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Virtual Care Regulatory Round-Up: Dobbs & the ‘Weaponization’ of Digital Health Data

BY JESSICA DaMASSA

How will the reversal of Roe v. Wade impact virtual care and digital health companies from a health data privacy standpoint, particularly as States crack down on the use of telehealth as a mechanism for obtaining abortions and begin to look at digital health data as potential evidence in criminal cases where abortions are illegal?

Health data privacy expert and rightfully-so-self-proclaimed HIPAA Scholar, Deven McGraw, who spent three years as Deputy Director of the Health Information Privacy Office at HHS and currently leads Data Sharing and Stewardship at Invitae, gives us her hot take on what’s happened from a health data privacy standpoint and how it will impact health tech businesses and healthcare consumers in the short and long terms.

Deven’s take: “We’ve really jumped the shark in terms of what the consequences are of health data falling into the hands of people who intend to use it in order to pursue a criminal case either against a woman (or a man) seeking a service, or the provider that performed the service…” So, what does that mean for those who are dealing with digital health data? What are the limitations as far as what HIPAA can protect for patients and what it can’t? What loopholes have Deven worried about the privacy law’s ability to stand-up to the challenges now posed by the Dobbs decision? And, what does all this mean for the telehealth-based businesses that are providing services to these patients?

We have a sweeping conversation about the shifting health data privacy landscape in the wake of Roe’s reversal in this latest episode of our special monthly Virtual Care Regulatory Round-up Series, sponsored by the health tech company powering the virtual care industry, Wheel.

Manav Sevak, CEO, Memora Health: Interview & Demo

Manav Sevak is the (young and very smart) CEO of Memora Health. I must admit to thinking that their service was just a patient chatbot, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s digitizing care workflows that touch both patients and of course the clinical care teams that support them–especially outside the walls of the hospital. They also collect a lot of patient data, and then guide their patients through their complex journey. Manav dives deep into the product and shows us a tad of the secret sauce behind the relatively simple front end of the product. Memora raised $40m earlier this year ($50m total) with Transformation, A16z, Frist Cressey & more in the cap table. If you want to understand how technology is changing clinical workflows in health care, this is a fascinating session–Matthew Holt

Caring Does Not Pay

BY KIM BELLARD

Things are tough all over the job market.  With a jobless rate at 3.5%, and with millions of people who left the job market in 2020 opting to not return to work, employers are having a hard time finding workers.  Your favorite restaurant or retail store probably has a “Help Wanted” sign out.  Checking your bag for a flight has never been more problematic, in large part  due to staffing issues.  Even tech companies are having trouble hiring.

But I want to focus on a crisis in hiring for three industries that take care of some of our most vulnerable populations – teaching, child care, and nursing.  It seems that what we say we want for our kids and the sick isn’t at all what we actually do to ensure that.  

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Lou Lasagna and the MIC “Integrated Career Ladder” – More Than Just A “Revolving Door.”

BY MIKE MAGEE

The New York Times recently shined a light on the FDA’s top science regulator of the tobacco industry, Matt Holman, who announced his retirement after 20 years to join Phillip Morris. As they noted, “To critics, Dr. Holman’s move is a particularly concerning example of the ‘revolving door’ between federal officials and the industries they regulate…”

As a Medical Historian, I’ve never been a fan of the casual “revolving door” metaphor because it doesn’t quite capture the highly structured and deliberate attempts of a variety of academic medical scientists over a number of decades in the 2nd half of the 20th century to establish and reward an “integrated career ladder” that connected academic medicine, industry and the government. 

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#HealthTechDeals Episode 40 | Everside Health, Particle Health, Annexus Health, and Homeward

Am I having a staring contest with the future of digital health? Who’s gonna blink first? How has demand gotten so low? What is going on? Tune in to this episode of Health Tech Deals to hear Jess and I hash things out, and to hear more new deals: Everside Health raises $164 million; Particle Health raises $25 million; Annexus Health raises $33 million; and Homeward raises $50 million.

-Matthew Holt

THCB Gang Episode 100, Thursday August 4

Joining Matthew Holt (@boltyboy) for the 100th #THCBGang on Thursday August 4 were Suntra Modern Recovery CEO JL Neptune (@JeanLucNeptune); Consumer advocate & CEO of AdaRose, Lygeia Ricciardi (@Lygeia);  and the Light Collective’s Andrea Downing (@bravebosom). Sadly fierce patient activist Casey Quinlan (@MightyCasey) had a Mets party flare up and couldn’t join at the last minute. There was a lot of chat about data and privacy, and even some ideas about what a future where patients data flowed but patients rights were respected might look like!

You can see the video below & if you’d rather listen than watch, the audio is preserved as a weekly podcast available on our iTunes & Spotify channels.

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!

You Need Some Smarter Clothing

BY KIM BELLARD

Much as I’d love to write about Instagram’s feud with the Kardashians over changes to the Instagram feed, and how that and proposed changes to Facebook’s feed reflect Meta’s efforts to combat TikTok’s growing influence, I’ve already given healthcare plenty of warnings about TikTok.  Instead, I’ll write about something else that the Kardashians care about: fashion.

Well, not fashion per se, but clothing. If the old, sexist statement was “clothes make the man,” then soon we may be saying “clothes make your health.” 

The Washington Post got my attention when it reported last week about robotic clothing, because, as anyone who has been reading me for long knows, I am fascinated by robots and their role in healthcare.  One of the advances the article discussed works on “smart fluid textiles” done by Dr. Thanh Nho Do and colleagues at the University of New South Wales Medical Robotics lab.

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The Impact of COVID-19 on Shared Priorities for International Cooperation in Active and Healthy Aging

By ELIZABETH BROWN, CATALYST @ HEALTH 2.0


IN THIS MINI-SERIES, WE WILL BE TAKING A LOOK BACK AT THE IDIH WEEK 2022 USA REGIONAL WORKSHOP, TITLED THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE SHARED PRIORITIES FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION IN ACTIVE AND HEALTHY AGING, WITH A DIFFERENT BLOG POST DEVOTED TO EACH OF THE THREE COMMON PRIORITIES THAT WERE REFINED THROUGHOUT THE IDIH PROJECT: INTEROPERABILITY BY DESIGN, DATA GOVERNANCE, AND DIGITAL INCLUSION.

INTRODUCTION: THE REGIONAL WORKSHOP PANELISTS AND BACKGROUND OF THE PANEL

For the past three years, Catalyst has been involved in the IDIH Project, which has recently concluded (you can read more about the overall project findings here). IDIH (International Digital Health Cooperation for Preventive, Integrated, Independent and Inclusive Living) – funded under the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program – was aimed at fostering cooperation in the field of Digital Health for Active and Healthy Aging (AHA) between the European Union and five Strategic Partner Countries (Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, and USA), especially focusing on four key areas that embrace common priorities of all countries/regions involved: Preventive Care, Integrated Care, Inclusive Living, and Independent and Connected Living. 

Following an expert-driven approach, experienced and renowned experts, executives, and advocacy groups from the six regions (Europe, China, Canada, Japan, South Korea and USA) were brought together by IDIH in a Digital Health Transformation Forum working to define more specific priorities in Digital Health and Ageing, and identifying opportunities for mutual benefit and priorities for international cooperation.  

During IDIH Week 2022, Catalyst ran a Regional Workshop aiming to explore the impacts of COVID-19 on AHA.

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US Cardiac electrophysiologists meet reimbursement reality and don’t like it.

By ANISH KOKA

It’s been a while but Anish Koka, a one time regular writer on THCB and occasional THCB Gang member, is back publishing up a storm on his Substack channel. You may recall that his political and clinical views don’t always mesh with some of the wooly liberals we feature on THCB (cough, cough, me), but we are delighted to be back publishing some of his pieces–this one is on reimbursement.–Matthew Holt

The subspecialty of Cardiology known as electrophysiology has seen explosive growth over the last few decades in large part because of a massive expansion in the suite of procedures now offered to patients. It used to be that electrophysiologists would spend the majority of their careers implanting pacemakers and defibrillators, but the last 2 decades saw an explosion in electrophysiology procedures known as ablations. Ablations essentially involve burning cardiac tissue in a strategic manner to get rid of arrhythmias that may be afflicting a particular patient. The path humans took from first taking an electrical picture of the heart with a surface ECG to putting catheters into the heart to map and treat dangerous arrhythmias is one of the great achievements of the modern era.

Giants of the field like the recently deceased Mark Josephson essentially created a field by going where no humans had gone before. Dr. Josephson did much of his work in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania publishing seminal papers that lead to a greater understanding and eventual treatment of previously incurable malignant arrhythmias. As is true of all trailblazing work in medicine , there were no reimbursement codes in the beginning , just desperate patients with no place to turn.

The procedures being embarked on were rare and the patients were very complex. The renumeration that was awarded from Medicare was reflective of this. But two things almost always happen once a highly reimbursed procedure code comes on line – technological advances makes the procedure easier, and the population that the procedure is intended for massively balloons.

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