A deserved goring of whiz-bang unicorns Theranos and Zenefits (updated)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/1107_unicorn_head_mask_inuse.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]A blog posting this Editor wish she had written. Fred Goldstein, who is a consultant to healthcare systems focused on building accountability and improving population health, has pressed a sharp point to the sparkly bubbles surrounding two Silicon Valley billion-dollar valuation darlings, Theranos and Zenefits, on their playing fast and loose with basic regulations.

Some background for our readers. It’s a pile-on with Theranos, which has been stepped on by FDA for their nanotainers [TTA 20 Nov 15], then whacked by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last month for ‘deficient practices’ at their California testing lab (a remedial plan has been filed this week) and likely losing its lucrative Walgreens Boots deal if problems aren’t fixed in 30 days (having already lost its program with Capital Blue Cross in the Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania). According to Bloomberg, its proprietary testing is now used in only 1 of every 200 tests. Zenefits claims to be the ‘first modern benefits broker’ with cloud-based software designed to simplify and automate such HR tasks as health insurance signups for small businesses, but its software that facilitated skating around required licensure requirements by its staff got its CEO forced out by a key investor, Andreessen Horowitz. (And it gets worse…read on….)

It’s so…whiz-bang! (Updated) Your Editors, past and present, have made hash (corned beef and otherwise) of companies promising revolutions in healthcare since our inception. ‘Whiz bang’ (more…)

Medstartr Momentum 2015: did you miss it? (Video)

Let’s go to the video. Monday’s Medstartr Momentum/Health 2.0 NYC event was a Broadway Showstopper at Microsoft’s NYC Tech Center. Now available is a (so far) uncut video on medstartr.tv (scroll down to 11/30). There’s no play/skip bar on this, only a pause, so you may want to investigate a linked Health 2.0 NYC Livestream video page which has segmented the sessions and these have a play/skip bar.

Speakers included Susannah Fox, the CTO of HHS as well as 24 panelists, and 5 Momentum Talks representing Patients (Regina Holliday) Providers (Cheryl Pegus, NYU), Partners (Amy Cueva, MAD*POW), Institutions (Wen Dombrowski, MD, Northwell), and investors (Peter Frishauf.) There were four pitch sessions through the day featuring early-stage companies organized around Wearable Health Tech, Hospitals 2.0 and Pharma Tech 2.0. Hat tip to founder Alex Fair, his team, Steve Greene and the 15 sponsors who made it happen. TTA is a long-time media sponsor of Health 2.0 NYC.

A StartUp Finnish for health

StartUp Health expands to Finland in partnering with Finpro’s Team Finland Health. The initial StartUp Health Finland class will be five Finnish health tech startups that will be invited into the StartUp Health Academy in Helsinki, and be provided with entrepreneurial coaching and advisory services. The overall objective is to bridge the gap that Finnish companies experience to ongoing global access to investors, expertise and commercialization opportunities. Finpro is Finland´s Trade and Investment Promotion Agency. Release

6 helpful hints for healthcare startup founders–and funders

Investor Skip Fleshman of Palo Alto (of course)-based Asset Management Ventures has six points of sound advice for founders and developers–and funders of same–who think that their Big Idea(s) are the one thing which will revolutionize healthcare, particularly because of their personal experiences. We’ve observed that successful startups have fitted themselves into the Healthcare Establishment’s game [TTA 19 May], but if an investor is still seeing that attitude, it’s still there. AMV’s track record is there with investments in several healthcare companies, including Proteus Digital Health and HealthTap. Mr Fleshman’s points with this Editor’s comments:

1. Listen to the market–and it’s not direct-to-consumer, despite a cursory reading of Eric Topol. Find where your product or service can reduce or avoid cost, increase engagement and improve quality i.e. patient outcomes (which are all linked, see #4)
2. Hire people who know how to speak the language–experienced healthcare people who can work the system but also get the changes and want to make a difference. And no, they may not look or act like you. They’ll often have gray hair and families. Unless they are independently wealthy, they also expect to be paid decently. Quite a few will be women who don’t act or look like you either, but are invaluable in your organization in multiple ways.
3. Understand how the money flows–and the money is with providers, payers, self-insured employers and (Mr Fleshman doesn’t mention this) government (Medicare, Medicaid, the alphabet soup of HHS, CMS…). The incentives (shared savings) are now to providers to pull cost out of their system but somehow maintain population health quality and outcomes. How to pull this off is where the innovation is needed. Partner wherever you can–and this Editor would add, with other successful early-stage companies as well.
4. Read the Affordable Care Act–with a bottle of painkillers and eyedrops. (more…)