News roundup: Veradigm facing Nasdaq delisting, UpHealth files Chapter 11, Virgin Pulse-HealthComp $3B merger, MidiHealth’s $25M Series A, Inbound Health’s $30M Series B

Veradigm way out of compliance with Nasdaq, faces delisting. Nasdaq apparently is facing the end of its patience with Veradigm (the former Allscripts) and is moving to delist the company from the exchange as of 20 September. Veradigm plans to appeal to the Nasdaq Hearings Panel to gain an additional 22 days. Starting in March, the company has attributed to a massive financial software flaw the delay of its annual report for 2022, a restatement of FY 2021, and reporting of their 2023 Q1 and Q2 financials to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). All these are required by Nasdaq for listing. After multiple extensions begged from Nasdaq since June, whether 22 days will make any difference is doubtful. Veradigm closed today at $13.38. Stay tuned. Release, Becker’s Health IT, TTA 23 Aug

UpHealth Holdings filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, to reorganize. The parent company UpHealth Inc. claims this was not due to operational shortfalls, but to a court decision that found that the company owed investment bank Needham & Company $31 million in fees as a result of its November 2020 SPAC [TTA 26 Nov 2020]. The company release is unusually coy but states that the Chapter 11 was necessary to “mitigate the financial impact of the trial court’s decision” and was not the result of operation nor will affect operations. This was a more complicated than usual SPAC that merged the public entity, GigCapital2 Inc., with UpHealth Holdings and Cloudbreak Health to create a $1.3 billion (at that time) digital health company, UpHealth Inc., with care management platforms and virtual care infrastructure plus behavioral health services. Cloudbreak Health is not in Chapter 11. The UpHealth Inc. stock on NYSE stopped trading with the bankruptcy on 19 September and is currently at $0.98 from a 2021 peak of $28. Another cracked SPAC.  MarketWatch, HIStalk.

In more cheerful funding news:

Employer wellness platform Virgin Pulse and benefits analytics platform HealthComp to merge. The $3 billion deal creates a combined entity that will improve outcomes and lower costs for primarily self-insured employers and members through the Homebase for Health platform. Chris Michalak of Virgin will serve as CEO of the combined entity upon anticipated closing in Q4. The merger is backed by New Mountain Capital, Marlin Equity Partners, Blackstone, and Morgan Health, with New Mountain Health to be majority owner. FierceHealthcare, Healthcare Dive, Virgin release

MidiHealth backed by GV (Google Ventures) in $25 million Series A. MidiHealth focuses on female menopause and midlife transitional care in a direct-to-consumer model. Investors Frederique Dame and Cathy Friedman from GV are joined by current investors Felicis, Semper Virens, Icon, 25M, and Operator Collective, for funding to date of $40 million. The menopause/women’s health segment is one of the few bright spots of the current wobbly healthcare funding scene. MidiHealth recently inked a deal with fertility benefits company Progyny to widen their scope to midlife care for US employers.  Release, FierceHealthcare

And it’s a $30 million Series B for Inbound Health. Based in Minneapolis, the company assists hospitals and health systems to offer acute and post-acute/skilled nursing facility-level care in the home. Funding was led by HealthQuest Capital with participation from existing investors Flare Capital Partners and McKesson Ventures for total funding to date of $40.25 million. The new funding will assist expansion into new markets including further development of the company’s clinical programs, the next evolution of its proprietary technology and advanced analytics platform, and the continued build-out of customized operating assets focused on supply chain, labor, and logistics. Hospital-to-home is another one of the few bright spots this year.  Release, Axios

Cano Health’s dismemberment: Texas, Nevada primary care centers sold to Humana’s CenterWell for $66.7M, more to come

Are we nearing the final episodes of “Cano Health”, the telenovela? New CEO Mark Kent has gotten busy in the past five weeks since his permanent CEO appointment. The first and most important action he has taken is to generate cash in the nick of time to comply with their debt covenants coming due in September. The sale of their Texas and Nevada operations to CenterWell Senior Primary Care, a unit of Humana, for $66.7 million, includes $35.4 million in cash to be paid at closing. According to their release, this brings their unrestricted cash reserves up to $109 million, which will enable it to remain in compliance with the covenants under its debt instruments due at the end of Q3, including the financial maintenance covenant under the Credit Suisse credit agreement. $80 million will be drawn down to repay a portion of its $120 million revolving credit facility by the end of Q3 2023–September.

Cano’s Texas and Nevada clinics serve approximately 15,000 patients. CenterWell’s acquisition fits their corporate growth strategy in adding 25 to 50 clinics per year. FierceHealthcare

In August, Cano admitted that their liquidity was insufficient to cover the next 12 months, initiating a 17% staff downsizing and exits of their California, New Mexico, and Illinois operations by the fall, reducing their coverage by 5,000 members and 17 medical centers. They also announced a restructuring of their core Florida operations [TTA 15 August].

But…there’s more. Axios reports that Kent and Cano are continuing to work with financial advisers JPMorgan and Oppenheimer on a full-bore breakup of the company. JPM is advising on a whole-company sale, while Oppenheimer is advising on a breakup. Remaining are the Puerto Rico operation and their Medicaid business in Florida. Axios 

Earlier this month, Cano declared that it would work with the NYSE to regain compliance with the Listing Rule that requires stocks to trade above $1.00. Cano was notified on 11 September since it traded below $1.00 for 30 days. The Cano stock closed today (28 Sept) at $0.28. Actions mentioned in their release include their announced business strategy of reorganizing their business and a reverse stock split that has to be approved by shareholders at a meeting to be determined. However, their largest shareholder, InTandem Capital Partners, LLC, which controls ITC Rumba, LLC, is in favor of the reverse stock split. NYSE has a six-month deadline for this. 

Once again, not a peep from the Cano 3 (resigned directors Barry Sternlicht, Elliot Cooperstone, and Lewis Gold). Perhaps they have resigned themselves to writing off their 35% of near-worthless shares in their collective portfolios.

Given the above timelines, Q3 reporting due next month, and end of year looming, CEO Kent will need to be Clark Kent (the Daily Planet disguise of Superman) to pull Cano Health either to survival as a smaller entity, as stated in their press releases, a sale in toto of what remains–or a complete parting-out.

Short takes: Intuition Robotics gains $25M funding, Akili Interactive abandons digital Rx therapeutics, NextGen goes private for $1.8B, ATA’s DC advocacy ‘fly in’ + launches new tools on disparities

Catching up on the catchup…

Israel-based Intuition Robotics raised $25 million. The unlettered round closed at end of August with $20 million in venture capital plus $5 million in venture debt. According to the release, the funding was led by Woven Capital, the growth fund of Toyota, with participation from Toyota Ventures, OurCrowd, Western Technology Investment, and additional investors. Intuition Robotics is the developer of ElliQ, an interactive desktop companion robot targeted to older adults and those with assistive needs, last covered in their 2.0 update last December and their involvement with New York’s Office for the Aging [TTA 25 May 22 and WSHU]. The Area Agency on Aging of Broward County, the Olympic Area Agency on Aging, and California’s Agency on Aging in Area 4 have also worked with Intuition Robotics on distributing the companion to older adults in their programs. According to the company, older adults who successfully engage with it average over 30 daily interactions with ElliQ and reduce the devastation of loneliness for 95% of users. 

Akili Interactive exits prescription digital therapeutics (PDT), pivots to consumer, drops 40% of staff. Much like Better Therapeutics and the now sliced-up Pear Therapeutics, the company realized that PDT was not a winning strategy for its interactive video game-based therapy for adults with ADHD. The EndeavorOTC version, released in June, is available via a subscription (SaaS) through the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for $24.99 for a monthly plan or $129.00 for an annual plan. According to their release, Akili will pursue regulatory approval for over-the-counter labeling of its treatment products. Akili is yet another cracked SPAC facing a reckoning, currently trading on Nasdaq at $0.66 from its debut in August 2022 at $14 with a quick fall to $4.   HIStalk 15 Sept, Rock Health Weekly Newsletter

NextGen acquired by private equity firm Thoma Bravo for $1.8 billion, ending 41 years of public market trading. The offer price is $23.95 per share in cash, an over 46% premium to the Nasdaq share price on 22 August. NextGen Healthcare is an EHR with population health and practice management features designed primarily for specialty medical practices. NextGen went public as Quality Systems an eon ago in 1982Release, FierceHealthcare

And…the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) celebrates the third annual Telehealth Awareness Week (17-23 September) with a telehealth advocacy ‘fly in’ to meet with Congressional offices and Members in Washington DC on 18-19 September, plus their three tools to eliminate disparities in telehealth services developed by ATA’s Advisory Group on Using Telehealth to Eliminate Disparities and Inequities. They are a Digital Infrastructure Disparities Score and Map, an Economic and Social Value-Added Calculator, and a toolkit with all ATA and advisory group-developed resources. Releases 19 July (fly-in) and 18 Sept (disparities tools)

Walgreens trying to reboot “healthcare transformation” momentum, looking for new CEO, settling with Theranos litigants

A $4.7 billion makeup for chairman Stefano Pessina. In the race among CVS Health, Walmart, and Amazon, something is not clicking with Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA). WBA was a late entrant in the diversification race but they certainly went big when they did, acquiring VillageMD, Summit Health, and CityMD plus at-home care provider CareCentrix and specialty pharmacy Shields Health Solutions. But the results have been disappointing. Their Q3 reported in June was negative [TTA 28 June]. Roz Brewer, appointed as CEO 2 1/2 years ago for her expertise in retail operations at Starbucks and Sam’s Club, was also tasked with making Mr. Pessina’s healthcare diversification strategy, started in 2020 with VillageMD, a reality. Billions were spent, including a full $5 billion purchase of VillageMD along with their purchase of Summit Health and CityMD, plus CareCentrix. With no healthcare experience, she had to learn and execute from scratch–an adventure that ended on 31 August with her resignation. CNBC

How now, Stefano? Ms. Brewer’s temporary replacement is Ginger Graham, the lead independent director and a pharmaceutical veteran as former president and CEO of Amylin Pharmaceuticals plus group chairman in the office of the president for cardiology medical technology company Guidant. She will serve only until another CEO, now with healthcare background, is chosen. Mr. Pessina has an outsize vote in the choice as a 17% shareholder, engineer of the company, and himself CEO for five years after merging Alliance Boots with Walgreens in 2014.

Two other options for WBA are to go private, which Mr. Pessina has done before in 2007, but one that involves taking on heavy debt loads in addition to a high level of existing debt. Unlike 16 years ago, at 82 he has limited time to recoup the value of his personal 17% share. The other is to find an acquirer willing to pay a premium for the company higher than the current share price. That acquirer due to antitrust could not be a competitor like Walmart, but possibly a healthcare provider or a health insurer. But given the current attitudes at FTC and DOJ, even that approach may fall into the very wide Antitrust Net [TTA 11 Aug and previous].

WBA’s troubles are coming at a bad time, with CVS Health and Amazon also struggling with perhaps too-aggressive approaches in a down market, especially for healthcare.

The analysis in Crain’s Chicago Business (PDF) is worth your time–see pages 1 and 39.

Update  The class action lawsuit by customers who purchased Theranos blood tests at Arizona-located Walgreens, originally filed in 2016, was settled two weeks ago. Walgreens will pay $44 million into a fund for affected customers. There are two levels of individual payments. One group of customers will receive double the cost of their Theranos tests, plus an additional $10 base payment. Then there are members of a Walgreens Edison subclass, presumably more damaged, who will receive an additional $700 to $1,000 for medical battery claims. The plaintiffs’ memorandum has additional detail to be approved by the US District Court in the District of Arizona. There was also a settlement with Sunny Balwani that involves the successor company, Theranos ABC, but none with Elizabeth Holmes. MedTech Dive   Hopefully the new CEO will avoid the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) that powered Walgreens’ involvement with Theranos.

Could DocGo be another Babylon Health or Theranos? CEO resignation may be only the start of their troubles.

Another ‘fake it till you make it’ healthcare enterprise? Only a short month ago, things were fair and warmer for DocGo. They had recently transitioned from a mobile Covid-19 testing company under various contracts back to their original purpose–a telehealth/RPM, mobile urgent care, disease management, and medical transportation provider, with mobile vans covering the NYC metro. Founded in 2015 by Stan Vashovsky, now chairman, new CEO Anthony ‘Al’ Capone had successfully leveraged their mobility into a $425 million no-bid contract with New York City to provide medical services and more for over 19,000 migrants flooding into the city and being housed in the surrounding upstate counties. The company also plumped that they were up for a multibillion-dollar Federal contract with the US Customs and Border Protection agency.

DocGo’s stumbles starting in July continuing into August in both medical and non-medical services to migrants housed upstate put them on the press radar, notably the capital’s paper of record, the Albany Times-Union, in the weeks after their bright Q2 report [TTA 10 Aug, 16 Aug].

On 14 August, some basic checking by the Times-Union uncovered that Mr. Capone’s masters in computer science from Clarkson University not only was never granted but also he never attended Clarkson, according to the university. This degree claim was included in the SEC filing and touted to investors by him as an MS in computational learning theory, a subset of artificial intelligence. His undergraduate degree from SUNY Potsdam was not confirmed by that university or by his spokesperson. Mr. Capone had worked for DocGo since 2017, previously serving as president, chief technology officer, and CPO, becoming CEO only this year. In nearly six years, no one had checked his credentials.

On Friday 15 Sept, Mr. Capone resigned from DocGo, citing typical ‘personal reasons’. His apology and taking ‘full responsibility’ did not save him. He has been replaced by Lee Bienstock, the company president and chief operating officer.  Mr. Bienstock came to DocGo from Google in 2022 and holds an MBA from Wharton (University of Pennsylvania). Times-Union 15 Aug, Release

But…there’s more.

  • The no-bid NYC contract was contested two weeks ago (6 Sept) by the city comptroller, Brad Lander. Mr. Lander, like a corporate CFO, can send back a contract to a city agency, in this case to Housing Preservation Development (HPD). His review cited insufficient budget detail, possible inadequacy of the vendor to provide services, and a few other important items. Unlike a CFO, Mr. Lander’s office is largely toothless and can’t say no. HPD plans to sign off on it anyway as DocGo is quite tight with Mayor Eric Adams. Mayor Adams spoke at the DocGo in-person Investor Day on Tuesday 20 June about their partnership with the city. Adams has already stated that “We are going to move forward with it.” FierceHealthcare  
  • According to the New York Post and Fortune, New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Kathy Hochul have launched investigations into the company, focusing on how DocGo could contract for logistical operations to transport, house, feed, and care for these thousands of migrants in New York State, an outcome of DocGo’s failures reported last month by the Times-Union.

DocGo is a public company traded on Nasdaq under DCGO. Share prices fell 12% on Mr. Capone’s resignation but rebounded to about 7% down off off the recent $10 high after their mid-August reporting.  Seeking Alpha  DocGo went public through the then-popular SPAC method with Motion Acquisition in November 2021, raising $158 million in cash at that time. Unlike other SPACs, their share price generally hovered around the introductory $10 pricing and recovered fairly quickly from two bad dips to $6 in May and December 2022. NS Medical Device

DocGo’s response to the AG’s office and to the comptroller, the politics of the New York State and City crisis around thousands of migrants flooding housing, the streets, and schools, whether their contracts continue, and their internal financials will determine DocGo’s viability in the future. For those of us with long memories though, DocGo is repeating a pattern: first Peak Hype Altitude, then the Pileup of Problems on their wings, finally crashing to Total Hull Loss. Those are the ominous parallels with Theranos and Babylon Health.

Echoes of Theranos in Babylon Health? And additional information on GP at Hand.

Was Babylon Health all a fraud, and where would it place on the Theranos scale? There is an excellent article in MedCityNews that if true, exposes Babylon’s technology as, at minimum, far less than ever claimed. From the perspectives presented, their crash was inevitable.

MedCityNews returns to the original debunker, best known to our UK Readers as @DrMurphy11. In February 2020, while Babylon rode a tide of UK hype (not yet in the US), Dr. David Watkins, a consultant oncologist, revealed himself publicly via BBC’s Newsnight [TTA 27 Feb 2020]. He had been documenting Babylon’s chatbot diagnosis problems in GP at Hand to the government’s MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) and the independent CQC (Care Quality Commission) since 2017. Scenarios offered to the chatbot missed events such as probable heart attack offering instead panic attack (for a female) and gastritis (for a male). According to MedCityNews, Dr. Watkins had earlier debated a Babylon representative in a debate at the Royal Society of Medicine in London, presumably leading to Newsnight host Emily Maitlis interviewing both Babylon’s Dr. Keith Grimes and Dr. Watkins. Dr. Watkins also received emails from past and current Babylon employees confirming that the “AI chatbot”, the Probabilistic Graphical Model (PGM), was not built on any good quality data.

Cardiac activists in the UK and Canada (Carolyn Thomas, the “Heart Sister”, also listed in our sidebar) also criticized how Babylon’s chatbot ‘diagnosed’ possible events at the time. [TTA 9 Jan 2020]. 

Hugh Harvey, Babylon’s former regulatory affairs head from 2016 to 2017, was also interviewed on Newsnight in 2020. After the Babylon failure, he spoke to MedCityNews about how the AI software was ‘jury-rigged’ to impress the BBC. After he left, Babylon continued to misrepresent the accuracy of its AI system. “To publicize the accuracy of its AI system, the firm set-up a promotional event where it pitted its system against the Royal College of General Practitioners exam used to assess trainee doctors. Babylon conducted this test itself rather than turning to an independent body, and Harvey claims that the company cherry-picked the questions included in the test….Babylon announced that its AI scored 81% on the exam, surpassing the average score of 72% for UK doctors.” 

What was at stake? Babylon got where Theranos never did. A year later, it went public via a SPAC in October 2021 at a valuation of $4.2 billion, with the SPAC organizer Alkuri providing $575 million in gross proceeds to Babylon, including $230 million in a private placement from investors such as AMF Pensionsförsäkring and Palantir Technologies. Two years later, its total hull loss was valued at $5,000.

Some of that money, more than $30 million, went to buying Higi, a health kiosk placed in supermarkets and drugstores that is still in operation in 6,000 locations that uses Babylon’s technology. By early 2023, Higi had separated itself in its public releases from Babylon. It’s unknown how the US Chapter 7 will affect the Higi operation.

Now the commentaries by Dr. Watkins and Mr. Harvey are based on their experiences from some years ago. Babylon could have then created a reliable AI system in GP at Hand and their other diagnostic technologies. But generally, it’s very hard to fix the aircraft as it’s being flown.  The situation usually winds up in an episode of ‘Air Disasters’ (‘Air Crash Investigation’ in UK). For those who believe that the problems were never fixed, Dr. Watkins’ analogy would apply. “[Babylon founder and CEO Ali Parsa] should spend some time with Elizabeth Holmes”. Ms. Holmes, as we know, is serving her time in Bryan, Texas for about the next 11 years.  That would be an interesting albeit improbable conversation indeed.

Interestingly, over one month later, there’s evidently no one left at Babylon Health who can pull down the website. It’s fully operational save for this banner on the home page:

Babylon’s US clinical services and appointments are no longer available. For details about your health plan benefits and to find a new provider, contact your health plan.

The investor page, including the stock ticker symbol and last price, is intact. Will the last person out the door turn out the lights and turn off the website?

Additional information on GP at Hand (UK)

This Editor while away sought clarification from Alvarez & Marsal’s press office on the status of GP at Hand. GP at Hand is not part of the administration. The ownership contracted with Babylon for the app. According to their website, there are three partners: Dr. Stephen Jefferies, Dr. Matt Noble, and Rita Bright. How this arrangement will continue is not disclosed. 

This dovetails with their response:

  • GP is a completely separate 3rd party partnership that is a GP practice that contracted with the Babylon Group.
  • It therefore hasn’t gone through any insolvency process and is still contracting with Babylon Healthcare Services Limited (which has remained outside of an insolvency).
  • The GP at Hand practice wasn’t part of the deal because it couldn’t be as it’s not part of the Group.

Previously: Babylon Health in UK administration, assets sold to eMed Healthcare Ltd.

Babylon Health UK in administration, assets sold to eMed Healthcare Ltd.

While this Editor is on vacation leave, she also knows that Readers are interested in the outcome of Babylon Health’s administration in the UK. The basic story:

  • The UK administrator appointed by the courts is Alvarez & Marsal, an experienced international advisory services firm. We thank A&M for sending us their release.
  • They are supervising the sale of assets of Babylon Group Holdings Limited (“BGHL”) and one of its subsidiaries, Babylon Partners Limited (“BPL”) (“the Companies”).
  • eMed Healthcare UK Ltd., a new subsidiary of a US company in primarily medical testing, acquired certain assets of BGHL and BPL. 
  • These assets did not include GP At Hand, which apparently is still operating.

More details, including employees to be transitioned and the fate of GP At Hand, to come. The US Chapter 7 will take its time through the bankruptcy court.

TechCrunch, and hat tip to HIStalk.