News roundup: Ancestry sells 75% to Blackstone, Cornwall NHS partners with Tunstall, most dangerous health IT trends, Slovenski departs from Walmart Health

Ancestry sells 75 percent of the genealogy/genetics company to Blackstone for $4.7 bn. The acquisition by the private equity company buys out other equity holders: Silver Lake, GIC, Spectrum Equity, Permira, and others. Ancestry’s business combines their genealogy database with consumer genomics for both heritage and health. The Blackstone release notes that their goals in the acquisition are to expand data, functionality, and product development across the Ancestry platform as part of their investment in growth businesses. If an acquisition cost of $4.7 bn seems high, Ancestry’s revenue is cited as $1 bn annually.

Once blazingly hot, both Ancestry and 23andMe saw their consumer businesses crater late last year, with layoffs in January and February. It’s an example of a quickly saturated market (one test and you’re done) flogged by annoying TV commercials over the holidays [TTA 13 Feb]. Where the profit is, of course, is not in consumer tests but in selling the genomic data to other companies, something which the market leader, 23andMe, realized early on with half-ownership by GSK ($300 million, a real bargain). 23andMe is also intensively marketing as a premium subscription service updates on health information derived from member testing. Ancestry has followed, but reportedly has not been as proactive in linking genetic information to health outcomes. STAT

 This Editor noted back in August 2018 that it was long past time for a Genomic Data Bill of Rights for consumers to be fully transparent on where their data is going, how it is being used, and to easily keep their data private without jumping through a ridiculous number of hoops. It’s a conclusion now being reached by various privacy groups according to MedCityNews. Also noted is that Ancestry, in its complex and long privacy policy, can use your “personal information to market new products from the company or its business partners, but says it will not share users’ genetic information with insurers, employers or third-party marketers without their express consent.” But when your 75 percent owner has real estate and other healthcare holdings, can you trust them?

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust partnered with Tunstall Healthcare UK on a 26-week support program during the pandemic for young people 11+ with a range of eating disorders. The patient group used the myMobile app and the ICP triagemanager software to send in weekly reports on their vital signs and answer symptom-related questions, which are tracked over time via a secure portal to monitor progress. The myMobile app has parameters set for individual patients, where readings outside them generate a system alert that is sent to clinicians. The program was able to ascertain that 32 patients were at high risk and have been referred. Cornwall/Tunstall white paper, ATToday.co.uk

As if COVID Fear weren’t bad enough, now we have to be frightened of Dangerous IT Trends. Becker’s Health IT interviewed eight healthcare executives and came up with a list of what keeps them up at night:

  • The sluggish rate at which healthcare systems embrace new technology
  • We won’t be going back to the pre-pandemic normal and how healthcare deals with that
  • Overlooking data security and medical device vulnerabilities
  • Cutting IT staff and budgets without acknowledging the consequences
  • The consequences of hastily moving workers remote and securing their devices

All of the above are not new, and it’s rather shocking that they haven’t been addressed.

And in Comings and Goings, we have a Notable Going. Sean Slovenski, who for the past two years has been heading up Walmart US’ Health and Wellness initiatives, departed the company last week with a replacement to be named in the coming weeks. Mr. Slovenski had been heading up a variety of healthcare initiatives, including in-store primary and dental care clinics which have opened up in four Arkansas and Georgia locations with an additional eight planned plus Florida. Walmart also opened up 100 COVID testing locations in store parking lots. His efforts were acknowledged in Walmart’s departure statement to staff. Mr. Slovenski “and his team have successfully stood up the strategy we hired him to create,” Walmart’s CEO John Furner said in a memo to staff. Walmart has also laid off over 1,000 corporate employees in a recent restructuring. Mr. Slovenski is most noted in digital health circles as CEO of Care Innovations for 2 1/2 years during the Intel-GE ownership. He was also with Healthways-ShareCare and Humana. Walmart is up against a long list of heavyweight challengers in retail health, including Amazon, CVS Aetna, and Walgreens–and may be deciding that an independent run is not worth it.

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.

Care Innovations goes East–down home to Kentucky

Intel and GE’s joint venture, Care Innovations, is opening an IT and product development center in Louisville KY’s Norton Commons live/work community. According to reports, the 10-person office was opened to develop “software for medical monitoring systems that allow people to measure their vital signs in own homes and that will analyze the data for health care providers”, which sounds like a description of Health Harmony as mentioned further in the article. Also cited by CEO Sean Slovenski was the recent acquisition of several major clients in Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Headquarters will remain in Roseville, California, northeast of Sacramento and far east of Silicon Valley. Why Louisville? It’s the headquarters of Humana, currently in the early stages of a merger with Aetna. Mr Slovenski is an alumnus of Humana who undoubtedly recognizes that there’s always talent which shakes loose with any merger, often proactively. He has reorganized the company top to bottom since the days in the doldrums under Louis Burns, and added initiatives such as the Validation Institute plus academic relationships with the Jefferson School of Population Health, Xavier University and the University of Mississippi. Louisville is also a lot closer to Washington DC (1.5 hour flight time) and all those wonderful Federal programs with lots and lots of funding.  Louisville Business First, release.

Speaking of the Aetna-Humana merger, it now has a strong boss man to make sure it works–Rick Jelinek, CEO for a year of OptumHealth, 19 years at predecessor now unit UnitedHealthcare including leading the Medicare Advantage and Medicaid businesses. The stakes are high in that the merger will create the second-largest managed care company in the US. Mr Jelinek also will lead Aetna’s enterprise strategy division, and will report directly to Aetna’s CEO. The timeline, unless the Feds put on the brakes, is to close in second half 2016. The combined operating revenue is projected at about $115 billion, with about 56 percent from government-sponsored programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. The plan, according to Louisville Business First, is to headquarter the combined Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare businesses in Louisville. But, as they say, the meal is still being prepared, and assuredly not everyone at either company will find a seat at this table, or one they want to sit in.

Cigna, Care Innovations expand Tennessee CHF care management pilot

Healthcare payer Cigna’s Healthspring Medicare plan unit has been piloting a congestive heart failure (CHF) care management program with Intel-GE Care Innovations in Tennessee to reduce same-cause hospital  readmissions. The initial year-long 50-patient program is being expanded to 250 patients who have had a CHF diagnosis plus a previous ER visit or hospital admission. Patients are supplied at no cost a blood pressure cuff, a scale and the Care Innovations Guide on a tablet platform. Daily biometrics are sent to Cigna-HealthSpring nurse practitioners, and also complete an educational program to help them manage their CHF at home. After a 90-day minimum, once certain goals (e.g. weight loss, blood pressure and heart rate) are met, the patients stay in the program, the tablet is withdrawn but they continue to monitor and log their vitals with a case manager. What is curious about this seemingly anodyne (more…)