Health clouds are set to play a key role in healthcare innovation

The U.S. healthcare industry is amidst one of the biggest transformations any industry has seen since the dot-com boom of the late 1990s. This massive change is being stimulated by federal mandates, technological innovation, and the need to improve clinical outcomes and communication between providers, patients, and payers.

An aging population, increase in chronic diseases, lower reimbursement rates, and a shift to value-based payments—plus the COVID-19 pandemic—have added pressure and highlighted the need for new technology to enhance virtual and value-based care.

Improving medical outcomes now requires processing massive amounts of healthcare data, and the cloud plays a pivotal role in meeting the current needs of healthcare organizations.

Challenges in healthcare

Most of today’s healthcare challenges fall into two broad categories: rapidly rising costs, and an increased burden on resources. Rising costs — and the resulting inadequacy of healthcare resources — can stem from:

An aging population: As people age and live longer, healthcare gets more expensive. As medicine improves, people aged 65 and above are expected to account for 20% of the U.S. population by 2030, per the U.S. Census Bureau. And as older people spend more on healthcare, an aging population is expected to contribute to increasing healthcare costs over time.

Prevalence of chronic illnesses: According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information report, chronic disease treatment makes up 85% of healthcare costs, and more than half of all Americans have a chronic illness (diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, lower back and neck pain, etc.)

Higher ambulatory costs: The cost of ambulatory care, including outpatient hospital services and emergency room care, increased the most of all treatment categories covered in a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Rising healthcare premiums, out-of-pocket costs, and Medicare and Medicaid: Healthcare premiums rose by an estimated 54% between 2009 and 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred enrollment into government programs like Medicaid and Medicare, which has increased the overall demand for medical services, contributing to rising costs. A 2021 IRS report highlighted that a shift to high-deductible health plans — with out-of-pocket costs of up to $14,000 per family — has also increased the cost of healthcare.

Delayed care and surgeries due to COVID-19: A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) in May 2020 indicated that up to 48% people have avoided or postponed medical care due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. About 11% of those people reported that their medical condition worsened after skipping or postponing care. Non-emergency surgeries were frequently postponed, as resources were set aside for COVID-19 patients. These delays make treatable conditions more costly and increase overall costs.

A lack of pricing transparency: Without transparency, it’s difficult to know the actual cost of healthcare. The fragmented data landscape fails to capture complete details and complex medical bills, and does not give patients a complete view of payments.

The need to modernize

To mitigate the impact of increased costs and inadequate resources, healthcare organizations need to replace legacy IT programs and adopt modern systems designed to support rapid innovation for site-agnostic, collaborative, whole-person care — all while being affordable and accessible.

#articles, #chronic-disease, #cloud, #column, #digital-services, #ec-column, #ec-healthtech, #health, #healthcare, #healthcare-data, #healthcare-industry, #saas, #united-states

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‘Conscience laws’ endanger patients and contradict health tech’s core values

Recent laws allowing healthcare providers to refuse care because of conscientious beliefs and denying care to transgender individuals might not seem like an issue for the tech industry at first blush, but these types of legislation directly contradict the core values of health tech.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson last month signed into law S.B. 289, known as the “Medical Ethics and Diversity Act,” which allows anyone who provides healthcare services — not just doctors — to refuse to give non-emergency care if they believe the care goes against their conscience.

Arkansas is one of several states in the U.S. that have been pushing laws like this over the past several years. These “conscience laws” are harmful to all patients — particularly LGBTQ individuals, women and rural citizens — especially because over 40% of available hospital beds are controlled by Catholic institutions in some states.

While disguised as a safeguard that prevents doctors from having to participate in medical services that are at odds with their religious beliefs, these laws go far beyond that and should be repealed.

While disguised as a safeguard that prevents doctors from having to participate in medical services that are at odds with their religious beliefs, these laws go far beyond that and should be repealed.

“Non-emergency” service is open to interpretation

The Arkansas legislation is one giant slippery slope. Even beyond the direct effects that the law would have on reproductive rights and the LGBTQ community, it leaves open questions about the many different services that medical professionals could decline simply by saying it goes against their conscience.

Broadly letting healthcare providers decide which services they will perform based on religion, ethics or conscience essentially eliminates protections patients have under federal anti-discrimination regulations.

What constitutes an “emergency” to one doctor or EMT may be deemed a “non-emergency” by another. By allowing medical professionals to avoid performing some services, the bill can be interpreted as allowing anyone involved in the provision of healthcare services to avoid performing any kind of service, as long as they say they believed it wasn’t an emergency at the time.

The law also allows individuals to refuse to refer patients to someone who would provide the desired service for them. This places an undue burden on patients with physical or mental health issues and causes delays in treatment as the patient searches for an alternate provider. In cases of health and life-threatening issues, for example, women have been refused treatment at Catholic medical institutions and forced to ride to the closest emergency care center.

The health tech community is working to improve the health of all

The Arkansas law runs counter to the values of the businesses that are working hard to develop and improve medical technologies. Health tech startups at their core are fighting to provide more and better services to more patients — whether it’s by building platforms to make healthcare accessible to all, developing specific medical devices to improve the quality of service or researching new treatments and vaccines.

Imagine developing a vaccine for a global pandemic and then allowing doctors the right to refuse to administer it because it’s open to interpretation whether the virus represents an emergency to specific people. Or imagine a hospital pharmacist who deliberately tries to spoil hundreds of vaccine doses because of the conspiracy theories he believes. Laws like the one in Arkansas open up the healthcare system to abuse by conspiracy theorists, and it is already the case that many wellness providers are basing their advice and services on QAnon falsehoods.

The health tech community is not just developing medications and devices for patients whose beliefs are similar to their own. Equally, medical professionals should not be making it harder for people to get needed medical care based on personal feelings. On the contrary, the ultimate goal of health tech businesses and healthcare providers alike should be a singular focus on improving the quality of care for all.

“Medical ethics” and anti-LGBTQ laws are unethical

As the health tech community continues to work tirelessly to bring new solutions to the marketplace to improve the health of everyone, it must also stand against laws like this, which threaten to eradicate the important gains that have been made in enhancing the lives and health of patients.

The Arkansas law — and others like it — place the burden of finding appropriate care on the patient instead of on the medical community, where it belongs. These laws must be repealed.

#arkansas, #column, #diversity, #health, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #healthtech, #lgbtq, #medicine, #opinion, #tc, #united-states

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Better Health raises $3.5M seed round to reinvent medical supply shopping through e-commerce

The home medical supply market in the U.S. is significant and growing, but the way that Americans go about getting much-needed medical supplies, particularly for those with chronic conditions, relies on outdated and clumsy sales mechanisms that often have very poor customer experiences. New startup Better Health aims to change that, with an e-commerce approach to serving customers in need of medical supplies for chronic conditions, and it has raised $3.5 million in a new seed round to pursue its goals.

Better Health estimates the total value of the home medical supplies market in the U.S., which covers all reimbursable devices and supplies needed for chronic conditions, including things like colostomy bags, catheters, mobility aids, insulin pumps and more, is around $60 billion annually. But the market is obviously a specialized one relative to other specialized goods businesses, in part because it requires working not only with customers who make the final decisions about what supplies to use, but also payers, who typically foot the bill through insurance reimbursements.

The other challenge is that individuals with chronic care needs often require a lot of guidance and support when making the decision about what equipment and supplies to select — and the choices they make can have a significant impact on quality of life. Better Health co-founder and CEO Naama Stauber Breckler explained how she came to identify the problems in the industry, and why she set out to address them.

“The first company I started was right out of school, it’s called CompactCath,” she explained in an interview. “We created a novel intermittent catheter, because we identified that there’s a gap in the existing options for people with chronic bladder issues that need to use a catheter on a day-to-day basis […] In the process of bringing it to market, I was exposed to the medical devices and supplies industry. I was just shocked when I realized how hard it is for people today to get life-saving medical supplies, and basically realized that it’s not just about inventing a better product, there’s kind of a bigger systematic problem that locks consumer choice, and also prevents innovation in the space.”

Stauber Breckler’s founding story isn’t too dissimilar from the founding story of another e-commerce pioneer: Shopify. The now-public heavyweight originally got started when founder Tobi Lütke, himself a software engineer like Stauber Breckler, found that the available options for running his online snowboard store were poorly designed and built. With Better Health, she’s created a marketplace, rather than a platform like Shopify, but the pain points and desire to address the problem at a more fundamental level are the same.

Better Health Head of Product Adam Breckler, left, and CEO Naama Stauber Breckler, right

With CompactCath, she said they ended up having to build their own direct-to-consumer marketing and sales product, and through that process, they ended up talking to thousands of customers with chronic conditions about their experiences, and what they found exposed the extend of the problems in the existing market.

“We kept hearing the same stories again, and again — it’s hard to find the right supplier, often it’s a local store, the process is extremely manual and lengthy and prone to errors, they get the surprise bills they weren’t expecting,” Stauber Breckler said. “But mostly, it’s just that there is this really sharp drop in care, from the time that you have a surgery or you were diagnosed, to when you need to now start using this device, when you’re essentially left at home and are given a general prescription.”

Unlike in the prescription drug market, where your choices essentially amount to whether you pick the brand name or the generic, and the outcome is pretty much the same regardless, in medical supplies which solution you choose can have a dramatically different effect on your experience. Customers might not be aware, for example, that something like CompactCath exists, and would instead chose a different catheter option that limits their mobility because of how frequently it needs changing and how intensive the process is. Physicians and medical professionals also might not be the best to advise them on their choice, because while they’ve obviously seen patients with these conditions, they generally haven’t lived with them themselves.

“We have talked to people who tell us, ‘I’ve had an ostomy for 19 years, and this is the first time I don’t have constant leakages’ or someone who had been using a catheter for three years and hasn’t left her house for more than two hours, because they didn’t feel comfortable with the product that they had to use it in a public restroom,” Stauber Breckler said. “So they told us things like ‘I finally went to visit my parents, they live in a town three hours away.’”

Better Health can provide this kind fo clarity to customers because it employs advisors who can talk patients through the equipment selection process with one-to-one coaching and product use education. The startup also helps with navigating the insurance side, managing paperwork, estimating costs and even arguing the case for a specific piece of equipment in case of difficulty getting the claim approved. The company leverages peers who have first-hand experience with the chronic conditions it serves to help better serve its customers.

Already, Better Health is a Medicare-licensed provider in 48 states, and it has partnerships in place with commercial providers like Humana and Oscar Health. This funding round was led by 8VC, a firm with plenty of expertise in the healthcare industry and an investor in Stauber Breckler’s prior ventures, and includes participation from Caffeinated Capital, Anorak Ventures, and angels Robert Hurley and Scott Flanders of remote health pioneer eHealth.

#8vc, #advisors, #caffeinated-capital, #health, #healthcare-industry, #humana, #medicare, #medicine, #oscar, #oscar-health, #pain, #port, #robert-hurley, #shopify, #software-engineer, #surgery, #tc, #united-states

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credits: Ro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Folx Health raises $25 million for virtual clinical offerings and care for the LGBTQIA+ community

Folx Health is leveraging the explosion of virtual care services to offer greater access to healthcare focused on the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, and has raised $25 million in new funding to help it grow.

It’s part of a revolution in care that’s targeting the needs of specific communities with access to physicians that understand those needs. And it’s all made possible by virtual interactions.

“We have a good sense of the nature of the need and the depth of the pain in the community,” said A.G. Breitenstein, the founder and chief executive of Folx Health. “As a non-binary lesbian and healthcare industry veteran, I have seen and experienced firsthand just how broken the current system is for the queer and trans community,”

Breitenstein said Folx would be using the cash to try and expand to all fifty states and increase the available products and services the healthcare company would look to make available to the queer and trans community.

“Whether it’s HRT, PrEP, sexual health or family creation, health care is essential for us to be who we are. It’s about time we build a platform for ourselves, so Queer and Trans people feel seen, heard, and celebrated,” she said in a statement. 

That was one reason why Bessemer Venture Partners leapt at the chance to lead the new financing round for Folx, according to Morgan Cheatham, an investor out of Bessemer’s New York office. The other was the size of the market.

“At a high level, 2% of the population identify as transgender,” said Cheatham. “At that math, when we looked at that, we were able to see a multibillion dollar market opportunity not just to provide [hormone replacement therapy], but to provide a healthcare destination for this community.”

Telescoping out to the opportunity to provide care to the LGBTQ community broadly, when that population represents about 10% to 20% of the population is a “deca-billion opportunity,” said Cheatham.

Breitenstein envisions offering family planning services, broad primary care, and sexual health and wellness care in addition to the hormone therapies that the company currently offers.

Folx joins a cohort of companies tackling health issues specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community which include the mental healthcare service, Violet; Included Health, an employee benefit service; and Plume, which focuses on care for the transgender community.

“We believed in the vision and the approach that she’s taking. She’s building a healthcare experience that is celebratory and dignified rather than one that pathologizing healthcare,” said Cheatham. 

For Bessemer and Cheatham, the investment speaks to broader opportunities to identify specific populations that need care tailored to their specific experience. That includes companies like Spora Health and Live Chair Health, which focus on providing healthcare specifically to people of color.

“Our individual identities whether it be socioeconomic status, race, gender… All of these things inform how we interface with the medical industrial complex,” Cheatham said.

Previous investors Define Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners will also participate in the round, which follows quickly on the heels of Folx’s launch from stealth in December 2020. 

For its patients, Folx Health is offering Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT: testosterone or estrogen) with monthly plans starting at $59 a month. Folx Health will also begin releasing its sexual health and wellness offerings starting with Erectile Dysfunction (ED) treatment, soon to be followed by at-home STI Testing and Treatment, all customized for the specifics of Queer and Trans bodies, the company said. 

The services will include unlimited on-demand clinical support with at-home lab testing (for most plans) and home-delivered medications (costs may vary based on medication). The company’s services are now available in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New York, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The company is also launching a Folx Library, which will serve as a content hub and resource for Queer and Trans health, written by Folx clinicians and its broader community.

“Our partnership with Folx is a historical moment. It’s challenging to articulate how transformative Folx is for our community. We do so mindful of the brilliant and brave Queer and Trans people who fought for this moment to happen,” said Cheatham in a statement.

#california, #connecticut, #define-ventures, #delaware, #erectile-dysfunction, #florida, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #illinois, #massachusetts, #new-york, #north-carolina, #polaris-venture-partners, #spora-health, #tc, #texas, #virginia, #washington

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K Health expands into virtual childcare and raises $132 million at a $1.5 billion valuation

K Health, the virtual health care provider that uses machine learning to lower the cost of care by providing the bulk of the company’s health assessments, is launching new tools for childcare on the heels of raising cash that values the company at $1.5 billion.

The $132 million round raised in December will help the company expand and help pay for upgrades including an integration with most electronic health records — an integration that’s expected by the second quarter.

Throughout 2020 K Health has leveraged its position operating at the intersection of machine learning and consumer healthcare to raised $222 million in a single year.

This appetite from investors shows how large the opportunity is in consumer healthcare as companies look to use technology to make care more affordable.

For K Health, that means a monthly subscription to its service of $9 for unlimited access to the service and physicians on the platform, as well as a $19 per-month virtual mental health offering and a $19 fee for a one-time urgent care consultation.

To patients and investors the pitch is that the data K Health has managed to acquire through partnerships with organizations like the Israel health maintenance organization Maccabi Healthcare Services, which gave up decades of anonymized data on patients and health outcomes to train K Health’s predictive algorithm, can assess patients and aid the in diagnoses for the company’s doctors.

In theory that means the company’s service essentially acts as a virtual primary care physician, holding a wealth of patient information that, when taken together, might be able to spot underlying medical conditions faster or provide a more holistic view into patient care.

For pharmaceutical companies that could mean insights into population health that could be potentially profitable avenues for drug discovery.

In practice, patients get what they pay for.

The company’s mental health offering uses medical doctors who are not licensed psychiatrists to perform their evaluations and assessments, according to one provider on the platform, which can lead to interactions with untrained physicians that can cause more harm than good.

While company chief executive Allon Bloch is likely correct in his assessment that most services can be performed remotely (Bloch puts the figure at 90%), they should be performed remotely by professionals who have the necessary training.

There are limits to how much heavy lifting an algorithm or a generalist should do when it comes to healthcare, and it appears that K Health wants to push those limits.

“Drug referrals, acute issues, prevention issues, most of those can be done remotely,” Bloch said. “There’s an opportunity to do much better and potentially cheaper. 

K Health has already seen hundreds of thousands of patients either through its urgent care offering or its subscription service and generated tens of millions in revenue in 2020, according to Bloch. He declined to disclose how many patients used the urgent care service vs. the monthly subscription offering.

Telemedicine companies, like other companies providing services remotely, have thrived during the pandemic. Teladoc and Amwell, two of the early pioneers in virtual medicine have seen their share prices soar. Companies like Hims, that provide prescriptions for elective conditions that aren’t necessarily covered by health, special purpose acquisition companies at valuations of $1.6 billion.

Backing K Health are a group of investors led by GGV Capital and Valor Equity Partners. Kaiser Permanente’s pension fund and the investment offices of the owners of 3G Capital (the Brazilian investment firm that owns Burger King and Kraft Heinz), along with 14W, Max Ventures, Pico Partners, Marcy Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners and BoxGroup, also participated in the round. 

Organizations working with the company include Maccabi Healthcare; the Mayo Clinic, which is investigating virtual care models with the company; and Anthem, which has white labeled the K Health service and provides it to some of the insurer’s millions of members.

#articles, #boxgroup, #burger-king, #drug-discovery, #ggv-capital, #health, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #israel, #k-health, #kaiser-permanente, #kraft, #machine-learning, #max-ventures, #mayo-clinic, #pharmaceutical, #primary-care, #primary-venture-partners, #tc, #technology, #teladoc-health, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #valor-equity-partners

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Color raises $167 million funding at $1.5 billion valuation to expand ‘last mile’ of U.S. health infrastructure

Healthcare startup Color has raised a sizeable $167 million in Series D funding round, at a valuation of $1.5 billion post-money, the company announced today. This brings the total raised by Color to $278 million, with its latest large round intended to help it build on a record year of growth in 2020 with even more expansion to help put in place key health infrastructure systems across the U.S. – including those related to the “last mile” delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.

This latest investment into Color was led by General Catalyst, and by funds invested by T. Rowe Price, along with participation from Viking Global investors as well as others. Alongside the funding, the company is also bringing on a number of key senior executives, including Claire Vo (formerly of Optimizely) as Chief Product Officer, Emily Reuter (formerly of Uber, where she played a key role in its IPO process) as VP of Strategy and Operations, and Ashley Chandler (formerly of Stripe) as VP of Marketing.

“I think with the [COVID-19] crisis, it’s really shone the light on that lack of infrastructure. We saw it multiple times, with lab testing, with antigen testing, and now with vaccines,” Color CEO and co-founder Othman Laraki told me in an interview. “The model that we’ve been developing, that’s been working really well, and we feel like this is the opportunity to really scale it in a very major way. I think literally what’s happening is the building of the public health infrastructure for the country that’s starting off from a technology-first model, as opposed to, what ends up happening in a lot of industries, which is you start off taking your existing logistics and assets, and add technology to them.”

Color’s 2020 was a record year for the company, thanks in part to partnerships like the one it formed with the the City of San Francisco to establish testing for health care workers and residents. Laraki told me they did about five-fold their prior year’s business, and while the company is already set up to grow on its own sustainably based on the revenue it pulls in from customers, its ambitions and plans for 2021 and beyond made this the right time to help it accelerate further with the addition of more capital.

Laraki described Color’s approach as one that is both cost-efficient for the company, and also significant cost-saving for the healthcare providers it works with. He likens their approach to the shift that happened in retail with the move to online sales – and the contribution of one industry heavyweight in particular.

“At some point, you build Amazon – a technology-first stack that’s optimized around access and scale,” Laraki said. “I think that’s literally what we’re seeing now with healthcare. What’s kind of getting catalyzed right now is we’ve been realizing it applies to the COVID crisis, but also, we started actually working on that for prevention and I think actually it’s going to be applying to a huge surface area in healthcare; basically all the aspects of health that are not acute care where you don’t need to show up in hospital.”

Ultimately, Color’s approach is to re-think healthcare delivery in order to “make it accessible at the edge directly in people’s lives,” with “low transaction costs,” in a way that’s “scalable, [and] doesn’t use a lot of clinical resourcing,” Laraki says. He notes that this is actually very possible once you re-asses the problem without relying on a lot of accepted knowledge about the way things are done today, which result in a “heavy stack” vs. what you actually need to deliver the desired outcomes.

Laraki doesn’t think the problem is easy to solve – on the contrary, he acknowledges that 2021 is likely to be even more difficult and challenging than 2020 in many ways for the healthcare industry, and we’ve already begun to see evidence of that in the many challenges already faced by vaccine distribution and delivery in its initial rollout. But he’s optimistic about Color’s ability to help address those challenges, and to build out a ‘last mile’ delivery system for crucial care that expands accessibility, while also making sure things are done right.

“When you take a step back, doing COVID testing, or COVID vaccinations is actually those are not complex procedures at all – they’re extremely simple procedures,” he said. “What’s hard is doing them massive scale, and with a very low transaction cost to the individual and to the system. And that’s a very different tooling.”

#amazon, #biotech, #business, #companies, #customer-experience, #economy, #funding, #general-catalyst, #health, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #online-sales, #optimizely, #othman-laraki, #recent-funding, #san-francisco, #startups, #stripe, #t-rowe-price, #tc, #uber, #united-states, #viking-global-investors

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H1’s Linkedin for the healthcare industry raises $58 million

The idea sounds almost too simple. Create a version of Linkedin that’s specifically for the healthcare industry, where professionals can find out not just who has what credentials, but also learn about the research those professionals are conducting and the specialties they have.

In the middle of a global pandemic, when industry insiders are all trying to find out who is an expert in particular fields of medicine that are most impacted by a novel virus spreading like wildfire around the world, that simple idea becomes a necessity.

That’s the situation that H1, a startup which just raised $58 million in new financing, found themselves in as the pandemic hit American shores earlier this year.

The company only graduated from Y Combinator in January, and now, less than a year later is closing on over $70 million in total financing.

Doubling down on its previous investment in the company is Menlo Ventures, which along with the growth stage investment firm, IVP, co-led the new financing for the company.

 

Their rationale for investing can be attributed to H1’s explosive growth. The company now has 250 employees after launching from Y Combinator just 12 months ago. Already a player in the US, H1 is looking to expand to Europe and Asia in 2021 and counts 13 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies as its clients. As of its last tally, the company already had profiles on over 9 million healthcare professionals worldwide.

According to one person with knowledge of the company’s fundraising history, Menlo Ventures was so pleased with the company’s performance that it offered tens of millions of dollars in pre-emptive financing.

“We have created a platform for the healthcare ecosystem to connect in the same way Linkedin connected professional workers in the early 2000’s. There hasn’t been a global platform like H1 before that has connected industry to the right doctors the way H1 does,” said H1 co-founder and CEO Ariel Katz. “This next round of funding, with our excellent investment group, including Menlo who has been a great partner for us, will help us continue to become the largest healthcare professional platform and ultimately create a healthier future.”

Menlo Ventures certainly thinks so.

“When we started working with H1, we could already see early evidence of product-market fit, including both early ‘beachhead’ pharma deals and good logo velocity in smaller biotechs. Feedback from customers was stellar, both in terms of product value and commitment to customer success by the H1 team,” wrote Menlo Ventures partner Greg Yap and JP Sanday in a blog post. “One of our diligence intros even turned into a multi-million dollar customer and investor. But H1 was clearly still at an early stage of maturity for supporting large demanding enterprise customers. Now, at the Series B, H1 has ramped up execution, winning 13 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies as customers and meeting top-tier venture metrics in gross retention, net retention, and sales efficiency.”

#asia, #companies, #europe, #greg-yap, #healthcare-industry, #ivp, #linkedin, #menlo-ventures, #pharmaceutical, #recruitment, #tc, #united-states, #y-combinator

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Springtide, an autism treatment center network, raises $15.6 million

With one in 54 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the US, the issue of how to treat patients diagnosed with the condition has become almost as acute as the prevalence of the condition itself.

That’s one reason why Jia Jia Ye and the team at the healthcare startup studio Redesign Health, were able to raise $15.6 million in a recent round of funding for the new startup, Springtide Child Development.

A longtime executive in the healthcare industry with previous stints at OneMedical and Oscar, Ye and Redesign Health’s team began talking two years ago about potential business ideas. The group settled on autism care because of what they saw as the clear need in the market, Ye said.

“Why this immediately clicked is that the supply and demand imbalance was super clear,” Ye said. 

Simply put, Springtide combines the concierge medical business model with early childcare and education businesses like Sylvan Learning to offer autism care through specialists and a team of registered behavioral technicians.

To ensure that as many people as possible can use Springtide’s services the company takes both private insurance and Medicaid.

So far, the company has one clinic set up in Connecticut providing both remote and in-person services, and it plans to launch several sites throughout the Northeast on the back of its $15.6 million in financing.

Joining Ye in designing the company’s facilities and treatment services is Dr. Tiva Pierce, who previously worked at Constellation Health Services, which provides behavioral and physical healthcare through schools.

Like many companies which had an in-person services model, Springtide had to pivot to delivering remote care as soon as the pandemic lockdowns hit the Northeast.

Image Credit: Thetaree Sarmkasat iStock / Getty Images Plus

The company charges Medicad $46 per hour and commercial payers will be charged between $50 and $60 per hour, but the company’s services will only cost families their typical co-pay and deductible.

Taking Medicaid was a priority, Ye said, to increase access for more people who need it.

Already, the families in the US spend about $17 billion on ABA therapy, according to Ye. And the overall spending on autism related issues is $68 billion, she said.

The financing, which came from Deerfield Management and Optum Ventures, will be used to expand the company’s footprint and staff, which currently numbers roughly 30 employees.

“The rapidly growing autism care market is highly fragmented and uncoordinated, which creates significant challenges for children and their families who deserve to have access to care that is consistently of exceptional quality,” said Julian Harris, M.D., Partner at Deerfield. “Springtide offers an interdisciplinary, in-center care experience with a tech-enabled wrap-around for families who want their children to get all of their care in one setting.  With an emphasis on outcomes measurement, we hope that Springtide can serve as a platform for care and research, ultimately establishing the gold standard in this field.

#autism, #connecticut, #executive, #getty-images, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #medicaid, #optum, #optum-ventures, #oscar, #tc, #united-states

0

Osso VR raises $14 million to bring virtual reality to surgical and medical device training

It seems that distance learning is even coming for the healthcare industry.

As remote work becomes the order of the day in the COVID-19 era, any tool that can bring training and education services to folks across industries is gaining a huge amount of investor interest — and that includes healthcare.

Virtual reality tools like those on offer from Osso VR have been raising investor dollars at a rapid clip, and now the Palo Alto, Calif.-based virtual reality distribution platform joins their ranks with a $14 million round of financing.

The money came from a clutch of investors led by the investment arm of Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare giant whose network of managed care facilities and services spans the country. Previous backers and new investors like SignalFire, GSR, Scrum Ventures, Leslie Ventures and OCA Ventures, also participated in the funding. 

Osso has seen its adoption skyrocket during the pandemic as medical device manufacturers and healthcare networks turn to training tools. that don’t require a technician to be physically present.

According to company founder Dr. Justin Barad, the market for medical device education services alone is currently around $3 billion to $5 billion and growing rapidly.

Staffed by a team that comes from Industrial Light and Magic, Electronic Arts, Microsoft, and Apple, Osso VR makes generic educational content for training purposes and then produces company specific virtual reality educational videos for companies like Johnson and Johnson. Those productions can run the gamut from instructional videos on vascular surgery to robotic surgery training tips and tricks.

While Kaiser Permanente Ventures’ Amy Belt Raimundo said that the strategic investor’s decisions to commit capital aren’t based on what Kaiser Permanente uses, necessarily, the organization does take its cues from what employees want.

“We don’t tie our investment to a deployment or customer contract, but we look for the same signals within Kaiser Permanente,” said Belt Raimundo. But the organization did have employees interested in using the Osso technology. “We made the announcement that we are looking at [Osso VR] technology for use. And that’s where the investment and commercial decision was signaling off of each other, because the response showed that there was an unmet need there,” she said.

Osso VR currently has around 30 customers, 12 of which are in the medical device space. The company uses Oculus Quest headsets and is deployed in 20 teaching hospitals across 20 different countries. In a recent validation study, surgeons training with Osso VR showed a 230 percent improvement in overall surgical performance, the company said in a statement.

The goal, according to Barad, a lifelong coder with a game development credit from Activision/Blizzard, is to democratize healthcare. “This is about improving patient outcomes, democratizing access, and improving education,” said Barad. “Now that the technology is growing and maturing and VR is growing as a platform, we can attack the broader problems,” in healthcare, he said.

 

#activision, #apple, #california, #distance-learning, #electronic-arts, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #johnson, #kaiser-permanente, #microsoft, #oculus-quest, #palo-alto, #tc, #virtual-reality, #within

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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

0

Point72, the firm investing hedge fund mogul Steven A Cohen’s personal wealth, gets into healthcare

Point72 Ventures, the early stage investment firm that’s now solely investing the personal wealth of the multi-billionaire hedge fund magnate Steven A. Cohen, is getting into healthcare investing.

The firm has hired Scott Barclay, a former partner at the life sciences and frontier technology investment firm, DCVC, to run its new healthcare practice.

Since the investment firm is more like a family office than a traditional fund with limited partners, it’s hard to gauge the size of the firm’s commitment to healthcare — even from its partners. But a back of the envelope calculation should see the firm committing roughly $300 million to its healthcare efforts, according to Point72 Ventures managing partner, Matthew Granade.

Barclay sees the focus of the new investment arm as investing in companies combining technology and empathy for the healthcare industry. That empathy manifests itself in an understanding of how physicians, administrators and patients all navigate the complexities of getting care, he said.

Entrepreneurs can expect the new fund to invest roughly $50 million per year across a range of early stage startups.

“The entry point is anywhere from incubation to large, modern day, Series A deals,” said Barclay. “It’s a wide aperture.”

A typical deal size could range from $200,000 to $3 million to $4 million and the firm will even lead large Series A deals where it could commit as much as $15 million.

For Barclay, there’s no question about the need for new healthcare technologies. “There’s no part of healthcare that we think works very well,” the longtime investor said. While he won’t pursue pure therapeutic investment opportunities — leaving those deals to the Arch Capitals and 5AM Ventures — Barclay said that he would look to invest in care applications that push computing, diagnostics, and therapeutics closer to patients.

Entrepreneurs looking for insights into where Barclay may be looking can see precedents in previous investments like Carbon Health, Swift Medical, and the medical informatics company MIC.

“We’re looking to truly impact outcomes at scale,” Barclay said.

At Point72 Ventures, Barclay and the team he’s bringing on board will compliment efforts that the firm has launched to back startups focused on financial technologies and services, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and enterprise software and cybersecurity.

“At Point72 Ventures, our goal is to be foremost experts in the areas in which we invest,” Granade added. “Scott has a 15-year track record and real passion for working with innovative, healthcare-focused founders. He is the kind of expert-focused investor we want at Point72 Ventures, and we are thrilled to have him on board.”

 

#computing, #dcvc, #enterprise-software, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #healthcare-practice, #tc

0

Thirty Madison raises $47 million for its direct to consumer treatments of hair loss, migraines, and indigestion

Thirty Madison, the New York-based startup developing a range of direct to consumer treatments for hair loss, migraines, and chronic indigestion, has raised $47 million in new financing.

After last week’s nearly $19 billion merger between Teladoc and Livongo, remote therapies and virtual care companies are all the rage among the healthcare industry and Thirty Madison’s business is no exception. 

An indicator of just how important these companies are to the future of the healthcare business can be seen in the presence of Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. (JJDC) in the latest round for Thirty Madison. 

Existing investors Maveron and Northzone also returned to back the company in a deal led by Polaris Partners. Thirty Madison has raised a total of $70 million so far. 

Founded just three years ago by Steven Gutentag and Demetir Karagas, Thirty Madison expanded from treating hair loss with its Keeps brand in 2018 to migraine treatments in early 2019 with Cove, and launched Evens (the company’s acid reflux treatment service) later that year. 

Thirty Madison has just begun offering urgent care consultations for users on a pay what you will model.

And the company’s founders differentiate Thirty Madison’s business from their better-funded competitors like Hims and Ro by emphasizing that their company provides continuing care after a diagnosis and offers a range of treatment options for the conditions that the company treats. That, coupled with the more narrow focus on a few specific conditions, distinguish Thirty Madison from its peers in the industry.

“Over 59% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic condition, but few resources exist to help them connect the dots of their care,” said Amy Schulman, a partner with Polaris Partners and new director on the Thirty Madison board. 

 

#articles, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #hims, #johnson-johnson, #keeps, #livongo, #maveron, #new-york, #partner, #polaris-partners, #ro, #tc, #teladoc-health, #telemedicine

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With COVID-19 spreading, 49% of low-income communities have zero ICU beds

Health workers in protective gear move a masked patient into the back of an ambulance.

Enlarge / Medics transfer a patient on a stretcher from an ambulance outside of Emergency at Coral Gables Hospital where coronavirus patients are treated in Coral Gables near Miami, on July 30, 2020. (credit: Getty | CHANDAN KHANNA)

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads uncontrolled in much of the United States, a new study finds that almost half of low-income areas are gravely unprepared to treat severe cases of COVID-19, hinting at higher death rates to come.

Forty-nine percent of the country’s lowest-income communities—with median incomes of $35,000 or less—have zero intensive care unit beds in their area hospitals. Looking only at rural areas, the picture is even worse: 55 percent had no ICU beds. This is in stark contrast to the highest-income communities, defined by a median income of $90,000 and above. Of those, only 3 percent overall lack access to ICU beds. The study, published by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, appeared this week in the journal Health Affairs.

The findings further heighten concern over how the pandemic is exacerbating gaping socioeconomic disparities in the US. Low-income communities are already more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19 due to unavoidable job-related exposure, reliance on mass transit, higher population densities, and less ability to quarantine upon potential exposure, the authors note.

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#covid-19, #healthcare-industry, #hospitals, #icu, #low-income, #sars-cov-2, #science, #socioeconomic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credits: Withings

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

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

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

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

0

Daybreak Health launches online mental health therapy for teens amid the pandemic’s mental health crisis

Working with a team of ten trained mental health clinicians, the Y Combinator -backed startup Daybreak Health is working with Bay Area high schools to provide mental health support for teens. 

Alex Alvarado, Siddarth Cidambi, and Luke Mercado, the three co-founders of Daybreak Health, either worked with startups in the health care industry or consulted on the healthcare industry for a few years before deciding to launch their new startup.

For Alvarado, whose brother has been struggling with depression since he was twelve years old, the issue is personal, the founder said in an interview. It was only two years ago that Alvarado received a call telling him that his brother had attempted to take his own life after his decades-long struggle.

It was then that Alvarado began to confront just how broken current treatment methodologies were. His family had tried to find consistent care for Alvarado’s younger brother, but therapists were expensive, remote, had waiting lists that were weeks-long, and had difficulty related to teens (especially teens who weren’t white).

Alvarado’s brother isn’t alone. One in five teens in the US have or will have a mental health issue, Alvarado said, and the nation’s ineffectual response to the COVID-19 epidemic is only exacerbating the problem. Judging by the statistics, there are 7 million teens in the US right now with a mental health condition and rates of depression and anxiety are going up.

The team of ten clinicians that Daybreak Health works with have a deep experience with evidence-based care and Alvarado expects that most of the patients that they consult will be undergoing some form of behavioral therapy guided by those clinicians.

For teens who are experiencing less acute mental health issues, there’s a team of what the company calls “trained listeners” to provide support.

Alvarado and Cidambi both worked at the consulting firm Oliver Wyman and Mercado and Alvarado knew each other from Jiff, a healthcare startup focused on providing wellness benefits to employees at companies, which was eventually bought by Castlight Health.

To ensure their mental health bona fides, the company brought in Dr. Neha Chaudary from Stanford’s Brainstorm Lab, which focuses on innovation in mental health. “They’re actually the ones designing our clinical program from the ground up,” says Alvarado.

Image Credit: Daybreak Health

The company is currently working with 20 Bay Area schools and pediatric groups in the Bay area and is focused on treating teens aged thirteen to nineteen, says Alvarado.

Currently, both schools and pediatric groups are referring patients to the company, and the cost of care is covered either through insurance or through an $89 per-week fee.

“This is a full-stack therapy program,” says Alvarado. “It’s an improvement, in our view [on traditional therapy], because not only are you getting that invidividual one-on-one therapy, but you’re also getting curriculums around certain points in time.”

For the teens, it’s not only about specific interventions to prevent certain behaviors, Cidambi says. It’s also to build up coping mechanisms so teens can better respond to mental health pressures as adults.

Alvarado stresses that the program isn’t for any teen that’s feeling a bit stressed or for parents who’re just worried about their child’s performance. There’s an hour-long intake consultation conducted with both the teen and the parent before a teen can be admitted to the program.

And the company has already turned away some potential customers because they just didn’t need the treatment. “Our goal is not to just bring anybody into treatment.”

Alvarado would not say how many students are currently being treated from its Bay Area partner schools, and says that the schools are a mix of both public and private institutions in the Bay Area.

“Our main touchpoint at the school will be the school counselor or the wellness coordinator,” says Cidambi. Daybreak Health doesn’t pay for referrals but does reach out to school counselors to market its services.

The company is far from the only service out there trying to provide online counseling for teens, TeenCounseling is one service that boasts 5,000 therapists and offers its services from $80 to $100 per week.

“The beauty of what we’re doing is the marriage of the clinical program with the technology,” says Alvarado. “We always want to have the therapist involved. And we are developing a mobile app… that is to communicate… and enable patients to do some exercises on their own, but we never believe that it will be a standalone app.”

#articles, #castlight-health, #disability, #health, #healthcare-industry, #healthcare-startup, #jiff, #mental-health, #oliver-wyman, #tc, #therapist, #united-states, #y-combinator

0

Tia Health gets over $24 million to build a network of holistic health clinics and virtual services for women

Tia Health, the developer of a network of digital wellness apps, clinics and telehealth services designed to treat women’s health holistically, has raised $24.275 million in a new round of funding.

The company said the financing would support the expansion of its telehealth and clinical services to new markets, although co-founder and chief executive Carolyn Witte would not disclose, where, exactly those locations would be.

Co-founded initially as a text-based tool for women to communicate and receive advice on sexual health and wellness, Witte and her co-founder Felicity Yost always had bigger ambitions for their business.

Last year, Tia launched its first physical clinic in New York and now boasts a team of 15 physicians, physician assistants, registered nurses, therapists and other treatment providers. The support staff is what helps keeps cost down, according to Witte.

“We reduce the cost of care by 40% [and] we do that through collaborative care staffing. [That] leverages mid-level providers like nurse practitioners to deliver higher-touch care at lower cost,” she said. 

Tia closed its most recent round before shelter-in-place went into effect in New York on March 17, and since then worked hard to port its practices over to telehealth and virtual medicine, Witte said.

Two days later, Tia went live with telehealth services and the company’s membership of 3,000 women responded. Witte said roughly half of the company’s patients have used the company’s telehealth platform. Since Tia began as an app first before moving into physical care services, the progression was natural, said Witte. The COVID-19 epidemic just accelerated the timeline. “In the last 90 days close to 50% of Tia’s 3,000 members have engaged in chat or video,” Witte said. 

The move to telehealth also allowed Tia to take in more money for its services. With changes to regulation around what kinds of care delivery are covered, telehealth is one new way to make a lot of money that’s covered by insurance and not an elective decision for patients.

“That has allowed us to give our patients the ability to use their insurance for that virtual care and bill for those services,” Witte said of the regulatory changes. 

The staff at Tia consists not just of doctors and nurse practitioners (there are two of each), but also licensed clinical therapists that provide mental health services for Tia’s patient population too.

“Before COVID we surveyed our 3,000 patients in NY about what they want and mental health was the most requested service,” said Witte. “We saw a 400% increase in mental health-related messages on my platform. We rolled out this behavioral health and clinical program paired with our primary care.”

As Tia continues to expand the services it offers to its patients, the next piece of the puzzle to provide a complete offering for women’s health is pregnancy planning and fertility, according to Witte.

The company sees itself as part of a movement to repackage a healthcare industry that has concentrated on treating specific illnesses rather than patient populations that have unique profiles and care needs.

Rather than focusing on a condition or medical specialization like cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecology or endocrinology, the new healthcare system treats cohorts or groups of people — those over 65, adult men and women, as groups with their own specific needs that cross these specializations and require different types of care.

We are really focused on collecting longitudinal data to better understand and treat women’s health,” said Witte. “A stepping stone in that regard is expanding our service line to support the pregnancy journey.” 

Tia’s latest round was led by new investor Threshold Ventures, with participation from Acme Ventures (also a new backer) and previous investors, including Define Homebrew, Compound and John Doerr, the longtime managing partner at KPCB.

When the company launched, its stated mission was to use women’s data to improve women’s health.

“We believe reproductive-aged women deserve a similar focus, and a new model of care designed end-to-end, just for us,” the company said in a statement

As Tia continues to stress, women have been “under-researched and underserved by a healthcare system that continues to treat us as ‘small men with different parts’ — all-too-often neglecting the complex interplay of hormones, gene regulation, metabolism and other sex-specific differences that make female health fundamentally distinct from male health. It’s time for that to change.”

But Tia won’t be changing anything on the research front anytime soon. The company is not pursuing any clinical trials or publishing any research around how the ways in which women’s menstrual cycles may affect outcomes or influence other systems, according to Witte. Rather the company is using that information in its treatment of individual patients, she said.

The company did just hire a head of research — an expert in reproductive genomics, which Witte said was to start to understand how the company can build out proof points around how Tia’s care model can improve outcomes. 

Tia will reopen its brick-and-mortar clinic in New York on June 1 and will be expanding to new locations over the course of the year. That expansion may involve partnerships with corporations or existing healthcare providers, the company said.

“By partnering with leading health systems, employers, and provider networks to scale our Connected Care Platform, and open new physical and digital Tia doors, we can make ‘the Tia Way’ the new standard of care for women and providers everywhere,” Tia said in a statement.

As it does so, the company said it will continue to emphasize its holistic approach to women’s health.

As the company’s founders write:

Being a healthy woman is all-too-often reduced to not having an STD or an abnormal Pap, but we know that the leading cause of death for women in America is cardiovascular disease. We also know that women are diagnosed with anxiety and depression at twice the rate of men, and that endocrine and autoimmune disorders are on the rise. In pregnancy, c-section and preterm birth rates continue to go up instead of down, as does maternal mortality, with the U.S. reporting more maternal deaths than any developed country in the world.

We believe that the solution is a preventive “whole women’s health” model…

#america, #depression, #genomics, #health, #health-systems, #healthcare-industry, #john-doerr, #kpcb, #managing-partner, #network, #new-york, #nursing, #physician, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #technology, #telehealth, #threshold-ventures, #tia-health, #united-states, #womens-health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Twilio tapped for Zocdoc’s expansion into telehealth video consultations

Twilio’s video player will be used as the backbone for the new video consultation service that Zocdoc is launching for its customers today, the two companies said in a statement.

As the COVID-19 epidemic reshapes healthcare in the U.S. more service providers are going remote with the delivery of healthcare consultations and encouraging entire generations of consumers to make the switch to virtual care.

Like other video services (notably Zoom), usage of Twilio’s video services has surged. The company said it has seen an over 850 percent increase in peak concurrent participants on its video product and a more than 500 percent increase in daily video minutes.

Healthcare customers have boosted their bandwidth on the platform by 90 percent, the company said.

Zocdoc’s new telehealth solution makes it easier for healthcare professionals to utilize video visits in a time where providers and patients need virtual care most,” said Susan Collins, global head of healthcare services at Twilio, in a statement. “Twilio Programmable Video’s software agility and cloud scale enabled Zocdoc to make remote visits available in a matter of weeks. We’re proud to be able to serve our customers and the healthcare providers they serve to help flatten the curve and continue to deliver care to those who need it.”

As part of a pitch to new customers during the pandemic, Twilio is offering three months of free use of its Video product for healthcare, education and nonprofit organizations, so long as they sign up before June 30. 

#articles, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #tc, #technology, #telecommunications, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #twilio, #united-states, #video, #video-player, #video-services, #zocdoc

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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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Fiat Chrysler to start producing 1 million face masks a month

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said Monday it will start manufacturing face masks in the coming weeks and donate the critical medical equipment to first responders and healthcare workers — the latest automaker to direct its manufacturing expertise toward the COVID-19 pandemic.

The automaker confirmed to TechCrunch that production capacity is being installed this week at one of its factories in China. Manufacturing will start in the coming weeks and distribution will be focused on the U.S., Canada and Mexico. FCA said it plans to produce 1 million face masks a month. All masks will be donated to police, EMTs and firefighters and workers in hospitals and healthcare clinics.

“Protecting our first responders and healthcare workers has never been more important,” FCA CEO Mike Manley said in a statement. “In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the healthcare industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks. We’ve marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic.”

The FCA announcement follows a plea last week from Vice President Mike Pence for construction companies to donate their stocks of N95 respirator masks to hospitals. Construction companies have responded, Pence said in a subsequent press conference. Other companies have started donating their caches of face masks as well, including Apple, Facebook, IBM and Tesla.

COVID-19, a disease caused by coronavirus, has led to a shortage of protective equipment such as N95 respirator masks, gloves and gowns.

Vice President Pence asked construction companies to donate to their local hospitals their stocks of N95 respirator masks and stop ordering more for the time being. This call comes in the middle of a major shortage of these kinds of masks, which get their name from being able to block at least 95% of 0.3 micron particles.

Other manufacturers such as GM, Ford, VW and Tesla have started to work on the complex task of producing ventilators, another critical piece of medical equipment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The disease attacks the lungs and can cause acute respiratory distress syndrome and pneumonia. And since there is no clinically proven treatment yet, ventilators are relied upon to help people breathe and fight the disease. There are about 160,000 ventilators in the United States and another 12,700 in the National Strategic Supply, the NYT reported.

GM said Friday that it is working with Ventec Life Systems to help increase production of respiratory care products such as ventilators. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said last week that he had a discussion with Medtronic about ventilators. Medtronic later confirmed those talks in a tweet. Musk had previously tweeted that SpaceX and Tesla will work on ventilators, without providing specifics.

#apple, #automotive, #canada, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #disease, #elon-musk, #facebook, #fiat, #fiat-chrysler, #ford, #gm, #health, #healthcare-industry, #humans, #ibm, #mask, #medtronic, #mexico, #mike-pence, #n95, #spacex, #tc, #tesla, #united-states, #vw

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