The CVS-Aetna hearing is on the move–finally

The train that is the CVS-Aetna hearing, in the courtroom presided over by Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, is at long last chugging down the tracks. And Pauline is still tied up. Tuesday 4 June was Day 1 of this hearing. Early reports are just being filed. The issue is whether Judge Leon will authorize the Department of Justice’s approval of the merger or dissolve a closed merger, based on his authority under the Tunney Act and his own repeated intent to search for harm that the merger might do to the public. 

Today’s hearing focused on Aetna’s divestiture of its Medicare Part D business as a prelude to the merger, and whether it was quite enough. Much of the discussion was on the relative strength of the buyer, WellCare (itself in the early stages of being acquired), and whether it could be truly competitive in the Part D market. The other factor is that CVS as a dominant pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) could undermine WellCare in several ways. PBMs operate opaquely and are highly concentrated, with CVS, Optum (UnitedHealthcare), and Cigna-Express Scripts accounting for 70 percent of the market. Modern Healthcare

Other issues for Days 2 and 3 will cover the effects on competition in health insurance, retail pharmacy and specialty pharmacy.

Healthcare Dive discusses how these hearings are already setting precedent on how Tunney Act hearings are conducted, their scope (Judge Leon has ruled against every attempt by CVS-Aetna to limit it), and the unprecedented live testimony.  There is the good possibility that Judge Leon will decide to dissolve the merger for competitive reasons, which DOJ likely would appeal. Add to this the cost of the delayed integration and the precedent set by the District Court on scrutiny of any healthcare merger, and this tedious hearing along with Judge Leon’s actions leading to it hold major consequences.

IBM gives sensor-based in-home behavioral tracking a self-driving car ‘spin’ in the UK with Cera Care

In-home behavioral tracking of older adults, which was a significant portion of telecare circa 2007 up until a few years ago, may be getting a new lease on life. The technology in this round is the same as what guides self-driving vehicles–LiDAR or Light Detection and Ranging, which uses laser light pulses to map images of movement and surroundings. 

In this model, IBM Research will use the LiDAR information and their machine learning to establish normal patterns and also to observe behaviors that may indicate a potentially dangerous condition or situation. The LiDAR pilot will be in 10-15 households in the UK starting in June. IBM is partnering with early-stage UK home care company Cera Care on the reporting and linking with care staff on alerts on changes in behavior that may predict a more acute condition. 

Many of the privacy issues that dogged predictive behavioral telemonitoring via networked infrared motion sensors, as well as in-home cameras, are present with LiDAR monitoring. Unlike 2007, five states have ‘nanny cam’ laws that prohibit cameras within skilled nursing facilities without patient consent (Senior Housing News) Another issue: expense. LiDAR sensor setups cost up to $1,000 each, and at least one per room is needed. Far cheaper setups are available from the Editor’s long-ago former company, QuietCare, if one can still purchase them for the home from Care Innovations; Alarm.com, UK’s Hive Link, and Google may get into the act with their Nest connected home tech.

Senior housing may open up a new market for LiDAR, which is wilting in the autonomous vehicle (AV) area as it’s proven to be rather buggy on real roads with real drivers. Certainly the housing and care market is growing and destined to be huge, with over-60s growing from 900 million in 2015 to 2 billion worldwide in 2050, while for-hire caregivers are shrinking by the millions.  Business Insider, Reuters

Call9 and an ’embedded’ approach to emergency response in nursing homes

Back in March, this Editor noted the substantial $34 million raise over the past three years by Call9. The Brooklyn-based company has pioneered an innovative approach filling a non-glamorous but badly needed gap in care–providing in-facility emergency care in SNFs and rehab facilities. Embedded in-facility first responders summoned by SNF nurses provide immediate care at a higher level than nursing home staff, married to telehealth capability that connects to remotely located emergency medicine doctors via a video cart and diagnostics.  The goal is to provide care immediately, avoid unnecessary and potentially harmful ER/ED admissions (estimated at 19 percent of ambulance transports), and generally keep SNF patients healthier while on site.

The numbers are there. Call9 reported in their studies a 50 percent reduction in ER admissions and a savings of $8M per year for a 200-bed nursing facility. Even if these numbers are high, a reduction is welcome news to SNFs, payors, Medicare, and one would think nursing home patients and families. Hospital readmissions within 30 days are also a CMS quality measure important to SNFs–the lower the better.

The Hunter College Center for Health Technology in their blog reported that one Call9 feature is special training for staff at their in-house Call9 Academy in the unique emergency care demands present in a SNF. These were initally learned first hand by the founder, Dr. Timothy Peck, who lived three months in a Long Island SNF’s conference room in order to better understand staff and patient needs.

It not only saves money, but fills other gaps in care and social determinants of health. Part of the Academy training covers the gap in palliative care with residents, and can facilitate Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) preparation with families. Last year, Call9 partnered with Lyft to provide transportation for family members of nursing home residents who have had a change in condition. Other partnerships serve the needs of community paramedicine services to connect with telehealth services as part of CMS’ ET3 model. The company currently covers over 3,700 beds in New York State, recently expanding to Albany, its third city.

A similar company, Third Eye Health, based in Chicago, covers about 15,000 beds but is a ‘lighter’ system that concentrates on remote care without the embedded staff and purely tablet based remote consults initiated by staff nurses. Both indicate through their growth and funding a surge in realization that both improved care and major savings to healthcare can be realized here.

Global news roundup: Italy’s digital health summer school, GSK Impact Awards, Propel@YH for Yorkshire & Humber digital health, Aging 2.0 engages seniors

Smart Homes for Healthy Ageing, 24-27th June 2019, Artimino, Florence (Italy) might be just the thing as an learning adjunct to enhance your summer holiday. The four-day conference concentrates on supporting people living with dementia (PLwD). It is designed for early career researchers and delegates who are focusing on the research and development of smart homes and health services for PLwD. Registration deadline is 31 May. 2.5 ECTS equivalency and conducted in English. See the attached PDF for session information and the website for more detail on the conference. Hat tip to Cristiano Paggetti of the Medea Project via Editor Steve.

The King’s Fund, which is having its Digital Health and Care Congress as your Editor is writing this, announced on 16 May the outcome of one of its projects: the GSK IMPACT Awards to ten charities which have improved health and wellbeing. Each company receives a £30,000 donation, two places on a free training and development program, and an invitation to join the GSK IMPACT Awards Development Network with free meetings and events. The overall winner, Suffolk Carers, as the lead receives a bonus £10,000 to use in its work supporting unpaid carers of all ages across Suffolk. The other awardees are: The Children’s Sleep Charity,East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services,Grassroots Suicide Prevention, Healthy Minds, Off the Record Youth Counselling Croydon, Positive Life, Rape Crisis South London, Refugee and Migrant Centre Black Country and Birmingham, and Support in Mind Scotland. Nine runner-ups received a £3,000 donation. Congratulations to all!

Yorkshire & Humber AHSN (Academic Health Science Network) announced their first-ever digital health accelerator, Propel@ YH, at the ‘Transforming Lives Through Innovation’ Annual Conference 9 May in Leeds. It targets building a relevant business case for the NHS. The six finalists are DigiBete, Healthcare Engineering, HeteroGenius, Medicsen, Medicspot and Scaled Insights. The Leeds-based program is in partnership with mHabitat, an NHS-owned specialist and expert in the application of digital to health and care.

And closer to home, Aging 2.0 Atlanta and Kansas City are conducting a free webinar on Driving Senior Engagement with Education & Socialization on 30 May, 11am-12.30pm ET. From their notice, “Social isolation, loneliness, lack of engagement, a shrinking world and a diminished sense of purpose are all issues effecting (sic) seniors today.” Presenters are Lynne Beachner of Senior Learning Network and Amber Carroll of COVIA Well Connected.  More information here. Registration direct link. 

Bayer 2019 G4A Partnerships now open for applications through 31 May

Alex Fair of Medstartr has alerted us to Bayer’s G4A Partnerships for their accelerator to develop and scale breakthrough solutions anchored in behavioral science. The program now covers 35 countries to collaborate with startups and healthcare technology companies that are developing innovative solutions in health and care.

Health areas include Cardiovascular, Digital Therapeutics, Global Health, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Pulmonology, Radiology and Women’s Health.

G4A has two tracks for companies based on development stage: 

Growth Track: for companies in the pre-product launch stage. Ideal candidates are seed-stage startups with a Minimal Viable Product validated through acquisition of patents and in publications. Funding is €50-100K to partner + co-create products and solutions with Bayer, plus co-working space in Berlin.

Advance Track: a mature company with a product in the market. Companies will be working jointly with Bayer experts to drive a commercial partnership, co-funded by G4A. There’s a €50-100K initial investment followed by incremental milestone-based payments.

Since 2013, G4A has supported over 150 digital health companies, resulting in 30 direct collaborations, the most recent award being in January: KinAptic (US), Agamon (Israel/UK), and Cyclica (Canada). To apply, see the Partnership page and click on Apply Now. Finalists will be notified in August for the formal announcement in Berlin in early October. But you have to move quickly. as it closes 31 May!

Tyto Care telehealth integrates with Epic EHR MyChart patient app

Tyto Care announced today the addition of their remote diagnostic device and app to Epic’s app marketplace, AppOrchard. The addition enables health organizations to adopt the Tyto Care app and offer TytoHome service to their care providers and patients. The data is integrated into Epic’s MyChart patient portal, delivering patient exam data to Epic EHRs used by providers.

The remote visit can work two ways.

  • Launched from within MyChart, the patient can initiate a live or scheduled telehealth visit
  • From Epic’s HyperSpace desktop app, a care provider can remotely join a telehealth visit with the patient.

During the visit, the provider can control the TytoCare device to capture temperature readings, skin images, heart and lung auscultations, and recordings of the throat and ears for a remote diagnosis.

Sanford Health, a health system in the Midwest and West, is one current Tyto Care user which also uses Epic as their EHR. Meghan Goldammer, a senior vice president and chief clinical officer at Sanford Health, commented that “Epic has been our electronic patient record standard of care for years and now we have adopted Tyto Care. The integration will allow for a coordinated patient experience and give our providers the information they need to deliver great care.”

Based in Netanya, Israel and New York City, Tyto Care’s ‘all-in-one’ device incorporates a camera, stethoscope, otoscope, tongue depressor, basal thermometer, and smartphone app for an extensive video exam which can be integrated with an EHR or other telehealth systems. It includes visit scheduling capability, a cloud-based data repository with analytics, and built-in user guidance with machine learning algorithms for accurate use. Tyto Care is now retailed at Best Buy in select markets [TTA 17 April]. Tyto Care release

Breaking News–Teladoc: while accredited by NCQA, placed on ‘under corrective action’ status (updated)

Breaking News. Teladoc–one of the two giants in telemedicine–has been placed on ‘under corrective action’ status in its latest (15 May) two-year accreditation with the National Committee for Quality Assurance, better known by its initials, NCQA. Their next review is slated for six months (18 Nov).

According to the earliest breaking report on Seeking Alpha, a business and stock market website, the move to ‘corrective action’ status has been brewing for some time. Teladoc was the first telemedicine company to win this coveted status in 2013. Now, of course, all major telemedicine players have this accreditation.

This is the latest mark against the company, which has gone through some recent ‘interesting times’ financially with accounting problems based on booking stock awards (2018), the CFO’s resignation, and lack of replacement. The report by a ‘bear’ on the stock indicates that its large contract with Aetna, among others, is up for renewal.

Exactly what this ‘corrective action’ is related to has not been made public by either NCQA or Teladoc. Comments under the article sourced from a Wells Fargo analyst that the action is arising from a workflow that Teladoc uses for credentialing providers.

A good portion of this article discusses revisions on the Teladoc website and marketing materials which ensues when something like this happens and it is the basis for a superiority or credentialing claim.

NCQA is a non-profit that advocates quality standards and measures for healthcare organizations, health plans, and organizations that provide services to the former. Their standards are widespread in the industry as a means of review and accreditation for providers and hospitals, as well as incorporated into quality metrics used by HHS and CMS. For those who may not be able to access the full article–requires free membership (but you’ll get emails) registration with the Seeking Alpha site–attached is a PDF of the article.

Update: While to the ‘bear’ Teladoc is a glass half empty and cracked, to another Seeking Alpha writer, the glass is more than half full even though the company continues to run substantial losses. Here’s an analysis that is mostly positive, though acknowledging the issues above.

Next DHACA Day 9th July, London – seeking new members (psst–it’s free)

DHACA, the Digital Health and Care Alliance, with some 850 members currently, is having a new membership drive among SMEs working in the UK’s digital health & care space, following the kind offering of new sponsorship by Kent Surrey and Sussex AHSN and UCL Partners. 

The organisation’s objective is to help members develop their innovative products and services commercially, to achieve successful sales to the NHS. DHACA works right across the UK.

If you aren’t a member, you can sign up here to ensure you are kept aware of important news and of DHACA events. Membership is entirely free and members’ details will of course never be passed on to any other organisation.

Whether or not you are currently a member, booking is now open for the next DHACA Day. This event is primarily aimed at informing members working in the digital health & care sector of the major recent changes they need to be aware of, and how best to navigate them to make greater sales to the NHS and other health & care organisations. There is a small charge of £30+VAT to provide lunch, otherwise all other costs will kindly be covered by the event Sponsors, Baker Botts, in whose premises at 41 Lothbury (the opposite side of the Bank of England to the Bank Tube) it will be held.

The draft agenda includes talks by Luke Pratsides, Clinical Lead, Digital Development, NHS England about NHSX, Sam Shah, Director of Digital Development at NHS England and James Maguire, Clinical Advisor in Digital Innovation & AI at NHSX on NHS England’s digital development strategy, Mark Salmon, Programme Director, NICE on their HealthTech Connect and Evidence Standards, Neil Foster, Partner, Baker Botts on Finance for digital health start-ups, Neil Coulson, Partner, Baker Botts, on IP protection and the GDPR, Rob Berry, Commercial Director, UCL Partners on how the AHSNs can help SMEs and much more. Neil McGuire, Clinical Director of Devices, MHRA, has also been invited to update attendees on MDR implementation – a most important topic.

DHACA is keen to get members’ views on how they’d like it to be organised and governed in order to deliver what members want, so there will be time in the middle of the day for this too.

Should be a great day!

(Disclosure: this Editor is also DHACA CEO) 

 

News, events roundup: FDA clears AliveCor’s first 6 lead ECG, Jawbone Health rises from ashes, Let’s Get Checked’s $30M check, Health Wildcatters’ $35M ‘how to’ breakfast

AliveCor receives FDA clearance for KardiaMobile 6L, the first FDA-cleared personal 6-lead device. From the AliveCor release, the description: “In addition to the two electrodes on the top of the device, there is one additional electrode on the bottom. The user places her thumbs on each of the two top electrodes, and places the bottom electrode on her left knee or ankle. This formation, known in cardiology as the Einthoven Triangle, allows cardiologists to view electrical activity in the heart from six perspectives or “leads.”” The information is sent to the mobile device’s software including KardiaAI bradycardia and tachycardia detection features cleared recently for the single-lead KardiaBand, as well as deeper information into arrhythmias. The single-lead ECG space that AliveCor pioneered with first their snap-on then the KardiaBand is now crowded with the Apple Watch, Withings, and numerous others. It’s a big step forward for the company. AliveCor has opened pre-orders now at $149, to be delivered starting in June. Hat tip to co-founder Dr. Dave Albert. 9to5Mac, Biospace (release), Mobihealthnews

Save Your Jawbones, the Founder Rises Again. Yes, Jawbone founder Hosain Rahman just raised $64.5 million for a new company. The new outfit, dubbed Jawbone Health, will offer a “personalized subscription service where we take all of this continuous health data about you and we combine that with a lot of machine intelligence . . .” to prevent avoidable diseases. After having burnt to a crisp $1 billion over 10 years on wireless speakers and fitness bands, again Mr. Rahman goes into territory which isn’t exactly unique with the footprints of the aforementioned Apple Watches, Withings, Spry Health’s Loop, EarlySense, etc. But hey,  SignalFire and Refactor Capital in the Bay Area, Polymath Ventures and Meraas in Dubai like his style. Even TechCrunch is arching an eyebrow.

Let’s Get Checked checks in with $30 million raise. This NYC-based direct-to-home supplier and manufacturer of in-home test kits raised a $30 million Series B from Leerink Transformation Partners, Qiming Venture Partners USA, and Optum Ventures after last year’s $10 million Series A. Customers can order in-state physician-approved laboratory tests via LetsGetChecked.com or through partner retailers, including CVS, Walmart, Pharmaca, and McKesson online stores, with delivery in 1-2 days. Tests covering wellness, men’s and women’s health are processed by CLIA-certified reference labs with results sent to a secure online account in 2-5 days, with the customer referred to in-state physicians for interpretation of results and further action if needed. PrivaPath Diagnostics markets in the US, Canada, Ireland, and Europe. Release

Speaking of raising money, how about $35 million for your med device startup? Health Wildcatters is hosting one of their Pulse Health Startup Education Series breakfasts (7.30-9am) in Dallas on Tuesday 21 May with main speaker Ken Nelson from Bardy Diagnostics, which just had a $35.5 million Series B, presumably letting everyone in on the secret. Registration and more information here.

CVS-Aetna hearing starts June 4; now only 6 witnesses called, for and against (updated)

The next chapter of the ‘Perils of Pauline’ saga that is the CVS-Aetna merger won’t commence until June, as it turns out, but already the amici curiae are piling up on both sides. Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia has been lining up the witnesses he’ll be hearing from, both for and against. 

On the ‘anti’ side, testifying that the settlement agreement would be anti-competitive and not in the best interest of consumers, the American Medical Association (AMA) had called in three professors, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation three, and Consumer Action and the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) one. On the ‘pro’ side, put forward by CVS and for the Department of Justice, are five witnesses, healthcare executives and government consultants, who will testify that actions taken by CVS and DOJ will preserve competition and benefit consumers.

Certainly as we clock the ninth month after DOJ approved the merger and the companies have closed the deal, the drama continues, as Judge Leon continues to get coverage and the merger continues to be held up in this highly unusual proceeding. HealthLeaders 22 April and 7 May.

Update 13 May. The DOJ is challenging the three AMA witnesses, saying that they will be broadening the hearing beyond the settlement agreement which is what the review by Judge Leon is supposed to be about. On the other hand, the judge has already stated that the settlement covers “about one-tenth of 1%” of the merger, so he is already staking out a much larger territory. The AMA, of course, is quite pleased with the opportunity. Is this hearing pushing the envelope of judicial overreach in this judge’s interpretation of what a District Court can do under the Tunney Act? We can only wait and see. Healthcare Dive 13 May. Our coverage of the hearing to date here.  

Update 14 May. DOJ of course lost its fight with Judge Leon to limit the scope of the hearing and the AMA witness testimony, with the judge stating it is “essential” to understand how PBM affects Medicare Part D drug plans, though Aetna divested itself of the latter at DOJ’s direction. Both sides have three approved witnesses each for the three-day hearing. The ‘antis’ are Neeraj Sood (AMA), Diana Moss (Consumer Action/PIRG) and Michael Wohlfeiler (AIDS Healthcare foundation). The ‘pros’ are Alan Lotvin (CVS Health), Terri Swanson (Aetna) and Lawrence Wu (NERA Consulting). Healthcare Dive 14 May

Harris Healthcare acquires in-hospital workflow tech pioneer Uniphy Health

Harris Healthcare, a computer systems company in clinical information systems, is adding Uniphy Health to its portfolio. Uniphy is a Newark NJ early-stage company which specializes in workflow solutions and team communications. Uniphy, which this Editor has been following since it was Practice Unite in a tiny office located at NJIT in 2015, now serves 90,000 clinicians with desktop and mobile apps at hundreds of healthcare facilities. Harris and Uniphy have worked together at several locations including Hunterdon Healthcare.

Uniphy and its 24 person team will be staying in Newark and near NJIT as Uniphy Health Solutions under Harris’ clinical services unit.  CEO and co-founder Adam Turinas will move to VP of the Uniphy group. According to Mr. Turinas, Uniphy fills a gap in Harris’ offerings and can fit within their clinical solutions such as EHR, patient access, patient experience, and revenue cycle management technologies. Best wishes to the team, including co-founder Stuart Hochron, MD! Mobihealthnews, MedCityNews, Uniphy release

Events, dear friends, events in London from painting to leadership

‘Framing the Future’, Paintings in Hospitals 60th Anniversary. Monday 13 May at 6pm, Royal College of Physicians

What is the past, present and future role of arts in health? Considering the past pioneers and future innovations of visual arts in health and social care is a panel including Edmund de Waal OBE (artist and author), Dr Errol Francis (CEO of Culture&), Dr Val Huet (CEO of the British Association of Art Therapists), Prof. Victoria Tischler (Professor of Arts and Health at the University of West London) and Ed Vaizey MP (Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing). This event is waitlisted, but was fascinating enough to warrant a mention.

HealthChat with Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, Thursday 23 May at 5.30pm, The King’s Fund

Organized by UK Health Gateway, this evening with Ms. May will delve into issues such as workforce, her priorities, and how she will unite nurses in planning for the future? Tickets through Eventbrite are £19.95 – £39.95.

HealthChat with Rashik Parmar MBE. Monday 10 June at 5.30pm, The King’s Fund

Organized by UK Health Gateway, this evening with Mr. Parmar who is a Fellow of IBM, the leader of IBM’s European technical community and an IBM Distinguished Engineer will be about technology, data mapping, and AI. Tickets through Eventbrite are  £19.95 – £39.95.

Hat tip to Roy Lilley and his NHSManagers.net newsletter for the above three events

Ninth annual leadership and management summit. Wednesday 10 July starting 8am for the full day. The King’s Fund

The King’s Fund’s annual leadership event is for senior leaders in health and care organizations across the public, private and third sectors. Topics will be centered on leadership capabilities and cultures that enable teams to deliver better patient care and value for money, while also delivering continuous improvements to population health. Speakers include the Rt Hon Matt Hancock MP and Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England. More information and registration here.

 

Telepsychiatry improves time to care plus frequency of care for behavioral health patients: study

A study published in the Journal of Rural Mental Health of the American Psychological Association (abstract) studied the usage of hybrid psychiatric care–a combination of telepsychiatry and in-person care–among rural dwelling patients. Their findings were quite positive:

  • Hybrid care reduced time to in-person care by 30 percent in the intervention group versus the control group of in-person care only
  • Two-thirds of those receiving hybrid care had an outpatient telepsychiatry encounter per month, as opposed to 50.3 percent among the control group
  • The intervention group used telepsychiatry for over a quarter of their visits

Emergency department visits, antipsychotic medication adherence and readmission rates were similar among both groups.

The retrospective analysis of 242 patients (outpatient visit + 11 months) studied adult Medicaid patients in Missouri who had received a telepsychiatry visit following a hospitalization or emergency department visit resulting from substance use disorder or a behavioral health episode. 

Rural America is considered to be highly underserved in mental health, with many barriers to follow-up care after an inpatient admission or an ER/ED visit. As the authors of the study stated, ‘the current study suggests that offering telepsychiatry can help close the gap in access to mental health care between rural and urban populations, particularly during the time after an inpatient admission or an emergency department visit. As telepsychiatry service options continue to grow, making this delivery mode available to rural populations may have a positive impact on mental health outcomes in the United States.’ The Mobihealthnews article attributed the telepsychiatry system to Genoa Healthcare.

It’s NICE to HealthTech Connect with the NHS

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) launched last week a resource for a wide range of health care technologies to gain traction in the UK. NICE’s HealthTech Connect is a free portal for companies and developers that enables “companies to understand what information is needed by decision makers in the UK health and care system, and clarify possible routes to market access.” It centralizes information on companies who enter their information for consideration by organizations which are seeking technologies or offering support such as funding, market access, and evaluation.

For this ‘single point’ initiative, NICE has brought on an impressive roster of partners and funders in England, Scotland, and Wales including NHS England, NHS Supply Chain, the NIHR Innovation Observatory, the AHSN Network, Office for Life Sciences, MHRA, and NHS Clinical Commissioners. Over 100 companies registered on the site, with 13 technologies submitted, since a soft launch in January. Already one company, Sonata System/Gynesonics, has been selected for a Medtech Innovation Briefing. HealthTech Connect will also facilitating fast tracking within the Accelerated Access Collaborative. NICE release, Mobihealthnews

The Theranos Story, ch. 60: becoming a Cautionary Tale of Silicon Valley Ethics

It’s just weird. It’s just a bit surreal. When you see someone have this situation and pretend that everything is normal. It’s so bizarre.–Erika Cheung, former Theranos lab associate, whistleblower

Will health tech learn its lesson? As in Chapter 58, we are now in Full Retrospective on Theranos, with Cautionary Tales abounding. One of the better ones is from one of the two young whistleblowers profiled in John Carreyrou’s ‘Bad Blood’, Erika Cheung. She was the young (23) lab associate who saw patient samples from Walgreens and other patients constantly fail quality controls, finally reported it to regulators when nobody listened, then quit. The interview in STAT is refreshing. Ms. Cheung’s contrast of what she saw on the lab bench and in her encounters with Ms. Holmes versus the wide-eyed hype of Elizabeth Holmes in Fortune and Forbes circa 2014 is worth the read, along with her restart at 28 in Hong Kong founding an accelerator, Betatron, and a non-profit with fellow Theranos whistleblower Tyler Shultz, Ethics in Entrepreneurship, to try to pin the Jello On The (Shady) Wall that embodies Silicon Valley Ethics. Also Mobihealthnews on Ms. Cheung’s appearance at The Atlantic’s Pulse event. (The Atlantic still has a pulse?–Ed.)

Cautionary Tales continue, with the recent examples of Nurx, an e-prescriber specializing in women’s health, storing returned birth control pills in a closet shoe organizer and illegally remailing them to new customers (NY Times) and uBiome, a company that sells tests that sequence the bacteria of the body’s microbiome, on fraudulent billing that triggered an FBI raid. Both companies raised significant funding of late: Nurx over $41 million and uBiome over $100 million. The Silicon Valley rules–fake it to make it, and move fast, break things–once again blowing back on what may be good companies. The temptation may be too great for these health tech startups, something reflected on in this CNBC article.

TechCrunch, which breathlessly hyped Theranos back in the day, while duly noting and linking to the programs on How Theranos Fell, puts on its hair shirt for Dear Hollywood, here are 5 female founders to showcase instead of Elizabeth Holmes. Interestingly, one is not Anne Wojcicki of 23andme. 

Events coming up soon–and in the autumn: Hunter College 13 May, Aging 2.0 London 21 May; NYeC’s November Gala, Connected Health Summit (16-18 Oct) poster call

Health Tech and the FDA: What You Need To Know, Monday 13 May, from 5-7pm is a discussion on what you need to know if your health or medtech service or device needs FDA approval. The main presentation is by Rebecca Wood, Partner at Sidley Austin LLP and former Food and Drug Administration Chief Counsel, and moderated by Charles Platkin, PhD, JD, MPH, the co-executive director of the Hunter College Center for Health Technology. Tickets are free but registration is required here (Eventbrite). Location is Hunter College, 2180 Third Avenue @ 119th Street, Main Auditorium (on 2nd Floor), NYC. Hat tip to Sonia K. Gonzalez in the Health 2.0 NYC Community.

And in London 21 May, conveniently the evening before the Digital Health and Care Congress, warm up at Aging 2.0 London to learn how age-tech “Zebras” (Z) a/k/a businesses, can take advantage of age-tech advances and hear from a panel of five from start ups, investors and government on the opportunities, challenges and realities of the UK tech business. Hurry–the website indicates only 25 tickets left. London, 21 May, 5.30 pm at Google for Startups London Campus, 4-5 Bonhill Street London.

Save the date, and plan ahead! The New York eHealth Collaborative, a regional non-profit organization that promotes the integration of health information through exchanges (HIEs), hosts an annual Gala that is one of the major events on the local New York healthcare business calendar. This year, the Gala will be the evening of 20 November at the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. Your Editor attended in 2017 (missed 2018) and it was a memorable event. It annually honors three to four national healthcare executives who are also leaders in healthcare technology. If you are at all engaged with healthcare systems and technology in the New York metro area, it’s worth your time and fisc to attend this event to be the company of over 250 C-suite executives, leaders, and policymakers. Gala and Awards website  

Your Editor still misses their conferences, the last of which was one of the best she ever attended in (unbelievably) 2016 [TTA 17 Jan 17]. In 2014, their conference was also the site of an epic Eric Topol/Ezekiel Emanuel ‘face-off’ of radically diverging visions. That was hard to top! Their Executive Director Valerie Gray shares NYeC updates on YouTube including updates on Federal health tech initatives: TEFCA enabling nationwide health information exchange, and two similar proposed rules from CMS and ONC on interoperability, both with comment periods ending in June. 

Call for Poster Abstracts starts 27 May for the Connected Health Conference in Boston 16-18 October. Now a joint presentation of PCHAlliance and Partners HealthCare, the Call for Abstracts for Posters starts on 27 May and ends 27 June. The 2019 theme is Designing for Healthy Habits and Better Outcomes. For more information and application, see here. Winners receive a complimentary registration to the conference for the presenting author and discounted tickets for co-authors. TTA has been a past media sponsor of both the Connected Health Conference and NYeC’s Digital Health Conference.