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.
#THCBGang is back from its Turkey day snooze! Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) at 1pm PT 4pm ET Thursday for an hour of topical and sometime combative conversation on what’s happening in health care and beyond will be patient activist, author & entrepreneur Robin Farmanfarmaian (@Robinff3); Queen of all employer benefits related issues Jennifer Benz (@Jenbenz); medical historian Mike Magee (@drmikemagee); and patient safety expert and all around wit Michael Millenson (@MLMillenson)
You can see the video below live at 1pm/4pm or it’s kept here for posterity. If you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels
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.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I talk about the FDA informing Owlet, whose CEO Jess interviewed about their products and business model, that they can no longer sell their socks. EasyHealth, a medicare advantage broker, gets 35 million plus 100 million credit. Luma Health gets 130 million, bringing their total up to 170 million. Calal Health gets 77 million dollars, led by Ascension Ventures. Evercore buys Dr. Chrono. -Matthew Holt
It has been said that if your company has a Chief Innovation Officer or an Innovation Department, it’s probably not a very innovative company. To be successful, innovation has to be part of a company’s culture, embraced widely, and practiced constantly.
Similarly, if your company has a Chief Digital Officer, chances are “digital” is still seen as a novelty, an adjunct to the “real” work of the company. E.g., “digital health” isn’t going to have much effect on the healthcare system, or on the health of those using it, until it’s a seamless part of that system and their lives.
What got me thinking about this, oddly enough, was a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) as to the advisability of a Federal Academy – “similar to the military academies” – to develop digital expertise for government agencies. As the GAO noted: “A talented and diverse cadre of digital-ready, tech-savvy federal employees is critical to a modern, efficient government.”
Boy, howdy; you could say that about employees in a “modern, efficient” healthcare system too.
Each week I’ve been adding a brief tidbits section to the THCB Reader, our weekly newsletter that summarizes the best of THCB that week (Sign up here!). Then I had the brainwave to add them to the blog. They’re short and usually not too sweet! –Matthew Holt
Big pharma whines about innovation and how they need high prices to justify R&D spending but health care insiders know two things. First, for ever Big Pharma has spent about twice as much on sales and marketing as it’s spent on R&D. This was true when I first started in health care thirty years ago and it’s still true today. Second, the “R” done by big pharma is resulting in fewer breakthrough drugs per $$ spent now compared to past decades. Which means that they should be increasing that share spent on R&D and need to improve the “R” process. But that’s not happening.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, Jess and I talk about fundraising efforts this past week, as well as leadership issues within Talkspace. Papa raises 150 million dollars, bringing their total to 240 million. Sword raises 189 million dollars, with a secondary of 26 million dollars, bringing their total to 320 million dollars. Trevueta raises 105 million, and Trusted Health raises 149 million dollars. Ieso raises 57 million dollars. Talkspace had no growth in their third quarter, and their founding team left the company while their COO resigns after a review of conduct at a company offsite event. -Matthew Holt
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Today on THCB Spotlights, Matthew Holt talks with Maya Said, the CEO of Outcomes4Me, which works in the cancer patient empowerment space. Outcomes4Me is a patient empowerment platform that helps patients diagnosed or in active treatment for breast cancer understand their situation and treatment options, as well as connect better with providers to enable meaningful shared decision making. Maya tells us about the goals of Outcomes4Me, the current needs for enabling value-based care, and what the future directions are for Outcomes4Me, which recently closed a $12 million Series A round led by Northpond.
Pew found that the percentage of non-parents under 50 who expect to have children jumped from 37% in 2018 to 44% in 2021. Current parents who don’t expect to have more children edged up slightly (71% to 74%). The main reason given by childless adults for not wanting children was simply not wanting children, cited by 56% of those not wanting children. Among those who gave a reason, medical and financial reasons were cited most often. Current parents were even more likely – 63% – to simply say they just didn’t want more.
In many ways, having children seems like ignoring everything that’s going on. We have a climate change/global warming crisis that threatens to wreak havoc on human societies, we’re still in the middle of a global pandemic, and our political/cultural climate seems even more volatile than the actual climate. One Gen Xer told The New York Times: “As I think of it, having a child is like rolling dice with the child’s life in an increasingly uncertain world.”
Today on THCB Spotlight, Matthew sits down with Wellthy’s CEO Lindsay Jurist-Rosner to talk about the healthcare system’s need to support caregivers. Wellthy works in the caregiving space, and Lindsay tells us about the company’s mission to provide a software and platform experience that offers organization and structure to support those who are caring for a loved one. Lindsay also talks to us about her personal inspiration for starting Wellthy and how their business model operates. Wellthy has raised $50 million in total and has closed up $35 million this summer.
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