Willow, the startup making the wearable breast pump, raises $55 million

Willow, the startup company making a new, wearable, breast pump for women, is capping off a frenetic 2020 with $55 million in fresh funding as it looks to expand its product line to more offerings for new mothers.

The company is coming off a year which saw sales increase, and Laura Chambers, the former eBay and Airbnb manager, take over as chief executive and now, with the new capital, it expects to be bringing new products to market beyond the breast pump in 2021.

A March 2020 report from Frost & Sullivan put the total size of the femtech market, including technologies for mothers, at just over $1 billion with growth rates of 12.9%. So the category is small, but growing quickly as more tools come in to provide services in what is a woefully underinvested sector. Indeed, the $155 million that Willow has raised to date puts the company among the upper echelon of women’s health investments.

Contrast that figure with Ro, the storied health brand that launched its subscription medication service for erectile dysfunction with an $88 million investment round.

For women who breast feed, the problems associated with pumping can be legion.

“A lot of women talk about how it’s almost like the pump runs their life,” Naomi Kelman, the founder and former CEO of Willow, told TechCrunch. “Everyone is told, if you don’t breastfeed or pump on a regular basis, your [breastmilk] supply goes down and then breastfeeding is finished for you.”

That’s why startup companies like Willow and Naya Health, as well as established companies like Medela and Lansinoh are developing technologies to not only make pumping breast milk more efficient, but also provide more comfort and dignity to users.

“Through our longstanding relationship with Willow, we’ve been able to see the true impact they have had in helping mom’s balance motherhood in a modern world,” said Josh Makower, Willow’s co-founder and chairman of the company’s board, as well as a General Partner at Willow investor, NEA, in a statement. “Willow is thriving and growing to meet the needs of all moms during these unique times, and we are proud to be a partner in advancing innovation in the femtech field.”

With Chambers at the helm, and the $55 million in new financing in hand from investors led by NEA, Meritech Capital Partners, and including Lightstone Ventures along with new investor Perceptive Advisors, Willow will be doing far more than just making breast pumps and will be looking to expand its footprint to international markets.

“The first problem we wanted solve was pumping and the wonderful wearable mobile pump. That was always product number one. There’s more innovation we can do around pumping. Moms would love us to support them with more hardware and more software,” Chambers said. We’re also working with moms to figure out where else they need support. Mothers are remarkably unsupported in their motherhood journey. We are working with moms to figure out what’s important for them and we’re building that.”

#airbnb, #breast-pump, #ebay, #femtech, #health, #laura-chambers, #meritech-capital-partners, #naya-health, #nea, #perceptive-advisors, #tc, #willow

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CDC removes updated guidelines around COVID-19 aerosol transmission, but this expert explains why it should reverse the reversal

Last week at TechCrunch Disrupt 2020, I got the chance to speak to Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding, an epidemiologist and health economists who is a Senior Fellow of the Federation of American Scientists. Dr. Feigl-Ding has been a frequent and vocal critic of some of the most profound missteps of regulators, public health organizations and the current White House administration, and we discussed specifically the topic of aerosol transmission and its notable absence from existing guidance in the U.S.

At the time, neither of us knew that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) would publish updated guidance on its website over this past weekend that provided descriptions of aerosol transmission, and a concession that it’s likely a primary vector for passing on the virus that leads to COVID-19 – or that the CDC would subsequently revert said guidance, removing this updated information about aerosol transmission that’s more in line with the current state of widely accepted COVID research. The CDC cited essentially an issue where someone at the organization pushed a draft version of guidelines to production – but the facts it had shared in the update lined up very closely with what Dr. Feigl-Ding had been calling for.

“The fact that we haven’t highlighted aerosol transmission as much, up until recently, is woefully, woefully frustrating,” he said during our interview last Wednesday. “Other countries who’ve been much more technologically savvy about the engineering aspects of aerosols have been ahead of the curve – like Japan, they assume that this virus is aerosol and airborne. And aerosol means that the droplets are these micro droplets that can float in the air, they don’t get pulled down by gravity […] now we know that the aerosols may actually be the main drivers. And that means that if someone coughs, sings, even breathes, it can in the air, the micro droplets can stay in the air from anywhere from, for stagnant air for up to16 hours, but normally with ventilation, between 20 minutes to four hours. And that air, if you enter it into a room after someone was there, you can still get infected, and that is what makes indoor dining and bars and restaurants so frustrating.”

Dr. Feigl-Ding points to a number of recent contact tracing studies as providing strong evidence that these indoor activities, and the opportunity they provide for aerosol transmission, are leading to a large number of infections. Such studies were featured in a report the CDC prepared on reopening advice, which was buried by the Trump administration according to an AP report from May.

“The latest report shows that indoor dining bars restaurants are the leading leading factors for transmission, once you do contact tracing,” he said, noting that this leads naturally to the big issues around schools reopening, including that many have “very poor ventilation,” while simultaneously they’re not able to open their windows or doors due to gun safety protocols in place. Even before this recent CDC guideline take-back, Dr. Feigl-Ding was clearly frustrated with the way the organization appears to be succumbing to politicization of what is clearly an issue of a large and growing body of scientific evidence and fact.

“The CDC has long been the most respected agency in the world for public health, but now it’s been politically muzzled,” he said. “Previously, for example, the guidelines around church attendance – the CDC advised against church gatherings, but then it was overruled. And it was clearly overruled, because we actually saw it changed in live time. […] In terms of schools, gatherings, it’s clear [that] keeping kids in a pod is not enough, given what we know about ventilation.”

#chemistry, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #health, #japan, #occupational-safety-and-health, #tc, #transmission, #trump-administration, #united-states, #white-house

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Despite slowdowns, pandemic accelerates shifts in hardware manufacturing

The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t hit every factory in China at once.

The initial impact to China’s electronics industry arrived around the time the nation was celebrating its new year. Two weeks after announcing 59 known cases of a new form of coronavirus, the national government put Wuhan — a city of 11 million — under strict lockdown.

As with most of the rest of the word, the manufacturing sector was caught somewhat flat-footed. according to Anker founder and CEO Steven Yang .

“Nobody had a great reaction,” said Yang, whose electronics company is based in Shenzhen. “I think this all caught us by surprise. In our China office, everybody was prepared to go on vacation for the Chinese New Year. I think the first reaction was that vacation was prolonged the first week and then another several days.

People were just off work. There wasn’t a determined date for when they could come back to work. That period was the most concerning because we didn’t have an outlook. They had to find certainties. People had to work from home and contact supplies and so forth. That first three to four weeks was the most chaotic.”

Numbers from early 2020 certainly reflect the accompanying slowdown in the manufacturing sector. In February, the Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) — a metric used to gauge the health of manufacturing and service sectors — hit a record low.

These bottlenecks resulted in product shortages — a fact that was rendered relatively moot in some sectors as demand for nonessentials dropped, many small businesses shuttered and COVID-19-related layoffs began. The U.S. lost 20.5 million jobs in April alone, hitting a record high 14.7% unemployment. (When you suddenly find yourself indefinitely unemployed, a smartphone upgrade seems much less pressing.) Such events only served to compound existing mobile trends and has delayed the adoption of 5G and other technologies.

It seems likely, too, that COVID-19 will accelerate other trends within manufacturing — notably, the shift toward diversifying manufacturing sites. China continues to be the dominant global force in electronics manufacturing, but the price of labor and political uncertainty has led many companies to begin looking beyond the world’s largest workforce.

#anker, #asia, #automation, #disrupt-2020, #eric-migicovsky, #hardware, #health, #kate-whitcomb, #rob-playter, #robotics, #sonny-vu, #steven-yang, #y-combinator

0

How Ginsburg’s Death Threatens the Affordable Care Act and Reproductive Rights

As the Trump administration eyes a speedy replacement, the court will hear a case against the health care law a week after the election

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

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The Peloton effect

During the most recent quarter, only a few earnings reports stood out from the rest. Zoom’s set of results were one of them, with the video-communications company showing enormous acceleration as the world replaced in-person contact with remote chat.

Another was Peloton’s earnings from the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2020, which it reported September 10th. The company’s revenue and profitability spiked as folks stuck at home turned to the connected fitness company’s wares.


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Shares of Peloton have rallied around 4x since March, roughly the start of when the COVID-19 pandemic began to impact life in the United States, driving demand for the company’s at-home workout equipment. And in late June, athleisure company Lululemon bought Mirror, another connected fitness company aimed at the home market for around $500 million.

With Peloton’s 2019 IPO and its growth along with Mirror’s exit in 2020, connected fitness is demonstrably hot, and private-market investors are taking notice. A recent Tweet from fitness tech watcher Joe Vennare detailing a host of recent funding rounds raised by “digital fitness” companies made the point last week, piquing our curiosity at the same time.

Is there really some sort of Peloton effect driving private investment into lots of connected fitness startups? How hot is the more nascent side of connected fitness?

This morning let’s take a look through some recent funding rounds in the space to get a feel for what’s going on. (If you’re a VC who cares about the sector, feel free to email in your own notes, subject line “connected fitness” please.) We’ll then execute the same search for Q3 2019 and see how the data compares.

Hot Wheels

To start with the current market I pulled a Crunchbase query for all Q3 funding rounds for companies tagged as “fitness” and then filtered out the cruft to get a look at the most pertinent funding events.

Here’s what I came up for for Q3 2020, to date:

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Illumina buying cancer-screening spinout Grail in blockbuster $8B biotech deal

Biotech has become one of the hottest areas of venture investment in recent years, as progress in machine learning, genetics, medical devices, and biology fuse together into new products for the gargantuan health industry.

Case in point: Grail, which began in 2016 as a spinoff from genetic sequencing giant Illumina and co-founded by longtime Google executive Jeff Huber (who was involved in the creation of the company’s experimental laboratory Google[x]), is now being spun back in to the tune of an $8 billion acquisition announced this morning.

Illumina originally invested $100 million in the spinout, and Grail would go on to raise more than a billion dollars in funding from prominent biotech firm ARCH, one of China’s top VCs Hillhouse Capital, among many others according to Crunchbase.

Grail’s technology was designed to use modern genetic sequencing tools coupled with data science to detect cancer earlier than other competing products on the market.

As we discussed on TechCrunch back in 2017 when the company raised $900 million, “while liquid biopsies to detect cancer aren’t anything new and GRAIL will have to compete with several other contenders both large and small, the technology to take a blood sample and detect the early, free-floating cancer DNA floating in your bloodstream is revolutionary in the industry and only made possible through new DNA sequencing machinery.”

Cancer screening is a $100 billion market and growing rapidly, particularly internationally as countries like China and India develop economically and more patients require active screening. Detecting cancer early is pivotal for reducing mortality risk, and so Grail’s promise was to offer the “holy grail” (couldn’t help myself) for saving these lives. According to the U.S. government, roughly 600,000 people will die this year from cancer, and it is a leading cause of death.

As part of the deal, Grail will receive $3.5 billion in cash, with another $4.5 billion earmarked for Illumina stock. The company set a deadline of December 20th for consummating the acquisition, at which point Illumina will begin offering Grail $35 million per month in cash payments until the deal closes. The two companies have signed a $315 million merger termination agreement as part of the deal.

The acquisition is subject to customary regulatory review.

#biotech, #fundings-exits, #google, #grail, #health, #illumina, #jeff-huber, #ma

0

Who Will Get a COVID-19 Vaccine First? Access Plans Are Taking Shape

Advisory groups around the world have released guidance to prioritize healthcare workers and those in front-line jobs

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #medicine, #public-health

0

Does early-stage health tech need more ‘patient’ capital?

Crista Galli Ventures, a new early-stage health tech fund in Europe, officially launched last week. The firm offers “patient capital” — with only a single LP (the Danish family office IPQ Capital) — and promises to provide portfolio companies with deep healthcare expertise and the extra runway needed to get over regulatory and efficacy hurdles and to the next stage.

The firm has an initial $65 million to deploy and is led by consultant radiologist Dr. Fiona Pathiraja. With offices in London and Copenhagen, it operates as an “evergreen” fund, meaning it doesn’t follow traditional five-year VC fundraising cycles.

In fact, Crista Galli Ventures’ pitch is that traditional venture isn’t well-suited to early-stage health tech where it can take significantly longer to find product-market fit with healthcare practitioners and systems and then become licensed by local regulators.

To dig deeper into this and CGV’s investment remit more generally, I interviewed Pathiraja about what she looks for in health tech founders and startups. We also discussed Crista Galli LABS, which operates alongside the main fund and backs founders from underrepresented backgrounds at the pre-seed stage.

TechCrunch: You describe Crista Galli Ventures (CGV) as an early-stage health tech fund that offers patient capital and backs companies in Europe. In particular, you cite deep tech, digital health and personalised healthcare. Can you elaborate a bit more on the fund’s remit and what you look for in founders and startups at such an early stage?

Dr. Fiona Pathiraja: We like founders with bold ideas and international ambitions. We look for mission-driven founders who believe their companies can make a real and positive impact on the lives of people and patients the world over.

We will look for founders who deeply understand the problem they are trying to tackle from all angles — especially the patient’s perspective, but also that of the clinician and relevant regulators — and we want to see that they are building their solutions to solve this. This means they will make an effort to understand the complex and nuanced healthcare landscape and all the stakeholders in it.

In terms of founder characteristics, in my opinion, the best founders will be mission driven, able to tell a compelling story, and motivate others to join them. Grit and resilience are important and several of our portfolio companies were founded around 6-8 years ago and they are doggedly continuing to build.

#biotechnology, #crista-galli-ventures, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #health, #healthcare, #healthtech, #skin-cancer, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital

0

When Politics Distorts Science

Shocking levels of interference at the CDC and HHS threaten public faith in our most reliable public health institutions

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #policyethics

0

Connected fitness startup Tonal raises another $110 million

Connected home fitness startup Tonal announced today that it has raised an additional $110 million. The latest round of funding includes existing investor L Catterton and new names, including Delta-v Capital, Amazon’s Alexa Fund and Mousse Partners, along with athletes Stephen Curry, Paul George, Michelle Wie and Bobby Wagner. The round brings the Bay Area-based company’s total funding up to $200 million.

Image Credits: Tonal

It’s a pretty massive round for the strength training company, especially as the space have become increasingly crowded in recent years. It’s clear, however, that investors are eager to get on-board with technologies that can help approximate the gym experience at home, as the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down public workout facilities all over the world.

Even as some have begun to reopen, many have done so with limited capacity. And many members are practicing abundance of caution when it comes to returning to gyms. There is, after, all a high risk factor of spread. Given that fact, the home workout it likely to continue to see growth in the coming months and year. There’s also the fact that Lululemon recently acquired Mirror, arguably Tonal’s biggest name competitor for $500 million.

What sets Tonal apart from much of the competition, however, is a strength training element in addition to the reflective screen. The system utilizes resistance technologies to approximate more traditional dumbbell/barbell-based weight training.

Here’s Curry explaining why he’s a fan: “I’ve had a Tonal for almost two years. While in quarantine during COVID, I have relied heavily on it to maintain my strength training and believe it is revolutionizing how people will work out now and in the future.”

Tonal also used the occasion to note that it has begun working with the Mayo Clinic for physical therapy trials, with results expected to be posted early next near. It’s also working with a number of hotels/resorts, including Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Bungalows, the Waldorf Astoria Boca Raton Resort and Club and the JW Marriott Anaheim.

#fitness, #hardware, #health, #l-catterton, #mirror, #recent-funding, #startups, #tonal

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Daphne Koller: ‘Digital biology is an incredible place to be right now’

Working at the intersection of biology and computing may be the most exciting new spot for technologists at the moment.

That’s the word from Daphne Koller, the founder and chief executive officer of Insitro — the biotech company that’s raised over $243 million in the two short years since it launched.

Speaking at our virtual TechCrunch Disrupt conference, Koller, a serial entrepreneur who previously co-founded Coursera and briefly served as the chief computing officer for the Alphabet subsidiary focused on human health, Calico, views digital biology as the next big technological revolution.

“Digital biology is an incredible place to be right now,” Koller said in an interview.

It’s certainly been an incredible opportunity for Koller whose work now spans the development of treatments for potential neurological diseases and a nearer term research and development effort on hepatitis with Gilead Pharmaceuticals.

Koller’s Insitro takes its name and inspiration from the combination of two different practices in biological research — the in vitro experiments that are done on living samples in labs and the in silico experiments that are done on the computer.

By synthesizing these two disciplines Koller’s company flips the process of drug discovery on its head, the company is designed sift through massive amounts of data to search for patterns in the expression of certain conditions. Once those patterns are determined, the company can examine the pathways or mechanisms associated with that expression to determine targets for potential therapies.

Then Insitro will pursue the development of novel molecules that can be used to intervene and either reverse or stop the progression of an illness by stopping the biological mechanisms associated with it.

“We now have massive amounts of data that is truly relevant to human disease,” Koller said. “Machine learning has given us a bunch of tools to really make sense of data.”

The company can identify new patient segments, new interventions new drugs that may modulate the expression of those conditions. “We view ourselves as being on the first phase of a very long journey using machine learning,” said Koller.

Take the company’s work on hepatitis in conjunction with Gilead. There, Koller and her team were able to take a small, high-quality dataset from Gilead’s trials and identify how a disease progressed by looking at the patient data from different points in time. Looking at the progression allowed the company to identify drivers that facilitated the progression of fibrosis that causes tissue damage. Now the company is using those targets as a starting point to find modifiers that could slow down the progression of the disease. 

It comes down to using computers to understand the biology, new biotechnology to model that biology in a Petri dish, and from the different models determine the interventions that will make a difference, Koller said.

“What we’re trying to do is so different and so out of alignment with how these [pharmaceutical] companies do their work,” Koller said. “It’s trying to shift the trajectory of these companies of hundreds or thousands of people and shift the culture to a tech culture that is going to be really a challenge.”

It’s the main reason Koller launched her own company rather than joining a big pharma play, and it’s a classic example of the innovator’s dilemma and the disruptive power of technology laid out in the theories of Clayton Christensen that give the Disrupt conference its name.

“[It’s] the notion of the innovator’s dilemma and coming in with a mindset that says we’re going to do this a completely different way,” said Koller. “The drug discovery effort is becoming increasingly expensive and increasingly prone to failure and if we do this in a different way will it enable us to generate better outcomes.”

#chief-executive-officer, #computing, #coursera, #daphne-koller, #disease, #drug-discovery, #health, #illness, #insitro, #machine-learning, #medicine, #serial-entrepreneur, #tc

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COVID-19 and Smoke Inhalation Symptoms are Hard to Tell Apart

Whether it’s a cough or a sore throat, doctors in areas affected by the recent wildfires must determine whether symptoms are caused by the coronavirus, smoke, or even the flu

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

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Population Density Does Not Doom Cities to Pandemic Dangers

Crowding, connections among communities and other factors seem to better explain infection and mortality rates

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

0

Zwift, maker of a popular indoor training app, just landed a whopping $450 million in funding led by KKR

Zwift, a 350-person, Long Beach, Calif.-based online fitness platform that immerses cyclists and runners in 3D generated worlds, just raised a hefty $450 million in funding led by the investment firm KKR in exchange for a minority stake in its business.

Permira and Specialized Bicycle’s venture capital fund, Zone 5 Ventures, also joined the round alongside earlier backers True, Highland Europe, Novator and Causeway Media.

Zwift has now raised $620 million altogether and is valued at north of $1 billion.

Why such a big round? Right now, the company just makes an app, albeit a popular one.

Since its 2015 founding, 2.5 million people have signed up to enter a world that, as Outside magazine once described it, is “part social-media platform, part personal trainer, part computer game.” That particular combination makes Zwift’s app appealing to both recreational riders and pros looking to train no matter the conditions outside.

The company declined to share its active subscriber numbers with us — Zwift charges $15 per month for its service — but it seemingly has a loyal base of users. For example, 117,000 of them competed in a virtual version of the Tour de France that Zwift hosted in July after it was chosen by the official race organizer of the real tour as its partner on the event.

Which leads us back to this giant round and what it will be used for. Today, in order to use the app, Zwift’s biking adherents need to buy their own smart trainers, which can cost anywhere from $300 to $700 and are made by brands like Elite and Wahoo. Meanwhile, runners use Zwift’s app with their own treadmills.

Now, Zwift is jumping headfirst into the hardware business itself. Though a spokesman for the company said it can’t discuss any particulars — “It takes time to develop hardware properly, and COVID has placed increased pressure on production” — it is hoping to bring its first product to market “as soon as possible.”

He added that the hardware will make Zwift a “more immersive and seamless experience for users.”

Either way, the direction isn’t a surprising one for the company, and we don’t say that merely because Specialized participated in this round as a strategic backer. Cofounder and CEO Eric Min has told us in the past that the company hoped to produce its own trainers some day.

Given the runaway success of the in-home fitness company Peloton, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a treadmill follow, or even a different product entirely. Said the Zwift spokesman, “In the future, it’s possible that we could bring in other disciplines or a more gamified experience.” (It will have expert advice in this area if it does, given that Swift just brought aboard Ilkka Paananen, the co-founder and CEO of Finnish gaming company Supercell, as an investor and board member.)

In the meantime, the company tells us not to expect the kind of classes that have proven so successful for Peloton, tempting as it may be to draw parallels.

While Zwift prides itself on users’ ability to organize group rides and runs and workouts, classes, says its spokesman, are “not in the offing.”

#3d, #causeway-media, #cycling, #gaming, #hardware, #health, #highland-europe, #kkr, #mobile, #online-fitness, #permira, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #zone-5-ventures, #zwift

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Incredible Health updates its healthcare career platform to help nurse hiring cope with COVID

The healthcare industry, even prior to the current pandemic, has never looked much like other industries when it comes to hiring and career management. That was the impetus behind Incredible Health, a startup founded by medical doctor Iman Abuzeid and Amazon alum Rome Portlock. The platform Incredible Health built is all about connecting nurses with jobs – but it goes above and beyond your typical online job board in order to provide better service both to job seekers and hospitals, and to help nurses throughout the course of their careers.

I spoke to Abuzeid, who serves as Incredible Health’s CEO, about some new features that Incredible Health has just introduced, in part to address the particular needs of nurses and hospitals considering the constraints of COVID-19 and the ongoing challenges it presents. She first explained why Incredible is a unique platform to begin with, among a sea of relatively undifferentiated job search products.

“There are three unique things about the platform,” she said. “The first is that the employers apply to the nurses instead of the other way around – which we can do because of this huge supply-demand imbalance. The second is that we’ve automated the screening and pre-vetting of the nurses, so we’re able to automatically verify things like licenses and certifications, and experiences and so on, because we’ve integrated with so many databases. And the third thing we do is custom matching algorithms.”

That means Incredible Health provides hospitals with only matches that meet their exact needs for a specific position requirement, rather than forcing them to wade through large numbers of potential applicants who might not have the skills they need. In a field like nursing, which has a lot of specific professional designations and certifications, specificity actually helps both sides quite a bit.

“The end result of all of that is hires that happen at least three or four times faster,” Abuzeid told me. “Our average right now is 13 days, and the efficiency is about 30 times more efficient than a standard job board. Really, some of the biggest impacts we have are financial – we save on average, each hospital we work with, about $2 million per year. We do that by reducing their travel nurse budget, because they don’t have to use as many contract workers when they’re permanently staffed. And we also reduce their overtime costs, and their HR costs.”

Abuzeid also told me that nurses hired through Incredible Health tend to stick around longer. The startup only has about a year of historical data to check against so far, but she said that so far, they’re seeing about 25% percent higher retention vs. the industry average. She added that they suspect this is due largely to the fact that nurses are able to consider multiple offers and hospital options on the platform, since there are often multiple employers vying to hire the same employee, especially in the case of specialization like ICU nurses.

As for what’s new to Incredible Health, the company has introduced automated interview scheduling. Abuzeid says that has led to 70% of interviews being scheduled via automation within 36 hours on the platform currently. The platform has also introduced remote interviewing for safely distanced pre-hiring interactions, and in-app chat between potential employers and nurses right in the iOS, Android and web apps that Incredible Health offers. Profiles for nurses on the platform also now list socialites and skills, from a pre-set catalog of 45 specialities and 250 skills that are specific to the nursing field, like ICU or OR expertise. Abuzeid said that most of these were fast-tracked due to significant changes they were seeing in the hiring process as a result of the COVID pandemic.

“We saw several impacts,” she told me. “First is like the number of offers that started to go out – we see one go out every few hours now. And the number of interview requests is up to one being sent every few minutes. So it’s really accelerated, and that’s been a combination of two things. One is just that we made the software better and more efficient – but the other thing is the urgency also increased on the hospital end given the pandemic.”

Aside from improving the process of hiring vs. traditional methods, and supporting more remote hiring and onboarding workflows, Incredible Health also addresses some of the diversity gaps in the current healthcare industry hiring process. Abuzeid explained that that’s due in part to built-in features of the platform like salary estimate calculators, and adds that some tweaks have been created intentionally to level the playing field.

“30% of nurses identity in the U.S. identify as minorities, so we take diversity pretty seriously because that’s a huge chunk of our user base,” she said. “By giving nurses salary data, it democratizes that and makes you more informed. We also provide talent advocates who are also nurses on our team that support every single nurse, helping them almost as career coach to support them throughout the hiring process.”

Incredible Health also takes steps to ensure the product isn’t itself reinforcing any existing biases that may be present, consciously or otherwise, on the part of hiring parties.

“We random sort the list of the list of nurses as they’re displayed in front of employers and the application, or we use avatars instead of profile pictures,”  We’re also constantly monitoring the data that that that’s in the platform. So for example, we noticed that recruiters were biasing against nurses that lived further away. And so we just removed the current location of the nurse, we just stopped displaying that, and that bias went away. So it’s really important that the software and our algorithms actually counter human bias.”

So far, Incredible Health has raised $17 million in funding, including a Series A last year led by Jeff Jordan at Andreessen Horowitz. The company is already in use at over 200 hospitals across the U.S., as well as at a number of the largest health care networks in the country, like HCA and Baylor, and at academics medical centres including Cedar Sinai and Stanford as well. The startup is growing quickly by addressing a long-standing need with software designed specifically to the challenge, and looks poised for even more future growth as the demand for qualified, well-supported healthcare professionals grows.

#amazon, #andreessen-horowitz, #career-coach, #ceo, #health, #health-care, #healthcare-industry, #iman-abuzeid, #incredible-health, #jeff-jordan, #nursing, #stanford, #startups, #tc, #united-states, #web-apps

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We Can’t Allow the CDC to Be Tainted by Politics

If science doesn’t drive the agency’s crucial weekly reports about disease prevalence and mortality, we’ll lose a key tool for fighting this pandemic

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #policyethics

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Replace legacy healthcare staffing with a vertical marketplace for workers

Over the last several months, we’ve seen dramatic swings in the demand for healthcare across the country. While hospitals in some cities were overwhelmed by an influx of COVID-19 patients, others sat empty — and in many cases experienced financial distress — as patients postponed elective surgeries and care for non-life-threatening matters. Cities went from relative safe zones to dangerous hotspots and back again within a matter of a few months.

This “COVID-19 whipsaw” has brought into focus a problem that has long been simmering in healthcare: The movement of labor is highly inefficient. We need a new paradigm in healthcare labor markets.

The pandemic has exposed systemic vulnerabilities

Early in the pandemic, many clinicians moved across state lines to answer Governor Andrew Cuomo’s calls for help in New York, only to be told upon arrival that their contracts had been canceled because the hospitals had overestimated their need. The imbalance of nurse and physician labor across states, which existed well before the pandemic, reached a terrifying apex during the height of the pandemic. In some parts of the country, clinicians were being furloughed or laid off, while in others they were stretched to their full capacity working around the clock to save lives. With each month came new hotspots — New York, Detroit, Miami, Phoenix, Los Angeles — and with each new hotspot a near disaster caused by a shortage of healthcare workers.

The marathon of addressing COVID-19 has imposed severe stress, depression and anxiety on our nation as a whole, with our healthcare providers at the epicenter. Clinician burnout was a serious issue even before COVID-19, but it has only gotten worse in recent months, especially for those working in geographic hotspots.

Healthcare workers across the country have found themselves delivering care for a high volume of acutely ill patients, often with severely limited supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), magnifying their own risk. Many have watched colleagues fall sick and even die, while others have been asked to ration patient care. Multiple studies have highlighted increased instances of depression, anxiety, insomnia and psychological distress amongst frontline workers, and some clinicians have even taken their own lives.

Challenges with the legacy staffing model

Prior to the pandemic, our healthcare system had long dealt with seasonal and geographic differences in healthcare demand. Flu season, for example, causes more demand for healthcare in December than July. Florida experiences more demand for care in February than June because snowbirds migrate from the northeast in the winter and bring their healthcare needs with them.

In the past, temporary or contingent workers — travel nurses, per diem nurses and locum tenens doctors — helped to balance supply of labor with the seasonal and geographic peaks and troughs in demand. Staffing agencies worked with these temporary clinicians to match them with opportunities at hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, long-term care facilities and other providers. Many people don’t realize that temporary clinicians are an important part of the healthcare workforce. Estimates are that supplemental staffing accounts for more than 30% of total nursing hours in the U.S.

Staffing agencies, however, cannot scale for pandemic scale events because they are using outdated tools and processes. Recruiters at staffing agencies make phone calls and send emails to communicate with the clinicians who are frequently annoyed by inconvenient and unwanted solicitations. More importantly, these tools are not fast enough when we experience sudden unpredicted spikes in different geographic areas like those in the past six months.

Outdated regulations are partly to blame. Licensure for nurses is handled state-by-state, which creates obstacles that prohibit nurses from working in states where they are not licensed. There are approximately 35 states that are part of a licensing compact that offers mutual recognition, but many of the largest states and those hit hardest by the early days of the pandemic — like California, New York and Washington — are not part of the compact. In California, it takes six weeks on average to get a license for an out-of-state nurse, a number that has not budged even as the state’s COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed.

Some states that are not part of the compact have used executive actions or emergency declarations to allow nurses to cross state lines, but many of those are now expiring and were never meant to be a long-term solution. The pandemic has highlighted the need for new regulations as part of the solution described below that allow for a more fluid movement of clinicians across state lines. Are patients and diseases in California really that different from the patients and diseases in Texas such that we need different regulatory standards and license requirements in each state?

The solution: A vertical marketplace for healthcare workers

We need to move beyond the antiquated staffing agency model to facilitate a more rapid response, a better clinician experience and more efficient matching. The good news is that we are starting to see companies addressing this problem with a software-centric model: the vertical labor marketplace. Some examples of these marketplaces include Trusted Health and Nomad Health.

Like StubHub, the company I started 20 years ago, these marketplaces use the power of the internet to connect supply with demand. In the case of these healthcare labor marketplaces, the clinicians make up the supply while the hospitals and other care facilities make up the demand. Rather than scouring the job boards for individual hospitals or fielding calls from recruiters, clinicians can see all available positions that meet their skills and experience, along with compensation and other job details. They can check the marketplace when it is convenient without getting inundated by phone calls or emails.

Clinicians can use the marketplaces to come in and out of the labor pool as they wish. This helps to reduce stress and increase work-life balance before burnout sets in. Some nurses might choose to leverage the marketplace to move to Florida in the winter to serve the snowbirds while others may choose to take the summer off and work during flu season. The marketplace also creates financial opportunities for underutilized clinicians by better allocating their labor to geographies and hospitals that need them. Hospitals and other providers benefit from these simple-to-use cloud-based marketplaces that allow them to quickly ramp up capacity when they need it most.

The system needs more contingent workers

In the staffing agency paradigm, when an independent hospital experiences a spike in demand it must work with a staffing agency to bring in temporary clinicians quickly. A multihospital health system has the advantage of being able to move clinicians from lower demand hospitals to a sister-hospital that is experiencing an unexpected peak. A widely adopted national marketplace would theoretically have an even greater advantage because its broader visibility across more hospitals would allow it to move resources from hospitals with excess capacity to those with the highest demand, even if the two hospitals are unaffiliated.

There have been heroic doctors and nurses who have volunteered to move to areas with the highest demand. However, hospitals and health systems are not incentivized to lend out their doctors and nurses to nonaffiliated hospitals. Therefore, the solution requires more clinicians to be in the contingent workforce (like travel and per diem nurses). If the mix between contingent nurses and permanent nurses were 70/30 instead of 30/70, peaks and troughs would be more easily handled since a larger percentage of the resources would be shared across a larger network of hospitals. The marketplaces would have an even greater impact on our society because they would be able to allocate even more resources to the hospitals with the most acute needs.

There are two possible sources of additional contingent workers. First, permanent healthcare workers may decide to terminate their affiliation with a single hospital or health system in favor of contingent work because they are attracted to the flexibility. Second, workers in other industries may choose to enter the healthcare industry because it provides more options for contingent work. Regardless of the path, an expansion of the supply of contingent healthcare workers is a necessary part of the solution.

A side benefit: Stronger financial health for our hospitals

During the pandemic, patients across the country chose to postpone many elective surgeries and non-life-threatening procedures because they were scared of contracting the virus at the hospital. As a result, hospitals lost revenue from profitable elective procedures. Because hospitals have huge fixed costs (salaries are a big component), the government has provided tens of billions of stimulus money for hospitals in financial distress.

In addition to all the other benefits described above, a more widely adopted vertical labor marketplace for healthcare workers would provide relief to hospitals by shifting a larger portion of clinician labor from a fixed cost to a variable cost. Hospitals would have a smaller number of permanent employees and a larger number of temporary contingent workers. When demand drops, hospitals would use fewer contingent clinicians. When demand rises, they could tap into the marketplace to bring on more capacity.

A marketplace approach to America’s healthcare and its clinicians is long overdue. While the pandemic magnified our current system’s vulnerabilities, they have been there all along. By leveraging the technology and marketplace paradigm that has made so many other industries efficient, we can improve not only our healthcare system and clinician quality of life, but also our hospitals’ bottom line. Let’s galvanize the collective distress COVID-19 has created and use it to pioneer a more efficient model for all.

* Craft is an investor in Trusted.

#column, #covid-19, #flu, #health, #health-care, #health-systems, #healthcare, #national-health-service, #novel-coronavirus, #nursing, #opinion, #policy, #tc

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NIH ‘Very Concerned’ About Serious Side Effect in Coronavirus Vaccine Trial​

The test was halted when a participant suffered spinal cord damage, and U.S. scientists launched an investigation

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #medicine, #public-health

0

The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Changing Our Dreams

Anxiety about social distancing and infection is altering how much we dream and the nature of our dreams themselves

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#behaviorsociety, #features, #health, #mental-health, #mind, #public-health

0

Formlabs announces a large-format medical and dental 3D printer

Formlabs was one of a few desktop 3D printing companies to weather the massive tech bubble a few years back. The Somerville, Massachusetts-based company set itself apart by bringing advanced industrial 3D-printing technologies to the consumer space. In recent years, the tech has also positioned the startup ahead of the competition when it comes to expanding into different manufacturing aspects.

Medical and dental have been two key targets. Products like prosthetics and retainers are two prime exemplars of products that can benefit from both customization and speedy manufacturing. Today, the company announced the Form 3BL, a medical and dental-focused take on the recently announced Form 3L, its $10,000 large-format stereolithography printer.

The Form 3BL shares most of the 3L’s specs, including a build volume that’s roughly five times larger than the standard Form 3 printer. The biggest differentiator is optimization for biocompatible materials. The system is designed to be used in-office for healthcare providers and dental providers to produce models and dental needs quickly in-house.

Also new today is the Wash L + Cure L, for treating large-scale objects after initial printing. That’s set to ship at some point in 2021. The Form 3L actually starts shipping today, meanwhile, and the 3BL is up for pre-order today and will ship at some point next month.

#3d-printer, #3d-printing, #formlabs, #hardware, #health

0

Researchers ready world-first vision restoration device for human clinical trials

Over a decade’s worth of work by scientists working at Melbourne, Australia’s Monash University has produced a first-of-its-kind device that can restore vision to the blind, using a combination of smartphone-style electronics and brain-implanted micro electrodes. The system has already been shown to work in preclinical studies and non-human trials on sheep, and researchers are now preparing for a first human clinical trial to take place in Melbourne.

This new technology would be able to bypass the damaged optic nerves that are often responsible for what’s definite as technical clinical blindness. It works by translating information gathered by a camera and interpreted by a vision processor unity and custom software, wirelessly to a set of tiles implanted directly within the brain. These tiles convert the image data to electrical impulses which are then transmitted to neurons in the brain via microelectrodes that are thinner than human hair.

There are still a number of steps required before this becomes something that can actually be produced and used commercially – not least of which is the extensive human clinical trial process. The team behind the technology is also looking to secure additional funding to support the eventual ramp of manufacturing and distribution of its devices as a commercial venture. But its early studies, which saw 10 of these arrays implanted on sheep, saw that one the course of a cumulative total of more than 2,700 hours of stimulation, there weren’t any adverse health affects observed.

Animals studies are a very different thing from human studies, but the research team believes their technology has promise well beyond vision. They anticipate the same approach could provide benefits and treatment options for patients with other conditions that have a neurological root cause, including paralysis.

If that sounds familiar, it might be because Elon Musk recently revealed ambitions to use his company Neuralink’s similar brain implant technology to achieve these kinds of results as well. Musk’s project is hardly the first to imagine how devices paired with modern software and technology could overcome biological limitations, and this effort form Monash has a much longer history of working towards turning this kind of science into something that could impact the lives of everyday people.

#articles, #australia, #biotech, #bypass, #elon-musk, #emerging-technologies, #hardware, #health, #manufacturing, #melbourne, #neuralink, #paralysis, #science-and-technology, #smartphone, #tc, #technology

0

COVID-19’s Other Unnecessary Death Toll

Our bungled national response exposed the fragility of our already broken health care system by keeping people with other fatal diseases from getting treatment

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

0

How New Mexico Controlled the Spread of COVID-19

The state went after the disease with widespread testing and science-based targets. Now it is in better shape than its neighbors

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

0

Carbon Health and Color founders see power in bringing healthcare to the edge

When COVID-19 spread to the United States, the pandemic exposed two conflicting realities: a healthcare system that excels at high-cost, complex treatments, while failing to provide sufficient access at the local level.

That lack of access to public health infrastructure might be the country’s biggest challenge. It’s also created opportunities for healthcare startups, founders of Carbon Health and Color said Monday during TechCrunch Disrupt 2020, which kicked off today.

“When we think about making healthcare accessible, we tend to focus on the cost of care, which is definitely a big problem,” Othman Laraki, founder and CEO of Color, said during the Disrupt panel “Tech, test and treat: Healthcare startups in the COVID-19 era.”The other big side of making healthcare accessible is actually taking it to people where it’s part of their lives. I think oftentimes for underprivileged communities, etc. that sometimes the cost of care is a lesser problem compared to the access of it.”

Primary care startup Carbon Health and Color are already tackling that issue. And in Carbon Health’s case, the company’s business model to bring high-quality primary care to the local level gave it early insight into the spread of COVID.

Carbon Health has 25 primary care locations today. Co-founder and CEO Eren Bali noted that as early as February, the company started seeing patients coming to its clinics directly from Wuhan, China with COVID-like symptoms.

Carbon Health’s technology platform asks patients questions prior to their visit, which collects important data and assessing patients’ symptoms and problems ahead of time. Those early insights left Carbon Health with two options: shut down and wait for the COVID storm to pass or jump all in. Carbon Health chose the latter, Bali said.

Laraki and Bali’s comments Monday during TechCrunch Disrupt match up with their respective business models and growth trajectory. COVID has merely accelerated that development.

Earlier this week, Carbon Health launched a new pop-up clinic model. These clinics are now open in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The company is adding more in the coming weeks, including a clinic in Detroit. Ultimately, 100 new COVID-19 testing sites will be added with a collective capacity to handle 100,000 patients per month across the country. Color is collaborating with Carbon Health at its clinics in San Francisco.

Meanwhile, as the pandemic swept into the U.S., Color built a platform to help ease the logistical and supply chain constraints around COVID testing. The company, which runs a large, automated testing lab out in the Bay Area, now processing 75% of the testing in the city.

Today, there are still limits to that hyperlocal level of healthcare. For instance, someone who needs surgery must go to a hospital, which might be hours away.

“It’s not that easy to push that to the edge,” Lariki said, using the surgery example. “But I think what’s happening now — and I think what’s going to happen in the next 10 years — is that we’re going to have really, truly edge-distributed healthcare.”

The idea is that technology will allow healthcare to be taken into communities in a more cost effective model, which will make it more accessible. “That’s something that really hasn’t existed in the U.S. so far and I think it is really starting to happen and it is fundamentally a technology problem,” Lariki added.

#carbon-health, #color, #covid-19, #disrupt-2020, #health, #healthtech, #startups

0

N95 masks could soon be rechargeable instead of disposable

The pandemic has led to N95 masks quickly becoming one of the world’s most sought-after resources as essential workers burned through billions of them. New research could lead to an N95 that you can recharge rather than throw away — or even one that continuously tops itself up for maximum effectiveness.

The proposed system, from researchers at Technion-IIT in Israel and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India, is not one of decontamination, as you might expect. Instead, it focuses on another aspect of N95 masks that renders them less effective over time.

N95s use both mechanical filtering, in which particles are caught in a matrix of microscopic fibers, and electrostatic filtering, in which particles are attracted to surfaces that carry a static charge. It’s like the old trick where you rub a balloon on your head and it sticks — but at the scale of microns.

The combination of these two methods makes N95 masks very effective, but the electrostatic charge, like any charge, dissipates after a time as air and moisture pass over it. While decontamination via UV or high temperature may help keep the mechanical filter from becoming a tiny petri dish, they do nothing to restore the electrostatic charge that acted as a second barrier to entry.

In a paper published in the journal Phsyics of Fluids, Dov Levine and Shankar Ghosh (from Technion and Tata respectively) show that it’s possible to recharge an N95’s filter to the point where it was close to off-the-shelf levels of efficacy. All that’s needed is to place the filter between two plate electrodes and apply a strong electric field.

“We find that the total charge deposited on the masks depends strongly on the charging time… with the pristine value almost reattained after a 60 min charge at 1000 V,” write the researchers in their paper.

A self-charging N95 mask prototype

It’s unlikely that health care workers are going to be disassembling their masks after every shift, though. While a service and special mask type could (and if it’s effective, should) be established to do this, the team also explored the possibility of a mask with a built-in battery that recharges itself constantly:

A solution that can help replenish the lost charge on the masks in real time would be desirable. In this section, we provide a proof-of-concept method of keeping the masks charged, which comes as a logical extension of our recharging method.

We tested a technique by which the filter material maintains its charge and thus its filtration efficiency… Since the currents required are extremely small, a large battery is not required, and it is possible that a small compact and practical solution may be feasible.

The image above shows a prototype, which the team found to work quite well.

Of course it’s not quite ready for deployment; IEEE Spectrum asked Peter Tsai, the creator of the N95 mask, for his opinion on it. He suggested that the team’s method for testing filtration efficacy is “likely questionable” but didn’t take issue with the rest of the study.

Though it won’t be in hospitals tomorrow or next week, the team notes that “crucially, our method can be performed using readily available equipment and materials and so can be employed both in urban and rural settings.” So once it’s thoroughly tested it’s possible these rechargeable masks could start showing up everywhere. Let’s hope so.

#covid-19, #gadgets, #health, #masks, #n95, #pandemic, #science

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Coronavirus Vaccine U.K. Trial Restarts, But Scientists Question Lack of Transparency

UK trials of the Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine have resumed after a brief pause, yet key details of the events have not been released

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #medicine, #public-health

0

Coronavirus News Roundup, September 5-September 11

Pandemic highlights for the week

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

0

Elon Musk says Tesla will ‘one day’ produce ‘super efficient home HVAC’ with HEPA filtering

Elon Musk has previously touted the ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’ boasted by Tesla’s vehicles, which are designed to provide excellent air quality inside the car even in the face of disastrous conditions without, thanks in part to high-efficiency HEPA air filtration. Now, Musk has said on Twitter that he hopes to one day provide similar air filtration along with home HVAC systems.

Tesla, while primarily an automaker, is also already in the business of home energy and power generation, thanks to its acquisition of SolarCity, its current production of solar roofing products, and its business building Tesla batteries for storage of power generated from green sources at home. While it hasn’t yet seemed to make any moves to enter into any other parts of home building or infrastructure, HVAC systems actually would be a logical extension of its business, since they represent a significant part of the overall energy consumption of a home, depending on its heating and cooling sources.

Boosting home HVAC efficiency would have the added benefit of making Tesla’s other home energy products more appealing to consumers, since it would presumably help make it easier to achieve true off-grid (or near off-grid) self-sufficiency.

As for the company’s HEPA filtration, despite the jokey name, Tesla actually takes ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’ very seriously. In a blog post in 2016, it detailed what went into the system’s design, along with testing data to back up its claims of a HEPA filter that’s “ten times more efficient than standard automotive filters.” While Tesla doesn’t cited wildfires in that post, it does list “California freeways during rush hour, smelly marshes, cow pastures in the Central Valley of California, and major cities in China” in terms of challenges it wanted it to to be able to handle.

Many experts are predicting that the wildfires we’re currently seeing devastating large portions of the west coast of the U.S. will only get worse as environmental conditions continue to suffer the impact of climate change. Given that, and given Tesla’s larger business goals of offering a range of products that neutralize or reduce the ecological impact of its customers, more efficient and effective home HVAC products don’t seem that far outside its operational expertise.

#articles, #california, #china, #elon-musk, #greentech, #hardware, #health, #solar-city, #solarcity, #tc, #tesla, #tesla-model-s, #united-states, #west-coast

0

A Matter of Time

9 essential facts about the coronavirus pandemic

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#from-the-editor, #health, #public-health

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Carbon Health to launch 100 pop-up COVID-19 testing clinics across the U.S.

Primary care health tech startup Carbon Health has added a new element to its “omnichannel” healthcare approach with the launch of a new pop-up clinic model that is already live in San Francisco, LA, Seattle, Brooklyn and Manhattan, with Detroit to follow soon – and that will be rolling out over the next weeks and months across a variety of major markets in the U.S., ultimately resulting in 100 new COVID-19 testing sites that will add testing capacity on the order of around an additional 100,000 patients per month across the country.

So far, Carbon Health has focused its COVID-19 efforts around its existing facilities in the Bay Area, and also around pop-up testing sites set up in and around San Francisco through collaboration with genomics startup Color, and municipal authorities. Now, Carbon Health CEO and co-founder Even Bali tells me in an interview that the company believes the time is right for it to take what it has learned and apply that on a more national scale, with a model that allows for flexible and rapid deployment. In fact, Bali says the they realized and began working towards this goal as early as March.

“We started working on COVID response as early as February, because we were seeing patients who are literally coming from Wuhan, China to our clinics,” Bali said. “We expected the pandemic to hit any time. And partially because of the failure of federal government control, we decided to do everything we can to be able to help out with certain things.”

That began with things that Carbon could do locally, more close to home in its existing footprint. But it was obvious early on to Bali and his team that there would be a need to scale efforts more broadly. To do that, Carbon was able to draw on its early experience.

“We have been doing on-site, we have been going to nursing homes, we have been working with companies to help them reopen,” he told me. “At this point, I think we’ve done more than 200,000 COVID tests by ourselves. And I think I do more than half of all the Bay Area, if you include that the San Francisco City initiative is also partly powered by Carbon Health, so we’re already trying to scale as much as possible, but at some point we were hitting some physical space limits, and had the idea back in March to scale with more pop-up, more mobile clinics that you can actually put up like faster than a physical location.”

Interior of one of Carbon Health’s COVID-19 testing pop-up clinics in Brooklyn.

To this end, Carbon Health also began using a mobile trailer that would travel from town to town in order to provide testing to communities that weren’t typically well-served. That ended up being a kind of prototype of this model, which employs construction trailers like you’d see at a new condo under development acting as a foreman’s office, but refurbished and equipped with everything needed for on-site COVID testing run by medical professionals. These, too, are a more temporary solution, as Carbon Health is working with a manufacturing company to create a more fit-for-purpose custom design that can be manufactured at scale to help them ramp deployment of these even faster.

Carbon Health is partnering with Reef Technologies, a SoftBank -backed startup that turns parking garage spots into locations for businesses, including foodservice, fulfilment, and now Carbon’s medical clinics. This has helped immensely with the complications of local permitting and real estate regulations, Bali says. That means that Carbon Health’s pop-up clinics can bypass a lot of the red tape that slows the process of opening more traditional, permanent locations.

While cost is one advantage of using this model, Bali says that actually it’s not nearly as inexpensive as you might think relative to opening a more traditional clinic – at least until their custom manufacturing and economies of scale kick in. But speed is the big advantage, and that’s what is helping Carbon Health look ahead from this particular moment, to how these might be used either post-pandemic, or during the eventual vaccine distribution phase of the COVID crisis. Bali points out that any approved vaccine will need administration to patients, which will require as much, if not more infrastructure than testing.

Exterior of one of Carbon Health’s COVID-19 testing pop-up clinics in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Carbon Health’s pop-up model could bridge the gap between traditional primary care and telehealth, for ongoing care needs unrelated to COVID.

“A lot of the problems that telemedicine is not a good solution for, are the things where a video check-in with a doctor is nearly enough, but you do need some diagnostic tests – maybe you might you may need some administration, or you may need like a really simple physical examination that nursing staff can do with the instructions of the doctor. So if you think about those cases, pretty much 90% of all visits can actually be done with a doctor on video, and nursing staff in person.”

COVID testing is an imminent, important need nationwide – and COVID vaccine administration will hopefully soon replace it, with just as much urgency. But even after the pandemic has passed, healthcare in general will change dramatically, and Carbon Health’s model could be a more permanent and scalable way to address the needs of distributed care everywhere.

#articles, #brooklyn, #bypass, #carbon-health, #china, #detroit, #genomics, #health, #healthcare, #louisiana, #manhattan, #manufacturing, #medical-research, #model, #occupational-safety-and-health, #san-francisco, #seattle, #softbank, #startups, #tc, #telemedicine, #united-states, #vaccines

0

Scientists React​ to Halt of Leading Coronavirus Vaccine Trial

Scientists urge caution in the global vaccine race as AstraZeneca reports an ‘adverse event’ in a person who received the Oxford vaccine

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #medicine, #public-health

0

How Good a Diet Is Intermittent Fasting?

The popular fasting diet regimen can work well for weight loss, but many other claims about its benefits remain to be proved

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #the-body, #the-science-of-health, #wellness

0

Coronavirus: How It Infects Us and How We Might Stop It

How does SARS-CoV-2 sneak into our body? What can our immune system do and how can the virus sometimes defeat it? How do the leading drug and vaccine candidates work? Will the virus plague us…

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

0

Fighting Back against the Loneliness Epidemic

Throughout the country, socially distanced young adults and older adults have been forming connections

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#behaviorsociety, #health

0

Our Health Depends on Our Homes and Work Spaces

A new book looks at the science of how our buildings affect our bodies and minds

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#anti-gravity, #health, #wellness

0

We Must Reduce the Trauma of Medical Diagnoses

If a diagnosis is not delivered with care, it can form an intense “flashbulb memory”

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#behaviorsociety, #health, #mind

0

Peloton launches new Bike+ and Tread smart home gym equipment, both at $2,495

Peloton has launched two new products for its home smart gym lineup, the Bike+ ($2,495) and the Tread ($2,495). While both carry the same price tag, the new exercise bike joins as the premium version of Peloton’s original stationary cycle, which will remain on sale at $1,895, and the Tread is the new entry-level Peloton treadmill product, with the original becoming the Tread+ at $4,295. Both products were leaked by Bloomberg last week prior to their official unveiling on Tuesday.

The new Peloton Bike+ includes a 23.8″ rotating, HD resolution touchscreen display. It can move 180 degrees in either direction, which is meant to allow at-home exercisers to use the screen (and Peloton’s range of remote workout instruction and classes) while they’re off the bike. There’s also a built-in four-speaker sound system, a one-tap contactless integration with Apple Gymkit that allows you to sync workouts to your Apple Watch, and an Auto-Follow resistance system that scales the resistance of the bike depending on your own target metrics for heart rate and breathing.

As mentioned, the Bike+ retails for $2,495, which is around $600 more than the newly repriced entry-level Bike. It’s going on sale in the U.S., Canada and Germany starting on September 9, and will be available on a financing plan for instalment payments. Peloton will also make it available on a 30-day home trial basis, as it does on its existing equipment.

Likewise the new Tread will be able to be bought over a financing period with instalment payments, and comes with the trial period. It’s set to launch in early 2021 in both the U.S. and Canada, but will go on sale a bit earlier in the UK on December 26, 2020. Germany will also get the new treadmill, but that’ll be later in 2021, according o the company.

Image Credits: Peloton

As for what the Tread provides, it also has a 23.8″ HD touchscreen, but it doesn’t rotate – it does tilt up and down 50 degrees for floor-based workouts, however. The new Tread is “smaller than most couches” according to the company, at 68″ L x 33″ W x 62″ H. It looks like a much more traditional treadmill belt assembly than the one found on the more premium Tread+, but the company points out that it doesn’t have any kind of front shroud housing like you’d find on most treadmills, which does lighten the look of the whole thing.

Peloton also announced a new kind of class called ‘Bike Bootcamp’ that includes strength training to provide a more comprehensive total body workout, alongside cardio exercises. Sounds like the perfect complement to that rotating display on the Bike+, in case it wasn’t clear that the company wants to be the one-stop shop for a holistic home exercise program.

In case any recent Peloton purchasers were feeling buyer’s remorse about the new gear, Peloton says that’ it’s automatically refunding anyone who are still in their 30-day home trial period, or who are still waiting for the Bike to be delivered, in order to instantly provide them the $350 price drop that they’ve instituted for the original exercise bike. Anyone who falls in that group and wants to swap for the upgraded model will also be able to do that while paying the difference.

Image Credits: Peloton

Meanwhile, if you’re not a recent purchaser but still would like some new gear, Peloton is extending a trade-in offer to current Bike owners that will provide them a $700 rebate, along with a Yoga & Training accessory equipment set, and free pick-up of your old bike when they deliver your new one. Not a bad upgrade incentive.

#apple, #companies, #gadgets, #germany, #hardware, #health, #peloton, #tc, #treadmill, #united-kingdom, #united-states

0

COVID-19’s Disparate Impacts Are Not a Story about Race

They’re a story about racism

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #policyethics

0

BIMA nabs $30M more for micro- health and life insurance aimed at emerging markets

The coronavirus global health pandemic — and the new emphasis on social distancing to slow down the spread of COVID-19 — has put healthcare and tech services used to enable healthcare remotely under the spotlight. Today a startup that’s building microinsurance and healthcare services specifically targeting emerging markets is announcing a round of funding to meet a surge in demand for its services.

BIMA, a startup that provides life and health insurance policies, along with telemedicine to support the latter, all via a mobile-first platform targeting consumers in emerging markets whose primary entry point to online services is via phones, not computers, is today announcing that it has raised $30 million in funding, a growth round that the Stockholm/London-based startup plans to use to double down on its health services in the wake increased demand around COVID-19.

The company currently provides telemedicine as a service connected to its health insurance, and it has expanded to include health programs for managing illnesses and offering discounts for pharmacies, and the plan seems to be to bring more services into the mix.

This is the same approach we’re seeing from other insurance startups targeting emerging economies, including China’s Waterdrop, which recently raised $230 million. Looking at the network of services Waterdrop is building, including crowdfunding, gives you an idea of what else BIMA might potentially look to add in, too.

The round is being led by a new investor — China’s CreditEase Fintech Investment Fund (CEFIF) — with previous backers LeapFrog Investments and insurance giant Allianz (who were in BIMA’s previous, $97 million round) also participating.

The startup is not disclosing its valuation this time around, but in its previous round the company was valued at $300 million, and it has grown considerably since then.

BIMA has now clocked up 2 million tele-doctor consultations and has some 35 million insurance and health policies on its books, growing its customer base by some 11 million people in the last two years. It’s now active in 10 countries — Ghana, Tanzania and Senegal in Africa; and Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Sri Lanka across Asia.

At a time when we have seen a number of insure tech startups emerge in the US and Europe — with some, like Lemonade, growing into publicly-listed companies — BIMA is very notable in part because of who it targets.

It’s not higher economic brackets, or necessarily segments with disposable income, or those in developed markets with stable economies. Rather, its focus is, in its words, underserved families that typically live on less than $10 per day and are at high risk of illness or injury, with 75% of its customers accessing insurance services for the very first time, BIMA notes.

“Telemedicine and insurance are needed more than ever and COVID accelerated awareness and acceptance for these types of products amongst emerging consumers and government. They’ve gone from ‘nice to have’ to a necessity,” said Mathilda Strom, who co-founded the company with CEO Gustaf Agartson, in an interview. “Utilisation nearly doubled in our telemedicine services.” BIMA covers COVID and pandemics in general in its policies, she added. “We have paid out COVID-related claims to families of people who suffered or passed away from the illness.”

It’s also working with health authorities that have been overwhelmed in the pandemic. Pakistani government and Indonesian government now use BIMA to off-load their health services by providing teledoctor consultations or doctors chats to customers.

Aiming at developing economies where middle classes are still only materialising, currencies are potentially unstable, and there is still a lack of infrastructure means that BIMA is contending with a combination of factors that makes the bar high for entry, but it’s also potentially more rewarding because of the lack of competition and tapping a demand that is still rapidly growing.

“The onset of COVID-19 has brought home the value of telemedicine, to help prevent the spread of disease, and the importance of insurance, for peace of mind,” said Agartson in a statement.

“Through digital solutions, and a human touch, we’ve been able to serve hard to reach communities with tools and services that bring them a sense of security at such a challenging time. The funds we have raised will allow us to expand our operations and further invest in our product offering that will help us scale quickly to meet the unprecedented demand for our services.”

It’s interesting to see CreditEase, a Chinese investor, as part of this round: the idea of all-in, full service health services companies banked around the insurance proposition has been one cultivated in the Chinese market. But even with the development of HMOs in the US, it’s interesting that there have been relatively few startups around the world trying to develop similar models. BIMA stands out in part because of that.

“We are very impressed by BIMA’s innovative integration of micro insurance and tele-doctor services, which provide critical coverage to meet large unmet demand in emerging markets, and whose value is accentuated further by the current pandemic,” said Dennis Cong, managing partner at CEFIF, in a statement. “We are very happy to have the opportunity to join this meaningful journey, along with the established leading shareholders, and support the company to grow its business and expand its leadership position in its served markets.”

“The market that BIMA is serving is vast and demand for health services is tremendous,” added Stewart Langdon, a partner at LeapFrog Investments. “BIMA’s unique digital capabilities empower emerging market consumers to access many health and insurance services on a single, easy to use platform. That includes protection for millions of first-time buyers of insurance who would otherwise remain unprotected and at risk.”

“We are happy to continue our partnership with BIMA and jointly deliver telemedicine and remote healthcare services in developing markets,” said Nazim Cetin, CEO at Allianz X, in a statement. “We believe the demand for these services will continue to increase and want to manifest BIMA’s leading position in the market by providing support with our experience and network.”

#bima, #covid-19, #emerging-markets, #health, #health-insurance, #insurance, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc

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The Failure of Public Health Messaging about COVID-19

Untested medications and false claims that it’s no worse than the flu are still being taken much too seriously by far too many people

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

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Daily Crunch: Peloton might expand its product lineup

Peloton’s product lineup is both getting cheaper and more expensive, Nintendo announces a new retro device and Palantir reveals more about its governance plans. This is your Daily Crunch for September 4, 2020.

The big story: Peloton might expand its product lineup

Peloton is preparing to add new products at both ends of its pricing range, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Specifically, it’s planning to add an entry-level treadmill that would retail for less than $3,000, as well as a higher-end bike, called the Bike+, which could serve as a centerpiece for a home gym that also supports strength training and other workouts. Meanwhile, Peloton would also drop the price for its existing bike to under $1,900.

Altogether, this sounds like a smart way to both lower the price of entry while also creating new products for people who don’t feel safe going to the gym (assuming it’s open at all) during the pandemic.

The tech giants

Nintendo is remaking the first portable gaming system it ever built —  For nearly a decade before Nintendo released the iconic Game Boy, it was making the Game & Watch, which it’s now planning to re-release in a limited edition.

WhatsApp reveals six previously undisclosed vulnerabilities on new security site — The vulnerabilities are being reported on a new, dedicated security advisory website.

Google pushes Europe to limit ‘gatekeeper’ platform rules — Google has made its pitch to shape the next decades of digital regulation across the European Union.

Startups, funding and venture capital

In amended filing, Palantir admits it won’t have independent board governance for up to a year — Palantir’s model is unique in allowing founders to have a commanding vote even if they were to sell their shares.

Yandex spins out self-driving car unit from its Uber JV, invests $150M into new company — The move comes amid reports that Yandex and Uber were eyeing up an IPO for their joint venture MLU last year.

Teemyco creates virtual offices so you can grab a room and talk with colleagues — The company wants to foster spontaneous interactions and casual collaboration with a room-based interface.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

3 views on the future of geographic-focused funds — Natasha Mascarenhas, Danny Crichton and Alex Wilhelm of the TechCrunch Equity crew discuss the future of geographic-focused funds, given the uptick of remote investing.

Brands that hyper-personalize will win the next decade — Personalizing the experience is a start, but it isn’t the end.

(Reminder: Extra Crunch is our subscription membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Stocks are selling off again, and SaaS shares are taking the biggest lumps — Stocks, it turns out, can go down, and they can do so very quickly.

Low-cost fitness bands see a resurgence in interest amid the pandemic — While wearable fitness devices saw an uptick in shipments in North America for Q2, the overall dollar amount of the market remained steady, according to new numbers out of Canalys.

NSA’s Anne Neuberger to talk cybersecurity at Disrupt 2020 — Neuberger took the helm at the NSA’s newly created Cybersecurity Directorate a year ago.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

#daily-crunch, #hardware, #health, #peloton

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Coronavirus News Roundup, August 29-September 4

Pandemic highlights for the week

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

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Low-cost fitness bands see a resurgence in interest amid the pandemic

While wearable fitness devices saw an uptick in shipments in North America for Q2, the overall dollar amount of the market remained steady, according to new numbers out of Canalys. The discrepancy can be chalked up to a decline in the average selling price of the products.

Continuing an overall trend for 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in wearable devices, as consumer look to both monitor their health and track step counts, as mass closing have made many more sedentary. Perhaps owing to large unemployment figures and a massive economic downturn, the decisions customers have been making are trending forward the more frugal end of the spectrum.

Image Credits: Canalys

“Americans invested heavily in sub-US$50 trackers during the pandemic to stay accountable for the greater amount of time spent at home,” analyst Vincent Thielke said in a comment tied to the figures’ release.

The numbers buck larger on-going wearable trends, which have found smartwatches starting to utterly dominate the conversation. Of course, results that can tied directly to the pandemic ought not be viewed as indicators of broader, on-going trends. They do, however, seem to open up a perhaps temporary opportunity to low cost device makers. Amazon is tricking while the iron is hot with the Halo band, and a number of companies that have had continued success in Asia could potentially find an opening in the market. Subscription services appear to be the key way forward for monetizing relatively low-cost devices.

Apple continues to dominate the category overall. That’s helped along by a bump in shipments for the Apple Watch Series 3. The three-year-old smartwatch saw a 30% year-over-year growth, as a $200 alternative to Apple’s higher end devices.

#amazon, #apple, #canalys, #fitbit, #hardware, #health, #wearables

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Peloton said to be launching new, cheaper treadmill and higher-end stationary smart bike

Peloton is reportedly getting ready to add to its product lineup with two new products at either end of its pricing spectrum, according to Bloomberg. The workout tech company is planning both a cheaper, entry-level smart treadmill, and a higher-end version of its stationary exercise bike, with an announcement set to take place as early as sometime next week in time for its quarterly financial earnings.

The new products would come alongside a price drop for its existing exercise bike, to a price point under $1,900 according to the report. While the new ‘Bike+’ will retail for more than the current price of the existing model, the price drop will help Peloton stoke the high demand for its products resulting from the closure of gyms and social distancing measures instituted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peloton’s new ‘Tread’ treadmill will retail for under $3,000, according to Bloomberg’s sources, which is a considerable discount vs. the $4,295 asking price for the existing model. That one will remain on sale as a premium offering, and the new version will reportedly more closely resemble a traditional home treadmill in terms of materials and construction, allowing for the cheaper asking price.

The new, upscale Bike+ model will also reportedly feature a repositionable smart display, which will help it serve as the centerpiece of a more comprehensive home gym that includes strength training and other kinds of guided workouts. Peloton’s hardware products are what helped distinguish it in the exercise market, but it has built another strong business on subscription plans and app-guided workouts, which are available with or without its home gym equipment.

The new treadmill will likely go to market before the upgraded smart bike, in terms of availability, according to the report. Peloton’s main blocker for customer base expansion is probably its relatively high point of entry, in terms of its in-house hardware, so that makes a lot of sense if the company is looking to capitalize on general consumer appetite for at-home fitness solutions during the COVID-19 crisis.

#companies, #gadgets, #hardware, #health, #peloton, #tc, #treadmill

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We Can’t Fight COVID-19 on a Country-by-Country Basis

A physician in hard-hit South Africa points out that squelching the disease in one place means nothing if it’s raging elsewhere

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #public-health

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How to Decide Who Should Get a COVID-19 Vaccine First

Medical ethicist Ezekiel Emanuel discusses a framework for equitably allocating COVID-19 vaccines based on preventing premature deaths and mitigating long-term economic impacts

— Read more on ScientificAmerican.com

#health, #medicine, #public-health, #the-sciences

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