TTA’s Summer Kickoff 2: Veradigm seeks ‘strategic alternatives’; Waystar plans $1B IPO; Oracle seethes about article, Epic; CVS wants money for Oak Street; Clover markets SaaS Assistant, more!

 

 

A big post-holiday week, with Veradigm’s surprising bid for a buyer or ‘strategic alternatives’, a $1B Waystar IPO at last, a $34 million digital therapeutics merger, and an over-the-top Oracle response to last week’s Business Insider article. Clover markets Counterpart Assistant SaaS to other payers, CVS looks for an Oak Street investor, 23andMe looks to go private. Fundings for Wanda Health (UK) and Australia’s Updoc. And Done Health guests on Perspectives.

Short takes: Virtual Therapeutics, Akili in $34M merger; why health clinics are struggling; Dollar General, DocGo call it quits; Clover Assistant AI debuts; fundings for Wanda Health (UK), Updoc (AU); Telstra buys out Fred IT (AU)
Oracle’s Glueck kicks back hard at Business Insider’s ‘deadly gamble’ article, Epic’s Faulkner (A response written at maximum seethe)
Perspectives: How Collaborative Care Combats Physician Burnout (From Done Telehealth)
News roundup: Waystar $1B IPO is on (updated); CVS looking for Oak Street PE partner; 23andMe net loss doubles to $667M, may go private; Otsuka dives into digital therapeutics; HoneyNaps’ $12M no snooze (A big IPO after a year)
Breaking news: Veradigm may sell, merge, or seek ‘strategic alternatives’; appoints new interim CEO effective June (updated) (Parts worth more than whole?)

A light news week before the US Memorial Day remembrance and the UK Bank Holiday, the unofficial kickoffs to summer. What’s hot: Larry Ellison’s gamble on Cerner–are he and Oracle losing big after three years at the gaming table? Walgreens cashes in its Cencora chips, Walmart Health workers’ chips are cashed out, Change looks for chips that aren’t hacked, while Cue Health finally runs out of them. But in the chips: Expressable, Centivo, Transcarent. 

Short takes: Cue Health shuts, Walmart Health lays off, Walgreens sells $400M share in Cencora, $26M Series B for Expressable
News roundup: 100+ medical orgs pile on Change/UHG; Teladoc hit with second class-action suit; Congress demands Oracle EHR improvement–or else; Transcarent intros WayFinding; Centivo buys Eden Health 
Must read: Oracle’s ‘deadly gamble’ on Cerner (new with audio file!) (Can Ellison win at  healthcare’s poker table? And listen to this Editor’s first reading, with a few audio-only extras.)

A TON of news this week breaking before the US Memorial Day and UK’s bank holiday. Boots up for sale breaking up Alliance. Oracle Health will be struggling for the next two years. Cue Health sinking. Legrand is acquiring Enovation, Samsung Sonio ultrasound, and LG jumps into home health. And big VC Venrock issues its predictions for the health tech year.

Short takes 2: Humana’s CEO changeover; Owlet Dream Sock CE Mark, UK approval; TytoCare goes to school; LG enters home health with Primefocus; Samsung $92M buys Sonio (FR); raises by Blackwell in health cybersec, Watershed Health
News roundup: GE Healthcare warns on ultrasound vulnerabilities, Geisinger leverages Best Buy/Geek Squad for RPM, telehealth aids NYC shelter homeless, Fay raises $25M, ClearDATA’s AWS distinction, Validic’s MedTech award
A ‘healthcare prognosis’–from an investor POV (Venrock and ‘smart friends’)
Short takes: Legrand acquires Enovation, FDA nixes Cue Health’s Covid tests, Ascension confirms ransomware attack–who did it? (updated), beware of ‘vishing’ courtesy of ChatGPT
Is Oracle Health’s Big Vision smacking into the wall of Healthcare Reality? Their business says so. (Always be wary of Transformation Promises)
Separation or sale? WBA putting Boots out for bids; Walgreens pharmacists end month-long HQ protest. (End of Pessina’s Big Vision?)

Earnings and endings dominated this week, along with Transcarent’s Series D, $2.2 billion valuation, and ‘not for sale’ sign. Even NeueHealth and Oscar had a good Q1, but Amwell and Steward didn’t. Telehealth flexibilities got an important ‘go’ in the House. Cigna + Oscar called it a day as did many at 98point6. And cyberattacks continued, this time at Ascension and DocGo.

Short takes: Medicare telehealth flexibilities may extend; ‘no interest’ in Transcarent sale; NeueHealth ekes out positive net income; Cigna and Oscar break up; DocGo, Ascension cyberattacked
News roundup: Transcarent raises $126M; 98point6 lays off; Oscar notches first profit; Steward Health’s Ch. 11; Amazon Clinic GM leaves; Amwell’s down but hopeful Q1; Hims founder gets political

Surprises and shockers abounded this week. If Walmart can’t make it in providing basic health services, what hope does a retail model really have? Optum and Walmart exit telehealth, while Teladoc grows–firmly in the red. Change Healthcare’s troubles led to UHG’s CEO grilling on both sides of Congress and humiliation on MFA. MobileHelp PERS up for sale, Owlet’s new partner, fundings, partnerships. And a shrinking Oracle goes to Music City!

News roundup: UHG CEO’s Bad Day at Capitol Hill; Kaiser’s 13.4M data breach; Walgreens’ stock beatup; Cigna writes off VillageMD; Oracle Cerner shrinks 50%; Owlet BabySat gets Wheel; fundings for Midi, Trovo, Alaffia, Klineo (A rough week for some)
Teladoc’s Q1: increased revenue, increased net loss, dealing with slowing growth–as is CVS Health (Teladoc in existential crisis?)
Midweek news roundup: Optum exiting telehealth, laying off; Advocate Health selling MobileHelp; VA notifying 15M veterans re Change PHI breach, Oracle moving to Nashville–maybe? (updated) (A lot of jettisoning)
Walmart Health shutters health centers, Walmart Virtual Care, in sudden move (updated–why?) (If Walmart can’t make it…)

Returning to the Cyberattack That Changed Everything, wondering how much and to whom UnitedHealth paid ransom–now that they’ve finally admitted it. Also returning to those Merger Guidelines and how they may change the face of healthcare M&A. VA and DOD hard at work on their EHRs and systems, Lumeris gains a luminous funding, but Optum staff are seeing pink slips.

Two studies: Telehealth underutilized, underbilled, even during pandemic–and accounted for only modest increases in costs, and quality (Perhaps undercaptured?)
Short takes: VA seeks vendor to support EHR testing; Defense Health seeks ‘digital front door’ vendor; GAO recommendations to Oracle; Nonin partners with Finland’s Medixine; Lumeris gains $100M equity funding 
What the DOJ and FTC Merger Guidelines mean for healthcare M&A–a Epstein Becker Green podcast (Legal department torture)
Breaking: UnitedHealth admits to paying ransomwareistes on Change stolen patient data (updated) (For what and how much?)
Who really has the 4TB of Change Healthcare data 4 sale? And in great timing, Optum lays off a rumored 20K–say wot? (UHG has some ‘splainin’)

Another packed week, with a few baffling events. Leading in bafflement is NeueHealth’s additional $30M from NEA, which now owns 60%. UHG battling on multiple fronts between the Change hacking and the House, Walgreens lays off more to cut costs, VillageMD sued on ad trackers, and Cerebral’s comeuppance costs $7.1M. VA may restart Oracle Cerner implementation, Epic and Particle Health feud. But restoring faith in health tech benefiting a neglected group is TandemStride. 

TandemStride launches platform to assist survivors of traumatic injury; a personal look (A real care gap)
News roundup: Congress hammers absent UHG on Change cyberattack–and more; 10% unhinged at Hinge Health; Steward Health nears insolvency; Two Chairs $72M Series C (UHG’s troubles cover the waterfront)
ISfTeH student contest and award 2024–deadline 26 April! (Move fast!)
Mid-week short takes: UnitedHealth’s $1.2B Q1 loss from Change attack, another Walgreens layoff, Dexcom-MD Revolution partner, Kontakt.io $47.5 raise, GeBBS Healthcare may sell for $1B (Walgreens still downsizing–what’s next)
News roundup: VillageMD sued on Meta Pixel trackers; Cerebral pays $7.1M FTC fine on data sharing, cancellation policy; VA may resume Oracle Cerner implementation during FY2025; Epic-Particle Health dispute on PHI sharing (Cerebral still in trouble)
The New Reality, Bizarro World version: NeueHealth gets $30M loan increase from NEA, now majority owner (Baffling)

This packed week was about righting listing ships. Teladoc’s CEO suddenly departs, Amwell at risk of a NYSE delisting–we look at What Happened and what needs to be done. VillageMD gets new COO to manage the shrinkage. And Change Healthcare data on sale from disgruntled ALPHV affiliate. Digital health funding continues to limp along. Clover looks at another delisting, Walmart Health applies the brakes. And we highlight innovations from Novosound, Biolinq, Eko, Universal Brain. 

Digital health’s Q1 according to Rock Health: the New Reality is a flat spin back to 2019 (Limping, but alive)
VillageMD names new president and COO as it shrinks to 620 locations (Ex Centene, Humana exec comes out of short retirement to clean up)
News roundup: Now Clover Health faces delisting; BlackCat/ALPHV affiliate with 4TB of data puts it up for sale; $58M for Biolinq’s ‘smallest blood glucose biosensor’ (Will UHG pay more ransom?)
Opinion: Further thoughts on Teladoc, Amwell, and the future of telehealth–what happens next? (A hard look at the follies, mistakes, and saving ships)
News roundup: Amwell faces NYSE delisting; Walmart Health slows Health Centers, except Texas; Novosound’s ultrasound patent; Eko’s Low EF AI; Universal Brain; Elizabeth Holmes in ‘Dropout’ + update
Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic steps down immediately in shock announcement (Now what?)


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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

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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News roundup: Waystar $1B IPO is on (updated); CVS looking for Oak Street PE partner; 23andMe net loss doubles to $667M, may go private; Otsuka dives into digital therapeutics; HoneyNaps’ $12M no snooze

Waystar finally getting around to starring in its IPO. Again. The on-again/off-again public offering for this healthcare payments software platform developer is back on, according to their Form S-1 filed yesterday (28 May) with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Their first filing draft was in October 2023 on Nasdaq which would have valued the company at $8 billion. The IPO was again revived in December and postponed. This filing for WAY floats 45 million shares valued between $20 and $23 which would raise $1 billion with a far more reasonable valuation of $3.7 to $3.83 billion (latter updated per Waystar). Lead book-running managers are JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, and Barclays.

Cornerstone investors, who purchase stock before the formal listing, have expressed interest in buying up to $225 million in shares; these investors include funds managed by Neuberger Berman and a wholly-owned subsidiary of sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority. 

Underwriters have a 30-day option to purchase up to 6.75 million shares at the IPO price less the underwriter discount. Their current investors are EQT AB, Bain Capital, Francisco Partners, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The net proceeds from the offering will repay outstanding indebtedness. No timing is stated for when the IPO will happen. Usually, there are roadshows for institutional investors that showcase the prospectus (in the S-1) and positive points such as their $5 billion in annual transactions. After the listing, the current investors will still have substantial shares: EQT, CPPIB, and Bain will own about 29.2%, 22.3%, and 16.8% stakes respectively. 

Release, Morningstar, FierceHealthcare, Reuters

CVS Health is reaching out for a private equity partner to expand Oak Street Health’s clinics. Bloomberg News reported this unusual move by CVS with a handful of private equity firms to explore what was termed by ‘insiders’ as a joint venture. It’s all very preliminary and a JV may not be the final form. OSH is far smaller than rivals One Medical (Amazon) and VillageMD (Walgreens) but CVS apparently does not want to go it alone to fully take on the development cost. On February investor calls, CVS projected building out to 300 clinics by 2026. Reuters

Even in early 2023 with rivals Amazon (One Medical), Walgreens (VillageMD), and Walmart Health on primary care clinic buying and building binges, CVS’ buy for $10.6 billion for the ‘runt of the litter’ was widely derided as a waste of money [TTA 16 Feb, 2 Mar 2023]. OSH had only 169 offices in 21 states. It was also a money loser, $510 million in the red in 2022 and $200 million projected in 2023, with no breakeven predicted until 2025. A large part was due to OSH’s patient population, heavily skewed towards Medicare Advantage and underserved, high-risk patients. Those factors have gotten worse, not better. CMS has now tightened payments on MA with new rates and on reimbursement for diagnoses, making the growth of this population even riskier. Further dimming prospects for a willing partner: Walmart Health is shutting at end of June and VillageMD has shed or is shedding 140 locations to perhaps 620.  

23andMe’s losses double while revenue shrinks by 31%. Things continue to dim at the beleaguered genetics testing company. Their Q4 ending 31 March 2024 (FY24) closed with a net loss of $209 million on $64 million in revenue, compared to a net loss of $64 million on $94 million in revenue in the prior year Q4. In adjusted EBITDA, Q4 lost $33 million, compared to a loss of $39 million in prior year Q4. Net loss in full year FY24 was $667 million on revenue of $220 million, versus prior year’s loss of $312 million on revenue of $299 million. Adjusted EBITDA was $176 million versus prior year’s $161 million. As previously reported [TTA 20 Apr], CEO and co-founder Anne Wojcicki may offer to buy out the 80% of shares she does not already own. In developments, 23andMe has introduced an ancestry feature called Historical Matches, three new genetic reports for 23andMe+ members covering breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer based on polygenic risk scores, and some clinical trials moving forward. 23andMe also lost revenue in mid-year from GSK’s expiring agreement, had an impairment relating to Lemonaid Health, and of course (but not mentioned here) their massive 6.9 million record data breach. Shares closed today at $0.61, slightly up from April’s lows. Release

Otsuka America bucks the down trend, moves into digital therapeutics with Otsuka Precision Health. The Japanese pharmaceutical company’s US division is moving forward with a new digital health unit, Precision Health (OPH), headed by 14 year veteran Sanket Shah. Their first rollout later this summer will be based on the newly FDA-cleared Rejoyn, the first prescription digital therapeutic authorized for the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) symptoms. Rejoyn was developed in conjunction with Click Therapeutics. Mr. Shah and Otsuka are taking the longer view in terms of development, that future developments will be about both partnerships and solo effort, and that the road is long–and littered with the burnt-out shells of failed companies like Pear Therapeutics, Babylon Health, and way back to Happtique. Otsuka has had its own digital health learning experience. They partnered in 2017 with Proteus Digital Health’s smart pill tech for its Abilify MyCite anti-depressant. After abruptly ending the partnership, Otsuka bought the smart pill technology out of bankruptcy [TTA 19 Aug 2020]. Release, Healthcare Dive 

One funding of note this week is HoneyNaps‘ $11.6 million Series B. Hi Investment Partners, QUAD Investment Management, and Industrial Bank of Korea led the South Korean sleep diagnostics company’s funding. HoneyNaps has an FDA-cleared (2023) bio-signal monitoring and AI-assisted sleep diagnosis software, SOMNUM, that will be introduced to the US market. In the release, the company CFO announced plans to “further advance the AI to expand its application to other critical areas such as cardiovascular disease, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease”. Mobihealthnews

Weekend roundup: NHS Dumfries (Scotland) cyberattacked; delisted Veradigm’s strong financials; One Medical NY patients’ coverage clash; Suki voice AI integrates with Amwell; Legrand and Possum extended; Zephyr AI’s $111M Series A

NHS Scotland’s Dumfries and Galloway region reported on Friday 15 March a “focused and ongoing” cyberattack affecting their 148,500 patients. Information is light at this point, but the region has reported system incursions that may involve the acquisition of patient data. “We have reason to believe that this could include patient-identifiable and staff-identifiable data.” Police Scotland, the Scottish Government, the National Cyber Security Centre, and the NHS have all been notified along with law enforcement. This story is developing. NHS D&G cyberattack page, BBC News, The Record, Cybercrime Magazine Top News 15 Mar

Delisting from Nasdaq hasn’t hurt Veradigm’s results in the slightest. As TTA and others noted in late February, Veradigm management telegraphed their strong financial state while announcing the acquisition of ScienceIO, an AI data company. These are all unaudited revenue numbers:

  • For 2023, revenue between $608 million and $622 million, net income from continuing operations is estimated between $49 million and $58 million.
  • For 2024, their estimate is for revenue growth ranging from $620 million to $635 million, with adjusted EBITDA of between $104 million and $113 million, with net cash of $140 million subsequent to the ScienceIO acquisition.

Veradigm’s repositioning post-ScienceIO will be around healthcare intelligence with scaled and proprietary LLM products supporting physicians & providers, payers, and life science research enterprises. Release

Now about those 2022 and 2023 financial reports that went sideways due to their financial software. Lee Westerfield, their interim chief financial officer, stated at the Barclays 26th Annual Global Healthcare Conference that the audit process is not only “prolonged” but also not fully in the company’s hands but with auditors. While they won’t say it out loud, it seems that Veradigm hasn’t let the Nasdaq delisting cramp their style, nor making money, at all.  Crain’s Chicago Business

New York-area One Medical patients caught in the UnitedHealthcare-Mount Sinai clash. Mount Sinai, one of the leading hospital systems of the New York metro, is in a dispute with UnitedHealth on their upcoming insurance contract.  Mount Sinai requested higher payments for hospital stays and physician visits, not unexpected given the duration of most of these contracts span several years and inflation has bitten hard over the past two years, but UHG rejected this. The lack of a contract as of Thursday 14 March means that as of 22 March, patients of Amazon-owned One Medical practices in the New York area with UnitedHealthcare and Oxford insurances (Oxford is an insurance brand of UHG) will not be in-network if receiving services through Mount Sinai’s hospital network. One Medical is part of Mount Sinai’s clinically integrated network (CIN) but apparently this has no impact. This Editor is betting that Amazon did not figure on provider/payer disputes of this type–it may be the first of many affecting One Medical with hospital networks. Becker’s

Some good news from Amwell around their new partner, Suki AI. The Suki voice-enabled AI powered digital assistant will be integrated into Amwell’s platform Converge. The voice assistant will not require a separate app as fully integrated into Converge and into Amwell providers’ existing workflows. Suki Assistant leverages natural language processing to help clinicians complete notes 72% faster on average, according to Suki, and also supports coding and dictation. A date was not specified for implementation. Suki has partnered with with multiple EHR systems, including most recently Meditech. The Amwell platform is used by providers at more than 55 health plans covering 90 million lives, plus 2,000 hospitals and health systems. Suki release, Healthcare IT News

In more partner news in the UK, Legrand and Possum have extended their now 14-year reseller agreement. Possum continues as the exclusive reseller for the NOVO range of Legrand telecare products in the UK and Ireland. Read more about it on TSA Voice and UKTelehealthcare. While you’re there, our UK Readers can also seek our supporter UKTH’s continued training events and resources on the 2025 Digital Switchover. Legrand is a long-time advertising supporter of TTA.

Zephyr AI raises $111 million in Series A financing. Revolution Growth, Eli Lilly & Company, Jeff Skoll, and EPIQ Capital Group financed a bountiful Series A scarcely seen since 2022. As you’d expect, Zephyr has this year’s flavor, having integrated AI into precision medicine for oncology and cardiometabolic disease. Zephyr’s earlier seed round of $18.5 million was raised in March 2022 (Crunchbase). From the release: “The new funds will enable Zephyr AI to further enhance its analytical speed and fortify its extensive collection of training and validation data sets. Moreover, the funds will support the expansion of the company’s scientific and commercial teams to expedite the delivery of its rapidly growing pipeline of insights to the market.”

Reality Bites Again: UHG being probed by DOJ on antitrust, One Medical layoffs “not related” to Amazon, the psychological effects of cyberattacks

When It Rains, It Really Pours for UnitedHealth Group. On the heels of their Optum/Change Healthcare ransomware disaster are recent reports that the US Department of Justice is investigating UHG over multiple antitrust concerns. According to the Wall Street Journal, DOJ is examining certain relationships between the company’s UnitedHealthcare insurance unit and its Optum services unit, specifically around Optum’s ownership of physician groups. UHG has been aggressively buying and buying interests in practice groups for several years, announcing quite publicly that their goal was to own or control 5% of US physicians. In 2022 and 2023, they bought CareMount, Kelsey-Seybold, Atrius Health, Healthcare Associates of Texas, and Crystal Run Healthcare (Becker’s). Local reporting by the Examiner News in Westchester, NY, brought much of this history to light. In that area, it started with local practice group CareMount and their 25% layoff after being folded into Optum Tri-State with ProHealth in Long Island and NYC and Riverside Health–a layoff pattern that accelerated in the practice groups in 2023.

DOJ lost out on their challenge to the Change Healthcare acquisition in November 2022, deciding not to appeal the Federal District Court decision in 2023 [TTA 23 Mar 2023]. But DOJ never sleeps; they are examining with a microscope UHG’s $3.3 billion bid for home health provider Amedisys that started in August 2023 and has not moved forward. DOJ has a long memory, a Paul Bunyan-sized ax to grind, and doesn’t like losing. One wonders if now UHG has buyer’s remorse after fighting for two years to buy Change.

In the Alternate Reality Department, One Medical CEO Trent Green insisted that their reorganization and layoffs were unrelated to their acquisition by Amazon. Those of us who are a little less credulous know that with 98% of acquisitions, staff are laid off. Overlapping areas wind up being pinkslipped, no matter their individuals’ quality or even difference in business: finance, HR, legal, marketing, IT, operations, compliance, sales, account managers…the list is almost endless. According to the Washington Post article (also Becker’s), One Medical cuts, estimated at up to 400, also included front desk staff, office managers, health coaches, behavioral health specialists and a pediatrician–people who aren’t employed by other Amazon units. One Medical’s corporate offices in New York, Minneapolis, and St. Petersburg, Florida are closing, and its San Francisco office space is reduced to one floor. TTA 14 Feb

One Medical has never been profitable, as this Editor noted when the acquisition was announced as part of the “race to transform healthcare models”. This wasn’t going to last long with Amazon, which has been aggressively been cutting and dumping in other units such as Audible, Prime, and Halo. Marketing Amazon-style with deeply discounted memberships to Prime members also has its limitations. One Medical has a scant 200 mostly urban offices, which means that members outside those areas only have access to virtual visits. It had previously cultivated a patient population of young, mostly healthy and lower-cost urbanites, who as they grow older and have families might stick with the practice–or find it not compatible with or targeted to their needs in middle age. Management has changed: Green replaced Amir Dan Rubin, MD, as CEO last September. CFO Bjorn Thaler will move to a new position focused on growth initiatives. A layer of regional general managers will report to an Amazon head of operations, and legal, finance, and technology teams will report to Amazon’s healthcare business structure. Inbound calls now go to Mission Control, a central call center, and even those humans will be in future supplemented by an AI-enabled chatbot.

Iora Health, One Medical’s specialized (acquired) unit in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Shared Savings Programs including the advanced ACO REACH model, in October was rebranded as One Medical Senior, with an intention for all One Medical offices to serve age 65+–but with current patients, many with multiple chronic conditions, now reporting cutbacks in callbacks, appointment length, physician load, and services provided such as transportation. One clinic had 20 staff cut back to five with patients pushed out to virtual visits–hardly appropriate for a high needs, older, less technologically savvy patient population in value-based care, quality-measured models. Editor’s note: having had some experience in ACO and VBC World, Amazon may as well get out of ACOs because practices in these primary care models require specialized and dedicated management, reporting, and population nurturing. They don’t mainstream well.  I have also read that ironically, Iora was profitable for OneMedical, which is 1) why they bought it and 2) ran it separately.

In this Editor’s view, human costs are a factor shown to be absent from Amazon’s business calculations for success–which doesn’t quite square with the mission of healthcare for healthier patients and better outcomes.

Speaking of the reality of human cost, let’s spare a thought for those dealing with the effects of a cyberattack or data breach. They are the IT staff, pharmacists, software specialists, front line clinicians, billing specialists, doctors, therapists, business managers, coders…the list goes on. They share their feelings of frustration, helplessness, distress, aloneness, and financial fear on Reddit, Twitter/X and other forums. Few think of them taking the brunt of patient frustration and their state of mind day after day as Change/Optum’s disaster goes on and on. Writer Molly Gamble of Becker’s has the final and most sympathetically descriptive say in her brief but important article about When ransomware strikes, who to call?  A full read is recommended.

Helplessness or loss of control, especially at a collective level, can be psychologically and emotionally taxing. Recognizing a threat but not knowing what to do about it can increase one’s stress, anxiety and fear. The lack of a known end point of a cyberattack like Change is experiencing can intensify psychological distress. Some independent therapists, for instance, have noted they have halted their insurance billing for a week due to the downtime and expressed fear about going longer without income. 

These mental effects, while lesser-discussed, are exactly what cyberthreats intend to bring on. Cyberterrorists want to create mental and physical harm, and research has found that the psychological effects of cyber threats can rival those of traditional terrorism.

Facing the Music of the New Reality: Amazon Pharmacy & One Medical restructure; Walgreens shakes up health exec suites again, cashes out $992M in Cencora; new takes on NeueHealth; Cue Health, Nomad Health layoffs

Amazon delivers a Dose of Reality in shrinking Pharmacy, One Medical. Using the “realigning some resources to help accelerate our efforts” meme, there are about 115 to 400 staff who will be ‘transitioned’ out of their present jobs, according to sources (Business Insider, Seeking Alpha). Areas affected were not disclosed. However, the Amazon division likely taking the hardest hit is One Medical, according to these sources.

  • Amazon has already announced that One Medical must reduce operating losses by $100 million this year. A large step they are taking is to close One Medical’s corporate offices in New York, Minneapolis, and St. Petersburg, Florida, reducing its San Francisco office space to one floor. They cited to industry publications that most employees are remote workers.
  • Unsurprisingly, Amazon is targeting major cost reductions. Fixed operating costs that are currently at 41% of total revenue will be reduced to 20% by 2028. Cost per patient visit will be reduced from $372 in 2023 to $322 in 2024, from $372 in 2023.
  • Legal, finance, and technology teams will report to Amazon’s healthcare business structure
  • Operating areas will increase from four to seven, reporting to a new head of operations
  • CFO Bjorn Thaler will move to a new position focused on growth initiatives, reporting to VP of Health Services Neil Lindsay

At the time of the acquisition, industry thinkers were wondering what Amazon would do with the money-losing One Medical clinics, for which they paid $3.9 billion but never turned a profit and lost $420 million in 2022, its last year of independent operations. Neither membership nor revenue has been reported since the 2023 closing. In 2022, One Medical had 700,000 patients, 8,000 company clients and 125 physical offices in 12 major US markets including NYC, Los Angeles, Boston, and Atlanta. Amazon has been promoting One Medical online and on TV, most aggressively to its Prime members with promotional membership pricing. 

Amazon has aggressively cut tens of thousands of jobs and costs since 2023 in its Audible, Prime Video, Twitch and Buy with Prime units, and completely shut down Halo, its entry in fitness bands and sleep trackers. It has also been aggressively challenged on patient privacy and cross-using information by the FTC, most recently around Amazon Clinic.

Not mentioned in reporting was the FTC and DOJ scrutiny One Medical’s acquisition received between Amazon’s offer and the closing. The two agencies declined to move at that time [TTA 23 Feb 23], but FTC is continuing to build its case against Amazon–and One Medical may be a factor. For context on Amazon’s situation, Readers may want to review last December’s assessment of Amazon to date, Has Amazon lost its ‘edge’ in healthcare? Or finally seeing reality?   FierceHealthcare, Healthcare Finance, Healthcare Dive

Walgreens’ Reality includes C-suite reshuffles, scaring up cash. The new president of US Healthcare and EVP reporting to CEO Tim Wentworth is Mary Langowski. She is currently CEO of Solera Health. Her prior experience at CVS was as EVP and chief strategy and corporate development officer. Moving to an advisor position is the current president, John Driscoll. US Healthcare includes VillageMD, Summit Health/CityMD and CareCentrix. In addition, Manmohan Mahajan was appointed as permanent CFO, having held the position on an interim basis from July. Elizabeth Burger was named as EVP and chief HR officer from a similar position at industrial Flowserve, replacing Holly May who departed in November and is now with Petco. Crain’s Chicago Business, FierceHealthcare

Slipping under this was a further sale of Walgreens’ position in Cencora, the former AmerisourceBergen, a highly diversified pharmaceutical distributor. The sale of approximately $942 million of Cencora common stock was subject to the completion of the Rule 144 sale, and included a concurrent share repurchase by Cencora of approximately $50 million for a total to WBA of $992 million. WBA’s position is now 13% versus 15%; partnership and board representation remains in place. From the WBA release, “Proceeds to Walgreens Boots Alliance will be used primarily for debt paydown and general corporate purposes, as the company continues to build out a more capital-efficient health services strategy rooted in its retail pharmacy footprint.”

Is NeueHealth creating its own Reality? At the end of January, Bright Health Group faded to black and relit as NeueHealth, its value-based care medical practice division, and moved its HQ from poky, cold, failing Minneapolis to Doral, Florida. It sold or closed all its health plans in a heap of losses, most of which have bills coming due via CMS Repayment Agreements which come due on or before 14 March 2025. Most of the industry is shaking its head in wonder that NeueHealth has made it this far.

The discussion in MedCityNews is worth reading. It includes Ari Gottlieb of A2 Strategy who points out that the company is $1.4 billion in debt to the likes of investors Cigna Ventures, New Enterprise Associates, and CalSTRS. They owe $89 million to Texas to cover risk liabilities for its shuttered ACA plans. Over $100 million remains in escrow from the Molina sale to cover obligations from its Medicare Advantage plans. Mr. Gottlieb predicts that NeueHealth will be drained and go bankrupt before the Feds come calling in March 2025. Another analyst, Tyler Giesting, director of healthcare and life sciences at West Monroe, takes a sunnier view that NeueHealth is in a sector, value-based care, that payers are interested in and will buy into, as long as the practices perform. This Editor will reiterate her wonder at NeueHealth’s management maneuvers. They’ve managed to play multiple ends against the middle and tie masterful Gordian knots (pick your analogy) to stay alive until, they hope, 2025 and better times. 

More Reality delivered in two layoffs in once-hot companies that thought pandemic les bon temps rouler would last forever:

  • San Diego-based Cue Health, a biotech company that produced Covid-19 tests, is laying off another 245 employees. This adds to the 884 workers in primarily San Diego laid off last year. Cue grew to over 1,500 employees when it got the first FDA approval for its 20-minute molecular test kits to supply the US government, the NBA, Google, and other large companies. Cue IPO’d in September 2021 at $200 million and $16/share, with a valuation of $3 billion. Its shares on Nasdaq are today at $0.25. The company also offers a test for mpox (monkeypox) and is seeking FDA approval for its RSV and Flu test kits. San Diego Union-Tribune
  • New York City-based Nomad Health, a healthcare staffing service that took advantage of the pandemic demand for travel nurses but had not fully transitioned into other temporary healthcare workers, released 17% of staff, from 691 to 572 employees. Nomad was reeling not only from lower demand but also correspondingly lower rates. It raised $200 million to date from investors such as Adams Street Partners and Icon Ventures. Forbes

And the final Reality is how healthcare companies, from providers to digital health, are phrasing what seems to be endless layoffs. Euphemisms such as rightsizing, org change, involuntary career events, corporate outplacing, and offboarding are all being used to sweeten for public consumption that a lot of people, hired so eagerly in 2020-22, are losing their jobs. From the Bloomberg article (paywalled), “They somehow seem to believe that if they use language that is more vague and less emotional, that people won’t get as upset,” said Robert Sutton, PhD, professor of management science and organizational behavior with Stanford University School of Engineering. Instead, euphemisms tend to have the opposite effect. Becker’s  This Editor has been both a survivor and a victim of same, being in marketing which is always vulnerable. Contract and consulting work, which anticipate a stronger market, are like the Sahara–few and dry water holes. Expect layoffs and a dead market for experienced talent to be a major factor in this year’s US elections, despite the reported low unemployment numbers (that no one believes anymore).

News roundup: Musk’s Neuralink implants first human BCI; Cigna’s $3.7B MA sale to HCSC; no Amazon deal for iRobot; DispatchHealth-Instacart food Rx; 5 India health tech fundings (updated)

Elon Musk first out (again) with a human brain-computer interface (BCI). Announced Monday by Neuralink, founded by Elon Musk, is the first human implant of a BCI. No details in the tweet beyond “recovering well’ and “promising neuron spike detection”. The device is a cosmetically invisible implant (N1) in the part of the brain that plans movements. It interprets neural activity, sending a signal to a computer or smartphone through thought. The N1 device, containing several dozen threads holding over 1,000 electrodes, is implanted by a R1 robot. FierceBiotech, MM+M Online

The subjects of the PRIME study are likely those recruited last fall after the FDA approved proceeding with a clinical trial. A blog post on the Neuralink website recruited adult volunteers with quadriplegia–paralysis of the arms and legs caused by a cervical spinal cord injury or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Earlier, Neuralink raised $280 million in a Series D led by Founders Fund. FierceBiotech 8 Aug 2023  There were difficulties, however. Within the past two years, Reuters reported 1,500 animal deaths over four years of research that attracted the attention of the Department of Transportation (DOT) (!) and the Department of Agriculture’s inspector general. FDA held up approval of human clinical trials until last year.

Research and companies in the BCI race have been making news since at least 2016 but have not reached clinical trials. In 2022 Synchron had an oversubscribed Series C of $75 million for the Stentrode blood vessel device (in clinical trials) and Synchron Switch BCI devices [TTA 17 Dec 22]. Last year, Precision Neuroscience raised $41 million in a Series B [TTA 28 Jan 23]. Their focus is on treatment of neurological illnesses and events such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, and dementia. Of course, one could debate implant ethics, but not for these limited uses right now.

To no one’s surprise including the relatively low price of $3.7 billion, Cigna sold its 600,000-member Medicare Advantage business to HCSC, beating out Elevance (the former Anthem). Cigna is also selling its supplemental benefits and Medicare Part D plans, along with CareAllies, a subsidiary that assists primary care practices with value-based care in Medicare and commercial plans. Together, they cover 3.6 million people, but the now-money-losing MA business represented only 2% of the total MA market. Closing is expected to be in 2025, subject to the usual regulatory approvals. HCSC currently operates in five states and this marks a major growth opportunity for them, if they pass state and Federal scrutiny.

Update: Some speculation remains that now that Cigna has agreed to sell the MA and other businesses, a Humana buy may be more of a go–at a reduced price given Humana’s recent earnings difficulties. This feels, to this Editor, like whistling in the dark. Prima facie, it ignores two factors: the major stumbling block was their respective strengths in pharmacy benefit management (PBM) though with different focuses, and that Cigna, having rid themselves of a money loser in MA, would buy it back and take on short term pain just to get bigger. Perhaps the two, because they seem to like dancing with each other, may partner in some areas like home health or other services, but for now the regulatory landscape is waaaay too hostile to mega-mergers in healthcare and the shareholders feel the same. Why buy the cow, etc.? MedCityNews  Further evidence? The CEO bragged about the sale as moving towards a leaner and more focused organization (the new catchphrase) on the 2 February earning call, as well as their interest in providing services via their Evernorth unit to MA providers, such as tying pharmacy services to the MA plans for four years after the HCSC buy. Healthcare Dive

iRobot sale to Amazon fails due to “no path to regulatory approval”, company lays off 31% of staff. In more bad news for Amazon, regulatory disapproval by the EU finally put paid to the deal for the Roomba maker. The EU found that Amazon’s ownership would have restricted competition in the robot vacuum cleaner category by restricting access to Amazon’s marketplace. This is no different than the FTC and DOJ in the US which blocked it for two years. Amazon will pay iRobot a $94 million breakup fee, which the latter will need as their market capitalization has crashed to $400 million from the $1.7 billion original sales price.  iRobot is reducing staff by 350, its CEO is also stepping down immediately, and they are concentrating now on margin improvements, restricting lines of business, and reducing R&D. CNBC  Consider this Lina Khan’s first ‘scalp’ in her War on Amazon.

DispatchHealth, an in-home care provider, has a new partnership with Instacart, a food delivery service, to directly address nutrition needs for their advanced care patients being treated at home.  Dispatch provides same-day, urgent medical care; hospital alternative care; and recovery care. With Instacart Health, Dispatch creates meal plans and medically tailored meals through shopping lists on Instacart that can be delivered direct to home. Payment must be made by the patient or if their Medicare Advantage plan permits. Food is a significant part of social determinants of health (SDOH) and Dispatch has found that 33% of their patients struggle with this and 22% have serious food insecurity. Orders can be made by phone, phone app, or website. McKnights Home Care, Mobihealthnews, DispatchHealth release   DispatchHealth has also experienced recent layoffs of 88 employees. Home Health Care News

And now for something completely different. India has been buzzing with several fundings in digital health. The roundup’s from Mobihealthnews with additional information from other sources:

  • CureBay, a rural-focused e-clinic from visits to lab tests and prescriptions with 90 locations, scored another Rs 620 million ($7.5 million) in funding as part of a Series A round led by Elevar Equity. IndianStartUpTimes
  • Mental health platform Amaha raised over Rs 50 million ($6 million) in an extended Series A funding round. The app-based treatement platform connects members with clinicians and psychiatrists. It also acquired the Delhi NCR-based Child and Adolescent Mental Health Institute, Children First, that has been providing support to 12,000+ families since its inception in 2008. Release
  • Healspan, an insurance tech startup that manages cashless health insurance claims for 60 hospitals, raised Rs 1.2 million (over $100,000) in pre-seed funding from a round led by startup accelerator PedalStart. ExpressHealthcare India
  • FlexifyMe, a chronic pain digital therapeutics platform with AI-powered patient scanning, gained pre-seed funding from angel platform ah! Ventures Angel Platform. Based in India but with operations in the US and Dubai, their therapy addresses back pain, cervical pain, spondylosis, and other conditions via what they term a unique combination of online physiotherapy, yoga therapy, and AI. BiospectrumIndia  In October, they had raised $1 million from Flipkart Ventures. Times of India
  • Docosage, described as an AI-driven health solutions provider with a telehealth consult, e-prescribing, lab testing, and genetic studies platform, also has an undisclosed amount of pre-seed funding from an individual angel investor. The funding will be used for strategic partnerships by exploring collaborations with hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and incorporating tech advancements to enhance product features. ExpressHealthcare India 

*Updated 2 Feb for additional analysis around Cigna MA sale to HCSC and copy editing

News roundup: Bright Health now NeueHealth; breached patient records double, RCM as vector for hacking; Amazon’s CCM marketplace; JPM reflects the new reality; fundings for Vita Health, Turquoise, CardioSignal

Bright Health Group switches off, takes on NeueHealth name. Now that Bright Health has sold its remaining operating health plans to Molina Healthcare [TTA 3 Jan] with others closed down or insolvent like Texas [TTA 12 Dec 23], they have smartly pivoted to the name of their remaining value-based primary care operation, NeueHealth. (Inexpensive, too) Accordingly, on 29 January, their NYSE listing will convert from BHG to NEUE. The stock value closed today at $13.25, well down from its 52-week high of $79.04. NeueHealth’s operations are divided into NeueCare, which is comprised of their owned clinics and partnerships with affiliated providers, and NeueSolutions, which is a management services entity that organizes independent providers and physician groups into performance-based ACA Marketplace, Medicare, and Medicaid-based ACOs models, including the advanced performance ACO REACH program which covered 60,000 beneficiaries in 2023. Unsurprisingly, the company HQ is moving from chilly Minneapolis to much warmer Doral, Florida, nearer to three of their major clinic networks and 150,000 of its claimed 275-295,000 ‘health consumers’ forecast for 2023. 2023 revenue forecasts for NeueCare are $250-275 million and NeueSolutions $890 million. They have also stated that the corporate move will not affect jobs remaining in Minneapolis, which may be few.

As to the bills coming due for CMS liabilities and debt owed to New Enterprise Associates now that JP Morgan has been paid…not a word. We continue to hand it to Bright, now NeueHealth, for the Best Gordian Knots in Healthcare. Release, Healthcare Dive

Patient records exposed in data breaches doubled in 2023 versus 2022. According to an analysis by cybersecurity firm Fortified Health Security of HHS’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which tracks data breaches, in 2023 there were 116 million patient records exposed, topping the over 100 million of 2015, with over 655 breaches, a decrease from 2022’s peak of 721. Of that 116 million, over 112 million were from three health plan breaches: Anthem, Premera Blue Cross, and Excellus, Ten-year total? A stunning 489 million. What also increased over those 10 years by 143% were breaches stemming from business associates–vendors providing services to the covered entity. The just-published Horizon Report (free, available for download here) also reveals that the average recovery cost for a breach is $9.48 million. And health plans and systems are cutting IT staff?  Healthcare Dive

One way that hackers are finding their way into healthcare organizations is via ‘social engineering’, but not always of employees. They’re targeting business associates at revenue cycle management (RCM) companies serving health systems and hospitals. The American Hospital Association is warning members that hackers are cannily evolving their tactics to defeat security procedures such as multi-factor authentication and they have to anticipate hacker tactics. From Becker’s, hackers “steal the identities of revenue cycle employees or other finance staffers, calling IT help desks and correctly answering security questions. They then request to reset their passwords and enroll new devices, getting full access to the employees’ accounts and diverting payments to fraudulent bank accounts.” These are based in the US and then diverted overseas. The AHA recommends at minimum a call back to the employee on these new device enrollments, a call to the person’s supervisor, or as in the case of one health system, a physical appearance at the help desk. AHA article

Amazon enters the chronic care management field through a tried-and-true (for them) vector–e-commerce. Search for a health device like a glucose monitor, a blood pressure cuff, or pulse oximetry, and receive a ‘direction’ to a management service that they may be eligible for at no or low cost through their employer or private health insurance. The kickoff partner with Amazon is chronic care management company Omada Health in the diabetes prevention, diabetes, and hypertension categories. Omada claims 20 million eligible members across 1,900 enterprises. This mode may get better traction with Amazon shoppers than directly providing them with health services such as Amazon Pharmacy, One Medical (primary care), and Amazon Clinic (asynchronous telemedicine). Omada didn’t disclose the revenue model. Omada release, Healthcare Dive

Wrapping up the JP Morgan healthcare conference, the New Reality permeated it, even if some didn’t want to admit it. As this Editor projected back in December, the board is being cleared of the also-rans and never-should-have-beens. You see a general cleansing of the cant and hype infecting a sector, which is initially unnerving. We are cycling through this stage fairly rapidly to emerge…where, we don’t quite know yet. Unlike some other publications, MedCityNews can never be mistaken for an industry cheerleader (even if you have to read between the lines). Their extensive coverage confirmed this emerging view of 2024.

  • Katie Adams didn’t make it to SF for her article on nine JPM takeaways, but she sussed out that life sciences isn’t ready for AI, GLP-1 drugs won’t solve obesity, transactional telehealth for urgent and behavioral care is over, founders are trying to figure out fundraising timelines, and retail clinics are suddenly Not All That. And more.
  • Arundhati Parmar profiled a companyone of all too many–that cycled from high to low–Butterfly Health. They started in 2011 to develop the first point-of-care handheld ultrasonic probe using a semiconductor chip that connected to a smartphone, became a unicorn by 2018, went public via a SPAC in 2021 at over $19, cracked hard, and now trades around $1. Their new CEO used the JPM platform to explain that their 2023 revenue slide wasn’t so bad because they were working their way through the longer-than-they-ever-imagined adoption curve by cutting $200 million in costs out of the company and building up their cash reserve. They may survive, or not, given that competition has names like GE Healthcare, Philips, and Siemens. But their ideas around selling the technology of the semiconductor chip to healthcare companies outside of ultrasound and opening their POCUS to developers (like Apple) are clever. It sounds like a company that could fit into a PE portfolio, if only some wallets and checkbooks opened.

And another marker of the New Reality: Scripps Health in San Francisco, hit hard by a cyberattack in 2021, announced at JPM that they hired Todd Walbridge, recently retired from the FBI as their supervising agent in their San Diego cybersecurity hub, as senior director for corporate and system safety and security. He had worked with Scripps on their cyberattack during his diverse career with the FBI. Mr. Walbridge is not only in charge of cyber, but also of physical security as workplace violence and assaults on staff have soared. FierceHealthcare

And we’ll wind up with some fundings, modest ‘green shoots’ in winter:

  • Vita Health, based in Connecticut, secured $22.5 million from seven investors for their suicide prevention and therapeutic telehealth platform. An 2022 seed raise totaled $8.38 million. Release, Mobihealthnews
  • Turquoise Health, based in San Diego, gained a $30 million Series B investment from four investors for expansion of its healthcare pricing platform used by 160 healthcare organizations. 2021-22 seed and Series A raises totaled $25 million. Price transparency is a 2024 hot button issue from government to enterprises to payers. Release, FierceHealthcare  
  • CardioSignal raised another $10 million in a Series A from three investors, bringing total funding to $23 million. Based in Finland and Palo Alto, CardioSignal uses a smartphone’s accelerometer and gyroscope sensors to analyze precordial micro-vibrations caused by cardiac motion. The initial analysis is completed in one minute and after a transfer to their cloud site for additional analysis, is returned in about one minute. Release, Mobihealthnews

News roundup: ONC recommends ‘nutrition labeling’ for healthcare AI apps but Google moves forward; CVS’ health services rebranding as Healthspire (updated); Clover Health repots out of ACO REACH

Straining toward a model for AI app information? The latest grope by Federal regulators towards the “trustworthy use of artificial intelligence”, as the American Telemedicine Association terms it, is a labeling system that has been likened to ‘nutrition labeling’. This near-incomprehensible analogy to food labeling was proposed back in April by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), now headed by Micky Tripathi, Ph.D. This disclosure would consist of how the app was trained, how it performs, how it should be used, and how it shouldn’t, which does not sound onerous at all. The disclosures are designed to forestall issues around performance and bias that have previously appeared, such as Epic’s AI system designed to predict sepsis risk and an algorithm designed to flag patients needing assistance with complex treatment regimens. 

An optional proposed disclosure around how the app was trained and tested would be important to healthcare organizations but potentially problematic to developers. There are quite a few caveats expressed by Silicon Valley investors around hurting startups and even giants like Epic through over-disclosure of proprietary information, enabling reverse engineering and poaching of intellectual property. Everyone likes transparency, trust, safety, and efficacy, but the conundrum is to disclose what is needed for proper and cautious use without providing an entreé to IP. Wall Street Journal, Becker’s, ATA release and AI principles 

Google, predictably, damns the torpedoes, full speed ahead with healthcare AI. And intends to write the rules. They’ve deployed AI tools already with Mayo Clinic and HCA Healthcare–Mayo for medical records and research papers, HCA for clinical notes. EHR Meditech is using Google’s AI for clinical documentation and to summarize patient histories. Bayer is also working with Google. Their products include a licensed algorithm for breast and lung cancer detection, a tool for diagnosing diabetic retinopathy, and a question-answering bot. Google makes no secret that they plan to influence Federal efforts at setting standards by hiring lobbyists, most of whom are out of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and playing a large role in industry groups such as the Coalition for Health AI (CHAI).  If you believe that Google, Microsoft, Amazon (playing catchup), or other healthcare service companies like UnitedHealth Group’s Optum will twiddle their thumbs and wait for the Feds to set standards and (good grief) enforce disclosure on AI tools, this Editor has several lovely bridges for sale. POLITICO, Becker’s

CVS Health grouping health services and multi-payer assets under CVS Healthspire. Monday’s announcement at the Forbes Healthcare Summit will roll up new $20 billion acquisitions Oak Street Health and Signify Health along with 1,100 MinuteClinics, the CVS Caremark pharmacy benefit manager (PBM), CVS Specialty, and its new Cordavis operation that works with pharmaceutical companies to bring to market  biosimilars. The rebranding, a clever melding of ‘health’ and ‘inspire’, will start this month into 2024. It’s not revealed whether the current names will be sunsetted for CVS Healthspire, or whether they will keep their established brand names. The parallels are with Evernorth (Cigna), Optum (UnitedHealth Group), and Carelon (Elevance, the former Anthem) in creating a vertically integrated healthcare company. At Investor Day, CVS Pharmacy announced a cost-plus arrangement for retail prescriptions built on the cost of the drug, a set markup, and a fee that reflects the care and value of pharmacy services–clearly in competition with Mark Cuban CostPlus.  Forbes, FierceHealthcare, CVS release, Investor Day release  

Clover Health exits the advanced value-based primary care program, ACO REACH. Clover’s exit at the end of the 2023 performance year after two years disbands their practice arrangements for CMS’ advanced original Medicare shared savings program, formerly Direct Contracting, and provision of beneficiary services after completing their required wrapups and reporting. It is part of their recent moves to become profitable, focusing on their Medicare Advantage business and Clover Assistant management. They outsourced their Medicare Advantage plan administration to UST HealthProof for a savings of $30 million and laid off 10% of staff as part of restructuring. A 2021 SPAC on Nasdaq debuting above $16 that survived investigations by the SEC and DOJ now has shares trading currently under the $1.00 minimum for listing. Clover also finally settled seven shareholder lawsuits over its non-disclosure of the DOJ investigation at the time of the SPAC. Cleaning house is all part of living to fight another day, like other ‘insurtechs’ such as Oscar Health. Clover release, FierceHealthcare  Also: Looking back at insurtechs and their ‘disruption’,  Insurtechs in the widening gyre

Has Amazon lost its ‘edge’ in healthcare? Or finally seeing reality?

Amazon’s long and winding road to Healthcare Reality is no surprise to those tracking Amazon’s moves over the past few years. And Bloomberg agrees. In the eyes of many of the industry, Amazon was one of the top companies revolutionizing healthcare in a consumer-focused, tech-driven model. They were making The Big Moves along with giants CVS and Walgreens with an open wallet, with Walmart lagging and tagging behind. But when you turn a Gimlet Eye to the track record, The Big Moves were marked by hubris, uncertainty, lack of focus, lack of healthcare expertise, and just plain bad judgment.

  • First, there was the sinkhole known eventually as Haven, 2018-2021. This partnership with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway (RIP to the legendary Charlie Munger) generated truckloads of 50,000-foot quotes by JPM’s Jamie Dimon and B-H’s Warren Buffett about the ‘hungry tapeworm’ of healthcare costs and the need to simplify it for their million-odd employees. It was clear that Amazon was relegated to the ‘junior partner’. Their reaction was to go their own way well before the shutdown and make its own acquisitions, acquiring PillPack in mid-2019 as the first move towards a PBM, Amazon Pharmacy, then pushing Amazon Care for large employers. TTA 6 Jan 2021
  • Then there was the brief and mysterious life of Amazon Care, 2019-2022. Their mix of virtual care, in-home, and telehealth services signed up large employers such as Hilton and (of course) Amazon with the eventual vision of delivering in-home care of visits and medications via mobile providers. Despite plenty of pivoting behind the scrim but eventually going nationwide with some, not all, of their services, their vision wasn’t attractive to most large employers. Even before One Medical was acquired in July 2022, Amazon decided to ditch Care by end of 2022. TTA 25 Aug 2022
  • And $3.9 billion later, there is One Medical, acquired earlier this year. It has never made money and won’t for at least two fiscal years. It doesn’t resemble an Amazon-style delivery model either. It’s a membership model practice group with individual paying members plus 9,000 corporate service contracts and telehealth. Of course, memberships including telehealth are being offered to the millions of Amazon Prime members at a drastically discounted rate starting earlier this month.
  • Bubbling under this is Amazon Clinic, an asynchronous virtual consult service leaked in November 2022, formally announced in June 2023 but delayed until August on data privacy issues that attracted Senatorial scrutiny on whether information would be passed to other Amazon services for merchandising [TTA 27 June]. Visits cost an average of $50. Amazon is surprisingly mum on Clinic’s status.

From the collection of articles linked above, plus TTA’s ongoing chronicle of FTC’s (and DOJ’s) consistent scrutiny (some call it vendetta) re Amazon [TTA 24 Aug, 27 Oct], one cannot conclude that Amazon has lived up to its publicity, dominating coverage earlier this year, that it would be a leading Healthcare Transformer. In that last article, this Editor’s obvious doubts were summarized as “What we view as a juggernaut is facing more than their share of distractions and changing circumstance.”

It is awfully nice to know that Bloomberg has taken our small ball of misgivings and run with it. Their article describes, through interviews with current and former employees, patients, competitors, and industry analysts, a “culture of hubris”, believing that “Silicon Valley-style invention could outsmart industry incumbents” and management not listening to the industry people they did hire. The hubris goes back to the very beginning. Even transitioning a young but deep in the red company like PillPack, bought for a truly ridiculous amount of money but that fit easily into the Amazon model, took an inordinate amount of time–about two years. Amazon Pharmacy, built on the PillPack bones, doesn’t seem to be meeting expectations, running headlong into local retailers such as CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens, discounters such as GoodRx, and deliverers such as Mark Cuban Cost Plus. No surprises there when you waste two years. Wall Street doesn’t like it much either, despite the promises from CEO Andy Jassy that healthcare is their long-term growth area, carrying through the vision of former CEO and now chairman Jeff Bezos.

It also doesn’t help to be the corporate target of the FTC, not mentioned in the Bloomberg article.

This Editor will quote herself from a recent article. While it was in the context of learnings from Olive AI, it applies equally to those with lots of success in other businesses or even other parts of healthcare. Know that healthcare, no matter what the conferences say, is an entrenched, over-regulated, risk-averse, and thus extremely slow-moving business. The risk level is high, the reward may be incremental, at best. And the big guys–the payers, big health systems, and their vendors, will always have it all over you.

Short takes: Oracle Cerner still has major hurdles, says VA, Congress; One Medical adds Hackensack Meridian to specialist network, HTA to employer benefits; NHS trialing AI tracking of home behavioral patterns for at-risk patients

VA’s All Quiet on the EHR Front doesn’t mean nothing is happening. With the House hard at work with a new speaker, negotiating budget extensions, and generally trying to get work done before the Christmas-New Year recess, the work of subcommittees goes on. Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Montana), chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ Subcommittee on Technology Modernization, yesterday (15 Nov) in what was titled “Electronic Health Record Modernization Deep Dive: System Uptime” got an update on the status of Oracle Cerner from Kurt DelBene, the VA’s chief information officer. His testimony wasn’t exactly reassuring. “Overall we still think there’s a ways to go. I don’t want to present the system as all set and ready to go.” In a rare show of bipartisanship, ranking member Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, D-Florida, said that “[Oracle] training and change management are still woefully inadequate and user satisfaction is still critically low.” And despite being invited by Chairman Rosendale, Oracle’s Mike Sicilia didn’t show up or send regrets, which made Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick a little livid. FedScoop  HISTalk in its recap also pointed out that Rep.Rosendale “cited a report saying that it will take Oracle Health 15 more years to match VistA’s functionality. [VA deputy CIO Laura Prietula] responded that she doesn’t think it will take that long.” Oracle Cerner, in the few VA locations where it is operative, has not had a complete system outage in six months. Hearing and 1 hour 46 min. video (YouTube), hearing documents

Amazon continues to build out One Medical to, perhaps, ubiquity. On the East Coast, Amazon’s One Medical adds a major New Jersey health system relationship, Hackensack Meridian Health. Like its newly inked relationship with CommonSpirit Health, it will add integrated specialty providers to One Medical’s primary care focus. Specific locations based on patient needs are not specified yet nor financials. Implementation timing is unusually long–by the end of 2024. On a faster track may be One Medical’s deal with Health Transformation Alliance (HTA), a consortium of large US employers comprising 67 employers including Coca-Cola, Intel, Boeing, and many others totaling nearly 5 million employees. Timing and financials were not disclosed. This adds to One Medical’s current contracts with 8,500 companies that offer its primary care services as an employee health benefit. Becker’s, FierceHealthcare

NHS experiments with predictive health indicators and AI modeling for at-risk patients to prevent unnecessary admissions. Four GP practices in Somerset will be using an AI system that will flag registered patients who have complex health needs first, and are most at risk of hospital admission or who rarely contact their GP. Monitored in Buckinghamshire, the most interesting part of this is that the AI is linked to electronic sensors on kettles and fridges that spot changes in Somerset patients’ eating and drinking habits, obviously as an indicator of changes in health. (Does this remind anyone of 3rings or QuietCare?) Changes are reported to an Onward Care team of health coaches, nurses, and GPs who speak to patients and ask about any health or living issues. They can provide, based on patient input, deliveries of food parcels, arranging for cleaning or shopping services, home alterations to help to avoid falls, or to link them up with local voluntary groups to reconnect them with community resources or simply to help avoid loneliness. Clinical care can also be scheduled including specialist care. The NHS reports that GP practices can use this system to solve 95% of their issues or escalate anything clinical. Why this is important: hard winter and isolation, even with the holidays, loom after an autumn of wild weather and the persistent shortage of hospital beds and GP capacity/timeliness of appointments.  DigitalHealth.net

News roundup: Walgreens & CVS pharmacy staff 3 day walkout, DOJ ramping up healthcare acquisition scrutiny, Cantata Health sold to TT Capital, Lancashire County Council chooses Progress Lifeline for TECS (UK)

Kicking off the week, a walkout. Pharmacy staff at both Walgreens and CVS locations are participating in a three-day walkout that started today (30 October) and will go through Wednesday (1 November). The scope is limited–organizers are urging pharmacists to call in sick on those days and the actions appear to be somewhat scattered by state. This follows an earlier mid-October three-day walkout [TTA 11 Oct]. The Walgreens action, according to organizers, will end on Wednesday with  Wednesday with a planned demonstration outside Walgreens’ headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, Illinois.

The organizer quoted by MedCityNews and CNN, Shane Jerominski, a former Walgreens pharmacist and now with an independent pharmacy, stated that the issues are over short-staffing and overwork. In addition to their main tasks of accurately filling prescriptions, he said that they also deal with requests for administering vaccinations, testing, setting up auto-refills and other tasks. Mr. Jerominski claims that 2,500 Walgreens pharmacists and technicians will participate, which is coming as a surprise to Walgreens management. He also claimed to CNN 25 store closures.

Pharmacy workers are not currently unionized, but both the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU) are interested and support the walkouts. The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) also issued a statement of support from their CEO including issues such as patient harassment, burnout, quotas, and additional fees imposed by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) such as Express Scripts and Optum. Becker’s

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continues its warning shots over the bow to Big Healthcare. POLITICO, the daily broadsheet of the political class, reported that Andrew Forman, a deputy assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s antitrust division, warned that DOJ would be 1) closely scrutinizing all deals for antitrust and 2) stepping up post-merger investigations. This is all about “monopoly’ of healthcare markets as deemed by DOJ–and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), currently ax-tossing at Amazon. Mr. Forman cited national economic data, blame-gaming among health care providers, insurers and drug makers, and economic analysts–as well as the public comments registered as part of DOJ’s draft merger guidelines. Hiding behind value-based care isn’t going to help as DOJ is questioning whether payer/provider consolidation actually delivers on VBC, but instead “delivers on increased power and conduct that increases barriers and otherwise harms competition”. A far more complete summary of his remarks at the Health Care Competition Conference of The Capitol Forum is at Medical Economics

Our backgrounders on both DOJ and FTC actions around antitrust and mergers are summarized on 24 August (lead item) including our 20 July analysis of the Draft Merger Guidelines and this Editor’s educated guesses on the cloudy future of M&A. Also Becker’s

Slipping in under the DOJ radar is Cantata Health’s majority sale to a private equity group, TT Capital Partners (TTCP). Cantata developed and markets the Arize EHR and revenue cycle management platform for behavioral health, human services, acute and post-acute care. Arize is in 280 healthcare facilities across 45 states, as well as Canada, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Investment amount nor percentage are disclosed, nor who exited or management changes. However, a look back at a 2017 release about Cantata’s formation states that another PE, GPB Capital, acquired NTT DATA’s healthcare software assets for acute and long-term care. TTCP release

In Lancashire, the County Council has chosen a new preferred provider for technology enabled care services (TECS), Progress Lifeline, in a competitive bid. The Council currently provides personal alarm button pendants, wristbands, and wireless home sensors and detectors to local residents for a monthly fee. A significant factor in these new bids is enabling a smooth analogue-to-digital changeover, a critical issue for UK telecare providers. Progress release   Hat tip to Diane Gannon of Progress

Teladoc narrows loss in Q3 and YTD, grows revenue, adjusted profits…but stock sinks?

Teladoc seemingly can’t get any respect from Mr. Market. 2023 seems to be a waypoint in the company’s recovery after their disastrous 2022 (TTA 4 May 22, 23 Feb). Focusing on operational efficiencies since then, Teladoc posted some decent numbers compared to 2022 in their Q3 report:

  • Q3 revenue increased 8% to $660.2 million; nine-month revenue increased 10% to $1,941.9 million
  • Q3 net loss went down 10 cents per share to a total of $57.1 million, or $0.35 per share. Nine-month net loss was $191.5 million, or $1.17 per share (2022’s was $61.09)
  • Adjusted EBITDA in Q3 increased 73% to $88.8 million; nine-month EBITDA increased 40% to $213.7 million
  • Finally, cash flow from operations was $105.6 million in Q3, a 68% increase. For the nine months, $219.9 million, up 77%.

Yet the share price has taken a tumble from July’s end above $29, closing today at $16.09.

This Editor is no stock picker, but informed heads think that CEO Jason Gorevic has emphasized operational efficiencies over sales and profitable revenue growth. Yet EBITDA is booming with a 2023 guidance of $320-330 million. Amazon’s aggressiveness in taking over virtual care is much on the minds of these ‘informed heads’. In this context, too much pullback on sales and growth is not a positive sign of Teladoc’s long-term future, an indication that Mr. Gorevic, now trimmed, needs to trim his sails to the now-prevailing winds to increase share value. The much-touted BetterHelp in telemental health is not quite panning out with flat revenue and wobbly EBITDA. There’s such a thing as depending on one part of the business, with the rest going too lean and not having capacity, walking away from growth while the competition picks off your business. Seeking Alpha

Is Amazon a chimera of blue smoke and mirrors? The comparison with Amazon is despite their being a target of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on monopoly and anticompetitive charges (see the FTC release and the Vox discussion on why the US government wants to break up Amazon). More pain points are AWS’ slowing growth and emerging difficulties (ahem) in implementing their healthcare strategy with One Medical and Amazon Clinic, which this Editor has previously noted. What we view as a juggernaut is facing more than their share of distractions and changing circumstance. Even Jeff Bezos is pulling back his support of the Washington Post. (Need we remind our Readers that 2024 is a general election, and Amazon Hater Senator Elizabeth Warren is up for reelection?)

Mid-week roundup: Colorado terms Friday Health Plans; Cano 3 continue to savage board; Amazon Pharmacy layoffs; hacking attacks: QuickBlox, Barts Health; Phreesia buys MediFind; financing pops for K Health, Amino

Colorado liquidates, terminates insolvent insurtech Friday Health Plans. The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) had placed it into receivership in June after the company declared it would close, unable to find funds to operate its plans. On Monday, the DOI moved to liquidate its operations and terminate the plan effective 31 August. Their 30,000 policyholders on individual Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plans will be scrambling to find new coverage. In the receivership move, DOI had hoped that Friday had enough funds to keep the state plan solvent through end of year, but they did not. According to the Colorado Sun, Friday still owed unpaid Federal taxes as well as roughly $2 million in fee payments to the state’s insurance exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, which left the DOI without much hope. Friday had previously just about shut down its headquarters in Alamosa. This leaves not only 30,000 individuals scrambling, but also out eight months and perhaps thousands of dollars in deductibles as these plans tended to be high deductible. Colorado DOI opened a special enrollment period (SEP) for Friday policyholders and insurance brokers starting immediately through 31 October.  Providers are protected somewhat through the state’s Colorado Insurance Guaranty Association but many stopped taking Friday-covered patients last month. Friday’s crash-and-burn is the worst example of an insurtech’s demise to date and not promising for policyholders in other states such as Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, and Nevada. Healthcare Dive

The Cano 3 attack in the continuation war with the Cano Health board. In the latest episode of this telenovela, resigned directors Barry Sternlicht, Elliot Cooperstone, and Lewis Gold, who among them have about 35% of the company’s shares, are still supporting interim CEO Mark Kent but pressing hard to oust three of the directors reelected at the last shareholder meeting, including Marlow Hernandez, the founder and former CEO. What’s new is that they have declared war on Sol Trujillo as chairman and Angel Morales as chair of the audit committee as allies of Dr. Hernandez. In addition to divesting five directors and the interim chief legal officer plus ending their high monthly equity awards, they support divesting non-core assets. Mark Kent will have to be Clark Kent ducking into the phone booth to succeed in this. Press release  Mr. Sternlicht cannot be in a good mood, as Starwood Capital Group is in default on a $212.5 million mortgage on an Atlanta office property, Tower Place 100, in the continuing souring of the commercial real estate market. Fortune

Amazon Pharmacy has laid off 80 employees, mostly pharmacy technicians and team leaders, in continuing cutbacks there. This is the former PillPack. One would think that it would be expanding based on the growing medical needs of One Medical and Amazon Clinic. About the latter which was to roll out nationally today but was questioned on data privacy grounds, as of today there is no update announcement. To date, Amazon has released an amazing 27,000 workers. Semafor, Becker’s

Cybersecurity also racked up some hacks in the past week or so:

  • A popular software framework used in telehealth and financial applications, QuickBlox, was found to have several critical security flaws. The QuickBlox SDK (Software Development Kit) and API (Application Programming Interface) that are used for developing chat and video applications had a vulnerability that led researchers to take over multiple accounts and compromise the user database and extract PHI. The vulnerability also permitted a hacker to impersonate a physician or patient and alter health records. This was reported by Team82 and Check Point Research (CPR) teams but have since been fixed. Blow-by-blow with screenshots in Cybersecuritynews and overview in Becker’s.
  • Barts Health NHS Trust was hacked by BlackCat, a/k/a ALPHV. What was stolen was about 70 terabytes of data, which BlackCat claims as the largest breach in UK medical history. ALPHV listed the stolen data, including employee identification documents, including passports and driver licenses, and internal emails labeled “confidential”, around 30 June. Barts runs five London-based hospitals and serves more than 2.5 million patients. The Barts Health hack adds to NHS misery with an earlier attack on a University of Manchester NHS dataset with information on 1.1 million patients across 200 hospitals. The same CLOP Russian ransomware gang that got Johns Hopkins [TTA 19 July] also got Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator.  TechCrunch

Yes, there is good news in M&A and funding:

Phreesia is buying MediFind. No purchase price or management transition was disclosed. Phreesia is a patient intake platform that grew from a tablet used in practices for scheduling and patient check-in to a fully featured platform for workflow, claims, outreach and patient education. MediFind uses machine learning and analytics to connect patients with leading experts, clinical trials, health systems, and healthcare technologies. Phreesia is one of the few 2019 vintage IPOs to not crater–it’s trading on the NYSE at above $32 though as recently as end of 2021 its share price was double. Phreesia release.

K Health gained an unlettered venture round of $59 million from Cedars-Sinai, its new partner, plus current investors, including Valor Equity Partners, Mangrove Capital Partners, and Pico Venture Partners. This brings funding for this Israeli company to $330 million through a Series E. K Health’s platform uses a chat function that pre-screens patients with symptoms, uses AI to suggest possible diagnoses based on that person’s medical history, age, and gender, and will connect with a doctor or nurse if needed–which sounds somewhat like Babylon Health and Zipnosis. The chat can be used for primary care, some pediatric areas, urgent and chronic care management. K Health claims that 10 million individuals have interacted with K Health’s AI, and 3.1 million patients in 48 states have chatted with a doctor or nurse. FierceHealthcare

Amino, a navigation platform, received $42 million in credit financing from Oxford Finance. This was the final part of its $80 million venture raise in May. Amino connects physical and mental healthcare providers and benefits programs with members at self-insured employers and health plans, managed by third-party administrators, brokers, and human resources. Members access recommendations for providers and relevant benefits. Amino’s total funding is $125 million, mostly in venture rounds. Its last letter round was a Series C in 2017. It’s a busy sector with similar companies like Accolade, Rightway, and Transcarent.  Mobihealthnews

Rock Health’s first half funding roundup adjusts the bath temperature to tepid, the bubbles to flat

The ‘new normal’ continues, as the bubbles vanish and the poor duck’s feathers are getting soggy and cold. Rock Health’s roundup of digital health funding (US only) continues the chilly flat-to-downward trend to funding. What money and fewer funders are out there which persist in their dedication to healthcare are betting cautiously, minimizing their risk on the table in lower unlabeled funding rounds and pre-vetted concepts. 

  • First half 2023 (H1) funding closed at $6.1 billion across 244 deals. Average deal size was $24.8 million, the lowest since 2019.
  • Breaking down by quarter, Q2 2023 funding hit a new low– $2.5 billion in funding across 113 deals, lower than Q4 2022’s ‘hole’ of $2.7 billion. By comparison, Q1 2023 funding totaled $3.5 billion over 131 deals, adjusted from the earlier report of 132 deals [TTA 5 Apr]. The collapse of three banks, most notably Silicon Valley Bank in March, clearly affected Q2.
  • Given the trend, Rock Health projects that 2023 funding will fall well below 2022, between 2019’s $8.1 billion and 2020’s $14.3 billion

Delving into the numbers:

  • Those ‘generalists’ who jumped into the digital health pool in 2021-22 jumped out. H1’s 555 investors had a 71% repeat rate, meaning that those who knew the water saw some opportunity or put on their wet suits. The overall total dropped from 775 in H1 2022 and 832 in H1 2021.
  • Unlabeled raises were suddenly the way to go. 101 of 244 deals–41%–had no series or round attached. This unprecedented move avoids the spectre of down rounds for companies needing to raise funds–down rounds affect valuation. Interestingly, 67% of these companies’ prior raises were in 2021 and 2022. 37 of them were Series B or lower. 
  • Mega deals inhabit a different territory. H1 had 12 mega deals, 37% of total funding dollars, and was at the 2021 norm of $185 million. Half were at Series D and growth/PE. They clustered in value-based care, non-clinical workflow, and that former mouse in the pumpkin coach, in-home and senior care. This level of funding also gravitated to the pre-vetted: incubated by VCs included Paradigm (clinical trials) and Monogram Health (kidney care).  Recently funded Author Health, long in stealth, will operate in a narrow slice of mental health funded by Medicare plans.
  • Zero IPOs, but acquisitions and shutdowns/selloffs continue. Acquisitions continued on a track of about a dozen per month, down from 2022’s average of 15. On the gloomier side, quite a few companies simply ran out of runway after raising a little or a lot of funding. These hit the lights at the end resulting in hull loss: Pear Therapeutics, SimpleHealth, The Pill Club, Hurdle, and Quil Health. If they were lucky, they had intellectual property worth something to someone–Pear to four buyers including a former founder, 98point6’s AI platform business to Transcarent–or subscriber bases worth acquiring, such as Pill Club to Nurx, SimpleHealth to TwentyEight Health. This does not count Amazon shuttering Halo and leaving subscribers in the lurch. (Nor Amazon’s dodgy approach to privacy getting Federal and private scrutiny, which this Editor explores here and here.)

To this Editor, 2023 will be a ‘grind it out and survive’ year for most health tech and digital health companies. Survivors will carefully tend their spend, their customers (who will be doing their own cutbacks), and watch their banks. The signature phrase this year was written in 1950, another uncertain time, by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and uttered with flair by Bette Davis in a classic film about the theatre, ‘All About Eve‘: “Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.”   Rock Health Insights

Rounding up the week-end: Oracle Cerner layoffs hit 500+ in VA, DoD groups (updated); AWS cash cow stumbles; Transcarent-ViewFi team on virtual MSK; Veradigm delays annual, quarterly reports again; Olive AI sells BI to BurstIQ

Oracle, which already laid off 3,000 since its Cerner acquisition and dumped its real estate, is proceeding with more layoffs in Cerner groups serving the Federal government, specifically DoD and VA. According to the Reddit group r/cernercorporation on this thread, the layoffs hit broadly within the Federal teams: VA and DoD professional services, Federal care delivery, Federal change management, support service owners, and consulting. The number is at least 500 but may be more. The severance package is four weeks plus an additional week for every year of service plus unused vacation with the layoff date 30 June. Offers made to start for new hires have been rescinded. This has fueled speculation that Oracle Cerner may start to wash its hands of the just-renewed VA EHR implementation by outsourcing most of it. There is precedent for this: Cerner partnered with Leidos for the DoD implementation from the start and Oracle Cerner brought in Accenture for training in February. Of course, the all-heart Mr. Market liked the layoff news coupled with Oracle’s Q4 ending 31 May results of net income of $3.32 billion, a rise of 7% versus last year. CNBC  Oracle is now at a $342 billion valuation, a new high. HIStalk 16 June    

Updated 16 June: details remain sketchy but confirmation that layoffs are in the ‘hundreds’ Reuters, Becker’s, KC Business Journal (paywalled); the last posits from CEO Katz’s statement that this is only the first of many to come.   Further details on the Reddit group is that consultants were onsite at clients working on projects and go-lives when they received their layoffs, that 80% of departments were affected, and that the layoff may go over 1,000. 

Amazon Web Services’ business continues to slow, with the AWS cash cow’s growth slowing to half versus last year’s, with further decline expected this quarter. This Editor noted that market analysts at Seeking Alpha called it back in February when we looked at Amazon’s ability to spend cash so freely in healthcare, for example on OneMedical. Google and Microsoft have been tough competitors and while their growth is off too, they are starting with smaller pie slices. Companies are using more than one cloud provider in a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach; Gartner predicts that by 2026, more than 90% of businesses will use multiple providers, from 76% in 2020. AWS’ plans continue to build outside of the US, with a $12 billion investment in cloud infrastructure in India by 2030 as well as five data centers in Oregon due to a controversial $1 billion tax break. Google and Microsoft have also led in generative AI, while AWS has not. AP

Enterprise health navigator Transcarent has made another bid in the virtual health area. It’s a partnership with ViewFi, which helps MSK providers to diagnose and treat MSK injuries in real time. ViewFi providers are affiliated with the NYC-based Hospital for Special Surgery. The idea for ViewFi came from retired tennis champion Andy Roddick who, with his orthopedist Josh Dines, MD turned their bad experiences during the pandemic using FaceTime for virtual consults into a new platform. ViewFi’s platform now takes patients through an intro screener that records physical and mental health, through diagnosis and a recovery care plan with personalized diagnostic tests and exercises with real-time support from their health guides. For Transcarent-contracted companies, a ViewFi initial appointment can be set in as little as two days as opposed to the usual average of 17 days. Transcarent bought the virtual care platform developed by 98point6 in March. FierceHealthcare

We noted back in March and last month that Veradigm (the former Allscripts) had serious problems with their Q4 and FY 2022 reporting due to a software flaw (!) that affected its revenue reporting going back to 2021. Nasdaq has extended for the second time–from 14 June to 18 September–their 2022 annual 10-K filing and their 10-Q for the quarter ending 31 March 2023. Not filing the reports will mean delisting. Seeking Alpha

Olive AI’s reorganization continues [TTA 23 Feb], with data solutions company BurstIQ buying its business intelligence platform.  LifeGraph Intelligence uses AI tools such as natural language processing and machine learning to extract insights from clinical notes and EMR fields. The platform presents cost and clinical data in a meaningful way through cohort comparisons. According to an example on their website, it contributed to $90 million in savings for one health system. Acquisition cost and management transitions were not disclosed. BurstIQ release  Hat tip to HIStalk 16 June

Short takes: Amazon dims to black Halo wearable line, eVisit acquires Bluestream Health, Moving Health Home launches to lobby Congress, government

Amazon shuttering Halo health and fitness product line and services. On Wednesday, Amazon emailed Halo users that the line (View, Band, and brand new Rise sleep tracker) and services, including apps, will be switched off on 31 July. Users will be able to download or delete health and other data. Subscriptions will be refunded as well as all purchases made in the last 12 months. Remaining staff in the Halo unit will be laid off. This was not unanticipated given that Amazon cut jobs at Halo back in February as part of their mass layoff of 18,000 then and another 9,000 last month. Amazon is being quite ruthless in reacting to its 2022 loss and changing up its bets in healthcare to buying F2F care, like One Medical–as the Federal Trade Commission cleans its sights to hunt big game [TTA 23 Feb, 23 March] and the Department of Justice lurks in the wings, despite the sale closing. Engadget, Amazon notice, The Verge, Becker’s

Virtual care platform eVisit acquires virtual care platform Bluestream Health. Bluestream adds ‘white labeled’ telehealth as a customized “front door” for health systems along with virtual care workflow and LanguageLine translation to eVisit’s capabilities in automating patient care management for large health systems. eVisit picks up Bluestream’s 50,000 providers and 500 health systems to add to its 100 healthcare delivery organizations, 2,000 sites of care, and access by over 275,000 clinicians.  Acquisition cost and leadership/workforce transition are not disclosed. eVisit is based in Phoenix while Bluestream is HQ’d in NYC. This Editor first met with founder Brian Yarnell about 2015 or possibly earlier, when the company was operating out of two offices in shared workspace. Release, eVisit Bluestream acquisition page. FierceHealthcare

A new industry organization launches to lobby Congress and government for home health. Moving Health Home announced in March that it was forming to unify healthcare organizations to advocate for home health and to make the home a reimbursable site of care from insurers and Medicare. This spans prevention such as fall risk assessment and nutrition as well as direct care in the home including hospital at home. Members include Amazon, Hackensack Meridian Health, DaVita, Signify Health, Dispatch Health, and many others from the clinical, vendor, and provider areas. It’s headed by Krista Drobac, who has been for some time an activist in the connected health and health policy areas. Earlier this month, they announced that there will be a House bill, Expanding Care in the Home Act (ECHA) which is similar to prior bills both in the House and Senate.