1Doc3, a Colombian telemedicine startup, raises $3 million

The pandemic has made telemedicine video visits in the U.S. almost commonplace, but in Latin America, where broadband isn’t widely available, 1Doc3 is using text and chat to provide access to care. Today, the Colombia-based company announced a $3 million pre-Series A led by MatterScale Ventures and Kayyak Ventures.

“I’m on a nice MacBook for this interview, but that’s not the case of most people in LatAm,” said Javier Cardona, co-founder and CEO of 1Doc3. The company’s name is a play on the phonetics of 1, 2, 3 in Spanish.

Reaching your primary care doctor when you’re not feeling well is getting harder and harder, and 1Doc3 aims to solve that problem in LatAm by offering a telemedicine platform powered by AI that does symptom assessment, triage and pre-diagnosis before connecting the patient to a doctor.

“In 97% of our consultations, you’re connected to a doctor in a matter of minutes,” Cardona said.

After seeing the doctor, the patient can also get their prescriptions delivered to their home through 1Doc3. The startup, like others in the space, is trying to close the loop so patients can get care quickly without having to leave their homes.

In addition to Colombia, the company already has operations in Mexico and plans to use part of the funding to expand further in the region as well as building out a marketing and sales team, which it hasn’t had thus far. 

1Doc3 reaches customers directly and by establishing corporate partnerships where the companies themselves pay for their employees’ medical care through the startup. One of Cardona’s goals is to bring the unit economics down so that smaller businesses can also afford 1Doc3, which for corporates, now charges between $3-4 a month/employee.

“For big companies, the money isn’t an issue, but our region is comprised of small to medium-sized businesses,” Cardona said.

The company, which was founded in 2013 and was a finalist in TechCrunch’s Latin American Battlefield in 2018, experienced massive growth in 2020, going from 2,500 to 35,000 consultations per month from February to December 2020, respectively, which led the company to be cashflow positive last year. In March of 2021, the company had $120,000 in MRR.

Like many startups, the jolt to found 1Doc3 came from a personal experience faced by the founder.  

“When I was in Tanzania I had a medical need and I was definitely not going to go to a doctor in Tanzania, and I couldn’t reach any doctor online, not even in the U.S., and I became a little obsessed with this problem,” said Cardona, who was working in the Middle East and Africa at the time. 

This round brings the total raised by 1Doc3 to $5 million. Other investors that participated in the round include Swanhill Capital, Simma Capital and existing investors The Venture City, EWA capital (previously Mountain Nazca Colombia) and Startup Health.

#1doc3, #colombia, #health, #kayyak-ventures, #matterscale-ventures, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #techcrunch-startup-battlefield-latin-america, #telemedicine

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F.D.A. Will Allow Abortion Pills By Mail During the Pandemic

The agency said it would stop enforcing a rule requiring women to get the first of two pills in person at a medical clinic or hospital.

#abortion, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #drugs-pharmaceuticals, #food-and-drug-administration, #supreme-court-us, #telemedicine, #women-and-girls, #your-feed-science

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On-demand pediatrics app Biloba adds prescriptions and raises $1.7 million

French startup Biloba has raised a $1.7 million funding round (€1.4 million) a few months after launching its pediatrics app that lets you chat with a doctor whenever you have a question. In addition to raising some money, the startup also recently added in-app prescriptions.

Biloba’s concept is surprisingly simple. It’s a mobile app that lets you reach a general practitioner and a nurse whenever you have a medical question about your child. The service is available from 8 AM to 10 PM.

When you start a conversation, it looks like a messaging app. You can send and receive messages but also send photos and videos. There’s no real-time video conversation, no appointment. The company says that you usually get an answer in less than 10 minutes.

Last year, Biloba raised a €1.2 million pre-seed round. This year’s €1.4 million’s seed round is led by Aglaé Ventures and ID4. Existing investors Calm/Storm Ventures, Inventures, Acequia Capital and several business angels are also participating once again.

A text conversation will never replace a visit to the pediatrician. And there are many medical interactions and milestones after a baby is born. But you may have questions and you don’t want to wait for the next appointment.

And if it’s a relatively harmless issue that doesn’t need an in-person appointment, Biloba can now issue prescriptions. You receive the prescriptions in the app and it is accepted in all French pharmacies. The startup uses Ordoclic for that feature.

Biloba thinks people shouldn’t pay per consultation — even though people are particularly well covered by the French national healthcare system and private health insurance. Instead, the startup has opted for a subscription model.

Parents pay €12.99 per month, €24.99 for a three-month subscription or €79.99 per year. After that, you can start as many conversations as you want. Biloba subscriptions aren’t covered by the French national healthcare system.

Basically, if you can afford a subscription, Biloba can increase the frequency of interactions with doctors, which should lead to better medical advice.

Image Credits: Biloba

#biloba, #europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #health, #pediatrics, #startups, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine

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Microsoft goes all in on healthcare with $19.7B Nuance acquisition

When Microsoft announced it was acquiring Nuance Communications this morning for $19.7 billion, you could be excused for doing a Monday morning double take at the hefty price tag.

That’s surely a lot of money for a company on a $1.4 billion run rate, but Microsoft, which has already partnered with the speech-to-text market leader on several products over the last couple of years, saw a company firmly embedded in healthcare and it decided to go all in.

And $20 billion is certainly all in, even for a company the size of Microsoft. But 2020 forced us to change the way we do business from restaurants to retailers to doctors. In fact, the pandemic in particular changed the way we interact with our medical providers. We learned very quickly that you don’t have to drive to an office, wait in waiting room, then in an exam room, all to see the doctor for a few minutes.

Instead, we can get on the line, have a quick chat and be on our way. It won’t work for every condition of course — there will always be times the physician needs to see you — but for many meetings such as reviewing test results or for talk therapy, telehealth could suffice.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that Nuance is at the center of this shift, especially with its use of cloud and artificial intelligence, and that’s why the company was willing to pay the amount it did to get it.

“AI is technology’s most important priority, and healthcare is its most urgent application. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision-making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate growth of Microsoft Cloud in Healthcare and Nuance,” Nadella said in a post announcing the deal.

Microsoft sees this deal doubling what was already a considerable total addressable market to nearly $500 billion. While TAMs always tend to run high, that is still a substantial number.

It also fits with Gartner data, which found that by 2022, 75% of healthcare organizations will have a formal cloud strategy in place. The AI component only adds to that number and Nuance brings 10,000 existing customers to Microsoft including some of the biggest healthcare organizations in the world.

Brent Leary, founder and principal analyst at CRM Essentials, says the deal could provide Microsoft with a ton of health data to help feed the underlying machine learning models and make them more accurate over time.

“There is going be a ton of health data being captured by the interactions coming through telemedicine interactions, and this could create a whole new level of health intelligence,” Leary told me.

That of course could drive a lot of privacy concerns where health data is involved, and it will be up to Microsoft, which just experienced a major breach on its Exchange email server products last month, to assure the public that their sensitive health data is being protected.

Leary says that ensuring data privacy is going to be absolutely key to the success of the deal. “The potential this move has is pretty powerful, but it will only be realized if the data and insights that could come from it are protected and secure — not only protected from hackers but also from unethical use. Either could derail what could be a game changing move,” he said.

Microsoft also seemed to recognize that when it wrote, “Nuance and Microsoft will deepen their existing commitments to the extended partner ecosystem, as well as the highest standards of data privacy, security and compliance.”

We are clearly on the edge of a sea change when it comes to how we interact with our medical providers in the future. COVID pushed medicine deeper into the digital realm in 2020 out of simple necessity. It wasn’t safe to go into the office unless absolutely necessary.

The Nuance acquisition, which is expected to close some time later this year, could help Microsoft shift deeper into the market. It could even bring Teams into it as a meeting tool, but it’s all going to depend on the trust level people have with this approach, and it will be up to the company to make sure that both healthcare providers and the people they serve have that.

#artificial-intelligence, #cloud, #enterprise, #ma, #mergers-and-acquisitions, #microsoft, #nuance-communications, #privacy, #tc, #telemedicine

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Memic raises $96M for its robot-assisted surgery platform

Memic, a startup developing a robotic-assisted surgical platform that recently received marketing authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, today announced that it has closed a $96 million Series D funding round. The round was led by Peregrine Ventures and Ceros, with participation from OurCrowd and Accelmed. The company plans to use the new funding to commercialize its platform in the U.S. and expand its marketing and sales efforts outside of the U.S., too.

The company previously raised a total amount of $31.8 million, according to Crunchbase, including about $12.5 million raised through crowdsourcing platform OurCrowd.

Memic team photo

Image Credits: Memic

The Hominis, as the company calls its platform, has been authorized for use in “single site, natural orifice laparoscopic-assisted transvaginal benign surgical procedures including benign hysterectomy.” It’s worth noting that the robot doesn’t perform the surgery without human intervention. Instead, surgeons control the device — and its robotic arms — from a central console. The company notes that the instruments are meant to replicate the motions of the surgeon’s arms. And while it’s currently only authorized for this one specific type of procedure, Memic is looking at a wide range of other procedures where a system like this could be beneficial.

“The Hominis system represents a significant advancement in the growing multi-billion-dollar robotic surgery market. This financing positions us to accelerate our commercialization efforts and bring Hominis to both surgeons and patients in the months ahead,” said Dvir Cohen, co-founder and CEO of Memic.

It’s worth noting that there are a wide range of similar, computer-assisted surgical systems on the market already. Only last month, Asensus Surgical received FDA clearance for its laparoscopic platform to be used in general surgery, for example. Meanwhile, eye surgery robotics startup ForSight recently raised $10 million in seed funding for its platform.

Memic’s Hominis is the first robotic device approved for benign transvaginal procedures, though, and the company and its investors are surely betting on this being a first stepping stone to additional use cases over time.

“Given the broad potential of Hominis combined with a strong management team, we are proud to support Memic and execution of its bold vision,” said Eyal Lifschitz, managing general partner of Peregrine Ventures.

#general-partner, #hardware, #health, #medicine, #ourcrowd, #recent-funding, #startups, #surgery, #telemedicine, #united-states

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Nabla is building a healthcare super app for women

Meet Nabla, a French startup launching a new app today focused on women’s health. On Nabla, you’ll find several services that should all contribute to helping you stay on top of your health. In short, Nabla lets you chat with practitioners, offers community content, helps you centralize all your medical data and will soon offer telemedicine appointments.

Nabla’s key feature right now is the ability to start a conversation with health professionals. You can send a message to a general practitioner, a gynecologist, a midwife, a nurse, a nutritionist, or a physiotherapist.

While text discussions are not going to replace in-person appointments altogether, they can definitely be helpful. By increasing the number of interactions with health professionals, chances are you’ll be healthier and you may even end up booking more in-person appointments.

Other French startups have been providing text conversations with practitioners. For instance, health insurance company Alan lets you message a general practitioner — but you have to be insured by Alan. Biloba also lets you chat with a doctor — but the company has been focusing on pediatrics.

Nabla has a different positioning and offers this feature for free — there’s a limit as you can only send a handful of questions per month though. If it’s a common question, you may find the answer from the community. Nabla’s doctors will curate community content as well.

Using a free product to talk about your health feels suspicious. But that’s because the startup is well-funded and plans to launch premium features.

Image Credits: Nabla

The startup has raised $20.2 million (€17 million) and is already working with a team of doctors who are ready to answer questions from the company’s first users — or patients. Investors in the company include Xavier Niel, Artemis, Rachel Delacour, Julie Pellet, Marc Simoncini and Firstminute Capital.

One of the reasons why Nabla could raise so much money before releasing its app is that the three co-founders have a track record in the tech ecosystem.

Co-founder and CEO Alexandre Lebrun previously founded VirtuOz, which was acquired by Nuance, and Wit.ai, which was acquired by Facebook. More recently, he’s worked for Facebook’s AI research team (FAIR).

Co-founder and COO Delphine Groll has been heading business development and communications for two major media groups Aufeminin and My Little Paris. And Nabla’s co-founder and CTO Martin Raison has worked with Alexandre Lebrun at both Wit.ai and Facebook.

In addition to text conversations, Nabla shows all your past interactions in a personal log. You can connect that log with other apps and services, such as Apple’s Health app, Clue and Withings. This way, you can see all your data from the same app.

As you may have guessed, the startup truly believes that machine learning can help when it comes to preventive and holistic care. By default, nothing is shared with Nabla for machine learning purposes. But users can opt in and share data to improve processes, personalization and more.

Eventually, Nabla wants to optimize the interactions with doctors as much as possible. The startup says it doesn’t want to replace doctors altogether — it wants to enhance medical interactions so that doctors can focus on the human and empathetic part.

Nabla plans to launch a telemedicine service so that you can interact with doctors in real time as well as a premium offering with more features. That’s an ambitious roadmap, and it’s going to be interesting to track Nabla over the long run to see if they stick to their original vision and find a loyal user base.

#europe, #france-newsletter, #fundings-exits, #health, #healthcare, #nabla, #startups, #telehealth, #telemedicine

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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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Advanced Cancers Are Emerging, Doctors Warn, Citing Pandemic Drop in Screenings

People have skipped their cancer screenings and ignored possible symptoms as a result of the pandemic. In some cases, the delay has come at a great cost.

#breast-cancer, #colon-and-colorectal-cancer, #colonoscopy, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #mammography, #telemedicine, #tests-medical, #your-feed-healthcare

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The Coronavirus Made the Radical Possible

The past year has seen progressive pipe dreams become reality. But can we hold on to what we’ve learned?

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #evictions, #legal-aid-for-the-poor-civil, #prisons-and-prisoners, #public-and-subsidized-housing, #public-defenders-and-court-appointed-lawyers-criminal, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #telemedicine

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Diagnosing Autism in the Pandemic

Autism spectrum disorder is often suspected when young children stand out as being different from their peers. That can be much harder in this isolated time.

#anxiety-and-stress, #autism, #children-and-childhood, #families-and-family-life, #parenting, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #telemedicine

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Learning to Listen to Patients’ Stories

Narrative medicine programs teach doctors and other caregivers “sensitive interviewing skills” and the art of “radical listening” to improve patient care.

#anxiety-and-stress, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #doctors, #hospitals, #medicine-and-health, #telemedicine

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Y Combinator company Axle Health is bringing on-demand home testing services to telehealth providers

While usage of telehealth services have surged during the COVID-19 epidemic, there are some times when health professionals need to be around in person to conduct diagnostics tests. To help those telehealth companies bridge that gap is Axle Health, a company currently enrolled in the latest cohort from the Y Combinator accelerator.

“In terms of the professionals that we send in home, they’re phlebotomists, NAs, RVNs, and RNs as well,” said Axle co-founder Connor Hailey.

In a sad reflection of the times, most of the calls the company’s getting are COVID-19 related, Hailey said.

And while the company currently doesn’t accept insurance, many of the companies on the platform choose a price they want to charge their patients and then seek reimbursement from insurers from those costs, according to Hailey.

“There are very few patients that are paying cash. Our services in the home are what would come out of pocket,” Hailey said. Those fees vary by the licensure level of the visiting health care worker. An in-home COVID-19 test could be $40 and a phlebotomist providing a blood draw would cost about the same amount, said Hailey.  

The company launched its service at the end of January and is seeking to expand its treatment options to more than just COVID-19 testing, but for now, it’s simply responding to market demand.

Hailey launched the business after spending a few years working at ZocDoc and then spending some time at Uber. What motivates Hailey and company co-founder Adam Stansell is providing similar concierge services at lower costs for a broader base of patients, Hailey said.

“The rich have access to in-home care can we make it economical enough so that we can bring it to everyone,” he said. 

#articles, #co-founder, #science-and-technology, #tc, #technology, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #uber, #y-combinator, #zocdoc

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Clinical Trials Are Moving Out of the Lab and Into People’s Homes

After the pandemic forced thousands of trials to shut down, researchers found clever ways to conduct human studies remotely — while reaching more people, quickly and cheaply.

#clinical-trials, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #research, #telemedicine, #your-feed-healthcare, #your-feed-science

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Telemedico gets $6.6M to grow the reach of its digital health SaaS

Poland-based Telemedico has closed a €5.5 million (~$6.6M) Series A round of funding. The round is led by Flashpoint Venture Capital, Uniqa Ventures, PKO VC, Black Pearls VC (an existing investor) and Adamed.

Telehealth services specifically, and digital health more broadly, have racked up plenty of growth during the pandemic as demand for remote consultations (and other types of support) has accelerated sectoral uplift.

Telemedico, which was founded back in 2014 — but only launched its current b2b model (which is primarily targeted at insurance firms) in 2017 — says 2020 was a record year for its business.

One million consultations were carried out via its platform during the 12-month period, it told us.

Pawel Sieczkiewicz, founder and CEO at Telemedico, says it’s fielding over 100,000 consultations per month at this stage — and is projecting that to increase to 250,000 by the end of 2021.

The platform has been used by more than 900,000 patients to date. While more than 600 doctors currently provide remote consultations for Telemedico.

Services its platform offers include consultations with a doctor via chat, video, telephone; AI-triaging and coordination; and booking of in-person visits and blood testing.

The business has been growing 3x YoY since 2018, per Sieczkiewicz, who says it has carried out more than 2.5 million appointments in total to-date, spanning 10 languages.

It’s expecting to double the size of its (60-strong) team this year, he adds.

The Series A funding will be put towards international expansion — including eyeing potential growth opportunities in LatAm.

Expanding supported languages is part of that plan. (Currently it supports consultations in English, Spanish, Polish, Czech, Russian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Portuguese, Turkish, Arabic; languages it’ll be adding next are: Italian, French, Greek, German, and Romanian.)

Telemedico’s best markets to date are Poland and Spain, per Sieczkiewicz, who says it’s active in 14 markets in total.

“We aim to increase our presence on the markets where we are already active: Spain, Russia, Portugal, Turkey, and launch on new markets, with new languages — mainly EU Countries, like France, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Romania,” he adds.

While there’s a lot of activity in the telehealth space, Telemedico bills itself as one of the only ‘plug and play’ platforms for insurance companies — offering a whitelabel service geared towards a sector that Sieczkiewicz argues may not want to relinquish so much control to brasher, brand-building ‘digital first’ competitors.

“We provide our enterprise customers with a platform they can customise to meet their needs and a network of over 600 doctors who speak 10 languages that they can mix with their own network,” he tells TechCrunch. “We help our customers strengthen their value chain, so they can stand up against digital-first insurance companies who have been emerging for the last couple of years.

“The top three competitors are Babylon Health, KRY, and Pushdoctor. They represent a B2C approach, with a strong local presence. They are also building strong brand awareness around the service, and force insurance companies to let their customers leave their ecosystem. From the feedback that we receive from insurance companies, this isn’t their favourite way of organizing the patient flow.”

“One major drawback for insurers using the Babylon-style setup is that in the future, Babylon might be able to begin offering insurance cover directly to consumers, cutting out the original insurance companies themselves — similar to how digital-first insurance companies like Oscar Health operate,” he adds.

Telemedico says its system can be deployed within around 48 hours — letting insurance firms and other enterprise customers offer a telehealth platform that gives their users access to web and mobile white-label patient portals; online consultations; medical documentation storage; in person visits; automated triaging; and symptom checker tools.

The startup also offers insurance companies access to an ‘insurance product creator’ to manage variants of their current product suite for specific groups of users.

Telemedico says its platform is used by “a number” of health ministries around the world, as well as PZU, Allianz, AXA, Metrored, Compensa, TU Zdrowie and more than 50 other insurance and medical assistance companies (“mostly” within the telemedicine space).

It does also offer a direct-to-consumer telehealth service in Poland, via the public healthcare system — where consultation fees are covered by the insurance of the publicly funded National Health Fund of Poland (i.e. free at the point of use for patients).

It also offers consultations via a fee-for-service model. Sieczkiewicz says its USP is “that we are built on three foundations: B2B, whitelabel and cross-country services”.

“Telemedico is primarily a B2B company,” he continues. “The majority of our business comes from recurring enterprise customers, such as insurance companies, banks, pharmacies and other companies who either offer health services and want to improve them with a digital layer or want to offer health services to their digital offering.

“We see a huge trend among insurance companies, that add new healthcare products to their offers. We help create those products with our so-called ‘insurance product creator’, providing them with tools for setting up and management of their digital health services, patient flow, and more.”

He also says the ‘plug and play’ style SaaS platform supports a modular approach — enabling the target b2b users to zero in on the most useful aspects of its platform for their particular customer case (be it telemedicine, drug ordering or automated triage).

The software can be completely integrated into a customer’s platform or run as a stand-alone product, he adds.

“Telemedicine is no longer an add-on to insurance packages but in many countries the first touchpoint with medical services — a way to increase patients satisfaction and decrease costs for the insurer,” Sieczkiewicz suggests.

Commenting on the Series A funding in a statement, Michael Szalontay, general partner at Flashpoint VC, said: “We are convinced that telemedicine will become a primary distribution channel for medical services in the next decade and Telemedico is poised to become a European leader in this domain. We are proud to become Pawel’s partner in Telemedico, he has an amazing energy and conviction, and in our experience, such gumption is a prerequisite for success.”

“This decade will be the Golden Twenties for telemedicine,” added Dr. Andreas Nemeth, general partner at UNIQA Ventures, in another supporting statement. “The potential is enormous and telemedi.co is already setting standards here today. telemedi.co has the right product, the right team and the right culture to support insurers in providing seamless telemedicine services. We are therefore delighted and proud to be able to follow the path together in the future and pleased to be able to become a part of the company’s international growth story.”

#covid-19, #digital-health, #europe, #flashpoint-venture-capital, #fundings-exits, #health, #saas, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #telemedico

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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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Prioritizing tech in 2021 will be the path to pandemic recovery for mental health

This year, Americans grappled with fear of infection, incredible loss of loved ones, financial stress, isolation and fatigue from constant uncertainty to name a few. Even though we are getting closer to returning to normality as vaccines start to roll out, we can’t write COVID-19 off just yet. We are only now beginning to see the long-lasting effects of the pandemic, specifically its dramatic impact on the mental health crisis in the United States and unfortunately, mental illness has no vaccine.

Nearly 45 million American adults live with mental illness, which has only been exacerbated this year as more than two in five U.S. residents reported struggling with mental health issues as a result of COVID-19.

Even more concerning, according to the World Health Organization, prior to the pandemic, countries around the world were spending less than 2% of national health budgets on mental health, while struggling to meet their populations’ needs. It’s evident that there is not only a lack of focus on mental healthcare, but a lack of access as well.

We’ve seen a recent influx in telemedicine and telehealth services, and provided these solutions are evidence-based and effective, this is the only way for us to scale the widespread demand for support. Put simply, we don’t have enough clinical staff to go around.

When I practiced psychiatry in the U.K.’s National Health Services (NHS), I quickly realized that we were seeing patients too late, sometimes years too late, such that they had far more serious needs than if they had been able to access good quality care earlier. Back then it was clear to me this level of supply-demand gap could only be resolved by deploying technology at scale, and the events of the last year have only reinforced that.

Investors have taken note as well, with many mental health startups raising capital. It’s clear that business leaders have begun to prioritize innovation as a way to pull ourselves out of crisis, with a renewed focus on products adapted to a changed world. We’ve already seen a massive uptick in digital mental health solutions with about 76% of clinicians solely treating patients via telemedicine. The clearest path for managing mental health at scale will be evidence-based, ethical and personalized digital solutions.

Not only will this influx help those who desire flexible care options, but telehealth has also increased the access to care for people who may have limited options in their local communities.

While increasing in popularity, digital mental health solutions have some important challenges to overcome. For one, they must win consumer trust and prove that they can handle personal data ethically and responsibly. With 81% of Americans feeling that the risks of sharing personal data outweigh the benefits, providers must show that they can responsibly secure users’ personal health data due to the sensitive nature of the information and ultimately gain that trust.

This must go beyond compliance with HIPAA and, in Europe, GDPR, and require the development and implementation of an ethical framework to underpin a provider’s digital mental health solutions. However, such efforts must be genuine and avoid falling into the trap of “ethics washing,” so I encourage providers to have the ethics frameworks audited by external experts and to commit to publishing the results.

Digital solutions must also be able to meet the needs of users on an individualized and personalized basis. Many apps meant to help manage mental health take a one-size-fits-all approach and don’t take enough advantage of the technology’s ability to adapt to peoples’ unique symptoms and personal preferences. This is not simply about offering more than one type of intervention, although that is important, it’s the recognition that people engage in technology in different ways.

For instance, at Koa Health we know that some users love going through a program in a step-by-step fashion, whereas others prefer to dip into activities as they need them, and it’s important that we cater equally well for both of these preferences. Generic approaches simply won’t work well for everyone.

Not only do digital solutions need to be responsible with data and be tailored to users, they must work harder to prove their efficacy. Recent research has shown that 64% of mental health apps claimed efficacy yet only 14% included any evidence. The growth in the adoption of technology is encouraging, but positive impact will only result from products designed for efficacy — and able to demonstrate it in high-quality trials. The stronger the evidence base for effectiveness and cost-effectiveness, the more likely healthcare providers and insurers will be to distribute the solutions.

While vaccines are on their way, the mental health impacts of the pandemic may soon overshadow the direct impacts of the pandemic. While health tech has made promising progress, it’s imperative that digital mental healthcare places a stronger emphasis on effective, ethical and personalized care to avert an even larger mental health crisis.

#column, #covid-19, #health, #mental-health, #mental-illness, #opinion, #telehealth, #telemedicine

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2020 will change the way we look at robotics

Earlier this month, Hyundai acquired a controlling stake in Boston Dynamics that valued the company at $1.1 billion. What’s most interesting about the news isn’t the acquisition itself (it does, after all, find Boston Dynamics switching hands for the third time in seven years), but rather what the company’s evolution tells us about the state of robotics in 2020.

When the Waltham, Massachusetts-based startup was acquired by Google in 2013, it was still a carefully cultivated mystery. That the internet’s response to the company was largely one of curiosity shaded with discomfort should come as little surprise. Boston Dynamics’ primary output from a public relations perspective was viral videos of impressive but imposing quadrupedal robots built with the aid of defense department contracts. It doesn’t take a giant leap to begin coloring in the gaps with dystopian sentiment.

In instances where robotic deployment has been successful, the technology has helped ease the burden on an impacted workforce.

Some of that has continued to follow the company, of course. Even in the age of short attention spans, one doesn’t quickly forget an image of a man in a fleece vest unsuccessfully attempting to kick over a headless buzzing robot in an empty parking lot. Heck, to this day every post I do about the company is greeted with multiple gifs of the knife-wielding robot from the “Metalhead” episode of “Black Mirror.”

While the company is still committed to its more bleeding edge R&D concepts, Hyundai didn’t purchase a strange little MIT-spinoff that makes viral internet videos. It purchased a company actively working to monetize those efforts. As CEO Robert Playter told me in a recent interview, the company has sold 400 Spots since opening initial availability around 15 months ago. It’s not a huge number, but it’s a sign that interest in the company’s products extend well beyond novelty.

Spot’s primary task at the moment involves surveying dangerous workplaces, from nuclear reactors to oil rigs. Boston Dynamics’ next product, Handle, will move boxes around a warehouse. That robot is set to go on sale at some point in 2022. “I think something like a robot every couple of years is a pace that we could manage,” Playter told me. “From clean sheet, we can build a new robot in under a year. “And then you have to go through an iterative process of refining that concept and starting to understand market fit.”

Maturity in this industry requires a level of pragmatism. Tasked with describing the state of robotics in 2020, I would probably say it’s something like, “Cool technology employed for uncool tasks.” You can, no doubt, identify exceptions (making special effects for movies like Bot & Dolly is decidedly cool), but on the whole, Boston Dynamics is a perfect example of impressive robots doing boring stuff. Any roboticist will happily hammer into you the concept of the three Ds — the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs where the technology is most likely to be deployed.

#boston-dynamics, #cainiao, #department-of-defense, #ecommerce, #hyundai, #medical-robot, #mobile-robot, #robotics, #telemedicine

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Covid Guide: How to Get Through the Pandemic

Times are tough now, but the end is in sight. If we hunker down, keep our families safe during the holidays and monitor our health at home, life will get better in the spring. Here’s how to get through it.

#chronic-condition-health, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #dexamethasone-drug, #disease-rates, #fauci-anthony-s, #holidays-and-special-occasions, #marr-linsey, #medicine-and-health, #protective-clothing-and-gear, #pulse-oximetry, #telemedicine, #tests-medical, #travel-warnings, #vaccination-and-immunization, #winter-season

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Amid Pandemic, Scientists Reassess Routine Medical Care

All this year, patients stayed away from doctors’ offices in droves, postponing tests and treatments. Maybe there’s a silver lining.

#breast-cancer, #colonoscopy, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #doctors, #emergency-medical-treatment, #health-affairs-journal, #iqvia-inc, #mammography, #preventive-medicine, #telemedicine, #tests-medical, #united-states, #welch-h-gilbert

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A Rare Pandemic Silver Lining: Mental Health Start-Ups

Using teletherapy, metrics and matching algorithms, entrepreneurs are focusing on addressing aspects of the mental health care system that they view as broken.

#anxiety-and-stress, #depression-mental, #entrepreneurship, #mental-health-and-disorders, #small-business, #telemedicine, #therapy-and-rehabilitation

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A.A. to Zoom, Substance Abuse Treatment Goes Online

It began as a stopgap way to get through the pandemic, but both participants and providers say virtual sessions have some clear advantages and will likely become a permanent part of recovery.

#addiction-psychology, #alcohol-abuse, #alcoholics-anonymous, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #hazelden-betty-ford-foundation, #narcotics-anonymous, #telemedicine, #videophones-and-videoconferencing, #your-feed-healthcare, #zoom-video-communications

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Improve Emergency Care? Pandemic Helps Point the Way

Momentum is gathering for telemedicine, which could alleviate a longstanding problem: wait times.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #doctors, #emergency-medical-treatment, #hospitals, #telemedicine

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Index ventures into Latin America to back Sofia, a Mexico City-based telemedicine and health insurer

Arturo Sanchez and his co-founders have spent the past two years developing the telemedicine and insurance platform, Sofia, as a way to give customers across Mexico better access to quality healthcare through their insurance plan.

Along with his co-founders, Sebastian Jimenez, a former Google employee who serves as the company’s chief product officer, and Manuel Andere an ex-Patreon employee who’s now Sofia’s chief technology officer, Sanchez  (a former Index Ventures employee) is on a path to provide low-cost insurance for middle class consumers across Latin America, starting in Mexico City.

Backing that vision are a clutch of regional and international investors including Kaszek Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Index Ventures. When Index Ventures came in to lead the company’s $19 million round earlier this year, it was the first commitment that the venture firm had made in Latin America, but given the strength of the market, it likely won’t be their last.

In Sofia, Index has found a good foothold from which to expand its activity. The company which initially started as a telemedicine platform recently received approvals to operate as an insurer as well — part of a long-term vision for growth where it provides a full service health platform for customers.

Founded by three college friends who graduated from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (Mexico’s version of MIT), the company initially launched with COVID-19 related telemedicine service as the pandemic took hold in Mexico.

That service was a placeholder for what Sanchez said was the broader company vision. And while that product alone had 10,000 users signed up for it, the new vision is broader.

“We registered as an insurance company because we want to go deeper into people’s health. We have built a telemedicine solution, which is a core component of the product. The goal is to be an integrated provider that provide primary care and handles more significant types of illnesses,” said Sanchez.

The company already has a core group of 100 physicians in Mexico City and initially will be serving the city with 70 different specialist areas.

All the virtual consultations are covered without an additional payment and in-person or specialty consultations come at a 30% reduced rate to an out-of-pocket payment, according to Sanchez.

Fees depend on age and gender, but Sanchez said a customer would typically pay around $500 per-year or roughly between $40 and $50 per-month.

The company covers 70% of the cost of most treatments that’s capped at $2,000 per-year and coverage maxes out at $75,000. “In Mexico that covers north of 98% of all illnesses or treatment episodes,” said Sanchez.

In Mexico, insurance is even less common than in the US.

90% of private health spend happens out of pocket. The problem that we’re trying to solve is for these people that are already spending money on healthcare but doing it in an unpredictable and risky way,” said Sanchez. “They buy [our service] and they have access to great quality healthcare that they buy it and it’s a significant step up from what they’ve been living with.”

 

#articles, #chief-technology-officer, #google, #heal, #healthcare, #insurance, #kaszek-ventures, #latin-america, #mexico, #mexico-city, #mit, #ribbit-capital, #science-and-technology, #tc, #technology, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #united-states

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Medable raises $91 million for its clinical trial management software

The clinical trial management software developer Medable has raised $91 million in a new round of financing as life sciences companies struggle with how to conduct the necessary validation studies of new drugs and devices in a pandemically challenged environment.

Digital and decentralized clinical trials are becoming a necessity given the health and safety guidelines that have been adopted to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company said. And those changes are driving a shift to services like Medable’s as companies move through the approval process, the company said in a statement.

The company’s new $91 million financing was led by Sapphire Ventures, with follow-on investment from existing investors GSR VenturesPPD, Inc. and Streamlined Ventures.

Medable’s software manages recruitment, remote screening, electronic consent, clinical outcomes assessment (eCOA), eSource, telemedicine, and connected devices, the company said.

Its software is already being used to work on vaccines and therapeutics targeting COVID-19 specifically in addition to facilitating the development of other potentially life-saving therapies and treatments.

“The pandemic has made the world aware of the importance of clinical drug development,” said Dr. Michelle Longmire, CEO and co-founder of Medable, in a statement. “We need transformative technologies that break down critical barriers to improve patient access, experience and outcomes. This new funding will enable Medable to continue our aggressive pursuit of new technologies that improve clinical trials to benefit all patients.”

Trials underway in more than 60 countries are using the service and Medable has inked partnerships with companies like Datavant, to integrate multiple data sources for decentralized trials; MRN, to handle home and remote visits, and AliveCor, to track in-home health with electrocardiograms. 

 

#alivecor, #articles, #drug-development, #gsr-ventures, #health, #medable, #sapphire-ventures, #streamlined-ventures, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine

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Why are telehealth companies treating healthcare like the gig economy?

Telehealth has taken off.

Spurred by the pandemic, many doctors in the U.S. now offer online appointments, and many patients are familiar with getting live medical advice over the internet. Given the obvious benefits, many experts have concluded that telehealth is here to stay. “It’s taken this crisis to push us to a new frontier,” said Seema Verma, administrator of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. “But there’s absolutely no going back.”

Now the question is, where are we going? Telehealth has played an essential role during the pandemic, and it could do even more good in the years to come. But we are still in the very early days of its development. And if we are to realize telehealth’s full potential, then we must first reckon with the fact that there are serious flaws in the predominant way it is delivered today — flaws that endanger patients themselves.

Legacy telehealth services like Teladoc and others were built for a time when telehealth was a fringe phenomenon, mostly used to support acute needs like a bad cold or a troubling rash. They largely offer, in effect, randomized triage care. Patients go online, wait in a queue and see the first doctor who happens to be available. These companies market this as a virtual house call, but for patients, the experience may feel more like being stuck on a conveyor belt. Too often, they get funneled through the system with little to no choice along the way.

Insurance companies love this model because it is cheap to operate. But patients bear the cost. Doctors, in this arrangement, get paid to work the assembly line. Every minute they spend listening to patients — learning about their lives, building a personal relationship — is a minute they’re not moving them down the line, seeing the next patient and earning their next fee. The system doesn’t reward doctors for providing care; it rewards them for churning through patients.

As we build telehealth’s future, doubling down on this model would be a worrisome mistake since it is antithetical to how our healthcare system should operate. Healthcare has long been premised on the idea that you should have an ongoing relationship with a local care provider — someone with a holistic, longitudinal view of your health, who you trust to help navigate difficult or sensitive medical issues.

The randomized triage model breaks this bond and replaces it with a series of impersonal interactions that feel more like ones you have with an Uber driver — polite but transactional, brief and ephemeral. Healthcare, however, should not be treated in the same way as the gig economy.

As a physician, I am troubled by the prospect of what happens when you scale this model up. Every time a patient gets passed from one doctor to the next, there is a chance that critical information is lost. They won’t understand your baseline mood, your family context or living situation — all critical “intangibles” for informed treatment. That lack of longitudinal data leads to worse outcomes. This is why the healthcare system has long been designed to minimize patient handoffs — and why it would be a mistake for us to choose a telehealth infrastructure that increases them.

What, then, does a better approach look like?

We are at the very dawn of telehealth’s integration into our country’s healthcare system, and I won’t claim to know the full answer. But I do know that patients are far better stewards of their own health than a random doctor generator. A more effective approach to telehealth puts the power in patients’ hands. Because when we give them choices and then listen to them, patients tell us what they prefer.

Data gathered by my company makes clear that by a substantial margin, people want to make this decision themselves: Nine out of 10 telehealth patients prefer to schedule an appointment with a provider of their choosing rather than see a randomly assigned doctor after waiting in a digital queue.

Not only that: When given this choice, most patients — about seven in 10 — make an appointment with a nearby doctor when booking a virtual visit. Patients instinctively know that at some point, they’ll want or need to physically be in the same room with their doctor. And they know that choosing a local provider makes it possible to pick up the conversation in-person right where it left off online. They don’t want to be forced to choose between telehealth and an ongoing relationship with a trusted provider. And they’re right — they shouldn’t have to.

None of the legacy telehealth companies focus on this imperative. Instead, while the pandemic rages on, they are rushing to scale while their randomized triage model is still viable. And the markets may reward them in the near term for being in the right place at the right time. But long-term value will be derived from listening to, responding to and iterating on what patients want.

Experience suggests patients will reward whoever can give them the most control over their healthcare. That’s where I’m placing my bet, too.

#column, #gig-economy, #health, #healthcare, #opinion, #physician, #startups, #telecommunications, #telehealth, #telemedicine

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Doctors Are Calling It Quits

Thousands of medical practices are closing, as doctors and nurses decide to retire early or shift to less intense jobs.

#american-medical-assn, #anxiety-and-stress, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #doctors, #protective-clothing-and-gear, #shutdowns-institutional, #telemedicine, #your-feed-healthcare

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UnitedHealth Ships Flu Kits to Medicare Recipients

Under MedAdvantage plans, the major insurer is sending packages including Tamiflu and coronavirus tests to those considered especially vulnerable to Covid and the flu.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #elderly, #health-insurance-and-managed-care, #influenza, #medicare, #medicare-advantage, #tamiflu-drug, #telemedicine, #unitedhealth-group-inc, #your-feed-healthcare

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Twentyeight Health is a telemedicine company expanding access to women’s health and reproductive care

New York’s Twentyeight Health is taking the wildly telemedicine services for women’s health popularized by companies like Nurx and bringing them to a patient population that previously hadn’t had access. 

The mission to provide women who are Medicaid or underinsured should not be deprived of the same kinds of care that patients who have more income security or better healthcare coverage enjoy, according to the company’s founder, Amy Fan.

The mission, and the company’s technology, have managed to convince a slew of investors who have poured $5.1 million in seed funding into the new startup. Third Prime led the round, which included investments from Town Hall Ventures, SteelSky Ventures, Aglaé Ventures, GingerBread Capital, Rucker Park Capital, Predictive VC, and angel investors like Stu Libby, Zoe Barry, and Wan Li Zhu.

“Women who are on Medicaid, who are underinsured or without health insurance often struggle to find access to reproductive health services, and these struggles have only increased with COVID-19 pandemic limiting access to in-person appointments,” said Amy Fan, co-founder of Twentyeight Health, in a statement. “We are fighting for healthcare equity, ensuring that all women, particularly BIPOC women and women from low-income backgrounds, can access high quality, dignified and convenient care.”

To ensure that its catering to underserved communities, the company works with Bottomless Closet, a workforce entry program for women, and the 8 colleges in the City University of New York ecosystem including LaGuardia College, which has 45,000 students with 70% coming from families making less than $30,000 in annual income.

The company’s services are currently available across Florida, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania and it’s the only telemedicine company focused on contraception services to accept Medicaid.

In another example of how awesome this company is, it’s also working to provide free birth control for women who aren’t able to pay out of pocket and are uninsured through a partnership with Bedsider’s Contraceptive Access Fund. The company also donates 2% of its revenue to Bedsider and the National Institute for Reproductive Health. (Y’all, this company is amaze.)

To sign up for the service, new customers fill out a medical questionnaire online. Once the questionnaire is reviewed by a US board-certified doctor within 24 hours customers can access over 100 FDA-approved brands of birth control pills, patches, rings, shots, and emergency contraception and receive a shipment within three days.

Twentyeight Health provides ongoing care through online audio consultations and doctor follow up messages to discuss issues around updating prescriptions or addressing side effects, the company said.

“Today, low-income women are three times more likely to have an unintended pregnancy than the average woman in the U.S., and nearly one-third of physicians nationwide aren’t accepting new Medicaid patients,” said Bruno Van Tuykom, co-founder of Twentyeight Health, in a statement. “This underscores why offering high-quality reproductive care that is inclusive of people across race, income bracket, or health insurance status is more important than ever.”

Launched in 2018, Twentyeight Health said it would use the new cash to continue to expand its services across the U.S.

 

#articles, #birth-control, #co-founder, #contraception, #fda, #florida, #health, #health-insurance, #health-services, #maryland, #medicaid, #new-jersey, #new-york, #north-carolina, #pennsylvania, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #town-hall-ventures, #united-states

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Ro makes the weight loss product Plenity commercially available to everyone in the U.S.

In what could be the first step in the development of a significant new line of business for the telemedicine prescription provider Ro, the company is finally announcing the general commercial availability of weight loss product, Plenity.

Developed by Gelesis, a biotech company that makes treatments for gastro-intestinal disorders, Plentiy is a weight loss treatment that uses citric acid and cellulose to create a non-toxic paste that makes people feel more full after they ingest it. Taken before meals, the pill becomes a substance that expands to take up about 25% of the stomach, so people eat less.

The product has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is available for a much broader segment of the population than other weight loss products. While most prescription medicines are intended for people who are obese, the Gelesis product is made for people who are overweight, too.

“That’s adults who have a BMI from 25 up to 40. That’s 150 million Americans,” according to Gelesis chief commercial and operating officer, David Pass.

Plenity received FDA approval last April and Gelesis started working with Ro soon after, according to Pass. The idea was to craft a strategy that could get the treatment, which is classified as a medical device and not a drug, in the hands of as many patients as quickly as possible.

For Ro, the agreement with Gelesis is a sign of potential things to come. The company is the exclusive online provider of the Plenity treatment and Ro founder Zachariah Reitano said that there’s an incredible potential to engage in more of these types of deals.

“We would love to be able to partner with pharmaceutical companies to decrease the cost of distribution,” said Reitano. “We were excited to build an exciting treatment solution for weight management. Our high-level mission is to be the patient’s first call.”

With the Gelesis partnership Ro can add another highly desirable treatment to its roster of therapies — and one that can be a contributing factor to increasing the severity of other conditions that the company already provides treatment for, Reitano said. 

“There are a few conditions that we currently treat that are exacerbated by a patient being overweight or obese. People who struggle with weight management will also experience ED. Obesity can lead to heart failure stroke, coronary heart disease, hypetension, depression,” Reitano said. “The breadth of the label is interesting. Only FDA approved with a BMI from 25 to 40. FDA approved treatment have been between 30 and 40. [It] makes the treatment more accessible to a wider variety of people.”

As the only online provider of the treatment, Ro has developed an onboarding process to ensure that the Plenity therapy isn’t abused by people who suffer from eating disorders.

“During our onboarding we not only ask questions to patients about their weight management. There’s a consecutive set of images that need to be uploaded and taken with the provider. That’s something we’ve taken a lot of time and energy to make sure about,” said Reitano. 

Like the other treatments Ro offers, Plenity is a cash pay prescription, because the weight loss treatments aren’t typically covered by insurance, he said.

The benefit of working with an online pharmacy like Ro to provide distribution for a new therapy was obvious to both startups.

“We turned this market on its head by putting the consumer at the heart of everything we do,” said Pass. The treatment costs $98 per month, compared to other therapies or branded medications that could be as much $300 and $350 per month, according to Pass.

One reason that Gelesis is able to reduce the price of the drug is that it won’t have to hire a massive sales force to pitch it. The company has Ro for that.

“Normally you have a pharmaceutical company that would have to hire a sales force and go door to door and it increases the cost of a new drug. [Ro] can make a new, innovative treatment available, like Plenity, available nationwide,” Reitano said. 

#depression, #drugs, #energy, #food-and-drug-administration, #health, #obesity, #officer, #online-pharmacy, #pharmaceutical, #ro, #tc, #telemedicine

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Healthcare entrepreneurs should prepare for an upcoming VC/PE bubble

While many industries are taking a major hit due to the ongoing pandemic, the healthcare technology market continues to grow. In fact, total healthcare-related innovation funding for H1 2020 hit $9.1 billion, up nearly 19% compared to the same period in 2019, according to StartUp Health’s 2020 Midyear Funding Report.

As the virus continues to pose new challenges for the industry, investors are rushing to pump money into startups addressing healthcare sub-sectors ranging from telemedicine to patient financial engagement.

The inefficiencies and frustrations of the U.S. healthcare system make it a tempting target for disruption-oriented VCs. But here’s the hard truth: Healthcare is unlike any other industry. It has a morass of regulations that a “move-fast-and-break-things” startup can’t handle over the long term.

Healthcare is also a sensitive, personal issue. As such, patients are inherently reluctant to adapt to new technologies, even when they’re dissatisfied with the status quo. Consequently, it’s crucial that startup technology leaders in this space understand how to wade through these unpredictable waters in order to thrive and deliver a strong ROI for investors.

But here’s the hard truth: Healthcare is unlike any other industry. It has a morass of regulations that a “move-fast-and-break-things” startup can’t handle over the long term.

Entering health technology

VCs are seeing all the latest headlines about COVID-19 and spying a potential money-making opportunity to invest capital into innovative startups. However, they must overcome barriers to entry when offering patient-focused, technology-centric solutions before they can compete with legacy players. As the saying goes, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” and, within the healthcare startup space, COVID-19 presents an opportunity for those who stood ready to offer a solution to the market before the situation became a crisis.

Therefore, VC and PE investors should focus on the problem the potential startup is trying to solve as recent times have rapidly refashioned the need for certain solutions. Are there other key players leading the market, or is the startup a duplicative offering that is currently available? If the value proposition is unique, it may be interesting. If it’s not, investors may want to think twice.

#column, #coronavirus, #corporate-venture-capital, #covid-19, #entrepreneurship, #health, #opinion, #private-equity, #telemedicine, #venture-capital

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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek pledges $1Bn of his wealth to back deeptech startups from Europe

At an online event today, Daniel Ek, the founder of Spotify, said he would invest 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) of his personal fortune in deeptech “moonshot projects”, spread across the next 10 years.

Ek indicated that he was referring to machine learning, biotechnology, materials sciences and energy as the sectors he’d like to invest in.

“I want to do my part; we all know that one of the greatest challenges is access to capital,” Ek said, adding he wanted to achieve a “new European dream”.

“I get really frustrated when I see European entrepreneurs giving up on their amazing visions selling early on to non-European companies, or when some of the most promising tech talent in Europe leaves because they don’t feel valued here,” Ek said. “We need more super companies that raise the bar and can act as an inspiration.”

According to Forbes, Ek is worth $3.6 billion, which would suggest he’s putting aside roughly a third of his own wealth for the investments.

And it would appear his personal cash will be deployed with the help of a close confidant of Ek’s. He retweeted a post by Shakhil Khan, one of the first investors in Spotify, who said “it’s time to come out of retirement then.”

During a fireside chat held by the Slush conference, he said: “We all know that one of the greatest challenges is access to capital. And that is why I’m sharing today that I will devote €1bn of my personal resources to enable the ecosystem of builders.” He said he would do this by “funding so-called moonshots focusing on the deep technology necessary to make a significant positive dent, and work with scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and governments to do so.”

He expressed his desire to level-up Europe against the US I terms of tech unicorns: “Europe needs more super companies, both for the ecosystem to develop and thrive. But I think more importantly if we’re going to have any chance to tackle the infinitely complex problems that our societies are dealing with at the moment, we need different stakeholders, including companies, governments, academic institutions, non-profits and investors of all kinds to work together.”

He also expressed his frustration at seeing “European entrepreneurs, giving up on their amazing visions by selling very early in the process… We need more super companies to raise the bar and can act as an inspiration… There’s lots and lots of really exciting areas where there are tons of scientists and entrepreneurs right now around Europe.”

Ek said he will work with scientists, investors, and governments to deploy his funds. A $1.2 billion fund would see him competing with other large European VCs such as Atomico, Balderton Capital, Accel, Index Ventures and Northzone.

Ek has been previously known for his interest in deeptech. He has invested in €16m in Swedish telemedicine startup Kry. He’s also put €3m into HJN Sverige, an artificial intelligence company in the health tech arena.

#articles, #artificial-intelligence, #balderton-capital, #biotechnology, #business, #daniel-ek, #economy, #energy, #entrepreneurship, #europe, #forbes, #founder, #kry, #machine-learning, #northzone, #private-equity, #spotify, #startup-company, #tc, #telemedicine, #united-states

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Building a white label tool for telemedicine services nabs OnCall Health $6 million

As medical providers across the world turn to digital delivery of consultations and services, OnCall Health a Toronto-based provider of back-end services for telemedicine is having a moment.

The company, which competes with services like Truepill to offer physicians, pharmacies and other potential point of care services a way to consult online, has grown exceptionally quickly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

OnCall Health’s services include the ability to schedule a video or text appointment with a physician, hosting those video consultations on its secured servers, and the integration of back end billing systems so physicians can get paid.

Services like OnCall and TruePill’s have increased exponentially since the advent of lockdown orders put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In a sign of how hungry investors are for these kinds of deals, Truepill just raised $75 million to expand its own health services offerings.

“Since COVID-19, telemedicine has shifted from a nice-to-have revenue source for primary care, mental health, and home care and chronic conditions to a need-to-have,” said Base10 Partners principal Chris Zeoli, who led the investment into OnCall.

Joining Base10 in its $6 million investment into OnCall were several existing investors from the company’s $2 million seed round, including Ripple Ventures, Panache Ventures, and Stout Street Capital.

The bulk of the company’s customers come from small and medium-sized physician’s practices, according to Zeoli. Roughly 500 of the company’s existing customers consist of offices with less than ten practicing doctors.

Capturing this long tail is important because it actually represents a huge proportion of healthcare providers.

“OnCall provides everything that healthcare brands like pharmaceutical companies, insurers, and direct to consumer digital health startups need to get into the space and launch their own virtual care programs, often for the first time,” said Nicholas Chepesiuk, founder and CEO of OnCall Health. “Meanwhile, we are well positioned to help conventional healthcare clinics and systems adopt virtual care technology in the context of their operational processes. In the past year we have been able to roll out our technology with two global insurance companies, several leading pharmaceutical brands, and many rapidly growing digital health startups.”

OnCall now has over 30 employees and supports 7,000 primary care, mental health, and paramedical service providers across North America.

#articles, #base10-partners, #ceo, #digital-health, #insurance, #north-america, #pharmaceutical, #physician, #tc, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #toronto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truepill’s executives certainly hope so.

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

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

Image Credits: Truepill

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

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

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

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

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

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Meet the New Caregiver: Your Home

New technology is allowing homeowners who can afford it to outfit their bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms with tools to monitor their health.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #delos-living-llc, #home-automation-and-smart-homes, #mayo-clinic, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #telemedicine

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Dentists Are Seeing an Epidemic of Cracked Teeth. What’s Going On?

When I reopened my dental practice in early June, the tooth fractures started coming in: at least one a day, every single day that I’ve been in the office.

#anxiety-and-stress, #bruxism, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #jaw-body-part, #mental-health-and-disorders, #quarantines, #shutdowns-institutional, #teeth-and-dentistry, #telecommuting, #telemedicine

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For Kids With O.C.D., Coronavirus Precautions Can Go Too Far

How parents can distinguish between hand-washing that is a reasonable reaction to a real threat and something more concerning.

#children-and-childhood, #content-type-service, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #coronavirus-risks-and-safety-concerns, #fear-emotion, #hygiene-and-cleanliness, #obsessive-compulsive-disorder, #parenting, #telemedicine, #therapy-and-rehabilitation

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Now providing healthcare access to nearly 1.5 million kids, Hazel Health raises $33.5 million

Hazel Health was founded five years ago to provide telemedicine services to children in public schools. Launched by a former Apple software engineer and serial entrepreneur, Nick Woods, and named after one of Woods’ children, Hazel Health has grown to work with school districts responsible for 1.5 million children, and has raised $33.5 million to expand its footprint even further across the United States.

The company’s services are even more sorely needed as children are forced into distance learning classrooms by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Denied the network of services that in-person schooling provides for basic healthcare and nutrition, remote services like Hazel Health become, in some cases the only window into children’s health that some communities have.

When the first lockdown orders came through, the company began working with school districts to develop remote telemedicine services distributed via applications to continue serving the children it provided basic telemedicine services for.

So far, ninety percent of eligible families have enrolled in the company’s telemedicine program and 70 percent have engaged with the company’s services. These numbers are even more significant when viewed through the lens of the nearly forty percent of the company’s users who indicate they don’t have a primary care physician.

“We built this incredibly powerful model that partnered with schools and brought access to healthcare to families,” said Hazel chief executive, Josh Golomb. “At the schools we had an iPad on a stand. You hit a button and in a few minutes you would be talking to a doctor.”

Hazel Health executive team, from left: Dr. Rob Darzynkiewicz (Chief Medical Officer), Nick Woods (Chief Tech Officer, cofounder), Raquel Antunez (VP Education Markets, cofounder), and Josh Golomb (CEO). Image Credit: Hazel Health

After the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in the U.S., the company’s Hazel at Home service continues to provide care to kids.

“As soon as covid happened there was a lot of recognition by districts that we have to have a solution around student health and wellness,” said Golomb. “Pre-COVID we went from 300,000 in our network of districts to now, when we just passed 1.5 million. [The] rate of engagement went down but our overall expansion has increased dramatically.”

With those kinds of numbers it was no wonder that Owl Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures came in to back the company. Additional financing came from Uprising, the UCSF Foundation Investment Company and Centene Corp.

And the demand just keeps increasing, according to Golomb.

“Our pipeline has exploded,” he said. “A lot of the states have made expansion for telehealth and increasing access a priority. We were going to have eight or nine states that we were going to prioritize.. That’s priority number one… another big chunk is really making sure that we can invest in expanding the product to support that volume of states and finding ways to support our families and district partners.”

#articles, #bain-capital-ventures, #ceo, #covid, #distance-learning, #executive, #healthcare, #ipad, #owl-ventures, #tc, #technology, #telehealth, #telemedicine, #united-states

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