Care Innovations sells off Validation Institute. But is there more to the story? And a side of Walmart Health action.

The Health Value Institute, part of Woburn, Massachusetts-based conference organizer World Congress, announced late last week the acquisition of the Validation Institute from Care Innovations. Terms were not disclosed. The Health Value Institute and the Validation Institute recently partnered to validate the outcomes for the Health Value Award finalists and awards this past April at the 15th Annual World Health Care Congress. According to both parties, the acquisition will help to expand the membership of validated companies, and the present offerings for HR, broker, and benefit executives. Release.

The Validation Institute was launched with fanfare back in June 2014, when GE still had a chunk of the company and during the 2 1/2 year repositioning (revival? resuscitation?) led by Sean Slovenski from the doldrums of the prior Louis Burns regime. Mr. Slovenski departed in early 2016 to be president of population health at Healthways/Sharecare, which lasted a little over a year. However, this week Mr. Slovenski made headlines as the new SVP Health & Wellness of Walmart, reporting directly to the head of their US business.  The hiring of a senior executive with a few years at Humana and a short time at Sharecare, another Walmart partner, coupled with several years in healthcare tech and provider-side is certainly indicative of Walmart’s serious focus on healthcare provision. It’s a fascinating race with Amazon and CVS-Aetna–with the mystery of what Walgreens Boots Alliance will do. Also Healthcare Dive.

But back to Care Innovations. Signs of a new direction–and a loss. The case can be made that the Validation Institute, the Jefferson College of Population Health, and validating individuals and companies was no longer core to their business which is centered around their RPM platform Health Harmony (with QuietCare still hanging in there!) However, this Editor notes the prominent addition of  ‘platform-as-a-service’ advisory services for those who are developing health apps, which appears to be a spinoff of their engineering/IT services. Vivify Health, a competitor, already does this. There is a vote of confidence; in June, Roche signed on with a strategic investment (undisclosed) as well as integration of the mySugr integrated diabetes management/app solution (release).

Looking around their recently refreshed website, there is an absence–that of the two or three pages previously dedicated to the Veterans Health Administration (VA) and the press release of the VA award. This tends to lend credence to the rumors that there was a second company that did not pass the Trade Adjustment Act (TAA) requirements that knocked out Iron Bow/Vivify Health from the VA, or for another undisclosed reason CI bowed out of a potentially $258 million five-year contract. If so, that leaves for the VA Medtronic and 1Vision/AMC Health. It’s certainly a limited menu for the supposedly growing numbers of veterans requiring telehealth and a limited choice for their care coordinators–and not quite as presented to the public or the 2015 competitors in the solicitation. Who benefits? Who loses? (Disclosure: This Editor worked for one of the finalists and a VA supplier from 2003, Viterion.)  Hat tip to one of our ‘Industry Insiders’, but the opinions expressed here are her own.

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…)

Care Innovations’ ‘record growth in 2015’; replaces CEO; GE departs partnership

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Care Innovations‘ recent (undated) press release (discovered as a LinkedIn update), if read without a Gimlet Eye, could be read as another one of those ‘good news’ releases that build company awareness and get it picked up on websites such as TTA. Certainly there’s a nice spin of positive news for remote monitoring technologies, particularly more complex ones in vital signs monitoring and broadening out their applicability. (More on those below.) But the observant eye will pick out a couple of ‘aha!’ moments at this company that got slipped in, but not slipped by, the Eye.

The first is that GE has departed the building. Always the junior partner except for the very beginning in 2009, GE apparently exited sometime after December based on the last press release with Intel-GE identification issued 1 Dec 2015. The boilerplate company description is no longer ‘Intel-GE Care Innovations’ but now ‘Care Innovations, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation’. Lift your eyes to the company logo at the top left of the web page, and there it is, ‘An Intel Company’. GE is not fully cleansed, still to be found on product pages such as Health Harmony and QuietCare, as well as the copyright line at the bottom of each web page. (More work to be done)

The second is the appearance of CI’s new CEO, Randy Swanson, in the executive quote and on the ‘team’ website page. His bio notes that he’s a 17-year Intel finance/business development veteran, at one point with responsibilities in the Digital Health Group. Tea leaf readers might well surmise that Intel will now emphasize profitability at CI after the major repositioning and partner expansion during the 2.5 years of Sean Slovenski’s tenure (a non-Intel’er departed in January to Healthways, TTA 13 Jan).

The release also has a few more interesting moments. (more…)

Care Innovations’ Slovenski, 23andMe’s Schwartz move to Healthways

Breaking News: Healthways, an online wellness program company based in Nashville, this morning announced that two executives well known to many of us in digital health have joined them. Sean Slovenski, CEO of Intel-GE Care Innovations, is now their President, Population Health Services. Steve Schwartz, their new SVP Strategy and Corporate Development, joins the company from VP Business Development and Strategy, 23andMe.

Mr Slovenski’s track record in 2.5 years at CI certainly impressed this Editor (formerly with the developer of their behavioral telemonitoring system bequeathed from GE Healthcare, QuietCare) with turning around the company from an outpost of Intel and GEHC having difficulty transitioning from ancient technology (remember the Intel Health Guide?) to a telehealth platform dubbed Health Harmony. He also put together a team that engineered multiple academic and health system alliances, along with an interesting turn into home digital health certification. While he came to CI from health insurance giant Humana in Louisville Kentucky running their behavioral health and wellness businesses, his prior experience includes both entrepreneurial turns at his own company and with smaller companies. He most recently engineered a Louisville outpost of CI [TTA 14 Oct 15]. Since Mr Slovenski is still listed on the CI website as CEO, this may have been a quickly executed move.

Mr Schwartz’s business development background includes long stints at two large healthcare companies, Allscripts (EHRs and practice management software) and LabCorp (lab testing). He weathered 23andMe’s FDA troubles and headed up their B2B sales area. Healthways release

Unusually, Healthways is a NASDAQ traded company that closed at $12.11 today in a down market. It’s old (in our terms) having been founded in 1981, becoming publicly traded ten years later. Its last round of venture financing was $20 million from CareFirst BlueCross Blue Shield in October 2013 (CrunchBase). Healthways has a fairly new CEO as well, who joined last August and obviously feels comfortable adding to his team.

Employee wellness: Carrot? Stick? Or something else?

The actions of companies like CVS Caremark [TTA Telehealth Soapbox] have aimed a white-hot klieg light onto corporate wellness and the various methodologies companies are using to force a change in employees’ behaviors to positively affect their healthcare spend. Both positive and negative incentives have their pros and cons–positive incentives tied to completion of wellness ‘tasks’ seem not to work long term, penalties can be a blow to morale and verge on full-blown discrimination and lawsuits. Increasingly the price of being in a corporate health plan seems to be acceptance of ‘intrusion for your own good’ and privacy loss. On the other hand, why should health insurance be any different than home or auto, at least in the US?  The Wall Street Journal has written several non-firewalled articles on this issue in recent days: Your Company Wants to Make You Healthy; Carrots and Sticks: Which One Works The Best (infographic)If Workers Are Out of Shape, Should Companies Make Them Pay? (At Work Blog–read over 85 comments)

In terms of effectiveness, the only study this Editor has seen was published this month in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine from wellness/disease manager Healthways’ Center for Health Research, as mentioned in a secondary article by the Integrated Benefits Institute. According to IBI’s summary:

Looking at over 19,000 employees at five employers, the authors find that employees who reduced their total health behavior risks over a 12 month period—for example, by increasing exercise or improving their diet—had a lower likelihood of absence, less presenteeism [working while sick–Ed.], and better job performance.

But some of those 19 factors included work-related risks such as “poor supervisor relationship, not utilizing strengths doing job, and organization unsupportive of well-being” (JOEM)–not health related at all. And the total reduction was a whopping 5 percent.

Magic 8 Ball says: ‘picture cloudy, try again’.

So perhaps the real choice has become this: adhere to employer requirements–or not have any coverage at all. There’s been a 10 point decline in Americans covered by employer-sponsored insurance, from 69.7 percent in 1999/2000 to 59.5 percent in 2010/2011 (SHADAC/Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). Much of that is also the US 7.6 percent ‘official’ unemployment rate (U-3)–but the real accelerator here is the 13.8 percent U-6 rate which counts in part-timers and the ‘marginally attached/discouraged’ who are not going to have employer insurance. The Affordable Care Act and its requirements/fees have also discouraged many smaller employers who are simply dropping insurance coverage.

So what is the bottom line? And where there are the opportunities for consumer engagement and self-maintenance linked to telehealth and mobile health which can mitigate cost? Understanding the ill-defined situation companies are in, especially in the US, will help in identifying them.