Health tech arrivals (Philips, Roche, VRI, PushDoctor)…and departures (Pact, Jawbone)

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Looney-Tunes-Were-in-the-Money.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]This popular vacation week has been filled with ‘money under the wire’ news of acquisitions, investments…and one high-profile owner shuttering a pioneering activity app.

Acquisitions:

Philips Healthcare added London-based pregnancy app developer Health & Parenting for an undisclosed sum. Its most popular app is Pregnancy + (and ++), with 12 million downloads via the Apple Store and Google Play, but others are Baby + for all things baby-rearing, and Baby Name Genius to Find That Ideal Name. It will fold into and diversify Philips’ existing uGrow digital parenting platform which includes the Avent smart baby monitor and smart ear thermometer and leverages the open infrastructure of Philips’ Health Suite Digital Platform. One wonders at the flood of data flowing from these apps to these devices and what Philips will do with all these points. Release, MedCityNews

Roche acquired Austrian partner mySugr, a management tool that promises to ‘make diabetes suck less’. Last year they added Roche’s Accu-Chek Connect blood glucose monitor to its chosen device connect and sync list. mySugr features an app for users to log their meals, exercise, glucose levels, and mood. It also captures pictures of user snacks and unleashes “a diabetes monster” avatar when the food choices are poor based on their glucose levels. Terms were not disclosed. MedCityNews

Telecare/monitoring company VRI quietly acquired Healthcom from Woodbridge International. Healthcom’s primary area is care transition management using medical alerts, telehealth, and medication management for payers, government agencies and care partners. Originally positioned as a partnership June 30 on VRI’s website, Globe Newswire confirmed the sale a week later. Terms (again) were not disclosed.

Mobihealthnews rounded up 24 major acquisitions, including GreatCall (by GTCR) and Best Doctors (Teladoc)–all by June 30!

Investments:

Manchester’s PushDoctor telemedicine app raised $26.1 million in Series B financing from Accelerated Digital Ventures and Draper Esprit plus Oxford Capital Partners, Partech Ventures, and Seventure Partners. This added to their $10.1 million Series A raise in January 2016. PushDoctor connects UK patients with NHS-registered GPs for virtual visits costing only £20. Unlike US-based tele-docs, Push Doctor issues prescriptions, makes doctor-led referrals to other health providers and specialists, and helps manage repeat prescriptions. Their founder also has an eye on managing long-term conditions, short-term illnesses, fitness, and nutrition. Their major UK competitors are Babylon Health (which recently raised £50 million for its triage app), Ada Health, and Your.MD. Crunchbase, TechCrunch, Mobihealthnews

And shutterings:

Pioneering fitness incentive app Pact (founded 2011) announced its closing by end of August. Originally a ‘get thee to the gym’ app, it branched out into healthy food (eat more vegetables!) and tracking meals with MyFitnessPal. Pact never truly emerged from seed funding. A rare stumble by Khosla Ventures, which led a 2014 bag-of-skittles round of $1.5 million. Mobihealthnews, Crunchbase

Jawbone closed out the week by liquidating and transubstantiating into Jawbone Health Hub. More on this here

A five-point rebuttal to ‘Accelerometers, false positives/negatives and fall detection’

One of our most popular articles ever on TTA has been Tom Doris’ analysis of accelerometers in fall detection. His point of view is as a developer in digital health technology. For your consideration, we are posting this extended response from an executive experienced in deployment of both traditional PERS and now PERS with accelerometer-based fall detection in older adult populations.

Andy Schoonover is President of VRI, a leading provider of PERS, MPERS, and telehealth monitoring services founded in 1989. VRI currently actively monitors approximately 110,000 clients in the US–and a long-time TTA reader.

Tom Doris wrote a post on September 17th, laying out the problems with the use of accelerometers and fall detection devices especially in regards to PERS. After reading Tom’s post I felt compelled to respond with the following five points on why it’s important to continue to promote fall detection within PERS and MPERS.

1) In the 1 out of 100 case that my grandma falls and can’t physically press a button (sudden fainting due to hypoglycemia for example) would I prefer she have a regular PERS, which definitely won’t indicate a fall, or a PERS with fall detector which will more than likely indicate a fall? If it were my grandma I’d go with the “more than likely” option.

2) If my grandma had too many false positives then I’d ask her: you can use regular PERS with no fall detection or you can use PERS with fall detection where you will get called a couple more times per month. Which would you prefer? Hint: she’ll say fall detection. About 5 percent of our customers are annoyed by the false positives. (more…)

‘Grizzled pioneer’ VRI receives major investment from Pamlico Capital (US)

US telehealth monitoring and medical alert provider VRI (Valued Relationships, Inc.) of Franklin, Ohio earlier this month received a majority investment/recapitalization from Pamlico Capital, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based private equity firm. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Current lead executives CEO Chris Hendriksen and President Andy Schoonover will remain in active management and retain significant ownership in VRI, which they founded in 1989. Regarding the investment, Mr. Schoonover to this Editor stated that the funds will be used for expansion purposes. “It is another vote of confidence (alongside the Cardiocom acquisition) that telehealth is getting great results and is here to stay. The capital will support VRI’s growth objectives, particularly in executing a couple of large projects with health plans that VRI has booked for 2014, and the hiring of additional sales talent.” 

Despite being in a rather ‘non-buzzy’ area of telehealth, the investment attracted the interest of some major players. VRI was assisted in evaluating its options by well-known digital health financial advisor Triple Tree; legal counsels were McDermott Will & Emery for VRI and Alston & Bird LLP for Pamlico. Pamlico specializes in the ‘middle market’ and has previously invested selectively in mid-sized healthcare providers such as Greenway (EHR), Healthcare First (home health software) and Physicians Endoscopy (surgical centers). Overall, and interestingly, this appears to be a positive, long-term vote for telehealth and medication monitoring, as well as for the viability of traditional medical alerts and some of the patient engagement/hospital readmission reduction models VRI has been developing with major payers such as Humana. Pamlico Capital release, Triple Tree release.

Dr. Topol in the AT&T house: a reboot of ForHealth?

HIMSS14 will tell. The big news that kicked off this snow-bound week in large parts of the US was Dr. Eric Topol joining Dallas, Texas-based AT&T ForHealth as Chief Medical Advisor. Well-known for his personality and evangelism of all things mHealthy, certainly Dr. Topol lends a certain star power to Big Blue’s efforts in this area–a shine that went completely dark in 2013 after a promising start in 2011 and strong partnering moves in 2012 (Alere and WellDoc diabetes management TTA 10 Aug 12VRI monitoring in May). The quietude of 2013 deserves a closer look. Dr. Geeta Nayyar joined with fanfare in September 2011 as Chief Medical Information Officer and departed exactly two years later to join engagement company PatientPoint with the same title. ForHealth made no waves at International CES save for being an example in the controversial ‘sponsored data’ plan announcement (GeekWire). Even finding ForHealth on the AT&T website is not easy. It is buried under ‘Business>>Enterprise Business‘ and then in a dogpile of footer links as ‘Healthcare Solutions‘–not ForHealth. In marketing, this is a state usually termed ‘dead in the water.’ The fact that Dr. Topol is remaining as Chief Academic Officer at Scripps Health also indicates that he is no direct replacement for Dr. Nayyar, despite being cited by AT&T SVP Chris Hill as a “change agent” who will help “drive our competitive strategy”. We’ll see if HIMSS14 on 23-27 February where AT&T will be exhibiting and their subsequent activity marks a genuine reboot for ForHealth, putting Dr. Topol’s impressive abilities to work beyond a twinkle. AT&T press release, MedCityNews article