Short takes: Avaya’s Ch. 11; Aetna sells India telehealth; fundings for IncludeHealth, Senniors, Thatch, Previa, MDI; layoffs at Collective Health, Vicarious, Olive AI

Avaya files second Chapter 11 reorganization in six years. The company, which provides virtual care and collaboration tools (and has contributed to our Perspectives series), is restructuring with a financing of $780 million. This was anticipated from August-September last year when they announced accounting problems with their cloud subscription revenue, resulting in substantial layoffs, $250 million in cost cuts, a CEO change, and a continuing crash in the stock value which was close to 99%. In December, they announced a likely delisting from the NYSE. Major creditors include Microsoft, Wistron Corp., and SHI International. Current customers will continue to be served. Upon completion of the restructuring process in a projected 60 to 90 days, Avaya will reduce its total debt by more than 75%, from nearly $3.4 billion to about $800 million. CRN 14 Feb, CRN 7 Sep 22, Yahoo Finance    Hat tip to HISTalk

Aetna’s subsidiary Indian Health Organisation (IHO) is selling its telehealth business to MediBuddy. Transaction cost was not disclosed. Bangalore-based MediBuddy is buying what is currently called vHealth by Aetna and will be rebranded over the next six months to MediBuddy vHealth, to be integrated with its other services. vHealth is a subscription-based primary healthcare service that offers telehealth consultations, an extensive outpatient network, pharmacy, diagnostics, dental services, delivery of medicines, blood tests, and other home healthcare products across 38 Indian cities. IHO employees will continue with MediBuddy. Last February, MediBuddy scored a $125 million Series C funding, led by Quadria Capital and Lightrock India.  Press release (Hospitals Management India), Mobihealthnews

A few early-state digital health fundings rounded up by Mobihealthnews:

  • Ohio-based digital musculoskeletal (MSK) health care and training company IncludeHealth raised $11 million in a funding round led by CincyTech with participation from Tamarind Hill and other investors. The fresh funds will be used to expand the MSK-OS remote care platform. Ray Shealy joined as COO and Grant Koster joins the board of directors. Also Finsmes 
  • Madrid, Spain-based Senniors raised $5.6 million in seed funding. Senniors provides home care services including therapy, mental healthcare, and nutrition counseling for older people and others who need support. The seed round was led by SixThirty with Sevenzonic, KIMPA, Zubi Capital and Invertidos.
  • Thatch, a health benefits startup, raised over $6 million in total funding across pre-seed and seed rounds from 16z and GV, with participation from Lux Capital, Quiet Capital, Not Boring Capital and BrightEdge. It includes a tech-enabled Health Savings Account, a Thatch debit card for all healthcare expenses, and on-demand access to experts who can resolve billing issues via text. Release
  • Previa Medical, based in Lyon, France, raised €2.1 million for its AI-based predictive medical device to alert providers to early signs of sepsis and raised $2.2 million in seed funding. It included participation from Kreaxi, M2care, Veymont Participations, Hopla Memory, CCI Capital Croissance, Holding Seraip, Bpifrance and BNP Paribas, with equity and debt financing from Banque Populaire AURA. SEPSI-SCORE analyzes patient risk factors for sepsis in real time through patient records drawn from hospital software to alert providers up to 48 hours before symptoms develop. Finsmes
  • And one more: $20 million in Series A funding to healthcare analytics company MDI Health. MDI uses AI in pharmacology to prevent negative outcomes in chronic polypharmacy patients and at-risk populations. Mobihealthnews

While layoffs in healthcare have slowed down somewhat, they do continue: 

  • San Mateo-based Collective Health, a benefits administration software provider for enterprises, laid off 54 of an estimated 500-1,000 employees. LinkedIn corporate posting
  • Vicarious Surgical, a robotic surgical developer which has received funding from Bill Gates and BD, is planning to reduce its workforce by 14% to conserve cash. Ironically, they are making a 510(k) submission for a robotic system to compete against giant Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci. Med tech has tightened up substantially with giants like Baxter whacking 3,000 jobs (5%) in its global workforce and Abbott releasing temporary workers hired to produce COVID-19 test kits in Maine. Medtech Dive
  • Olive AI, which automates routine administrative healthcare processes such as revenue cycle management, laid off an additional 215 employees last week, about 35% of its remaining staff, due to account losses. In July, 450 employees or about 33% of staff were released. Axios

Can technology speed the return to office post-COVID? Is contaminated office air conditioning a COVID culprit?

Most offices in the US are still not open or only ‘essential personnel’. As this Editor noted on 19 May, a number of companies, including startups, are focusing on working with employers on return-to-work strategies. There are a raft of approaches including on-site clinics, temperature screening checkpoints, and check-in/reporting apps from Verily (Alphabet) and Fitbit’s Ready to Work. These screeners generally monitor for self-reported symptoms, but some will advise and track you to testing if you demonstrate risk, such as UnitedHealth Group and Microsoft’s ‘ProtectWell’ with a closed loop of testing recommendations that are reported to the employer. Collective Go from Collective Health goes a bit further in emphasizing up-front (molecular [PCR]) testing and continuous employee monitoring into their protocols for, apparently, every worker. OneMedical, which works with 7,000 employers, adds to their on-site management and testing additional contact tracing. FierceHealthcare

Maybe it’s in the air-conditioned air you breathe? Office building air circulation may be a culprit in the spike in Florida, Arizona, and Texas cases. The uptick in cases in Southern states where the contagion rates were initially fairly light may be due to the mostly recirculated air in office air conditioning systems. Most modern buildings don’t have windows which open. Older buildings have their own problems like mold from leaky systems and ‘soot’ (from air pollution and when people used to smoke in offices, remember when?). Newer LEED buildings are so ‘tight’ and energy efficient that air tends to be stagnant. Few buildings have good ratios of air exchange with the outside plus use HEPA filtration throughout the HVAC system. The total picture is that any virus can make its way through offices–six feet of distancing, masks, sanitization, no cafeterias, and acrylic panel separators be d****d.  (Contrast your average office building with modern commercial aircraft where about 50 percent of air is recirculated at any one time, there’s a total change about every three minutes, and HEPA filters are used! AskThePilot, a great site for all things airline)

A return-to-work readiness strategy suggested here by a Harvard Medical epidemiologist whose main area is TB spread are germicidal UV lights high in the room to catch the viruses that go up, then down. UV light for sanitization and disinfection is a technology used for several years to disinfect patient care areas (PurpleSun is one). Far-UVC, versus near-UVC, and potential uses are outlined in this Nature article from February 2018Harvard Gazette

What a big VC thinks of digital health

Bessemer Venture Partners has been a major investor in healthcare tech for over 30 years, not only with Rock Health and their eponymous fund, but also with WellTok, MindBody, Health Essentials, DocuTap and others. Observations from one of their VPs include that the IPO window for digital health has been only open a short time–six months; B2C and B2B2C sectors have been resilient, with ‘Uber for healthcare’ concepts like PillPack [TTA 14 July] gaining traction; and that they like a third-party administrator concept for employee population health called Collective Health. Rock Health blog.