News roundup: First Stop, GlobalMed, American Well, Avizia, Medicity, Health Catalyst, Allscripts, Welbeing, BenevolentAI

[grow_thumb image=”” thumb_width=”125″ /]Announcements and acquisitions have been multiplying–here’s what’s most interesting.

In companies we’ve recently written about:

Our recent Contributor Bruce Judson, now with corporate telemedicine provider First Stop Health, wrote us enroute to the Government Finance Officials Association conference in St. Louis that FSH achieved triple-digit top-line revenue growth and also achieved an average utilization rate of 52 percent. The formal announcement was made earlier this week at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas (release), where another one of our Contributors, Sarianne Gruber, is attending for Answers Media Company.

GlobalMed, a prior contributor to Perspectives, is offering a lower cost telemedicine alternative to practices with a flat fee starting at $799 per month for three years. Startup costs remain at about $5,000. The starting kit includes a cart, a total exam camera, stethoscope and vitals linked to the organization’s network, and a nurse license. Additional compatible equipment is available at extra cost. We know that a number of comparable telemedicine cart-based kits run upwards of $8,000. It is one of the first public acknowledgments this Editor has seen (but has known for years) that high cost is a major impediment for implementing both telehealth and telemedicine in practices. Health Data Management.

In other news:

Telemedicine and telehealth consolidation continues with American Well’s acquisition of hospital-based telemed/workflow systems provider Avizia. Avizia has a product line of telemedicine carts and workflow software for 40 different specialties, including telestroke and telebehavioral health. The acquisition price was not disclosed. Prior investors in this 2013 Cisco spinoff include Northwell Health, NY-Presbyterian, HealthQuest, and other providers in seven rounds totaling over $23 million. Healthcare IT News

A further sign of consolidation, this time in the crowded health information business, is the Medicity acquisition by Health Catalyst. Health Catalyst is primarily a data analytics and warehousing company while Medicity focuses more on data interoperability and patient engagement for practices, health systems, and HIEs. Medicity was purchased by Aetna in 2011 with much fanfare for $500 million as one of its ‘Emerging Businesses’, rebranded as Healthagen in 2013 [TTA 28 Feb 14] which never quite took off. Out of that unit, what remains are Active Health Solutions and Aetna Accountable Care Solutions, a payer-driven value-based care management company. The amount of the sale was not disclosed but is expected to close in 90 days. Health Catalyst’s CEO Brent Dover served as president of Medicity up to 2013, and both companies are located in Salt Lake City. What is interesting about this sale is that CVS, which is buying Aetna, has no comparable in-house technology. It’s a probable shedding of peripheral or money-losing businesses prior to sale.  HISTalk, MedCityNews

Allscripts continues on its acquisition binge with patient communication and engagement platform HealthGrid. HealthGrid is a mobile app platform that delivers care and education materials traditionally distributed from practices to patients via paper. In January, Allscripts bought practice EHR Practice Fusion for $100 million (a loss to investors) and earlier McKesson’s HIT business for $185 million. It’s a noticeable shift to value-added care tools for this formerly EHR-centric company. Mobihealthnews. 

In UK news:

Welbeing has won Norwich City Council’s Norwich Community Alarm Service (NCAS). It provides a 24-hour, year-round monitoring and response service for over 6,500 adults who are vulnerable or at risk in this part of East Anglia. The press release is on UK Telehealthcare‘s news page. 

BenevolentAI, a UK company using artificial intelligence for drug development, raised $115 million in new funding, mostly from undisclosed investors in the United States, according to Mobihealthnews, for a total funding of over $200 million. The company uses AI to reduce drug discovery time and risk. It does not do its own drug discovery but sells the intellectual property discovered by their AI algorithms, claiming to cut drug development timelines by four years and improve efficiencies by 60 percent compared to pharma industry averages.

Far from a tipping point: only 18 percent of consumers using telemedicine. An expectation gap? (US)

When will we get there? And what needs to happen? Telemedicine provider Avizia surveyed both consumers and healthcare professionals earlier this year, and the results are not encouraging. For the huge investments made by telemedicine and telehealth companies, along with providers and payers, the key finding here is that only 18 percent of the 403 consumers surveyed in March had even used telehealth.

Of that 18 percent (N=72), it’s been a positive experience:

  • On a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 signifying a “great experience,” 62 percent of consumers who used telehealth ranked their experience a 10, 9, or 8.
  • Consumers who used telehealth appreciated time savings and convenience (59 percent), faster service and shorter wait times to see the doctor (55 percent), and cost savings due to less travel (43 percent)

Modern Healthcare also sponsored the outreach to healthcare professionals who are subscribers, locating 444 respondents whose organizations currently use telehealth or telemedicine.

  • They are most interested in telehealth’s ability to expand access or reach to patients (72 percent). Barriers are reimbursement (41 percent), program cost (40 percent), and clinician resistance (22 percent)
  • Their #1 use cases are for stroke and neurology (72 percent), followed by behavioral health (41 percent) and intensive care (20 percent).

What’s unsaid in this write-up? Consumers and clinicians clearly have differing expectations on how they want to use telemedicine. Consumers are largely using it as an alternative to an in-person visit for less serious medical needs. Clinicians use it for very serious situations–stroke, neurology, mental illness, ICU. Perhaps this is why the takeup of telehealth among consumers is low.

Mike Baird, CEO of Avizia, is quoted in the release as saying “Health systems are investing in telehealth, even as uptick is slow among consumers, because they understand the potential of the technology to impact patient care in a profound way.” But as a Grizzled Pioneer in this field said to this Editor in confidence, how many of these companies have the revenues and patient investors to enable them to stay alive till they get to the Promised Land–and how far is it? Closing the Telehealth Gap (white paper requires free registration and download)Becker’s Hospital Review

Avizia over-subscribes its Series A by $6 million

Telemedicine startup Avizia announced an unusual bonus on what was thought to be a closed Series A with a $6 million additional investment. There was also an unusual investor–the New York-Presbyterian health system. The add-on was led by HealthQuest Capital. Also reported was an extension of Silicon Valley Bank’s agreement for $3 million in debt financing and a $1.5 million line of credit. In July, the first part of the Series A had $11 million from Blue Heron Capital, HealthQuest Capital and five other investors. Total investment is over $22.7 million. From a start in telemedicine carts using Cisco Telepresence, Avizia developed software and apps for mobile devices, including secure messaging for doctors within hospitals. The new funds will be used to upgrade its engineering capabilities to build new capabilities into its telehealth platform, integration with electronic health records and the ability to monitor the battery life of remote diagnostic devices. Also unusual is that they market in the US, UK and Australia covering 400 health systems, including 1,000 hospitals. MedCityNews, Crunchbase

Avizia talks Telemedicine Down Under

Telemedicine startup Avizia, which revealed last week its $11 million Series A fund raise, has been promoting itself through a webinar series. Unusually for a US company, it has presented panels discussing telemedicine in Canada and this month, Australia. (It also has operations ex-US in Australia and UK, and was a sponsor of SFT-15 in Brisbane last November.) The panelists were Dr. Victoria Wade (University of Adelaide), Dr Anthony Smith (University of Queensland) and Dr Sisiri Edirippulige (Queensland). Topics discussed in the hour webinar were:

  • Aging population with increased rates of chronic diseases
  • Density of care providers in urban areas, but 1/3 of the Australian population lives in rural communities
  • Government funding for telehealth video consultations
  • Incentives to expand or develop new telehealth programs
  • Increased familiarization with the technology; expectations are changing on how to obtain care

The recorded webinar is available here.

Ka-ching! $61 million to telemedicine’s Teladoc, Avizia

Two ends of the spectrum. Teladoc, now reputed to be the largest telemedicine company in the US, can now access $50 million in new capital via a $25 million term loan and a $25 million revolving line of credit from Silicon Valley Bank. This is just after announcing the purchase of mobile-app-based physician locator HealthiestYou in a $125 million deal ($45 million in cash + 6.96 million shares of its common stock valued at $80 million.) Teladoc has been on a roll since 2008, with $245 million in funding up through 2015 (Accenture).

Telemedicine startup Avizia, on the other hand, closed a healthy $11 million Series A round from Blue Heron Capital (as lead–CrunchBase) and then announced a partnership with video provider Vidyo to be compatible with their addressable video platform. From a start in telemedicine carts, Avizia now has new apps for mobile devices and secure messaging for doctors within hospitals. Modern Healthcare, MedCityNews