Ireland’s Clare Island as multimodal rural telehealth and telemonitoring testbed

A ‘feel-good’ story figuratively and literally. Clare Island is an island off the west Irish coast in the Atlantic. It is located at the entrance to Clew Bay, part of County Mayo, with a lighthouse and abbey ruins that are tourist attractions. Its connection to the mainland is a 20-minute ferry service to Louisburgh on the mainland, generally adequate for its 138 people scattered in its 5 x 3-mile terrain. Galway, the largest city in the area, is nearly two hours south, and Westport is four hours. This makes it difficult when islanders need healthcare beyond their single small medical clinic with two resident nurses and weekly visiting GP.

The islanders are now part of a Digital Health Project designed by the University of Galway that can best be described as multimodal. The university’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) laboratory has been working on rural health projects at least since 2019 since the HIVE lab delivered via drone insulin from Galway to Inis Mór in the Aran Islands. On Clare Island, the HIVE lab has worked with islanders to connect them to better healthcare access on and off island, and also with each other.

  • Enabling video consultations with remote physiological monitoring, including blood pressure, weight, and blood glucose. This connects to clinics on the mainland, freeing up local clinic time. Irish company MyPatientSpace provides the platform.
  • The RPM for islanders is augmented by an artificial intelligence algorithm that allocates clinic slots if data readings for blood pressure or glucose readings indicate the need for an in-person clinic visit.
  • A recent demonstration showed how a drone could deliver an epipen to the local clinic, while MADRA the robot (Medical Autonomous Droid Remote Assistance–above left) scaled mountainous terrain to deliver first aid.

A private 5G wireless system was installed to facilitate video and RPM, as well as to connect a number of isolated islanders and their families on the mainland with always-on video, primarily to counter loneliness. Withings has also equipped islanders with Pulse HR watches. These enable self-monitoring both via the watch and through a supplied tablet. Over 80 islanders, aged from 18 to 90, have already signed up to the project, which began in September 2022.

The project is funded through a public-private partnership led by technology company Cisco and Cúram (Merative) software, the Science Foundation of Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices at the University of Galway, in partnership with Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE).  The €1 million remote health project is intended to be a template for other rural areas in Ireland. The head of the project is Professor Derek O’Keefe, a physicianeer (physician and engineer) with resident Dr. Ian McCabe as project manager. His grandmother moved to Clare Island in 1939 as an operator connecting the island to the mainland via radioed Morse Code. Irish Times, RTÉ, University of Galway news archive (2022), EuroPMC paper 

Photo credit: Kevin Johnson/Clare Island Home Health Project. ‘Madra’ the robot (center). Jack Pinder (Public Patient Involvement), Dr Jennifer Doran (Project Physician), Dr. Ian McCabe (Project Manager), Prof. Derek O Keeffe (Project Lead), and Hemendra Worlikar (Project Engineer) 

FTC, DOJ float enhanced information requirements for HSR premerger notification filing process–what will be M&A effects?

FTC, DOJ are now coming after M&A–and you thought they were tough before? New information disclosure requirements proposed by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division for mergers and acquisitions that fall under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act (HSR) may put a damper on an already stagnant business area. On Tuesday 27 June, FTC, notably taking the lead with the concurrence of DOJ, released multiple proposed changes to the premerger notification filing process, the most extensive since they were first published in 1978 after HSR was passed in 1976. HSR premerger notification is required for transactions that exceed the threshold currently set at $111.4 million.

These changes will be formally submitted for the standard 60-day public review and comment later this week in the Federal Register. Changes are typically made after that time before final rules are published, a process that may take months.

From FTC’s release, the proposed changes fall under these areas.

  • Provision of details about transaction rationale and details surrounding investment vehicles or corporate relationships.
  • Provision of information related to products or services in both horizontal products and services, and non-horizontal business relationships such as supply agreements.
  • Provision of projected revenue streams, transactional analyses and internal documents describing market conditions, and structure of entities involved such as private equity investments.
  • Provision of details regarding previous acquisitions.
  • Disclosure of information that screens for labor market issues by classifying employees based on current Standard Occupational Classification system categories.
  • These proposed changes also address Congressional concerns that subsidies from foreign entities of concern [North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran–Ed.] can distort the competitive process or otherwise change the business strategies of a subsidized firm in ways that undermine competition following an acquisition.

The National Law Review goes into far more detail on exactly what additional information will be required. This includes disclosure of what foreign jurisdictions are reviewing the deal. The rationale for the changes is that transactions have become far more complex since the original requirements were set and that the additional information will “more effectively and efficiently screen transactions for potential competition issues within the initial waiting period, which is typically 30 days.” According to FierceHealthcare, the FTC said it expects the proposed changes will take merging entities 144 hours per filing, up from the current 37-hour average. It’s clear that the mountain of information already needed to file a pre-merger notification and the time needed to gather such information will be much higher, perhaps to months and reveal far more than perhaps some companies want to disclose.

For those surprised that FTC is taking the lead on this, this once-sleepy agency woke up late last year in a heckuva bad humor and is now (more…)

Embedding ECG sensors to a supermarket cart (trolley) handle as ‘first-line’ screening for atrial fibrillation

Not coming soon to a supermarket near you, but an interesting test at Sainsbury’s in Liverpool. The 2022 study by a team from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) was designed to move atrial fibrillation (AF) screening closer to everyday routines. At least one weekly routine is to go to the supermarket.

In the ‘SHOPS-AF’ study first/proof-of-concept phase designed in 2022, the LJMU team installed a single-lead ECG designed by them, the MyDiagnostick, into the cart (US)/trolley (UK) handles at four local Sainsbury’s with pharmacies. This idea is similar to the pulse monitor handle that you find in most sport treadmills. The study over the past two months recruited 2,155 adult shoppers who used the carts and placed hands on the equipped handles over the 60-second monitoring time required to get an accurate ECG. About 220 were ‘red-lighted’–an irregular heartbeat was picked up by the sensor in the handle that alerted the in-store pharmacist, who then took a manual pulse measurement and a static control sensor reading. Of the 220, it confirmed AF in 59 individuals–26%. 20 already knew they had AF, meaning that 39 did not know. The average age of the 59 participants with atrial fibrillation was 74 years and 43% were women. To the positives, the pharmacist offered a cardiologist consultation referral.

The results suggested to the LJMU team that results in phase 1 were not very accurate, and the second phase required a more accurate diagnostic tool. Accessibility and acceptability were favorable. Ian Jones, one of the researchers and a professor at LJMU said, “Nearly two-thirds of the shoppers we approached were happy to use a trolley, and the vast majority of those who declined were in a rush rather than wary of being monitored.” The second phase of the study would also give a designated spot to place the hands continously and halve the time of the ECG to 30 seconds based on ESC (European Society of Cardiology) guidelines.

The results above were presented at the ACNAP (Association of Cardiovascular Nursing & Allied Professions) Congress 2023 in Edinburgh on 23 June (session listing). European Society of Cardiology (ESC) release, Interesting Engineering, Manchester Evening News  Study proposals: abstract and full text in PubMed.

Mid-week roundup: Optum buying Amedisys home care for $3.3B; Clover Health settles 7 shareholder lawsuits around SPAC non-disclosures; Walgreens cuts 2023 outlook, stock plummets 11%

UnitedHealth Group expands home health again, aces out Option Care Health in all-cash deal. Amedisys had previously accepted Option Care’s all-stock deal in May valued at $97.38 per share. Optum’s offer is at $101 per share in cash, a dollar higher than its previous offer, creating a valuation for the company at $3.7 billion. Amedisys will add to UHG’s $5.4 billion acquisition of the LHC Group in February, including the hospital-at-home market from its acquisition of Contessa Health for $250 million in 2021. 

Option Care is a public (Nasdaq: OPCH) post-acute and home infusion care company for which Amedisys in-home care delivery would have been an exceptional fit. It was last heard from in August making a run at Signify Health for home health and ACO providers. At that time, the not-well-known company was discovered to have some impressive backing from Goldman Sachs. Walgreens Boots Alliance also backed the company but cut its stake in March and sold the rest for $330 million earlier this month. Option Care will receive a termination fee of $106 million. Healthcare Dive, FierceHealthcare

Insurtech Clover Health settles seven lawsuits around its 2021 SPAC. Clover, with Medicare Advantage plans in eight states, went public in January 2021 at the very peak of ‘blank check’-dom. Almost immediately, after an explosive report by Hindenburg Research that revealed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) had been investigating the company on investor relationships and business practices starting in fall 2020 [TTA 9 Feb 2021], there were multiple lawsuits filed by shareholders (derivative litigation) over not revealing this material fact. Shares took the expected dive from their intro of $15.90 to today’s $0.85. The seven derivative lawsuits were in Delaware, New York, and Tennessee courts and are being settled without payment. According to Clover’s release, “the defendants in the derivative lawsuits will receive customary releases and the Company will implement a suite of corporate governance enhancements. The settlement does not involve any monetary payment, other than payment of an award of fees and expenses to plaintiffs’ counsel, which has not yet been set. The defendants have denied all wrongdoing and have entered into this settlement to avoid the burden, expense, and distraction of ongoing litigation.” In April, Clover settled a securities class action in which the class will receive $22 million, $19.5 million paid by the company’s insurance. Mobihealthnews

Walgreens Boots Alliance missed Wall Street expectations and lowered its outlook for the year. In their Q3, net earnings fell 59% to $118 million, mostly due to lower operating income. Their topline was healthy–$35.4 billion, up 9% year over year–driven by the US health provider segment (VillageMD, Summit Health, and CityMD plus at-home care provider CareCentrix and specialty pharmacy Shields Health Solutions) which was up 22%. However, both retail consumer sales and CityMD underperformed due to the absence of COVID and a mild respiratory illness winter. Together with VillageMD’s clinic expansions, this led to an adjusted operating loss of $172 million for US Healthcare. WBA cut its earnings guidance for the year to $4.00 to $4.05 per share from its previous outlook of $4.45 to $4.65. Walgreens has been selling off businesses or investments that are peripheral to providing healthcare services, such as its investment in Option Care (above). FierceHealthcare, Healthcare Dive

Amazon Clinic delays 50-state telehealth rollout due to Federal data privacy, HIPAA concerns on user registration, PHI–is it a warning?

Amazon delaying Amazon Clinic national rollout from today (27 June) to 19 July. Amazon Clinic, which debuted last November as an asynchronous, message-based telehealth consult or prescription renewal referral platform [TTA 16 Nov 2022], has run once again into Federal scrutiny. This time, it’s two Senators from New England–the well-known Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and the little-known Peter Welch (D-VT)–who are poking Amazon with the stick of whether sensitive health and personal data are flowing into Amazon’s other databases.

Their letter to CEO Andy Jassy was fair warning that, as this Editor predicted last February (see the list of open issues) after the One Medical buy closed to high-fives all around, the government is nowhere near finished with scrutinizing Amazon and how personal data, including health data, flows between their units and is monetized. 

In a two-page letter dated 16 June based on reporting in the Washington Post (100% owned by Amazon’s 12.6% shareholder and controller, Jeff Bezos–the irony runs deep here), the two senators believe that they have caught Amazon but good–and with some of the goods. 

  • Users of the Amazon Clinic service are asked, in the registration form, to authorize the “use and disclosure of protected health information.” They are told that agreement to this gives Amazon access to the “complete patient file” and that this information “may be re-disclosed,” after which it will “no longer be protected by HIPAA”. By agreeing to this, users waive any HIPAA personal health information protections.
  • If the user declines to agree, they are redirected and unable to complete Amazon Clinic registration and denied care. HIPAA regulations specifically prohibit conditioning care on agreement to disclose patient information. (This is known by anyone who has taken required training or certification on HIPAA when working for health plans or other regulated healthcare providers including RPM and telehealth vendors.)

The letter raises the sensible, usual questions on why personal data is being collected and what Amazon is doing with it. For instance, it requests responses on how patient data is used by Amazon, what data is shared with third-party entities, and what data is used in any analytics or algorithms. It cites as a non-compliance example the $1.5 million that GoodRx paid in an FTC penalty on their past Meta Pixel usage for ad tracking. (Interestingly avoiding the $7.5 million Teladoc paid for similar ad tracker misuse by BetterHelp.)

The $30/visit service has been available in 33 states since last year and currently through asynchronous messaging, provides care for minor conditions such as UTIs, herpes, and skin infections. The expansion will cover all 50 states and add synchronous video telehealth.

One would think that with billions on the line with One Medical, Amazon would be more cautious about poking the Antitrust Bear. They have already been put on notice by the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice (DOJ), Congress, and multiple states. For Amazon Clinic, requiring individuals to waive their right to protect their PHI in registering for the service is downright brazen. How this got past their legal and compliance departments boggles the mind. Why Amazon is not ‘hiving off’ PHI collected through this small service is another question. Doing so would show to FTC and DOJ that Amazon can play by the rules. Instead, it confirms the widely held belief of those in healthcare that Amazon culturally cannot deal with the restrictions that come with the territory. Are they deliberately ‘playing chicken’ with the Feds? Pollo loco? This up-to-the-line behavior tends not to end well, as the telemental health providers that over-prescribed controlled substances found out.  POLITICO, The Hill, mHealth Intelligence

Babylon Health to go private with AlbaCore in planned ‘Take Private Proposal’, combine with MindMaze

Babylon Health moving forward with AlbaCore Capital LLP ‘Take Private Proposal’ with AlbaCore affiliate MindMaze Group SA. On Friday, Babylon Health as Babylon Holdings Limited filed their Form 8-K with the Securities and Exchange Commission confirming their acceptance of AlbaCore Capital’s ‘Take Private Proposal’. No surprises here as announced in May along with AlbaCore’s interim funding proposal of $34.5 million plus the June timing of Babylon (inevitably) selecting the AlbaCore proposal. [TTA 11 May, 11 May followup]. Babylon did not disclose that there were other proposals under consideration between 10 May and last Friday. 

The 23 June Form 8-K (filed on a summer Friday when corporate news goes to hide till the following week) is brief in content despite its eight pages, half of which is devoted to the press release. It delivers the following:

  • The core operating subsidiaries of Babylon will be transferred to MindMaze. MindMaze is a private Lausanne, Switzerland-headquartered healthcare company in neuroscience and digital neurotherapeutics in areas such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. This apparently covers the ‘Go-Forward Business” mentioned in May. 
  • “The Proposed Transaction provides for a new capital structure and a reduction of pro forma company debt, and is expected to include immediate material funding for current business operations as well as a commitment to fund the combined business of MindMaze and the Company.” This presumably will resolve Babylon’s debt to AlbaCore of $300 million from the SPAC.
  • BBLN shares will cease trading upon closing. Class A ordinary shareholders or other equity instrument holders will receive no payment, as disclosed in May. (Shares are trading at $0.65 today, amazingly, but whatever shares are out there are being bought and sold, for instance in restricted stock units being vested and sold for whatever value could be obtained.)

There is no further mention in either the 8-K or the press release of the appointment of UK administrators (similar to a US Chapter 11). Per the May 8-K, these would be appointed by the High Court in London to supervise the transfer of assets from Babylon Holdings Limited to Babylon Group Holdings Limited and then their sale to the ‘NewCo’ formed after the reorganization by AlbaCore Capital as the Go-Forward Business. It may be that the transfer to MindMaze avoids that. Babylon is headquartered in Jersey (Channel Islands) along with Austin, Texas.

The transaction is expected to close in July, subject to regulatory approvals in the US and UK, with Babylon continuing in its business plan and in the press release’s terms, “accelerating its core mission” at least for the short term. In going private, Babylon will no longer have to disclose its ongoing problem of growing losses after this quarter. In Q1, they had a net loss of $63.2 million, a (20.3)% net loss margin, which was 117% greater than last year’s loss of $29.1 million or (10.9%) margin. Noticeably in the release, Babylon CEO and founder Ali Parsa is not quoted.

How it’s positioned: Both companies will operate independently until such time as they can become a “leading value-based care platform with cutting edge technological, clinical and operational ability to both provide holistic primary care and effectively diagnose, manage and treat major episodic and chronic diseases.” Over the longer term, the combination will “align the strengths of their organizations to deliver a truly novel care paradigm and deliver exceptional outcomes for all stakeholders.” No transition of headquarters, leadership, and staff was announced in the release.

The reality–one or the other will change: This Editor considers this a ‘marriage of convenience’ for their chief investor, AlbaCore, to financially reconcile two of their healthcare businesses. Neither are alike or complementary.

  • We know how Babylon is performing (or not) as a public company for now. We do not with MindMaze, hidden behind the veil of private financing and ownership.
  • Their core businesses are very different–primary care patient access and population health for Babylon, more rarefied and clinical neurotherapeutics for MindMaze.
  • Babylon Health is in a crowded primary care and enterprise telehealth sector of healthcare. Morphing to connect populations ‘from reactive sick care to proactive care’ has a few elephants in it named Teladoc and Amwell, along with multiple niche and private label players.
  • MindMaze’s public profile is that they have built a long-term clinical footprint–examples such as Izar, a FDA-cleared hand motor therapeutic, a partnership with the Vibra health system in two states, and Mount Sinai in NYC–along with two racing sponsorships in 2022–Andretti Autosport for US Indycar and internationally with Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN, for promoting their MindMaze Labs R&D. According to Crunchbase, the company has raised $340 million over 10 rounds since 2012 including rounds by film star Leonardo DiCaprio, Concord Health Partners in NJ, and London-based Hambro Perks along with AlbaCore. 

Taking bets on which company and management survives.

Mobihealthnews and FierceHealthcare recap the releases and recent news for both companies.

Week-end roundup: Walmart Health adds 3 FL centers; wearables nudge close to 50%; Dandelion cardiac AI performance pilot; Aledade’s $260M Series F; $10M for DUOS’ older adult assistance platform; Friday Health Plans to close

Walmart Health continues Florida expansion with three new centers opening this week–two in Orlando and one in Kissimmee. This adds to their present five in the central Florida area: Orlando, Kissimmee, Ocoee, Sanford, and Winter Garden. By fall, plans are to have 23 in Florida, tracking to the Q1 2024 plan for 75 total, including 28 new locations in the Dallas (10), Houston (8), Phoenix (6), and Kansas City MO (4) metros [TTA 3 Mar]. Becker’s

New study by AnalyticsIQ indicates nearly half the US population may be adopting wearables and using digital health. Usage doubled in the midst of the pandemic (2020-21) with 46% reporting using at least one type of consumer health technology over the past six months. 35% of the 8,000 respondents used smartwatches, with Fitbit (42%) edging out Apple Watch (38%) followed by Samsung Galaxy Watch and Garmin Vivoactive. By other wearable device type:

  • Blood pressure devices: 59% of survey respondents
  • Sleep monitors: 21%
  • ECG monitors are still a niche: 11%
  • Biosensors such as glucose monitors, hormone monitors, fall detectors, and respiratory monitors are still niche at 8%, but the business grew to $25 billion in 2021
  • Smart clothing: a surprising 6%.

Unsurprisingly, wearable health tech usage skewed heavily towards Generation X-ers and men. Among ethnic groups, black and Latino groups had the highest usage.  Healthcare Dive

Dandelion Health testing cardiac dataset for AI reliability and bias. Starting with their data on ECG waveform algorithms, this startup will be validating the performance and bias of artificial intelligence across key racial, ethnic and geographic subgroups. NYC-based Dandelion is a public-service focused precision analytics company that works with three healthcare systems–Sharp HealthCare (San Diego, California), Sanford Health (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and Texas Health Resources (Arlington, Texas) to aggregate and de-identify clinical data for roughly 10 million US patients. The validation pilot will start on 15 July and last for an initial period of three months. It may be expanded to include additional clinical data modalities such as clinical notes and radiology imaging. According to their founder and CEO Elliott Green, the “pilot program answers the question, does your algorithm do what it’s supposed to do? And does it do it fairly, for everyone?”  Release, Healthcare IT News

Who said big, late raises are a thing of the past? Not if your company is Aledade, which has solidly succeeded in management services for independent primary care practices transitioning to value-based care models. They just gained a shiny new Series F of $260 million on top of last June’s $123 million Series E for a new valuation of $3.5 billion. The Series F round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners along with Venrock, Avidity Partners, OMERS Growth Equity, and Fidelity Management. Aledade has grown to manage 1,500 practices and has acquired in recent months Curia (data analytics for advance care planning) and Iris Healthcare (care planning technology). The additional funds will be used to opportunistically add capabilities into its platforms. FierceHealthcare, Bloomberg (paywalled)

Somewhat more in the recent range is DUOS’ $10 million venture capital raise for a total of $33 million. Leading the round were Primetime Partners, SJF Ventures, and CEOc’s Aging Innovation Fund managed by Castellan Group. What’s unusual is that the platform addresses older adults’ needs as a personal assistant in areas such as care, support in social determinants of health (SDOH), housing, and transportation against Medicare Advantage plan benefits, local community resources, and government programs. The benefit for the older person is to close gaps in care and increase utilization of Medicare Annual Wellness Visits (AWVs). Originally targeted to older adults, the company is broadening its markets to health plans, providers and employers. Release, Mobihealthnews, Home Health Care News

Insolvent ‘insurtech’ Friday Health Plans loses last two health plans to state receivership, will close. Colorado and North Carolina were the last two states the company operated in. Both states’ insurance departments put Friday into receivership this week after the insurer notified them that they could not raise additional cash to continue operations. This affects 35,000 and 39,000 individual health policyholders respectively. Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Nevada were previously placed in receivership. State insurance regulators have assured providers that they can expect to be paid for their services per their contracts. Members generally need to find new insurance companies quickly, however. 323 Friday employees in Alamosa, Colorado, their headquarters, will be laid off between 23 June (this Friday) and 6 July, without the previously promised 60 day notice nor any notice of severance or benefit continuation. Friday is the largest employer in this Denver/Colorado Springs suburb. In its brief lifespan, Friday raised over $300 million and lost over $700 million. FierceHealthcare 22 June, 21 June.  Alamosa Valley Courier  Additional commentary by industry analyst Ari Gottlieb on LinkedIn

Ransomware roundup: TimisoaraHackerTeam (THT) attacks cancer centers; KillNet’s ‘Sudanese’ member; 101K ChatGPT accounts infostolen; LockBit attacker arrested on Federal charges

TimisoaraHackerTeam (THT) attacked an unnamed US cancer center with malware in June, demanding a ransom of 10 bitcoins ($300,176). The Central European, possibly Romanian-based group (named after a Romanian town), was uncovered in 2018 and was last tracked to an April 2021 attack on a French hospital. The malware vectors in using legitimate software from Microsoft Bitlocker and Jetico’s BestCrypt. Reports state that it targeted Fortinet’s FortiOS SSL-VPN to exploit CVE-2022-42475, a heap-based buffer overflow vulnerability that allows remote attackers to execute code or commands using specially crafted requests. THT may be linked to other malefactors such as DeepBlueMagic and China-based APT41 based on software used and style in notes. DeepBlueMagic disabled an Israeli medical center, Hillel Yaffe, in October 2021. 

The cancer center and Heimdal Security were able to reclaim the hacked records through the use of decryption software as they were only partially encrypted, avoiding the ransomware payment. HHS’ Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection has issued its notification with details on the attack here (PDF). SC Magazine, Healthcare Dive

KillNet, the Russia-based agglomeration of anti-Western hacktivist groups, has a possible new member in the interestingly named Anonymous Sudan. Their modus operandi is to use distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in response to the anti-Islamic views or actions of Western, to date 24 Australian, organizations, but the DDoS claims are smokescreens that not only tie up cyberdefense resources and generally spread panic and disinformation, but also gain publicity for the group. Cyber researchers CyberCX noted that their DDoS attacks have been intense, but unusual in that Sudan (the country) apparently has not instigated the attacks nor have the attacks been monetized. SC Magazine

Surprise, surprise–infostealers using malware to get into ChatGPT accounts. Once into the accounts, the malware infects browsers to collect saved credentials, bank card details, crypto wallet information, cookies, browsing history, and other information. Most of the affected devices are in Asia-Pacific. The malware is for sale on the dark web, with most of the 101,134 accounts tallied by Group-IB were breached by Raccoon/RecordBreaker (78,348), while the remainder were hit by Vidar (12,984) and RedLine (6,773). ChatGPT is being downloaded individually and often introduced into enterprise systems from personal devices without the usual IT security and vetting. LLM models for now are unsecured and for hackers, it’s ‘happy time’.  SC Magazine

But sometimes the bad actors get caught and dragged back to New Jersey. The FBI finally caught up to Russian national Ruslan Magomedovich Astamirov, who is accused of being part of the ransomware gang dubbed LockNet. The two counts filed in the Federal District of New Jersey center on conspiracy to commit fraud and related activity in connection with computers, plus the ever-popular conspiracy to commit wire fraud for the usual extortion of money and property between 2020 and 2023. The attacks were on businesses based in West Palm Beach, France, Tokyo, and Virginia, and received about $90 million in ransom payments. Astamirov sent emails and owned IP addresses, including Amazon and Microsoft accounts used in the fraud. NJ was chosen as the location for the Court since there was one LockBit victim in Essex County. SC Magazine, Criminal Complaint filed against Astamirov (PDF)

Wednesday roundup: Owlet BabySat monitor clears FDA; Rosarium Health seed $1.7M led by Rock Health; Optum Startup Studio shuts; CareRev lays off 100, changes CEOs; pet telehealth Fuzzy shuts, leaves workers and vendors in lurch

Owlet’s BabySat medical pulse-oximetry device receives FDA clearance. The wire-free sock design connects to a mobile app and tracks pulse rate and oxygen saturation level. The app alerts parents and caregivers when those readings fall outside ranges set by a physician. Launch is projected for later in 2023. Unlike other Owlet socks and systems, it will be by physician prescription only for babies that the doctor determines should have additional monitoring at home. There is a button for interested consumers (and presumably clinicians) to be notified of release information. Owlet release, Owlet product page, Mobihealthnews.  The original Smart Sock continues to be offered as a consumer product outside of the US and Canada. Owlet’s Dream Sock tracks non-clinical quality sleep quality indicators, including heart rate, average oxygen, wakings, and baby movements. In December 2022, FDA accepted Owlet’s de novo application for an enhancement to Dream Sock that provides heart rate and oxygen notifications in addition to sleep monitoring tools [TTA 18 Mar]. Perhaps these mean a turnaround is in the offing in this now much smaller company. They received a $30 million private placement lifeline in February, but the stock on the NYSE, while rising, is still well below $1. [TTA 16 May].

Rosarium Health receives a pre-seed round of $1.7 million from Rock Health and two other investors. It’s surprising because Rosarium is in the business of medically necessary home modifications to enable safe aging at home. Not your typical digital healthy, sexy, techy, buzzy Rock Health investment. But one that bears a few important checkmarks: since 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has covered home modifications in two different programs: Medicare Advantage (MA) through supplemental benefits, and Medicaid, through Medicaid Waivers (Section 1115 Waivers) or Medicaid Managed Care programs. In the current environment, that assurance of payment makes it most attractive indeed. Rock Health was joined by Primetime Partners with participation from Flare Capital. Rock Health release

Just when you think it’s getting better….

  • Optum Startup Studio fades to black–report. Startup Studio was Optum’s startup incubator and graduated over 100 early-stage companies that received mentorship and a chance to pilot their offerings through Optum’s companies and systems plus receive $25,000 to $50,000 in non-dilutive grant funding. The report in Axios attributed the program’s end to a reorganization within Optum that left mentors like Liz Selvig, who joined it in 2022, out in the cold. The timing could not have been worse for just-shuttered fertility planning startup Bunnii. Optum’s abandonment quickly killed interest from a potential lead investor who looked at Optum’s program and piloting as a vote of confidence. This Editor notes that the website and application pages are still live.  If this report is incorrect, we invite Optum to contact us.
  • CareRev, a short-term nursing/CNA staffing app platform, reportedly is laying off 100 employees or one-third of its staff. The same reports claim $100 million raised to date, but Crunchbase lists ~$50 million through a Series A in April 2021. Earlier this month, CareRev’s co-founder and CEO, Will Patterson, BSN, RN, resigned after The Information inquired on allegations that he used drugs and encouraged employees to try LSD and cannabis. CareRev subsequently named Brandon Atkinson, formerly COO of cardiac digital health Cleerly Health. Release. Becker’s
  • Fuzzy, a veterinary care digital health/e-commerce startup based in San Francisco, folded last week without paying employees or vendors. It raised about $80 million through a Series C from 2016. Backers included Icon Ventures, Greycroft, Crosscut, and Matrix Partners, private vet practices in the US, UK and Germany plus individual investors. Its $15/month subscription-based model included 24/7 live chat and telehealth, ship-to-home prescriptions, educational content, vet-curated pet items, and programs for nutrition, training, and obedience. The bad part: reports from employees on Twitter and Glassdoor indicated that the company stopped paying health insurance and salaries two weeks ago but were not formally notified of the company shutting until Saturday 16 June, and that vendors as well as contractors were misled on payment for weeks. The website is dark and CEO Zubin Bhettay’s LinkedIn profile plus Twitter handle are gone. Coverager

Mid-week update: Cano Health CEO finally booted, interim named; further information on Oracle Cerner layoffs

Cano Health CEO Marlow Hernandez stepping down, but remains on Cano’s board of directors. It looks like Florida-based value-based primary care provider Cano Health is finally starting to clean up its act. The fallout from the long-delayed shareholder meeting taking place last Thursday (15 June) was that the Cano 3 (resigned directors Barry Sternlicht, Elliot Cooperstone, and Lewis Gold), finally got their way with ousting Hernandez. Mark Kent, who was named chief strategy officer in April, will be taking over as interim CEO while the board performs an external search. No time frame was specified.

Hernandez’s departure was not a surprise since Cano had a miserable Q1, with a $60.6 million net loss versus 2022’s barely-there $100,000. Their adjusted EBITDA was only $5 million, compared to $29.2 million in Q1 2022 [TTA 12 May]. Their new chairman of the board, Sol Trujillo, also has a background in turnarounds.

The Cano 3 own about 35% of the shares and one, Barry Sternlicht, invested at least $50 million in the cracked SPAC’s PIPE. They started to push for change back in April. Today (20 June), they issued a statement approving of Mark Kent’s interim appointment though they were not able to prevent the reelection of directors Alan Muney and Kim Rivera as they urged shareholders to do in a 15 June public statement

Despite the ouster, the Cano 3 still have plenty of disagreements with how the company is run, nailing these to the door in their 20 June statement responding to what they called an “Offensive Friday Afternoon “News Dump” Regarding its Leadership Transition”:

  • Per his employment agreement, Hernandez is required to step down as a board director now that he is no longer CEO.Dr. Hernandez’s employment agreement plainly states that ‘the Executive shall be deemed to have resigned from all officer and board member positions that the Executive holds with the Company or any of its respective subsidiaries and affiliates upon the termination of the Executive’s employment for any reason.” They also cite ahistory of insider dealings and fiduciary delinquency.”
  • They demand that directors Angel Morales, Dr. Alan Muney, Kim Rivera, and Solomon Trujillo resign immediately as “Dr. Hernandez’s enablers for far too long”. The board permitted the reelection of directors Muney and Rivera despite 82% of shareholders withholding their votes, citing Cano’s post-meeting statement
  • Shareholders now must entrust the selection of a new CEO to a board that is not reflective of the majority of shareholders who have lost over 90% of their share value, and not collaborating with the Cano 3 on reforming the board and a new direction of the company. “In fact, it rejected our Group’s two highly qualified director candidates and a proposal to collaborate on a credible refresh of the Board. We are left to question whether Dr. Hernandez and his boardroom allies are continuing to box us out because they are hiding something nefarious. If not, we urge the Board to immediately align with us on a path forward that includes the addition of our candidates – Guy Sansone and Joe Berardo, Jr. – and other essential changes to leadership and strategy.” Both Sansone and Berardo are very senior executives with long, successful records in leading healthcare services and startups.

(Cano Health shares closed at $1.42 today, a decent bump from their valley last week.) To be continued….  Healthcare Dive

Last Friday, TTA was one of the first to cover the Oracle Cerner layoffs (along with HIStalk) affecting the Cerner Federal teams. This week’s coverage elsewhere confirmed that the layoffs were a minimum of 500 to possibly 1,200, plus rescinded job offers and reduced open positions as this Editor saw from employees posting on the Reddit group. They–in particular, The Register (below), confirmed where this Editor would not go in cause-and-effect–that the layoffs were largely due to VA holding further implementations after multiple failures in the five VA systems where it was implemented between 2020 and 2022. The layoffs were also due to the Department of Defense (DoD) Military Health System (MHS) implementation as largely completed, although not glitch-free. It’s a clear cleanout of what Oracle perceives as a problem. 

Oracle did not respond to these publications’ requests for comments.

The new contract’s focus is to fix these five and implement a sixth (James Lovell in Chicago) which is joint with MHS by 2024. This has to be accomplished before implementation starts in the 160 remaining centers plus satellite medical clinics (CBOCs). VA has much leverage in the five one-year terms and the monetary penalty structure [TTA 18 May]. The pressure to perform for an awakened VA–and Congress–is going to be intense on those remaining, and whomever is shifted over from Oracle. This Editor also noted speculation that Oracle Cerner may start to wash its hands of the just-renewed VA EHR implementation by outsourcing most of it.  The Register, Becker’s, Healthcare Dive   TTA’s coverage of the Cerner/VA implementation here.

Rounding up the week-end: Oracle Cerner layoffs hit 500+ in VA, DoD groups (updated); AWS cash cow stumbles; Transcarent-ViewFi team on virtual MSK; Veradigm delays annual, quarterly reports again; Olive AI sells BI to BurstIQ

Oracle, which already laid off 3,000 since its Cerner acquisition and dumped its real estate, is proceeding with more layoffs in Cerner groups serving the Federal government, specifically DoD and VA. According to the Reddit group r/cernercorporation on this thread, the layoffs hit broadly within the Federal teams: VA and DoD professional services, Federal care delivery, Federal change management, support service owners, and consulting. The number is at least 500 but may be more. The severance package is four weeks plus an additional week for every year of service plus unused vacation with the layoff date 30 June. Offers made to start for new hires have been rescinded. This has fueled speculation that Oracle Cerner may start to wash its hands of the just-renewed VA EHR implementation by outsourcing most of it. There is precedent for this: Cerner partnered with Leidos for the DoD implementation from the start and Oracle Cerner brought in Accenture for training in February. Of course, the all-heart Mr. Market liked the layoff news coupled with Oracle’s Q4 ending 31 May results of net income of $3.32 billion, a rise of 7% versus last year. CNBC  Oracle is now at a $342 billion valuation, a new high. HIStalk 16 June    

Updated 16 June: details remain sketchy but confirmation that layoffs are in the ‘hundreds’ Reuters, Becker’s, KC Business Journal (paywalled); the last posits from CEO Katz’s statement that this is only the first of many to come.   Further details on the Reddit group is that consultants were onsite at clients working on projects and go-lives when they received their layoffs, that 80% of departments were affected, and that the layoff may go over 1,000. 

Amazon Web Services’ business continues to slow, with the AWS cash cow’s growth slowing to half versus last year’s, with further decline expected this quarter. This Editor noted that market analysts at Seeking Alpha called it back in February when we looked at Amazon’s ability to spend cash so freely in healthcare, for example on OneMedical. Google and Microsoft have been tough competitors and while their growth is off too, they are starting with smaller pie slices. Companies are using more than one cloud provider in a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach; Gartner predicts that by 2026, more than 90% of businesses will use multiple providers, from 76% in 2020. AWS’ plans continue to build outside of the US, with a $12 billion investment in cloud infrastructure in India by 2030 as well as five data centers in Oregon due to a controversial $1 billion tax break. Google and Microsoft have also led in generative AI, while AWS has not. AP

Enterprise health navigator Transcarent has made another bid in the virtual health area. It’s a partnership with ViewFi, which helps MSK providers to diagnose and treat MSK injuries in real time. ViewFi providers are affiliated with the NYC-based Hospital for Special Surgery. The idea for ViewFi came from retired tennis champion Andy Roddick who, with his orthopedist Josh Dines, MD turned their bad experiences during the pandemic using FaceTime for virtual consults into a new platform. ViewFi’s platform now takes patients through an intro screener that records physical and mental health, through diagnosis and a recovery care plan with personalized diagnostic tests and exercises with real-time support from their health guides. For Transcarent-contracted companies, a ViewFi initial appointment can be set in as little as two days as opposed to the usual average of 17 days. Transcarent bought the virtual care platform developed by 98point6 in March. FierceHealthcare

We noted back in March and last month that Veradigm (the former Allscripts) had serious problems with their Q4 and FY 2022 reporting due to a software flaw (!) that affected its revenue reporting going back to 2021. Nasdaq has extended for the second time–from 14 June to 18 September–their 2022 annual 10-K filing and their 10-Q for the quarter ending 31 March 2023. Not filing the reports will mean delisting. Seeking Alpha

Olive AI’s reorganization continues [TTA 23 Feb], with data solutions company BurstIQ buying its business intelligence platform.  LifeGraph Intelligence uses AI tools such as natural language processing and machine learning to extract insights from clinical notes and EMR fields. The platform presents cost and clinical data in a meaningful way through cohort comparisons. According to an example on their website, it contributed to $90 million in savings for one health system. Acquisition cost and management transitions were not disclosed. BurstIQ release  Hat tip to HIStalk 16 June

Perspectives: How robust patient scheduling and intake enable better patient access to cancer care – a UK case study

TTA has an open invitation to industry leaders to contribute to our Perspectives non-promotional opinion area. Today’s contribution is from Josif Dishliev, co-founder at Healee, an integrated patient access solution built for the operational complexity of high-performing medical groups. For one of its clients, UK-based Perci Health, Healee helped launch a branded patient access platform that aims to challenge the status quo for those impacted by cancer. Perci Health connects people living with cancer and their caregivers to a team of multidisciplinary cancer experts, tackling the physical, psychological, and practical impacts of cancer with a focus on managing the long-term side effects of treatment which are often overlooked in traditional healthcare. In this article, Mr. Dishliev talks about the role robust patient scheduling and intake capabilities play in improving patient access to cancer care.

When it comes to cancer treatment itself, the UK has one of the most well-developed healthcare systems in the world. With advancements in screenings, diagnostics, and therapy, the cancer survival rate in the country has seen radical improvement. Although 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, survival rates have more than doubled, and by 2030 6% of the population will be living with and beyond cancer.  

However, innovation in the aftercare of cancer survivors has significantly lagged. Patients find the healthcare system complicated and confusing, they cannot get the care they need, and continue to suffer from the long-term effects of treatment.

Digital health technology holds immense potential to improve patient access to cancer care and provide people living with or beyond cancer with much-needed support from the physical, psychological, and practical impacts of cancer. 

Perci Health observed several critical requirements when it comes to successfully implementing a patient access solution that enhances cancer care:

Allow for custom digital intake forms

Strong digital patient intake is the first – and one of the most crucial – steps to the success of a virtual-first care model that prioritizes convenience and affordability but not at the expense of high-quality personalized care.

Perci’s Healee-powered platform utilizes digital intake forms by offering an online questionnaire that first determines the person’s demographic profile and then provides the option for two journeys – “supporting someone with cancer” or “living with or beyond cancer.”

  • For people who choose the “supporting someone with cancer” option, the platform asks a set of questions to determine the physical, psychological, and social impact that taking care of a person with cancer has had on them. 
  • For people who choose the “living with or beyond cancer” option, the platform asks several additional questions including type of cancer, year of diagnosis, and treatment stage.

Based on each person’s answers, the platform offers tailored recommendations for the type of care and the healthcare professionals best suited to their needs.

Robust patient access platforms offer custom intake forms, which determine each user’s needs based on their demographics and specific physical and psychological requirements. This method allows users to access personalized treatment plans and match them with the healthcare professional best suited to their needs.

Enable strong patient-provider matching

A well-designed patient access solution allows matching the exact patient need with the best-suited provider in one easy, smooth and real-time provider search experience. Automated patient-provider matching takes into account providers’ characteristics such as provider specialty and considers patient and provider preferences as well as system requirements.

Perci’s platform offers over 20 holistic cancer support types and a list of NHS-qualified healthcare professionals that range from cancer and clinical exercise coaches to psychologists, dieticians, psychosexual therapists, and more. 

Given the many different types of cancer specialists and the varying needs of cancer patients, the access to the right team of healthcare professionals is crucial to improving patient outcomes. (more…)

‘Warning flare’ study: will pandemic-induced digital health solutions get renewed by hospitals in 2023-4, or will they churn?

Hospitals and health systems in 2020 and 2021 were desperate for virtual solutions. But comes the reckoning now that they have returned to 1) business as (mostly) usual and 2) even more financial shortfalls. Technology and software contracts typically run three to five years, with new vendor contracts usually three or four. Did these solutions work as implemented? Probably on a spectrum of very well to ‘kinda’. But did they return the desired results in care quality, financially on investment or simply add to the fixed costs which aren’t affordable anymore?

Panda Health, a company that consults with hospitals on digital health adoption, did research via Sage Growth Partners in March 2023 surveying 100 hospital C-suite executives and leaders to assess whether they were satisfied with their current digital health solutions acquired in the pandemic period, whether they would renew with the same vendors, or search for new vendors. While this survey size is small and hedged, the directional prediction is that there will be considerable churn–turnover–among vendors in 2023-25, but not in every one of the 11 areas surveyed have the same risk.

Not unexpectedly, the highest churn risk is projected to be among telemedicine/e-visits and remote patient monitoring (RPM)–the two areas most kickstarted by the pandemic. Lower risk was found in functional areas such as self-service patient scheduling, digital care coordination, patient acquisition/activation, and IT areas such as data lakes and data fabric. Five categories are in the middle.

Telemedicine/E-Visits: 97% of surveyed health executives stated that the pandemic crisis played a role in their acquisition decision. 47% were ‘moderately’ to ‘not satisfied’ with their choices. 30% of these contracts will expire this year and next. In projecting this against a US total of 6,414 hospitals, 1,693 may be changing solutions by the end of 2024.

Remote Patient Monitoring: The pandemic kickstarted RPM adoption by hospitals. 82% of hospitals deployed their solutions since the pandemic began with 19% within the past 12 months. 53% reported that they were ‘moderately’ to ‘not satisfied’ with their choices. With 33% of contracts expiring by 2024, the study estimates that 1,058 hospitals may be changing their solutions.

A different picture–Digital Care Navigator/Website Chatbot: Only 14% of respondents adopted these solutions, all within the past two years. Only 25% of contracts come due during 2024, with 55% coming due in 2025 and the remainder presumably in 2026 and beyond. Yet of all 11 categories, 63% of executives reported some level of dissatisfaction, with 38% ‘not satisfied’–the highest percentage in the study. 197 hospitals are projected to consider changing solutions by the end of 2024. 

Even low/moderate and low churn solution categories have moderate (‘moderately’ to ‘not satisfied’) levels of dissatisfaction that edge close to 50%. Exceptions are the last two categories, Data Lakes and Patient Acquisition. Fair warning to all companies who are selling digital health into hospitals–it’s time for your customer success teams to get busy, find out where their pain points are, and who’s feeling them.

The Great Shakeup (free report, PDF download). Panda release.  Hat tip to HIStalk 14 June

‘The Future of AI and Older Adults 2023’ now published

Laurie Orlov of Aging and Technology Watch in her latest paper tackles the latest iterations of AI and ML, tracing their roots back to 2014 to the original smart speakers and voice assistance, technologies that enabled older adults to access services with convenience and at reasonable cost. What will be the impact of AI using tools such as large language models (LLM) like ChatGPT to develop improved search, voice assistance, answers to health questions, and care plans written in understandable and empathetic language? For care facilities and senior housing, will they leverage AI with voice and sensor tech to improve safety monitoring for both residents and caregivers, plus the dream of predictive health for residents or those living at home with limited assistance? Will chatbots get a lot smarter versus obnoxious? Find out what both the short term and long term (5+ year) impact could be. 

Ms. Orlov’s somewhat gimlety view includes Gartner’s infamous Hype Cycle chart on page 5. As of today, most AI technologies reside in the balmy Peak of Inflated Expectations, the place where whatever investment funding is going. There’s lots of innovation and kitchen table hackathoning. Looming about two years out is the inevitable Trough of Disillusionment which has already been kicked off by Big Thinkers such as Steve Wozniak. As this Editor observed last month, it is a double-edged sword, with the bad side in its potential for data misuse, fraud, fakery, and malicious action. It’s already created controversy that this Editor predicts will crest in the next year with demands for regulation. We’re not there yet, however.

Download of the PDF is here and free.

Mid-week roundup: Promising Langone AI/LLM predicts hospital readmits; Huma gains FDA 510(k) Class II clearance; telepsychiatry’s challenges; layoffs/asset buys/losses from 23andMe, Cityblock, Thirty Madison, Butterfly

New York University’s Langone Health’s large language model (LLM) accurately predicting hospital readmissions, more. NYU’s academic medical center NYU Langone Health has developed an LLM using medical language, NYUTron, from unstructured clinical notes in patient records, then fine-tuned it across a wide range of clinical and operational predictive tasks. The dataset was immense:  ‘NYU Notes’ covers 7.25 million clinical notes (for example, radiographic reads, history, and physicals) from 387,144 patients across four hospitals, and more. According to their study published in Nature on 7 June, it was tested for predictive ability in five areas: 30-day all-cause readmissions, in-hospital mortality, comorbidity index, length of stay, and insurance denial. The NYUTron system in testing has achieved results improved over conventional structured models’ baselines. From the Nature study:

  • For 30-day readmission prediction, it had a median area under the curve (AUC) of 79.9% ± 0.168% with a 5.36% improvement
  • On in-hospital mortality prediction, NYUTron had a median AUC of 94.9% ± 0.168% with a 7.43% improvement.
  • On comorbidity index imputation, NYUTron had an OVR median AUC of 89.4% ± 0.275%
  • On binned LOS prediction, NYUTron had a median AUC of 78.7% ± 0.179% with a 12.3% improvement 
  • On insurance denial prediction, NYUTron had a median AUC of 87.2% ± 0.246% with a 14.7% improvement.

In a test of the system during January-April 2022, the system analyzed 29,286 discharged encounters, with 3,271 patients (11.17%) returning within 30 days. NYUTron predicted 2,692 of the 3,271 readmissions (82.30% recall) with 20.58% precision. Also HealthcareITNews

London-based Huma (the former Medopad) gained US FDA 510(k) Class II clearance for their Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) platform. This is defined as disease and age-agnostic digital health pathways through which data are collected from patients for self-management or to be assessed remotely by healthcare professionals. Huma also recently obtained EU MDR Class IIb approval and with Health Canada through the FDA’s joint eStar program. Huma’s tech also includes remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems and companion apps to enable disease management, with third-party device integration. For providers, the platform hosts AI algorithms that use automated data analytics to support screening, diagnosis, dosing recommendations, clinical decision making, and prognostication for identification of at-risk patients and early intervention. In 2020, Huma acquired BioBeats and TLT; more recently, last year iPLATO patient engagement and in January clinical trials data specialist Alcedis.   Huma release, Mobihealthnews

The growth of behavioral health has come to a screeching halt with the demonstrated abuse of online prescribing, then the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)’s uncertainty around controlled substance prescribing. This interview with the CEO of Array Behavioral Care, one of the Ur-companies in telepsychiatry (1999, originally InSight Telepsychiatry and Regroup Telehealth), points out how the DEA’s post-Public Health Emergency (PHE) policies around Schedule II and higher teleprescribing disrupted their operations. The flexibilities established during the PHE have been waivered to 11 November, though a final rule must replace the temporary extension rule and comply with the Federal Ryan-Haight Act [TTA 11 May]. Other issues addressed are dealing with medical affairs (clinical licensure, primary source credentialing, facility privileging, and payer enrollment), and the potential for AI to create new tools to aid clinicians in evaluating mental health, such as natural language processing (NLP) in transcribing video sessions and suggesting clinical notes, as well as scanning patient intake stories and analyzing that information for the likelihood of certain diagnoses. HealthcareITNews

The slow drip-drip-drip of layoffs, folded companies’ asset sales, and company losses that started in 2022 continue, though at a diminished pace compared to consumer companies:

  • Genomics and DNA testing company 23andMe announced layoffs of 9% of staff or 75 people. This will take place by the end of their FY 2024, which ends next 31 March. In a 9 June filing, the company claimed that it would reduce annualized payroll and benefit expenses by $12.8 million, which leads one to wonder about the compensation level of those 75 and from what area they are in. South San Francisco-based 23andMe continues to be money-losing, increasing annual net losses from $217 million to $317 million in the 12 months ending in March, according to its May earnings report despite a 10% revenue gain. 23andMe is yet another ‘cracked SPAC’, having gone that route in 2021 with a Virgin-backed SPAC. Once trading at highs of $12-13 on the NYSE, it closed today at $1.96. However, they don’t have debt, are hanging on to a valuation of $924 million, and their cash position is apparently strong enough to hold it for two years.  Becker’s, SF Chronicle, Yahoo Finance, SimplyWallStreet
  • Another well-financed company, Cityblock Health, is laying off 12%, or 155 staff. Spun off from Sidewalk Labs (Alphabet Health-Google) at the end of 2017, their CEO announced the layoffs in a blog post late last week and effective immediately for those affected. Cityblock serves Medicaid and low-income ‘duals’ with both Medicare and Medicare in value-based care models with a heavy reliance on technology. Their CEO who joined the company in March phrased it as a restructuring, using technology to automate processes, and reducing staff layer. In contrast to others, Cityblock has had no trouble raising funding in the past; in December 2020 they raised $160 million in a December 2020 Series C, plus another $192 million in a Series C extension in March 2021, then a reported $400 million Series D in September 2021 with total raises over $890 million. But their cash burn with high-cost operations in six states (HQ New York, Massachusetts, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington DC) is also likely high. FierceHealthcare
  • Thirty Madison buys assets from bankrupt The Pill Club. The assets? Over 100,000 patient files for $32.3 million. The Pill Club entered Chapter 11 in April after being charged by California authorities of defrauding the state Medicaid program. It paid $18.3 million to settle the charges. But that wasn’t all. According to Mobihealthnews, “the settlement came just days after a state court unsealed a whistleblower complaint against the company in which former nurse practitioners alleged it had defrauded private insurers in at least 38 states. According to a statement from their attorneys regarding the settlement, the whistleblowers would receive approximately $5 million.” The patients covered by The Pill Club’s prescriptions will be converted over to another Thirty Madison brand, Nurx, and offered other services such as behavioral health and dermatology services. The Pill Club raised a lot of money from 2016–$51 million in Series B funding in 2019 and another $41.9 million in 2021. Thirty Madison is a private multi-line of consumer-marketed brands such as Keeps (hair), Picnic (allergies), Cove (migraine), and Facet (psoriasis, eczema) and is at a Series C with a total raise of $209 million. Axios, 
  • Butterfly Network, which some years back developed a hand-held ultrasound device (Butterfly iQ) and entered a crowded field with GE HealthCare’s VScan, Mobisante (apparently defunct), and Philips Lumify, reported Q1 revenue of $15.5 million, flat year-over-year compared to Q1 2022 and which missed analyst estimates (again). Somewhat better news was narrowing last year’s loss to a Q1 loss of $33.5 million which was less than Q1 2022’s loss of $44.5 million. It’s another early SPAC that hasn’t had a great time of it. Since its debut on the NYSE in December 2021, the stock has had the typical drop in altitude from $19.79 to $2.42. It has since expanded to enterprise imaging with Blueprint. Mobihealthnews, Yahoo Finance, Zachs

Theranos restitution status: Holmes’ defense claims $250/month repayment *after* release is unfair

Is this thinking ahead or a high-priced legal exercise in futility? The US District Court decisions by Judge Edward Davila pertaining to restitution were clear: $452 million is owed jointly by Elizabeth Holmes and Sunny Balwani to 14 victims, including Safeway and Walgreens [TTA 31 May]. The question is how it will be repaid. The original order by the District Court for Holmes stated only a $25 per month payment while she is at the Bryan FPC. The Justice Department has now requested that the error be amended to now stipulate a $250 per month payment, or at least 10% of her income, after completion of sentence. Holmes’ legal counsel has now filed papers objecting to this assessment, which will take place at least nine years in the future. They cite her “limited financial resources”.

It seems that Holmes will have more trouble paying the $25/month from Bryan, as her financial resources will be even more limited. By some estimations, $25 per quarter is the average earning from prison work. What’s also apparent: her legal counsel is costing her much more than that just for the filing.

Balwani, on the other hand, has been ordered to pay $1,000 per month after his release. The District Court also fined him $25,000 for reasons not disclosed in news sources. Holmes has not been fined. 

One wonders how the lenders will be repaid–proportional checks for pennies? Monthly or quarterly? This Editor is sure that the Murdoch family interests will be waiting eagerly for the payment, while the investments for Murdoch and most others were written off years ago. The small investors whose investment advisors bought shares on the secondary (resale) market get not even that penny.

Much has been made of her net worth circa 2015 when her Theranos stock was valued on the bubble at $4.5 billion, but that was then and this is now. The Feds continue to search for hidden assets held by both Holmes and Balwani. CBSNews, NY Post