TTA’s Summer Kickoff 2: Veradigm seeks ‘strategic alternatives’; Waystar plans $1B IPO; Oracle seethes about article, Epic; CVS wants money for Oak Street; Clover markets SaaS Assistant, more!

 

 

A big post-holiday week, with Veradigm’s surprising bid for a buyer or ‘strategic alternatives’, a $1B Waystar IPO at last, a $34 million digital therapeutics merger, and an over-the-top Oracle response to last week’s Business Insider article. Clover markets Counterpart Assistant SaaS to other payers, CVS looks for an Oak Street investor, 23andMe looks to go private. Fundings for Wanda Health (UK) and Australia’s Updoc. And Done Health guests on Perspectives.

Short takes: Virtual Therapeutics, Akili in $34M merger; why health clinics are struggling; Dollar General, DocGo call it quits; Clover Assistant AI debuts; fundings for Wanda Health (UK), Updoc (AU); Telstra buys out Fred IT (AU)
Oracle’s Glueck kicks back hard at Business Insider’s ‘deadly gamble’ article, Epic’s Faulkner (A response written at maximum seethe)
Perspectives: How Collaborative Care Combats Physician Burnout (From Done Telehealth)
News roundup: Waystar $1B IPO is on (updated); CVS looking for Oak Street PE partner; 23andMe net loss doubles to $667M, may go private; Otsuka dives into digital therapeutics; HoneyNaps’ $12M no snooze (A big IPO after a year)
Breaking news: Veradigm may sell, merge, or seek ‘strategic alternatives’; appoints new interim CEO effective June (updated) (Parts worth more than whole?)

A light news week before the US Memorial Day remembrance and the UK Bank Holiday, the unofficial kickoffs to summer. What’s hot: Larry Ellison’s gamble on Cerner–are he and Oracle losing big after three years at the gaming table? Walgreens cashes in its Cencora chips, Walmart Health workers’ chips are cashed out, Change looks for chips that aren’t hacked, while Cue Health finally runs out of them. But in the chips: Expressable, Centivo, Transcarent. 

Short takes: Cue Health shuts, Walmart Health lays off, Walgreens sells $400M share in Cencora, $26M Series B for Expressable
News roundup: 100+ medical orgs pile on Change/UHG; Teladoc hit with second class-action suit; Congress demands Oracle EHR improvement–or else; Transcarent intros WayFinding; Centivo buys Eden Health 
Must read: Oracle’s ‘deadly gamble’ on Cerner (new with audio file!) (Can Ellison win at  healthcare’s poker table? And listen to this Editor’s first reading, with a few audio-only extras.)

A TON of news this week breaking before the US Memorial Day and UK’s bank holiday. Boots up for sale breaking up Alliance. Oracle Health will be struggling for the next two years. Cue Health sinking. Legrand is acquiring Enovation, Samsung Sonio ultrasound, and LG jumps into home health. And big VC Venrock issues its predictions for the health tech year.

Short takes 2: Humana’s CEO changeover; Owlet Dream Sock CE Mark, UK approval; TytoCare goes to school; LG enters home health with Primefocus; Samsung $92M buys Sonio (FR); raises by Blackwell in health cybersec, Watershed Health
News roundup: GE Healthcare warns on ultrasound vulnerabilities, Geisinger leverages Best Buy/Geek Squad for RPM, telehealth aids NYC shelter homeless, Fay raises $25M, ClearDATA’s AWS distinction, Validic’s MedTech award
A ‘healthcare prognosis’–from an investor POV (Venrock and ‘smart friends’)
Short takes: Legrand acquires Enovation, FDA nixes Cue Health’s Covid tests, Ascension confirms ransomware attack–who did it? (updated), beware of ‘vishing’ courtesy of ChatGPT
Is Oracle Health’s Big Vision smacking into the wall of Healthcare Reality? Their business says so. (Always be wary of Transformation Promises)
Separation or sale? WBA putting Boots out for bids; Walgreens pharmacists end month-long HQ protest. (End of Pessina’s Big Vision?)

Earnings and endings dominated this week, along with Transcarent’s Series D, $2.2 billion valuation, and ‘not for sale’ sign. Even NeueHealth and Oscar had a good Q1, but Amwell and Steward didn’t. Telehealth flexibilities got an important ‘go’ in the House. Cigna + Oscar called it a day as did many at 98point6. And cyberattacks continued, this time at Ascension and DocGo.

Short takes: Medicare telehealth flexibilities may extend; ‘no interest’ in Transcarent sale; NeueHealth ekes out positive net income; Cigna and Oscar break up; DocGo, Ascension cyberattacked
News roundup: Transcarent raises $126M; 98point6 lays off; Oscar notches first profit; Steward Health’s Ch. 11; Amazon Clinic GM leaves; Amwell’s down but hopeful Q1; Hims founder gets political

Surprises and shockers abounded this week. If Walmart can’t make it in providing basic health services, what hope does a retail model really have? Optum and Walmart exit telehealth, while Teladoc grows–firmly in the red. Change Healthcare’s troubles led to UHG’s CEO grilling on both sides of Congress and humiliation on MFA. MobileHelp PERS up for sale, Owlet’s new partner, fundings, partnerships. And a shrinking Oracle goes to Music City!

News roundup: UHG CEO’s Bad Day at Capitol Hill; Kaiser’s 13.4M data breach; Walgreens’ stock beatup; Cigna writes off VillageMD; Oracle Cerner shrinks 50%; Owlet BabySat gets Wheel; fundings for Midi, Trovo, Alaffia, Klineo (A rough week for some)
Teladoc’s Q1: increased revenue, increased net loss, dealing with slowing growth–as is CVS Health (Teladoc in existential crisis?)
Midweek news roundup: Optum exiting telehealth, laying off; Advocate Health selling MobileHelp; VA notifying 15M veterans re Change PHI breach, Oracle moving to Nashville–maybe? (updated) (A lot of jettisoning)
Walmart Health shutters health centers, Walmart Virtual Care, in sudden move (updated–why?) (If Walmart can’t make it…)

Returning to the Cyberattack That Changed Everything, wondering how much and to whom UnitedHealth paid ransom–now that they’ve finally admitted it. Also returning to those Merger Guidelines and how they may change the face of healthcare M&A. VA and DOD hard at work on their EHRs and systems, Lumeris gains a luminous funding, but Optum staff are seeing pink slips.

Two studies: Telehealth underutilized, underbilled, even during pandemic–and accounted for only modest increases in costs, and quality (Perhaps undercaptured?)
Short takes: VA seeks vendor to support EHR testing; Defense Health seeks ‘digital front door’ vendor; GAO recommendations to Oracle; Nonin partners with Finland’s Medixine; Lumeris gains $100M equity funding 
What the DOJ and FTC Merger Guidelines mean for healthcare M&A–a Epstein Becker Green podcast (Legal department torture)
Breaking: UnitedHealth admits to paying ransomwareistes on Change stolen patient data (updated) (For what and how much?)
Who really has the 4TB of Change Healthcare data 4 sale? And in great timing, Optum lays off a rumored 20K–say wot? (UHG has some ‘splainin’)

Another packed week, with a few baffling events. Leading in bafflement is NeueHealth’s additional $30M from NEA, which now owns 60%. UHG battling on multiple fronts between the Change hacking and the House, Walgreens lays off more to cut costs, VillageMD sued on ad trackers, and Cerebral’s comeuppance costs $7.1M. VA may restart Oracle Cerner implementation, Epic and Particle Health feud. But restoring faith in health tech benefiting a neglected group is TandemStride. 

TandemStride launches platform to assist survivors of traumatic injury; a personal look (A real care gap)
News roundup: Congress hammers absent UHG on Change cyberattack–and more; 10% unhinged at Hinge Health; Steward Health nears insolvency; Two Chairs $72M Series C (UHG’s troubles cover the waterfront)
ISfTeH student contest and award 2024–deadline 26 April! (Move fast!)
Mid-week short takes: UnitedHealth’s $1.2B Q1 loss from Change attack, another Walgreens layoff, Dexcom-MD Revolution partner, Kontakt.io $47.5 raise, GeBBS Healthcare may sell for $1B (Walgreens still downsizing–what’s next)
News roundup: VillageMD sued on Meta Pixel trackers; Cerebral pays $7.1M FTC fine on data sharing, cancellation policy; VA may resume Oracle Cerner implementation during FY2025; Epic-Particle Health dispute on PHI sharing (Cerebral still in trouble)
The New Reality, Bizarro World version: NeueHealth gets $30M loan increase from NEA, now majority owner (Baffling)

This packed week was about righting listing ships. Teladoc’s CEO suddenly departs, Amwell at risk of a NYSE delisting–we look at What Happened and what needs to be done. VillageMD gets new COO to manage the shrinkage. And Change Healthcare data on sale from disgruntled ALPHV affiliate. Digital health funding continues to limp along. Clover looks at another delisting, Walmart Health applies the brakes. And we highlight innovations from Novosound, Biolinq, Eko, Universal Brain. 

Digital health’s Q1 according to Rock Health: the New Reality is a flat spin back to 2019 (Limping, but alive)
VillageMD names new president and COO as it shrinks to 620 locations (Ex Centene, Humana exec comes out of short retirement to clean up)
News roundup: Now Clover Health faces delisting; BlackCat/ALPHV affiliate with 4TB of data puts it up for sale; $58M for Biolinq’s ‘smallest blood glucose biosensor’ (Will UHG pay more ransom?)
Opinion: Further thoughts on Teladoc, Amwell, and the future of telehealth–what happens next? (A hard look at the follies, mistakes, and saving ships)
News roundup: Amwell faces NYSE delisting; Walmart Health slows Health Centers, except Texas; Novosound’s ultrasound patent; Eko’s Low EF AI; Universal Brain; Elizabeth Holmes in ‘Dropout’ + update
Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic steps down immediately in shock announcement (Now what?)


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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

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Short takes: Virtual Therapeutics, Akili in $34M merger; why health clinics are struggling; Dollar General, DocGo call it quits; Clover Assistant AI debuts; fundings for Wanda Health (UK), Updoc (AU); Telstra buys out Fred IT (AU)

Two mental health companies with complementary digital therapeutics plan to merge. Virtual Therapeutics, which approaches mental health through VR-enabled games, and Akili Interactive, with online prescription games designed for ADHD and other cognitive impairments, yesterday announced plans to merge. The new company will retain the Virtual Therapeutics name and go private, with Akili operating as a subsidiary. The cash buyout to Akili shareholders will be based on $0.4340 per share of common stock (Nasdaq) or $34 million, a premium around 4%. Akili had announced on 29 April that it was seeking “strategic alternatives”. Shares were trading then at $0.235 so the offering is over an 80% premium to that time. In May, Akili announced a reduced Q1 2024 net loss compared to Q4 2023. The transaction is expected to close in Q3, subject to Akili retaining a specified cash position and a tender conversion. Management transitions have not been disclosed. Release, MedTechDive

Why are all the health tech clinics struggling–at once? CNBC polls a group of experts and deduces that what it calls the “2.0 version of primary care” in Walmart Health, CVS Minute Clinics (closing dozens of Minute Clinics in Southern California and New England), and  Walgreens’ VillageMD, is foundering under:

  • Thin to non-existent margins–reimbursements are low, but the expenses of running them are high
  • Lack of ‘volume selling’
  • Lack of workforce–doctors don’t want to go to rural areas, which was Walmart’s bet. Nurse-practitioners can’t care for patients (and bill) if they also are detailed to do cleanup 
  • Cross-selling a flop–if you’re in for a pint of milk, Advil, or shampoo, you’re not going into the clinic, and vice versa

A 3.0 model may have a lot of variants, such as One Medical’s subscription model ($9/month for Amazon Prime members). Walgreens is opening a few in-store health clinics in the Hartford, Connecticut area to be run by Hartford HealthCare. In Arizona, a local Be Well Health Clinic near Arizona State University operates in a Walgreens and treats only sexual health issues. Kroger’s Atlanta-area Little Clinics will focus only on senior care.

One 3.0 experiment, DocGo’s vans in Dollar General parking lots, is over. Last year’s headscratching move to place DocGo’s urgent, preventative, and chronic care vans at specified hours in rural Dollar General parking lots [TTA 24 Jan 2023] was canceled some weeks ago. It never expanded beyond the three Tennessee locations, two in Clarksville and one in Cumberland Furnace that started last year. Endpoints

Health plan Clover to separately market their Assistant AI tool for clinical decision-making. Counterpart Assistant will be offered to other payers outside Clover Medicare Advantage along with providers in ACOs and value-based care enablers (sic) as an AI-assisted service, in a hybrid SaaS and per member per month (PMPM) shared-savings model. The pitch is to lower per-life customer acquisition cost and allow physicians to use one tool for all MA patients. FierceHealthcare

Fundings in UK and Australia:

UK’s Wanda Health adding a 30% investment from VC investment group NetScientific plc. Wanda Connected Health Systems Ltd. has operations in Bristol and Seattle.  It’s a second-time-around for NetScientfic, as it was an early Wanda investor but sold its 90% interest in Wanda US to Deeptech Disruptive Growth Investments Ltd in 2019. Wanda Health provides remote patient monitoring feeding into a virtual care platform. Insider Media

Australia’s Updoc telehealth raised A$20 million ($13.2 million) in investment from ASX-listed capital investor Bailador. It offers virtual consultations, online prescriptions, specialist referrals, pathology referrals, and medical letters for a single payment or on subscription. The funding will be used for international expansion and technology development. To date, it has served 200,000 Australians.  Mobihealthnews

In more news from Down Under, Telstra Health buys out the remainder of Fred IT Group. Telstra already owned 50% of the pharmacy IT solutions provider and is buying out the Victoria branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Paul Naismith, Fred IT co-founder and CEO. The CEO, management, and employees will remain in place. Fred IT, through eRx, is the only national electronic prescription delivery service in Australia since last year. Right Said Fred? Mobihealthnews

Oracle’s Glueck kicks back hard at Business Insider’s ‘deadly gamble’ article, Epic’s Faulkner (now with additional audio commentary)

Oracle is making great progress at the VA. And they want EHR interoperability. Epic doesn’t. Take that, Business Insider! And Judy Faulkner! Ken Glueck, an EVP at Oracle, authored an Oracle blog post (or at least one written under his name) that has generated much industry controversy. It first goes after Business Insider for daring to criticize the problems on the Oracle Cerner rollout that made it into five (count ’em, five) VA regional systems, calling it a ‘regurgitated story’. It calls the ‘deadly gamble’ headline ‘clickbait’, moves to patting itself on the back for the apparently non-problematic EHR rollout in about 3,900 locations in the DOD-Military Health System (partnering with Leidos), then swerves to stating the obvious in kicking around poor old, outdated VistA that meets very different needs and a massive population at the VA, and ends with a tap dance around the Oracle Cerner EHR problems at the VA citing all the progress that Oracle is making. It builds to a final slam fest, taking a minor quote in the article regarding why Oracle’s Larry Ellison preferred to buy Cerner–a ‘more relaxed approach to data privacy’–and expanding that to hard personal takedowns of Epic and its founder Judy Faulkner.  It then gets personal with BI, depicting the publication as “rooting against us” which he finds “invigorating”.

One can understand the craving for Oracle management to respond to BI. It’s a media outlet that apparently doesn’t have the most friendly relationship with Oracle. (But since when is that a feature of the Fourth Estate?) The article vividly takes Oracle to task, weaving together an accessible story out of dry facts and the many technical failures well documented by the VA, the OIG, and in Congressional hearings. It’s framed in the noble ambitions of Oracle’s founder Larry Ellison to transform healthcare which, in this Editor’s view, are treated sympathetically. The extremely well-read review last week of the BI article notes all, as well as the lack of contrast with the non-eventful DOD-Military Health System’s implementation and why it went largely according to plan, including the joint Lovell MHS/VA EHR. While this Editor tends to cast a gimlet eye at the clichéd mention of ‘transforming healthcare’, she still has some hope that progress in simplification, transparency, better-informed decisions, and truly intelligent assistance that enables human providers to heal their patients will be made in the next decade. And in that, she is on the side of Mr. Ellison as well as most founders and companies in health tech chronicled in TTA’s articles since 2005.

You have to give Mr. Glueck some credit for not holding back on how he really feels. Unfortunately, he was writing a corporate communication even if it was slotted in Oracle’s blog pages. He’s worked in corporate for decades and early in his career in government in the late Senator Joe Lieberman’s (D-CT) office. From the blunt view of a marketer, he should know better. Tone matters. And the frostier the tone, the better. If even a response is needed. Consider: is responding to this a smart move? What are the knock on effects?

In fact, it’s almost a textbook on how not to respond to negative press.

  • The headline sets up a straw man argumentBusiness Insider is not responsible for healthcare modernization, nor conceivably will ever be. It’s a cheap shot. 
  • The overly personal tone, written (one can guess) as he was seething about the BI article, undermines the response.
  • Nearly all of the same points could have been made in a concise, objective, fact-by-fact rebuttal that would be far more powerful in its restraint.
  • It meanders. It’s defensive. It’s easy to read into the Congressional Record or at the next hearing of the Veterans Affairs committee by a House member or Senator who’d like to see Oracle Cerner derailed at the VA. 
  • Where it truly goes off the rails is the personal invective directed at their competition. “…Epic’s CEO Judy Faulkner is the single biggest obstacle to EHR interoperability. She opposes interoperability because it threatens Epic’s franchise.” Mr. Glueck goes further in stating that Oracle enables provider collaboration across silos, while “Epic’s contracts expressly appropriate all patient EHR data as Epic’s own.” This is a fair criticism if true but maybe Epic’s hospital customers like it that way for their own reasons like security.

The blog comes across as barely restrained and defensive, especially versus Epic, the #1 EHR. When your EHR is losing ground to the competition, this is not a good look. It hands Epic another club to beat Oracle with. When your audience consists of professional hospital and practice executives, plus the VA and Congress, who right now aren’t overly happy with your EHR and are firing Oracle or considering it, this is almost guaranteed to backfire. It also gives a provocative article in a small online publication (ask Elon Musk) what Oracle doesn’t want–very long legs and a long shelf life. Plus now, there is even more reason for BI to beat up on Oracle.

Perhaps ignoring it, coupled with a sober internal communication (email/intranet/Slack) on the progress being made with the VA EHR (given that internal comms leak onto Reddit and similar), would have been the best response choices. And what about a conversation with BI? 

Like the old Sicilian saying about revenge, dishes like this should be served cold. 

Some interesting responses to the Oracle blog post are in HIStalk Reader Comments 5-31-24   Also Becker’s

And if anyone at Oracle wants a free tutorial in what not to do to respond to negative press, from the perspective of someone who’s had to deal with it in two industries….donna.cusano@telecareaware.com

Listen to Editor Donna provide extra commentary–a take on this take–on the Ken Glueck blog and this article. Now on Soundcloud (~18 minutes).

Perspectives: How Collaborative Care Combats Physician Burnout

TTA has an open invitation to industry leaders to contribute to our Perspectives non-promotional opinion and thought leadership area. Today’s contribution is from Sussan Nwogwugwu, DNP, PMHNP, Clinical Leader at Done. In this article, Dr. Nwogwugwu discusses physician burnout, how it can affect delivery of care, and how collaborative and comprehensive care can mitigate burnout.

Done is a leading provider of telehealth services for individuals with ADHD, dedicated to delivering comprehensive, patient-first care. With a network that spans more than 35 states, Done connects individuals with ADHD to experienced, board-certified providers for personalized treatment plans and medication management. 

Physician burnout is a significant concern, as it affects not only physician well-being but the quality of care they deliver.

The state of primary physician burnout
The American Medical Association found that at the end of 2021, nearly 63% of physicians had reported burnout symptoms. This was roughly a 66% increase from the preceding year, highlighting the urgent need for systemic changes to support physician mental and emotional health. Increasing burnout is attributed to excessive workload, administrative burdens and lack of support and resources.

Collaborative care and its benefits
Collaboration between a team of multidisciplinary healthcare professionals decreases clinician workload and leads to enhanced job satisfaction. Additionally, feelings of isolation and burnout among physicians are reduced. Most importantly, the continued skill building and exchange of knowledge contribute to professional growth.

For mental health patients, collaborative care ensures holistic care and access to specialized services and continuity of care, particularly for patients managing chronic conditions.

Comprehensive care supports providers
A collaborative care model is designed to reduce the burden on primary care providers; and enhance clinician well-being and patient care by integrating comprehensive behavioral health support within the primary care framework. Comprehensive care supports providers in several ways:

Impact analysis
Impact analysis, primarily powered by data analytics software, provides insights into treatment effectiveness. It is particularly helpful in guiding interventions.

Impact analysis further addresses burnout and other issues by identifying areas for improvement, ultimately guaranteeing effective resource allocation and helping track the progress of interventions over time for better adjustments.

Evidence-based interventions (EBI)
EBI enables providers to use resources efficiently by enlightening them on what works and does not. It also enhances job satisfaction and morale, ultimately leading to better patient outcomes. Finally, using evidence-based treatments reduces the chances of facing legal action if something goes wrong.

Physicians leverage technology to learn more about EBIs across various medical fields; that can include digital libraries/databases, clinical decision support systems, mobile applications, telehealth platforms and online resources.

Frequent reviews and an inclusive patient approach
Frequent reviews help identify and address areas for practice improvement due to informative feedback they provide. An inclusive patient approach reduces burnout and provides a sense of fulfillment among providers by nurturing greater patient engagement and increasing satisfaction.

Comprehensive care supports patients
In addition to benefiting health care providers, comprehensive care benefits patients, too.

Impact analysis
Impact analysis fosters an in-depth understanding of a patient’s needs and responses to treatment, leading to more personalized care. Patients can also make informed decisions about their health and treatment options, guided by physician recommendations on helpful online resources.

Evidence-based interventions
EBI supports patients, reduces the risk of adverse effects, and ascertains that patients receive appropriate, high-quality, rigorously tested and proven care. Additionally, since EBI is founded on research and clinical evidence, it guarantees better health outcomes.

Frequent reviews and an inclusive patient approach
Frequent reviews enable personalized care and continuous treatment plan adjustment per each patient’s progress and feedback. Remote patient monitoring technologies like smart watches or mobile health apps help to track key health metrics and symptoms, thereby fostering patient empowerment and ensuring adherence to treatment plans by involving them in their own care.

Why medicine is shifting toward value-based care
Medicine is gradually shifting to a value-based care model to deliver patient-centered, effective, cost-efficient healthcare. This is in response to the conventional fee-for-service model that incentivizes quantity over quality, which results in unnecessary procedures, fragmented care and unsustainable healthcare costs.

Technology, a key defining factor in value-based care, leverages EHRs, telemedicine platforms and data analytics tools to refine ADHD care and eliminate draining tasks that lead to burnout.

Telemedicine platforms enable remote consultations, making it easier for patients to access specialized services without the need for physical visits. Additionally, data analytics tools track patient outcomes and identify trends, allowing for more personalized and effective treatment plans.

Through integrating EHRs, telemedicine platforms and advanced data analytics, multidisciplinary healthcare teams can streamline communication and coordination. EHRs provide team members access to up-to-date patient information, thereby reducing errors and enhancing continuity of care.

Collaborative + comprehensive care = value-based care
Collaborative and comprehensive care, combined with technology tools, contribute to value-based care by enhancing patient experience and treatment outcomes; and optimizing resource utilization.

These care models collectively promote improved population health, foster accountability and transparency and encourage continuous improvement.

Through collaborative care models, the value of health care is maximized and aligns with value-based care goals, alleviating increasing levels of physician burnout.

News roundup: Waystar $1B IPO is on (updated); CVS looking for Oak Street PE partner; 23andMe net loss doubles to $667M, may go private; Otsuka dives into digital therapeutics; HoneyNaps’ $12M no snooze

Waystar finally getting around to starring in its IPO. Again. The on-again/off-again public offering for this healthcare payments software platform developer is back on, according to their Form S-1 filed yesterday (28 May) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Their first filing draft was in October 2023 on Nasdaq which would have valued the company at $8 billion. The IPO was again revived in December and postponed. This filing for WAY floats 45 million shares valued between $20 and $23 which would raise $1 billion with a far more reasonable valuation of $3.7 to $3.83 billion (latter updated per Waystar). Lead book-running managers are JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, and Barclays.

Cornerstone investors, who purchase stock before the formal listing, have expressed interest in buying up to $225 million in shares; these investors include funds managed by Neuberger Berman and a wholly-owned subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority. 

Underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase up to 6.75 million shares at the IPO price less the underwriter discount. Their current investors are EQT AB, Bain Capital, Francisco Partners, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The net proceeds from the offering will repay outstanding indebtedness. No timing is stated for when the IPO will happen. Usually, there are roadshows for institutional investors that showcase the prospectus (in the S-1) and positive points such as their $5 billion in annual transactions. After the listing, the current investors will still have substantial shares: EQT, CPPIB, and Bain will own about 29.2%, 22.3%, and 16.8% stakes respectively. 

Release, Morningstar, FierceHealthcare, Reuters

CVS Health is reaching out for a private equity partner to expand Oak Street Health’s clinics. Bloomberg News reported this unusual move by CVS with a handful of private equity firms to explore what was termed by ‘insiders’ as a joint venture. It’s all very preliminary and a JV may not be the final form. OSH is far smaller than rivals One Medical (Amazon) and VillageMD (Walgreens) but CVS apparently does not want to go it alone to fully take on the development cost. On February investor calls, CVS projected building out to 300 clinics by 2026. Reuters

Even in early 2023 with rivals Amazon (One Medical), Walgreens (VillageMD), and Walmart Health on primary care clinic buying and building binges, CVS’ buy for $10.6 billion for the ‘runt of the litter’ was widely derided as a waste of money [TTA 16 Feb, 2 Mar 2023]. OSH had only 169 offices in 21 states. It was also a money loser, $510 million in the red in 2022 and $200 million projected in 2023, with no breakeven predicted until 2025. A large part was due to OSH’s patient population, heavily skewed towards Medicare Advantage and underserved, high-risk patients. Those factors have gotten worse, not better. CMS has now tightened payments on MA with new rates and on reimbursement for diagnoses, making the growth of this population even riskier. Further dimming prospects for a willing partner: Walmart Health is shutting at end of June and VillageMD has shed or is shedding 140 locations to perhaps 620.  

23andMe’s losses double while revenue shrinks by 31%. Things continue to dim at the beleaguered genetics testing company. Their Q4 ending 31 March 2024 (FY24) closed with a net loss of $209 million on $64 million in revenue, compared to a net loss of $64 million on $94 million in revenue in the prior year Q4. In adjusted EBITDA, Q4 lost $33 million, compared to a loss of $39 million in prior year Q4. Net loss in full year FY24 was $667 million on revenue of $220 million, versus prior year’s loss of $312 million on revenue of $299 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $176 million versus prior year’s $161 million. As previously reported [TTA 20 Apr], CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki may offer to buy out the 80% of shares she does not already own. In developments, 23andMe has introduced an ancestry feature called Historical Matches, three new genetic reports for 23andMe+ members covering breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer based on polygenic risk scores, and some clinical trials moving forward. 23andMe also lost revenue in mid-year from GSK’s expiring agreement, had an impairment relating to Lemonaid Health, and of course (but not mentioned here) their massive 6.9 million record data breach. Shares closed today at $0.61, slightly up from April’s lows. Release

Otsuka America bucks the down trend, moves into digital therapeutics with Otsuka Precision Health. The Japanese pharmaceutical company’s US division is moving forward with a new digital health unit, Precision Health (OPH), headed by 14 year veteran Sanket Shah. Their first rollout later this summer will be based on the newly FDA-cleared Rejoyn, the first prescription digital therapeutic authorized for the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) symptoms. Rejoyn was developed in conjunction with Click Therapeutics. Mr. Shah and Otsuka are taking the longer view in terms of development, that future developments will be about both partnerships and solo effort, and that the road is long–and littered with the burnt-out shells of failed companies like Pear Therapeutics, Babylon Health, and way back to Happtique. Otsuka has had its own digital health learning experience. They partnered in 2017 with Proteus Digital Health’s smart pill tech for its Abilify MyCite anti-depressant. After abruptly ending the partnership, Otsuka bought the smart pill technology out of bankruptcy [TTA 19 Aug 2020]. Release, Healthcare Dive 

One funding of note this week is HoneyNaps‘ $11.6 million Series B. Hi Investment Partners, QUAD Investment Management, and Industrial Bank of Korea led the South Korean sleep diagnostics company’s funding. HoneyNaps has an FDA-cleared (2023) bio-signal monitoring and AI-assisted sleep diagnosis software, SOMNUM, that will be introduced to the US market. In the release, the company CFO announced plans to “further advance the AI to expand its application to other critical areas such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease”. Mobihealthnews

Breaking news: Veradigm may sell, merge, or seek ‘strategic alternatives’; appoints new interim CEO effective June (updated)

Breaking: Veradigm puts itself up for sale or ‘strategic alternatives’–but in the meantime replaces its interim CEO. The pre-holiday week and weekend break was undoubtedly a busy one at healthcare data systems/services Veradigm, the former Allscripts.

Sale? Merger? Something else? Crossing the wires today (Tuesday) at 7am Eastern Time US was the announcement that Veradigm is exploring “potential strategic alternatives that may include, but are not limited to, a sale, merger, strategic business combination or other transaction.” What was a puzzle was the next line in the carefully worded release: “The Company cannot assure that its exploration will result in Veradigm pursuing a transaction or that any transaction, if pursued, will be completed on attractive terms, if at all.” The release goes on to explain that there is no timetable for “any transaction” and that it was the last word until if and when something happens.

The doubt around ‘attractive terms’ seems unwarranted, as the same release also reaffirms their 2024 guidance of annual revenue between $620 million and $635 million and adjusted EBITDA between $104 million and $113 million. As of calendar Q1 close, they had cash/equivalents on hand of $343 million, funded debt of $208 million (the principal of 2019 convertible notes), creating net cash of $135 million. 

Veradigm appears in good shape, despite their delisting from Nasdaq earlier this year due to financial reporting problems two years running (2022, 2023, and 2024 to date), created by bad software, leading to continuing violations of Nasdaq listing rules. This led to the December resignations of CEO Richard J. Poulton and CFO Leah S. Jones and their replacement for a six-month term by Dr. Shih-Yin (“Yin”) Ho, coming from the board, as CEO, and Lee Westerfield from Clearsense as CFO. At that time, the board announced a search for permanent replacements [TTA 14 Dec 2023].  

Shares trade on the ‘pink sheets’ (OTC Markets OTCPK) under MDRX closing today at $8.70, up over $1.00 from last Friday.

Interim CEO departs, interim CFO stays. A second release today announced that Dr. Ho will depart the interim CEO slot on 7 June but interim CFO Lee Westerfield will continue. Dr. Ho’s place as interim CEO will be taken by Tom Langan, Veradigm’s president and chief commercial officer (CCO), reporting directly to executive chairman Greg Garrison and the board. No interim president/COO was named. From the release, Dr. Ho will not be returning to the board or any other function with Veradigm which is a most interesting exit. During her time, the company in February acquired ScienceIO, a generative AI/LLM company to add AI capabilities, and in January bought Koha Health, which fit into their revenue cycle management functions for MSK [TTA 27 Feb]. Lee Westerfield will be continuing as interim CFO until 24 December. Another change: this release made it clear that no permanent executive appointments will be made “while the separately announced exploration of strategic alternatives is in process.”

What does this mean? This Editor projects that offers for parts or all of Veradigm’s business are in the pipeline, whether they are relisted on Nasdaq or not. In a company of this size, breadth, and apparent good health, the jobs of CEO, president, and chief commercial officer (CCO), typically two to three positions, are never collapsed into one person. In this unique situation, this eliminates one or two C-level compensation packages. Going back to December 2023, a CEO had to be temporarily slotted in as the company was still listed on Nasdaq. Leaving a vacancy would not have been acceptable. Regarding the CFO position, in a sale or other “strategic alternative to maximize shareholder value”, a CFO is more important than even a CEO in working out the financial details, which for Veradigm are more complicated than usual. 

In fact, this move could be seen as telegraphed in February. When accepting its Nasdaq delisting, Veradigm’s board adopted a limited duration stockholder rights plan that issues by means of a dividend one preferred share purchase right for each outstanding share of Company common stock to stockholders of record on the close of business on 8 March 2024. This becomes exercisable only if a person or group secures beneficial ownership of 10% or more of the outstanding shares in the next year. The rights plan is obviously designed to compensate shareholders in the event of a takeover not approved by the board (i.e. a hostile takeover) via accumulation of stock and make a sale to an unapproved buyer less attractive, though it hasn’t stemmed the filing of various shareholder class-action lawsuits. Crain’s Chicago BusinessHealthcare Innovation

Editor’s further note: It is not unknown to break up a company in order to maximize shareholder value. The parts can be worth more than the whole. GE is the most recent example. More akin to Veradigm, Cendant Corporation, in which this Editor was once part of as a manager/director in the Avis Rent A Car unit, was sold or spun off in parts in 2005-6. Once a giant in hotel, car rental, timesharing, real estate brokerage, online booking, and other parts of travel, by 2005 the primary shareholder/CEO decided that the share value was not reflective of the company value, and proceeded to sell and spin off its businesses–rather smartly before the real estate crash in 2007-8. Perhaps Veradigm does not see a way forward in running its diverse healthcare businesses even where it has a strong and currently profitable position or there is pressure from its largest shareholders to cash out. It is always worth looking at shareholders. Close to 22% of its shares are institutionally held but widely distributed among them. The largest holders are Silver Point Capital (2.29%), Tyro Capital Management (1.5%), and a host of Vanguard and DFA funds totaling under 10%. Insiders hold only 1.3%  Yahoo Finance

Our Readers should not be surprised at any one of several outcomes in the coming months.

TTA’s Summer Kickoff: the Oracle Cerner gamble, providers beat up on Change, Cue folds, Walmart Health starts layoffs, Expressable gets $26M, Transcarent and Centivo, more!

 

 

A light news week before the US Memorial Day remembrance and the UK Bank Holiday, the unofficial kickoffs to summer. What’s hot: Larry Ellison’s gamble on Cerner–are he and Oracle losing big after three years at the gaming table? Walgreens cashes in its Cencora chips, Walmart Health workers’ chips are cashed out, Change looks for chips that aren’t hacked, while Cue Health finally runs out of them. But in the chips: Expressable, Centivo, Transcarent. 

Short takes: Cue Health shuts, Walmart Health lays off, Walgreens sells $400M share in Cencora, $26M Series B for Expressable
News roundup: 100+ medical orgs pile on Change/UHG; Teladoc hit with second class-action suit; Congress demands Oracle EHR improvement–or else; Transcarent intros WayFinding; Centivo buys Eden Health 
Must read: Oracle’s ‘deadly gamble’ on Cerner (new with audio file!) (Can Ellison win at  healthcare’s poker table? And listen to this Editor’s first reading, with a few audio-only extras.)

A TON of news this week breaking before the US Memorial Day and UK’s bank holiday. Boots up for sale breaking up Alliance. Oracle Health will be struggling for the next two years. Cue Health sinking. Legrand is acquiring Enovation, Samsung Sonio ultrasound, and LG jumps into home health. And big VC Venrock issues its predictions for the health tech year.

Short takes 2: Humana’s CEO changeover; Owlet Dream Sock CE Mark, UK approval; TytoCare goes to school; LG enters home health with Primefocus; Samsung $92M buys Sonio (FR); raises by Blackwell in health cybersec, Watershed Health
News roundup: GE Healthcare warns on ultrasound vulnerabilities, Geisinger leverages Best Buy/Geek Squad for RPM, telehealth aids NYC shelter homeless, Fay raises $25M, ClearDATA’s AWS distinction, Validic’s MedTech award
A ‘healthcare prognosis’–from an investor POV (Venrock and ‘smart friends’)
Short takes: Legrand acquires Enovation, FDA nixes Cue Health’s Covid tests, Ascension confirms ransomware attack–who did it? (updated), beware of ‘vishing’ courtesy of ChatGPT
Is Oracle Health’s Big Vision smacking into the wall of Healthcare Reality? Their business says so. (Always be wary of Transformation Promises)
Separation or sale? WBA putting Boots out for bids; Walgreens pharmacists end month-long HQ protest. (End of Pessina’s Big Vision?)

Earnings and endings dominated this week, along with Transcarent’s Series D, $2.2 billion valuation, and ‘not for sale’ sign. Even NeueHealth and Oscar had a good Q1, but Amwell and Steward didn’t. Telehealth flexibilities got an important ‘go’ in the House. Cigna + Oscar called it a day as did many at 98point6. And cyberattacks continued, this time at Ascension and DocGo.

Short takes: Medicare telehealth flexibilities may extend; ‘no interest’ in Transcarent sale; NeueHealth ekes out positive net income; Cigna and Oscar break up; DocGo, Ascension cyberattacked
News roundup: Transcarent raises $126M; 98point6 lays off; Oscar notches first profit; Steward Health’s Ch. 11; Amazon Clinic GM leaves; Amwell’s down but hopeful Q1; Hims founder gets political

Surprises and shockers abounded this week. If Walmart can’t make it in providing basic health services, what hope does a retail model really have? Optum and Walmart exit telehealth, while Teladoc grows–firmly in the red. Change Healthcare’s troubles led to UHG’s CEO grilling on both sides of Congress and humiliation on MFA. MobileHelp PERS up for sale, Owlet’s new partner, fundings, partnerships. And a shrinking Oracle goes to Music City!

News roundup: UHG CEO’s Bad Day at Capitol Hill; Kaiser’s 13.4M data breach; Walgreens’ stock beatup; Cigna writes off VillageMD; Oracle Cerner shrinks 50%; Owlet BabySat gets Wheel; fundings for Midi, Trovo, Alaffia, Klineo (A rough week for some)
Teladoc’s Q1: increased revenue, increased net loss, dealing with slowing growth–as is CVS Health (Teladoc in existential crisis?)
Midweek news roundup: Optum exiting telehealth, laying off; Advocate Health selling MobileHelp; VA notifying 15M veterans re Change PHI breach, Oracle moving to Nashville–maybe? (updated) (A lot of jettisoning)
Walmart Health shutters health centers, Walmart Virtual Care, in sudden move (updated–why?) (If Walmart can’t make it…)

Returning to the Cyberattack That Changed Everything, wondering how much and to whom UnitedHealth paid ransom–now that they’ve finally admitted it. Also returning to those Merger Guidelines and how they may change the face of healthcare M&A. VA and DOD hard at work on their EHRs and systems, Lumeris gains a luminous funding, but Optum staff are seeing pink slips.

Two studies: Telehealth underutilized, underbilled, even during pandemic–and accounted for only modest increases in costs, and quality (Perhaps undercaptured?)
Short takes: VA seeks vendor to support EHR testing; Defense Health seeks ‘digital front door’ vendor; GAO recommendations to Oracle; Nonin partners with Finland’s Medixine; Lumeris gains $100M equity funding 
What the DOJ and FTC Merger Guidelines mean for healthcare M&A–a Epstein Becker Green podcast (Legal department torture)
Breaking: UnitedHealth admits to paying ransomwareistes on Change stolen patient data (updated) (For what and how much?)
Who really has the 4TB of Change Healthcare data 4 sale? And in great timing, Optum lays off a rumored 20K–say wot? (UHG has some ‘splainin’)

Another packed week, with a few baffling events. Leading in bafflement is NeueHealth’s additional $30M from NEA, which now owns 60%. UHG battling on multiple fronts between the Change hacking and the House, Walgreens lays off more to cut costs, VillageMD sued on ad trackers, and Cerebral’s comeuppance costs $7.1M. VA may restart Oracle Cerner implementation, Epic and Particle Health feud. But restoring faith in health tech benefiting a neglected group is TandemStride. 

TandemStride launches platform to assist survivors of traumatic injury; a personal look (A real care gap)
News roundup: Congress hammers absent UHG on Change cyberattack–and more; 10% unhinged at Hinge Health; Steward Health nears insolvency; Two Chairs $72M Series C (UHG’s troubles cover the waterfront)
ISfTeH student contest and award 2024–deadline 26 April! (Move fast!)
Mid-week short takes: UnitedHealth’s $1.2B Q1 loss from Change attack, another Walgreens layoff, Dexcom-MD Revolution partner, Kontakt.io $47.5 raise, GeBBS Healthcare may sell for $1B (Walgreens still downsizing–what’s next)
News roundup: VillageMD sued on Meta Pixel trackers; Cerebral pays $7.1M FTC fine on data sharing, cancellation policy; VA may resume Oracle Cerner implementation during FY2025; Epic-Particle Health dispute on PHI sharing (Cerebral still in trouble)
The New Reality, Bizarro World version: NeueHealth gets $30M loan increase from NEA, now majority owner (Baffling)

This packed week was about righting listing ships. Teladoc’s CEO suddenly departs, Amwell at risk of a NYSE delisting–we look at What Happened and what needs to be done. VillageMD gets new COO to manage the shrinkage. And Change Healthcare data on sale from disgruntled ALPHV affiliate. Digital health funding continues to limp along. Clover looks at another delisting, Walmart Health applies the brakes. And we highlight innovations from Novosound, Biolinq, Eko, Universal Brain. 

Digital health’s Q1 according to Rock Health: the New Reality is a flat spin back to 2019 (Limping, but alive)
VillageMD names new president and COO as it shrinks to 620 locations (Ex Centene, Humana exec comes out of short retirement to clean up)
News roundup: Now Clover Health faces delisting; BlackCat/ALPHV affiliate with 4TB of data puts it up for sale; $58M for Biolinq’s ‘smallest blood glucose biosensor’ (Will UHG pay more ransom?)
Opinion: Further thoughts on Teladoc, Amwell, and the future of telehealth–what happens next? (A hard look at the follies, mistakes, and saving ships)
News roundup: Amwell faces NYSE delisting; Walmart Health slows Health Centers, except Texas; Novosound’s ultrasound patent; Eko’s Low EF AI; Universal Brain; Elizabeth Holmes in ‘Dropout’ + update
Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic steps down immediately in shock announcement (Now what?)


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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

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

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Short takes: Cue Health shuts (updated for Ch. 7), Walmart Health lays off, Walgreens sells $400M share in Cencora, $26M Series B for Expressable

Cue Health gets the clue to shut down operations. It will be a Memorial Day to remember for the 480 remaining US employees of the San Diego-based company. Come Tuesday, none of them will be returning to work. The 230 scheduled earlier this month to wind up in July, plus the remaining 250, have their last day and paycheck on Friday 24 May, according to the WARN Act paperwork filed with the state of California. Notices were doled out to employees by the chief human resources office. The notice includes company leadership, presumably also including the new (since March) CEO Clint Sever. Cue has overseas operations in Hyderabad, India; it is unknown whether that will be affected. 

Update 28 May: Cue Health filed for Chapter 7 today in the District of Delaware to formally wind down its business. The press release stated that the board attempted to pursue additional financing or a strategic transaction. The next steps will be a bankruptcy trustee appointment to sell the Company’s assets. This will be used to pay creditors in accordance with the provisions of the Bankruptcy Code. Release  

Cue Health’s collapse follows the news on 15 May that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) invalidated Cue Health’s main business in Covid-19 Tests for Home and OTC Use and for the authorized lab test version, advising that the tests be tossed in the trash. Their remaining test is one for Mpox on an EUA. Two other tests developed for flu and RSV are still under FDA review. At its peak, it had over 1,500 employees and was valued at $3 billion. Undoubtedly, none of this is a surprise to Cue’s employees who’ve been hanging on. Presumably the released employees will be lucky to receive their final paychecks and can forget about severance or health insurance via COBRA since that requires an existing business. Our best wishes to all of them.  San Diego Union-Tribune, Becker’s, MedTechDive

Another unsurprising layoff is that of 74 workers at Walmart Health Virtual Care located in Phoenix. Last month, Walmart announced the closing of Virtual Care along with its 51 Health Centers for primary and urgent care, having never scaled its model. The WARN Act notice was filed with Arizona on 17 May. Employees were offered severance of 90 days if they were unable to close another Walmart position. This is on top of Walmart relocating most positions, including remote, to Bentonville, with some in the San Francisco and NYC areas. Becker’s, FierceHealthcare The Health Centers are closing on 28 June per an update from Walmart. Walmart is also ending its Walmart Flex Medicare Advantage plan through UnitedHealthcare which was available solely in Georgia. There is no word about other Georgia and Florida programs in conjunction with Centene’s Ambetter and Orlando Health. TTA 30 April

Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) cashed in another $400 million sale of Cencora stock. The funds will be used for debt paydown and general corporate purposes. Their share of Cencora, a drug distributor formerly known as Amerisource Bergen, is now at 12% from 13% as recently as February. In that month, they sold 2% for $992 million in shares [TTA 14 Feb]. There is no change to their board representation (Ornella Barra, COO International) nor the partnership. WBA release

And to wind up with a little bit of good news, Expressable raised a $26 million Series B, for a total of $45.5 million since 2019. The virtual speech therapy provider will be using the funds for further development of their care delivery platform, expansion of their clinical network of W2-employed speech-language pathologists, and acceleration of their growth in health plans and provider partnerships. The round was led by HarbourVest Partners, with participation from Digitalis Ventures and existing investors F-Prime Capital and Lerer Hippeau. Release   Hat tip to past colleague Amy VanStee, VP of content and marketing.

News roundup: 100+ medical orgs pile on Change/UHG; Teladoc hit with second class-action suit; Congress demands Oracle EHR improvement–or else; Transcarent intros WayFinding; Centivo buys Eden Health

The fallout from the Change cyberhack hangs like smog over UHG. On Monday, the American Medical Association (AMA), along with about 100 other signatories from nationwide medical associations including CHIME and AHIMA, sent a strongly worded letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra. It requested a clear delineation of responsibilities for breach reporting requirements created by the 21 February Change Healthcare ALPHV/Blackcat ransomware attack. Reporting is required by HHS’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) under HIPAA.

Specifically, the AMA letter requested 1) more public clarity around reporting responsibilities to patients for the data breach and 2) that all reporting and notification responsibilities will be handled by Change Healthcare, not the providers. “OCR should publicly state that its breach investigation and immediate efforts at remediation will be focused on Change Healthcare, and not the providers affected by Change Healthcare’s breach”. To date, this doesn’t seem to be OCR’s position.

  • The AMA and signatory organizations maintain that it “is the responsibility of the covered entity which experienced the breach—UHG—to fulfill its obligations in regard to reporting the breach to OCR, notifying each affected individual, as well as any further HIPAA breach reporting requirements that may be applicable, such as notifying state Attorneys General and media outlets.”
  • OCR, on the other hand, has gone on the record in April as stating in their FAQs that “while the covered entity is ultimately responsible for ensuring individuals are notified, the covered entity may delegate the responsibility of providing individual notices to the business associate. Covered entities and business associates should consider which entity is in the best position to provide notice to the individual, which may vary, depending on the circumstances, such as the functions the business associate performs on behalf of the covered entity and which entity has the relationship with the individual.” (Providers can be considered business associates)

In other words, the providers want the full responsibility of contacting patients, state attorneys general, media, and others (e.g. class action lawyers) to be Change Healthcare’s. They do not want to be forced to contact their patients and, in all fairness, at this point do not know which patients were affected because they are not privy to Change Healthcare’s information. UHG has not yet produced a breach report to OCR. AMA letter to Becerra, Healthcare Finance News

When the stock falls, blame the marketing spend! The latest class-action lawsuit filed against Teladoc blames the company for spending money in digital and other media advertising promoting BetterHelp, their telementalhealth unit. The suit cites Teladoc’s public statements such as a “long runway” for BetterHelp’s membership growth and that spending would be inefficient due to the saturated category. Yet spending increased in 2023. The lawsuit charges that this directly deteriorated the company’s revenue, leading to a substantial fall in its stock price. Charged are Teladoc, and at the time CEO Jason Gorevic and CFO Mala Murthy. Stary v. Teladoc Health, Inc. et al., was filed on May 17 in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. No response yet from Teladoc. Docket on Justia, Mobihealthnews

The House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committees jointly introduce legislation on VA’s EHR modernization. The Senator Elizabeth Dole 21st Century Veterans Healthcare and Benefits Improvement Act would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to exercise even greater oversight of the Oracle Cerner implementation in these areas:

  • The quarterly reports to Congress would include additional quality metrics on user adoption, employee satisfaction, and employee retention/turnover where the Oracle Cerner EHR is introduced. This adds to existing required reporting on spending and performance.
  • Regarding additional rollouts, the VA secretary must certify that the sites are ready. He also must furnish corroborating data to Congress “demonstrating that all facilities currently using the Oracle Cerner EHR system have recovered to normal operational levels.”
  • If there is no improvement (presumably to this standard) at Oracle Cerner locations within two years of the bill’s enactment, the program will be terminated.
  • VA must also report on the status of VistA with details about “the operation and maintenance costs and development and enhancement costs” of the software and “a list of modules, applications or systems” within VistA that VA plans to retire or continue to use. 

HIStalk 17 May, NextGov/FCW

‘Not for sale’ Transcarent introduces an AI-assisted platform, WayFinding. The platform designed for end users of Transcarent’s enterprise health navigator combines generative AI with instant access to care providers to integrate benefits navigation, clinical guidance, and care delivery on a single platform. The personalized guidance enables the member to find a provider, find out costs, and guides to the best clinical action to take next. It then connects them to medical professionals or provides direct access into digital point solutions. It integrates information on details of the employer plan, ancillary benefits, the member’s medical history, and connection to clinical specialists. There is no information in the overly padded release on when the new platform will be available or how it will be offered to existing and new customers. This follows on Transcarent’s $124 million Series D funding two weeks ago.  FierceHealthcare, Mobihealthnews, TTA 8 May

Centivo acquires Eden Health virtual care. The purchase price was not disclosed. Centivo, headquartered in Buffalo NY, is  a health plan for self-funded employers. Eden, also providing services to employers, is a concierge provider that offers through a mobile app primary care, mental health, and care navigation services, plus workplace pop-up clinics. Eden also has technology that connects providers’ EMRs to their app. Eden’s services will be fully integrated into Centivo, which will enable it to expand to 50 states and increase from its current 120 employer base to 160. The combined organizations cover about 2 million eligible patients in companies ranging from Fortune 100 size to small businesses. Eden’s CEO will serve as a senior advisor to Centivo, but there is no other indication of employee transition.  Release, FierceHealthcare

Must read: Oracle’s ‘deadly gamble’ on Cerner (new with audio file!)

Larry Ellison’s $28 billion bet on Cerner is drawn and quartered in this Must Read. If any further confirmation is needed that Cerner was the proverbial pig-in-poke for Ellison’s Big Vision of welding all that Cerner EHR data with Oracle’s massive technology, it is right here. Ashley Stewart and Blake Dodge, writing for Business Insider, do a masterful job of painting how badly Ellison and Oracle misjudged what they were getting into with what proved to be Cerner’s “broken and dysfunctional system” that in the VA implementation has been put on hold, with one exception, for a year or maybe more.

What Ellison thought he was buying in 2021 could be summarized by what he said at Oracle CloudWorld in fall 2023. FTA: What if, instead of guesswork, doctors could lean on generative AI to comb through a patient’s medical records, along with those of millions of other patients? With such a massive database, doctors could spot the warning signs of disease faster, reduce the need for trial and error, and make better-informed decisions about treatment. In other words, pump all that massive data into Oracle’s AI models and watch all that data, now going to waste, transform healthcare.

The problem was Cerner itself. Its EHR was not the wonder that Ellison saw circa 2005 when he first approached them and was rebuffed as a Silicon Valley interloper. It had become a system that wore lead boots compared to Epic. In the provider market, it was sinking to a distant #2. But one revelation in the article is that by 2020 Oracle saw Cerner as a must-have. As a smaller system, it was perceived as more interoperable between health systems, providers, and with third parties. Data would be more readily accessible. Pandemic-era relaxations on data sharing further loosened restrictions on access. The looseness appealed to Ellison and Company–and Cerner’s book of business would also help Oracle compete in cloud computing with Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft.

But Healthcare Reality dawned with the first implementations in the VA that started in 2020, a big win that turned into a rolling disaster that led to unknown queues, vanishing prescriptions, records, and appointments, and much more as chronicled here in the past four years, by Congressional investigations, and the VA’s OIG. No, the problems weren’t easily ‘fixable and addressable’ in Mike Sicilia’s (Oracle) words to Congress in hearings shortly after the acquisition closed. In fairly short order, the rollout came to a screeching halt after thousands of Oracle fixes, with only five systems implemented through last June, no end of disasters, patient deaths, and exacerbated illnesses. Other than the Lovell/MHS joint facility March rollout, there will be no further installations planned by the VA until the next fiscal year that starts in October. The most optimistic timeline for resumption is by end of this calendar year. As Congress is making clear, without proof of improved performance par with VistA in the current systems, do not hold your breath for any new ones.

An additional revelation in the article is that over time, VistA had become so customized to each VA medical center that Cerner could never meet those demands expected by the staff. It stopped trying, leading to more dissatisfaction. Perhaps that standardization looks good at the 40,000 foot level, but there were reasons for the customizations based on the veteran population and practice. Things that took two minutes in VistA now took ten in Cerner–if you were lucky. In the closed VistA system, those customizations were passed around other centers and regions–in VA-speak, Veterans Integrated Services Networks or VISNs. (Editor’s note: recalling from one of her former companies, any IT vendor implementing a system VISN by VISN soon learned about each one’s unique demands at multiple levels.)

“Oracle is still learning what they have actually acquired from Cerner,” according to an Oracle executive quoted in the article. The VA has become a ‘shackle’ trapping the Ellisonian Grand Vision of Oracle’s Transforming Healthcare–in time for him to enjoy his victory. Cerner’s slide to a distant #2 has reduced All That Data that made Cerner worth $28 billion, adding to a crushing debt load that this Editor and others noted in 2022. Layoffs and freezes haven’t made much difference, but have led to the loss of experienced Cerner support. The VA failures and drain of resources to fix it, the vacuum in support, and technical problems have led to, in a Providence system executive’s words, the perception that Cerner is ‘circling the drain’. And perception becomes reality. Health systems are choosing the costly route of moving now rather than later. The article mentions two major systems defecting to Epic, Intermountain and UPMC, but they are only two out of the 12 that announced in 2023. 

The narrative succeeds in bringing together many threads, but most of all in bringing to life the dry facts of Cerner’s many patient failures in the VA, including the individual deaths from the unknown queues [TTA 18 Mar 2023] and the human story of the Two Charlies–Charlie Bourg (himself affected by the unknown queue) and Charlie Monroe, both veterans near Spokane’s Mann-Grandstaff VA medical center. They advocate for veteran patients affected by the Cerner EHR’s many flaws.

One of the flaws not mentioned is Cerner’s odd lack of concentration on training criticized by Congress in 2023 [TTA 19 Apr 2023]. Another sequel or extension to this article could delve into the DOD-Military Health System’s implementation, a Leidos-Cerner project that has had few of the reported problems of Cerner Millenium in the VA. This was quoted by a former VA official as a ‘terrible decision’ that knocked onto the VA in implementing into a much larger and more complex healthcare system. Hat tip to HIStalk 5/22/24

Editor’s Closing Note: A wise doctor told me once that most errors in practice are made at the beginning and at the end of one’s career. In business, your Editor has seen this parallel happen time and time again. Even the smartest of chairmen and CEOs, when they stay too long at the fair, often make poor decisions. Is it age? Illness? No one left with the courage to tell them no, this is a bad move, this isn’t working? I think of the last years of Centene’s leader Michael Neidorff, 25 years in leadership, ousted by an activist shareholder. Mark Bertolini of Aetna, shoved aside from the merger with CVS he engineered. Frank Lorenzo, who created the biggest airline combine ever, Texas Air Corporation. Even legends like Larry Ellison at 79 may not be what they were. In attempting to capstone his storied career, and with the best of intentions in transforming the broken, dysfunctional healthcare system, has he made a gamble that could bring Oracle to its knees?

Listen (for the first time!) to Editor Donna read this article with extra asides and comments (plus a small flub or two). Now on Soundcloud.

Our view from last week: Is Oracle Health’s Big Vision smacking into the wall of Healthcare Reality? Their business says so. 

TTA’s May Flowers 3: Venrock’s health biz predictions; Boots for sale; Oracle Health’s struggles; acquisitions by Samsung, Legrand; TytoCare, Owlet, Humana, more!

 

 

A TON of news this week breaking before the US Memorial Day and UK’s bank holiday. Boots up for sale breaking up Alliance. Oracle Health will be struggling for the next two years. Cue Health sinking. Legrand is acquiring Enovation, Samsung Sonio ultrasound, and LG jumps into home health. And big VC Venrock issues its predictions for the health tech year.

Short takes 2: Humana’s CEO changeover; Owlet Dream Sock CE Mark, UK approval; TytoCare goes to school; LG enters home health with Primefocus; Samsung $92M buys Sonio (FR); raises by Blackwell in health cybersec, Watershed Health
News roundup: GE Healthcare warns on ultrasound vulnerabilities, Geisinger leverages Best Buy/Geek Squad for RPM, telehealth aids NYC shelter homeless, Fay raises $25M, ClearDATA’s AWS distinction, Validic’s MedTech award
A ‘healthcare prognosis’–from an investor POV (Venrock and ‘smart friends’)
Short takes: Legrand acquires Enovation, FDA nixes Cue Health’s Covid tests, Ascension confirms ransomware attack–who did it? (updated), beware of ‘vishing’ courtesy of ChatGPT
Is Oracle Health’s Big Vision smacking into the wall of Healthcare Reality? Their business says so. (Always be wary of Transformation Promises)
Separation or sale? WBA putting Boots out for bids; Walgreens pharmacists end month-long HQ protest. (End of Pessina’s Big Vision?)

Earnings and endings dominated this week, along with Transcarent’s Series D, $2.2 billion valuation, and ‘not for sale’ sign. Even NeueHealth and Oscar had a good Q1, but Amwell and Steward didn’t. Telehealth flexibilities got an important ‘go’ in the House. Cigna + Oscar called it a day as did many at 98point6. And cyberattacks continued, this time at Ascension and DocGo.

Short takes: Medicare telehealth flexibilities may extend; ‘no interest’ in Transcarent sale; NeueHealth ekes out positive net income; Cigna and Oscar break up; DocGo, Ascension cyberattacked
News roundup: Transcarent raises $126M; 98point6 lays off; Oscar notches first profit; Steward Health’s Ch. 11; Amazon Clinic GM leaves; Amwell’s down but hopeful Q1; Hims founder gets political

Surprises and shockers abounded this week. If Walmart can’t make it in providing basic health services, what hope does a retail model really have? Optum and Walmart exit telehealth, while Teladoc grows–firmly in the red. Change Healthcare’s troubles led to UHG’s CEO grilling on both sides of Congress and humiliation on MFA. MobileHelp PERS up for sale, Owlet’s new partner, fundings, partnerships. And a shrinking Oracle goes to Music City!

News roundup: UHG CEO’s Bad Day at Capitol Hill; Kaiser’s 13.4M data breach; Walgreens’ stock beatup; Cigna writes off VillageMD; Oracle Cerner shrinks 50%; Owlet BabySat gets Wheel; fundings for Midi, Trovo, Alaffia, Klineo (A rough week for some)
Teladoc’s Q1: increased revenue, increased net loss, dealing with slowing growth–as is CVS Health (Teladoc in existential crisis?)
Midweek news roundup: Optum exiting telehealth, laying off; Advocate Health selling MobileHelp; VA notifying 15M veterans re Change PHI breach, Oracle moving to Nashville–maybe? (updated) (A lot of jettisoning)
Walmart Health shutters health centers, Walmart Virtual Care, in sudden move (updated–why?) (If Walmart can’t make it…)

Returning to the Cyberattack That Changed Everything, wondering how much and to whom UnitedHealth paid ransom–now that they’ve finally admitted it. Also returning to those Merger Guidelines and how they may change the face of healthcare M&A. VA and DOD hard at work on their EHRs and systems, Lumeris gains a luminous funding, but Optum staff are seeing pink slips.

Two studies: Telehealth underutilized, underbilled, even during pandemic–and accounted for only modest increases in costs, and quality (Perhaps undercaptured?)
Short takes: VA seeks vendor to support EHR testing; Defense Health seeks ‘digital front door’ vendor; GAO recommendations to Oracle; Nonin partners with Finland’s Medixine; Lumeris gains $100M equity funding 
What the DOJ and FTC Merger Guidelines mean for healthcare M&A–a Epstein Becker Green podcast (Legal department torture)
Breaking: UnitedHealth admits to paying ransomwareistes on Change stolen patient data (updated) (For what and how much?)
Who really has the 4TB of Change Healthcare data 4 sale? And in great timing, Optum lays off a rumored 20K–say wot? (UHG has some ‘splainin’)

Another packed week, with a few baffling events. Leading in bafflement is NeueHealth’s additional $30M from NEA, which now owns 60%. UHG battling on multiple fronts between the Change hacking and the House, Walgreens lays off more to cut costs, VillageMD sued on ad trackers, and Cerebral’s comeuppance costs $7.1M. VA may restart Oracle Cerner implementation, Epic and Particle Health feud. But restoring faith in health tech benefiting a neglected group is TandemStride. 

TandemStride launches platform to assist survivors of traumatic injury; a personal look (A real care gap)
News roundup: Congress hammers absent UHG on Change cyberattack–and more; 10% unhinged at Hinge Health; Steward Health nears insolvency; Two Chairs $72M Series C (UHG’s troubles cover the waterfront)
ISfTeH student contest and award 2024–deadline 26 April! (Move fast!)
Mid-week short takes: UnitedHealth’s $1.2B Q1 loss from Change attack, another Walgreens layoff, Dexcom-MD Revolution partner, Kontakt.io $47.5 raise, GeBBS Healthcare may sell for $1B (Walgreens still downsizing–what’s next)
News roundup: VillageMD sued on Meta Pixel trackers; Cerebral pays $7.1M FTC fine on data sharing, cancellation policy; VA may resume Oracle Cerner implementation during FY2025; Epic-Particle Health dispute on PHI sharing (Cerebral still in trouble)
The New Reality, Bizarro World version: NeueHealth gets $30M loan increase from NEA, now majority owner (Baffling)

This packed week was about righting listing ships. Teladoc’s CEO suddenly departs, Amwell at risk of a NYSE delisting–we look at What Happened and what needs to be done. VillageMD gets new COO to manage the shrinkage. And Change Healthcare data on sale from disgruntled ALPHV affiliate. Digital health funding continues to limp along. Clover looks at another delisting, Walmart Health applies the brakes. And we highlight innovations from Novosound, Biolinq, Eko, Universal Brain. 

Digital health’s Q1 according to Rock Health: the New Reality is a flat spin back to 2019 (Limping, but alive)
VillageMD names new president and COO as it shrinks to 620 locations (Ex Centene, Humana exec comes out of short retirement to clean up)
News roundup: Now Clover Health faces delisting; BlackCat/ALPHV affiliate with 4TB of data puts it up for sale; $58M for Biolinq’s ‘smallest blood glucose biosensor’ (Will UHG pay more ransom?)
Opinion: Further thoughts on Teladoc, Amwell, and the future of telehealth–what happens next? (A hard look at the follies, mistakes, and saving ships)
News roundup: Amwell faces NYSE delisting; Walmart Health slows Health Centers, except Texas; Novosound’s ultrasound patent; Eko’s Low EF AI; Universal Brain; Elizabeth Holmes in ‘Dropout’ + update
Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic steps down immediately in shock announcement (Now what?)


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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
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Short takes 2: Humana’s CEO changeover; Owlet Dream Sock CE Mark, UK approval; TytoCare goes to school; LG enters home health with Primefocus; Samsung $92M buys Sonio (FR); raises by Blackwell in health cybersec, Watershed Health

Keeping it short and sweet for the end of the week.

Payer Humana changing out CEOs. The wrap for current CEO Bruce Broussard is coming a little earlier than anticipated, with the planned changeover to Jim Rechtin on 1 July. Mr. Broussard will depart the board of directors but stay on as a ‘strategic advisor’ until 2026, which is a typical arrangement for CEOs usually tied to compensation. Mr. Rechtin’s experience prior to joining Humana as president/COO in January was as Envision Healthcare’s CEO and with OptumCare and DaVita. Last year, Humana and Cigna failed to merge after shareholders disapproved and the evident conflict in PBMs [TTA 13 Dec 23]. 2024 earnings were revised downwards in April due to ongoing losses in Medicare Advantage plans. Release, FierceHealthcare

Owlet’s Dream Sock now has EU CE Mark, UK medical device approvals. The European medical device clearance by the EU notified body was announced on 2 May, with the UK certification following on 14 May. As certified for the EU and UK, the Dream Sock is intended for use with healthy infants between 0-18 months and 2.5-13.6 kg. The Dream Sock measures oxygen saturation and pulse rate which are reported on a smartphone app and on a base station to provide baby sleep insights. In the US, it was FDA cleared under de novo last November. It is sold without prescription through retailers and directly through Owlet. Owlet plans to debut it in Germany, France, and the UK later this year. CE Mark, UK releases. Mobihealthnews

TytoCare expands a logical market–school RPM. Their school health initiative that started before the pandemic has added or expanded in five healthcare systems. This brings primary and urgent care services to over 2,500 schools in 31 states. Three of the five systems are Cone Health (North Carolina), Sentara Health (Virginia), and A Plus Family HealthCare (Kentucky). TytoCare works with school nurses and adminstrators for remote diagnostics, not only for children presenting with illness but also for monitoring children with chronic conditions. Blog, Mobihealthnews

LG NOVA launches Primefocus Health in North America. LG, well known for monitors and TVs in healthcare settings, is introducing a “provider-focused, patient-centric healthcare platform” to connect patients in home care with their providers. It will use “innovative non-invasive technology for tracking patient progress for multiple medical conditions, which can be integrated with the provider’s electronic health record system, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities for ease of use.” No demos or further specifics are provided.  LG NOVA is LG Electronics North America Innovation Center and demonstrates an interest in additional healthcare expansion. Release, Mobihealthnews

LG’s rival Samsung buying France’s Sonio for $92 million. The fetal AI ultrasound company originally partnered with Samsung Healthcare France in 2021 in order to confirm the efficacy of its AI for pregnancy/prenatal monitoring. It raised a $14 million Series A last year for a US commercial launch of their AI FDA 510(k) cleared Sonio Detect, a machine-agnostic AI assistant software for reporting and imaging. Samsung Medison, the ultrasound division of Samsung, must await French regulatory approvals, including the French Ministry of the Economy and Finance. Release, MedTech Dive

And in latest fundings:

Healthcare focused Blackwell Security now has a $13 million Series A, led by co-creators General Catalyst and Rally Ventures. The funding will expand their Managed Healthcare Extended Detection and Response (MHXDR) offering. They are also acquiring their first CEO, Geyer Jones, from cybersecurity/IoT companies Cylera and RSA.  Release, Mobihealthnews

New Orleans-headquartered Watershed Health completed a $13.6 million venture round funding. This was led by First Trust Capital Partners with participation from FCA Venture Partners, Create Health Ventures, Impact Engine, 450 Ventures, LDH Ventures II/Launchpad Digital Health, and others that adds to a 2022 $9.8 million venture round. The new funding will be to expand their SaaS platform plus grow the engineering, development, customer success and sales teams. Watershed is a care coordination platform with a community focus that connects clinical and non-clinical providers such as SDOH resources. Release

News roundup: GE Healthcare warns on ultrasound vulnerabilities, Geisinger leverages Best Buy/Geek Squad for RPM, telehealth aids NYC shelter homeless, Fay raises $25M, ClearDATA’s AWS distinction, Validic’s MedTech award

GE Healthcare warns hospitals and clinics on cybersecurity vulnerabilities in ultrasound devices. On their Product Security Portal, GE Healthcare issued three Coordinated Security Vulnerability Disclosures affecting:

  • a software application implementation called kiosk mode vulnerable to local breakouts
  • the Common Service Desktop (CSD) component vulnerable to command injection and path traversal
  • EchoPAC Software Only (SWO), EchoPAC TurnKey, and ImageVault products, vulnerable to unencrypted communication, unencrypted database and hardcoded, unencrypted credentials

These primarily affect the Vivid line of ultrasound devices. Cybersec firm Nozomi Networks Labs found vulnerabilities in the system that could be exploited to gain administrative privileges and recommended that ultrasound devices 1) not be left unattended and 2) block incoming connections to workstations that have the clinical software installed and are connected to unprotected networks. Healthcare Dive

Geisinger partners on patient monitoring with healthcare devices delivered by Best Buy/Geek Squad. For the past two years, Geisinger Health, now part of Risant Health, has been using Geek Squad to deliver and activate remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices such as blood-pressure cuffs, weight scales, thermometers, and glucose meters for those in active care management. The results of early pilots are: 50% faster time to activation of devices, 19% higher rate of patient adherence to using a wearable device, and an 18% reduction in technical issues reported. The ConnectedCare 365 program is now being used by 14 clinical programs for patients in acute care episodes, those in pre-surgical or post-acute transition, and those receiving low to complex management of their chronic conditions. 27,000 Geisinger patients have used remote technology since 2010, including 3,000 using the Best Buy—formerly Current Health—platform. An interesting but logical linkup of healthcare and retail services. JAMA Network

NYC’s homeless shelter telehealth program. Since 2020, NYC Health + Hospitals Corporation (HHC) and the New York City Department of Social Services (DSS) have worked together to bring HHC’s Virtual ExpressCare to homeless shelters. In the past year (January 2023 to April 2024), over 5,000 shelter residents across all 600+ shelters have used the program. The shelters use telephones, tablets, and computers provided by DSS to connect residents with Virtual ExpressCare physicians. DSS and other agencies share responsibility for all technical needs, including ensuring WiFi access and equipment cleaning. The program is also extended to shelter staff. Of the primarily (70%) black and Latino residents using the service, nearly half were uninsured, with an additional 5 percent were covered through the NYC Care program. mHealth Intelligence

Nutritional health startup Fay raises $25 million.  The Series A round was led by Forerunner Ventures with participation from General Catalyst and 1984. The virtual network of registered dietician nutritionists emerging from stealth is additionally backed by founders at Grow Therapy and Maven Clinic. Fay’s network of nutritionists are available nationwide and work with insurance plans to provide consumers with nutritional plans covering 30 specialties/conditions, such as eating disorders, diabetes, kidney disease, weight management, gut health, general preventative care, and others. Currently, they work with United Healthcare, CVS Aetna, Blue Cross, Anthem, Cigna, Optum, and Humana. The advantage for dieticians is to build their private practice with Fay’s “business in a box”.   Release

On the cybersecurity front, ClearDATA has achieved Amazon Web Services (AWS) Level 1 Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) Competency. This required meeting operational and technical AWS quality standards for managed security services. They are one of only 62 firms to be so designated and the only one in healthcare. ClearDATA is a comprehensive provider of cloud, compliance, and security services and software for providers, payers, biopharma, and healthcare solutions. Release 

Validic was selected as “Best Remote Patient Monitoring Solution” in the 8th annual MedTech Breakthrough Awards program conducted by MedTech Breakthrough. Validic was one of the earliest companies (2010) in the RPM/IoT area with data integrated into EHRs for personalized care at scale. Since 2010, it has served 400,000 enrolled patients and 7,000 referring providers. Release

A ‘healthcare prognosis’–from an investor POV

Healthcare investor Venrock took a survey of ‘friends’ on healthcare business and regulatory trends for 2024. Your Editor is surprised (a bit) at what the ‘super smart healthcare friends’ had to say. But keep in mind that the opinion of ‘friends’ even if ‘super smart’ can be just that–opinions that don’t pan out, like Derby horse bets. 

  • No repeat performances of a severe communicable disease like Covid-19–93%
  • Back to office is it for 24 to 33%. No negative effects on recruitment–13%. In this, your Editor sees a certain amount of wishful thinking and frankly, hedging as the top is only one-third. The question only touched the surface, for instance not including hybrid and flexible hours.
  • GLP-1 drugs originally for type 2 diabetes, now for weight loss, will be the hottest thing in pharma in 2024. 70% of the friends believe that a DTC war among brands reminiscent of ED drugs will break out. 63% believe that Medicaid spending to cover GLP-1 drugs will exceed 10% which will be difficult for states to finance.
  • 76% believe that Medicare drug price negotiations will lead to commercial price decreases, with 64% believing that Medicare prices will be lower net of rebate prices
  • While 70% believe that Mr. Market will be up, the picture for digital health funding is split down the middle. 58% believe it will be up over $10.7 billion, the remaining 42% below that. This Editor is with the latter group, believing that the newly adopted DOJ/FTC Merger Guidelines will bite into deals for the rest of the year, with Q1, which typically has carryover, as the peak.
  • 51% believe that IPOs may start to open up with a ‘small group of aging companies’. 41% believe that more than five will go public.
  • 42% believe that M&A will be driven higher by distressed sales, with only 16% believing that there will be good outcomes for sellers. 27% believe M&A will be flat.
  • On the hit list to be acquired: Carbon Health (primary and urgent care, 28%), Omada(virtual chronic care, 24%), Komodo (data mapping) and Accolade (corporate care navigation, both 21%)
  • Unicorns are losing their horns, with 27% believing that 11 to 15 will sink in valuation below $1 billion and 45% 6 to 10.
  • UnitedHealth Group’s antitrust troubles do not seem to trouble these friends, with 42% believing that remedies will be targeted and largely not disruptive to their business. 36% believe that it will be footballed around but die in the courts. Only 9% believe that UHG will be broken up.
  • Will the new policies from DOJ and FTC mean that private equity takeover will be slowed? 44% believe not with 30% noncommittal, but then again these friends are interested in the same.
  • On the legacy PBM issue, 49% believe that the Johnson & Johnson ERISA class action will not have any effect, as switching is expensive with low prices from the majors. 30% are noncommittal.
  • No surprise that 74% believe that more cyberattacks will happen and be successful.
  • 79% think AI in health tech will see material growth–again no surprise–but the jury is split on regulation. 35% believe that there will be Federal regulations, but only after something bad happens, and that overregulation will happen. 42% believe there will be some “light” regulation mainly for political reasons with an additional 23% believing that absolutely nothing will happen.

Venrock is an investor in Devoted Health (health plans), Included Health (telehealth/virtual care), Aledade (VBC and ACOs), Virta (diabetes care), athenahealth, and other medical device and biotech companies.  Venrock’s Healthcare Prognosis 

Short takes: Legrand acquires Enovation, FDA nixes Cue Health’s Covid tests, Ascension confirms ransomware attack–who did it? (updated), beware of ‘vishing’ courtesy of ChatGPT

Legrand Care acquires Enovation. Enovation is a Netherlands-based digital health company with a connected care platform for care monitoring across prevention, early detection, medication checks, and remote healthcare. Its customer base includes ambulances, pharmacies, clinics, hospitals, and home care. With distribution in healthcare organizations across 18 countries, including Scottish Digital Telecare [TTA 11 Aug 2021], it will join the equally international Legrand’s Assisted Living and Healthcare (AL&HC) business unit with Intervox, Neat, Tynetec, Jontek, and Aid Call. Acquisition cost was not disclosed. Release   Legrand and Tynetec are long-time supporters of TTA.

The hammer drops on embattled Cue Health. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has invalidated Cue Health’s Covid-19 Tests for Home and OTC Use and for the authorized lab test version. Home users were advised to discard unused kits in household trash. Both consumers and providers were advised to retest if symptoms persisted after a negative test result. This followed an FDA inspection of their operations that determined that unauthorized changes to the test kit design were made along with failures in performance testing. A Warning Letter was issued to Cue on 9 May. The company has not yet responded. FDA Safety Communication

Cue was one of many biotech manufacturers that marketed Covid-19 point of care/lab, and home testing kits after obtaining Emergency Use Authorizations (EUA) in 2020 and 2021. It exploded in size and went public in September 2021 at $200 million and $16/share with a valuation of $3 billion. Today HLTH shares trade on NasdaqCM at a little bit over $0.13. Their headquarters facilities in San Diego that once had 1,500 employees must be a lonely place, as the company reported another layoff of 230 employees, about half of remaining staff, after earlier layoff rounds of 245 in February and 880 in 2023. Their remaining test is one for Mpox on a EUA. Two other tests developed for flu and RSV are still under FDA review.  Cue Health’s financial reports for 2023 were dismal with revenue down to $71 million, an 85% reduction versus 2022, and a net loss of $373.5 million. Recent reports indicate that the company will refocus on marketing its Cue Health Monitoring System. Management and board changes have also been drastic, with a CEO change in March (Yahoo Finance) and the CFO departing this past Monday. MedTech Dive

Ascension Health finally acknowledged that its cyberattack was ransomware-based. On Saturday 11 May, their website event update confirmed that the cyberattack was ransomware. The Saturday and Monday 13 May updates also confirm that system operations will continue to be disrupted with no timetable set for restoration to normal status. Impacted systems include their EHR, MyChart, and some hospitals are diverting emergency care. The update page now has 12 regional updates and a general + patient FAQ. Update: in these states, Ascension’s retail pharmacies cannot fill prescriptions: Florida, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. Their website recommends that patients bring paperwork and prescription containers. Lab and imaging results are delayed. Since the hospitals are on manual systems, overall there are delays in admissions–bring documentation. And the class-action suits have started, with reports that three have been filed already. Healthcare IT News

Who dunnit? DataBreaches.net reported over the weekend that Ascension’s hack has been attributed to interestingly named ransomwareistes Black Basta. Late last week, the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert on Black Basta. It’s another charming ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) with bad news affiliates like BlackCat/ALPHV wreaking havoc on over 500 organizations globally. No word on whether Ascension has paid ransom. 

Speaking of cybersecurity, now something else to worry about–‘vishing’. This is ‘voice phishing’, another generative AI-facilitated hack that uses snippets of a human voice to pose as people or representing organizations via phone call or voicemail. Not enough? There’s ‘smishing’–SMS or text phishing which can invade your phone with all sorts of nasty messages. These attacks, according to cybersec firm Enea, are up twelve-fold since the launch of ChatGPT. Vishing, smishing, and phishing (email) attacks have increased by a staggering 1,265%. 76% of enterprises lack sufficient voice and messaging fraud protection. Can we go back to the 1990s? 2000s? When we worried about “Nigerian princes” email scams? Becker’s, Enea survey report

Is Oracle Health’s Big Vision smacking into the wall of Healthcare Reality? Their business says so.

Once again, ‘healthcare transformation’ may be A Bridge Too Far but definitely a Long Slog for Oracle. A highly critical Bloomberg report details the flat and deteriorating business of Oracle Health, the division that includes the former Cerner. Since their much-touted acquisition of Cerner two years ago [TTA 14 June 2022], Oracle has not righted the basic health system EHR business. Revenue and clients have stagnated with high-profile losses, versus the massive gains predicted only two years ago, and Cerner falling further behind the hospital/practice EHR leader, Epic, with a 26% hospital bed share compared to Epic’s 48%. 

  • Bloomberg’s internal sources indicated that sales reached $5.9 billion in 2023, but are projected to slip to $5.6 billion both in 2024 and 2025.
  • In 2023, 12 accounts did not renew and announced they would replace Cerner with Epic. These are major names such as Northwell Health and Boston Children’s Hospital. In 2022, clients with a combined capacity of 4,658 patients were lost, according to KLAS Research. This is despite the fact that EHRs are not moved lightly. The average commitment is 15 years or more since the ramp-up is taxing and costs are astronomical.
  • Common complaints cited by KLAS center around Cerner’s legacy software and the Cerner transition: tracking clinical revenue, tool integration, technical glitches, and uncertainty or worsened service associated with the Oracle takeover.Boston moved to improve data exchange with surrounding hospitals and Northwell for Epic’s set of better integrated tools.

Oracle laid off many involved with customer accounts. The consulting and sales area laid off 3,000 in one year from March 2023 to February 2024, according to Bloomberg. These may have been as early as May 2023. In June 2023, there were reports that the VA’s pause of Cerner Millenium for at least a year coupled with the completion of MHS Genesis triggered 500 to 1,200 additional Federal service area layoffs plus rescinded job offers. The layoff total may be as high as 4,200 on a pre-acquisition employee base of 28,000, with salaries and promotions frozen. On the executive level, Don Johnson, who once was a successor to CEO Larry Ellison, departed from leading Oracle Health and AI. Reportedly, Dr. David Feinberg, who briefly headed Cerner prior to the sale, is now a ‘ceremonial’ chairman of Oracle Health. [TTA 18 May 2023] Dr. Feinberg also joined Aegis Ventures as a senior advisor and is on Humana’s board, which sounds like a winddown of Oracle responsibilities [TTA 11 Jan]. The layoffs and freezes have improved the former Cerner’s operating margin from 22% to 33%, but not as high as Oracle’s 46% margin.

Since the acquisition and chairman Larry Ellison’s Big Vision promises of creating ‘healthcare transformation’ and ‘better information’, Oracle’s challenge with Cerner has been not only to move their legacy systems onto the cloud but also to integrate Cerner systems with Oracle–and Oracle may have underestimated that complexity as well.

  • Oracle has stated that most customers have been moved to Oracle’s cloud, but inside sources have qualified them as Oracle Health’s smallest and least technically complicated. The big systems with their own domains have yet to be touched.
  • Cerner applications had about 8,000 bugs to be fixed.
  • On the people management/integration side, there are substantial differences between ‘legacy’ Cerner and Oracle people, often centering around not understanding the nuances and complexities inherent in healthcare–as well as compensation and working conditions. This Editor, who as a marketer has had to deal peripherally with ‘legacy systems’ (to the point of tears) through acquisitions on the payer side, knows this is common.

Where Oracle has had success with Cerner’s EHR is in international markets less saturated with EHRs or with home-grown systems, winning contracts in Sweden, the UK and Saudi Arabia. As previously noted, they are a supplier for the NHS. Oracle has moved forward on population health software,  modernizing Cerner’s revenue-tracking tool, and planning for an AI-assisted ambient listening voice note system. 

What remains up in the air is if the VA will restart Millenium transitioning from VistA this year. Oracle is pushing to restart it and its revenue stream this summer as projected last year [TTA 18 May 2023]. This counters VA Secretary Denis McDonough’s testimony last month to the House Veterans Affairs Committee that the VA does not intend to resume deploying it until FY 2025, which does not start until October 2024, and use carryover funding. This FY, there are no funds or plans allocated except for Lovell FHCC, which seems to be going well. The contract, already tightened last April with multiple metrics, demanded improvements, oversight, and annual renewals, is running into more Congressional headwinds this year. Three senators on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee called for the VA “to use the opportunity the new contract structure provides to re-review terms and add additional accountability and oversight provisions to protect veterans and taxpayers.” pointing to the OIG report issued in March. The contract is up for renewal this coming Thursday 16 May. NextGov, Becker’s

The final burden on Oracle–only alluded to in the article–is the debt load undertaken to finance the $28 billion Cerner acquisition. A complex set of bridge and term loans were used to finance the buy [TTA 27 Oct 2022]. At the time, Oracle’s $90 billion debt load was one of the largest in tech. While Oracle’s stock value has been buoyed by its investments in AI, in the current environment, this debt load becomes suspect. Yahoo Finance, Quartz