TTA’s VERY Last Swing of Summer: UHG can complete Change buy, Oracle transforming Cerner, Meta Pixel health data privacy scrutinized, Redesign Health raises $65M, more!

 

 

Weekly Update

We wind up Summer with UHG finally receiving an OK from District Court to complete Change Healthcare buy–unless DOJ pursues appeal. Oracle set to Oracleize Cerner but VA hedges Cerner training with AWS. The Meta Pixel/health data privacy story continues, catching attention from the Senate. Some fundings and buys large and small.

(Note to Readers: no updates until 28 September)

Meta facing some Senate scrutiny on Meta Pixel’s health data collection–and how it’s used (Bad, bad Facebook)
Weekend reading: HHS Office of Information Security presentation on security risks in AI, 5G, nanomedicine, more (Warning, 34 page presentation)
ATA organizes Telehealth Awareness Week this week (And beyond)
Breaking: Judge permits UnitedHealth acquisition of Change Healthcare, denies DOJ motion (updated) (But beware DOJ taking it to appeal)
News roundup: Oracle’s modernizing Cerner’s tech, but VA hedges training with AWS; Redesign Health’s $65M raise; Kyruus buys Epion Health; Zócalo Health raises $5M seed; Cigna Evernorth adds to digital formulary

Back from Two Weeks in Another Town (except for a few extra days), the August-September ‘quiet time’ certainly was not. CVS’ big win in Signify’s auction was on Labor Day. Change may or may not be joining UHG/Optum after October. FTC doesn’t much like Amazon’s acquisitions, including One Medical. And Elizabeth Holmes’ legal team was busily filing–and delaying the (maybe) inevitable, including a declaration straight out of Perry Mason. The passing of a Queen and crowning of a King.

Elizabeth Holmes’ three swings and a miss in overturning her trial verdict reveal a crafty strategy (She’ll be in court long after Sunny Balwani toddles off to prison)
News briefs, catchup edition: UnitedHealth/Change decision October?, CVS wins $8B Signify Health auction, Walgreens majority buy of CareCentrix, FTC requests more info on Amazon-One Medical (Home care wars and a long-awaited decision)
Perspectives: Creating consistent standards isn’t a once and done job (The safety of digital treatment tools)
On the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II

$130M to Alma’s mental health platform, Cadence Care RPM with ScionHealth, NIH funding telehealth in cancer care, and more.

News roundup: RPM at 79 ScionHealth hospitals, 74% of employers like virtual care despite concerns, Alma Health garners $130M, NIH’s $25M for cancer care telehealth research, Parks’ virtual Connected Health Summit 30-31 Aug

Amazon threw in its beach towel on Care, put its bets on One (Medical), and paddle up in Signify’s auction closing after Labor Day. Babylon Health is eliminating distractions with the NHS to concentrate on the US. Oracle’s hit with charges of massive privacy violations, on top of massive Cerner VA dysfunctionality. But back to the future–Fitbit’s reviving with three new fitness watches.

Oracle in Federal court class-action lawsuit on global privacy violations; Cerner VA EHR had 498 major outage incidents, 7% of time since rollout (Misery upon misery)
Week-end news roundup: Fitbit revives with 3 new watches, Sena Health hospital-at-home, SteadyMD surveys telehealth clinicians, 9.4% fewer adult dental visits in England, save the date for ATA 2023
Perspectives: why digital apps need an in-house clinical safety lead (A Perspective from Wysa, more to come in September)
Breaking: Amazon Care shutting down after three years–what’s next? (updated) (Care an expensive course at the University of Healthcare Delivery)
Babylon Health exits last NHS hospital contract as a ‘distraction’, looks to US market for growth (Tighten your seatbelts)
Signify Health bidding war ensues, waged by Amazon, UnitedHealth Group, CVS, Option Care Health (A scrum with unknown outcome)

An action-packed mid-August. No one seems to be sitting on the beach unless you’ve been laid off. Meanwhile, companies are scrambling. No, Babylon Health is not being bought. But elsewhere, there is some good news around acquisitions and funding. 

Rounding up the week with good news: AliveCor’s Series F round, Scotland’s Smplicare gains £750K for fall research (A needed and refreshing drink!)
Friday short takes: was there a bidding war for One Medical? A concussion risk wearable tested. Get Well’s monkeypox digital care plan (One Medical’s gamble and a return to one of our old follow topics)
Week-end news roundup: +Oscar data tech platform pauses, BD buys MedKeeper pharmatech for $93M, Novant’s Meta misconfiguration reveals PHI, Mt Sinai’s Sema4 genomics spinoff releases 250 + founder (Reality bites in a lot of different areas)
Babylon Health: fending off bubbly rumors of acquisition this week (No, they’re not. Being. Bought.)

Big companies eager to snap up companies to fill out portfolios. Small (and not so small) companies drastically cutting staff and spending, looking for the Magic Survival Formula. Amwell finally closing a Big Deal with CVS Health. Babylon Health’s mixed picture as they grow. Cerner and VA’s miseries continue, but data and IoMT breaches thrive. And ISfTeH not only returns to live conferences, but also comes to the US.

Weekend short takes: May telehealth claims up to 5.4%; three health plan breaches, one at its law firm–affecting over 400,000 patients; layoffs hit Calm, Truepill (updated)
ISfTeH Global Connections for Sustainable Telehealth: 6-7 November, San Jose (International telehealth finally reaches the US)
Week-end news roundup: Allscripts on the acquisition hunt, Amwell’s CVS telehealth deal, Cerner’s $1.8M racial discrimination settlement, predicting Parkinson’s progression via smartwatch data
Mid-week news roundup: CVS eyeing Signify Health for in-home/VBC (updated); Babylon Health mixed pic of revenue and losses up; Geisinger doubles telemed specialties; connected IoT devices expand cyber-insecurity footprint; Owlet layoffs
More Oracle-Cerner VA/DOD EHR misery with 4 hour+ outage; 51% of VA iPads unused for video appointments (Not only VA’s
EHR, but also inventory management gone sideways)

This week’s big news centered on Oracle’s layoffs at Cerner–and Oracle–DOJ versus UnitedHealth Group, and telehealth nearing needed legislative change in the US. In UK news, NHS Digital trials wireless to compensate for looming staff shortages–and Cera raises £264 million. Advances in dementia diagnosis and therapy plus news from all over: multiple raises, VA, Cionic, Withings, Orion Health, Coviu, and more!

Week-end wrapup: CVS plans to expand primary care, home health; Cera Care raises £264M; Linus Health’s AI enabled dementia screener, Cognito’s cognitive therapy slows brain atrophy
Short takes for Thursday: Diagnostic Robotics $45M raise; Sage’s $9M seed; VA names EHR ‘functional champion’; Aussie telehealth startup Coviu arrives in US
NHS Digital trialling Wireless Center of Excellence–in face of ‘crisis’ level staffing shortages (Can one compensate for the other?)
Mid-week roundup: UnitedHealth-Change trial kicks off; Amazon’s One Medical buy questioned; Cionic’s neural sleeve designed by Yves Behar; Medable-Withings partner; Orion Health’s new CEO; IBM Watson Health’s Simon Hawken passes (Line up your bets on DOJ vs UHG)
Telehealth waivers take critical step in extending to 2024 in House bill now passed (About time, Congress)
Oracle’s Big Vision will be missing a lot of people; layoffs hit Cerner, customer experience, marketing staff (Didn’t take long for the guillotine to fall)

 


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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

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News roundup: Oracle’s modernizing Cerner’s tech, but VA hedges training with AWS; Redesign Health’s $65M raise; Kyruus buys Epion Health; Zócalo Health raises $5M seed; Cigna Evernorth adds to digital formulary

Oracle’s Q1 2023 earnings call (Motley Fool transcript here) wasn’t much of a surprise. Earnings were up 23% to $11.4 billion. Cerner contributed $1.4 billion but was partly responsible for a 34% rise in operating expenses along with their business mix of our business. The Q2 forecast is 21% to 23%. But what should not be a surprise to anyone was the rapid Oracleization of Cerner’s tech. Answering a question about what value Oracle is delivering to Cerner’s products, Larry Ellison outlined that Cerner will have its first “pretty complete” health management product out within 12 months, using the Oracle Autonomous Database that runs itself without human labor, plus an all-new application development tool called APEX, a low-code tool. Ellison claims that the APEX low-code tool has security built into the tool, thus not requiring audits, and if the application fails, it rolls over into another data center and keeps running. In contrast, using standard methods, the product would take three to four years to build. Becker’s Health IT

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is relying on Amazon Web Services for training services in transitioning from VistA to Cerner Millenium. The AWS programs will train VA Office of Information Technology staff in three areas: ENCOR implementation, operating Cisco enterprise network core technologies, architecting Amazon Web Services, and Red Hat System administration. The training will cost $54,000 over a base period of about two months. Becker’s Health IT

Redesign Health’s Series C racks up $65 million from General Catalyst, CVS Health Ventures, UPMC Enterprises, TriplePoint Capital, Eden Global Partners, Euclidean Capital, Declaration Partners, and Samsung Next. Redesign is an unusual enterprise that creates startups from its own research, assembles management teams, brands, and funds them. Since 2018, they have created 40 healthcare startups. The funding will be used not for funding additional startups but to expand Redesign’s capabilities in startup creation. Some of their startups: Ever/body (cosmetic dermatology), Calibrate (weight loss, which brutally lost a quarter of the company in July), Jasper (cancer care), Vault Health (virtual diagnostics), and MedArrive (EMS dispatch). Fast Company, FierceHealthcare.

Kyruus adds patient engagement to provider search with Epion Health buy. Kyruus, headquartered in Boston, connects providers in healthcare organizations with people needing the right care, as well as for organizations to maintain provider information and data management. Epion Health, headquartered in Hoboken NJ (near NYC), developed a platform to connect patients with their providers including services such as online check-in, telehealth, integrated reminders for scheduling, and patient education. The acquisition expands Kyruus to 500 health systems and medical groups. Terms and management transitions were not disclosed. For Kyruus, which acquired patient navigation too. HealthSparq from investor Cambia Health Solutions, this helps them build out an end-to-end provider-patient platform. Kyruus release, Mobihealthnews

Startup Zócalo Health raised seed funding of $5M to launch virtual healthcare in California, Texas, and Washington. Zócalo (Spanish for plaza or town square) will offer in those states “virtual first family medicine service designed by Latinos, for Latinos”. Already operating in California, Texas and Washington will be added by end of year. Promotoras de salud will serve as health coaches to their patients. Mobihealthnews

Cigna’s health services/tech arm, Evernorth, announced that it is adding two digital health apps to its formulary: UK/US Big Health’s Sleepio for insomnia and Daylight for anxiety, Quit Genius’ alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder programs, and HealthBeacon’s injectable medication adherence tool for inflammatory conditions. They also announced pilot programs for Jasper Health (Redesign Health, above), Zerigo Health for psoriasis and eczema, Hinge Health’s new women’s pelvic health program, and Lid Sync’s medication adherence tool. Mobihealthnews

Week-end news roundup: Allscripts on the acquisition hunt, Amwell’s CVS telehealth deal, Cerner’s $1.8M racial discrimination settlement, predicting Parkinson’s progression via smartwatch data

Another company on the hunt for strategic buys. Health IT and EHR company Allscripts is seeking to add to its Veradigm analytics, research, and provider/payer platforms with some strategic acquisitions. Announced on its Q2 earnings call by new CEO Rick Poulton is the intent to expand the company from its current provider base into a more diverse one serving payers and life sciences. Allscripts does have some free cash–about $700 million–having recently sold its hospital and large physician practice EHRs to Constellation Software/N. Harris Group, though there were some settlements around their Practice Fusion EHR now incorporated into Veradigm [TTA 2 Apr]. With a free cash flow from continuing operations around $120 million and about 7% growth, they feel the time is here for some accretive, strategic, and proven acquisitions–at the right price. FierceHealthcare

Amwell’s Q2 earnings call also had good news for shareholders, who of late haven’t had much to cheer. CEO Ido Schoenberg, MD announced that Amwell will provide CVS Health’s Virtual Primary Care, formally launched in late May  Amwell will be providing primary, behavioral health, and chronic care management through the platform. CVS will be providing these services to Aetna fully-insured, self-insured plan sponsors, and CVS Caremark clients effective first half 2023. As this Editor wrote earlier this week, CVS Health is making no secret of its intent to expand into delivering primary care and home health. One way Virtual Primary Care will be leveraged is converting in-store health services to virtual, such as non-emergency treatment and nutrition/wellness programs. CVS is even dabbling into blockchain with downloadable non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for virtual services. HealthcareFinance 

Cerner, on the other hand, is paying out $1.8 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by the US Department of Labor. As a Federal contractor, Cerner went under review by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. That office alleged that Cerner systematically discriminated against qualified Black and Asian applicants who applied for positions at five facilities in Missouri and Kansas between 2015 and 2019. Cerner agreed to pay $1,860,000 in back pay and interest to 1,870 applicants in areas such as medical billing, system engineers and technical solution analysts. Certainly Oracle wanted to get this off the plate before the cutover on 1 October. HealthcareFinance, Department of Labor release

Can enough data collected build a predictive model for the progression of  Parkinson’s? Koneksa, a digital biomarker builder, is working with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to build a predictive model on how Parkinson’s will progress over time in an individual. The Fox Foundation already has a database to analyze — the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, launched in 2010, with health information and biosamples from Parkinson’s patients. Added to this will be data from Verily’s smartwatch:  activity tracking, gait analysis, and sleep cycles, which will be analyzed using Koneksa’s algorithms and additional machine learning. The award by the Fox Foundation was not disclosed, but it is the second for Koneksa after another grant awarded in mid-June to analyze vocal abnormalities relating to early progression of the disease, in conjunction with Northwestern University. FierceHealthcare

Oracle’s Big Vision will be missing a lot of people; layoffs hit Cerner, customer experience, marketing staff

‘Healthcare Transformation’ will ring hollow for the many employees at Oracle and Cerner who will be getting 60-day notices — or less — to depart.

One group is within Oracle in the US customer experience division and marketing, and apparently more. According to Bloomberg, the customer experience area that provides analytics and advertising services had been lagging for some time and has been reorganized, losing in the process junior sales employees, a division sales director, and marketing positions. Numbers are not provided, nor information on severance. Also Becker’s.

On the Oracle thread on TheLayoff.com, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) North America has been substantially downsized effective 15 August, especially those supporting a Startups product. 

More extensive are the Cerner cuts. This Editor has been following postings as they happen on both the Reddit r/cernercorporation and TheLayoff threads (Oracle thread here). Areas mentioned appear to be primarily internal/non-customer facing: technical project management in population health, enterprise change management, enterprise process improvement, multiple VPs, sales engineers, application services/support, marketing (of course), talent acquisition, and other areas. People ranged from new hires who had offers pulled, to those under one year, to highly experienced employees with a decade or two in the company. UK tech site The Register has an estimate from one posting of 10,000 layoffs. Given that Cerner has about 20,000 employees, that is close to 50%.

As is typical of mass layoffs, those at Cerner reported that they were notified en masse by managers on Monday through snap meetings. Their packages were cleverly designed to skate through the 60-day WARN notice to the state in the US, providing for an end date in 60 days, just before the official cutover to Oracle on 1 October. Severance packages without insurance or benefits after the 60 days were two weeks for every year at Cerner, not particularly generous given the uncertain economy and freezes all over tech. If the individual sought and was offered a position at Oracle, the severance package would be pulled, which is the usual maneuver to discourage any internal job-seeking from this group.

There is no indication of any cuts to Cerner outside the US, yet. The Independent, citing The Information, indicated that further Oracle cuts may come from Canada, India, and Europe. Oracle has a goal of saving $1 billion.

In this Editor’s view, Oracle is erasing Cerner as fast as it can [TTA 19 July] and doing internal housecleaning (bloodletting) at the same time. As to the former, Mike Sicilia’s testimony to the Senate committee about Cerner at the VA [TTA 28 July] had a distinct tone of cleaning up the previous regime’s mess–this should be no surprise. Yet Cerner’s tippy-top management remains in place, with generous compensation and separation arrangements in place [TTA 19 July with links to prior articles]. Cerner’s healthcare customers should take note, either way.

Having been there and done that more than once, our best wishes to everyone affected. Remember that you are not your job, pack up your learnings in your kit bag for a new journey, and you will land a good job soon.

Hat tip to HISTalk as well for covering this story and reaching many on the provider and partner side in the industry that we do not.

Oracle’s ‘new sheriff’ moving to fix Cerner EHR implementation in the VA: the Senate hearing

Last week’s (20 July) hearing on the VA’s increasingly wobbly EHR transition from VistA to Cerner showcased Oracle’s executive vice president for industries Mike Sicilia. His testimony to the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs had a heaping helping of ‘the new sheriff has arrived in Dodge City’.  As of six weeks ago, after the Transformational Big Vision kvelling faded, Cerner’s painful stumbles became Oracle’s VA Migraine [TTA 21 July, 21 June]. Cerner is now part of the Oracle Global Health business unit that falls under him.

First, the pledge made in his statement: “Unlike Cerner alone, Oracle brings an order of magnitude more engineering resources and scale to this formidable challenge.” After outlining the work that Oracle has done for CDC and NIH on Covid-19, he testified:

You should consider that in effect the VA, the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Coast Guard obtained a new, vastly more resourced technology partner overnight to augment Cerner. We also strongly believe in this mission and consider it not only a contractual obligation but a moral one to improve healthcare for our nation’s veterans and their caregivers. We intend to exceed expectations. 

Of the list of 36 issues detailed by the committee to VA Deputy Secretary Remy, Sicilia condensed them into three main areas: performance, design, and functionality. The concrete moves are:

  • Oracle will move the implementation to the cloud and rewrite Cerner’s pharmacy module, completing both tasks within 6-9 months
  • They have set up a ‘war room’ consisting of Oracle’s top talent of senior engineers and developers, working on the entire DoD/VA EHR systems as priority #1, with the first order of work a top-to-bottom analysis. While integrating with the Cerner team, the statement makes it clear that Oracle “brings an order of magnitude larger engineering team than Cerner”.
  • The Cerner EHR system is currently running on a dated architecture with technology that is in some cases two decades old and thus will be moved within 6-9 months to Oracle’s Generation 2 cloud. (That must be reassuring to thousands of hospitals and practices!)
  • Shortly after the closing, Oracle fixed a database bug that caused 13 of the last 15 outages, and as of last week there were no further outages. 
  • Testifying on the status of the “unknown queue”,  he stated it was designed to account for human error rather than to mitigate it, so it will be redesigned–it will be automated more on the front end and on the back end will have a better process.
  • Oracle will “start over” with the Cerner pharmacy module, rebuilding it as a showcase of a cloud-optimized web application.

VA’s EHR leaders also testified at the Senate hearing. Terry Adirim, Executive Director of the Electronic Health Record Modernization Integration Office at the VA, confirmed that unsurprisingly, Cerner’s next rollouts scheduled for the Boise VA Medical Center and other centers have been postponed indefinitely due to multiple ongoing system stability issues: change control and testing; challenges with increased capacity; basic functionality; its resilience design, and its response in last resort disaster situations. These specific issues overlapped but were more specific than those covered in Sicilia’s statement, which focused on the actions that Oracle would take.

Adirim and Kurt DelBene, the VA’s CIO, were roasted by the senators as painting a “very rosy picture”. The OIG report itemized at least 60 recommendations before going further. Adirim, to his credit, noted that DoD had similar stability issues in its system which was a warning, but the VA’s system is far more complex and care oriented than DoD which presumably exacerbated those issues. FedScoop and especially HISTalk’s Monday Morning Update 7/25/22

VA’s final, troubling OIG ‘unknown queue’ report on Cerner Millenium rollout; Oracle’s Sicilia to testify before Senate today

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report on the troubled rollout of Cerner Millenium at the VA continues to reverberate. The final report, revealed last month in draft [TTA 21 June], detailed a flaw in Cerner’s software that caused the system to lose 11,000 orders for specialty care, lab work, and other services – without alerting health care providers that the orders (also known as referrals) had been lost. This was the infamous ‘unknown queue’. The final report identified 149 adverse events related to the lost orders, including a homeless veteran at risk of suicide whose follow up appointment was lost, threatened to kill himself, but fortunately was helped (and hospitalized) outside the VA system. None of these problems surfaced before the go-live at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, but did four days later–and apparently other end users weren’t informed of the problem until a year later.

In FierceHealthcare’s update published today, “The OIG called it “troubling” that the deputy secretary [Donald Remy] “appears to absolve Oracle Cerner for its failure to inform VA of the unknown queue while placing the blame for outcomes from the unknown queue on VHA end-users.”” and “In a second report (PDF) released last week, the federal watch agency says VA project executives misrepresented its EHR training program” starting with Mann-Grandstaff. Two VA senior staffers responsible for training employees there gave inaccurate data to inspectors.

Cerner Millenium and the VA implementation (and other problems around the DOD implementation) are now Oracle’s headache. Executive Vice President Mike Sicilia was scheduled to testify Wednesday afternoon at a Senate hearing this afternoon to answer the many questions raised about the EHR rollout and safety problems. 

Cerner’s business now consolidated under Oracle Health

The internal memo doesn’t say so but doesn’t really have to. The sunsetting of the Cerner brand (logo left) has begun. HISTalk this evening reported on Friday 15 July’s Cerner internal announcement posted on Reddit, vetted by the Kansas City Business Journal (paywalled), and it’s not all that surprising:

  • The business unit is now called Oracle Health Global Industry Unit (GIU) or Oracle Health
  • The chairman of Oracle Health will be David Feinberg, MD, late CEO of Cerner and previously of UCLA Health, Geisinger Health, and Google’s last effort at Health. 
  • Travis Dalton is being promoted to run the Oracle Health GIU as General Manager from running Cerner Government Services as Client Services Officer
  • Cerner’s engineering and product executives will be reporting to Oracle’s Don Johnson who runs all Oracle engineering for all applications and platform services. This includes former CTO Jerome Labat who received a stay deal along with Dr. Feinberg [TTA 21 Jan, 26 Jan]. Mr. Labat has at least 11 million good reasons (and Dr. Feinberg 22 million) to stay for the next year and a day from the closing on 8 June.
  • Cerner’s corporate functions, such as IT, finance, legal, and HR, will move into Oracle’s centralized, global teams, which typically means that pink slips will be the order of the day if they haven’t already been received
  • More disclosed to employees at a town hall on that Friday 
  • No external announcement has been made as of 1845 19 July (Eastern Time)

Our Readers who have been following the acquisition and personally been through acquisitions know the stage was set by Larry Ellison’s Big Pronouncements on Healthcare Transformation at the closing [TTA 14 June]. It was all about what Oracle would be doing in building a national health record database and more, with nary a mention of Cerner. The eventual elimination of the Cerner name should thus be no surprise to industry observers. Cerner was a pearl bought at a great price ($28 billion) to make Oracle the Visionary Leader In Healthcare and provide Mr. Ellison with a Grand Finale.

How this will be received by health system and provider customers–including DOD and the ever-troublesome VA–is anyone’s guess. This Editor has previously speculated that health systems with Cerner EHRs were not going to be enthusiastic about replacing Cerner’s current third-party vendors with Oracle services and technology, especially if they worked well or if Oracle costs more. If the move to OCI–Oracle Cloud Infrastructure–doesn’t go as smooth as brand new glass, another black mark in the copybook. The other would be resentment of Oracle’s announced and completely expected hard sell on other services to make up the cost of the pearl. [TTA 15 June]

Almost an ideal scenario for Epic to sell against, one would think. As for the VA, Oracle needs to fix the Cerner Millenium rollout now under heavy scrutiny–fast and right.  

Wednesday news roundup: Oracle scrutinizing outside vendors, cloud change coming for Cerner EHRs, audio-only telehealth can continue after PHE–HHS, Proximie connected surgery raises $80M (UK)

Oracle moving quickly to change Cerner’s outside vendors to Oracle products and move their EHRs to Oracle cloud services. Will this fly with health systems and providers? An immediate change that will resonate with current Cerner EHR users is Oracle’s immediate moves to replace Cerner’s current third-party vendors with Oracle services and technology. So if your Cerner EHR has something you like but it comes from a third-party vendor, enjoy it while you can. Do expect that Oracle will be selling other products like Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud, administrative systems, and supply chain into providers and health systems–hard. From the earnings call, CEO Safra Katz: “We remain confident in our ability to grow Cerner’s top line and bottom line faster than they were able to do so on their own as these changes are implemented.”

The major and quickest move specified in yesterday’s Oracle earnings call (transcript) will be to move Cerner to OCI–Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. Further down into Mr. Katz’s remarks, Cerner is expected to account for 20 points of their cloud growth in Q1 2023 (starting 1 June 2022). When Cerner has added $15.8 billion of debt to the balance sheets, it’s to be expected.  HISTalk, Becker’s

What happens to audio-only telehealth at the end of the pandemic Public Health Emergency (PHE)? HHS has just issued guidance that will permit telehealth, including audio-only, services to continue. According to the HHS release, “HIPAA covered entities can use remote communication technologies to provide telehealth services, including audio-only services, in compliance with the HIPAA Privacy Rule. ” There are specific requirements such as how the HIPAA Security Rule applies to electronic media and electronic protected health information (ePHI). The full guidance is here.

UK surgical connectivity platform Proximie raises $80 million. London-based Proximie, a system that connects surgeries with pre-operative patient information, collaborative tools, and post-operative content distribution, completed a Series C with participation from Emerson Collective – the impact investor founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, British Patient Capital, Mubadala Investment Company, and the Minderoo Foundation, plus previous investors. The raise is unusually large (in this Editor’s opinion) for the UK, particularly at this uncertain time. Proximie has supported over 13,000 surgeries in 100 countries, contracts with over 35 major medical device companies such as Stryker and Abbott, and has been used in 500 hospitals across 50 countries. The company is a partner with Teladoc and Vodafone Business.  Release.  

A sneak peek at Oracle’s plans for healthcare prior to 9 June’s ‘The Future of Healthcare’ live

Gimlet EyeOracle is all set to heal the healthcare system, now that Cerner’s in the fold. Unlike other companies that have promised (ZocDoc and Change Healthcare come to mind), Oracle may actually have the capabilities to do so in many areas. Oracle has the enterprise infrastructure, the analytics, and IT automation; Cerner brings the entreé into patient records, automation, and clinical expertise that Oracle on its own didn’t have.

For those Readers not able to join the Oracle Live presentation at 3pm Central Time, 4pm Eastern, and 9pm BST (and miss Tony Blair! s/o), some of the highlights of the preview posted by Oracle’s EVP Mike Sicilia, on the Oracle Health blog:

  • The objective is to deliver “secure and reliable solutions that deliver health insights and experiences to dramatically change how health is managed by patients, providers, and payors”
  • Reduce technology-induced administrative burden that’s burned out clinicians through “a toolset that supports clinical decision making and prioritizes the user experience” via an interface that’s easy to use for care delivery organizations to find patient information
  • Make systems interoperable between organizations so that clinicians can access complete medical histories and records are portable by the patient by creating a collaborative ecosystem that breaks down information silos
  • Using their Fusion application to streamline and integrate back-office systems to drive efficiency and reduce costs, as well as reducing administrative costs, the supply chain, and retaining employees
  • Oracle’s 40+ years in securing vulnerable healthcare data to the standards they have in handling large volumes of cloud-based data for financial institutions
  • Combining existing expertise in areas such as clinical trials, health insurance, and public health analysis with Cerner, they will “support the entire lifecycle of healthcare, going beyond traditional health IT to integrate our infrastructure, platform, and applications capabilities for a more fully connected operational, administrative, and clinical system”

Those cynics among us with Gimlet Eyes have heard each and every one of these points before. Panaceas where everything is there for everybody, all wrapped up with a blue bow, if you buy it all at the usual stunning price, have been tried before in healthcare. Another question is the mesh of Middle America Cerner and Silicon Valley Oracle. Nonetheless, the combo should give the industry a little hope. They’ll be feeling their way through as Cerner is an organization used to doing things their way. If Oracle can straighten out the MHS Cerner Genesis and Cerner Millenium rollout in DOD and the VA, it’ll be worthy of applause.

Wednesday AM roundup all about money: $28B Oracle-Cerner closes today, 9 June strategy talk; Teladoc class-action lawsuits begin; Cigna’s look at loneliness

As you read this, Oracle has closed on their acquisition of Cerner Corporation. According to the Oracle release, approximately 204,280,589 shares, or 69.2% for $28 billion, have been validly tendered and other conditions, such as passing antitrust approvals, have been satisfied. If there are other loose ends to tie off, they aren’t impediments to the closing.

Interested Readers can register to hear Larry Ellison, Oracle’s chairman, and other speakers outline Oracle’s strategy to “redefine the future of healthcare” (a song we’ve heard before) on 9 June at 3pm Central Time. If our UK Readers have been wondering what former PM Tony Blair’s been up to, he’ll be on this call. Other UK speakers are David Walliker, chief digital officer of Oxford University Hospitals, and Kevin Jarrold, joint CIO of Imperial College Healthcare. Another outside speaker is Meharry Medical College‘s CEO, James E.K. Hildreth, MD, PhD. Meharry, located in Nashville, is the second oldest medical school founded (1876) to educate black Americans in medicine and dentistry.  

Here we go with class-action lawsuits against Teladoc based on loss of share value and misleading statements. Teladoc, whose stock has taken a long jump off a very tall building (90% loss from the high), is being sued in US District Court for the Southern District of New York by a shareholder, Jeremy Schneider. This is a Federal securities class-action lawsuit (text here) with Mr. Schneider representing shareholders who purchased Teladoc shares between 28 October 2021 and 27 April 2022 (the date of announcing Q1 2022 results). The charges involve materially false statements that Teladoc made on its business, operations, and prospects including minimizing competition leading to increased advertising costs, unrealistic projections for revenue made in the period, and the impact of the Livongo writeoff announced Q1–a noncash goodwill impairment charge of $6.6 billion, or over $41 per share [TTA 4 May recaps Q1].

A lookup on Justia indicates that Mr. Schneider is being represented by Jeremy Alan Lieberman of Pomerantz LLP. The filing names Jason Gorevic, CEO, and Mala Murthy, CFO as individual defendants along with Teladoc. Mr. Schneider is not a large shareholder; his investment was a little over $250,000 from December 2021 to February 2022. Other shareholders may join the suit by contacting Pomerantz.

What usually happens after this is other firms file class-action suits in the same court representing other shareholders. An example of this trolling is this announcement/release from Bernstein Liebhard LLP

If you like risk and volatility, TDOC and AMWL shares remain relatively cheap (the latter below $5) and haven’t recovered. TTA reflected on Amwell’s equally shaky Q1 and growing losses in May 

If and when they’ll recover is anyone’s guess, with increased direct-to-consumer competition from retail (CVS, Walmart) and with providers maintaining their own telehealth systems, homegrown and whitelabeled (Bluestream Health, Zipnosis). Healthcare Dive, Mobihealthnews recap much of what led to this point.

If you feel a little lonelier after your Teladoc (or other telehealth) shares tanked, or you feel like life hasn’t gotten back to normal now that the pandemic is really over (despite the hoo-hah over monkeypox), Cigna’s latest research commissioned from Morning Consult will be on point. Isolation is a function of lower income, lower physical and mental health, and being a single parent or mother. Contrary to the usual assumption, young adults 18 to 24 feel lonelier and more left out (79%) compared to those aged 66 and over (41%). (Your Editor speculates that the office and workplace are more necessary for socialization by those starting their careers than those toward the end who’ve built their networks.) What’s also a little surprising is the increased indication of loneliness among racial lines with black/African American (68%) and Hispanics (72%) feeling significantly lonely. The impact at work is less productivity and more unhappiness with their jobs. The study recommends increases in work and community activities, work flexibility, improved benefits, and workplace inclusion. A bit more along with quotes from Cigna’s Evernorth subsidiary in FierceHealthcare

Thursday news roundup: bet on Oracle-Cerner closing next week, VA EHR progress reports mandated, Homeward-RiteAid rural care, Medtronic-DaVita kidney JV, Withings reenters RPM, Lightbeam buys Jvion AI

The Oracle acquisition of Cerner will close as early as Monday next week, no later than mid-June. Mid-June is the prediction of Seeking Alpha. They based it on Oracle-Cerner already passing Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board, no questions posed by the UK antitrust authority, and the US waiting period expiring in February. As rumored [TTA 25 May], European Commission regulators approved it today (Barrons, paywalled) which predicts the close will be next Monday. Hat tip to HISTalk for their alert yesterday.

Scrutiny of Cerner’s $16 billion EHR implementation with the Department of Veterans Affairs by Congress ramps up. New legislation due to be signed by the president shortly will require the VA Secretary to submit regular reports 30 days after the last day of each fiscal quarter on the VA’s Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program. Content will include spending, performance metrics, outcomes, safety, transitioning from VistA to Cerner Millenium, interoperability, and progress or issues with all. Text of Senate bill, FierceHealthcare  TTA’s previous article on Cerner EHR interoperability problems with DOD and VA

Bringing healthcare to rural America is Homeward with a freshly inked deal with RiteAid. Founded by former Livongo president Jennifer Schneider, MD, Homeward will set up distinctive purple mobile van clinics at up to 700 Rite Aid location parking lots in rural communities starting Q3 this year. Michigan will be the first market. Homeward will accept regional Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare.

The company is targeting the 60 million Americans who live in rural areas and have been losing access to basic medical care as local practices and clinics close. Their technology enablement will be for appointments, checkins, telehealth, remote patient monitoring, and scheduling home visits. Homeward announced its launch at the recent ViVE2022 in March including $20 million in funding from General Catalyst. Other Livongo alumni with the new company are Brian Vandenberg, former general counsel, Amar Kendale, former chief product officer, and Bimal Shah, MD, former chief medical officer at Livongo. Nice to know that they have moved to another healthcare chapter of real need, versus cruising the Caribbean in very large yachts. FierceHealthcare, Homeward release

Medical device giant Medtronic and DaVita are establishing a joint venture by next year to advance kidney care therapies and technologies, including new products to be used in clinics and in the home. The intent of the JV is to increase the availability of kidney care including dialysis. 10% of adults worldwide–700 million people–have chronic kidney disease. 2.6 million have kidney failure. The JV is expected to be formed in early 2023 with each company owning an equal share. Initial investment is not disclosed. According to the release:

  • Medtronic will contribute its Renal Care Solutions (RCS) business including the current product portfolio (renal access, acute therapies, and chronic therapies), product pipeline, and global manufacturing R&D teams and facilities.
  • Both companies will provide an initial investment to fund the new company (NewCo) and future certain operating capital.

FierceBiotech, Medtronic release

Withings reenters remote patient monitoring with Withings RPM. Their initial entry was with MedProCare back in 2019 but apparently in the repositioning of the company since the buyback from Nokia in 2018, it was back-burnered. The new RPM will be based on an app that will:

  • track time for CMS-compliant billing reports and uploadable to the provider EHR
  • support billing for CMS codes 99453, 99454, 99457, 99458
  • a digital patient-facing assistant
  • full connectivity to Withings devices such as scales, blood pressure monitors, and sleep monitors
  • implementation support by their Health Solutions teams

Withings RPM page, Outsourcing-Pharma

Looking hard for an M&A that relates to us in this very quiet market, Lightbeam Health Solutions, a population health software company, is acquiring Jvion Inc. Jvion has AI-enabled prescriptive analytics and social determinants of health (SDoH) solutions which will be combined with Lightbeam’s health analytics and outcomes for payers and providers. Terms of the acquisition and leadership transitions were not disclosed. Lightbeam release

Wednesday news roundup: Oracle-Cerner reportedly OK’d by EU, VitalTech RPM raises $14.1 M, Aging 2.0 interoperability challenge, what do rough times mean for investors and startups, employees cause 39% of healthcare IT breaches

One regulatory hurdle down for Oracle’s $28 billion Cerner acquisition? The EU has reportedly given an unconditional EU antitrust clearance to Cerner, three sources informed Reuters. The formal announcement will be made 1 June. In the US, the long and winding road of Federal antitrust scrutiny and review began in February by the usual alphabet agencies–DOJ, FTC, and SEC–that show no sign of wrapping up [TTA 11 Feb]. Cerner continues to run into headwinds in its VA EHR implementation including spotty interoperability with the Military Health Service DOD version [TTA 18 May].

In a small confirmation that RPM is on the rise, Texas-based VitalTech raises $14.1 million in a Series B equity raise. The company offers an app-based remote patient monitoring platform for vital signs, med and nutritional reminders for use by home and hospital/acute care. Investors were not disclosed and the total offering has about $2.1 million remaining in unsold equity. Their undisclosed Series A funding dated back to 2019 and funded by Concord Health Partners and Stanley Ventures. SEC filing

The international Aging2.0 organization announced the Global Innovation Search (GIS), an opportunity for innovators around the world to showcase innovations that enable and promote a system-level approach to improving quality, continuity, and efficiency of care through interoperability. The eight finalists will participate in a Care Tech Pitch at OPTIMIZE, Aging 2.0’s annual conference on 21-22 September in Louisville, Kentucky. Applications close 12 June. The GIS is associated with the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council (LHCC) and will require the winner to relocate to Louisville. More information here.

What does this mess of a market mean for healthcare investors, startups, and companies looking for equity or VC investment? Industry figure Lisa Suennen, who has been to this rodeo before, has a POV in her Venture Valkyrie blog that HISTalk has summarized neatly, if not cheerfully. Major points: the downturn in funding will lag the market by 3-6 months, VCs will stuff the cash and wait for deals at lower valuations, few exits mean that portfolion companies will be burning through cash and dependent on existing investors, and there will be less-well-funded companies and funds which will go belly-up. This Editor’s disagreement is only that VCs lag downturns. In 2008, heading marketing in an early sensor-based monitoring company running out of funds, funding became scarce months ahead of the downturn.

39% of healthcare data breaches are caused by employees, according to Verizon’s latest cybersecurity Data Breach Investigations Report–more than any other industry at 18%. Incidents hit an all time high in healthcare, with 849 incidents and 571 breaches last year. 76% of breaches centered on basic web application attacks (attacks against a web-facing app–30%), system intrusions (malware, hacking–26%), and miscellaneous errors (mostly unintentional–21%).  Personal data was nearly 60% of the data compromised, while 46% was medical. Much more in the report. Healthcare Dive

Thursday news roundup: Cigna deploys over $12B for investment, Cerner’s Feinberg to Humana board, Teladoc on Amazon Alexa, admitting Livongo problems, and XRHealth VR therapy scores $10M

Cigna’s opportunity piggybank just added $12 billion+. It’s a combination of selling off non-core businesses, share repurchasing authorization, and redeploying funds to areas such as capital investment and Cigna Ventures. This includes:

  • $5.4 billion after-tax from the sale of its international life, accident, and supplemental benefits businesses in seven countries
  • $450 million invested in Cigna Ventures, its innovation investment arm
  • An expected $7 billion for share repurchase this year from a $10 billion authorization. To date this year, Cigna has already repurchased $1.2 billion of shares.

The Cigna Ventures funding will go towards three announced areas: insights and analytics; digital health and experience; and care delivery and enablement. Originally formed in 2018 with $250 million, they now have seven VC partners and 15 direct investments, including Arcadia, Babyscripts, Cricket Health, Ginger, Omada, and RecoveryOne. 

Buried in the release is this: “…the company is not currently contemplating large-scale mergers or acquisitions” which would seem to put a tight lid on the long-rumored acquisition of parts or all of Centene [TTA 28 Jan]. (Too much wake turbulence?) But following on this, “The company intends to continue making strategic investments in innovation through targeted bolt-on or tuck-in acquisitions” which fits sell-offs, as well as investment in early-stage companies through Cigna Ventures. Also FierceHealthcare

Insurer Humana’s board expands to 14 with the addition of David Feinberg, MD, the current CEO of Cerner and future executive of Oracle, provided the merger is approved. He joins the current seven independent directors on the Humana board. Last week, Starboard Value LP, an activist investor hedge fund, reached an agreement with Humana to appoint two Starboard-backed board members starting next month and retire two incumbents. Humana limped through last year with a $14 million Q4 loss and Medicare Advantage losses to both traditional rivals and insurtechs. With over 25 years in healthcare management including CEO positions at Geisinger Health System and three divisions of UCLA Health, it’s a smart move. Release, FierceHealthcare

“Alexa, I want to talk to a doctor”–and that doc will be through Teladoc. Amazon customers with supported Echo devices, such as an Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show, will now be able to access Teladoc and a virtual care session 24/7. Initially it will be voice-only with audio/video to come. The release states that visits may be free through insurance or $75 direct pay. It did give a much-needed lift to Teladoc shares, which have been hammered by 76% in the past year, on the announcement and in the past few days, feeding the usual rumor mill that Amazon may be writing a check for Teladoc shares.

Teladoc has finally admitted via its annual report (SEC 10-K) that the Livongo acquisition has not been all beer and skittles. It impacted its indebtedness (page 35) and on page 52, significant insecurities on the integration of the two companies, well over a year after the acquisition.

Our failure to meet the challenges involved in successfully integrating the operations of the two companies or to otherwise realize any of the anticipated benefits of the merger, including additional cost savings and synergies, could impair our operations. In addition, the overall integration of Livongo post-merger will continue to be a time-consuming and expensive process that, without proper planning and effective and timely implementation, could significantly disrupt our business.

Healthcare IT News and HISTalk

VR physical therapy has remained a “we try harder” area of telehealth for several years, with a lot of initial promise in treating returning veterans with PTSD in de-escalating symptoms but having a hard time getting takeup. XRHealth, an early-stage company offering VR-driven physical, occupational, and speech therapies, gained a $10 million venture round backed by HTC, Bridges Israel impact investment fund, AARP, and crowdfunding on StartEngine.com and existing investors. According to Crunchbase, this is par for their course since 2016; their total of $35 million has been in pre-seed, seed, grant, crowd, and venture funding. Based in Brookline, Massachusetts with R&D in Israel, it is good to see them progress, having ‘been there and done that’ with two early-stage health tech firms.

However, their release does them a great disservice. It is, frankly, 90% nonsense in trying to position them out of the gate as “the gateway to the healthcare metaverse” and “growing the open ecosystem and providing greater access to care while reducing costs. Interoperability is key…”. This Editor had to go to their website to find out what they do. As a marketer and reporter, the First Rule of Press Releases is say what the news is, what the company does, and why it’s important in the first two paragraphs. The rest is reinforcement and expansion, with the spokesperson quote part of that and never in paragraph #2. Additional advice: don’t pick up a word now branded by Facebook (Meta). Hat tip to HISTalk

Thursday news roundup: Teladoc’s cheery 2021, uncertain 2022; DOJ deadline UnitedHealth-Change Sunday, Cerner’s earnings swan song, Humana feels the activist lash; funding/M&A for WellSky, Health Catalyst, Minded, Automata, MediBuddy

Teladoc closed 2021 on Tuesday with record revenue of $2,032.7 billion, 86% over 2020. Visits were up 38% to 15.4 million with 53.4 million paid members. Q4 revenue was $554.2 million, 45% over Q4 2020, all of which exceeded investors’ expectations. Despite moving to a positive cash flow of $194 million, Teladoc is still not profitable, with full-year losses of almost $429 million and net loss per share of $2.73, somewhat lower than 2020.

The outlook for 2022 is less certain. For the full year, they anticipate a nice rise in revenues to $2.55 to $2.65 billion but a net loss of $1.40-1.60 per share, a little more than half 2021. Paid membership they project will grow to 54 to 56 million. The stock did take a bit of a bath due to market uncertainty with Ukraine-Russia and also a lowered forecast for first quarter. Teladoc earnings release, Healthcare Dive

DOJ has till Sunday 27 February to sue to stop the UnitedHealth acquisition of Change Healthcare. The acquirer and acquiree popped their 10-day notice on 17 February through their 8-K filing with the SEC. They had previously agreed to hold their closing until after 22 February. So if the DOJ is going to block the deal, as has been reported [TTA 17 Feb], they have from today to Sunday to do it–and courts aren’t open Saturday and Sunday. Healthcare Dive, Becker’s Health IT

Cerner’s 2021 swan song kind of… honked. Their net loss for the year was $8.8 million in 2021, compared with a net income of $76.9 million in 2020. Total net earnings topped $555 million in net earnings in 2021, down 29% from $780.1 million in 2020. Cerner release, Becker’s. Meanwhile, Oracle’s acquisition high hurdles continue [TTA 11 Feb] with the Feds, passing the first mark of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act waiting period as of 11.59pm on 22 February. Still to go is the SEC review of Oracle’s tender offer for Cerner shares.  Becker’s Health IT

Humana joins Centene in insurers forced to change by activist shareholders. Starboard Value, a hedge fund, reached an agreement with Humana that Humana would add two independent board directors backed by Starboard. The first will be named on 21 April with the second to follow. They replace incumbents who will not stand for re-election. Starboard owns 1 million Humana or 0.79% of shares, but is well known for wielding them effectively to leverage change when the business hits a pothole–Humana’s $14 million Q4 loss and Medicare Advantage losses to both traditional rivals and insurtechs.

Humana is standing by its 2022 projection of 11-15%  growth but slowing performance in large areas such as Medicare Advantage. The company has stated that they will funnel funds back into Medicare Advantage through its “value creation plan”, which sounds very much like Centene’s “value creation office”. You’d think they’d come up with cleverer names and less anodyne ‘strategies’ for extracting savings from these lemons wherever possible, including selling off assets and “optimizing its workforce”. Reuters, Healthcare Dive

And quick takes from the US, UK, and India…

WellSky is acquiring TapCloud for an undisclosed amount. WellSky is a data analytics and care coordination automation company in the acute care and home care markets, with TapCloud a patient-facing engagement and communication platform. Release

Another data analytics company, Health Catalyst, is bolstering capabilities with its agreement to buy KPI Ninja, a provider of interoperability solutions and population health analytics. Purchase price and management transitions undisclosed, though from the release it appears that all KPI Ninjas will be onboarded.

Minded, a NYC-based mental health med management company, scored $25 million in seed funding from Streamlined Ventures, Link Ventures, The Tiger Fund, Unicorn Ventures, and private individuals. They provide direct-to-patient behavioral health medications through virtual evaluations with treatment plans without in-person visits, which are still unusual in psychiatry. At the present time, it is available only in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and California.

The founders are an interesting mix: David Ronick, who previously co-founded fintech unicorn Stash, Gaspard de Dreuzy, the co-founder of telehealth company Pager, and Dr. Chris Dennis, a multi-state licensed psychiatrist. Their rationale for founding the company does resonate with this Editor, whose brother is a board-certified MD psychiatrist, and who knows well 1) the challenges of remote therapy and 2) the scarcity of psychiatrists in most of the US beyond urban and academic areas. Release, TechCrunch, Mobihealthnews

In the UK, London-based Automata, which automates lab technology to shorten turnaround time and scale up lab capacity, along with deploying automation with contract research organizations, research labs, and blue-chip healthcare institutions, announced a $50 million (£36.8M) Series B raise. The round was led by Octopus Ventures with participation from returning investors Hummingbird, Latitude Ventures, ABB Technology Ventures, Isomer Capital as well as strategic investors including In-Q-Tel. Mobihealthnews

From Bangalore, India, virtual health company MediBuddy $125 million Series C funding was led by Quadria Capital and Lightrock India, bringing their total funding to over $191.1 million, a hallmark of a largely bootstrapped company. MediBuddy uses a smartphone app for 24/7 real-time video doctor consults and at-home lab testing covering the family and in more than eight languages, important in India which has hundreds of languages and local dialects. Great smiles on the founders too! Mobihealthnews

Friday’s really quick takes: Oracle-Cerner starts Federal reviews, Curve Health, Signify buys Caravan, and a gaggle of single name companies!

The long and winding road of Federal scrutiny–and other legal actions–begin for Oracle and Cerner. To be expected, the first hurdle is a review under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the US Department of Justice (DOJ). This should conclude by 22 February. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is also reviewing. As is routine in takeovers of public companies, there are seven civil filings by ‘supposed’ Cerner stockholders in either the District Court for the Southern or Eastern District of New York, their favorite venue, all claiming lack of information. Expect more. Kansas City Business Journal (which may be paywalled), Becker’s Health IT

New York-based newcomer Curve Health scored a $12 million Series A from Morningside Ventures with participation from Alumni Ventures and Recover-Care Healthcare, as well as returning investors Lightspeed Venture Partners, IDEO, Inflect Health, and others. Total funding is now $18 million (Crunchbase). Curve Health specializes in ‘virtual hospital’ telemedicine for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and community paramedicine, along with billing and health information exchange. Last July, they partnered with CareConnectMD, a California-based provider group that delivers value-based care for people living in nursing homes via its High Needs Direct Contracting Entity (DCE). Curve’s founder, Tim Peck MD, previously founded Call 9, a telemedicine/onsite service for nursing homes, which closed in July 2019 [TTA 15 May 2020] Release

Signify Health, a senior home care and value-based care provider, is acquiring ACO organizer and management services provider Caravan Health in a $250 million cash/stock deal with contingent additional payments of up to $50 million based on performance. Caravan’s founder and the current CEO will be joining Signify. It’s a move that may bolster Signify, which has had a few valuation challenges, because it expands Signify’s provider base and expands its current narrow episodes of care area (the former Remedy) into additional advanced payment models. Release, Mobihealthnews

Short short takes on single-word company news….

Expressable’s remote speech teletherapy platform closed a $15 million Series A funded by F-Prime Capital and including existing investors Lerer Hippeau, NextView Ventures, and Amplifyher Ventures. The new funding will go towards national expansion. FierceHealthcare  Hat tip to this Editor’s former colleague Amy VanStee, who recently joined them.

Balanced is a new digital platform for exercise coaching targeted to older adults. Users can modify based on assessed fitness level, input injuries, health conditions, and fitness goals. They added to an early seed round to total $6.5 million in seed funding, led by Founders Fund and Primary Venture Partners, with participation from Lux Capital and Stellation Capital. Cost for unlimited use is a gentle $20 per month. Given yesterday’s near-implosion of that expensive must-have of the aggressively fit and heavily dripping, Peloton, is fitness getting real?  Mobihealthnews

AndHealth, founded by the CEO plus veterans from CoverMyMeds, now has $57 million from Francisco Partners, with participation from the American Medical Association’s venture capital arm Health 2047, Kirkland & Ellis and Twofold Ventures. AndHealth specializes in Virtual Centers of Excellence (VCOE) programs for migraine and autoimmune disease reversal programs as an employer-sponsored benefit. Release

Berlin-based Ada extended its Series B by $30 million for a total of $120 million. Ada partners with major pharma for its AI-assisted symptom assessment app. TechEU

Nurx is merging into Thirty Madison. Nurx is primarily a provider of birth control, women’s and sexual health meds via telemedicine, while Thirty Madison specializes in telemedicine for chronic conditions. Thirty Madison was valued at over $1 billion after its Series C round in June. Nurx’s lines will be added to Thirty Madison’s menu which includes Keeps (hair loss) and Evens (GI issues). FierceHealthcare

The devil is in the (migrated) data: GAO watchdog barks at the VA’s transition from VistA to Cerner

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) released their “watchdog” report on the Department of Veterans Affairs’ first, failed implementation at Spokane’s Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in October 2020. Their 52-page whopper of a report came to a simple conclusion: the VA didn’t ensure the quality of the data migrating from the EHR warhorse VistA and their Corporate Data Warehouse to Cerner Millenium. Thus clinicians couldn’t use Cerner two ways–one was training in how to use it (as noted in VA’s own analysis) so they could not find the patient information they needed–and the fact that even if they knew how to use it, the data migration apparently was incomplete. The GAO found that the VA did not establish performance measures and goals for migrated data quality based on Federal guidance. The result was inevitable. According to the report, “clinicians experienced challenges with the quality of migrated data, including their accessibility, accuracy, and appropriateness.” 

There is also a method called a stakeholder register which helps to identify and engage all key stakeholders. VA did not use this, so some areas were overlooked in the continuity of reporting and preservation of records. This affects not only patient records, but also scheduling.

The main takeaway is that GAO recommends to VA that they establish performance measures and goals that ensure the quality of migrated data and use a stakeholder register managed by the VA’s deputy secretary to engage all the relevant stakeholders in the migration in reporting needs. VA published its own analysis of its implementation and rollout failures in December. Healthcare IT News