The mixed picture of health tech investment: a potpourri

One picture is generally positive–plenty of opportunity in the aging and ill population, particularly in data integration from various sources, and value-based care. Everyone loves the excitement that a startup with a novel technology or way it can make knowledge more useful brings to the field.  Another picture is one of pitfalls aplenty, from overhyping technology (poster child, Theranos) to overestimating growth, overspending and especially picking the wrong (nervous, impatient) investors at the wrong time, which have left a general patina of mistrust around digital health. There’s also the fact that healthcare is a highly, confusingly regulated, long-cycle business that’s challenged money-wise, whether in the US, UK, Europe or Asia. Some advice to startups contained in these two articles, including from the principals of StartUp Health accelerator (who’ve seen it all), has to do with building trust, finding the right investors, the right advice/advisors, collaboration (though that is difficult with IP), finding proven (affordable) management and a sustainable (and resilient) culture. Underpromise, overdeliver.  TechCrunch, Healthcare Dive

No wonder that investment was flat in 2015, and that much of the news is around acquisitions that rearrange companies and/or offerings. The latest today is Allscripts‘ and GI Partners’ acquisition of behavioral EHR/care coordination company Netsmart for $950 million; Allscripts is moving its homecare business into Netsmart’s CareFabric suite. Kansas City Business Journal, Healthcare Dive  In addition we’ll cite our earlier Mo’ Money article on the $600 million in various digital health investments. UPMC, which had invested in Vivify Health’s telehealth/RPM platform, is spreading $3 million around partly in-house to six health tech projects developed under the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance. And in an example of Wearables Confusion, investors put $16 million into LifeBeam to develop another DTC ‘holistic’ health wearable (LifeBeam’s origins are sensors for aerospace and defense) while early wrist fitness entrant Pebble has laid off 40 staff in an attempt to refocus on…fitness.

Early-stage companies are also alliancing and merging. Fresh out of Newark and the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s NJ Innovation Institute, the merger of Practice Unite (which knits together secure mobile clinician/patient communications into a customized platform) and Uniphy Health (physician engagement), is an example of complimentary enlargement. This expands care collaboration offerings and shades over into patient engagement if you look at the PHM quadrant here. According to Director/Chief Medical Officer Stuart Hochron, MD (who was a Practice Unite founder), “We’re really pleased with the outcome of this merger. It’s given us the capital and resources that we need to scale.” It’s also good to see that both the founders and the CTO are moving into the new Uniphy Health–and staying in Newark.  Release

Telehealth kiosk HealthSpot gains trials with Rite Aid, Mayo Clinic

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Healthspot-stationbooth.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] HealthSpot Station, which was one of the higher points of this past May’s ATA, in the past month has announced two significant pilots. The retail pilot is with Rite Aid, the US’ third largest drug store chain (4,600 stores), with telehealth/telemedicine kiosks located in select Rite Aid locations in Ohio–Akron/Canton, Cleveland and Dayton/Springfield areas. The usage of the kiosks will be limited to common health conditions, such as cold, earaches, sore throat, sinus infections, upper respiratory infections, rashes, skin and eye conditions. HealthSpot Station kiosks are enclosed, free-standing units which use both video consults and real-time interaction with telehealth devices for remote diagnosis. They connect to a network of board-certified medical professionals at Cleveland Clinic and other major health systems across Ohio. Start date and duration were not disclosed.

This follows the October announcement with Mayo Clinic of an in-house pilot in Austin and Albert Lea, Minnesota with approximately 2,000 Mayo Clinic Health System employees (more…)

A kudo for kiosks: HealthSpot Station adds $8 million funding

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/booth-Dr.-Jenkins-with-attendant-300dpi-website.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /] In a week of small funding announcements, HealthSpot announced an add of $8 million to its 2013 $10 million round, totaling $18.3 million of a $20 million offering (SEC filing). Investors are not disclosed. In three years, HealthSpot has raised an impressive total funding of $23 million (CrunchBase), although the company is still in pilot in a handful of locations around their Ohio HQ and reports minimal revenue. The company’s hosted, fully enclosed kiosks with both telehealth monitoring and virtual consult capabilities debuted at the end of 2012 at International CES New York. According to their website, their markets are facility waiting rooms, pharmacies, schools, military bases and prisons. Their partnerships have been notable: EHR Netsmart, telemedicine network Teladoc and a co-location arrangement with Canadian pharmacy kiosk MedAvail [TTA 23 Jan]. They are also on the board of the Alliance for Connected Care lobbying advocacy group [TTA 13 Feb], which will certainly aid their cause by plumping for increased telehealth coverage by Medicaid beyond the present 20 states and Medicare beyond rural special programs. Yes, they will be at ATA 2014, if you are attending. Mobihealthnews

HealthSpot Station kiosks add telepharmacy

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/booth-with_new_attendant.jpg” thumb_width=”180″ /]’Virtual consult’/staffed kiosk HealthSpot Station [TTA 29 Oct], most recently adding behavioral health EHR Netsmart and telemedicine provider Teladoc [TTA 5 Sept], as well as several health system providers, is expanding into telepharmacy through a strategic alliance with Canada-based MedAvail. MedAvail’s kiosks fill prescriptions in clinics, hospitals and office locations, including live assistance from a pharmacist, though the website video doesn’t explain how drugs not in stock in the kiosk are handled. What’s notable? Large kiosks are moving towards full-scope onsite clinics. HealthSpot in its three years of existence has quietly accumulated over $15 million in funding, $10 million in 2013 alone–a fact that is not included in Rock Health’s Digital Health 2013 report, unless this Editor overlooked it. Is this not digital health delivered? Correct me if I’m wrong. HealthSpot/MedAvail press release. Also see Editor Charles’ post on ‘The Future of Doctors’ below for more on this trend and its consequences.

HealthSpot, Netsmart ally for telemedicine kiosks

HealthSpot, which debuted its staffed telemedicine/telehealth Stations at CES 2013 (and this Editor previewed at CES New York in November), is partnering with behavioral health EHR/practice/clinical case management software provider Netsmart to add that capability to its kiosk consults. Announced at ATA yesterday, the MedCityNews article is sketchy on exactly how this will be integrated–will it be an option or will select kiosks be dedicated to behavioral health only–but this is likely a first for telementalhealth (another term in our lexicon!) Kiosk placements can be especially useful in rural areas which have a paucity of mental health/psychiatric providers (see TTA on Forefront TeleCare’s ATA announcement). It also follows this year’s ATA theme of telemedicine to more effectively serve rural US areas. HealthSpot also announced a pilot with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in its hometown of Columbus, Ohio; their CEO claims it has orders for 150 units in hand for its now three health system partners. Surprisingly, as of April they are already at Series C funding with a $10.4 million financing (of a $20 million offering) from giant Cardinal Health and other private investors.