International acquisition roundup: Doro and Welbeing; Teladoc and Advance Medical

Two international telecare/telehealth/telemedicine M&A deals made the news this last week.

Sweden’s Doro AB acquired Welbeing, headquartered in Eastbourne UK. Welbeing (formally Wealden and Eastbourne Lifeline) is a telecare provider of home-based personal alarms which supports about 75,000 residents in local systems. Their revenue in last fiscal year (ending 9/17) was £7.6 million (SEK 90m). Doro operates in the UK and about 40 countries, with a core business in mobile phones specially designed for older adults. Their Doro Care solutions provide digital telecare and social services for older adults and the disabled in the home. Doro is paying SEK 130 million (£11.1 million) for the acquisition of Welbeing, equal to eight times estimated EBITDA for the financial year 2017/2018, with 85 percent cash and 15 percent in Doro shares with a bonus based on financial performance. Release 

Making a few headlines in the US is telemedicine leader Teladoc’s purchase of Barcelona’s Advance Medical for a hefty $352 million, giving Teladoc a major international footprint especially valuable for its corporate clients and major payers. Advance Medical provides complete telemedicine services in 125 countries in over 20 languages. Even more valuable is their knowledge of local healthcare delivery systems, global expert medical opinion, and chronic care. The acquisition also gives Teladoc an international network of offices and a significant entreé with international health insurance companies. Mobihealthnews, Seeking Alpha (Teladoc investor slideshow)

GreatCall’s acquisition: a big vote for older adult-centered healthcare tech

This midweek’s Big News has been the acquisition of the mobile phone/PERS company GreatCall by Chicago private equity firm GTCR. Cost of the acquisition is not disclosed. GTCR stated that they expect to make capital investments to GreatCall to fund future acquisitions and internal growth. GreatCall has over 800,000 subscribers in the US, generates about $250 million in profitable revenue annually, and employs about 1,000 people mainly in the San Diego area and Nevada. According to press sources, senior management led by CEO David Inns will remain in place and run the company independently. 

Our US Readers know of GreatCall’s long-standing (since 2006), bullseye-targeted appeal to older adults who desire a simple mobile flip phone, the Jitterbug, but has moved along with the age group to a simple smartphone with built-in health and safety apps. Along the way, GreatCall also developed and integrated the 5Star mPERS services on those phones, served by their own 24/7 emergency call center and developed an mPERS with fall detection. Their own acquisitions included the remnants of the Lively telecare home monitoring system in 2015 [TTA 5 Dec 15], adding the Lively Wearable mPERS/fitness tracker to their line; and senior community telecare service Healthsense last December. The original Lively home system and safety watch are sold in the UK (website) but apparently not the Jitterbug. In the UK and EU, the Jitterbug line would be competitive with established providers such as Doro.

What’s different here? GTCR is not a flashy, Silicon Valley PE investing in hot, young startups or a traditional senior health investor like Ziegler. Its portfolio is diversified into distinctly non-cocktail-chatter companies in financial services and technology; technology, media and telecommunications (including an outdoor ad company!); and growth businesses. It has real money, investing over $12 billion in 200 companies since 1980, and strategically prefers leadership companies. Their healthcare businesses have primarily been in life sciences, specialty pharma, dermatology, specialty services such as healthcare in correctional institutions, and device sterilization. Recent acquisitions have been San Diego-based XIFIN, a provider of cloud-based software to diagnostic service providers, RevSpring in billing and communications, and data analytics firm Cedar Gate Technologies. It also has partnered with newly formed medical device companies.

GreatCall crosses over into GTCR’s telecommunications sweet spot, but the older adult market and direct-to-consumer sell are different for them. Because it is unique in their portfolio, this Editor believes that GTCR sees ‘gold’ in the ‘silver’ market. Larry Fey, one of their managing directors, cited its growth and also GreatCall’s recent moves into senior communities with their products. GTCR also has expertise in the security alarm monitoring sector, which along with pharma clinical trials can bolster better utilization and broaden the utilization of GreatCall’s call centers.

However, this Editor would caution that the US senior community market has been having difficult times of late with overbuilding, declining occupancy, resident/labor turnover, and rising expenses–as well as recent coverage of security lapses and resident abuse. Telecare systems like Healthsense are major capital expenses, but the flip side is that communities can use technology to improve care, resident safety, and to differentiate themselves. To make the most of their Healthsense acquisition, GreatCall needs to bring innovation to the V1.0 monitoring/safety/care model that Healthsense is in its current state, and make the case for that innovation in cost/financials, usability and reliability. San Diego Union-Tribune, Mobihealthnews

MWC 2015 Part II – a few companies, some of potential interest

The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona does, as the name suggests, cover the whole mobile world. It can come as a disappointment then to find quite how insignificant Health is when compared to items like hardware, payment or even ‘4G backhaul’ (whatever that is). There certainly now seems to be a case for a sparate health stream, as finding the pearls proved very challenging for this reviewer. Relying on the search engine on the site too often revealed a company where too many boxes had been ticked. There was also an alarming number of healthtech ‘no shows’ on the when I reached the country stands of eg Finland, Greece & Italy.

However, there were a few exciting finds. These included:

Coros which are offering incredibly low-priced wearables: washable vests that do HR, respiration, temperature & ECG. If the prices I was quoted by Ethan Wu, Sales Director of a few $10s are good, and the kit works, they’ll be struggling to meet demand.

Dr Security offers an app that enables you to track all the people in your party, call for help, find your mobile device and more. Impressive and I’d have thought most welcome particularly for teachers with school parties or those with really any large outings.

Essence is an Israeli company that has been around for 20 years that offers an activities of daily living (ADL) monitoring service similar to (more…)

Doro opens first store, in Paris

Swedish firm Doro, best known for its easy-to-use mobile phones has announced the opening of its first [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Doro-Secure-211.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]store. The company, which bought the small French telecare technology provider Birdy Technology in 2011, says that the store, in Paris, will enable them to “get closer to the end user”.

Doro say in their press release that the store will enable them to show the full range of their offerings which are listed as smart devices, mobile phones and telecare solutions. The Birdy Box telecare hub, from their acquisition of Birdy Technology, has now been fully rebranded as Doro Gateway, part of the Doro Care offering. In addition, according to a quote from CEO Jérôme Arnaud, the store will enable Doro to increase its direct sales.

“The store in Paris will be followed by a gradual launch of Doro’s own e-commerce, planned to be introduced in several key markets during 2014” concludes the release, but no information is available as to what Doro plans to offer in the e-commerce arena.

How much longer will ‘mobile’ be different from ‘living’?

The news that the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week broke all attendance records is hardly surprising, given the way mobile communications are inserting their way into almost every aspect of life. It does though make one wonder how much longer the MWC can retain it’s broad focus as communications mobility becomes indistinguishable from normal living (and additional accommodation in Catalonia becomes harder to find). Indeed, as mHealth News pointed out last week, mobile comms keeps people living, worldwide

Not all age groups have been able to gain the same level of benefit from mobile comms though, most notably older people. It is therefore great to see (more…)

Doro 2.0 smartphone QSs with Withings (EU)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Doro-Liberto-810.jpg” thumb_width=”100″ /]Doro’s unveiling of their second smartphone, the Doro Liberto 810,  along with its ‘privileged access’ to two Withings devices–the Smart Body Analyzer (weight, body fat, heart rate) and Pulse Smart Activity Tracker–continues their moves into older adult-appealing mobile telecare/telehealth offerings, as tracked by founding Editor Steve since at least 2009.  Doro’s assertive move into Quantified Selfing as part of what they call ‘the world’s most liberating smartphone’, is more fully featured and was predicted by David Doherty earlier this year [TTA 25 Feb]. It is also not Doro’s first big alliance; late last year, Bosch Healthcare announced that Doro would be the mobile platform for telecare offerings in Germany and Sweden [TTA 16 Nov 2012]. Both the release and Mobihealthnews indicate that this offering will roll out to select European markets initially, but the latter states that a similar offering will debut in the US by early 2014. (For US readers, Doro is equivalent to GreatCall’s Jitterbug line) According to Mobile, the Liberto will be available in the UK in October.

Internet training for older people vs works-out-of-the-box mobiles

Echoing last week’s “the world has moved on” post on the WSD, the 3G Doctor (David Doherty) has an excellent opinion piece on how AGE UK should spend the money given to it by Google for making it to the final six in the Global Impact Challenge that supports British non-profits using technology to tackle tough problems.

In discussing Age UK’s current plans to use the money to teach older people about the internet he says: “For the £500,000 AGE UK would spend on training 16,000 seniors they could give away (at retail price!) 10,000 of the latest designed for senior 3G CameraPhones from Doro. Works straight out of the box. No training required.”

Elsewhere on his site he has an interesting take too on the reasons behind O2’s announcement last week.

Doro launches mobile telecare phone (EU)

Doro has revealed its latest handset – the Doro Secure 681.” According to an item in Mobile Magazine, the phone will launch in the second quarter of this year and is “aimed at people who currently rely on the support of a fixed-line telecare services, allowing them greater mobility outside the home.” The 681 is said to be the first mobile phone to feature an embedded ‘class one’ telecare radio receiver that is compatible with Doro’s wearable wrist, neck and fall sensors. Alerts can be sent to monitoring services via the internet or SMS. To this editor, if the photo in the above item is to be believed, the clamshell design and screen/keyboard layout is going to be too complicated for many people in the target market. It also looks like big-boy Doro has been learning a few lessons about the need to check and report battery charge levels automatically from UK small-guy Carephone. However Doro will have the advantage of being part of Bosch’s offering to the public. It will be interesting to see which gets traction with the public first, the Doro/Bosch combination or O2’s Health at Hand.