Mid-week news roundup: HarmonyCares $200M round, Risant to buy Cone Health, Courier Health’s $16.5M Series A; Coalition for Health AI loses HHS/FDA members; Weekend Read–reining in AI’s Wild West?

In further Signs Of Life in healthcare funding and acquisitions:

In-home primary care provider HarmonyCares obtained $200 million in an unlettered round. Lead investors are General Catalyst, McKesson Ventures, and interestingly, an unnamed large national payer. Other investors are K2 HealthVentures with existing investors Rubicon Founders, Valtruis, HLM Capital, and Oak HC/FT. HarmonyCares provides in-home primary care to 70,000 patients in 15 states via 175-plus providers. Care teams include nurse care managers, social workers, and pharmacists, reinforced by 24-7 on-call support. The integrated model serves higher-needs patients through value-based care partnerships with Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare ACO programs via Centene, Aetna, and others. The fresh funding will be used for market expansion and scale up new technology for clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. The company was founded as US Medical Management in 2013, became majority owned by Centene Corporation, which then sold it off as part of their 2021 divestitures. Release, FierceHealthcare, MedCityNews

Risant Health, the nonprofit/community-based hospital system initiative of Kaiser, intends to acquire Cone Health of Greensboro, North Carolina. Cone has five hospitals and an insurance plan. Purchase price was not disclosed, but Cone’s 2023 operating revenue was $2.8 billion. Closing the deal is dependent on the usual approvals. Cone plans to continue to operate independently. It is the second of five planned acquisitions with a $5 billion war chest that kicked off with Pennsylvania-based Geisinger that closed in April, The systems are being chosen for value-based care and population health models–as well as financial health and geographic expansion. Geisinger added $4.6 billion in a one-time gain to Kaiser’s bottom line last quarter.  MedCityNews, Healthcare Dive

Geisinger also experienced a massive data breach initiated by a former Nuance Communications employee that potentially exposed 1.2 million records. While it took place in late 2023, it was reported only last week. TTA 2 July

Courier Health added a $16.5 million Series A from Norwest Venture Partners and existing investor Work-Bench to its existing $4 million in seed funding. NYC-based Courier is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform to manage specialty medications across the patient journey, coordinating information for biopharma companies from patients and providers for field access, patient services, and marketing teams. Release, Endpoints

The Coalition for Health AI (CHAI) is losing two members out of HHS: Micky Tripathi and Troy Tazbaz. They were named in March to the CHAI board of directors as non-voting Federal liaisons. Both withdrew from the BOD due to potential Federal regulatory conflicts surfaced by Congress with this primarily private and for-profit organization. Dr. Tripathi is head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC-HIT) and Acting Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Mr. Tazbaz is Director of the Digital Health Center of Excellence (DHCoE) at FDA. An FDA spokesperson told Healthcare Dive that Mr. Tazbaz is stepping down after the agency decided it no longer needed to participate in CHAI as a non-voting member. Hmmmm…..

Weekend Read: despite CHAI and other well-meaning agencies, including Federal, AI still resembles The Wild West. The author of this MedCityNews influencer piece points out that a faulty algorithm can make the difference between life and death. While he credits AI scribes for lightening provider load, AI is no quick fix or a bucket of cherries. FTA:

  • Bold claims abound but aren’t backed up by clinical research or regulatory oversight
  • Healthcare has become saturated with AI solutions that blur the line between what’s regulated and what isn’t. Clinicians have been left in the dark and are pushing back–the nurses’ protest against Kaiser is but one example.
  • AI development should be viewed through a regulatory-grade lens. The ability to demonstrate that a solution is positively impacting the care of a patient and not creating patient safety issues is crucial.
  • Clinical AI needs to go through the FDA approval process and developers need to understand that process.
  • The solution is not there to replace the clinician

Of course, this is all happening as healthcare is targeted by ransomware bad actors–and while health systems are laying off experienced IT staff, who have to be part of this evaluation. The above-mentioned Kaiser laid off well over a hundred in the past few months. Becker’s

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