of covid-19. On the eve of Frontiers Health 2020 — one of Europe’s leading health innovation conferences, of which Roberto is Chairman — we find out how those backing healthcare’s quickly evolving “tele-everything” revolution are planning to come together to push this agenda even further.
Note: Frontiers Health takes place THIS WEEK, on Thursday November 12 and Friday November 13. Check out the full agenda at www.frontiers.health. Fans of WTF Health get a discount! Just use code FH20WTF25 for 25% off registration fees. See you there!
Even though kids make up 20% of the total national patient population, investments in startups that use tech to improve their care is, at best, a dismal 1% of the total investments made in digital health and health tech each year. Why is there such a lack of innovation (and investment in innovation) in Pediatrics? Omkar Kulkarni, Chief Innovation Officer at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, talks us through the challenges that have so-far stymied a health tech takeover of the pediatric care market and how KidsX is out to change all that. Already, Omkar’s recruited several dozen of the world’s leading Children’s Hospitals and Pediatric care units into KidsX, bringing with them supportive payers and investors who want to add to the collaborative consortium’s ability to drive change into this stretch of the healthcare continuum. These “champions” aim to create more targeted opportunities for startups who want to pilot or co-develop peds-focused solutions with the leading pediatric care providers who will ultimately use them, the payers who will ultimately reimburse for them, and the investors who ultimately will fund scaling them. Startups are currently being recruited until October 7, 2020 to participate in the KidsX accelerator’s first cohort and it’s a pretty sweet deal. The bottom line: Lots of support, no equity take; this is NOT just for early-stage startups and it’s NOT just for health tech. Healthcare incumbents in care delivery orgs, health plans, and pharma companies are also invited to join in, along with those healthcare investors who want early-access to emerging pediatric startups and solutions, or a seat at the table as KidsX plans for its own investment fund.
It’s the telehealth market reality check you’ve been waiting for! “Rogue” digital health consultant Dr. Lyle Berkowitz unpacks the numbers and the market potential for virtual care from the unique vantage point of a primary-care-physician-turned-health-tech-entrepreneur with nothing to lose. Having been 1) a clinician, 2) the Director of Innovation at Northwestern Medicine, 3) the founder of a health tech startup (Health Finch) that successfully exited to Health Catalyst, and 4) the former Chief Medical Officer at one of telemedicine’s biggest players, MDLive, few can boast such a wide-reaching, deep understanding of the inner workings of both the innovation and incumbent sides of the virtual care market — AND have a willingness to talk about it all with complete candor!
This is an analyst’s perspective on the telehealth market — with a twist of insider expertise — so expect to hear some good rationale behind predictions about how much care will remain virtual once hospitals and doctor’s offices return to normal, how “real” health system enthusiasm is for building out telehealth capacity to execute on the “digital front door” idea, and whether or not all these well-funded telehealth startups will have what it takes to win market share from traditional care providers.
BONUS on Primary Care: Is this the area of medicine that’s going to be the “battleground” where digital health and virtual care companies will be going head-to-head with incumbents for market share? Lyle says 50-plus percent of primary care “can and should be automated, delegated, virtualized, etc.” and boldly predicts that in 10-20 years we won’t even have primary care physicians anymore. Tune in to find out why starting at the 8:00 minute mark, where we shout out Crossover Health, Oak Street Health, Iora Health, and more.
Telehealth die-hards, don’t think for a second I’d miss this chance to also get some input on Teladoc-Livongo, Amwell, Doctor On Demand, SOC Telemed, the impending IPOs there, digital first health plans, virtual primary care, health systems (who Lyle hopes “don’t shoot themselves in the foot” with their opportunity to jump into the space) and, ultimately, who’s really going to ”WIN” in virtual care moving forward. For this, jump in at 17:00 minutes and hold on!
Digital Mental Health startups continue to scale up — in customers, revenues, and investments — as the covid19 pandemic wears on. One of these companies, Ginger, has tripled its revenue this past year, expanded its client base to count more than 200 health plans and self-insured employers, and, for good measure, just added a fresh $50M Series D to their coffers. How much more money can investors put into digital mental health startups? Are things “frothy” in this space, or is investment just “catching up” to meet a latent demand that’s just really been brought to light? And, what is one of this category’s leaders planning to do now that they’re extra flush with cash? (Don’t forget, they’re sitting on a $35M round that closed late 2019…)
Ginger’s co-founder & COO Karan Singh and CEO Russell Glass join us to weigh in on the mental healthcare market’s state-of-play, including the buzz around their own business as both a potential acquisition target and a potential acquirer of additional behavioral health tech. We cover everything from investment to healthcare incumbent’s recent cries for more clinical validation, but my favorite part of this whole interview is when we start talking about the competition and tackle Lyra Health’s recent $100M raise and $1.1B valuation. Tune in around the 15:55-minute mark for some very DETAILED competitive analysis about Lyra-versus-Ginger from Ginger’s own CEO.
As this market gets more crowded, competition heats up, and healthcare consumers receive the benefit of more solutions to access at lower prices, Karan and Russ also help me speculate on what’s ahead, including whether or not they think we’ll see a “digital mental health equivalent” of a massive game-changing-market-moving deal like we saw when Teladoc merged with Livongo to shake up of both the virtual care and chronic condition management spaces.
Despite the fact that kids make up 20% of our national patient population and that their parents are likely just the tech-savvy market of health consumers that most digital health companies are targeting with their own virtual care solutions, very little has been done to use technology to ‘transform’ the way that they take care of their kids. One of the founders hoping to push this market into a growth spurt is Naomi Allen, co-founder & CEO of pediatric behavioral health company Brightline.
From seed to Series A in just 8 months ($25M total funding), Brightline is already looking to scale out its full-stack clinical model to help tackle the behavioral health issues that are often under-diagnosed and under-treated in kids. Naomi says that 75% of all severe mental illness manifests before age 14, but that only 1 in 5 kids will ever even get a behavioral health diagnosis. And more shocking? Of those that are diagnosed, only 1 in 5 of those kids will ever even receive any care.
The supply-and-demand equation is off — stymied not only by a clinician shortage, but by literally poor reimbursement from health plans concerned about the lack of quality metrics, measurements, and processes in pediatric behavioral health despite the prevalence of those kinds of quality guidelines around adult mental health care.
So, how is Brightline going to fix this? Technology, clinicians, coaches. A full-stack clinical model with a “scaffolding” of support for parents built around it using telehealth, digital tools, and, for those health plans, metrics. Tune in to find out more about their business model, what Brightline’s kids are saying, and how you can find their services yourself if you think your child might need help.
Big Health bills itself as a “complete 24-hour solution for mental health,” offering Sleepio to those who have trouble sleeping and Daylight to those who suffer from worry and anxiety during the day. Fresh off a $39M Series B in June 2020 (total $54.3M) — and having just landed Daylight onto CVS Health’s digital health formulary to join Sleepio there as a “point solution” payors can easily integrate into their benefits offerings — co-founder & CEO Peter Hames stops by for an ENORMOUS conversation about the ‘state-of-play’ for digital mental health companies like his own. Has CVS Health’s digital formulary made it any easier to contract with employers and get the attention of health consumers? And, what of the attention being paid to Big Health itself? As we hit “peak platformization” in digital health, is the company a prime acquisition target? (Note: Omada Health’s CEO Sean Duffy is a friend and investor and we get a good laugh around the 15-minute mark when we fact-check some rumors… ) Finally, another “insight highlight” worth mentioning: some candid conversation on what’s happening in digital therapeutics (DTx) as Peter is the Chair of the category’s industry org, the Digital Therapeutics Alliance. Does Big Pharma still have an appetite for DTx despite some rough news about partnerships with startups in recent months? You’ll want to tune in around 17:30 for more on that too.
Episode 23 of “The THCB Gang” was live-streamed on Thursday, August 27th! Watch it below!
Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) was joined by some of our regulars: health futurist Ian Morrison (@seccurve), WTF Health Host Jessica DaMassa (@jessdamassa), health care consultant Daniel O’Neill (@dp_oneill). The conversation revolved around how providers should reshape some of their practices amid the pandemic, what the large Teladoc-Livongo merger brings to the marketplace, and how there are still lots of potential ways start-ups can fit their models into care practices in the industry.
If you’d rather listen to the episode, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels — Zoya Khan
One Drop just landed a $98.7M deal with Bayer — and we got the details from CEO Jeff Dachis. The timing of this deal is nothing short of impeccable: less than a year after the life sciences giant led One Drop’s Series B with a $40M investment, and amidst a veritable funding frenzy aimed at growing digital health companies focused on chronic condition management. So, how is One Drop planning to use this investment (part Series C/part development fees) to expand their data science platform known for diabetes and hypertension into some of Bayer’s biggest areas of focus — cardiology, oncology, and women’s health? And how does this even-closer relationship with such a consumer health brand help One Drop further evolve the retail side of its go-to-market strategy? Don’t forget — One Drop is sold direct-to-consumer via CVS, Walmart, and Amazon in addition to the more traditional routes via employers and payers. It’s a full breakdown of the deal and a walk through the key points of differentiation Jeff sees as integral to shaping One Drop’s move for greater global market share.
From his vantage point at the helm of one of healthcare’s biggest IT infrastructure companies, Change Healthcare’s President & CEO, Neil de Crescenzo, has an unrivaled perspective at how covid19 has impacted hospital systems and payers. His business builds the “connective tissue” that not only supports the administrative management and patient engagement aspects of “Big Healthcare,” but it also literally helps those organizations make money, processing about $1.5 Trillion in claims each year. So, what’s he seen so far in 2020? And what’s ahead for 2021? Neil stops by to talk about current challenges facing healthcare provider orgs and payers — and what’s ahead in the “new” healthcare economy where “change” is the only constant. From HHS’s new interoperability rules to telehealth and the more dispersed healthcare system it will inevitably create, we dive into all things future of health including the details behind Change’s two recent health tech acquisitions (each over $200M), what Neil thinks about the Teladoc-Livongo merger, and how digital health startups have an unprecedented opportunity to help expand the healthcare system beyond its traditional footprint.
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