Rounding up mid-August: PCORI funds 16 projects with $85 million, InTouch’s Rite Aid deal, Suennen leaves GE Ventures, NHS lost 10K patient records last year

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lasso.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Rounding up August as we wind down our last weeks of summer holidays. 

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) announced earlier this week that they are funding 16 studies which compare two or more approaches to improve care and outcomes for a range of conditions. Included in the $85 million funding are studies incorporating technology. One is a $13.3 million grant for a West Virginia University study utilizing telehealth to monitor patients with major depressive disorders comparing medication, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), and medication plus remote CBT. PCORI Release

InTouch Health, an enterprise telehealth provider which most recently partnered with RPM developer Vivify Health [TTA 19 Dec] to move into in-home and post-acute settings, is now moving into retail with Rite Aid. The letter of intent is to help Rite Aid build up the technology in their existing health kiosks in pharmacies and ‘alternative care sites’. Rite Aid has had a long standing interest in kiosks, including as one of the last customers of HealthSpot. With their Albertsons merger scuttled, Rite Aid is seeking other business and interest. One of InTouch’s executives is EVP of Marketing and Consumer Solutions Steve Cashman, who founded and headed HealthSpot. InTouch is also participating in the World Telehealth Initiative, a nonprofit organization which seeks to bring telehealth expertise into worldwide communities in need. InTouch will donate devices, access to its virtual network, and access to doctors donating their time. Mobihealthnews.

Lisa Suennen, a fixture at many health tech conferences and one of the few women with both presence and clout in the funding sphere, has departed GE Ventures, GE’s VC arm. She was senior managing director focusing on healthcare companies, successfully exiting several in her portfolio to UnitedHealth and Aetna. No reason was given for her exit after a stint of under two years, other than the anodyne “find a new adventure.” GE is planning to spin off its healthcare businesses as part of its restructuring. CNBC

And the week would not be complete without a report about NHS losing nearly 10,000 patient records–paper and electronic–last year, according to information released under UK freedom of information laws. Without this information, doctors have trouble finding patient history sources and prior diagnostic records. There is also abundant opportunity for fraud, as Everything Winds Up Somewhere, and that somewhere could be criminal. Last year, Members of Parliament said the NHS had “badly failed patients” after a scandal in which at least 708,000 pieces of correspondence–including blood tests, cancer screening appointments, medication changes, and child protection notes–piled up in storerooms. Sunday Times. If paywalled, see the attached PDF.

Was 2016 a great or off year for digital health funding, M&A, IPOs? (updated)

It depends on the study you read and how jaundiced your view is. If you believe the StartUp Health Insights 2016 ‘Health Moonshots’ report, 2016 digital health funding has hit a zenith of $8.18 bn (up 38 percent from 2015), with 500 companies enjoying funding from over 900 individual investors. Yet over at fellow funder Rock Health, the forecast is far more circumspect. They tracked only half the funding–$4.2 bn in funding–with 296 deals and 451 investors, down from the $4.6 bn over 276 deals in 2015.

There are significant differences in methodology. Rock Health tracks deals only over $2 million in value, while StartUp Health seems to have no minimum or maximum; the latter includes early stage deals at a lower value (their cross-section of ~$1 million deals has 15). StartUp Health gathers in international deals at all levels (pages 11-12),  whereas Rock Health only includes US-funded ventures. Another observation is that StartUp Health defines ‘digital health’ differently than Rock Health, most notably in ‘patient/consumer experience’, ‘wellness’ and ‘personalized health’. This can be seen by comparing their top 10 categories and total funding: (more…)

GE Healthcare gets into accelerator biz with five.eight

Having tip-toed around the accelerator action with StartUp Health Academy (GE Ventures), GE Healthcare (GEHC) is taking the full dive in with five.eight, named after the 5.8 billion people worldwide (citation not provided) who lack access to quality, affordable healthcare and need tailored approaches. Up to 10 startups in the initial program will be sourced from four social impact investors – Acumen, Aavishkaar-Intellecap Group, Unitus Seed Fund and Villgro. The five.eight funding will be up to $50 million, with each startup funded up to $5 million. The first startup in the program is Tricog, a Bangalore-based startup focused on improving survival rates in India by decreasing the average time between symptoms and treatment of heart attacks. Of course this ties into GEHC’s business in emerging markets, which is their Sustainable Healthcare Solutions, their “affordable care portfolio of high-value, low-cost technologies and healthcare delivery solutions for emerging markets.” HIT Consultant, HealthcareITNews

GE Healthcare staying together: CEO (updated)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2000px-General_Electric_logo.svg_.png” thumb_width=”150″ /]It’s ‘black and white’ but not GE blue all over! During an investor conference Wednesday, GE Healthcare’s CEO John Flannery insisted that “Bottom line is we have been black and white that all aspects of healthcare are part of our portfolio,” reported in Reuters. Investors have questioned the flatlining of both revenue and profit and the fact that GEHC doesn’t seem to fit well in the engineering/manufacturing bent of the Immelt-ized GE.

The speculation by investors and we in the healthcare press is rational. Earlier this year, GEHC announced the phaseout of the Centricity Enterprise (hospital) EHR. [TTA 15 April] Healthcare Financial Services and the services it would provide were also up in the air. Currently it lends to healthcare entities including hospitals and other health facilities to purchase equipment (made by GE) and real estate/facilities (not made by GE). Initial indicators was that GE would continue to finance what it sells. The real estate financing then is questionable, and undoubtedly an issue for healthcare facilities, as GE Capital has been sold. GE also sources funding for healthcare innovation through the Healthymagination Fund and GE Ventures, and of course has an interest in the Intel-GE JV, Care Innovations. What shape this financial arrangements will take in the future is not clear from the available information.

Also announced, according to Biospace, is $1 billion funding over the next five years for education to reach more than two million healthcare professionals worldwide–physicians, radiologists, technologists, midwives, nurses, biomedical engineers–geared to local needs. It will include new clinical, product application, technical and leadership training and education. A forward commitment of this magnitude does seem to confirm that GEHC is in the healthcare game.

Do startups truly threaten the ‘healthcare establishment’?

Or are successful startups fitting into their game? Chris Seper in MedCityNews paints the picture of one side of a quandary. The ‘healthcare establishment’ fundamentally and to its detriment does not understand and is threatened by the startup and innovation process. A startup may begin with an idea which is, in his words, ‘almost always flawed, sometimes deeply’. If the founders are smart, they will test their ideas, validate them and change them appropriately. If not, they will fail. But it is easier for the Establishment to point at the most egregious of the bad ideas and use them to rationalize the status quo.

But being congenital contrarians, we paint the house on the other side of the street. Has the Establishment caught up with–or in some cases, co-opted startups, making them and their funders ‘do their diligence’ and be more cautious before emerging? This Editor would argue yes, and largely for the better.

**The ‘Wild West’ days are over. A few years ago, a truly bad or deeply flawed health tech idea or could easily find funding, because it was all blank slate, new and ‘transformative’.The sexiest hooks were Quantified Self, sleep, employer health incentives, interactive coaching, genomics, app prescribing and (last) wearables. A lot of founders imagined themselves as the Steve Jobs of Healthcare, down to the black turtleneck. Now there is a history of success and failure. The railroads reached the dusty frontier towns.

**There’s now a ‘Startup Establishment’. National accelerators (more…)

GE moving out of the hospital EHR business–and healthcare lending?

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/2000px-General_Electric_logo.svg_.png” thumb_width=”100″ /]Updated. Spring cleaning at GE continues that may affect healthcare more than EHRs. Neil Versel catches at HIMSS, if not an exclusive, close to it, by finally getting a GE exec to admit the awful truth–that they are phasing out their Centricity Enterprise (hospital) EHR. Versel: “It’s now helping customers with a “graceful transition over a number of years,” said Jon Zimmerman, general manager of clinical business solutions at GE Healthcare.” Even more remarkable, that decision was made three years ago. MedCityNews also updated their article to highlight some of their recent problems with Intermountain Health; we’ve also noted that UCSF converted to Epic after 12 years (see our Weekend Must Read).

The GE Capital exit may affect healthcare too. The other and more major part of the spring cleaning–their exit from GE Capital with the sale/spinoff of assets over the next two years–was announced over the weekend (Bloomberg). Their Healthcare Financial Services lends to healthcare entities including hospitals, life science and in senior housing/health facilities. It also houses the Healthymagination Fund, the capital source for GE Ventures, its early stage developmental arm for healthcare, software and energy. According to The Wall Street Journal, GE will retain healthcare financing to support what it makes in its GE Healthcare unit: ultrasound, imaging, patient monitoring and diagnostics industrial equipment, down to the Vscan (yes! it’s still there). We would bet that GE Ventures is safe. But does this mean that its healthcare real estate unit within Healthcare Financial Services, which lends to senior housing, skilled nursing and other medical properties, is on the block, especially as GE this weekend completed the sale of its real estate holdings? What else, we wonder, will GE sell at the right price to pull up share price–and in the longer term, the future of its manufacturing in areas like major healthcare equipment which have been facing a declining and heavily competitive US market?

Exiting the hospital EHR business makes sense for GE, but what else will it entail? While it retained a solid footprint of vendor loyalty and satisfaction (more…)

Assistive tech for older adults gets fresh developer interest, funding

Companies and investors are waking up to the potential of technology to assist both older people, wherever they live, and families to keep in touch, live more safely and to compensate for impediments created by physical or cognitive conditions. Ozy, an online news aggregator new to this Editor, notes the $5 trillion annually that boomers and older adults spend in what’s termed the ‘new old-age economy’ (AARP has previously termed it the ‘longevity economy‘) and that there’s money in tech solutions to their problems. Examples: the Lift Labs [TTA 1 Oct 13] stabilizing food utensil that cancels out most active tremors (as in Parkinson’s) while eating; Caremerge which has EHR, care coordination and secure messaging features for the care team in long-term and transitional care, but also connects families with a smartphone app and residents with reminders; GeriJoy [TTA 3 July 14], a tablet that combines an interactive pet avatar/companion with engagement, reminder and education tools for older and cognitively impaired adults.

While we’ve noted many developments along similar lines over the past ten years, interest and financial backing is aligning. (more…)

Digital health accelerators, anatomized (US)

A phenomenon in both the US and the UK is the digital health accelerator that ‘enrolls’ promising startups and nurtures their entrepreneurial founders with business coaching and limited funding. In the UK, accelerators cluster around universities such as Sheffield, Edinburgh, Ulster, Bristol and Bath. In the US, startup accelerators clustered bicoastally–Boston/New York-Silicon Valley/San Diego–and were dominated by Blueprint Health, StartUp Health and later Rock Health. In the past three years, they have dispersed to places like Minneapolis, Dallas, Phoenix and Philadelphia. Lisa Suennen, no stranger to the scene as a managing partner of advisory service Venture Valkyrie, has written ‘Survival of the Fittest: Health Care Accelerators Evolve Toward Specialization’, published by the California Health Care Foundation. She notes that accelerators, once meant for entrepreneurs/developers to help them bridge the gap from the kitchen table (more…)

First ‘Lucky Thirteen’ StartUp Health/GE program company sold

Breaking News

One of the ‘Lucky Thirteen’ companies, Arpeggi, which entered the joint StartUp Health/GE Ventures program back in April [TTA 4 Apr], has been sold to another early-stage company in the genetics analytics, data management and diagnostic space, Gene by Gene. It is the first acquisition of one of the joint program companies and according to StartUp Health spokesperson Nicole Kinsey, “this is a strong sign of how well the program is is working to accelerate and scale digital health startups. This new combined company will be a major competitor to companies like 23andme and will really offer the consumer market much greater access and affordability to DNA testing and sequencing services.” The Arpeggi group and tech platform will be incorporated fully into Gene by Gene, and according to Unity Stoakes, President of StartUp Health, the latter will now enter the StartUp Health/GE Ventures program. Release (PDF)