Deal and news roundup: Therapy Brands’ big KKR investment, AppliedVR’s non-painful $29M Series A; Akili tests cognitive-boosting games; Firefly Health lights up $40M; Mastercard-b.well partner, two big IPOs filed, more

Behavioral health stays on the bubble. Therapy Brands, a Birmingham, Alabama-based company with a suite of mental and behavioral health practice tools for providers, announced (7 April) that major investment firm KKR will take a majority interest in the company. Existing investor PSG will participate. Exiting are current investors Lightyear Capital LLC, Oak HC/FT, and Greater Sum Ventures. Neither expected closing nor financial terms were disclosed. Previous investment was private equity and is not available (Crunchbase).

Therapy, founded in 2013, has a suite of practice management, telehealth, and data collection tools encompassing practice management; software tools for substance, psychotherapy, and rehab treatment; two HIPAA-compliant telehealth/e-prescription platforms; billing; and staff performance evaluation. It’s remained under the radar yet boasts leadership from Greenway Health–their CEO, Kimberly O’Loughlin–Community Brands, Advance Publications, ADP, and Henry Schein. 

Virtual reality and its effects on the brain are growing warm as an approach to pain management. LA-based AppliedVR announced a $29 million Series A with F-Prime Capital, JAZZ Venture Partners, Sway Ventures, GSR Ventures, Magnetic Ventures, and Cedars-Sinai. Their EaseVRx was the first VR-based prescription therapeutic to receive FDA Breakthrough Device Designation late last year to care for treatment-resistant fibromyalgia and lower back pain. VR is used to modulate the brain’s perception of pain through cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and biofeedback, reducing it in intensity and emotional effect. Total funding is $35 million since 2016. While still in clinical trials for other types of pain management (recent release), EaseVRx is being used by 200 provider groups and 60,000 patients. This Editor noted their inclusion in a Louisville Thrive Center showcase back in 2017 when Care Innovations was there; they are still listed under Social Engagement. Release. FierceHealthcare includes AppliedVR with a roundup of March deals.

Related in brain management is therapy for a long-term effect of COVID-19 infection recovery–cognitive impairment. An emerging long-term effect of COVID-19 illness in some individuals has been ‘brain fog’. Akili Interactive of Boston is collaborating with Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, and Vanderbilt University Medical Center to evaluate their video game-based digital therapeutic AKL-T01 as a treatment for patients with cognitive dysfunction following COVID-19. Their EndeavorRX has also been used with therapy for children with ADHD and includes a behavior tracking app. Release

Boston-based startup Firefly Health scored a luminescent Series B of $40 million. Their current platform provides integrated in-person and virtual primary health along with specialist referrals and behavioral support in what they term a ‘digital Kaiser’. The raise will be used to launch a targeted health plan offering. Firefly already works with Aetna, Anthem, Tufts Health Plan, and UnitedHealthcare, among others, but at this time is pretty much limited to Massachusetts and does not accept Medicare nor Medicaid. Jonathan Bush, former CEO of athenahealth, joined back in 2019 as executive chairman a year after his departure. FierceHealthcare

And in other news…

Two IPO filings plus a SPAC:

  • Privia Health, a national physician platform furnishing management services to providers such as group formation (ACOs) and technologies for coordination and value-based patient care, announced their S-1 with the SEC. No share offering information was disclosed. Lead managers are Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, so it will be sizeable.
  • Agilon Health, another management services company organizing community physicians for Medicare Advantage in their ‘Total Care Model’ value-based care for 65+, announced their S-1 for 46.6 million shares priced between $20 to $23 per share. At the low price, this would be a raise of $932 million. JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, and BofA Securities are leads. Hat tip on both to HISTalk Morning Headlines.
  • Better Therapeutics, a digital therapeutics/cognitive health platform addressing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, will be merging with a SPAC, Mountain Crest Acquisition Corp. II, closing by late summer for listing on NASDAQ. Projected: $113 million of cash proceeds, including a fully committed $50 million PIPE and up to $57.5 million of cash held in the Mountain Crest II trust account assuming no redemptions, for a valuation of about $187 million. Release, Mobihealthnews

Mastercard and b.well Connected Health, a consumer health management platform via employers, health systems, and health plans, are launching a patient identity verification tool for mobile phones. FierceHealthcare

And a health tech entrepreneur turns towards the payer side, for now. Karl Hess joins Texas Health Aetna, a joint venture between Arlington-based Texas Health Resources and Aetna, as interim CEO. Mr. Hess is better known to health techies on LinkedIn as principal of OnDigitalHealth Consulting, Kalico Partners in population health management, Welltok, and Collain Healthcare. Becker’s Payer Issues

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