TTA’s summer startup #3: Samsung’s skin sensor, UK GPDPR delayed till Sept, practice models consolidate, UK company news, Theranos’ jury antics, Holmes as meme, more!

 

 

Weekly Alert

A win for UK GPs–and patient privacy–with GPDPR postponed till September. Samsung revives skin sensors, concierge care meets Medicare Advantage, transplant health consolidates, plus UK companies revive. The (expected) slugfest over jury screening for Theranos, with the surprise of Elizabeth Holmes becoming a merchandisable meme. And Chubb weighs in on the challenges for digital health in the UK analogue vs. digital telecom change.

Samsung stretches into electronic skin sensors with OLED display for heart rate (A big step forward in ‘all in one’ sensors and displays)
NHS Digital GPDPR medical database data extraction start postponed from 1 July to 1 September (Forced by revolting GPs and legal action including an MP)
News and deal roundup: OneMedical’s $2.1 bn for Iora, CareDx buys Transplant Hero, Mount Sinai’s Elementa Labs; UK news–NHSX/Babylon, Doro-Everon, Tunstall (May be cooling off a bit)
The Theranos Story, ch. 73: the defense tries to stack the jury deck in Holmes’ favor, prosecutors say. And Theranos swag and memes are hot! (Voir dire antics, but is it admiration of or sarcastic fun at the “Girl Boss” “faking it till she made it”?)
OnePerspective: How the shift from analogue to digital telephone services affects telecare provisioning (A POV from Chubb for our UK Readers)

A ‘shortie’ this short week for many of us, especially this Editor. Our highlight is the breaking news our UK Readers may have missed on NHS’ controversial GPDPR implementation–and why it’s significant to everyone. Plus Babylon and Tunstall news.

Tunstall Group acquires Secuvita (NL) (Bucking up their Benelux business)
NHS Digital GPDPR medical database plans criticized by Royal College of GPs, privacy advocates (updated) (Data use and patient privacy issues here have resonance everywhere)
Babylon Health going the SPAC route with Alkuri Global: reports (Surprising it hasn’t happened earlier)

A bumper crop as we ease into the unofficial start of summer and wind up May

ATA2021 coming up (virtually) starting 1 June  (Through June–but at least you don’t have to get the jab before attending!)
News and deals roundup: CoverMyMeds ‘big bang’, Noom’s $540M Series F, insurtech Bright Health’s IPO, Grand Rounds-Included Health, GoodRx, Cedar-OODA, Huma, Bluestream Health’s outreach (So many we had to ‘short take’ them!)
UK news roundup: West Wales’ CONNECT project, WelcoMe app for disabled access, X-on Surgery Connect expands, Arc Health in 46 care homes, Alcove’s £75M contract with Suffolk County Council (Things moving along smartly)
An unappreciated long term pandemic health effect? Increased frailty among older adults. (Making up for lost time and health not easy or quick)
The Theranos Story, ch. 72: a little lifestyle and celebrity is admissible at trial–but not too much. And no profanity, please! (Hold the popcorn till Labor Day)
News and deals roundup: SCP Health-SOC Telemed, Epion Health-MSU, Sensyne Health’s new data agreements, Geisinger’s RPM app (Definitely ‘springing forward’)
Survey: 80% of Americans believe telehealth can provide quality medical care–up 23 points from 2020 (More confirmation of five years of progress in one)

From last week’s mini-update–our ‘top of the pops’ 

Tunstall excluded from Sweden’s framework agreements for municipal alarm and technology procurement (A software update that went sideways affects contracts in over 200 municipalities)

A small bombshell in the traditional PERS world (yes, it’s still there) is Philips’ sale of Lifeline to Connect America–which two years ago bought Tunstall Americas. Teladoc gets into the cognitive therapy app business–and sends a message–in a big way.

Connect America acquires Philips’ Aging and Caregiving, including Lifeline (Big news in aging services, though it’s Old Tech. And another Philips North America divestiture.)
Teladoc integrates the myStrength cognitive mental health app with their telehealth network (Sending a message to the smaller players?)

 

And of continued interest….

The Theranos Story, ch. 71: Holmes appears in court, lawyers argue celebrity, lavish lifestyle, Silicon Valley ethics (The consequences of ‘faking till you make it’)
What you need to know about Germany’s new DiGA fast tracking for health apps (New R2G research)

Breaking: NHS Digital appoints Simon Bolton interim CEO

David sues Goliath: AliveCor claims patent infringement by Apple–ITC filing requests bar on Apple Watch US importation (Bring the popcorn, but it’s serious)
News roundup: Buddi’s £500M LSE float, Accolade to buy PlushCare for $450M, Teladoc adds chief innovation officer, Tyto Care’s Italy expansion (Buddi a huge float for the UK)

Mayo Clinic creates AI-powered clinical decision/diagnostics support platform, two digital health portfolio companies (What Dr. John Halamka’s been up to)
A new event–and not all virtual! HLTH and CHIME to launch ViVE in March 2022. (Another sign of normal business)

Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? Free listings available to match our Readers with the right opportunities. Email Editor Donna.


Read Telehealth and Telecare Aware: https://telecareaware.com/  @telecareaware

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

We thank our present and past advertisers and supporters: Legrand/Tynetec, Eldercare, UK Telehealthcare, NYeC, PCHAlliance, ATA, The King’s Fund, DHACA, HIMSS, Health 2.0 NYC, MedStartr, Parks Associates, and HealthIMPACT.

Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. See our advert information here. 


Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Thanks for asking for update emails. Please tell your colleagues about this news service and, if you have relevant information to share with the rest of the world, please let me know.

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief
donna.cusano@telecareaware.com

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Samsung stretches into electronic skin sensors with OLED display for heart rate

Stretchable skin sensors were the rage a few years ago, yet disappeared off the radar well before the pandemic. A good part of it was that the sensor tech was confined to university labs and small companies attempting to commercialize it into ‘smart clothing’ paired with a smartphone, a form factor that never found a market. Since those early days, what has entered the mainstream are sensors/smartphone combinations for blood glucose reporting. So it’s positive that Samsung, expert at commercialization and the technology around displays, has set its R&D unit, the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), to developing a prototype stretchy skin patch for vital signs monitoring that combines both a sensor and display.

SAIT developed a sensor (left) that combined a stretchable LED (OLED) display and a photoplethysmography (PPG) sensor. The tests applied it to the inner wrist near the radial artery to measure and display heart rate in real time.

The device uses a combination of elastomer, a polymer compound with excellent elasticity and resilience, with existing semiconductor manufacturing processes to apply it to the substrates of stretchable OLED displays and optical blood flow sensors.

The study found that the sensor achieved:

  • Stable performance in a stretchable device with high elongation. The display can be stretched up to 30 percent.
  • The movement of the arm did not affect the OLED display 
  • The adhesion and location of the display and sensor made, in their findings, continuous heartbeat measurements possible with a high degree of sensitivity compared to existing fixed wearable sensors

The researchers claim this is for the first time in the industry and proves the commercialization potential of stretchable sensors. While the OLED display leaves a lot to be desired in readability and it seems chunky, it’s another step in creating more easily worn ‘all in one’ monitoring devices that stretch to fit, don’t require a wristband, or constant checking on one’s phone. The SAIT research was just published in Science Advances, 4 JuneSamsung release, The Verge, Mobihealthnews

NHS Digital GPDPR medical database data extraction start postponed from 1 July to 1 September

Facing a GP revolt and legal action, NHS Digital has postponed the extraction of patient data records from surgeries until 1 September for the General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR). Before the House of Commons on 8 June, health minister Jo Churchill announced the extension. “We will use this time to talk to patients, doctors, health charities and others to strengthen the plan, build a trusted research environment and ensure data is accessed securely.” Health secretary Matt Hancock also announced that the patient opt-out deadline, originally 23 June, will be extended (date TBD). Pulse (may require registration), NHS revised release

On 4 June, before the extension announcement, the Doctors Association UK (DAUK), the Citizens, openDemocracy, the National Pensioners Convention, and Conservative MP David Davis were among the signatories to a legal letter sent to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) threatening action to halt the data collection from GPs. Pulse (may require registration)   

While Ms. Churchill, Mr. Hancock, and Simon Bolton collectively insist that the additional time will be used for consultations with patients, doctors, health charities, and others, the proof will be in both the data collection and how informed patients will be of their options. Both the opt-out date and September, given the summer holidays, aren’t much time. In this Editor’s estimation, for a major effort, the end of this year would be far better. Perhaps we should send them this poster? Additional TTA coverage 2 June.

News and deal roundup: OneMedical’s $2.1 bn for Iora, CareDx buys Transplant Hero, Mount Sinai’s Elementa Labs; UK news–NHSX/Babylon, Doro-Everon, Tunstall

West Coast-based concierge medical provider One Medical goes ‘mass’ with Iora. One Medical, best known for serving the affluent well through a membership fee, direct pay, commercial insurance, and sponsored contracts with large employers like Google for primary care, announced plans to acquire Boston-based Iora Health. Iora’s primary care providers serve a different market, with primarily Medicare patients moved into full-risk value-based models such as Medicare Advantage plans and practices in shared savings arrangements such as Direct Contracting. The investor presentation here discloses the all-stock purchase with 26 percent of ownership going to current Iora shareholders. Iora for now will be run separately, which makes sense given the disparity in patient base. The major element in common? Primary care practices and ‘white-glove’ services. Healthcare Dive, FierceHealthcare

Consolidation in digital transplant care assistance. CareDx, which provides a wide variety of management services for organ transplant providers and recipients, is acquiring New York-based Transplant Hero. Transplant Hero is an app that reminds recipients to take their vital medications, and was founded by a transplant physician. Financial terms and integration going forward were not disclosed. Release, Mobihealthnews.

Mount Sinai Innovation Partners (MSIP) creates a new health tech incubator. Elementa Labs launched this week, specifically seeking pre-seed or seed-stage healthcare and biotech startups. Companies must also have a clear objective for working with Mount Sinai to develop a comprehensive development plan.The first startup on board is avoMD, a mobile-friendly point of care clinical decision support platform. Applications for the 12-week program close 30 September. FierceHealthcare

UK activity heats up with the late spring…

NHSX and NHS England are assessing Babylon Health’s triage app. According to an exclusive in Pulse (may require registration), a senior delegation from both visited University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) last month to look at its use of the Babylon technology. However, NHSX has disclaimed any work towards a national program with Babylon as practices reopen throughout the UK.

DoroCare UK and Everon announced a partnership on products and services for social care, such as Everon’s Lyra, a cloud-based emergency call system, and Doro’s Eliza, a smartcare hub. Release

Tunstall announced the release of the Tunstall Service Platform (TSP) in the UK. It’s described as a connected care software platform supporting the Tunstall Alarm Receiving Centres coordinated by local authorities and social housing providers. It has four unique functions: PNC (call handling), service manager, fieldforce manager, and proactive services. It also will transition these systems from analogue to digital and will be operable in both. Release

The Theranos Story, ch. 73: the defense tries to stack the jury deck in Holmes’ favor, prosecutors say. And Theranos swag and memes are hot!

Law and Order Proceeds. For those of us who follow US trials, or have served on a local or county jury, smart attorneys do a fair amount of ruling jurors in–and out. The voir dire process in high-profile trials is critical. Jury consultants make comfortable livings creating profiles of their ‘ideal juror’.

Thus it should not be a surprise that Elizabeth Holmes’ spare-no-expense-or-strategem defense would file in May with the court an over-the-top 41-page, 112 question jury document. Their rationale is to screen jurors for issues related to the extensive news coverage around la scandale Theranos, Holmes herself, and even the pandemic (!).

In the prosecution’s view, questions such as “Do you have investments?”, “Do you have health insurance?”, and inquiries about social media use, were “untethered” from pretrial publicity and the coronavirus pandemic.

By comparison, the prosecution presented to Judge Edward Davila a modestly sized nine-page questionnaire with a scant 51 questions. Typically, many of these questions are routine, such as reading about the case and if they had any pre-existing opinions which would prevent that person from a fair judgment of the facts presented in the case. On pandemic issues, the prosecution drew from previously used questionnaires that addressed them, though this Editor cannot see how the pandemic is pertinent to this case.

Holmes is facing 12 felony fraud charges. The trial will start 31 August and will be held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays through 17 December, according to a filing last week by Holmes’ legal team. She faces maximum penalties of 20 years in prison and a $2.75 million fine, plus possible restitution. East Bay Times

Attention eBay Shoppers!  According to CNBC, original Theranos-labeled items are fetching real coin on auction sites like eBay and Poshmark. An original Theranos lab coat is supposedly listed for $17,000. Over at Etsy and Redbubble, which sell artist-created items, logo-printed t-shirts and masks, including those with Holmes’ face and the Silicon Valley meme, ‘Fake It Till You Make It’, “Girl Boss” signs, throws, posters (left), and greeting cards. (Good things? Yeesh!) are all over. The funniest is a sweatshirt with ‘Theranos Testing–A Guaranteed Result’. Over on Etsy, a merchant’s most popular Theranos item is a mug emblazoned ‘Theranos Early Investor’. (Is it cracked?) Perhaps Holmes could put her Theranos trinkets and trash online to defray a few costs. Or copyright her image like Bogart?

OnePerspective: How the shift from analogue to digital telephone services affects telecare provisioning

TTA has an open invitation to industry leaders to provide a personal perspective on issues of importance to readers. This week, Charlotte Rathbone, Product Account Manager for CareUnity Digital, Chubb, examines the ongoing transformation of the UK telecommunications industry and how the shift to digital technology will affect telecare provision.

Interested contributors should contact Editor Donna. (Pictures and graphs/infographics are welcome)

According to the Technology Services Association (TSA), the representative body for technology-enabled care, more than 1.8 million vulnerable people* rely on telecare in the UK. In most cases, telecare consists of a care alarm in a person’s home, which when triggered by pressing a button or an automated sensor, sends data via the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) to a monitoring centre, where an operator will give advice or seek help.

The UK telecommunications industry however is undergoing rapid change. By 2025* all analogue telephone services across the UK will be switched off as infrastructure is upgraded to digital connectivity. This approaching switch highlights the need for dedicated digital telecare solutions. 

So how will this affect telecare services in the UK?
As early as 2023*, British Telecom (BT) customers may not be able to buy an analogue phone line. Instead, BT will move its customers to a digital Internet Protocol network in readiness for the shutdown of traditional telephone lines in 2025. It’s then that we’ll see the PSTN and all Integrated Services Digital Network lines switched off. These lines are currently used by many telecare services to feed alarm data into their monitoring centres.

While the digital migration is underway, analogue telecare alarm services are reporting a rise in the number of failed alarm call attempts – with one service provider reporting a failure rate of 11.5% for the first alarm attempt*. This is concerning.

Another concern is failed care alarms through loss of power. When analogue alarms run on a digital network, they require a router to be plugged in at home. In the event of a power failure, this router will stop working, so if a vulnerable person triggered their alarm, it would duly fail.

It’s little surprise that telecommunication providers and Ofcom are all recommending a shift away from traditional analogue devices to digital devices to ensure consistency of access to care*. Some countries including Sweden are ahead of the curve when it comes to switching to digital. More than 95% of Swedish digital alarm installations now use mobile network connections*. There is some way to go in the UK.

Currently, there are approximately 1.6 million analogue telecare devices** across the UK that need to be changed to digital-dispersed alarm units so it’s going to be a gradual process. There are, however, benefits for telecare service providers that make the change sooner rather than later. 

Why switch now?
As we approach the switchover date, the time to replace analogue units in the field reduces. This will likely result in significant resource pressures for customers to complete the transition; by switching early, this can be completely avoided.

References
*TSA, 10 Facts about Analogue to Digital: How it will affect telecare.   ** TSA survey of service provider members, May 2021.

Hat tip to Kathryn Ranger of PRG Marketing Communications

TTA’s summer startup #2: controversy around NHS’ GPDPR patient database, Babylon Health’s likely SPAC, Tunstall buys Secuvita, more!

 

 

Weekly Alert

A ‘shortie’ this short week for many of us, especially this Editor. Our highlight is the breaking news our UK Readers may have missed on NHS’ controversial GPDPR implementation–and why it’s significant to everyone. Plus Babylon and Tunstall news.

Tunstall Group acquires Secuvita (NL) (Bucking up their Benelux business)
NHS Digital GPDPR medical database plans criticized by Royal College of GPs, privacy advocates (updated) (Data use and patient privacy issues here have resonance everywhere)
Babylon Health going the SPAC route with Alkuri Global: reports (Surprising it hasn’t happened earlier)

A bumper crop as we ease into the unofficial start of summer and wind up May

ATA2021 coming up (virtually) starting 1 June (At least you don’t have to get the jab before attending!)
News and deals roundup: CoverMyMeds ‘big bang’, Noom’s $540M Series F, insurtech Bright Health’s IPO, Grand Rounds-Included Health, GoodRx, Cedar-OODA, Huma, Bluestream Health’s outreach (So many we had to ‘short take’ them!)
UK news roundup: West Wales’ CONNECT project, WelcoMe app for disabled access, X-on Surgery Connect expands, Arc Health in 46 care homes, Alcove’s £75M contract with Suffolk County Council (Things moving along smartly)
An unappreciated long term pandemic health effect? Increased frailty among older adults. (Making up for lost time and health not easy or quick)
The Theranos Story, ch. 72: a little lifestyle and celebrity is admissible at trial–but not too much. And no profanity, please! (Hold the popcorn till Labor Day)
News and deals roundup: SCP Health-SOC Telemed, Epion Health-MSU, Sensyne Health’s new data agreements, Geisinger’s RPM app (Definitely ‘springing forward’)
Survey: 80% of Americans believe telehealth can provide quality medical care–up 23 points from 2020 (More confirmation of five years of progress in one)

From last week’s mini-update–our ‘top of the pops’ 

Tunstall excluded from Sweden’s framework agreements for municipal alarm and technology procurement (A software update that went sideways affects contracts in over 200 municipalities)

A small bombshell in the traditional PERS world (yes, it’s still there) is Philips’ sale of Lifeline to Connect America–which two years ago bought Tunstall Americas. Teladoc gets into the cognitive therapy app business–and sends a message–in a big way.

Connect America acquires Philips’ Aging and Caregiving, including Lifeline (Big news in aging services, though it’s Old Tech. And another Philips North America divestiture.)
Teladoc integrates the myStrength cognitive mental health app with their telehealth network (Sending a message to the smaller players?)

 

May may be chilly where you are, but we serve up some hot news in funding, wobbly Walmart’s dive into telehealth, Germany’s DiGA, a OnePerspective around stroke care, and a free webinar on what public health may look like post-Covid. And kicking off the month–a Theranos hearing (remember them?)

The Theranos Story, ch. 71: Holmes appears in court, lawyers argue celebrity, lavish lifestyle, Silicon Valley ethics (The consequences of ‘faking till you make it’)
News and funding roundup: Vida Health’s $100M Series D, Kry’s $316M raise, CVS and Advocate Aurora’s fresh funds, Boost Mobile offers K Health symptom checker (Substantial raises and more funding on the table)
Walmart Health moves into the hot telehealth area with MeMD buy (Continuing to be a puzzle)
What you need to know about Germany’s new DiGA fast tracking for health apps (New R2G research)
Webinar: Public Health and Responsible Innovation in a Post-Covid Europe 20 May
OnePerspective: Covid-19 accelerates digital stroke care for the East of England (Stroke Telemedicine Partnership with Visionable)

And of continued interest–

Breaking: NHS Digital appoints Simon Bolton interim CEO

2021 UK-RAS Network Robotics Summer Showcase 5 May-30 July and UK Festival of Robotics 19-25 June (If you’re interested in healthcare or other robotics, this is the place–and not just for the UK)
David sues Goliath: AliveCor claims patent infringement by Apple–ITC filing requests bar on Apple Watch US importation (Bring the popcorn, but it’s serious)
Amwell debuts new telehealth platform, Converge; previews Carepoint for hospital care into the home (Carepoint is the ‘stealthy’ move)
News roundup: Buddi’s £500M LSE float, Accolade to buy PlushCare for $450M, Teladoc adds chief innovation officer, Tyto Care’s Italy expansion (Buddi a huge float for the UK)

Mayo Clinic creates AI-powered clinical decision/diagnostics support platform, two digital health portfolio companies (What Dr. John Halamka’s been up to)
A new event–and not all virtual! HLTH and CHIME to launch ViVE in March 2022. (Another sign of normal business)
Good news! Eight software functions no longer classified as medical devices under FDA. (One for the techies. And anything you don’t have to clear with FDA makes for a good day.)

Have a job to fill? Seeking a position? Free listings available to match our Readers with the right opportunities. Email Editor Donna.


Read Telehealth and Telecare Aware: https://telecareaware.com/  @telecareaware

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

We thank our present and past advertisers and supporters: Legrand/Tynetec, Eldercare, UK Telehealthcare, NYeC, PCHAlliance, ATA, The King’s Fund, DHACA, HIMSS, Health 2.0 NYC, MedStartr, Parks Associates, and HealthIMPACT.

Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. See our advert information here. 


Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Thanks for asking for update emails. Please tell your colleagues about this news service and, if you have relevant information to share with the rest of the world, please let me know.

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief
donna.cusano@telecareaware.com

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Tunstall Group acquires Secuvita (NL)

Breaking news. Tunstall Healthcare announced today (2 June) the acquisition of Dutch alarm/home automation company Secuvita, Financial terms, integration, timing, and management going forward were not disclosed. In the announcement, Tunstall Group CEO Gordon Sutherland referred to Secuvita’s technology  integration with Tunstall Cognitive Care’s proactive care model. Benelux is one of Tunstall’s six key regions. The acquisition adds to Tunstall’s customer base 70,000 Secuvita users.

Secuvita’s director and owner is Patrick Gaasbeek. It was founded in 2006 as a brand independent service provider for social alarm systems. Today, their significant sectors are care alarms (standard and mobile), healthcare home automation (smart home), and remote care for home care, housing, and emergency centers. Featured clients on their website are Florence, Aafie, and Vérian. The company is based in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. 

NHS Digital GPDPR medical database plans criticized by Royal College of GPs, privacy advocates (updated 8 June)

What our UK Readers may have missed on the long bank holiday weekend. And why this matters outside the UK.  NHS Digital is being roundly criticized by privacy advocates, the Royal College of GPs (RCGP), the Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK), and individual GP surgeries on plans for creation of the General Practice Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR).

The GPDPR will compile information on 55 million patients–every patient in England registered with a GP surgery–into a database available to academic and commercial third parties for research and planning purposes. NHS has been collecting patient data on patients in a database, the General Practice Extraction Service (GPES), for the past decade. The GPDPR will replace it. Data collection on patients in England starts 1 July. What will be collected is at the end of this article as background.

The objections center on the sensitivity of the data, the short window of notification to patients, the lack of a clearly notified opt-out with sufficient time, and how it will be used.

  • The data apparently can include mental and sexual health data, criminal records (!), and other sensitive information. 
  • The short time–six weeks–between the announcement in late April (a low key affair with Matt Hancock-signed blog posts on the NHS Digital website, YouTube videos, and flyers at GP surgeries), and the start of data collection from the surgeries
  • How many patients are actually aware that this is happening and of their options is debatable. (See next two bullets)
    • If a patient didn’t pick up on it in the six-week window ending on 23 June (and go to the page with the Type 1 Opt-Out), a patient can opt out for data going forward, but cannot withdraw any data collected into the database prior to that date.
    • If a patient is in the National Data Opt-out program, their medical data will be collected anyway, since it applies to only identifiable and confidential patient information.
  • Many GPs are concerned about further erosion of the physician-patient relationship and the lack of communication to patients on how the data will be used, the ethical questions around the organizations to which it will be sold, and how patient privacy will be preserved.

The blackest mark here on NHS Digital is that the groups ostensibly involved in the development of the database–the RCGP and the British Medical Association (BMA)–are the ones sounding the alarm, along with the aforementioned DAUK and privacy groups such as MedConfidential and Foxglove. There is also a rebellion starting among London GPs. Reportedly, 36 doctors’ surgeries in Tower Hamlets, east London, will withhold data. An email is circulating to about 100 surgeries in north London questioning the legitimacy of the NHS data collection. This is despite penalties if they don’t submit.

Why does this matter if you’re not in England? Medical data–collecting, manipulating it, connecting it, finding insights, and selling it–is the Gold Rush of the 2020s. Pharma and payers as markets are just the start. Nearly every Roundup or deal this Editor covers has companies with a chunk of this gold rush. Why are telehealth companies worth their IPO/SPAC/funding prices? Why is McKesson ‘big banging’ four separate businesses into one division? Why do we follow ‘data warehouses’ like Sensyne [TTA 26 May],  Mayo Clinic’s big bet on a multi-line Remote Diagnostics and Management Platform [TTA 23 Apr], and virtual pharmacies like Capsule?  Why are insurtechs like Oscar and Bright Health hot? Why is it the #1 target of hackers?

It’s not altruistic. Services can be duplicated. Companies can be a hair away from failure. But ah, their data…the data has huge market value, even if its potential is not fully understood yet. Ask any data analytics person. Ask China, probably the most aggressive nation in collecting the health and personal data of its citizens, with Chinese capital for years now leading investment in global health tech companies.

In an article back in October 2015, this Editor described the many ways that deidentified patient data, in this case genomic data, can be identified by researchers through cross-checking via research database “beacons”, a network of servers. Referring to the 23andme and Ancestry.com collection of innocently given genomic data from consumers, this Editor proposed a Genomic Bill of Rights in 2018 and again in 2020. If this Editor, no data geek, can deduce it (hat tip to Toni Bunting back in 2015), this information has to be well known to researchers and to privacy advocates.

The controversy is just starting to ramp up. And it should. It’s about time there was a reckoning. The Guardian 30 May, 1 June

More background. According to the NHS Digital page on the GPDPR, patients will be anonymized by a process where de-identification software will replace their NHS Number, date of birth, and full postcode with unique codes produced by de-identification software. The data collected from GPs in England starting 1 July will be on: (more…)

Babylon Health going the SPAC route with Alkuri Global for $4.2 billion value (updated for 3 June announcement)

Another big SPAC on the boards. Telemedicine/symptom checking app Babylon Health has closed a deal to go public via a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) via Nashville-based Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp.  The deal with Alkuri, run by two former Groupon Inc. execs, was reported of 28 May and was imminent, according to the usual “people familiar with the matter” speaking with Bloomberg News (may be paywalled). 

If the Babylon-Alkuri SPAC comes to pass (it did–see below), the company valuation was reported to top $3.5 billion. Alkuri also is lining up investors for $270 million of private investment in public equity (PIPE) funding, the sources said. Alkuri is led by Groupon’s ex-CEO Rich Williams and former COO Steve Krenzer, The money connection is likely Sultan Almaadeed, a former executive at the Qatar Investment Authority, who is Alkuri’s chairman.

This isn’t the first time Babylon has talked SPAC. Back in April, Babylon almost went into a SPAC backed by financier Alec Gore. Other SPACs in prior talks with Babylon were Freedom Acquisition I Corp., backed by former Credit Suisse Group AG CEO Tidjane Thiam, as well as a vehicle from Klaus Kleinfeld, the former head of Arconic. Yahoo!Finance

Babylon’s last big raise was a $550 million Series C in 2019, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund with prior investors Kinnevik AB and Munich Re AB. Their total funding since 2015 is $631.1 million. Crunchbase.

Updated. And so it came to pass that on Thursday 3 June, two days after our article published (and while this Editor was on assignment), it was formally announced. Reuters reported that Babylon’s pro-forma equity valuation is up to $4.2 billion. Babylon will enjoy $575 million in gross proceeds. This includes a PIPE of $230 million, a little lower than earlier reports, from investors such as AMF Pensionsförsäkring and Palantir Technologies Inc. Existing Babylon shareholders will roll 100% of their equity into the combined company and will own approximately 84% of the pro forma company at closing sometime in the second half of the year. It will trade on NASDAQ under BBLN. Ali Parsa, Babylon’s founder, CEO, and face of the business, will remain chairman and CEO. Babylon’s release has the financial details, including the investor presentation. FierceHealthcare