Healios raises $10M to scale its mental health platform for children scarred by the COVID-19 pandemic

Heaven knows what will happen to the mental health of children who’ve gone through this past year but if there’s one thing we need right now it’s mental health provision for young people that can scale. And as much as some of us can’t bear the thought of another video call, a UK startup reckons it’s come up with the magic formula for online therapy for children.

Now, Healios has raised a £7 million ($10M) Series A round to expand its platform across the UK. If the roll-out is successful, the startup is looking at expanding internationally. The round was led by InHealth Ventures with participation from existing investors AlbionVC.

Healios will use the funding to expand its AI, machine learning, and data science expertise, as well as add to the team. Healios says its platform digitises the clinical pathway, enabling children, adults, and their family members to use clinical services at home.

According to UK government statistics, one in eight (12.8%) five to 19-year-olds in the UK have a mental health disorder but two-thirds are unable to access NHS care because of soaring demands. And the Covid-19 pandemic has made things worse.

Launched in 2013, Healios says it has now worked with 65% of NHS Mental Health Trusts, with 70,000 specialized clinical sessions delivered, which is a high success rate for a startup, considering how hard it is to get NHS approval.

The online, family-focused therapy program for young people zeros in on psychosis and schizophrenia. Healios says that studies have shown involving family members from the start can reduce suicide by as much as 90%. It also covers anxiety, low mood, autism and ADHD, as well as support to their families.

Unlike some startups in the area of mental health, Healios is not a marketplace of advisers but is an end-to-end provider of these services.

InHealth Ventures and InHealth Group Chair, Richard Bradford, will be joining the Healios board, alongside Cat McDonald of AlbionVC.

Rich Andrews, Founder, and CEO of Healios, said: “This funding will help us reach more families in need and enable us to develop further sector-leading interventions and therapies. By bringing together clinical experts and giving them the tools to reach their patients regardless of where they are, we are closing the access gap which has plagued mental health provision for far too long.”

Andrews also told me: “A young person will have an initial mental health assessment with us. If needed, we’ll make a diagnosis and then they’ll move on to other interventions with us, so this is a seamless experience.”

Dr Ben Evans, Managing Director of InHealth Ventures, said: “Healios is a standard-bearer for healthcare innovation. They bring together clinical excellence with digital expertise, working in partnership with the NHS to address a critical, but complex area of care delivery. Healios’ work to date speaks for itself; their holistic approach to diagnosis and treatment has had a substantive impact on clinical outcomes and patient experience.”

Cat McDonald, Investor at AlbionVC, added: “Covid has engendered a pace of innovation previously unseen in healthcare. In particular, we have seen that remote care not only works, but often works much better than traditional alternatives. The option to receive care remotely, at home and in a family-centric setting is the strong preference of most kids suffering from poor mental health.”

#artificial-intelligence, #autism, #ceo, #chair, #europe, #health, #health-care, #healthcare, #machine-learning, #mental-health, #national-health-service, #nhs, #online-therapy, #schizophrenia, #services, #tc, #uk-government, #united-kingdom

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As it hits $100 million run rate, The Pill Club adds former Uber exec Liz Meyerdirk as CEO

Liz Meyerdirk made a name for herself at Uber as the Senior Director & Global Head of Business Development for the company’s Uber Eats business and she’s now turning her attention to women’s health as the new chief executive of The Pill Club.

The move comes at a perilous time for the remote delivery of women’s healthcare as the Supreme Court has taken steps to limit the provision of sexual healthcare to women in recent months.

“Women’s health care has never been more tested than right now,” Meyerdirk noted in a blog post announcing her new role. “COVID-19 has upended access to care; dozens of states have—and continue—to try and limit women’s choice; and last year, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the rollback of the ACA contraceptive mandate decision, a stunning move that could end up impacting as many as 126,000 women who previously received covered contraception through employer-based health insurance.”

A seasoned corporate executive, Meyerdirk is hoping to navigate The Pill Club through these treacherous times. “These events have shown that reliable, safe, and affordable access to women’s health and birth control is
just one more vulnerability in our health care system,” Meyerdirk wrote.

Liz Meyerdirk, chief executive of The Pill Club: Image Credit: The Pill Club

As it faces an uncertain legal environment on some fronts, the company couldn’t be in a better position financially.

The Pill Club, which is profitable and now has a $100 million run rate, is now ready for its closeup with Meyerdirk at the helm.

The company has managed to make its mark in the crowded world of online prescriptions and refill fulfillment by focusing specifically on women’s health and ensuring that those services are available to as many potential patients as possible.

“We’re now serving hundreds of thousands of women nationwide with 20% on Medicaid,” says Meyerdirk. “We prescribe in 43 states and the District of Columbia.”

For Meyerdirk, the background she had in logistics and fulfillment from her time at Uber Eats made the transition to the pill prescription and delivery service natural.

“There is a heavy logistics element to it,” said Meyerdirk.

As Meyerdirk takes the reins of the company, she said there’s a few areas that The Pill Club will expand into beyond its focus on birth control and contraception. “There are areas that our customers are asking for,” Meyerdirk said.

These areas include, initially, dermatology. Last year the company launched a delivery service for contraceptives and women’s hygiene products like pads and tampons.

As it continues to expand its product suite, it’s also growing its executive staff. The company not only added Meyerdirk, but also David Hsu as chief financial officer and Jeremy Downs as senior vice president of growth. Hsu joins the company from Honey, where led the $4 billion acquisition negotiations with PayPal, and Downs comes from Uber Eats, where he spent five years leading growth.

“We need sustained, long-term access to women’s health care, not just a bridge while the pandemic persists; and we need coverage for essential health services like birth control and prenatal care, regardless of whether or not you’re insured,” Meyerdirk wrote. “Reproductive care has and continues to be an essential part of our business, but there are countless opportunities to serve women in all of their life stages from puberty to menopause.”

#articles, #birth-control, #chief-financial-officer, #contraception, #health, #health-care, #health-services, #healthcare, #paypal, #reproductive-health, #supreme-court, #tc, #uber, #uber-eats, #womens-health

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Conversa Health expands its Series B round to $20M

Portland, Oregon-based Conversa Health, a virtual care and communication platform that helps health organizations stay in touch with their patients and customers, today announced that it has expanded its Series B funding round from $12 million to $20 million. The round is still co-led by Builders VC and Northwell Health’s venture arm Northwell Ventures. Additional investors include UH Ventures, the venture arm of University Hospitals and VC firms P5 Health Ventures, Epic Ventures, StartUp Health and Nassau Street Ventures, as well Genesis Merchant Capital and J-Ventures, which came in as new investors in this expanded round.

“There’s been a recognition, especially with COVID, that the need for automated and virtual — which are two big trends in healthcare — were on the horizon but now the horizon has been pulled in because of COVID and the healthcare system recognizes that that’s going to be required to be able to allow access for patients and improve both the experience for patients and providers, and get better outcomes and do it at lower cost,” Conversa CEO Murray Brozinsky told me.

Brozinsky actually believes that within the next decade, 80% of care will be done remotely. This will allow for more personalized and evidence-based care, but it will also require investments in automation.

“Conversa links providers’ EHRs and other patient data to best-of-breed interactive digital care pathways and clinical analytics engine to automate care management 24×7. This improves care plan adherence pre and post visit, reducing costs and generating better outcomes for patients,” said Builders VC partner and Conversa board member Mark Goldstein. “Conversa’s enterprise platform and library of digital pathways are used by providers to care for patients across their populations, as opposed to one-off point solutions. It fills an enormous gap in the market.”

Given the pandemic, it’s maybe no surprise that Conversa’s business also boomed. The number of customers the company its services has grown fourfold while its financial metrics are up 6x because a lot of its larger companies have expanded their use of the platform.

The team decided to expand the existing Series B round to help it capitalize on this momentum and to bring on more engineers in order to scale the platform. Brozinsky believes that the need for a platform like Conversa’s will remain after the pandemic ends. In addition, the company is also already rolling out support for vaccination programs in its service to help educate consumers but also help in monitoring efforts after people get their shots.

“Everything we’re hearing from health systems, they recognize that they need to be prepared for this to happen again, they still need to care for the core demographics that haven’t changed — this aging population — with an acute shortage of healthcare workers,” Brozinsky said. “So the need for the systems and these platforms is going to be more acute and the investment is not so much an additional cost but an enormous return.”

#board-member, #builders-vc, #conversa-health, #epic-ventures, #health, #health-care, #healthcare, #murray-brozinsky, #northwell-ventures, #oregon, #portland, #primary-care, #recent-funding, #series-b, #startup-health, #startups, #vaccination, #vc

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Winnoz’s vacuum-assisted Haiim makes finger prick blood draws more efficient

Winnoz’s Haiim is designed to make collecting blood from fingertips easier, increasing the volume drawn so it can be used for more types of tests. The New Taipei City, Taiwan-based company’s vacuum-assisted device can collect up to 150 to 500 microliters of blood from a finger prick, depending on the person, in about two minutes.

Winnoz is currently presenting Haiim and eGGi, its molecular detection device that supports isothermal DNA/RNA amplification methods, at CES’ Taiwan Tech Arena pavilion, with the goal of finding new partners and investors.

Haiim was inspired by founder and chief executive officer Joses Hsiung’s childhood memories of watching his mother go into clinics for regular blood testing. Since his mother’s veins were hard to see, it often took multiple punctures for phlebotomists to draw enough blood. Eventually, her veins collapsed. Hsiung began working on the device to maximize the amount of blood that can be taken from finger pricks.

While finger blood draws are typically used for tests that require less than 10 microliters of blood, like glucose monitoring or cholesterol panel, Haiim can draw enough for ones that need a larger volume, potentially helping patients avoid venipuncture blood draws.

The device consists of two parts, the main unit and single-use cartridges that stores the blood until it is tested. Since many clinics and hospitals are understaffed, it is designed so personnel can start using it with less training than traditional blood collection methods. Haiim was approved by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration in 2019 and is intended for use by health care organizations, clinics and hospitals.

#asia, #blood-testing, #ces, #ces-2021, #health-care, #medical, #startups, #taiwan, #tc, #winnoz

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Carbon Health raises $100 million with plans to expand pop-up clinics ahead of COVID-19 vaccination programs

Carbon Health has raised a $100 million Series C funding round, led by Dragoneer Investment Group and including participation from prior investors Brookfield Technology Partners, DCVC and Builders VC. This funding will be used to help the SF-based healthcare provider startup to continue to expand its nationwide footprint, including with the opening of 100 pop-up clinics planned for across 20 markets across the U.S.

This past year has seen Carbon Health expand from just seven clinics to 27, spread out across six different states. The company, which focuses on primary care, has also introduced virtual care options with an emphasis on what it calls “omnichannel” care, or offering services in whatever method is most convenient, effective and appropriate for its customers. The startup has always aimed at a hybrid care approach, but it’s emphasizing the flexibility of its model in response to COVID-19, and has in particular accelerated its plans around its pop-up clinics.

These are deployed in under-utilized spaces in regions where additional care options are needed, including parking lots and garages. Carbon Health partnered early with Reef Technology on opening these locations, using shipping-container style mobile trailers to provide on-site care. Carbon Health founder and CEO Eren Bali explained to me that while remote care can be very effective, in some instances, it requires some nurse practitioner support with virtual physician-guided services to provide a complete solution for customers.

The company is also looking to support greater testing capacity using this model, and eventually looking ahead to providing an infrastructure that can help with widespread COVID-19 vaccine distribution, once one is ready to go. While some scientific results this week have been very promising, including with Pfizer’s Phase 3 clinical trial, ultimately the effort of undertaking a national vaccine inoculation program will require cooperation among many stakeholders, including primary care providers.

#biotech, #builders-vc, #ceo, #dcvc, #dragoneer-investment-group, #eren-bali, #funding, #health, #health-care, #medical-research, #omnichannel, #pfizer, #primary-care, #recent-funding, #reef-technology, #startup-funding, #startups, #tc, #united-states, #vaccine

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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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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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Osmind pitches clinical management and data analysis for mental health practices using psychedelics

Jimmy Qian and Lucia Huang, the co-founders of a new clinical practice management and data analysis platform for mental health providers focusing on cutting edge psychedelic treatments, met at Stanford University. 

The two both come from healthcare backgrounds. Huang, whose mother was a biomedical engineer, worked as an associate at Warburg Pincus focused on healthcare and worked at the startup Verge Genomics before heading to Stanford’s business school while Qian was in medical school at Stanford.

Both also went to high school in the Bay Area and were intimately familiar with the mental health crisis affecting the communities around Silicon Valley.

Qian worked on a few non-profits in the mental health space through his undergraduate years at Penn and then again in the Bay Area while he was at Stanford.

Osmind’s founders say the goal for their young startup is to help patients access innovative treatments to mental health by providing clinicians and pharmaceutical companies with software and services that will make the provision of care, and proof of the efficacy of treatment, more readily available.

There are 11 million Americans that are resistant to most mental health therapies, according to Huang and Qian. Those patients can cost the healthcare as much as $250 billion, they said. “Nobody has been able to help this patient population,” said Huang in an interview. “Pharma doesn’t develop drugs for them.”

Now graduating with Y Combinator’s latest cohort of companies, Osmind’s public benefit corporation intends to aggregate data from the sickest patient population and provide that data to drug developers for clinical trials and to help insurers route patients to the treatment providers that can benefit them the most, according to Qian.

The company, which launched its services two months ago, already has 30 practices using its software covering 3,000 patients.

“The beauty of all of this is that it’s a win-win for everyone,” said Huang. Providers get a software platform that streamlines administrative tasks and provides patient outreach and remote monitoring services. They also have a web portal that allows them to view patient progress.

Qian said its a service designed for physicians that are not necessarily technically savvy. It also provides a dataset that can be used to clinically validate some of these more experimental forms of therapy including psychedelics and ketamine treatment.

“We improve the care journey,” said Qian. “These are clinics that don’t have the manpower to do that.. You can’t call your patients every single day.”

#articles, #disability, #health, #health-care, #healthcare, #mental-health, #pennsylvania, #pharmaceutical, #primary-care, #software-platform, #stanford-university, #tc, #verge-genomics, #warburg-pincus, #web-portal, #y-combinator

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Using population health analysis to improve patient care brings Sema4 a $1.1 billion valuation

Sema4, the Stamford, Conn.-based digital healthcare company now worth just over $1 billion, takes its name from the system of sending messages via code.

And like its namesake, Sema4 is trying to send messages of its own to the broader healthcare system based on the signals it uncovers in massive datasets of population health that can reveal insights and best practices, according to the company’s founding chief executive, Eric Schadt.

Spun out from the Mt. Sinai Health System in June 2017, Sema4 is the second digital healthcare company in a week to reach a billion dollar valuation from investors (Ro, too, is now worth over $1 billion). In this case, Sema4’s $121 million financing came from BlackRock, Deerfield and Moore Capital, and follows only twelve months after another $120 million institutional financing from investors including Blackstone, Section 32, Oak HC/FT, Decheng, and the Connecticut Innovation Fund.

The company’s ability to attract capital may have something to do with a business model that’s managed to amass nearly 10 million patient records through partnerships with ten major health systems and several hundred thousand more patients through a strategy that has the company offer direct insights to patients as part of enhanced care services.

“My effort centered on… how do we aggregate bigger and bigger sources of data to better inform patients around their health and wellness,” said Schadt. 

Sema4 chief executive Eric Shcadt. Image Credit: Sema4

Sema4 works with physicians to provide analysis of genetic data so doctors can make informed decisions on what care would work best with their patients. “We’re providing a meaningful service on behalf of the physician and it’s a service that the physician wants us to do because they’re generally not adept at the genomics,” said Schadt. 

The company provides screening services for reproductive health and oncology as two of its core competencies, acting as a single point of care to collect and store information in a way that’s easily portable for patients, Schadt said

“We play in the testing arena as a growth hack engine to engage patients and generating high amounts of quality data and seek to engage with them to get to higher scales to build the biggest models to get what [doctors] need on any condition of interest,” he said. 

Sema4 is currently working in three areas, reproductive health, precision oncology, and now COVID-19. In April, the company had no ability to analyze tests for COVID-19, but did have lab space that was certified to perform the necessary analysis. Now, the company can handle15,000 tests per day.

As a result of the round, Andrew Elbardissi, a managing partner at Deerfield, as joined Sema4’s board of directors. Other recent additions to the board include Mike Pellini, the former chief executive of Foundation Medicine and current investor at Section32 (the venture firm launched by former Google Ventures head Bill Maris); former principal deputy commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, Rachel Sherman; and former Goldman Sachs chief financial officer, Marty Chavez. 

“Sema4 is a leader at the forefront of one of the most exciting intersections in healthcare – the application of technology, AI and machine learning to help improve patient outcomes. We are excited to support this talented management team as Sema4 begins its next phase of growth,” said Will Abacassis, Managing Director at BlackRock, in a statement. 

Goldman Sachs acted as a financial advisor to Sema4 on the transaction.

 

#bill-maris, #blackrock, #blackstone, #digital-healthcare, #food-and-drug-administration, #genomics, #goldman-sachs, #health-care, #health-systems, #healthcare, #machine-learning, #marty-chavez, #physician, #tc

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Amazon is piloting worker healthcare clinics near its warehouses

Amazon this morning announced a partnership with Crossover Health to build worker healthcare facilities near its fulfillment centers. The plan is still in a pilot phase, as the commerce giant employs the services of Crossover, which builds clinics for corporate clients. The startup has built such facilities for Apple and Facebook, and was even rumored to be a potential target for an Apple acquisition a few years back.

Amazon’s first such Neighborhood Health Center  has opened in Texas’s Dallas-Fort Worth, potentially serving up to 20,000 employees, half of whom work for Amazon operations. The company says it plans to open 20 such centers in five cities for the initial phase, bringing the total potential coverage up to 115,000. The other cities are: Phoenix, Louisville, Detroit and California’s San Bernardino-Moreno Valley. If things go well, more locations will be added.

“Across the U.S., an increasing number of patients do not have easy access to a primary care physician and instead utilize emergency or urgent care options, which is not only more expensive for patients, but also overlooks important preventative care opportunities,” the company’s HR VP Darcie Henry said in a release, addressing some much larger systemic issues with healthcare in the United States. 

Resources have, of course, been even more strained across the country of late as the COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of stopping more than four months in. As designated essential workers, Amazon warehouse employees have been particularly at risk. And while the company has taken great pains to discuss its response to the virus, it has come under fire from workers, political office holders and members of the media for its handling of COVID-19.

#amazon, #health, #health-care

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A programmatic approach to managing health care services nets Stellar Health $10 million

As the healthcare industry moves to value-based care, physician practices and health networks need to shift the things they bill for. Now it’s about maxing out patient “care” rather than the number of procedures physicians can perform.

In this move to a more high-touch, rapid communication world where doctors need to take (and document) every step to ensure that their patients stay on their medication, come in for their routine check-ups and receive follow ups on their initial visits, a service like Stellar Health which provides a checklist for practitioners looks really attractive to investors.

Indeed, the company is announcing a $10 million investment led by Point72 Ventures, with participation from previous investors Primary Venture Partners.

The two-year-old company did not say in a statement when the round closed, but it has been expanding significantly without the infusion of additional capital. It already is selling services in networks across 11 states. The new money will take the company’s operations to more states around the country and double the size of its team, according to a statement. By the end of 2020, Stellar Health expects to have customers managing care for at least 100,000 patients through its platform, according to a statement. 

“Stellar Health has the potential to transform healthcare by increasing the number of providers who successfully adopt value-based care models,” said Sri Chandrasekar, Partner at Point72 Ventures. “They have developed a sophisticated and intuitive platform to drive VBC in the U.S. and we are excited to help them build on that momentum.”

#health-care, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #partner, #physician, #point72-ventures, #primary-venture-partners, #tc, #united-states

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FDA authorizes a ventilator developed by NASA’s JPL for emergency use in COVID-19 treatment

The U.F. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has authorized a new ventilator designed by engineers working at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for emergency use as outlined in the agency’s COVID-19 guidelines. The ventilator, which has an acronym because this is NASA we’re talking about, is called ‘VITAL’ (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally) and its design is being offered for free, licensed use for the duration of the coronavirus crisis.

The JPL-developed emergency use ventilator is an intubation ventilator, meaning that a patient has to be sedated, with a breathing tube inserted all the way down their airway to assist their breathing. It’s reserved for COVID-19 patients exhibiting the most serious symptoms, and even then is really designed for use only to free up availability of existing, fully approved ventilator hardware in the case of extreme shortages.

What makes VITAL most interesting is that it is made of “far fewer” parts than existing traditional ventilators, according to NASA, and it also can be assembled much more quickly, and maintained with less expertise and effort over time. The design provides for use for between three or four months, however, rather than years for traditional hardware, and is meant specifically for COVID-19 patient use, hence its simpler design vs. models that are made to serve in a number of different medical situations.

NASA’s JPL is seeking commercial manufacturing partners for the hardware now that it has its authorization, however, in order to get it built in large numbers for distribution to hospitals in need.

This is one of a number of different emergency ventilator hardware design and development projects that have been spun up to address hardware needs in light of increased usage due to COVID-19. With NASA JPL’s pedigree, and its ability to serve in cases of most dire need, NASA’s definitely seems like one of the better engineered options out there.

#aerospace, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #food-and-drug-administration, #health, #health-care, #jet-propulsion-laboratory, #medicine, #tc

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Can API vendors solve healthcare’s data woes?

A functioning healthcare system depends on caregivers having the right data at the right time to make the right decision about what course of treatment a patient needs.

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 epidemic and the acceleration of the consumer adoption of telemedicine, along with the fragmentation of care to a number of different low-cost providers, access to a patient’s medical records to get an accurate picture of their health becomes even more important.

Opening access to developers also could unlock new, integrated services that could give consumers a better window into their own health and consumer product companies opportunities to develop new tools to improve health.

While hospitals, urgent care facilities and health systems have stored patient records electronically for years thanks to laws passed under the Clinton administration, those records were difficult for patients themselves to access. The way the system has been historically structured has made it nearly impossible for an individual to access their entire medical history.

It’s a huge impediment to ensuring that patients receive the best care they possibly can, and until now it’s been a boulder that companies have long tried to roll uphill, only to have it roll over them.

Now, new regulations are requiring that the developers of electronic health records can’t obstruct interoperability and access by applications. Those new rules may unlock a wave of new digital services.

At least that’s what companies like the New York-based startup Particle Health are hoping to see. The startup was founded by a former emergency medical technician and consultant, Troy Bannister, and longtime software engineer for companies like Palantir and Google, Dan Horbatt.

Particle Health is stepping into the breach with an API -based solution that borrows heavily from the work that Plaid and Stripe have done in the world of financial services. It’s a gambit that’s receiving support from investors including Menlo Ventures, Startup Health, Collaborative Fund, Story Ventures and Company Ventures, as well as angel investors from the leadership of Flatiron Health, Clover Health, Plaid, Petal and Hometeam.

Image via Getty Images / OstapenkoOlena

“My first reaction when I met Troy, and he was describing what they’re doing, was that it couldn’t be done,” said Greg Yap, a partner with Menlo Ventures, who leads the firm’s life sciences investments. “We’ve understood how much of a challenge and how much of a tax the lack of easy portability of data puts on the healthcare system, but the problem has always felt like there are so many obstacles that it is too difficult to solve.”

What convinced Yap’s firm, Menlo Ventures, and the company’s other backers, was an ability to provide both data portability and privacy in a way that put patients’ choice at the center of how data is used and accessed, the investor said.

“[A service] has to be portable for it to be useful, but it has to be private for it to be well-used,” says Yap. 

The company isn’t the first business to raise money for a data integration service. Last year, Redox, a Madison, Wis.-based developer of API services for hospitals, raised $33 million in a later-stage round of funding. Meanwhile, Innovaccer, another API developer, has raised more than $100 million from investors for its own take.

Each of these companies is solving a different problem that the information silos in the medical industry presents, according to Patterson. “Their integrations are focused one-to-one on hospitals,” he said. Application developers can use Redox’s services to gain access to medical records from a particular hospital network, he explained. Whereas using Particle Health’s technology, developers can get access to an entire network.

“They get contracts and agreements with the hospitals. We go up the food chain and get contracts with the [electronic medical records],” said Patterson.

One of the things that’s given Particle Health a greater degree of freedom to acquire and integrate with existing healthcare systems is the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016. That law required that the providers of electronic medical records like Cerner and EPIC had to remove any roadblocks that would keep patient data siloed. Another is the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, which was just enacted in the past month.

“We don’t like betting on companies that require a change in law to become successful,” said Yap of the circumstances surrounding Particle’s ability to leapfrog well-funded competitors. But the opportunity to finance a company that could solve a core problem in digital healthcare was too compelling.

“What we’re really saying is that consumers should have access to their medical records,” he said.

Isometric Healthcare and technology concept banner. Medical exams and online consultation concept. Medicine. Vector illustration

This access can make consumer wearables more useful by potentially linking them — and the health data they collect — with clinical data used by physicians to actually make care and treatment decisions. Most devices today are not clinically recognized and don’t have any real integration into the healthcare system. Access to better data could change that on both sides.

“Digital health application might be far more effective if it can take into context information in the medical record today,” said Yap. “That’s one example where the patient will get much greater impact from the digital health applications if the digital health applications can access all of the information that the medical system collected.” 

With the investment, which values Particle Health at roughly $48 million, Bannister and his team are looking to move aggressively into more areas of digital healthcare services.

“Right now, we’re focusing on telemedicine,” said Bannister. “We’re moving into the payer space… As it stands today we’re really servicing the third parties that need the records. Our core belief is that patients want control of their data but they don’t want the stewardship.”

The company’s reach is impressive. Bannister estimates that Particle Health can hit somewhere between 250 and 300 million of the patient records that have been generated in the U.S. “We have more or less solved the fragmentation problem. We have one API that can pull information from almost everywhere.”

So far, Particle Health has eight live contracts with telemedicine and virtual health companies using its API, which have pulled 1.4 million patient records to date.

The way it works right now, when you give them permission to access your data it’s for a very specific purpose of use… they can only use it for that one thing. Let’s say you were using a telemedicine service. I allow this doctor to view my records for the purpose of treatment only. After that we have built a way for you to revoke access after the point,” Bannister said.

Particle Health’s peers in the world of API development also see the power in better, more open access to data. “A lot of money has been spent and a lot of blood and sweat went into putting [electronic medical records] out there,” said Innovaccer chief digital officer Mike Sutten.

The former chief technology officer of Kaiser Permanente, Sutten knows healthcare technology. “The next decade is about ‘let’s take advantage of all of this data.’ Let’s give back to physicians and give them access to all that data and think about the consumers and the patients,” Sutten said.

Innovaccer is angling to provide its own tools to centralize data for physicians and consumers. “The less friction there is in getting that data extracted, the more benefit we can provide to consumers and clinicians,” said Sutten.

Already, Particle Health is thinking about ways its API can help application developers create tools to help with the management of COVID-19 populations and potentially finding ways to ease the current lockdowns in place due to the disease’s outbreak.

“If you’ve had an antibody test or PCR test in the past… we should have access to that data and we should be able to provide that data at scale,” said Bannister. 

“There’s probably other risk-indicating factors that could at least help triage or clear groups as well… has this person been quarantined has this person been to the hospital in the past month or two… things like that can help bridge the gap,” between the definitive solution of universal testing and the lack of testing capacity to make that a reality, he said. 

“We’re definitely working on these public health initiatives,” Bannister said. Soon, the company’s technology — and other services like it — could be working behind the scenes in private healthcare initiatives from some of the nation’s biggest companies as software finally begins to take bigger bites out of the consumer health industry.

#api, #cerner, #chief-digital-officer, #chief-technology-officer, #collaborative-fund, #digital-healthcare, #digital-services, #disease, #financial-services, #flatiron-health, #getty-images, #google, #greg-yap, #health, #health-care, #health-systems, #healthcare-technology, #innovaccer, #kaiser-permanente, #madison, #menlo-ventures, #new-york, #palantir, #partner, #practice-fusion, #primary-care, #redox, #software-engineer, #startup-health, #story-ventures, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #united-states, #wisconsin

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Virgin Orbit’s ventilators gain FDA authorization, deliveries to hospitals will start within days

Virgin Orbit has secured an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its ventilator, which the small satellite launch company designed and prototyped within the past few weeks in response to growing need for ventilator hardware to address the most severe cases of COVID-19 infection. Virgin Orbit anticipates deliveries of the ventilator hardware to start “within the next few days” now that it has secured the agency’s authorization.

Virgin Orbit designed its ventilator, which is a take on an automated version of the manual resuscitators used most frequently in ambulances by paramedics responding to calls where a person has lost the ability to breath on their own, based on guidance form a group of experts and doctors called ‘The Bridge Ventilator Consortium.” It’s designed mostly as a stop-gap and supplement to free up use of proper ventilator hardware to treat the most severe respiratory symptoms in COVID-19 patients, but should still free up a valuable medical resources that are in short supply as the pandemic continues.

Already, Vrigin says it’s manufacturing the ventilators, and is making “over 100 per week” in terms of its ongoing production rate. The initial delivery set to go out this week will be 100 units that will be shipped to California’s Emergency Medial Services Authority, for distribution depending on need in that sate.

While it has done a lot to quickly ramp up this production line and start shipping ventilators, Virgin Orbit says that it’s been continuing to build out its own small satellite launch system. In fact, it just recently flew a key final test of its LauncherOne vehicle and the carrier aircraft that brings it to its launch altitude – the last big step before it runs a full demonstration of its system, including an orbital flight, later this year.

#aerospace, #california, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #health-care, #launcherone, #medicine, #science, #space, #tc, #ventilator, #virgin-orbit

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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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