TTA’s April Showers 3: UHG damp financials, Change hack, House grilling; Cerebral hands over $7M; VA may restart Cerner EHR implementation; NeueHealth gets $30M from NEA; TandemStride debuts trauma survivor app, more!

 

 

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?)

A damp start to April leads with puzzling news. NeueHealth loses plans and big money in ’23–but gives a big bonus to its CEO. Cano Health reorganizing or selling by June. ATA kicks DOJ about expediting controlled substance telehealth regs. Apple keeps kicking around the ‘Davids’, but Davids won’t stop slinging either. And if you work with a PR or marketing agency, our Perspectives has some advice for you.

More New Reality: NeueHealth (Bright Health) CEO’s $1.9M bonus, 2023 financials–and does Cano Health have a future? (Two stories gone way sideways)
ATA requests expediting of revised proposed rule on controlled substance telehealth prescribing; announces Nexus 2024 meeting 5-7 May (DEA needs to get moving now, not later)
Davids (AliveCor, Masimo) v. Goliath (Apple): the patent infringement game *not* over; Masimo’s messy proxy fight with Politan (updated) (Seeing value in Masimo?)
Perspectives: Working with a PR Agency–How to Make the Most of the Partnership (Expert advice if you manage communications)

It was a pre-Easter week that started as quiet and got VERY LOUD at the end. Walgreens took the hard road, writing down VillageMD even before the closures were final and lowering forecasts. An important metastudy+ casts doubt on the efficacy of present digital health diabetes solutions but provides solid direction forward. And it’s definitely an early sunny spring for funding, but there’s continued bad weather forecast for UnitedHealth Group and Oracle Cerner’s VA implementation.

Facing Future 2: Walgreens writes down $5.8B for VillageMD in Q2, lowers 2024 earnings on ‘challenging’ retail outlook (Biting bullet early and hard)
Short takes: PocketHealth, Brightside fundings; VA OIG reports hit Oracle Cerner; Change cyberattack/legal updates; UHG-Amedisys reviewed in Oregon; Optum to buy Steward Health practices (UHG carries on as does company funding)
Can digital health RPM achieve meaningful change with type 2 diabetics? New metastudy expresses doubt. (Major digital health findings from PHTI)

This week’s Big Quake was DOJ’s antitrust suit against Apple for smartphone monopoly and control over apps. Another quake: 2023 data breaches were up 187%–when a medical record is worth $60, it’s logical. Early-stage funding and partnerships are back with a roar when AI’s in your portfolio. And Walgreens shrinks both VillageMD and distribution.

2023 US data breaches topped 171M records, up 187% versus 2022: Protenus Breach Barometer (And that was LAST year!)
Why is the US DOJ filing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple–on monopolizing the smartphone market? (One wonders)
Mid-week roundup: UK startup Anima gains $12M, Hippocratic AI $53M, Assort Health $3.5M; Abridge partners with NVIDIA; VillageMD sells 11 Rhode Island clinics; $60 for that medical record on the dark web (Funding’s back and AI’s got it)
Walgreens’ latest cuts affect 646 at Florida, Connecticut distribution centers (More in next week’s financial call)

A lighter week with the Change hacking starting to recede (pharmacy back up on Wed 13 March) and most industry types at HIMSS, we caught up with the first VA go-live in a year, Dexcom’s cleared OTC CGM, WebMD doubles down on health ed with Healthwise buy, Centene may sell abandoned HQ building. And Friday’s news is on a big cyberattack of an NHS Scotland region.

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

News roundup: Cerner goes live at VA, DOD Lovell Center; WebMD expands education with Healthwise buy; Dexcom has FDA OK for OTC glucose sensor; Centene may have buyer for abandoned Charlotte HQ (Back to normal news!)
Updates on Change cyberattack: UHG’s timeline for system restorations, key updates around claims and payments in next weeks (updated) (Saving the analysis for later)

The Change Healthcare/Optum cyberattack entered a second week with no restoration of services in sight; how providers and pharmacies are coping without their primary means of processing patient claims and furnishing care–and the psychological toll; and the uncertain future of Walgreens, WBA, and the rapid downsizing of their provider arm, VillageMD. To add further insult to UHG, now DOJ is putting them under antitrust scrutiny.

Is BlackCat/ALPHV faking its own ‘death’? (updated) HHS and CMS come to Change affected providers’ assistance with ‘flexibilities’
Update: VillageMD lays off 49 in first two of six Village Medical closures in Illinois
Reality Bites Again: UHG being probed by DOJ on antitrust, One Medical layoffs “not related” to Amazon, the psychological effects of cyberattacks
Facing Future: Walgreens CEO moves company into strategic review–will he get WBA board alignment? (‘Go big’ now in reverse)
Week 2: Change Healthcare’s BlackCat hack may last “for the next couple of weeks”, UHG provides temp funding to providers, AHA slams it as a ‘band aid”–but did Optum already pay BlackCat a $22M ransom? (updated) (When will it end? Providers. staff, and patients are hurting)

Three major stories lead this packed week. Change Healthcare’s and Optum’s week-long struggle to get 100 or so BlackCat hacked systems up and running again for pharmacies and hospitals–no end in sight. Walgreens keeps closing Village MD locations–up to 85. But the funding freeze seems to be thawing, with M&A and lettered funding rounds suddenly poking through like daffodils–though the structure of one (Dario-Twill) is puzzling and another may be contested (R1 RCM). And Veradigm finally delists–while buying ScienceIO.

BlackCat is back, claims theft of 6TB of Change Healthcare data (Latest breaking news)

Breaking: VillageMD exiting Illinois clinics–in its home state–as closures top 80 locations (Something not good in the Village)
Short takes on a springlike ‘defrosting’: Redi Health’s $14M Series B, Dario Health buys Twill for ~$30M (About time for a Spring thaw)
Roundup: Walgreens’ new chief legal officer; Digital Health Collaborative launched; fundings/M&A defrosting for b.well, R1 RCM, Abridge, Reveleer; Veradigm likely delists, buys ScienceIO–mystery? (updated)
Change Healthcare cyberattack persists–is the BlackCat gang back and using LockBit malware? BlackCat taking credit. (update 28 Feb #2) (100 systems down, BlackCat’s back)


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The New Reality, Bizarro World version: NeueHealth gets $30M loan increase from NEA, now majority owner

Because NeueHealth needs money now after a 2023 cratering–then paying 2023 performance bonuses to its top execs. New Enterprise Associates (NEA), one of NeueHealth’s remaining key funders, has decided to double down on its bet and extended $30 million to NeueHealth. It’s structured as a credit facility agreement effective 8 April, with NeueHealth able to access $20 million immediately and the remaining $10 million after 180 days. It’s secured by penny warrants ($0.01) of 1,113,563 shares of the company’s common stock to the lenders. According to FierceHealthcare’s Noah Tong, this brings NEA’s shares to more than 2.76 million shares since it first entered the credit agreement. These warrants which allow the purchase of shares at a nominal price are divided among various NEA entities. Investing.com, NeueHealth release, SEC Form 8-K

NEA is now majority owner at 60%, up 10 percentage points. It can also appoint one of its members to NeueHealth’s board, which will expand to 11 members.

Despite the disclosure in its March 10-K that additional funding was needed this year to continue as a going concern, the need for fast cash was urgent enough that the board of directors’ audit committee approved a waiver of shareholder approval on the warrant issuance, as waiting would jeopardize the financial viability of the company. NeueHealth stated the additional cash would be used for general business purposes.

The additional cash infusion is after shocking many observers in healthcare with CEO Mike Mikan’s $1.9 million bonus for performance, along with cash bonuses of $875,000 to CFO Jay Matushak and Executive Vice President of Consumer Care Tomas Orozco. NeueHealth’s 2023 was marked by exiting all their healthcare plans, owing tens to hundreds of millions to states on losing plans and CMS on repayment agreements, a name change from Bright Health, an HQ move, and finally a net loss of $627.7 million with an adjusted EBITDA loss of $8.5 million for 2023. TTA 5 April

Industry observer Ari Gottlieb to both Mr. Tong and in his own LinkedIn post noted that NeueHealth reported that they had, at the end of 2023, $90 million in unrestricted cash. He also noted that CalSTRS, the California State Teachers Retirement System, NeueHealth’s other major investor, did not participate. Mr. Gottlieb also speculated that Molina Healthcare, to which Bright Health sold their Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, may ask for further adjustments to the payment price as the MA plans’ performance was poor.

Has NEA lost its investors’ minds and cash–or are they seeing something we don’t see in NeueHealth?

Editor’s note: The reference to Bizarro World, for those unfamiliar with the Superman oeuvre, is explained here.

News roundup: Cano Health gets 2nd NYSE delisting warning; Veradigm acquires Koha Health RCM, faces class-action lawsuit; Bright Health-Molina sale closes; Devoted Health’s $175M Series E (updated)

Cano Health gets another billet-doux from the NYSE. Spoiling the confetti and champagne, tech-based primary care provider Cano Health was notified on 29 December that it faced delisting from the NYSE, this time not for the share price (which is above $1 at $5.23) but for its total market capitalization. The NYSE has a pesky rule (Section 802.01B) that a company’s total market capitalization must be above $50 million over a 30 trading-day period and its stockholders’ equity must be above $50 million. The timeline: Cano has 10 business days from the 29th to respond to the NYSE to state intent to cure the deficiencies, and 45 days from that time to submit a business plan to regain compliance within 18 months. If accepted, shares will continue to trade. In its release, Cano announced accelerating its ‘transformation plan’ to further cut costs, divesting operations and terminating underperforming affiliate operations to save approximately $290 million by the end of 2024, which includes the $65 million of previously planned cost reductions. They will also need to pay $30 million in pre-tax charges to resolve exiting leases and staff termination charges. Earlier in December, Cano appointed two independent directors, Patricia Ferrari and Carol Flaton, both with strengths in restructuring companies and their financials. It also established a three-person finance committee, to assist in trimming down the company and exploring a sale. Release

Veradigm buys Koha Health, which specializes in orthopedic/musculoskeletal (MSK) revenue cycle management (RCM). Acquisition cost and management transitions were not disclosed. The purchase of Koha adds to Veradigm’s RCM portfolio in ambulatory health. Koha, based in Merrimack, New Hampshire, was still owned and run by younger members of the founding family.  Veradigm is still working out over a year of trouble with its Nasdaq listing and has changed out its CEO and CFO recently [TTA 14 Dec]. Release. Also HIStalk 1/3/24   

Updated  Veradigm faces a shareholder class-action lawsuit on its share price. As is typical in these cases, there is a lead plaintiff (John M, Erwin) represented by a law firm (in this case Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP of San Diego) which is filed on behalf of a class, in this case individuals who bought shares between 26 February 2021 and 13 June 2023 and suffered losses. It charges Veradigm as well as certain of its current and former top executive officers with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  This centers around Veradigm’s ongoing problems in stating its financials from Q3 2021 and overstating its earnings from there through 2023, negatively affecting the share price. The lawsuit was filed 22 November 2023 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Robbins Geller is now seeking other plaintiffs to join in the suit. Release, Justia Dockets & Filings, Mobihealthnews

Wrapping up another continuing story, Bright Health closed the sale of its California plans to Molina Healthcare on New Year’s Day. With the proceeds, reduced to $425 million [TTA 20 Dec 23], Bright as predicted cleared what was owed on its credit facility with JP Morgan, reduced on Friday by $30 million to approximately $298 million. The remaining funds will go to their cash position ($90 million in unregulated cash plus approximately $155 million in excess cash surplus after reserving for expenses) and $110 million from escrow, and now on its sole continuing value-based primary care business, NeueHealth. Cash reserves do not include CMS Repayment Agreements which come due on or before 14 March 2025, sufficiently far in the future (?). No mention of repayments to their lender New Enterprise Associates (NEA) or the Texas Department of Insurance clawing back money owed out of its insolvent Texas plan. You have to hand it to Bright Health. 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.  [TTA 5 Dec].  Release 29 Dec. Release 2 Jan   FierceHealthcare

Updated  And one more bright spot: $175 million raised by Devoted Health. Devoted is a combination of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans with in-house telehealth and in-home care delivered by Devoted Medical. The Series E was funded by a lead syndicate composed of The Space Between (TSB), Highbury Holdings, GIC, Stardust Equity, Maverick Ventures, and Fearless Ventures with an arms-length list of other participants. Devoted was started by two brothers, former athenahealth and government IT leaders Ed and Todd Park, CEO and executive chairman respectively. Devoted release, Becker’s. Fierce Healthcare, Mobihealthnews

What a difference a little over two years makes. At the time of their hefty $1.15 billion Series D, raised in the heady days of October 2021, they were considered one of the smaller, more specialized ‘insurtechs’ along with Alignment Health. Now they are walking tall in a field of damaged or expired payers: Bright Health, Oscar, and Clover among the survivors, and Friday Health Plans deceased. Devoted now states that its MA plans serve 140,000 members in 299 counties across 13 states, as of December 2023. Most impressively, 94% of their members in Star-eligible plans are in 4 to 5 Star plans. Their HMO plans in Florida and Ohio were all 5 Star plans. 

Some thoughts on the insurtechs, why the hype didn’t quite pan out, and the damage they may have done [TTA 7 July 2023].

Follow up: Molina reduces Bright Health’s $510M California plan sale to $425M

Not unexpectedly, Molina Healthcare is not going to pay the original purchase price for Bright Health’s California plans in Q1 2024. In July, Bright Health trumpeted a $600 million salvage deal with Molina, one of the few ‘pure’ health plan companies left. For Molina, they would pay $510 million plus a $90 million tax benefit for Bright’s two California Medicare Advantage (MA) plans–Brand New Day and Central Health Plan. One of the caveats of the deal was the ability to reduce the payment due in Q1 2024 based on the purchased plans’ financials and Star ratings. Unfortunately for Bright Health, neither financials nor ratings are good. Molina is reducing their payment accordingly to $425 million, unceremoniously, paying less for more membership in MA. Release

Why Bright is dimming rapidly. Bright’s health plans have failed or closed shop in multiple states [TTA 20 Apr] after disastrous 2022 performances. Most recently, their Texas plans were seized for liquidation. In these plans, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) assesses risk adjustment payments that Bright owed to other plans in states where they did business [TTA 5 Dec]. That has been calculated as $380 million–$89.6 million alone in Texas. The bottom line: Bright owes money everywhere–not only to other payers for where they operated in 2022 but also to JP Morgan–$380 million to pay off its credit facility due in February. 

Ari Gottlieb of A2 Strategies on LinkedIn plus interviewed in Becker’s and MedCityNews, has been following this closely as this Editor has noted in his earlier coverage of insurtechs. His over/under is that Bright will pay off JP Morgan first, perhaps kick some over to their lender New Enterprise Associates (NEA), and leave CMS and payers owed in multiple states holding a bag of stale or soggy chips. He explains the escrow setup with Molina plus other factors such as management bonuses (!!!) for completing the transaction. A smart move in his eyes is that the Texas Department of Insurance, by liquidating the TX plans and blocking actions by Bright, may be able to claw back over $125 million out of NeueHealth, a Bright subsidiary.

Absent another Loaves-and-Fishes miracle, reserved for our Redeemer, this Editor cannot see how Bright doesn’t go dark in 2024. One possibility to this Editor: NEA ponies up more investment on top of their $60 million credit facility engineered in August. Given the coal scuttle that is the current state of M&A, they may see this as their only alternative with their investment cash, to push for a recovered and small Bright. Absent a Chapter 7 breakup, what company would buy the liabilities to payers and lenders for what is left–NeueHealth? Then have DOJ and FTC turning a microscope on them? Perhaps in June 2024, but not now.

You have to hand it to Bright Health. They have done a masterful job of tying states, CMS, other health plans, and even Molina into Gordian knots that buy time against what seems to be the inevitable.

Stayin’ alive–or trying. Bright Health Texas plan seized for liquidation; Cano Health reverse splits, up for sale

Bright Health’s future continues to dim. Last week, the Texas Department of Insurance (DOI) filed notice in Travis County district court that Bright Health’s subsidiary, Bright Health Insurance Company of Texas as defendant, was financially insolvent and would be liquidated. The insolvency and receivership was declared on 29 November. Bright Health’s Texas assets could not cover liabilities plus a required surplus under law. The Commissioner of the DOI is responsible for the liquidation that was done with the consent of Bright Health as an agreed with the defendant order (PDF link here).

Bright Health had exited the Texas market, ending its ACA plans in July and an agreement with Molina Healthcare to serve Medicaid and ACA Marketplace populations in Florida and Texas starting in 2024, according to July reports [TTA 6 July]. Reading the order, Bright Health and all of its entities including NeueHealth are enjoined from any actions regarding Bright Health Texas.

Is there a bottom short of Chapter 7? Bright Health is not only in major debt, reportedly $500 million, to JP Morgan to pay off its credit facility, but also to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to cover risk liabilities from its discontinued ACA (Affordable Care Act-individual plan) insurance businesses. That liability is, according to reports, $380 million in risk-adjustment payments, including $89.6 million in Texas. In the puzzle palace scheme of ACA plans, this is designed to ‘even out’ the differential between higher and lower-risk members in an ACA market. This risk adjustment of nearly $90 million also affects the bottom line of other plans in Texas run by Centene, Molina, and BCBS Texas, as well as smaller local plans, as this payment is distributed to them. But from the liquidation order, no one can collect on this risk adjustment as an asset (see page 7 of the order).

The sale of California plans to Molina in July was estimated at $600 million, and that was contingent on Bright Health surviving into 2024. The value of the plans, with continued losses, is likely reduced as it’s six months later. It is not expected to close until Q1 2024. For the $380 million payment owed to CMS, Bright has entered an interest-only repayment agreement with them, a favorable but ‘skin of the teeth’ arrangement. The credit facility from New Enterprise Associates in August was only $60 million. But their adjusted EBITDA reported at that time for Q2 and H1 were actually in the black: $6.4 million for Q2 and $670,000 for H1. 

The big question to this Editor, as it was to analyst Ari Gottlieb, is how the $89.6 million, now enjoined in Texas, is not considered a default on the risk-adjustment payment agreement and is turned over to the Department of the Treasury for collection. Read Mr. Gottlieb’s POV here on LinkedIn. But this Editor has to hand it to Bright Health. They have done a masterful job of tying states, CMS, and even Molina into Gordian knots that buy time against what seems to be the inevitable.  Becker’s

Cano Health is also trying to stay alive until it gets sold. The board and shareholders on 2 November (release) accepted a 1 for 100 reverse share split, exchanging 100 old shares of Class A and B stock for one Class A share. This is to regain compliance with the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) listing rules. Cano is currently trading at $8.95 (5 Dec @ 13.33pm).

As previously reported, Cano lost $497 million in Q3. Some results showed improvement, with capitated revenue of $770.3 million increasing 23% and 7% PMPM (per member per month) versus Q3 2022. Not good was the adjusted EBITDA of $(66.1) million in Q3 2023 coming in at $(84.3) million lower than Q3 2022 ($18.2 million) due to a higher medical cost ratio (MCR). Reading further into the release, liquidity appears to be low–$53 million, consisting of cash and cash equivalents (excluding restricted cash of approximately $34 million). They also have a revolving line of credit with Credit Suisse, but it is fully drawn. Cano projects operating performance improvement for Q4. It continues to sell assets, lay off staff, and is for sale as a company on what is left, which is their Florida-based clinic network. 9 Nov release

Bright Health to exit insurance business, selling California plans to Molina for up to $600 million–contingent on surviving to 2024

Over the slow July 4th holiday weeks, Bright Health perhaps staved off the inevitable. Maybe. Molina Healthcare agreed to pick up all of Bright Health’s California Medicare Advantage plans, Brand New Day and Central Health Plan. The deal: purchase 100% of the issued and outstanding capital stock of the two plans. Molina’s valuation is $510 million plus a $90 million tax benefit. It is contingent on the usual government approvals, of course–and Bright Health surviving into Q1 2024 for the closing.

For Bright, of the $600 million, approximately $500 million will eventually go to JP Morgan to pay off their outstanding and overdue credit facility with the remaining proceeds to be used towards liabilities from its discontinued ACA (Affordable Care Act-individual plan) insurance business. Bright also announced a waiver extension and amendment to its credit facility.

There is no mention of a bridge loan from Molina or any other lender. As Ari Gottlieb of A2 Strategy pointed out in the Fierce Healthcare article, Bright Health must absorb any and all losses from the California plans, their operations, and survive into Q1 2024 for the deal to execute. Given their current situation, that is still a mountain for Bright to climb. According to Bright’s release, they do not intend to comment or disclose further developments until the transaction is closed.

As of today, the Bright plans cover 125,000 members in 23 California counties. They include Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans (PDP), dual eligible special needs plans (D-SNP), and chronic conditions special needs plans (C-SNP). There is a 60% overlap with Molina’s Medicaid footprint in California.

Molina using ‘on hand’ funds, and the deal depends on Bright Health staying solvent into 2024. In Molina’s release, they stated that “Molina intends to fund the purchase with available funds including cash on hand. The transaction is subject to federal and state regulatory approvals, the solvency and continued operation as a going concern of Bright Health Group throughout the pre-closing period, and other closing conditions. It is expected to close in the first quarter of 2024.” Molina is atypical–it is the largest ‘pure’ health plan group serving over 5 million members. Unlike UHG, CVS Health, and Cigna, it long ago shed healthcare-related service businesses to concentrate on plans and plans only. The deal adds about $1 to their $5.50 share price.

What’s left at Bright Health Group is NeueHealth, also called their Consumer Care Delivery business. That will now be part of a provider agreement with Molina to serve Medicaid and ACA Marketplace populations in Florida and Texas starting in 2024. Bright Health stopped nearly all plans at the end of 2022 and will cease coverage of members in their Texas ACA plans at the end of July.   Healthcare Finance, Becker’s   More on Bright Health’s health status here

Another Bright Health selloff: Zipnosis sold to Florence Labs

Bright’s money-raising continues. Bright Health’s Zipnosis was sold to Florence Labs for an undisclosed amount. Zipnosis, acquired stealthily by their Minneapolis neighbor Bright in the latter’s Happy Time of April 2021, is a telemedicine/telehealth company that provides white-labeled ‘digital front door’ asynchronous telehealth and diagnosis triage for large health systems fully integrated into hospital EHRs. Today’s release does not mention acquisition cost or management/employee transitioning, though Zipnosis is confirmed in their boilerplate to have about 60 employees. One suspects the sale amount was not large.

Notably, the Zipnosis website has been cleansed of any Bright Health identification or releases. A quick look at Zipnosis staff on LinkedIn indicates the cutover (and presumably the sale) took place in March but for various reasons such as financial closings was not announced until today.

Zipnosis is one of telehealth’s Ur-companies, founded in 2009 and gaining 50-60 health systems before their sale. Zipnosis was a good buy, lightly funded, and with a unique technology that fit well and conveniently into EHRs. It was a smart addition for Bright’s practices under NeueHealth along with entree to health systems. Their later and larger competition at least in synchronous telehealth for health systems was Bluestream Health, bought last month by eVisit as more evidence of healthcare consolidation. 

Florence Labs is a just-out-of-stealth startup based in NYC that automates clinical workflows and patient-facing access to address the problem of acute care clinical capacity. It was founded in 2021 by Aniq Rahman (president of Moat, acquired by Oracle in 2017 for $850 million). It was recently and modestly funded (March release) with $20 million in seed capital from Thrive Capital, GV (Google Ventures), and Salesforce Ventures with participation from Vast Ventures, BoxGroup, and Atento Capital. It’s currently working with about 40 healthcare systems, the most recently announced Luminis Health in Maryland.  It’s not to be confused with the significantly larger Florence Healthcare (clinical trial site enablement).  FierceHealthcare

Mid-week roundup: Pear assets fetch paltry $6M *updated*, Bright Health’s reverse stock split, Oracle Cerner loses hospital EHR share, Lifeforce health optimization scores $12M Series A

From a $1.6 billion valuation to $6 million in a bankruptcy court is sad. Pear Therapeutics‘ assets were sold at a bankruptcy court auction for $6 million. Even that took four bidders slicing themselves individual pieces.

  1. Nox Health Group of Atlanta ponied up the major bid of $3.9 million for Pear’s Somryst, their FDA-cleared insomnia treatment. Nox Health offers sleep-related treatments to employers and payers.
  2. Harvest Bio anted up $2.03 million for the ISF licenses and patents, plus Pear assets related to schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis, depression, and the remaining pipeline projects. They also bought the corporate trademarks, the PearConnect commercial platform, and the rights to the FDA-cleared reSET and opioid-specific reSET-O programs. Editor’s view: with no discernable website or Crunchbase listing, Harvest’s purpose could be to buy themselves the core of a business. (See below for more)
  3. Click Therapeutics paid $70,000 for the patents that powered Pear’s platform, except Invention Science Fund (ISF) licenses and patents. Click is an NYC-based developer of digital therapeutics to treat migraine, smoking cessation, schizophrenia, depression, and more.
  4. WELT Corp. of Seoul, South Korea, put down $50,000 for Pear’s migraine-focused program. Samsung-backed WELT develops digital biomarkers tracked by smartphones and sensors to track, monitor, and predict health outcomes.

The court filing (PDF) is here. The hearing to finalize the approved bids took place yesterday (22 May) in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The $6 million is nowhere near the $32 million in debt that Pear had on the books at the time of their Chapter 11 filing [TTA 13 Apr]. The $1.6 billion was the valuation of Pear at the time of its SPAC in December 2021 and Pear had raised over $400 million previously. Mobihealthnews, STAT

Update 30 May: The mysterious Harvest Bio LLC is now a little less mysterious with the tracking down by STATNews‘ Mario Aguilar that the signatory for the purchase of over $2 million in assets from Pear is none other than Pear’s former CEO, Corey McCann. @mariojoze. Brian Dolan on LinkedIn adds the tracks of a molto stealthy Boston-based funder, T.Rx, which is using a recently set up fund (1/23) to back up McCann’s bid. Former Pear exec (head of search, evaluations, and in-licensing), independent investor, and Zus Health investor Michael Langer appears to be a co-founder and managing director of T.Rx, according to Mr. Dolan. Zus Health raised $40 million back in March and is headed by former athenahealth head Jonathan Bush.

In other implosion news, Bright Health on Monday executed its reverse stock split buying itself time on the NYSE from delisting. The board and shareholders approved a 1:80 split. It is now trading as BHG1 and closed today (Tuesday 23 May) at $14.38. Bright is in real extremis–selling its California health plans, either fined or under investigation in four states, in a lawsuit over unpaid claims with SSM Health, and needing a quick $500 million to pay off their outstanding JP Morgan credit facility. Ouch.  [TTA 7 Apr, 20 Apr, 4 May, 5 May  Mobihealthnews, Becker’s Payer Issues, Seeking Alpha    See 24 May update on their sale of Zipnosis

Oracle needs to execute a turnaround at Cerner. Stat. And it’s not just at the VA. KLAS Research in a report published today calculated EHR hospital market share by both location and hospital beds. Epic is running away with the core hospital market with a 39.5% market share while Oracle Cerner has 24.9%. The KLAS findings are access-restricted, but the publicly available toplines are that Epic is the only vendor with positive net change in hospital market share and beds, while Oracle Cerner has lost beds and gained share in small hospitals, losing large ones. Third ranked is Meditech with a 16.3% share. It’s not unthinkable to shrink out of this business. Once upon a time, GE Healthcare was a major player in this sector with Centricity–and exited back in 2015, retreating to specialty physician practices. Becker’s

In contrast, if it has some celebrity shine, money gets raised. Lifeforce closed a Series A round at what is now a strong amount–$12 million. It promises a clinically integrated approach to health optimization for longevity based on physical and psychological biomarker data, clinical expertise from doctors and health coaches, and validated interventions on a telehealth-based platform. Blood draws every three months are done by registered phlebotomists. It also markets nutriceuticals, peptides, and hormones as part of treatments to members. Co-founded by Dugal Bain-Kim, Peter Diamandis, and Tony Robbins, Lifeforce is endorsed by Serena Williams. The $12 million raise was co-led by M13 and Peterson Ventures with participation by Ridgeline Ventures, Rosecliff Ventures, and Seaside Ventures. The maintenance program starts at $349 for an initial baseline assessment and $129 per month for membership thereafter. However, when this Editor as a marketer sees claims in the release headline such as “World’s Most Effective Health Optimization Platform”, yellow flags start flying. Mobihealthnews, Lifeforce release

Week-end roundup: Is ChatGPT *really* more empathetic than real doctors? Amwell’s $400M loss, Avaya emerges from Ch. 11, Centene sells Apixio, more on Bright Health’s MA sale, layoffs at Brightline, Cue Health, Healthy.io

Gimlet EyeA Gimlety Short Take (not generated by ChatGPT). This Editor has observed developments around AI tool ChatGPT with double vision–one view, as an amazing tool with huge potential for healthcare support, and the other as with huge potential for fakery and fraud. (If “The Woz” Steve Wozniak can say that AI can misuse data and trick humans, Tesla’s AI-powered Autopilot can kill you, plus quit Google over AI, it should give you pause.)

The latest healthcare ‘rave’ about ChatGPT is a study published 28 April in JAMA Network that pulled 195 questions and answers from Reddit’s r/AskDocs, a social media forum where members ask medical questions and real healthcare professionals answer them. The study authors then submitted the same questions to ChatGPT and evaluated the answers on subjective measures such as “better”, “quality”, and “empathy”. Of course, the ChatGPT 3.5 answers were rated more highly–78%–than the answers from human health care professionals who answer these mostly ‘should I see a doctor?’ questions. HIStalk noted that forum volunteers might be a little short in answering the questions. Another point was that “they did not assess ChatGPT’s responses for accuracy. The “which response is better” evaluation is subjective.” The prospective patients on the forum were also not asked how they felt about the AI-generated answers. Their analysis of the study’s shortcomings is short and to the point. Another view on compassion in communication as dependent on context and relationships was debated in Kellogg Insight, the publication of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, in Healthcare IT News.

Amwell posted a disappointing and sizable $398.5 million net loss in Q1. This was over five times larger than the Q1 2022 loss of $70.3 million and Q4 2022’s $61.6 million. The loss was due to a noncash goodwill impairment charge related to a lasting decline in the company’s share price. Current versus prior year Q1 revenue remained flat at $64 million, $15 million lower than Q4 2022 due to a decline in professional services revenue. Visits were 1.7 million visits in Q1, with 36% through the new platform Converge. Guidance for the year remains at $275-$285 million with an adjusted EBITDA loss between $150-$160 million. Mobihealthnews This contrasts with rival Teladoc’s optimistic forecast released last week, though remaining in the loss column [TTA 4 May]. 

Avaya emerged from Chapter 11 on Monday. According to the release, the company has financially restructured and now has $650 million in liquidity and a net leverage ratio of less than 1x. This was a lightning-fast bankruptcy and reorganization, usually referred to as ‘pre-packaged’, as it was announced in February with the company emerging from it in 60 to 90 days. Avaya provides virtual care and collaboration tools (and has contributed to our Perspectives series). 

Another restructuring continues at Centene. Their latest sale is Apixio, a healthcare analytics platform for value-based care. The buyer is private equity investor New Mountain Capital. New Mountain has $37 billion in assets under management. Centene acquired Apixio in December 2020 in the last full year of CEO Michael Neidorff’s leadership. Since 2022, Centene has been selling off many of their more recent acquisitions such as two specialty pharmacy divisions, its Spanish and Central European businesses, and Magellan Specialty Health. Transaction cost and management transitions were not disclosed. Based on the wording of the release, Centene will continue as an Apixio customer as well as other health plans. Given the profile of the 10 largest health plans, which includes Centene, and their diversification, Centene’s divestments coupled with the involvement of activist investor Politan Capital Management have led to speculation.

Another take on Bright Health’s projected divestiture of its California Medicare Advantage health plans is from analyst Ari Gottlieb on LinkedIn. If Bright sells the MA plans for what they paid for them–$500 million–according to Mr. Gottlieb they can pay off their outstanding JP Morgan credit facility as well as negative capital levels in many of the states where they had plans and are now defending lawsuits. It still leaves them $925 million in debt.

Unfortunately, we close with yet another round of layoffs.

  • Covid-19 test kit/home diagnostics Cue Health will be surplusing about 26% of its current workforce, or 325 employees. Most will be in the San Diego manufacturing plants. This is on top of 170 employees released last summer. The current value of the Nasdaq-traded company is estimated at $105 million, down from $3 billion at their 2021 IPO. Current share price is $0.68. HIStalk, San Diego Business Journal.
  • Another telemental health company is shrinking–Brightline–reducing their current workforce by another 20%. This affects corporate staff and is in addition to the 20% let go last November. Brightline’s focus is on mental health for children and teens, and has investment to date of $212 million. Becker’s 
  • Healthy.io, which offers in-home urinalysis and wound care, plus a new app for kidney care, laid off 70 staff while enjoying a fresh Series D raise of $50 million from Schusterman Family Investments.  Becker’s

Mid-week roundup: CVS-Oak Street closes, DEA extends controlled substance telehealth waiver, Bright Health selling CA MA plans, Talkspace, Teladoc turnarounds? (updated)

CVS closed its $10.6 billion deal for Oak Street Health, well before the anticipated end of 2023. It picks up 169 primary care offices in 21 states–and an unprofitable operation that clocked a loss last year of $510 million without much of a change till 2025. The quick closing was likely spurred by both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) letting their antitrust challenge period expire at the end of March with nary a whimper. DOJ and FTC, the latter which has been remarkably ‘pixelated’ of late on privacy issues with GoodRx and Teladoc’s BetterHelp, evidently passed on ‘egg on the face’ and let the ovoid land squarely on Elizabeth Warren’s Senate desk. She had asked FTC to ‘carefully scrutinize’ the deal. Shareholders received a tidy $39 per share. OSH will remain a multi-payer practice and now-former CEO Mike Pykosz will lead the company under CVS’ new healthcare delivery arm. This follows on CVS’ closing of Signify Health [TTA 30 March].  CVS release, FierceHealthcare Our prior gimlety coverage of CVS/OSH: 16 Feb, 2 March, Unlike OSH, CVS had a strong Q1 with $2.1 billion in profit, slightly down from 2022’s $2.4 billion, and an 11% boost in revenue. FierceHealthcare

DEA in-person prescribing requirements on Schedule II and higher controlled substances postponed indefinitely. The proposed rule would have added back in-person requirements for telehealth prescribing of controlled substances after the official end of the Public Health Emergency and its in-person waivers on 11 May. On 25 April, the DEA filed a draft temporary rule with the Office of Management and Budget for the extension. The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 requires that Schedule II medications and narcotics (including Adderall and Ritalin) require an in-person prescription, while Schedule III or higher medications, including buprenorphine, Ambien, Valium, Xanax and ketamine can be prescribed for 30 days via telehealth but would require an in-person visit before a refill. The DEA was deluged with 38,000 comments and advocacy pressure from ATA. The change has also thrown a wrench in the works of online mental health companies which prescribe many of these drugs. FierceHealthcare  Updated–The ATA has weighed in favorably about the DEA postponement. Kyle Zebley, executive director of ATA Action, stated in their release that “Our hope is that the DEA will use the time of an extension to be responsive to the concerns of telehealth advocates, patients, and the American people to create rules that ensure access to clinical care that is not inappropriately restricted.”

Bright Health put its California Medicare Advantage plans up for sale. The company, staring down at bankruptcy [TTA 7 Apr, 20 Apr] does not yet have a buyer for the MA plans. When they are sold, it will be Bright’s exit as a health insurer, as it has exited MA plans in Florida and exchange plans everywhere else–in a flurry of state investigations ranging from Tennessee to Texas. Bright plans to focus on its provider arm, NeueHealth. Healthcare Dive

Talkspace narrowed its loss, increased revenue. The telemental health provider narrowed its Q1 net loss to $8.8 million compared to 2022’s $18.3 million in Q4 2022 and $20.4 million in Q1. Revenue increased to $33.3 million versus last year’s Q1 of $30.2 million. Their source of business has shifted to B2B with a 71% increase, a sharp departure from their formerly dominant consumer segment which has declined 40%.  Their 2023 forecast revenue is $130-135 million. It is still facing a Nasdaq delisting as trading below $1.00 per share and a class action lawsuit on subscription renewals. Mobihealthnews

Teladoc also waxed positive, ‘beating the Street’ with Q1 revenue growth of 11% to $629 million. This was powered as expected by BetterHelp, Teladoc’s direct-to-consumer mental health business. Their revenue grew to $279 million, a 21% increase. Teladoc’s enterprise business also had a 5% boost to almost $350 million. Their weight loss business is expected to be another net positive income generator, but not affecting results until 2024 as it won’t be introduced until Q3 [TTA 21 April]. The road to profitability will be a long one, as losses this quarter were $69.2 million, but compared to last year’s $6.7 billion writedown of Livongo, it’s positively smooth. Healthcare Dive

Insurtechs in the widening gyre: Bright Health sued for claims non-payment, fined $1M by Colorado; Clover Health lays off 10%, outsources operations

When the centre cannot hold, more revelations are at hand.

Bright Health, facing insolvency and a violation of a liquidity covenant by the end of this month, is now facing a lawsuit by health system SSM Health in the US District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. At issue: payment of $13.1 million for 2,541 unpaid claims incurred for services SSM provided to Bright Health members between 1 January 2020 and 7 February 2023. This three-year plus timespan is not a simple glitch. SSM alleges in the suit that it provided $15.6 million worth of services in total to Bright Health plan members across facilities in three regions. In Oklahoma, SSM Health’s base, Bright exited Oklahoma’s Affordable Care Act exchange in December 2022 while under investigation by regulators. SSM has no contract with Bright to discount services in return for access to Bright’s network so charges the ‘rack rate’. The lawsuit docket is listed here though PACER is restricted access. FierceHealthcare

Bright Health is also under serious challenge at the state level. It was fined $1 million by the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) for violations during 2021-22. According to the DOI release, the complaints and violations centered on four areas: 1) failure to pay provider claims according to Colorado law; 2) failure to communicate with their members; 3) inability to accurately process consumer payments and accounts; 4) untimely processing of claims for physical and behavioral health coverage. $500,000 must be paid now, with the remainder held for specific improvement and compliance with metrics. Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) release  Bright is also under investigation in Tennessee, Texas, and Florida; it is under regulatory supervision in Florida and Tennessee with Texas considering receivership. Bright Health shares today closed at $0.164 and is on the verge of being delisted from the NYSE. Our recent coverage here.

New Jersey’s Clover Health, while not near the extremis that Bright is in, is cutting and outsourcing its way to profitability. Announced on Monday was a ‘corporate restructuring’ cut of 10% or 66 employees, based on public estimates of 656 (Pitchbook). Simultaneously, Clover’s CEO, Andrew Toy, announced outsourcing of core Medicare Advantage health plan operations to UST HealthProof in a move to increase operational efficiencies and reduce administrative costs. Both the layoffs and the UST implementation are expected to incur a 2023 first-half charge of $7-9 million, shifting to a $30 million savings beginning in 2024. Both moves were predictable as the company posted an $84 million loss in Q4 2022, a slight narrowing over prior year. Clover release, FierceHealthcare    Clover shares on Nasdaq were also below the delisting threshold at $0.80. Also industry analyst Ari Gottlieb on its overdue-ness on LinkedIn.

Week’s end roundup: Theranica clears, Pixel Watch fall alert, Veradigm delays, Walmart adding 40+ clinics by 2024, Bright Health’s dim future, Ontrak founder charged with insider trading

Theranica received FDA 510(k) clearance for its Nerivio device for migraine prevention in patients 12 and older. Theranica’s devices are based on a pain inhibition mechanism known as Conditioned Pain Modulation (CPM) where someone who suffers pain has a dysfunctional response to harmless stimuli. According to their product information, Nerivio wraps around the upper arm and uses non-painful remote electrical modulation (REN) to activate peripheral nerves to modulate pain. In addition to the device, the app allows users to customize their migraine treatments, receive reminders for preventive treatments, track patterns, and share migraine data with their doctor, as well as a guided relaxation routine. Theranica is based in Israel and New Jersey. Release, Mobihealthnews

Google’s Pixel Watch added fall detection to capabilities. It uses the motion sensors already in the watch and machine learning to detect a hard fall. If the wearer hasn’t moved within 30 seconds, it will vibrate, sound an alarm and display an on-screen notification that can be called off by pressing ‘I’m OK’ (left) or ‘I need help’. If the former, the alarms escalate until an automated call to 911 is made. The user has to activate the feature and Google claimes that the ML will help it avoid false positives. A very useful feature for older people, lone workers, and runners/walkers, but at the price point of $350 at Best Buy or $11/month via AT&T or Verizon, perhaps not all that attractive to cost-conscious users.    Engadget, Google blog post, Mobihealthnews

And in the Delays Must Be Catching Department, Veradigm, the former Allscripts, is delaying its Q4 and FY 2022 reporting due to a software flaw that affected its revenue reporting. Originally 1 March, the new date is yet to be determined, but they anticipate a reduction of $20 million dollars against what was previously reported from Q3 2021 into estimates for Q4 2022. Not exactly confidence-making for a company in the data management/software business. Coincidentally, the company which bought then-Allscripts’ large hospital/practice EHRs, now called Altera, Canadian giant Constellation Software, is also delaying its Q4/FY 2022 reporting, in this instance due to the Altera acquisition [TTA 15 Feb]. Veradigm’s release gives you the more complicated explanation.

Walmart Health’s Big Announcement is that it will be doubling the number of its Health Centers from the current 32 to over 75. By Q1 2024, Walmart’s plan is to open 28 new locations in the following metros: Dallas (10), Houston (8), Phoenix (6) and Kansas City MO (4). Missouri and Arizona are new states. All these will include the Epic EHR and the infrastructure improvements previewed earlier this week [TTA 1 Mar]. Release

Insurtech Bright Health may have a dim future. 18 months ago, Bright Health seemed to be the most promising insurtech out there, with a healthy Medicare Advantage plan base, family and individual plans, substantial growth, acquisitions of Zipnosis (‘white label’ telehealth triage for health systems) and development of the NeueHealth value-based care provider management network. Bright Health had a buttoned-up management team from UnitedHealth Group, investment groups, Target, CVS, and the Advisory Board. They raised $2.4 billion from prestige investors, including Cigna Ventures and Bessemer, went public on the NYSE in June 2021, and added $925 million in two post-IPO raises in December 2021 and October 2022 (Crunchbase). Fellow insurtechs Oscar and Clover struggled through their own financial and management challenges after an IPO and SPAC respectively. Oscar was sued last year by shareholders for misleading information; Clover lost $558 million in 2021, but reduced to $338.8 million in 2022 and promising a path to profitability. Healthcare Finance

Bright Health now appears to be a broken-bulb-filament away from default and bankruptcy. They ended 2021 with a $1.2 billion loss which is not unusual with companies of this type (see above). Bright exited individual and family plans in six states plus cut back MA expansion plans, also not atypical. Healthcare Finance This didn’t appear to help. By last December, their stock declined to below $1 triggering a notice of delisting from the NYSE if it’s not above $1 by May. The stock continues to trade below $0.50. They reported a 2022 loss of $1.4 billion, $0.2 billion up from 2021, on increased revenue. This week, it’s been reported they have told investors that they are facing credit insolvency, having run through $350 million in revolving credit, violated a liquidity covenant, and need $300 million to cover it by end of April. Further analysis in FierceHealthcare and on an interesting LinkedIn post by Ari Gottlieb, ‘Pay for Failure’.

And if there weren’t enough proof that the High Wide and Handsome Days Are Over, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted CEO Terren Peizer of Ontrak, a telemental health provider, with insider trading using Rule 10b5-1 trading plans. This rule was actually set up by the SEC to allow insiders to safely trade their shares by setting up a predetermined plan that specifies in advance the share price, amount, and transaction date, plus certifying that they are not aware of non-public information that can influence the price. The last is the rub. DOJ alleges that during mid-year 2021, Peizer was aware that the largest Ontrak customer, Cigna, was at high risk of departing on the heels of Aetna, and sold his stock. If convicted, Peizer may be facing up to 45 years in Club Fed plus disgorgement of funds. Ontrak trades on Nasdaq, today at about $0.60. FierceHealthcare

Some thoughts on Teladoc and the Week That Was in telehealth

Yes, your Editor has, for the past few weeks, felt like Pepper the Robot, moving at two speeds–crazed and off. (‘Off ‘ to the left. Now cart me off.) Home renovations, with strangers tramping through your abode, noise, dust, and the corresponding moving of furniture, packing and unpacking, pre- and post-cleaning, then trying to put things right and get your life back will do that. Add to that an unexpected gushy kitchen sink that took three ‘fixes’ to get actually fixed. Then there were technical problems with our email sender that Editor and Administrator Emeritus Steve had to work through. One becomes more appreciative of order, routine, and Peace and Quiet.

Speaking of Peace and Quiet, there is little to be found in telehealth. Instead, there is a lot of Feeling Off. The Big News of late last week, of course, was Teladoc’s troubles. In the words of Seeking Alpha, they had one horrific quarter. The horror show started with writing off the Livongo acquisition– a noncash goodwill impairment charge of $6.6 billion, for a massive loss of $41.11 per share for a total of $41.58 per share. To compare, last year’s Q1 loss was $1.31 per share. While revenues were up almost to projection (25%), it was still a $3 million miss and in context, it was the cherry on a very nasty sundae. After rosy projections last year, Teladoc lowered their 2022 revenue guidance from $2.6 billion to $2.45 billion.  

Moving forward from the questionable Livongo acquisition at the absolute peak of the market, CEO Jason Gorevic admitted some hard truths to investors that deepened the hole: much more competition, particularly in telemental health; the rising cost of paid search advertising and the keywords driving towards direct-to-consumer telehealth driving up the cost of acquisition; and difficulty closing B2B deals. This creates, in the terms of analyst SVB Leerink’s Stephanie Davis quoted in FierceHealthIT, “a direct-to-consumer air pocket that business-to-business sales (and their inherently longer cycles) are too slow to fill” at least, in her view, until the end of the year.

Teladoc’s difficulties, as this Editor has noted, started after a peak in early 2021 as the pandemic started its protracted wind-down and telehealth volumes plunged to well below 5% of claims as practices reopened. The stock value is down over 90% from last February, not helped by a volatile market triggered by war and inflation. Similar difficulties are plaguing Amwell (down 92% since February 2021), Talkspace (down to a paltry 16 cents and in court for misleading investors), SOC Telemed (taken private at a 70% drop in value, TTA 8 Feb), and other health tech companies. For our Readers, this is no surprise: the telehealth bender is ovah.

One industry leader in a post-ATA conversation with this Editor cited a less obvious factor–that hospitals and other health providers are now putting together their own telehealth/triage packages tied into population health and case management software, with and without ‘white label’ providers such as Bluestream Health and Zipnosis (acquired by insurtech/payvider Bright Health a year ago). Teladoc is a late entry to this provider/payer market with Primary360, where they also compete with Babylon Health [TTA 7 Oct 22]. And health retailers have joined the primary care telehealth game. Walmart last week announced a virtual health diabetes care program for employers through their recently acquired MeMD.

Big Telehealth’s troubles may depress investment in related earlier stage companies–or help those in niches such as telemental and population health, or remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems that have telehealth features (e.g. TytoCare), as VC investment seeks a brighter home. Right now, this Editor’s Magic 8 Ball is saying ‘outlook, cloudy”. 

The implications of Teladoc’s integration into Microsoft Teams

The Big News this week was the terse announcement by Microsoft and Teladoc that Teladoc’s Solo application for hospitals and health systems will be integrated into Microsoft Teams applications. The integration includes workflows and through Solo, integration into EHRs while remaining in Teams.

During the pandemic, many health systems resorted to Microsoft Teams to communicate internally and one-on-one with patients. Integration means that while on the Teams consult, a clinician can securely access clinical data included within the EHR and workflows via Teladoc Health Solo without leaving it. It can also connect care teams on the consult. The release also mentions the magic words artificial intelligence and machine learning, without giving examples. 

As of now, with telehealth receding to perhaps 5% of visits based on claims [TTA 9 July], it’s a strategic win for Teladoc to integrate with a part of the Microsoft suite widely used by providers. It also builds on an existing relationship between the companies, as Teladoc already uses Azure as one of its cloud providers. Health systems still have to license Teladoc Solo if they do not already, and engineering work is yet to be done. Teladoc has a substantial foothold in this market due to its July 2020 acquisition of InTouch Health. InTouch’s hospital-to-home telehealth is now Teladoc Solo, with a separate line of business into the specialty telehealth consult market through its portable wheeled telehealth carts for in-hospital use. It’s notable that the InTouch brand remains, albeit visibly transitioning to Teladoc.

According to Credit Suisse’s analysis (page 3), 46% of C-Level executives from hospitals and health systems (combined representing 563 hospitals) said that they currently work with Microsoft Teams as a telemedicine vendor. 11% said they already work with Teladoc/InTouch Health.

As for telehealth already used by providers, such as Zipnosis’ ‘white label’ triage/telehealth system (now owned by insurtech Bright Health) and Bluestream Health, can they compete? Also FierceHealthcare

News and deal roundup: Zus Health’s $34M ‘back-end in a box’, Bright Health’s IPO, Lyra Health’s $200M done, Valo Health’s $2.8B SPAC; UK’s Alcuris, Clarity Informatics, GTX test; Google’s health blues, Facebook’s smartwatch

Athenahealth founder’s latest health tech venture lays track. Jonathan Bush’s new venture, Zus Health, is being pitched to tech founders as providing a ‘Lego’ like back-end for startup digital health companies. Variously compared to ‘Build-A-Bear’ or track laying, it’s an ‘in a box’ setup that provides a data record back end, a software development kit (SDK) with tools and services, and a patient interface. Presumably, this will also assist interoperability. Mr. Bush has enlisted an all-star team and is basing outside of Boston in the familiar area of Watertown, Massachusetts. Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) led the $34 million Series A, joined by F-Prime Capital, Maverick Ventures, Rock Health, Martin Ventures, and Oxeon Investments. The financing will be used for engineering the tech stack. Current clients developed in stealth include Cityblock Health, Dorsata, Firefly Health, and Oak Street Health. Not a breath about the revenue model other than ‘partnership’. Make sure you pronounce Zus as ‘Zeus’ (Athena’s father for those who aren’t up on their Greek myths). Zus release, FierceHealthcare

This week’s IPO filing by insurtech/clinic operator Bright Health with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) confirmed earlier reports that the offering will crest over $1 billion [TTA 28 May]: 60 million shares with an initial valuation of $20 to $23 is at a minimum of $1.2 billion. Company valuation is estimated at $14 billion which is about midpoint of earlier estimates. It will trade on the NYSE under BHG. The cherry on the cake is a 7.2 million 30-day share purchase option to their underwriters at the initial IPO price. Timing is not addressed in the release but expect it soon. BHG release, Mobihealthnews

Lyra Health banks an additional $200 million. This week the corporate mental health therapy provider completed their Series F $200M financing backed by Coatue, new investor Sands Capital, plus existing investors, for a total of $675 million to date (Crunchbase). Valuation is now estimated at $4.6 billion. Mental and behavioral health tech remains warm, with the thundercloud on the horizon Teladoc’s myStrength app [TTA 14 May]. Lyra’s strong corporate footprint puts them, along with Ginger, in a desirable place for acquisition by a telehealth provider or payer. Lyra release, FierceHealthcare

Drug discovery and development company Valo Health is going the SPAC route with Khosla Ventures. The special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Khosla Ventures Acquisition Co. will form with Valo Health a new company (KVAC) with a pro for­ma mar­ket val­ue of approx­i­mate­ly $2.8 bil­lion with an initial cash balance of $750 million including a $168 million PIPE led by Khosla Ventures. Valo’s flagship is the Opal Computational Platform that creates an AI-based platform for drug discovery. The current pipeline has two clin­i­cal-stage assets and 15 pri­or­i­tized pre-clin­i­cal assets across car­dio­vas­cu­lar meta­bol­ic renal, neu­rode­gen­er­a­tion, and oncol­o­gy fields. Khosla has been largely absent from digital health investments. The SPAC route to IPOs has also cooled. Valo release, Mobihealthnews  

And short takes on other news… (more…)

News and deals roundup: CoverMyMeds ‘big bang’, Noom’s $540M Series F, insurtech Bright Health’s IPO, Grand Rounds-Included Health, GoodRx, Cedar-OODA, Huma, Bluestream Health’s outreach

McKesson shmushes four units into CoverMyMeds. McKesson’s Big Bang combines four McKesson business units–RelayHealth (pharmacy networking), McKesson Prescription Automation (software), CoverMyMeds (medication access for patients), and RxCrossroads by McKesson (therapeutic and drug commercialization). They are being reassembled into one massive unit under the CoverMyMeds name. The unit will have about 5,000 people and will be headed by Nathan Mott. More here in a blog post/announcement posting that’s short on information and long on cheerleading.

And the funding rounds keep marching down the alphabet. Noom, the weight loss app, gained a generous Series F of $540 million led by Silver Lake with participation from Oak HC/FT, Temasek (Singapore), Novo Holdings, Sequoia Capital, RRE and Samsung Ventures. Valuation is now at $4 billion. Adam Karol, a managing director at Silver Lake, and former TaskRabbit chief executive Stacy Brown-Philpot will join Noom’s board. The fresh funding will be used to expand into areas such as stress and anxiety, diabetes, hypertension, and sleep.

Noom had a banner year in 2020, with $400 million in revenues as people tried to shed Pandemic Pounds (aided by a near-ubiquitous ad push). The app has had 45 million downloads to date in 100 countries, largely in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. According to a (paywalled) Bloomberg News report, feelers are out for an IPO which may be valued at $10 billion. TechCrunch, Reuters, FierceHealthcare

Bright Health Group filed its S-1 registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Their rumored $1 billion IPO will be on the NYSE and trade under the symbol BHG. Timing, share value, and number of shares are to be determined. It’s speculated that the valuation at that point is expected to be between $10 and $20 billion. Bright Health is an insurtech operating exchange and Medicare Advantage (MA) health plans under Bright HealthCare  in 14 states and 50 markets, covering over 620,000 lives. They also have a separate care delivery channel called NeueHealth, 61 advanced risk-bearing primary care clinics delivering in-person and virtual care to 75,000 unique patients. Last month, they purchased Zipnosis, adding their white-labeled telemedicine for large health systems business. Bright Health Group release, Mobihealthnews

Short takes:

Doctor on Demand and Grand Rounds, which finalized their merger earlier this month, have agreed to acquire Included Health. Terms and timing were not disclosed. Included Health specializes in care concierge and healthcare navigation services for the LGBTQ+ community. FierceHealthcare, Release

GoodRx acquired rival RxSaver for $50 million in cash in late April to bulk up against Amazon. FierceHealthcare

Medical billing and pre-visit tech company Cedar is acquiring payer workflow tech company OODA Health for $425 million deal in a mix of cash and equity. It’s expected to close at end of May. OODA’s co-founder, chairman, and co-CEO is Giovanni Colella, MD, also co-founded Castlight Health and founded RelayHealth (see above), so another successful exit for him. FierceHealthcare, HISTalk

London-based Huma, raised $130 million in a Series C. Leaps by Bayer and Hitachi Ventures led the round. The former, mysterious Medopad now seems to have settled on a platform that supports ‘hospital at home’ plus pharma and research companies in large, decentralized clinical trials. There’s an add-on of $70 million to the Series C that can be exercised at a later date. Release, HISTalk

White-label telehealth provider Bluestream Health is partnering with The Azadi Project to provide virtual care services to refugee women and girls fleeing from countries like AfghanistanIranIraq, and Syria for safety in Greece. “Bluestream Health has teamed with The Azadi Project to provide a virtual care platform that stretches around the world. The women fleeing war-torn and conflict-affected countries have suffered unspeakable abuse, and while seeking safety in Greece, they are further exposed to terrible living conditions and hostility.”  said Matthew Davidge, co-founder and CEO of Bluestream Health.  Release