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2021 predictions: telehealth law and if at all possible, stay away from FDA (US)

...Hills and Big Tech has its eye on it. 4. Enforcement: OIG/DOJ Will Build on Prior Investigations. This is the area of Medicare overpayment, wrong payment, and fraudulent tele- and TV marketing of medications, genetic testing, and DME. This massive takedown including opioids made headlines last year [TTA 2 Oct] and included $4.5 bn in fake telemedicine claims. It’s kind of a no-brainer that with the expansion of telehealth, this will continue. It’s always been on the Fed’s radar screen. 5. Payment: Continued Expansion of Telehealth Reimbursement. Again, a ‘Captain Obvious’ with the changes in the 2021 PFS plus resistant... Continue Reading

Haven finds no haven in healthcare, will close in February

...in September. Becker’s Hospital Review The one partner with retail consumer healthcare experience–Amazon–increasingly and publicly pulled off in its own beneficial directions, acquiring PillPack in mid-2019 as the first move towards a PBM, then in the past few months pushing Amazon Care for large employers and creating Amazon Pharmacy. The other two companies also, according to reports, executed their own projects with their own teams. The small employee group (under 60) may find spots at one of the three companies. The official announcement states they will ‘collaborate informally’. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. Fierce Healthcare, CNBC, HISTalk.... Continue Reading

News roundup, lockdown edition: Oscar Health’s $140M raise, IPO filing; Centene’s Diameter Health investment; Abbott’s telehealth-guided COVID antigen test

...and Activate Venture Partners also participated. Fierce Healthcare Centene recently finalized their acquisition of Apixio (AI-assisted clinical data mining of unstructured data) [TTA 14 Nov] and is acquiring Pantherx, a specialty pharmacy focused on orphan medications and rare diseases, to blend into their Envolve Pharmacy Solutions unit. It does appear that Centene is moving into the UnitedHealthcare/Optum model of dividing services and innovations which can be sold to third parties (Optum) from their health plan and pharmacy businesses (UHC), which may be less profitable in the next few years. An antigen test for COVID-19 with a telehealth spin is Abbott... Continue Reading

Amazon’s feint into large employer telehealth; HealthLake dives into structured health data analytics

Much ado about…..? Amazon is reportedly making an effort to lure large employers into its Amazon Care telehealth and in-person care platform. Amazon Care is a health benefit presently offered to Amazon employees, with telehealth nationally and in-person for Seattle area residents. About 300 Amazon employees use it, which is low given their employee size and after 15 months. Since internal takeup has to date been limited, this Editor observes that Amazon may be testing the scaleup waters by inviting other companies in. These reports indicate that online real estate marketplace Zillow was approached but has moved no further with... Continue Reading

News roundup: Cera hits £89.5M revenues, Alcove Carephone in new elder housing, Everlywell home test kits raise $179M; FDA clears Lucira’s all-in-one COVID test kit, Apple Watch new ECG feature

...UK remains on a non-virtual lockdown in most places and Christmas looks distinctly un-festive this year, especially for older adults. Local Authority Building & Maintenance (LABM) Online. COVID-19 has certainly been a boom of a boon for at-home testing companies. Everlywell just raised a hefty Series D of $179 million. They market and process over 30 FDA-cleared kits, including (of course) symptomatic COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2, lower nasal swab) with a follow up from the lab in 24-48 hours via their app coupled with a telehealth consult. Other kits include thyroid, indoor/outdoor and food allergies, and hepatitis C, at prices ranging from... Continue Reading

Walgreens and VillageMD kickstarting the ‘Go Big’ strategy of over 500 co-located primary care offices

...confirms that they aren’t wavering from their ‘go big or go home’ strategy, clearly targeted to revitalize their retail locations and pharmacy in higher potential markets. Since then, Amazon has opened up Pharmacy in addition to PillPack, CVS is integrating SDOH into pharmacy as a trial, and Walmart Health continues to waver with a limping expansion of 22 clinics in four states. Walgreens picked a very strong partner in VillageMD and Village Medical, which now have more than 2,800 physicians across nine markets, cover approximately 600,000 lives, and manage $4 billion in total medical spend in value-based contracts. They also... Continue Reading

CMS expands telehealth, RPM in 2021 Physician Fee Schedule, creates post-pandemic temporary category (updated)

On 1 December, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced its all-important 2021 Physician Fee Schedule (PFS), which sets out the fees and rules for physicians providing services to Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries and generally serves as a guideline to commercial payers. If one only reads the release headline, one would assume that the national telehealth payment expansion that was approved when the public health emergency (PHE) was declared in March would be largely retained permanently in the 2021 PFS after the earnestly desired end of the PHE, extended to 20 January 2021, Interpreting CMS-speak is always a task,... Continue Reading

The Theranos Story, ch. 68: the texts told the tech failure–and please omit Holmes’ ‘luxurious lifestyle’ and profane meeting language from trial

...government has detailed her company-paid perks such as a luxury SUV, a rented luxury house, and luxury-level travel, in addition to a ‘substantial salary’. The defense is also seeking to omit any references to Theranos employees making claims about the technology, including Theranos sales representatives falsely claiming that the FDA approved the company’s lab machines. The grounds to omit are that Holmes could not be responsible for their false statements. The defense also seeks to omit transcripts of a company meeting that used profane language to refer to reporting in the Wall Street Journal investigating the company and a competitor... Continue Reading

Health tech M&A moves: Well Health’s $45M Series C, GigHealth2/UpHealth’s $1.35 bn ‘blank check’ acquisition

...revenue growth is already contracted. The combined company will be named UpHealth, Inc. and trade on the NYSE under UPH. The new company will be organized in four lines across population health management and telehealth: Integrated Care Management, Global Telehealth, Digital Pharmacy, and Tech-enabled Behavioral Health. Global Telehealth under the Cloudbreak brand claims 100,000 encounters per month on over 14,000 video endpoints at over 1,800 healthcare venues nationwide, with telepsychiatry, telestroke, tele-urology, and other specialties. GigCapital2 previously raised $150 million in an IPO in June 2019. It will raise an additional $160 million as a private investment in a public... Continue Reading

Thank and Praise thanking wall adopted by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust

As in the US we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, when Plymouth Rock landed on the Pilgrims, this is appropriate. Thank and Praise Ltd., a soci al thanking platform that sets up digital ‘thanking walls’ and thanking books, announced that they were selected by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust to set up a digital thanking wall for their staff. The objective is to boost staff wellbeing and morale, especially with the continuance of the COVID pandemic. Patients, staff friends and relatives, and local people can post, using a simple online form, messages of thanks and cheer such as this (left).   United... Continue Reading