Short takes: FDA seeks feedback on home care tech; Japan care homes piloting AI; Author Health’s $115M bet on senior mental health; Alertacall’s Batchelor on ‘right fit’ finance support; Headspace in the wrong (layoff) space again

Short takes for a short (US) week

FDA seeks public comment on home care tech–an opportunity for developers and home care. The US Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) has a request for public comment on technologies that could improve home care, both in the traditional sense and in hospital-to-home transitional care. Their two key questions of nine are: “How can the FDA support the development of medical technologies, including digital health technologies and diagnostics, for use in non-clinical care settings, such as at home?” and “What factors should be considered to effectively institute patient care that includes home-based care?” The FDA’s language around this is anodyne as couched in ‘health equity’ but it’s seriously around increasing access to all, supporting innovation, reducing barriers to care, and empowering people to make better decisions around their health. All public comments must be submitted to FDA’s docket (FDA-2023-N-1956), available at Important–the public comment period will end on 30 August 2023. Healthcare Dive

In Japan, a nursing home operator/insurer is adopting analytics to track residents and reduce caregiver workload. The operator/insurer is Sompo Holdings (LinkedIn) and the analytics company is Palantir. The jointly designed software platform, egaku, integrates artificial intelligence and analytics with proprietary data on sleep, diet, medical treatment, and exercise. Sompo Care uses minimally intrusive devices such as sensor-equipped beds to evaluate sleep conditions via tracking of body movements, respiration, and heart rate. They are claiming a 15% reduction of caregiver workload in a typical 60-person capacity care facility, saving as much as $60,000 annually. Unfortunately, the FT article is paywalled but a partial citation is available on ACM TechNews   On the Palantir website, there is a fragmentary article on how Sompo used the Palantir Foundry platform to streamline gathering information for care plans by linking local resident data t0 additional care data to create ‘a single source of truth’. Sompo press release

Speaking of seniors, Boston-based Author Health launched at the end of June with a unique mission–reaching out to older adults with serious mental illness and substance use disorders–and with a tidy startup kitty. The company provides specialized physicians, nurses, therapists, and community health workers to deliver a mix of virtual and in-person care. Their first partnership is with Humana Medicare Advantage (MA) plans in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, Florida metros in conjunction with CenterWell Senior Primary Care. Author Health helps to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety, schizophrenia and psychosis, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease and other dementias, and substance use disorders. Author is led by CEO Dr. Katherine Hobbs, a psychiatrist and former health insurance executive. The $115 million in initial financing was led by General Atlantic and included participation from Flare Capital Partners. Author Health release, FierceHealthcare, MedCityNews

TTA has previously profiled James Batchelor, CEO and founder of Alertacall. He is an old friend of TTA from early days with Editor Steve and Alertacall is one of the pioneering companies in UK telecare. Most recently (May 2022) Alertacall achieved the Queen’s Award For Enterprise: Innovation. This short interview with him in New Business UK discusses the importance of finding the right fit in long-term funding. If your buyers are in a sector with lengthy, complex sales cycles, it’s vital to find a backer that understands the selling space, which for Alertacall is ‘property management’. Even more important now!

Apparently in the wrong space is Headspace Health. The Los Angeles-based telemental health company is laying off 181 additional employees, or 15% of its current workforce. This follows on their December layoff of 5% or 50 employees. In the palmy days of mid-2021, Headspace acquired Ginger for a $3 billion valuation at that time [TTA 27 Aug 2021] to enter the enterprise market and acquired Sayana and Shine in 2022. It’s been a struggle ever since though they did not go the SPAC route, stayed private, and now claim 70 million members (actually downloads of their app), both individual and enterprise. Headspace expanded to the UK in January. Too much lookalike/soundalike competition and now a very hard road to that cliché, ‘a path to profitability’. LA Times, Mobihealthnews

Categories: Latest News and Opinion.