TTA’s summer #6: telehealth wars turn, mental health apps get $$, NHS England’s Sir Simon interviewed, Alcuris’ cyber-OK, Cerner promises to right the VA ship

 

 

Weekly Update

The Telehealth Wars teeter-totter with now Amwell and national expansion on the upside. NHS England’s changing of the guard–Roy Lilley’s insightful interview with Sir Simon. Telemental health prospers. Alcuris gets the cyber-OK from Scotland. And Cerner needs to get it right with the VA, right quick.

The Roy Lilley-Sir Simon Stevens ‘Health Chat’ interview (As the order changes at NHS England)
News and deal roundup: another big mental health app funding, Happify Health’s prescription therapy app debuts, Alcuris approved by Scottish Digital Telecare for cybersecurity (Mental health continues to be the It of Digital Health)
Telehealth Wars: Amwell’s raises game with buys of SilverCloud and Conversa Health; Teladoc’s slow member, hospital growth lead to $133M Q2 loss (The seesaw goes up for one, down for the other)
Cerner execs to VA Congressional committee: “We are committed to getting this right” (After $16 billion, One. Would. Hope. So.)
Over 400 telehealth groups urge Congress to retain CARES Acts gains on remote care (Obsolete law change long overdue)

The big news for UK GPs this week was that the GPDPR’s extraction scheduled for 1 Sept is stopped for a Big Rework. Big Blue’s Watson Health dying in pieces, reportedly up for sale. But SPACs and investments have slowed only a bit for the summer with Owlet’s $1bn SPAC and digital health’s torrid $15bn first half. In-person meetings are starting to come back as well (apparently HIMSS21 is still on too).

Softly, softly: GPDPR comes to screeching halt, indefinitely, to be reworked (Don’t hold yer breath!)
News and deals roundup: Owlet’s $1B SPAC, Carbon Health’s $350M Series D, Series Bs by Woebot Health and b.Well, digital health rakes in $15bn (Owlet ‘socks it’ to the market, behavioral health and digital health match the hot weather)
Oh, MAMA! The Medical Alert Monitoring Association meeting, 28-29 September, Chicago (They’ll need the alerts in Chi-Town)
Three healthcare startup events: MedStartr NYC Thursday 21 July, Dallas Startup Week starts 1 August–and apply now for UCSF Health Awards (Look to Texas and California)
IBM Watson Health’s stumble and possible fall (The World Was Not Theirs, leading to Death By A Million Cuts)

Teladoc’s new alliance with Microsoft Teams stakes out real estate with health systems–and more. There’s life in VistA yet as VA throws hands up, puts Cerner EHR on hold. UnitedHealthcare beefs up predictive analytics for SDOH as the Feds make moves, while the parent looks to transform. The King’s Fund’s annual conference is back in November. And just for fun–get your Dead Startup Toys!

Saturday summer morning fun: treat yourself (or your boss) to a Dead Startup Toy (Playtime! If not now, when?)
Volte-face: VA now puts their Cerner EHR implementation on hold (Is this a job for Samson or Superman?)
The King’s Fund annual conference returns in November, virtually (Given all, a good call)
The implications of Teladoc’s integration into Microsoft Teams (Now we know why InTouch Health in health systems was worth the mega-money)
UnitedHealthcare pilots predictive analytics model for SDOH, sets out plan to transform into ‘high-performing health plan’ (Plenty of room for tech in this vision)

PERS makes news with an insider view of what happened at Philips Lifeline as Connect America finalizes its buy, and VRI’s up for a new owner. AliveCor continues to play David to Apple’s Goliath, hospital-at-home gets a $250M boost, UK’s Physitrack IPO raises $20M. 

News roundup: AliveCor’s latest FDA clearance plus antitrust vs. Apple, VRI on the market, Walgreens’ ‘tech-enabled future’ indefinite plus VillageMD status, monthly telehealth usage drops 12.5%
An ‘insider’ point of view on the Connect America acquisition of Philips Lifeline (Good background from industry sources)
News/deals roundup: Connect America finalizes Philips aging/caregiving buy; Amedisys-Contessa $250M hospital-at-home; UK’s Physitrack $20M IPO, Dutch motion tracker Xsens

Summer is speeding up before our eyes as we in the US celebrate our Independence Day (sorry, George III!). Tunstall appeals Swedish procurement exclusion. Bright Health and Olive both had beaucoup funding. StartUp Health spotlights brain health. Cerner and VA, imperfect together. Telehealth usage settling down. And, in product tie-ins–buy a Black+Decker PERS, get a power drill?

Lightning news roundup: AI for health systems Olive scores $400M, VA’s sticking with Cerner EHR, Black+Decker gets into the PERS game (An unseen connection between power drills and PERS units?)
Tunstall under fire in Swedish court on appeal of Adda procurement exclusion (Their Nordic troubles continue)
Four ‘moonshot’ health tech startups aiding cognition and brain health (podcast) (A worthwhile half-hour)
‘Insurtech’ Bright Health’s IPO second largest to date, but falls slightly short of estimates (updated) (Bad market day for an interesting model)
Telehealth usage going flat, off by 1/3 and declining: Trilliant Health study (Not taking over the world)

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


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

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

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

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


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

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

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

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The Roy Lilley-Sir Simon Stevens ‘Health Chat’ interview

Sir Simon Stevens, NHS England’s chief executive who leaves this post on 31 July after seven years, was interviewed by Roy Lilley (nhsManagers.net) for his recurring Institute of Health and Social Care Management Health Chat. This Editor has found a summary of the interview and it makes for interesting reading.

Sir Simon started with the NHS out of their graduate training program. Assigned to run a mental health facility in the North East, he introduced himself to some people on the drive by the facility and asked what they were doing. “Scattering the ashes of your predecessor” they said. From that macabre start, he went on to craft public policy under two very different Labor governments, the first ‘The NHS Plan’ in 2000 and then returning after stops at Downing Street and United Health to take over a ‘traumatized’ NHS in 2012. “The NHS was out of New Labour’s money, facing rising demand from an ageing and increasingly unequal society, and struggling to pick up the pieces from a broken social care system. It needed a new approach, and Sir Simon provided one with the ‘Five Year Forward View’ and its successor the ‘NHS Long Term Plan’” that controlled demand and improved efficiency by introducing population health management and integrated care. He was also able to secure funding, more than other agencies. Sir Simon was then expected to leave with the change of government, but then Covid-19 hit.

About halfway down, you’ll read some tart comments about the mix of digital health in the total picture of the NHS and whether digital first will stick.

With deputy Amanda Pritchard taking over, only weeks from the appointment of the new health secretary Sajid Javid replacing Matt ‘Man in a briefcase’ Hancock, the snapback in care demand, and apparently another round of a virus which should get the Henry VIII treatment (‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome virus’?), it will surely be interesting times. Hat tip to Highland Marketing which is the strategic communications partner for the Institute of Health and Social Care Management and the Academy of Fab Stuff, and article writer Lyn Whitfield. 

News and deal roundup: another big mental health app funding, Happify Health’s prescription therapy app debuts, Alcuris approved by Scottish Digital Telecare for cybersecurity

It does seem that behavioral health apps are falling from the trees and into pots of gold. Unicorns have become so…everyday. The latest is SonderMind, a Denver-based therapist matchmaking site for both video telehealth or in-person sessions. With a $150 million Series C round, it is claiming a valuation ‘well north’ of $1 billion. Main funders were Drive Capital and PremjiInvest. Previous funding was $32 million since 2017. The new funding will support expansion from the current 10 states to national. SonderMind first asks the prospective patient to complete a short questionnaire on care needs, insurance, and payment information, then connects them to a licensed mental health professional within a day or two. For their approved therapist group, they work with them to determine the types of patients they’d like to treat. FierceHealthcare

Another behavioral health company, Happify Health, announced Ensemble, its first prescription app. Formally called a PDTx (Prescription Digital Therapeutic), it will be for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). It’s a cognitive therapy with ‘Anna’, an intuitive support app with a patented dialogue flow. Ensemble is classified as an investigational medical device at this point. Happify plans to seek a 510(k) clearance in the future. It is designed to be used in support of other mental health treatments and can be integrated into a physician’s EHR.

The app’s development was facilitated by a recently renewed FDA guidance issued in April of 2020 that lets digital health companies go to market without clearance for digital health treatments for eight psychiatric disorders including those in Ensemble. Chris Wasden, head of DTx at Happify Health, was interviewed by Mobihealthnews. We note that Happify has been around since 2012 when mental health wouldn’t get you more than one free drink at a digital health conference. In March, they scored a $73 million Series D.

And in the UK, social alarm system Alcuris announced that their Memo Hub, Memo App and the Connec+ platform have been added to the list of Scottish Digital Telecare security-assessed suppliers. They were reviewed as part of cybersecurity for third parties which process personal data. Digital Telecare is part of the Scottish Local Government Digital Office and evaluates suppliers on their business processes as well as requiring independent Penetration testing (PEN testing). In their statement, “Alcuris welcomes the Digital Offices’ “Once for Scotland” approach and recognises the value it provides across Scotland. We would like to see a “Once for the UK” approach adopted and today we have written to the Telecare Services Association (TSA), to ask if they can collaborate with the Digital Office to enable the benefits of their security assessment programme to be available across the rest of the UK.”  Hat tip to Adrian Scaife of Alcuris for the release.

Telehealth Wars: Amwell’s raises game with buys of SilverCloud and Conversa Health; Teladoc’s slow member, hospital growth lead to $133M Q2 loss

Amwell’s announcement today (28 July) of the twin acquisitions of SilverCloud Health and Conversa Health for the tidy total sum of $320 million in cash and stock was, if not quite a ‘see ya and raise ya’ move, a confirmation that Amwell was going to raise its game, at long last, versus Teladoc. SilverCloud provides digital telehealth programs for common behavioral health conditions. A spinoff of Trinity College Dublin, it counts as US clients Kaiser Permanente, Optum, and Providence Health, plus over 80 percent of NHS’ mental health service. Conversa is a StartUp Health portfolio company that developed a scalable care management triage system for at-risk patients that provides automated patient outreach and engagement tools that can move them to higher levels of care where needed. Clients include Northwell Health, UCSF Health, UNC Health, Merck, MedStar Health, and Prisma Health. 

For Amwell, this expands their capabilities in the hot behavioral health area and, with Conversa, into a care management platform targeted to providers, pharma, and payers. They see digital workflows, patient engagement, a longer-term relationship with their consumer base through the continuum of care, through these two companies’ hospital, health system, health plan, and employer clients.

The wrinkle? Neither company is all that far along–SilverCloud has total funding of only $26 million but is more established with 750,000 clients and 300 organizations. Conversa’s Series B was a tiny $8 million for total funding of $34 million. Amwell also paid a premium price. According to Healthy Skeptic, a blog written by long-time UnitedHealth Group senior healthcare executive Kevin Roche, their combined revenue was $15 million–more than a 20x multiple of the purchase price. The other challenge for Amwell? Making all the systems work together in a meaningful way–and to market what can be a confusing picture properly. Amwell press release, Mobihealthnews

For Teladoc, growing beyond urgent care, plus integrating the former Livongo and InTouch Health, presents difficulties. Telehealth usage continues to shrink as in-person visits rebound save for behavioral health, which is also bad news for the payers as utilization goes up. Teladoc now struggles to add new members after last year’s pace. Their hospital business that came with last year’s acquisition of InTouch Health is growing more slowly than expected [TTA 16 July]. The expected cross-sales traction with the former Livongo hasn’t caught fire yet, but that may change with myStrength Complete and the myStrength app going live with health plans or employers starting this month. The first enterprise customers are a major Blues plan (likely HCSC) and a Fortune 100 employer. [TTA 14 May]. Teladoc is also growing into other areas with more continuous user engagement, such as chronic care, weight management, and primary care. That program, Primary360, is in “very very late-stage” discussions with multiple payers. Teladoc, which has never been profitable, lost $133.8 million for Q2.   Healthcare Dive

Cerner execs to VA Congressional committee: “We are committed to getting this right”

Two Cerner executives had their say in testimony to the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week, and they hung on by, presumably, their fingernails in their commitment to having working tests and a workable rollout of the Cerner Millenium system. This will replace the warhorse VistA system in use for decades in the VA, but incompatible with the Department of Defense’s Cerner MHS Genesis and earlier EHRs in use in military care facilities.

The EHR implementation, which is at last report costing $16 billion, failed miserably at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington in late 2020 into this year. The three-month review of the program “raises more questions than it answers,” said Committee Chair Frank Mrvan, D-Indiana. Other members concurred in being less than impressed by Cerner. Ranking Member Matt Rosendale, R-Montana, wasn’t interested in “shoveling more money into a flawed program just to keep the paychecks flowing.”

However, Brian Sandager, senior vice president and general manager of Cerner government services, pointed out that wait times at Mann-Grandstaff, with nearly 70% of veterans seen within 15 minutes of their scheduled appointment time, with urgent care patients seen within 13 minutes of arrival. Opioid treatments were flagged for alternative treatments.

Cerner Government Services has a great deal riding on the successful implementation of the VA contract, including their extensive government work with DOD on MHS Genesis and other healthcare organizations within the US Government, including those listed on their website: the US Coast Guard, CDC, HHS, and CMS.

Over 400 telehealth groups urge Congress to retain CARES Acts gains on remote care

430 telehealth and remote care companies, along with major health providers and associations, have organized to petition Congress to make permanent the changes instituted by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). These changes will expire this year unless the pandemic emergency extends into 2022.

Like the Senate Telemental Health Care Access Act of 2021 that would extend telemental health Medicare coverage to patients without a prior in-person visit [TTA 16 June], the extension of CARES Act coverage would require Congressional action to amend the Social Security Act: for telemental health, Title XVIII; for telehealth, Section 1834(m). While the Telemental bill is actually in the Senate, the permanent expansion of telehealth and remote care would require its own and far more complicated bill and corresponding regulations.

Based on the letter (PDF link), these changes would include:

  1. Remove Obsolete Restrictions on the Location of the Patient and Provider. This is the rural geographic restriction.
  2. Maintain and Enhance HHS Authority to Determine Appropriate Providers, Services, and
    Modalities for Telehealth. This would expand the list of practitioners, services, and also expand telehealth in some cases to audio-only consults.
  3. Ensure Federally Qualified Health Centers, Critical Access Hospitals, and Rural Health Clinics
    Can Furnish Telehealth Services After the PHE. These are the ‘safety net’ providers for underserved and rural areas.
  4. Remove Restrictions on Medicare Beneficiary Access to Mental and Behavioral Health Services
    Offered Through Telehealth. This covers much the same ground as the Telemental bill.

What is unclear, of course, it being Washington, is how quickly Congress will bestir itself to enact these changes to existing law before the end of 2021 and the expiration of the CARES Act window with, presumably, the end of the PHE. American Telemedicine Association (ATA) releaseHealthcareITNews, FierceHealthcare

TTA’s summer #5: UK’s GPDPR halted, dying Watson Health for sale, Owlet’s $1bn SPAC and more funding, and in-person events slowly come back

 

 

Weekly Alert

The big news for UK GPs this week was that the GPDPR’s extraction scheduled for 1 Sept is stopped for a Big Rework. Big Blue’s Watson Health dying in pieces, reportedly up for sale. But SPACs and investments have slowed only a bit for the summer with Owlet’s $1bn SPAC and digital health’s torrid $15bn first half. In-person meetings are starting to come back as well (apparently HIMSS21 is still on too).

Softly, softly: GPDPR comes to screeching halt, indefinitely, to be reworked (Don’t hold yer breath!)
News and deals roundup: Owlet’s $1B SPAC, Carbon Health’s $350M Series D, Series Bs by Woebot Health and b.Well, digital health rakes in $15bn (Owlet ‘socks it’ to the market, behavioral health and digital health match the hot weather)
Oh, MAMA! The Medical Alert Monitoring Association meeting, 28-29 September, Chicago (They’ll need the alerts in Chi-Town)
Three healthcare startup events: MedStartr NYC Thursday 21 July, Dallas Startup Week starts 1 August–and apply now for UCSF Health Awards (Look to Texas and California)
IBM Watson Health’s stumble and possible fall (The World Was Not Theirs, leading to Death By A Million Cuts)

Teladoc’s new alliance with Microsoft Teams stakes out real estate with health systems–and more. There’s life in VistA yet as VA throws hands up, puts Cerner EHR on hold. UnitedHealthcare beefs up predictive analytics for SDOH as the Feds make moves, while the parent looks to transform. The King’s Fund’s annual conference is back in November. And just for fun–get your Dead Startup Toys!

Saturday summer morning fun: treat yourself (or your boss) to a Dead Startup Toy (Playtime! If not now, when?)
Volte-face: VA now puts their Cerner EHR implementation on hold (Is this a job for Samson or Superman?)
The King’s Fund annual conference returns in November, virtually (Given all, a good call)
The implications of Teladoc’s integration into Microsoft Teams (Now we know why InTouch Health in health systems was worth the mega-money)
UnitedHealthcare pilots predictive analytics model for SDOH, sets out plan to transform into ‘high-performing health plan’ (Plenty of room for tech in this vision)

PERS makes news with an insider view of what happened at Philips Lifeline as Connect America finalizes its buy, and VRI’s up for a new owner. AliveCor continues to play David to Apple’s Goliath, hospital-at-home gets a $250M boost, UK’s Physitrack IPO raises $20M. 

News roundup: AliveCor’s latest FDA clearance plus antitrust vs. Apple, VRI on the market, Walgreens’ ‘tech-enabled future’ indefinite plus VillageMD status, monthly telehealth usage drops 12.5%
An ‘insider’ point of view on the Connect America acquisition of Philips Lifeline (Good background from industry sources)
News/deals roundup: Connect America finalizes Philips aging/caregiving buy; Amedisys-Contessa $250M hospital-at-home; UK’s Physitrack $20M IPO, Dutch motion tracker Xsens

Summer is speeding up before our eyes as we in the US celebrate our Independence Day (sorry, George III!). Tunstall appeals Swedish procurement exclusion. Bright Health and Olive both had beaucoup funding. StartUp Health spotlights brain health. Cerner and VA, imperfect together. Telehealth usage settling down. And, in product tie-ins–buy a Black+Decker PERS, get a power drill?

Lightning news roundup: AI for health systems Olive scores $400M, VA’s sticking with Cerner EHR, Black+Decker gets into the PERS game (An unseen connection between power drills and PERS units?)
Tunstall under fire in Swedish court on appeal of Adda procurement exclusion (Their Nordic troubles continue)
Four ‘moonshot’ health tech startups aiding cognition and brain health (podcast) (A worthwhile half-hour)
‘Insurtech’ Bright Health’s IPO second largest to date, but falls slightly short of estimates (updated) (Bad market day for an interesting model)
Telehealth usage going flat, off by 1/3 and declining: Trilliant Health study (Not taking over the world)

GPDPR update (what’s the rush?) with a review of NHS’ ‘Data Saves Lives’ white paper, funding/SPAC deals, Amazon gets into the digital health accelerator business. Are we finally reaching takeoff for wearables targeted to older adults? And sobering Weekend Reading on our State of Healthcare Data Insecurity.

Weekend reading: 1/3 of global healthcare orgs ransomwared, 50%+ mobile privacy problems–BMJ study, med device insecurity (Sure to make you feel insecure)
News/deals roundup: Amazon’s health accelerator, digital health library opens, Ziegler’s ‘Hospital at Home’ paper, SEHTA announces MedTech event; $670M in funding for Talkspace, Pear, DrChrono, NuvoAir (Not slowing down yet)
Aging and Health Technology Watch’s latest: The Future of Wearables and Older Adults 2021 (The Next Big Thing?)
GPDPR update: GPs must set own patient opt-out date prior to 1 September extraction (updated for ‘Data Saves Lives’) (Why is NHS Digital rushing?)

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


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

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

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

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


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

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

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

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

Softly, softly: GPDPR comes to screeching halt, indefinitely, to be reworked

UK GPs and offices can now take an August holiday. The entire process of GPs extracting their data for the NHS GP Data for Planning and Research (GPDPR) database and patients opting out has been halted–or “deferred” per the letter from Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Jo Churchill. Formally, the Data Provision Notice was withdrawn on 19 June–and quietly. That means no more deadline of 1 September–or, in fact, any deadline, right now. 

According to the letter to GPs:

Instead, we commit to start uploading data only when we have the following in place:

  • the ability to delete data if patients choose to opt-out of sharing their GP data with NHS Digital, even if this is after their data has been uploaded [This is a significant feature that is expanded on later in the letter–Ed.]
  • the backlog of opt-outs has been fully cleared
  • a Trusted Research Environment has been developed and implemented in NHS Digital [Security based on OpenSAFELY and the Office for National Statistics’ Secure Research Service best practices–Ed.]
  • patients have been made more aware of the scheme through a campaign of engagement and communication

The revised scheme will be created in collaboration with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the British Medical Association (BMA). One wonders why these logical steps weren’t taken before deadlines were set, moved, and about five medical associations plus at least one MP excoriated the NHS publicly. Undoubtedly more tap dancing to come. Our most recent and previous coverage here. Also Pulse and HealthcareITNews EMEA.

News and deals roundup: Owlet’s $1B SPAC, Carbon Health’s $350M Series D, Series Bs by Woebot Health and b.Well, digital health rakes in $15bn

Baby monitoring system Owlet closed its SPAC late last week with Sandbridge Acquisition Corporation. It is now trading on the NYSE (OWLT) for around $8 per share. With Sandbridge’s investment and the concurrent private placement (PIPE), Owlet now has $135 million and a valuation of over $1 billion, far exceeding the $325 million estimated [TTA 17 Feb]. Owlet started in 2013 with a ‘Smart Sock’ (right) at $299 using pulse oximetry to monitor baby heart rate, oxygen levels, and sleep patterns with readouts via their app, but has expanded to include an Owlet Cam and a Dream Lab to encourage good baby sleep, which parents will be the first to appreciate. Mobihealthnews

Carbon Health, which is certainly an odd name for a primary care provider plus virtual health with a streamlined patient record/EMR system and makes insurers happy because they charge only Medicare rates, received a hefty $350 million Series D raise. Led by Blackstone Horizon Partners with Atreides, Homebrew, Hudson Bay Capital, Fifth Wall, Lux Capital, Silver Lake Waterman, and BlackRock participating, along with returning investors Dragoneer Investment Group and Brookfield Technology Partners along with a slew of private investors, it follows on last November’s Series C of $100 million for a total raise since 2016 of $522 million. Valuation is what used to be an eye-blinking $3.3 billion. Carbon’s locations are a bit strange–concentrated in California and SF area with outposts, many of which are limited service or ‘pop-ups’, in Florida, Arizona, Kansas, and NYC. Unlike the recently covered One Medical, it does not require any kind of annual concierge fee. The model is an interesting one in positing high service and low cost. The founders are also staking out becoming the largest US primary care provider, which Village Medical or UnitedHealth Group would not be delighted about. One wonders if all this staking out will work, or is to attract payer investment when the VCs decide to exit. FierceHealthcare, Mobihealthnews (referring to them as multimodal, which sounds like ocean/rail transport or articulated lorries), Forbes

Also in the Mobihealthnews article: a Series B $90 million raise by Woebot Health, developer of a mental health chatbot (ok, relational agent), and the $32 million Series B raise of b.well Connected Health, a patient-facing health management platform that will get a big boost from interoperability around patient records required under the Cures Act. Woebot’s twee infographic about their therapeutic bond study in the JMIR is woeful, though, as large parts are unreadable.

No surprise that digital health funding hit a $15 billion high in the first half of 2021, up 138%, driven in large part by telehealth investment. This is based on a report from Mercom Capital Group. FierceHealthcare

Oh, MAMA! The Medical Alert Monitoring Association meeting, 28-29 September, Chicago

If you are in the medical alert business in the US or are looking at investing here, you’re likely a member of MAMA. This year, the two-day members-only MAMA Annual Conference will take place in-person and virtually at the Park Hyatt Chicago for two days, 28-29 September. There are special rates for first-time participants upon advance application.

  • Day 1 includes a deep dive into the industry, technology trends, as well as an overview of the annual industry survey. Also on Day 1 is the Medical Alert Financial Summit. It’s included with the Annual Conference, but if you only want to attend the financial summit, a separate registration is required. With major deals such as the sale of Philips Lifeline to Connect America and VRI being on the market, it will be interesting!
  • Day 2 is for MAMA members only and includes strategic round table discussions on supply chain, the 3G to 4G conversion, government funding, remote patient monitoring, and telehealth.

Information, hotel booking, and registration page here. Hat tip to PERS Insider (free subscription here) which will be covering the conference.

Three healthcare startup events: MedStartr NYC Thursday 21 July, Dallas Startup Week starts 1 August–and apply now for UCSF Health Awards

The startup events return….

Move fast–this one is tomorrow! MedStartr (a/k/a Health 2.0 NYC) is returning to NYC with a pitch event that is both live and video. Six startups are listed to be participating: Emedevents, Pelex, Beam, Gravitas Labs, Umbrosys, and ShereHealth.co/BrooklynMinds.com. If you would like to attend live at the location in Midtown, registration and tickets are here through Eventbrite. However, do note that proof of vaccination in advance must be sent in. For the unvaccinated and vaccinated without cards, a rapid test will be performed and those with a positive test will be sent home. Negatives may stay, masked if unvaxed. (So much for the indoor removal of same!) You may feel more comfortable opting for the video version which will be presented on MedStartr.TV or on Clubhouse (app requires installation). Hat tip to our old compadre Alex Fair 

And Hubert Zajicek and the Health Wildcatters have their Dallas Startup Week kicking off on Sunday 1 August with a full five days, with 21 tracks plus special events and summits. It will both in-person at the Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business and live-streamed on Brushfire. Registration is here (and reasonable).

Health Wildcatters is also collaborating with UCSF Health Hub for the 3rd annual UCSF Health Awards. There are 18 selected award categories, including telehealth, remote and hospital diagnostics, patient cost savings and life sciences. Applications are due on 31 July. Those making it to the quarterfinal will be notified by 16-20 August, with semifinalists notified 13-17 September. Final awards are 7 October at a live ceremony in Mission Bay, San Francisco. 

IBM Watson Health’s stumble and possible fall

This Editor hadn’t thought about or seen news about IBM Watson Health in over a year…and likely, neither did you. Granted, our minds have been Otherwise Engaged, but for the company that was supposed to dominate AI and health analytics, it’s notable that TTA’s last two articles mentioning Watson Health was 25 April 2019, on a report that its Drug Discovery unit was being cut back as the latest in a series of executive cutbacks and lawsuits (MD Anderson on a failed oncology initiative), and 14 Feb 2020 on 3M’s lawsuit on unauthorized use of their software.

The New York Times in an investigative piece (may be paywalled or require signup for limited access), brings us up to date on what is happening at IBM Watson, and it’s not bright for Watson Health. IBM, like so many other companies, badly underestimated the sheer screaming complexity of health data. Their executives believed they could translate the big win on the “Jeopardy!” game show in 2011, based on brute computing power, into mastery of healthcare data and translation into massive predictive models. The CEO at the time called it their ‘moon shot’. Big thinkers such as Clayton Christensen chimed in. IBM managers sang its praises to all in healthcare who would listen. This Editor, on a gig at a major health plan in NJ that was ‘thinking big’ at the time and used IBM consultants extensively, in 2012 was able to bring in speakers from Watson for an internal meeting.

But we haven’t been on the moon since 1972 (though probes have visited Mars). Since the big push in 2011-12, it’s been one stumble after another. According to the Times:

  • The bar was set much too high with oncology. Watson researchers knew early on in their research at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine that their genetic data was filled with gaps, complexity, and messiness. The experience was similar with Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The products growing out of the UNC and MSKCC research, Watson for Genomics and Watson for Oncology, were discontinued last year. These were in addition to the MD Anderson Cancer Center initiative, Oncology Expert Advisor for treatment recommendations, that was kicked to the curb [TTA 22 Feb 2017] after $62 million spent. At the same time, IBM’s CEO was proudly announcing at HIMSS17 that they were betting the company on multiple new initiatives. 
  • Watson Health, formed in 2015, bought leading data analytics companies and then didn’t know what to do with them. TTA noted in August 2018 that Phytel, Explorys, and Truven Health Analytics were acquired as market leaders with significant books of business–and then shrank after being ‘bluewashed’. HISTalk, in its review of the Times article, noted that along with Merge Healthcare, IBM spent $4 billion for these companies. IBM’s difficulties in crunching real doctor and physical data were well known in 2018 with revealing articles in IEEE Spectrum and Der Spiegel

Six years later, Watson Health has been drastically pared back and reportedly is up for sale. Smaller, nimbler companies have taken over cloud computing and data analytics with AI and machine learning solutions that broke problems down into manageable chunks and business niches.

What’s recoverable from Watson? Basic, crunchy AI. Watson does natural language processing very well, as well as or better than Amazon, Google, and Microsoft. Watson Assistant is used by payers like Anthem to automate customer inquiries. Hardly a moonshot or even clinical decision support. For business, Watson applications automate basic tasks in ‘dishwashing’ areas such as accounting, payments, technology operations, marketing, and customer service. The bottom line is not good for IBM; both areas bring in a reported $1 billion per year but Watson continues to lose money. 

TTA’s summer #4: why Teladoc staking out Teams in health systems is big, VA pauses Cerner, UHC’s predictive analytics for SDOH, UHG’s transformation moves, King’s Fund back in Nov, and get your Dead Startup Toys!

 

 

Weekly Alert

Teladoc’s new alliance with Microsoft Teams stakes out real estate with health systems–and more. There’s life in VistA yet as VA throws hands up, puts Cerner EHR on hold. UnitedHealthcare beefs up predictive analytics for SDOH as the Feds make moves, while the parent looks to transform. The King’s Fund’s annual conference is back in November. And just for fun–get your Dead Startup Toys!

Saturday summer morning fun: treat yourself (or your boss) to a Dead Startup Toy (Playtime! If not now, when?)
Volte-face: VA now puts their Cerner EHR implementation on hold (Is this a job for Samson or Superman?)
The King’s Fund annual conference returns in November, virtually (Given all, a good call)
The implications of Teladoc’s integration into Microsoft Teams (Now we know why InTouch Health in health systems was worth the mega-money)
UnitedHealthcare pilots predictive analytics model for SDOH, sets out plan to transform into ‘high-performing health plan’ (Plenty of room for tech in this vision)

PERS makes news with an insider view of what happened at Philips Lifeline as Connect America finalizes its buy, and VRI’s up for a new owner. AliveCor continues to play David to Apple’s Goliath, hospital-at-home gets a $250M boost, UK’s Physitrack IPO raises $20M. 

News roundup: AliveCor’s latest FDA clearance plus antitrust vs. Apple, VRI on the market, Walgreens’ ‘tech-enabled future’ indefinite plus VillageMD status, monthly telehealth usage drops 12.5%
An ‘insider’ point of view on the Connect America acquisition of Philips Lifeline (Good background from industry sources)
News/deals roundup: Connect America finalizes Philips aging/caregiving buy; Amedisys-Contessa $250M hospital-at-home; UK’s Physitrack $20M IPO, Dutch motion tracker Xsens

Summer is speeding up before our eyes as we in the US celebrate our Independence Day (sorry, George III!). Tunstall appeals Swedish procurement exclusion. Bright Health and Olive both had beaucoup funding. StartUp Health spotlights brain health. Cerner and VA, imperfect together. Telehealth usage settling down. And, in product tie-ins–buy a Black+Decker PERS, get a power drill?

Lightning news roundup: AI for health systems Olive scores $400M, VA’s sticking with Cerner EHR, Black+Decker gets into the PERS game (An unseen connection between power drills and PERS units?)
Tunstall under fire in Swedish court on appeal of Adda procurement exclusion (Their Nordic troubles continue)
Four ‘moonshot’ health tech startups aiding cognition and brain health (podcast) (A worthwhile half-hour)
‘Insurtech’ Bright Health’s IPO second largest to date, but falls slightly short of estimates (updated) (Bad market day for an interesting model)
Telehealth usage going flat, off by 1/3 and declining: Trilliant Health study (Not taking over the world)

GPDPR update (what’s the rush?) with a review of NHS’ ‘Data Saves Lives’ white paper, funding/SPAC deals, Amazon gets into the digital health accelerator business. Are we finally reaching takeoff for wearables targeted to older adults? And sobering Weekend Reading on our State of Healthcare Data Insecurity.

Weekend reading: 1/3 of global healthcare orgs ransomwared, 50%+ mobile privacy problems–BMJ study, med device insecurity (Sure to make you feel insecure)
News/deals roundup: Amazon’s health accelerator, digital health library opens, Ziegler’s ‘Hospital at Home’ paper, SEHTA announces MedTech event; $670M in funding for Talkspace, Pear, DrChrono, NuvoAir (Not slowing down yet)
Aging and Health Technology Watch’s latest: The Future of Wearables and Older Adults 2021 (The Next Big Thing?)
GPDPR update: GPs must set own patient opt-out date prior to 1 September extraction (updated for ‘Data Saves Lives’) (Why is NHS Digital rushing?)

A news potpourri closing out the spring and welcoming summer. A billion-record database exposure, news and deals including the UK, robotic exoskeletons for MS, and a Facebook smartwatch. And what’s a week without Theranos as we inch towards the Silicon Valley Fraud Trial of the (Last) Decade?

Breaking: 1B CVS Health records exposed in unsecured database now secured (CVS should be grateful for the outside ‘security angels’)
US FCC releases Round 2 of the Connected Care Pilot Program with 36 projects (Our USF fees at work funding projects for rural and underserved markets)
News and deal roundup: Zus Health’s $34M ‘back-end in a box’, Bright Health’s IPO, Lyra Health’s $200M done, Valo Health’s $2.8B SPAC; UK’s Alcuris, Clarity Informatics, GTX test; Google’s health blues, Facebook’s smartwatch 
Robotic exoskeletons successfully used in exercise rehabilitation for MS patients: study (Important news for those with MS and neurological diseases)
The Theranos Story, ch. 74: defense questionnaire trimmed; Holmes loses attorney-client privileges on 13 emails, doctor/patient testimony allowed (It’s getting serious for Ms. Holmes)
Disruption or giveaway: Amazon Care signs on employers, but who? Amazon Pharmacy’s 6 months of meds for $6. (updated) (What is Amazon really up to?)
Telemental Health Care Access Act introduced in US Senate to repeal in-person requirements for mental telehealth care (Senate bill only a start…and hopefully it will go through this year, or next)

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


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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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Saturday summer morning fun: treat yourself (or your boss) to a Dead Startup Toy

Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons. Most of our Readers have seen startups come and go. Some this Editor has profiled were regrettable. Some had Cute Factor, but still tanked. Others were high in Stonato Factor. And a few, like Theranos, had Major Fraud Factor, augering in taking hundreds of millions of OPM with it (not including legal fees).

But entrepreneurial hope springs eternal, and why not memorialize these College Trys with a toy? MSCHF of Brooklyn has style, enough to go viral with a unique spin on swag. You can go on eBay, Poshmark, or Etsy to grab a Theranos poster or mug, but you can’t get a Theranos mini MiniLab to put on your shelf as a memento mori. Or a toy Jibo [TTA 18 July 2014]  to remind you to not go up against Google and Amazon. There’s also CoolestCooler, a Kickstarted cooler/speaker/blender that never delivered the goods but burned through $14 million, Juicero, an $400 IoT juicer that laid waste to $120 million in one year, and One Laptop Per Child, a Nick Negroponte-headed $100 laptop full of clunkiness that didn’t make it past the Seven Year Itch of Reality.  (The last two are sold out)

Have some fun reviewing–and shoppingHat tip to Reader Dave Albert of AliveCor (KardiaMobile), who definitely has a sense of humor!

Volte-face: VA now puts their Cerner EHR implementation on hold

The US Department of Veterans Affairs has pulled a 180° on the Cerner EHR implementation. In a move worthy of the old-time moonshine runners, VA Secretary Denis McDonough went before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday to announce that the deployment of the Cerner system in the VA is on hold. This is after maintaining two weeks ago [TTA 2 July] that they were sticking with Cerner and the implementation, pending a further review.

In the interim, the VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued two reports that criticized the unreliable estimating process for various upgrades to the system, including lack of complete documentation, and the implementation of the Cerner EHR at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in Spokane, Washington, starting in October 2020. HealthcareITNews

In a classic ‘falling on one’s sword’ in the Wednesday hearing, Secretary McDonough told the committee that the project review found multiple “governance and management challenges” as well as patient safety concerns and system errors. He attributed them to VA and Cerner leadership, or lack thereof. For instance, VA clinicians couldn’t easily find help from Cerner on the initial rollout at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center. The clinician using it called the help desk, reaching a Cerner employee there but a week. The Cerner EHR also generated duplicate prescriptions and confused patients.

The approach to implementing the modernized Cerner EHR approach will be ‘reimagined’ (DC-speak for redoing what should have been done right the first time, which started in 2017). This will start with a new, enterprise-wide governance structure to manage the project and integrate it with other modernizations, according to the Secretary. He admitted that the original plan to roll out the EHR by geographic area was a mistake. It will also not be synchronized with the Department of Defense rollout, which has proceeded without serious hitches. Go-lives will now be based on evidence of readiness, such as training, infrastructure, and management.

The Deputy Secretary has been designated to be directly in charge of the project. Acting undersecretary for health Richard Stone, MD, who had been in charge of the Cerner implementation, resigned in June after not being considered for the deputy secretary post. Secretary McDonough pitched the senators on quickly confirming nominee Donald Remy, with whom he will be speaking on big decisions. (One would hope. Mr. Remy, who was confirmed on 15 July. )

The final straw for the senators was budget. HISTalk summarizes: “The cost of the project, which was originally estimated at $10 billion when Cerner was awarded a no-bid contract in 2017, has risen to over $20 billion. McDonough has ordered a new budget estimate for the entire project, which will include the several billion dollars of infrastructure upgrades that the original estimate missed.”

Looks like the Old Gray Mare of EHRs, VistA, will be lingering for awhile. This Editor lays even money that the senators will be discussing the same issues, such as revenue cycle management, in 2025. Becker’s Hospital Review, Federal News Network

The King’s Fund annual conference returns in November, virtually

The King’s Fund has been able this year to maintain a virtual event schedule, of conferences, one-hour free events, and three-hour workshops. Thus it was good news that one of those conferences will be their annual conference 29 November-2 December, but not in person quite yet. It will be full virtual, first live then on demand through the end of the year. Content will center around:

  • the role of the NHS and the wider health and care system in tackling health inequalities
  • what the new health and social care Bill means for the system in England
  • how the recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is being managed and plans to meet the backlog challenge
  • how to meet the needs of the health and care workforce.

For more information, registration, and sponsorship opportunities, check their conference page here.