“Black fungus” surges in India—thousands blinded, maimed, dead

A suspected mucormycosis black fungus patient receives examination at a hospital in Bhopal, India, on May 29, 2021.

Enlarge / A suspected mucormycosis black fungus patient receives examination at a hospital in Bhopal, India, on May 29, 2021. (credit: Getty| Xinhua News Agency)

So-called “black fungus” infections are surging in India in the wake of a devastating wave of COVID-19. The rare but devastating infection can destroy the eyes and spread to the brain.

Cases now top 31,000, rising from an estimate of dozens to a few hundred cases just last month. Media reports have tallied over 2,100 deaths, but federal health authorities have not released an official death count.

Past medical reviews have estimated that the fungal infection—mucormycosis—has an overall fatality rate of around 50 percent. However, mortality rates vary by patients’ underlying condition and what part of the body the mucormycetes fungi invade. Infection can take hold in the gastrointestinal tract, skin breaks, lungs, and the blood.

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#black-fungus, #covid-19, #diabetes, #india, #infectious-disease, #mucormycosis, #science

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Why India Is Dealing With a Deadly ‘Black Fungus’ Epidemic

The deadly disease has sickened former coronavirus patients across the country. Doctors believe that hospitals desperate to keep Covid patients alive made choices that left them vulnerable.

#ahmedabad-india, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #diabetes, #disease-rates, #fungi, #gujarat-state-india, #hospitals, #india, #mucormycosis, #steroids

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The Health Benefits of Coffee

Drinking coffee has been linked to a reduced risk of all kinds of ailments, including Parkinson’s disease, melanoma, prostate cancer, even suicide.

#antioxidants, #anxiety-and-stress, #caffeine, #coffee, #content-type-service, #deaths-fatalities, #depression-mental, #diabetes, #heart, #parkinsons-disease, #pollan-michael, #pregnancy-and-childbirth, #sleep, #willett-walter-c

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The Best Time of Day to Exercise for Metabolic Health

Late-day exercise had unique benefits for cholesterol levels and blood sugar control, a study of overweight men eating a high-fat diet found.

#cholesterol, #diabetes, #diabetologia-journal, #diet-and-nutrition, #exercise, #heart, #weight

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Rare, flesh-eating “black fungus” rides COVID’s coattails in India

A person wrapped in white protective gear steps out of the back of a van.

Enlarge / A health worker exits an ambulance outside a quarantine center in the Goregaon suburb of Mumbai, India, on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

As the pandemic coronavirus continues to ravage India, doctors are reporting a disturbing uptick in cases of a rare, potentially fatal fungal infection among people recovered or recovering from COVID-19.

The infection is called mucormycosis, or sometimes “black fungus” in media reports, and it appears to be attacking COVID-19 patients through the nose and sinuses, where it can aggressively spread to facial bones, the eyes, and even the brain (rhinocerebral mucormycosis). In other cases, the fungus can also attack the lungs, breaks in the skin, and the gastrointestinal system or spread throughout the body in the blood stream.

A classic feature of mucormycosis is tissue necrosis—the death of flesh, essentially—which, in the rhinocerebral form of the disease, can lead to black, discolored lesions on and in the face, particularly on the bridge of the nose and the roof of the mouth. Mucormycosis is fatal in around 50 percent of cases.

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#black-fungus, #covid-19, #diabetes, #immunocompromised, #india, #infectious-disease, #mucormycosis, #public-health, #science

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Earlier Diabetes Onset Could Raise Dementia Risk

The younger the age at diagnosis for Type 2 diabetes, the higher the risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia years later.

#alzheimers-disease, #children-and-childhood, #dementia, #diabetes, #journal-of-the-american-medical-assn, #obesity, #weight

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Biden proposes ARPA-H, a health research agency to ‘end cancer’ modeled after DARPA

In a joint address to Congress last night, President Biden updated the nation on vaccination efforts and outlined his administration’s ambitious goals.

Biden’s first 100 days have been characterized by sweeping legislative packages that could lift millions of Americans out of poverty and slow the clock on the climate crisis, but during his first joint address to Congress, the president highlighted another smaller plan that’s no less ambitious: to “end cancer as we know it.”

“I can think of no more worthy investment,” Biden said Wednesday night. “I know of nothing that is more bipartisan…. It’s within our power to do it.”

The comments weren’t out of the blue. Earlier this month, the White House released a budget request for $6.5 billion to launch a new government agency for breakthrough health research. The proposed health agency would be called ARPA-H and would live within the NIH. The initial focus would be on cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s but the agency would also pursue other “transformational innovation” that could remake health research.

The $6.5 billion investment is a piece of the full $51 billion NIH budget. But some critics believe that ARPA-H should sit under the Department of Health and Human Services rather than being nested under NIH. 

ARPA-H would be modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which develops moonshot-like tech for defense applications. DARPA’s goals often sound more like science fiction than science, but the agency contributed to or created a number of now ubiquitous technologies, including a predecessor to GPS and most famously ARPANET, the computer network that grew into the modern internet.

Unlike more conservative, incremental research teams, DARPA aggressively pursues major scientific advances in a way that shares more in common with Silicon Valley than it does with other governmental agencies. Biden believes that using the DARPA model on cutting edge health research would keep the U.S. from lagging behind in biotech.

“China and other countries are closing in fast,” Biden said during the address. “We have to develop and dominate the products and technologies of the future: advanced batteries, biotechnology, computer chips, and clean energy.”

#arpanet, #biden, #biotechnology, #cancer, #congress, #darpa, #diabetes, #government, #health, #joe-biden, #life-sciences, #national-institute-of-health, #national-institutes-of-health, #president, #tc, #united-states, #white-house

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Diet and Exercise During Pregnancy Impacts Child’s Health, Study Says

Physical activity during pregnancy might have long-lasting benefits for a child’s health, new research suggests.

#diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #genetics-and-heredity, #habits-and-routines-behavior, #journal-of-applied-physiology, #mice, #obesity, #parenting, #pregnancy-and-childbirth

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Ghana’s Redbird raises $1.5M seed to expand access to rapid medical testing in sub-Saharan Africa

For patients and healthcare professionals to properly track and manage illnesses especially chronic ones, healthcare needs to be decentralized. It also needs to be more convenient, with a patient’s health information able to follow them wherever they go.

Redbird, a Ghanaian healthtech startup that allows easy access to convenient testing and ensures that doctors and patients can view the details of those test results at any time, announced today that it has raised a $1.5 million seed investment.  

Investors who participated in the round include Johnson & Johnson Foundation, Newton Partners (via the Imperial Venture Fund), and Founders Factory Africa. This brings the company’s total amount raised to date to $2.5 million.

The healthtech company was launched in 2018 by Patrick Beattie, Andrew Quao and Edward Grandstaff. As a founding scientist at a medical diagnostics startup in Boston, Beattie’s job was to develop new rapid diagnostic tests. During his time at Accra in 2016, he met Quao, a trained pharmacist in Ghana at a hackathon whereupon talking found out that their interests in medical testing overlapped.

Beattie says to TechCrunch that while he saw many exciting new tests in development in the US, he didn’t see the same in Ghana. Quao, who is familiar with how Ghanaians use pharmacies as their primary healthcare point, felt perturbed that these pharmacies weren’t doing more than transactional purchases.

They both settled that pharmacies in Ghana needed to imbibe the world of medical testing. Although both didn’t have a tech background, they realized technology was necessary to execute this. So, they enlisted the help of Grandstaff to be CTO of Redbird while Beattie and Quao became CEO and COO, respectively.

L-R: Patrick Beattie (CEO), Andrew Quao (COO), and Edward Grandstaff (CTO)

Redbird enables pharmacies in Ghana to add rapid diagnostic testing for 10 different health conditions to their pharmacy services. These tests include anaemia, blood sugar, blood pressure, BMI, cholesterol, Hepatitis B, malaria, typhoid, prostate cancer screening, and pregnancy.  

Also, Redbird provides pharmacies with the necessary equipment, supplies and software to make this possible. The software —  Redbird Health Monitoring — is networked across all partner pharmacies and enables patients to build medical testing records after going through 5-minute medical tests offered through these pharmacies.

Rather than employing a SaaS model that Beattie says is not well appreciated by its customers, Redbird’s revenue model is based on the supply of disposable test strips.

“Pharmacies who partner with Redbird gain access to the software and all the ways Redbird supports our partners for free as long as they purchase the consumables through us. This aligns our revenue with their success, which is aligned with patient usage,” said the CEO.

This model is being used with over over 360 pharmacies in Ghana, mainly in Accra and Kumasi. It was half this number in 2019, and Redbird was able to double this number despite the pandemic. These pharmacies have recorded over 125,000 tests in the past three years from more than 35,000 patients registered on the platform.

Redbird will use the seed investment to grow its operations within Ghana and expand to new markets that remain undisclosed.

In 2018, Redbird participated in the Alchemist Accelerator just a few months before launch. It was the second African startup after fellow Ghanaian startup mPharma to take part in the six-month-long program. The company also got into Founders Factory Africa last year April.

According to Beattie, most of the disease burden Africans might experience in the future will be chronic diseases. For instance, diabetes is projected to grow by 156% over the next 25 years. This is why he sees decentralized, digitized healthcare as the next leapfrog opportunity for sub-Saharan Africa.

“Chronic disease is exploding and with it, patients require much more frequent interaction with the healthcare system. The burden of chronic disease will make a health system that is highly centralized impossible,” he said.Like previous leapfrog events, this momentum is happening all over the world, not just in Africa. Still, the state of the current infrastructure means that healthcare systems here will be forced to innovate and adapt before health systems elsewhere are forced to, and therein lies the opportunity,” he said.

But while the promise of technology and data is exciting, it’s important to realize that healthtech only provides value if it matches patient behaviors and preferences. It doesn’t really matter what amazing improvements you can realize with data if you can’t build the data asset and offer a service that patients actually value.

Beattie knows this all too well and says Redbird respects these preferences. For him, the next course of action will be to play a larger role in the world’s developing ecosystem where healthcare systems build decentralised networks and move closer to the average patient.

This decentralised approach is what attracted U.S. and South African early-stage VC firm Newtown Partners to cut a check. Speaking on behalf of the firm, Llew Claasen, the managing partner, had this to say.

“We’re excited about Redbird’s decentralised business model that enables rapid diagnostic testing at the point of primary care in local community pharmacies. Redbird’s digital health record platform has the potential to drive significant value to the broader healthcare value chain and is a vital step toward improving healthcare outcomes in Africa. We look forward to supporting the team as they prove out their  business model and scale across the African continent.”

#africa, #biotech, #chronic-disease, #cto, #diabetes, #enterprise, #founders-factory, #funding, #ghana, #health-systems, #healthcare, #redbird, #startups, #tc

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Ro raises $500M to grow its remote and in-home primary care platform

Healthcare tech startup Ro has raised $500 million to help fuel continued growth of its hybrid telehealth/in-home primary care platform, which also includes a growing pharmacy business as the company pursues a strategy of vertical integration to optimize delivery and reduce costs for clients. The company’s latest raise is a Series D round, and means it has now raised over $876 million since its 2017 founding.

That may seem like a lot of money, but as Ro fo-founder and CEO Zachariah Reitano told me in an interview, it’s actually “peanuts” when it comes to the healthcare industry – which is part of why they founded the company in the first place.

“Sometimes people talk about how great it is to be in the healthcare arena, in tech circles,” Reitano said. “They say, ‘Oh, healthcare is a $4 trillion market – it’s so massive.’  But that’s the worst thing in the entire world; it’s awful how large it is. And I think what we have the opportunity to cut it in half with technology.”

That’s what Reitano says will be the primary focus of this round of funding: Fueling its efforts around vertical integration of healthcare services and technology, to further the eventual end goal of reducing costs to patients through the efficiencies realized in that process.

“To me, what I’m really excited about is being able to continue to invest in that infrastructure and add even more,” Reitano told me. “We’ll continue to invest in telemedicine, we’ll continue to invest in our logistics and pharmacy, and continue to invest in in-home care, as well as the connection between the three, and then we’ll also invest in additional diagnostics, remote patient monitoring – so collecting and distributing devices to patients to go from reactive to proactive care.”

Ro’s model focuses on primary care delivered direct to consumer, without involving any payer or employer-funded and guided care programs. The idea is to reduce costs through vertical integration and other efficiency engineering efforts in order to get them to the point where they’re effectively on par with your out-of-pocket expense with co-pays anyway. Reitano explained that the insurance system as it exists in the U.S. now only effectively masks individual costs, making it less clear that much of what a person pays out in healthcare costs comes out of their pocket anyway, whether it’s through taxation, or employers allocating more of the funds they have available for compensation to healthcare, vs. take-home pay.

Image Credits: Ro

That’s what’s behind Ro’s recent push into operating its own pharmacies, and growing that footprint to include more all the time. Reitano told me that the company will have 10 pharmacies by the end o this year, and 15 by the end of next, all placed strategically around the country to ensure that it can provide next-day shipping to patients at ground shipping rates pretty much anywhere in the U.S.

Doing that kind of vertical optimization has enabled Ro to offer 500 common drugs at $5 per month, including treatments for heart disease, anxiety, depression and diabetes — with a plan to ramp it to 1,000 drugs available at that price by year’s end. That’s roughly equal to the co-pay required for many insurers for the same treatments.

Meanwhile, Reitano says Ro has seen big changes in the healthcare system generally that favor its model and accelerate its hybrid care plans owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I would say that there are two most profound impacts of the pandemic on the healthcare system,” he said. “One is that it simultaneously shed light on all of the inequities for the entire country to see, right at the same time where we all cared about it. So those things were sort of known for the people impacted day to day — the geographic inequity, the financial inequity, the racial inequity. If someone felt that that inequity, then they would talk about it, but it wasn’t something everyone cared about at the same time. So this massive spotlight was shed on the healthcare system. And the second was that everyone’s healthcare journey now starts online, even if it is going to end in person, it will still start online.”

Ro’s model all along has espoused this time of healthcare delivery, with remote care and telehealth appointments handling most day-to-day needs, and follow-up in person care delivered to the home when required. That obviously generate a lot of efficiencies, while ensuring that older patients and those with mobility issues also don’t need to leave the house and make a regular trip into their physician’s office for what amounts to a 15-minute visit that could’ve been handled over video.

Ro co-founders Rob Schutz, Zachariah Reitano and Saman Rahmanian (left to right)

Ro co-founders Rob Schutz, Zachariah Reitano and Saman Rahmanian (left to right)

According to most industry observers, Reitano is likely right that healthcare probably won’t go back to the old, inefficient model of favoring primarily in-person care after the pandemic ends. One of the positive outcomes of the COVID-19 situation has been proving that telehealth is more than capable of handling a lot of the primary care needs of a lot of people, particularly when supplemented with remote monitoring and ongoing proactive health measures, too.

While Ro doesn’t work with insurance currently, Reitano points out that he’s not against the concept entirely – he just says that health insurance as it exists now doesn’t actual work as intended, since it’s meant to pool risk against an, expensive, uncertain and rare outcome. Eventually, he believes there’s a place for insurance in the overall healthcare mix, but first the industry needs to face a reckoning wherein its incentive structure is realigned to its actual core customer – patients themselves.

#articles, #ceo, #depression, #diabetes, #funding, #health, #health-insurance, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #pharmacy, #physician, #ro, #tc, #technology, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #united-states

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How America’s Vaccine System Makes People With Health Problems Fight for a Place in Line

At least 37 states allow people with certain health conditions to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, according to a New York Times survey. But a new skirmish has emerged over who will go first.

#acquired-immune-deficiency-syndrome, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #cystic-fibrosis, #diabetes, #obesity, #united-states, #vaccination-and-immunization

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How Rani Therapeutics’ robotic pill could change subcutaneous injection treament

A new auto-injecting pill might soon become a replacement for subcutaneous injection treatments.

The idea for this so-called robotic pill came out of a research project around eight years ago from InCube Labs—a life sciences lab operated by Rani Therapeutics Chairman and CEO Mir Imran, who has degrees in electrical and biomedical engineering from Rutgers University. A prominent figure in life sciences innovation, Imran has founded over 20 medical device companies and helped develop the world’s first implantable cardiac defibrillator.

In working on the technology behind San Jose-based Rani Therapeutics, Imran and his team wanted to find a way to relieve some of the painful side effects of subcutaneous (or under-the-skin) injections, while also improving the treatment’s efficacy. “The technology itself started with a very simple thesis,” said Imran in an interview. “We thought, why can’t we create a pill that contains a biologic drug that you swallow, and once it gets to the intestine, it transforms itself and delivers a pain-free injection?”

Rani Therapeutics’ approach is based on inherent properties of the gastrointestinal tract. An injecting mechanism in their pill is surrounded by a pH-sensitive coating that dissolves as the capsule moves from a patient’s stomach to the small intestine. This helps ensure that the pill starts injecting the medicine in the right place at the right time. Once there, the reactants mix and produce carbon dioxide, which in turn inflates a small balloon that helps create a pressure difference to help inject the drug-loaded needles into the intestinal wall. “So it’s a really well-timed cascade of events that results in the delivery of this needle,” said Imran.

Despite its somewhat mechanical procedure, the pill itself contains no metal or springs, reducing the chance of an inflammatory response in the body. The needles and other components are instead made of injectable-grade polymers, that Imran said has been used in other medical devices as well. Delivering the injections to the upper part of the small intestine also carries little risk of infection, as the prevalence of stomach acid and bile from the liver prevent bacteria from readily growing there.

One of Imran’s priorities for the pill was to eliminate the painful side effects of subcutaneous injections. “It wouldn’t make sense to replace them with another painful injection,” he said. “But biology was on our side, because your intestines don’t have the kind of pain sensors your skin does.” What’s more, administering the injection into the highly vascularized wall of the small intestine actually allows the treatment to work more efficiently than when applied through subcutaneous injection, which typically deposits the treatment into fatty tissue.

Imran and his team have plans to use the pill for a variety of indications, including the growth hormone disorder acromegaly, diabetes, and osteoporosis. In January 2020, their acromegaly treatment, Octreotide, demonstrated both safety and sustained bioavailability in primary clinical trials. They hope to pursue future clinical trials for other indications, but chose to prioritize acromegaly initially because of its well-established treatment drug but “very painful injection,” Imran said.

At the end of last year, Rani Therapeutics raised $69 million in new funding to help further develop and test their platform. “This will finance us for the next several years,” said Imran. “Our approach to the business is to make the technology very robust and manufacturable.”

#biotech, #diabetes, #health, #infection, #medical-devices, #pain, #recent-funding, #robotics, #rutgers-university, #san-jose, #science, #startups, #therapeutics

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How Meaningful Is Prediabetes for Older Adults?

A new study indicates that the condition might be less of a worry than once believed.

#american-diabetes-assn, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #elderly, #jama-internal-medicine-journal, #prediabetes, #research, #selvin-elizabeth, #tests-medical, #your-feed-health, #your-feed-science

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Semaglutide Brings Significant Weight Loss in Obese Patients

In a clinical trial, participants taking semaglutide lost 15 percent of their body weight, on average.

#clinical-trials, #diabetes, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #new-england-journal-of-medicine, #northwestern-university, #novo-nordisk-a-s, #obesity, #weight

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Can Technology Help Us Eat Better?

A new crop of digital health companies is using blood glucose monitors to transform the way we eat.

#anxiety-and-stress, #diabetes, #exercise, #food, #heart, #salad-dressings, #sugar, #wearable-computing

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The Best Time of Day to Exercise

Men at risk for diabetes had greater blood sugar control and lost more belly fat when they exercised in the afternoon than in the morning.

#biorhythms, #diabetes, #exercise, #obesity, #physiological-reports, #sleep, #weight

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Foods That May Lead to a Healthier Gut and Better Health

A diet full of highly processed foods with added sugars and salt promoted gut microbes linked to obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

#cholesterol, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #digestive-tract, #health-foods, #heart, #microbiology, #nature-medicine-journal, #obesity, #research, #vegetables, #weight

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Why Your New Year’s Diet Is Doomed

It’s a struggle between you and the Big Food marketers who sell you junk. You’re set up to lose.

#advertising-and-marketing, #chronic-condition-health, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #new-year, #supermarkets-and-grocery-stores, #weight

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U.S. Diet Guidelines Sidestep Scientific Advice to Cut Sugar and Alcohol

The government’s new nutritional recommendations arrive amid a pandemic that has taken a huge toll on American health.

#agriculture-department, #alcoholic-beverages, #breastfeeding, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #health-and-human-services-department, #men-and-boys, #obesity, #oils-and-fats, #omega-3-fatty-acids, #pregnancy-and-childbirth, #science-and-technology, #united-states, #weight, #women-and-girls, #your-feed-science

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A.I. and I

Artificial intelligence has given my pancreas a mind of its own. Am I the human being of the future?

#artificial-intelligence, #computers-and-the-internet, #diabetes, #medical-devices

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Virta Health’s behavioral diabetes treatment service is now worth over $1 billion

A new $65 million investment led by the growth capital and public investment arm of Sequoia Capital will give Virta Health, a developer of a behavioral-focused diabetes treatment, a valuation of over $1 billion.

Virta’s approach, which uses a combination of approaches to change diet and exercise to reverse the presence of type 2 diabetes and other chronic metabolic conditions, has shown clinical success and attracted 100 health care payers to endorse the company’s treatments.

“We partnered with Virta for their ability to deliver unmatched health improvement and cost savings—two clear differentiators from other offerings on the market,” said William Ashmore, CEO of the State Employees’ Insurance Board of Alabama, in a statement. “Especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s vital that we provide our members the life-changing results Virta is known for delivering, through expert, virtual care delivered right to their home.”

The company said it would use the funding to expand sales and marketing efforts for its services as well as expand its research and development into other non-pharmaceutical therapies for metabolic conditions.

The financing came from Sequoia Capital Global Equities and Caffeinated Capital and brings the company’s total funding to over $230 million and gives it a $1.1 billion valuation, according to a statement.

Alongside Sequoia Capital Global Equities, Caffeinated Capital participated in the round, which brings total funding to more than $230 million and values Virta Health at over $1.1 billion.

Diabetes has long been an attractive condition for startups and has been the first target that companies focused on behavior changes to influence metabolic conditions aim to address. The reason why there are so many diabetes-focused businesses is because of the prevalence of the disease in the U.S. Almost half of adults in the U.S. suffer from obesity, pre-diabetes, or type 2 diabetes and the disease kills thirty people every hour. Diabetes also doubles the risk of death from COVID-19 infections.

Beyond the risks, the costs of treatment are skyrocketing. According to data from the American Diabetes Association released in March 2018, the total costs of treating diagnosed diabetes have risen to $327 billion in 2017 from $245 billion in 2012, when the cost was last examined.

“Given the scope of the metabolic crisis in the U.S. and globally, it cannot be understated how game-changing Virta’s results and care delivery are,” said Patrick Fu, managing partner at Sequoia Capital Global Equities, in a statement. “Virta’s technology-driven, non-pharmaceutical approach has fundamentally changed how diabetes is cared for, and our collective belief in what is possible for population health improvement. This is the future of chronic disease care.”

#alabama, #caffeinated-capital, #ceo, #chronic-disease, #diabetes, #disease, #health, #managing-partner, #medicine, #obesity, #sequoia-capital, #sequoia-capital-global-equities, #tc, #united-states

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How Exercise Changes Our Blood

When we exercise, even for a few minutes, hundreds of molecules related to our metabolic health rise and fall in our bloodstreams.

#cholesterol, #diabetes, #exercise, #heart, #obesity

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The Pandemic’s Real Toll? 300,000 Deaths, and It’s Not Just From the Coronavirus

A C.D.C. analysis finds that overall death rates have risen, particularly among young adults and people of color.

#alzheimers-disease, #black-people, #centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #diabetes, #heart, #jama-journal-of-american-medical-assn, #millennial-generation, #minorities, #native-americans, #statistics, #united-states, #your-feed-science

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Extra Pounds May Raise Risk of Severe Covid-19

Even people who aren’t obese may be more likely to become seriously ill when infected with the coronavirus, the C.D.C. said.

#centers-for-disease-control-and-prevention, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #disease-rates, #fat-tissue, #great-britain, #international-journal-of-obesity, #obesity, #united-states, #weight, #your-feed-science

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The Underused Weight Loss Option: Bariatric Surgery

Experts say it can result in long-term weight loss and significantly improve physical and emotional health and even longevity.

#bariatric-surgery, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #eating-disorders, #medicine-and-health, #obesity, #surgery-and-surgeons, #weight

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These Everyday Toxins May Be Hurting Pregnant Women and Their Babies

PFAS, industrial chemicals used to waterproof jackets and grease-proof fast-food containers, may disrupt pregnancy with lasting effects.

#babies-and-infants, #breastfeeding, #chemicals, #containers-and-packaging, #diabetes, #dupont-co, #environmental-protection-agency, #european-food-safety-authority, #hazardous-and-toxic-substances, #hoosick-falls-ny, #obesity, #parenting, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #science-and-technology, #teflon, #thyroid-gland, #water-pollution

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Closing on $75 million in new cash, Truepill plans at-home testing service as it nears $175 million in annual revenue

Truepill, the white-label healthcare services company that provides telehealth and pharmacy fulfillment services, is adding at-home medical testing as the third branch of its services powering the offerings of companies like Hims and Hers, Ro, and other direct-to-consumer healthcare companies. 

Financing this expansion of services is a new $75 million round of financing from investors led by Oak HC/FT, with participation from Optum Ventures, TI Platform Management, Sound Ventures and Y Combinator.

“With the change in reimbursement for telemedicine, it changed the trajectory of the direct to consumer companies,” said Annie Lamot, the co-founder and managing director of new lead investors Oak HC/FT. “When we talked to every one of them they all seemed to be using Truepill .”

With its expansion into lab testing, Truepill can provide a full suite of services that used to be confined to the doctor’s office remotely. As more patients adjust to remote delivery of care, these kinds of options will become more attractive.

The move to telemedicine isn’t just something for new entrants either. Incumbents are also finding that they need to provide the same care as their direct to consumer competition, especially as the priority shifts to value-based care rather than fees for services on the reimbursement side — and consumers start demanding lower cost options on the direct pay side.

“I think it enables health plans to provide better care in targeted programs,” said Lamont, a longtime investor in healthcare.

Truepill’s executives certainly hope so.

The two co-founders, Umar Afridi and Sid Viswanathan met over LinkedIn where Viswanathan cold-emailed Afridi. At the time, Afridi was working as a pharmacist filling prescriptions at a Fred Meyer near Seattle).

Initially, Truepill’s growth came from acting as the pharmacist to companies like Hims, Ro, Nurx, and other direct-to-consumer healthcare companies focused on serving the elective health needs of people who wanted hair loss treatments, erectile dysfunction medication, and birth control.

Image Credits: Truepill

As the company has grown, so have its ambitions. By the end of the year, Truepill expects to book up to $175 million in revenue, according to Viswanathan, and that revenue will come from a more evenly distributed mix of customers among direct to consumer companies, insurance companies, and healthcare providers.

“Everything we do is white labeled from our pharmacy to the lab testing component. You can go to teladoc and use that service. What we like to think early. 80 percent of healthcare is going to happen on a digital channel.. We’re in a perfect position to build the platform company in that space,” Viswanathan said. 

At-home testing is a critical component of that platform. Expected to launch before the end of the year, Truepill is working with lab testing providers to offer hundreds of at-home tests. The company said it will focus on tests to manage chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease. Incidentally these are areas which have attracted a lot of interest from investors who are backing companies that provide direct to consumer or digital therapeutic solutions to treat or help address these conditions.

“To create a comprehensive, effective digital healthcare experience, there are three essential pillars: pharmacy with extensive insurance coverage, at-home lab testing and telehealth,” said Viswanathan, in a statement. “By adding diagnostics to our suite of solutions, we’ll be able to deliver direct-to-patient healthcare at scale through one platform – Truepill. We envision a future where 80% of healthcare is digital. With diagnostics, telehealth and pharmacy built on our foundation of API-connected infrastructure, Truepill will power that reality.” 

#articles, #birth-control, #diabetes, #erectile-dysfunction, #heal, #healthcare, #hims, #insurance, #lamont, #linkedin, #nurx, #optum-ventures, #pharmacy, #ro, #seattle, #sound-ventures, #tc, #teladoc-health, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #truepill, #y-combinator

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: What It Is, How to Manage It

Often misunderstood and misdiagnosed, PCOS can play havoc with your fertility. Here’s how to recognize the symptoms and take action to protect your reproductive health.

#diabetes, #estrogen, #hormones, #infertility, #insulin, #menstruation, #obesity, #polycystic-ovary-syndrome, #pregnancy-and-childbirth, #preventive-medicine, #tests-medical, #women-and-girls

0

‘You Should Break Up With Me’

Life can be fleeting. She wanted to make sure he knew the risks of connection.

#colon-and-colorectal-cancer, #dating-and-relationships, #diabetes, #love-emotion, #widows-and-widowers

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In a sign of digital health’s rise, Livongo and Teladoc Health agree to $18.5 billion merger

In a sign of the growing importance and value of digital healthcare in the world of medicine, two of the industry’s publicly traded companies have agreed to a whopping $18.5 billion merger.

The union of Teladoc Health, a provider of virtual care services, and Livongo, which has made a name for itself by integrating hardware and software to monitor and manage chronic conditions like diabetes, will create a giant in the emerging field of telemedicine and virtual care.

“By expanding the reach of Livongo’s pioneering Applied Health Signals platform and building on Teladoc Health’s end-to-end virtual care platform, we’ll empower more people to live better and healthier lives,” said Glen Tullman, Livongo Founder and Executive Chairman. “This transaction recognizes Livongo’s significant progress and will enable Livongo shareholders to benefit from long-term upside as the combined company is positioned to serve an even larger addressable market with a truly unmatched offering.”

Under the terms of the agreement, each share of Livongo will be exchanged for 0.5920 shares of Teladoc health plus a cash payment of $11.33 for each share. The deal, based on Teladoc’s closing price on August 4, 2020, is roughly $18.5 billion. It’s an eye-popping figure for a company that was, at one point, trading below $16 per-share.

But the new reality of healthcare delivery in the era of COVID-19 rapidly accelerated the adoption of digital and remote care services like those Livongo was selling to its customers — and investor came calling as a result.

The combined company is expected to have pro forma revenue of $1.3 billion representing 85 percent year on year growth, on a pro forma basis. For 2020, the combined company expects adjusted EBITDA to reach $120 million.

“This merger firmly establishes Teladoc Health at the forefront of the next-generation of healthcare,” said Jason Gorevic, the chief executive officer of Teladoc Health, in a statement. “Livongo is a world-class innovator we deeply admire and has demonstrated success improving the lives of people living with chronic conditions. Together, we will further transform the healthcare experience from preventive care to the most complex cases, bringing ‘whole person’ health to consumers and greater value to our clients and shareholders as a result.”

The companies emphasized their combined ability to engage with patients and monitor and manage their conditions using technology. Teladoc Health’s flywheel approach to continued member engagement combined with Livongo’s proven track record of using data science to build consumer trust will accelerate the combined company’s development of longitudinal consumer and provider relationships, the companies said in a statement.

Teladoc currently counts 70 million customers in the United States with an access to Medicare and Medicaid patients that Livongo’s services could reach. The combined company also pitched the operational efficiencies that could be created through the merger. Teladoc estimated that there would be “revenue synergies” of $100 million two years from the close of the deal, reaching $500 million on a run rate basis by 2025, according to a statement. 

Gorevic will run the combined company and David Snow will serve as the chair of the new board — which will be comprised of eight current Teladoc board members and five members of the Livongo board.

The company expects the deal to close by the end of the fourth quarter, subject to regulatory approvals. Lazard advised Teladoc on the transaction while Morgan Stanley served as the financial advisor to Livongo. 

#articles, #chair, #chief-executive-officer, #diabetes, #digital-healthcare, #financial-advisor, #health, #healthcare, #lazard, #livongo, #medicare, #morgan-stanley, #tc, #technology, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #united-states

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CVS adds another Big Health product to its point solutions management program

CVS Caremark launched its point solutions management program with a sleep service from Big Health nearly a year ago, and now it’s adding another of the digital mental healthcare startup’s products to its suite of managed point solutions. 

The Daylight product, which is designed to help people alleviate worry and anxiety, will join an expanding list of digital therapeutics that CVS Caremark offers to manage for employer-directed healthcare plans.

Other services in the CVS Caremark portfolio of offerings include Sleepio, a personalized digital sleep program from Big Health; Hello Heart, which helps members understand and improve their heart health; Hinge Health, which provides an app-based coaching and wearable sensor for chronic back and joint pain management; Livongo which provides coaching, monitoring devices, and digital treatments for conditions including diabetes, hypertension, weight management, and diabetes prevention solutions; Torchlight, a caregiver support solution; and Whil, a digital training platform for mindfulness, stress resilience, mental well-being and performance.

“Plan sponsors increasingly see the value in health care point solutions for improving workforce productivity, satisfaction and overall well-being, however with so many options on the market, it can be challenging to identify trusted solutions that best meet the needs of their members,” said Sree Chaguturu, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Caremark, the pharmacy benefit management business of CVS Health, in a statement earlier this year. “We have analyzed pharmacy and medical claims to identify where these benefits can make a difference and employ a rigorous and transparent evaluation process to assure that any vendor included in Point Solutions Management meets high standards for safety, quality and user experience at the vendor’s lowest price in the marketplace.”  

According to Chaguturu plan providers are interested in point solutions that can digitally compliment the care that patients receive from physicians that can help with self-management of chronic conditions.

These self-directed, digitally enhanced therapies are especially important at a time when more care is being conducted remotely thanks to the social distancing demands imposed by efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

“The point solutions management platform is a platform designed for B2B2C.. Where plan sponsors are contracting through the platform to help their members,” said Chaguturu, in an interview. “We work with Big Health to support awareness of the application through our other platforms as well.”

Rather than go direct to consumer like any number of other mental health and wellness applications vying for customers, Big Health has chosen to work with employer provided healthcare plans and services like CVS Caremark’s because it can reach more people, said Big Health co-founder Peter Hames.

“CVS has shown real forward thinking in implmenting this platform to provide this conduit to digital care,” Hames said.CVS Caremark administrates benefits to over 100 million people in America. The scope via the reimbursement space is huge… We could take a direct to consumer model. [But] my experience has shown me that going through this reimbursed pathway provides  a much bigger vector.” 

The two companies declined to disclose the financial terms of the arrangement between CVS and Big Health, but Chaguturu did say that the company did not invest in solutions offered through its program or have a financial interest in the business.

Big Health has raised over $54 million from investors including Octopus Ventures, Samsung Next, Glide Healthcare, Morningside Group, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and Index Ventures, according to data from Crunchbase.

#america, #big-health, #companies, #cvs, #cvs-health, #cvs-pharmacy, #diabetes, #healthcare, #hypertension, #livongo, #octopus-ventures, #pain-management, #samsung, #tc, #united-states

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Is Your Blood Sugar Undermining Your Workouts?

Eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods could dent our long-term health in part by changing how well our bodies respond to exercise.

#diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #exercise, #muscles, #sugar, #weight

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Withings raises $60 million to bridge the gap between consumer tech and healthcare providers

Since being re-acquired from Nokia in 2018 by a group including its original founders and some of its original investors, health tech company Withings has been focused on evolving their offering of consumer health hardware to provide medical-grade data that can be shared with, and leveraged by healthcare professionals to deliver better, more personalized care. The company has now raised another $60 million to continue pursuing that goal, a Series B funding round co-led by Glide Healthcare, along with existing Withings investors IDinvest Partners, Bpfrance and BNP Paribas Développement, ODDO BHF and Adelle Capital.

Withings will use the funds to ramp up its MED PRO division, a part of the business formed last year that focuses on the company’s B2B efforts, placing its medical-grade consumer health devices in programs and deployments managed by medical professionals, health institutions, insurance payers, researchers and more.

In an interview, Withings CEO Mathieu Letombe explained that following the re-acquisition of the company, the team set out to “pivot slightly” in regards: First, the company would only focus on medical grade products and services from here on out, something that Letombe said was done at least in part because of how crowded the general ‘wellness’ tech category has become, and in part because players like Apple had really, in their view, made the most of that category with their Apple Watch and other health features.

The second was to shift on their business side to better address the B2B market – primarily due to inbound requests to do so.

“We were getting a lot of requests from the healthcare industry,” Letombe told me. “And by the healthcare industry I mean major healthcare programs, like the diabetes prevention program, the hypertension program. Also hospitals, insurers and Pharma, so we decided to dig into it and we saw the there was a huge demand for medical connected devices from this world.”

According to Letombe, Withings was well-positioned to address this need, and had an advantage over other traditional medical device suppliers for enterprise and industry. The company’s DNA was in building accurate, user-friendly devices to help them keep an eye on their wellbeing at home, and so they put their focus on evolving those products so that the results they provide pass the standards of governing medical device regulatory bodies around the world.

Withings’ special advantage in this pursuit was that it knew very well how to build products that customers want to use, and have opted to pay out of pocket for in the past. Most medical equipment for at-home monitoring that comes from a payer or a healthcare institution hasn’t had to face the challenges and focusing rigor of the consumer technology market, and it’s foisted upon users, not selected by them from a field of choices. Letombe says that this consumer edge is what has helped Withings with its B2B business, and notes that both sides of the market will continue to be of equal importance to the company going forward.

The company had been turning its attention to building out a suite of products, from smart blood pressure monitors, to scales that measure body fat percentage, to contactless thermometers and much more, long before there was any hint of the current COVID-19 pandemic, obviously. But that demand from the healthcare industry has stepped up considerably in the wake of the coronavirus, which has accelerated plans from insurers, care providers and healthcare pros to develop and deploy remote care capabilities and services.

“We also got a ton of requests from a company that wanted to create back-to-work packages, were there was a thermometer or a scale or blood pressure monitor for them to help the employee understand if they are at risk for COVID,” Letombe said, noting that the B2B opportunities the company has seen extend beyond the healthcare industry itself.

Image Credits: Withings

To assist with its new medical B2B focus, Withings has also formed a Medical Advisory Board, which Letombe says they’ve actually been working with for a year but that they’re only announcing publicly alongside this funding. The board includes Mayo Clinic Platform President Dr. John Halamka, former head of Clinical Pharmacology in Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou Dr. Stéphane Laurent, and former head of Clinical Innovation at Pfizer Craig Lipset – top medical professionals across respected institutions and one of the largest therapeutics companies in the world.

Letombe notes that Withings also has a number of medical physicians and professionals on staff, as well as a psychologist and a physicist, and so they’re involved in building the products themselves throughout their design and creation, rather than just validating their results after the fact.

Withings would seem to be in a great position to address not only the growing need for connected medical monitoring tools, but also to understand exactly what makes those products work for consumers, and become something they actively want to use as part of their lifestyle. This new $60 million round is a vote of confidence in that strategy, and in its ability to become something bigger and still more ambitious.

#apple, #biotech, #bnp-paribas, #ceo, #companies, #diabetes, #forward, #fundings-exits, #hardware, #health, #healthcare-industry, #hypertension, #idinvest-partners, #mayo-clinic, #medical-device, #nokia, #pfizer, #president, #science, #tc, #technology, #withings

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A Life Full of Meaning

The diabetes camp that gave us hope had an unlikely connection to my father, a former priest who would have delighted in being our guardian angel.

#camps-and-camping, #chaplains, #children-and-childhood, #diabetes, #insulin, #summer-season

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Former V.A. Nursing Assistant Is Charged in Deaths of Seven Patients

Reta Mays, who worked at a hospital in West Virginia, is accused of administering fatal doses of insulin to veterans.

#diabetes, #insulin, #mays-reta, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #veterans, #veterans-affairs-department, #west-virginia

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It Paid Doctors Kickbacks. Now, Novartis Will Pay a $678 Million Settlement.

The pharmaceutical company spent more than $100 million on lavish meals, fishing junkets, golf outings, sporting events and speaker fees to influence doctors to prescribe its drugs, federal prosecutors said.

#bribery-and-kickbacks, #diabetes, #doctors, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #frauds-and-swindling, #medicare, #novartis-ag, #speeches-and-statements, #suits-and-litigation-civil

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She Was Healthy and Active. Suddenly She Had a Seizure.

Her bouts of sweating and confusion were traced to dangerously low blood sugar. But what was causing it?

#diabetes, #insulin, #seizures-medical, #sugar, #tumors

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Younger people not immune from severe COVID-19, new CDC guidance suggests

Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wears a protective mask during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Enlarge / Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wears a protective mask during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. (credit: Getty | Bloomberg)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday updated and expanded its list of who is at risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19—emphasizing that it’s not just the elderly who suffer from the disease.

Most noticeably, the CDC removed the specific age threshold of 65 and over for those considered at risk of severe COVID-19—that is, those requiring hospitalization, intensive care, ventilation, or those who die from the disease.

Now, the agency emphasizes that there is a gradient of risk based on age. In other words, there is some risk at any age, but that risk increases with age. A 50-year-old will have more risk than a 40-year-old, and a 60-year-old is at higher risk than someone in their 50s. The greatest risk is seen in those aged 85 and over.

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#age, #cdc, #covid-19, #diabetes, #health-conditions, #obesity, #pandemic, #public-health, #science, #severe-disease

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‘The City Fumbled It’: How 4 Families Took On the Virus

In the South Bronx, the coronavirus had a devastating impact on an already vulnerable population. Residents of public housing didn’t wait for the city to help.

#bronx-nyc, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diabetes, #elder-care, #housing-authority-nyc, #mill-brook-houses-bronx-ny, #new-york-city, #public-and-subsidized-housing, #south-bronx-bronx-ny

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How Are My Kids Still Getting Sick In Lockdown?

Many infections come from within. Doctors explain what they are and what to do about them.

#bacteria, #children-and-childhood, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diabetes, #eczema, #fever, #hand-foot-and-mouth-disease, #impetigo, #lice, #lyme-disease, #salmonella-bacteria

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Sitting All Day May Increase Your Risk of Dying From Cancer

Need another reason to move? Sedentary behavior was linked to an increased risk of fatal cancer.

#cancer, #diabetes, #exercise, #heart, #obesity, #walking, #weight

0

A Single Session of Exercise Alters 9,815 Molecules in Our Blood

The extensive molecular changes that occur during and after working out underscore how consequential activity is for our bodies and health.

#cell-journal, #diabetes, #exercise, #genetics-and-heredity, #stanford-university, #tests-medical

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Babylon Health leads a $30M Series B in US health kiosk operator, Higi

UK-based AI chatbot Babylon Health — which last year raised $550M at a $2BN+ valuation — has led a $30M Series B in US-based Higi, which owns and operates 10,000+ FDA-cleared health kiosks.

Higi, which was founded back in 2012 per Crunchbase, has built out a nationwide network of “health stations” located at retail locations such as groceries and pharmacies within 5 miles of 73% of the US population, where users can check their blood pressure, pulse, weight and BMI for free.

It also offers apps for users to track health measurements and input fitness data — giving it access to rich data streams that can inform healthcare workflows for its partners.

Its privacy policy notes that it may combine users personal data with other sources of their data it obtains, and may ‘anonymize and aggregate’ user data to use the health information for any purpose — illustrating why a data-hungry AI startup like Babylon sees valuable strategic potential in ploughing dollars into Higi, as it seeks to build out its own US business.

Higi says its kiosks have been used by 62M people in North America to date, conducting more than 372M biometric tests. Babylon’s investment in the company will go on supporting the expansion and “enhancement” of this network, including further development of digital capabilities, assessments and programs, the pair said today.

Babylon is not disclosing the size of its strategic investment in Higi’s Series B. Existing investors from the latter’s Series A also participated, including 7Wire Ventures, Flare Capital Partners, Jumpstart Capital, Rush University Medical Center for Health and William Wrigley Jr.

A spokeswoman for Babylon said it’s the first official US investment it has made but said it’s hopeful that “more strategic investments and partnerships” will follow to help extend its reach in the US.

“By offering a bundled care solution that combines Babylon’s symptom checking and remote digital health tools with Higi’s consumer reach and assessment capabilities, the companies will together be able to offer a more end-to-end solution to meet the needs of payers, providers and retailers on the front lines of care delivery,” the pair said in a press release.

“Higi’s Smart Health Stations are already located in thousands of towns across North America, and by integrating Babylon’s digital first healthcare services into Higi’s station experience, we can make the healthcare services that people need that much more accessible and affordable across North America,” said Babylon CEO and founder Dr Ali Parsa in a statement.

He goes on to talk up the tie-up as supporting “the everyday support of a person’s health and wellbeing” — claiming it places “greater emphasis on prevention and tackling issues earlier [by] helping millions of people proactively tend to their health and connect them to the information and medical support they need”.

“With Babylon as one of our investors and strategic partners, we are beautifully positioned to drive real change in the delivery of primary care across the U.S.,” added Higi CEO Jeff Bennett in another supporting statement. “Our commitment is to provide consumers, anywhere they might be in, with smart medical tools like unique diagnostics to support their health and wellbeing.

“Our partnership with Babylon broadens our clinical capabilities and ability to support consumers with acute medical problems or those with chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes, and obesity, thereby allowing us to better meet the needs of payors, retailers and health systems. The U.S. healthcare system has many virtues, but it is simply too expensive and hard for consumers to access care. Together, we will get patients to the right care, faster and far less expensively.”

Babylon begun a push into the US market this year, launching officially on January 1. Currently it provides access to “healthcare services” via its app to members of certain health plans in Missouri, New York and California. Earlier this month, for example, it partnered with Mount Sinai Health Partners to offer an insurance-covered telehealth option for New Yorkers which includes video consultations with physicians.

Last month, Business Insider reported that Babylon had furloughed 5% of its staff in response to the coronavirus pandemic, tapping into a scheme which sees the UK government covering up to 80% of the pay of furloughed workers.

#7wire-ventures, #artificial-intelligence, #babylon-health, #california, #diabetes, #europe, #fda, #fundings-exits, #hardware, #health, #healthcare-industry, #hypertension, #missouri, #obesity, #telehealth, #united-states

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Black Coronavirus Patients Land in Hospitals More Often, Study Finds

Compared to white or Hispanic patients, black patients seeking care have more advanced cases of Covid-19, researchers reported.

#black-people, #california, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #diabetes, #electronic-health-records, #health-affairs-journal, #hispanic-americans, #minorities, #obesity, #race-and-ethnicity, #sutter-health, #your-feed-science

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Fighting Fat Discrimination, but Still Wanting to Lose Weight

Is it OK to be “body positive” while striving to be thinner?

#bariatric-surgery, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #discrimination, #eating-disorders, #exercise, #obesity, #weight

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Nearly All Patients Hospitalized With Covid-19 Had Chronic Health Issues, Study Finds

Only 6 percent of patients at one New York area health system had no chronic conditions. Hypertension, obesity and diabetes were common.

#china, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #deaths-fatalities, #diabetes, #fever, #hospitals, #immune-system, #journal-of-the-american-medical-assn, #long-island-ny, #men-and-boys, #new-york-city, #new-york-metropolitan-area, #northwell-health, #obesity, #research, #ventilators-medical, #women-and-girls, #wuhan-china, #your-feed-science

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LabCorp’s at-home COVID-19 test kit is the first to be authorized by the FDA

LabCorp’s at-home COVID-19 test, which is called ‘Pixel,’ has received the first Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for such a test missed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The test is an at-home collection kit, which provides sample collection materials including a nasal swab to the user, who then uses the included shipping package to return the sample to a lab for testing.

Until now, the FDA has not authorized any at-home testing or sample collection kits for use, and in fact clarified its guidelines to specifically note that their use was not authorized under its guidelines when a number of startup companies debuted similar products for at-home collection and round-trip testing with labs already certified to run molecular RT-PCR tests to detect the presence of COVID-19.

The FDA notes that only LabCorp’s COVID-19 RT-PCR test has received this authorization, and that it still requires any such test to have an EUA before they can being offering services, whether or not the test is administered at home with the help of guidance from an authorized medical professional via telemedicine. Some labs facilitating at home serology tests using an exception in the FDA guidelines, but these are not viewed by the agency as tests that can confirm a case of COVID-19.

Opening up at-home testing (even via just sample collection, vs. full at-home test administration) is a big step in terms of a change in the way the agency has operated thus far. The FDA has recently updated its guidelines to note that it is working with at-home test providers to determine the best way to make those available to the public, since it “sees the public health value in expanding the availability of COVID-19 testing through safe and accurate tests that may include home collection.”

LabCorp is a U.S. medical diagnostics company with over 40 years of experience, including at-home testing via its Pixel line for colorectal cancer, diabetes, and cardiac lipid conditions. It seems like the FDA is favoring long-standing industry experience in terms of who it’s willing to open up authorizations for with at-home collection, which is likely due to the potential for increased error when you add unsupervised self-collection, packing and logistics into the mix.

Testing for COVID-19 in the U.S. currently relies on drive-through sites, as well as in-clinic and hospital testing. These tests have a high bar for access in terms of risk profile and symptom presentation, and their administration also exposes the healthcare professionals running them to risk of contracting the infection themselves. At-home testing could increase overall testing rates, while decreasing risk to frontline healthcare workers, providing a better picture of the true extent and depth of the COVID-19 pandemic.

#articles, #biotech, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #diabetes, #food-and-drug-administration, #health, #infection, #labcorp, #life-sciences, #science, #tc, #telemedicine, #united-states

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How Poor Diet Contributes to Coronavirus Risk

Improving our metabolic health could help ward off future medical, economic and social calamities from whatever pathogen next comes down the pike.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #food, #immune-system, #obesity, #race-and-ethnicity

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How Covid-19 Is Making Millions of Americans Healthier

People are finally cooking more.

#cooking-and-cookbooks, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #diabetes, #diet-and-nutrition, #epidemics, #fast-food-industry, #food, #heart, #quarantines, #social-media, #soft-drinks

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Using AI, Yes Health cuts costs, improves adherence for weight loss and diabetes treatment

Using a combination of machine learning and computer vision, Yes Health claims it can cut costs and improve adherence for behavioral-based treatments targeting diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions.

Those claims, and the company’s technology based approach has netted the company a new $6 million in funding led by Khosla Ventures .

The company’s technology automates patient’s reporting requirements by allowing them to take a picture of their meals rather than entering their daily food intake into a system. The company’s software recognizes meals from the images and converts that information into data that physicians and patients can use to monitor their progress.

If the ease of use for patients is one selling point, then the company’s automated messaging service is another. Using computer generated prompts instead of human consultations reduces the cost of the service and ultimately the price that folks have to pay.

 Founded by Alexander Petrov, a former PayPal executive who is, himself, pre-diabetic, Yes Health takes the therapies that have been pioneered by companies like Virta Health and Omada and makes them easier for patients to manage. 

“The biggest difference is that we have a level of personalization that then translates into engagement that is very unique,” says Petrov. “We are doing it through what we call an image-based in-the-moment approach… We capture analyze and share data not just through text but through images.”

The company, which launched six years ago, is working with Blue Shield of California and other healthcare partners. Yes Health has tens of thousands of paying members, according to Petrov, and the vision is to reach millions of people. 

Yes Health sells through both healthcare plans and direct to consumers — and the market the company hopes to address is huge. Roughly 34 million Americans had diabetes in 2018, according to data from the CDC and another 88 million are considered pre-diabetic. The cost of caring for these conditions in the US is an astonishing $327 billion each year. Healthcare costs for these patients can also reach more than 230% of the average American’s healthcare expenditures.

These issues take on new significance given the COVID-19 epidemic. Conditions like diabetes or obesity are linked to increasing chances of fatality from COVID-19 infection, according to reports.

“Americans are more conscious than ever about their health, and digital health has become one of the most important markets for innovation,” said Samir Kaul, founding partner and managing director of Khosla Ventures, in a statement. “Yes Health is proven to tackle difficult and costly chronic conditions through an AI-augmented and all-mobile solution, aligning it with our firm’s thesis in healthcare.”

 

#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #california, #diabetes, #executive, #health, #health-care, #healthcare, #infection, #khosla-ventures, #machine-learning, #medicine, #obesity, #omada, #paypal, #tc, #united-states

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