TTA Snow Edition: Raises/SPACs pile up for Sharecare, Owlet, Zocdoc, Modern Health; airborne COVID detector passes test; RPM for clinical trials; Theranos and VA EHR updates

Weekly Alert

 

 

The snow won’t stop across the US, and neither do the big raises and SPACs this week. The spotlight’s on behavioral health, patient data storage–and Owlet’s baby monitoring sock. Can COVID be detected in the air?–looks like it. More ‘normal business’–a partnership for renal monitoring, care management, and Current Health’s RPM for clinical trials. Plus an update on VA’s Cerner EHR rollout and the Theranos trial.

GAO tells VA to postpone Cerner EHR implementation–but VA will be continuing (Typical government push-me-pull-you)
Deal and news roundup, 17-18 Feb: Sharecare goes SPAC for hefty $3.9 bn valuation; Humana Care Support pilots; AliveCor, AstraZeneca partner on renal, cardiac; Current Health RPM in clinical trials
The Theranos Story, ch. 70: the lab director turns Federal evidence (And nothing to do with Silicon Valley Lifestyles)
Airborne SARS-CoV-2 detection device for indoor use successfully tested (Useful for other bacteria and viruses too)
Funding roundup, 16 Feb: virtual mental health gains two (more) unicorns, Zocdoc’s fresh $150M, Owlet’s $325M SPAC (The eyeblinking raises and public offerings go on)

Only one truly dizzy deal — Signify Health — this week for a change. NHS apps try to get a handle on the pandemic and triage patients. Two US ‘neoinsurers’ raise big money, but one’s seeing the SEC and DOJ. 

News and deal roundup: Signify Health’s $564M IPO, RapidSOS’ $85M Series C, Poland’s Telemedico raise, Livongo’s Zane Burke to Bardavon
NHS touts COVID-19 Test and Trace app; Livi’s MJog notifies users of vaccine jab info (Trying to turn the corner)
Lasting effects of the pandemic lockdown on health and wealth (More Bad News)
‘Neoinsurer’ Oscar Health goes for $100 million IPO; Clover Health’s big SPAC under SEC microscope (A tale of two insurers, one a potential scandal)
NHS digital triaging app eConsult closes £7 million funding round (Deals spreading in UK)

The Dizzy Deals keep on coming with 23andMe going SPAC-y with Richard Branson for $3.5bn. HIMSS goes ‘hybrid’ for Singapore–but Las Vegas F2F is a ‘maybe’. Telehealth usage soared dizzily but unevenly during the early pandemic. Not so dizzily in the UK, B-Secur ECG algorithms get FDA clearance and Scotland’s Project Liberty advances. 

Belfast’s B-Secur obtains FDA 510(k) clearance for HeartKey ECG/EKG algorithm library (Plug and play?)
23andMe will go the SPAC route with Virgin Group in a $3.5 bn valuation (Ka-Ching!)
The shape of telemedicine during the first half-year of the pandemic: significant but wildly uneven usage (Income and speciality differences)
Short takes, 4 Feb: HIMSS 21 Global/APAC go ‘hybrid’; ATA announcements including virtual ATA2021; Hillrom acquires EarlySense monitoring tech
Communicare247 advances in Scotland’s Project Liberty social care with Stage 2 funding (Smarter homes for independent living)
Bluestream Health telehealth partners with Impresiv Health management consultants (Adding telehealth to client services)

Our third all-new Alert for 2021 has a bumper crop of 10 Dizzying Deals and equally dizzy debates about telehealth parity and coverage. And just as in the movies, Crime Does Not Pay (except in long prison sentences) for ‘telemedicine’ fraudsters being convicted as part of the $4.5 billion ‘takedown’.

Crime Does Not Pay–especially when defrauding Medicare of nearly $1 billion (Latest convictions in October’s National Health Care Fraud Takedown)
Telehealth parity, coverage, access debated in New Hampshire, South Dakota; CMS issues corrections to RPM in 2021 Medicare PFS rules (Will reimbursement advances stick?)
Funding, acquisition news roundup, round 2: Lyra Health’s $187M Series E, DarioHealth-Upright, GetWellNetwork-Docent Health, Hillrom-BardyDx (updated)
Funding news roundup: Philips buys Capsule, Hims’ SPAC + Privia partnership, Signify Health’s $100M IPO; closed funding for K Health, Aledade, Conversa Health

From Deals to COVID (only two scoops) to once again, Theranos and questions on Silicon Valley Startup Ethical Norms. The promise and peril of telehealth, especially in developing countries. Oddly, not much out of virtual editions of CES and JPM.

Comings, goings, and more: YouTube goes healthy, COVID vax distribution and EMA hack, IPO/M&A roundup, Japan’s health tech startups highlighted at CES
2021 predictions: telehealth law and if at all possible, stay away from FDA (US) (From law firm Foley; the wise advice on FDA is from Bradley Merrill Thompson)
COVID-19 and telehealth–promise or peril? And the perils of digital health in conflict countries and India. (JISfTeH’s latest edition)
The Theranos Story, ch. 69: Elizabeth Holmes ‘faked it till she made it’–like other Silicon Valley startups? (Updated) (Lifestyles of the Rich, Famous, and Busted)

Our first postings for 2021 focus on digital health’s funding Boom Town, also confirming that utilization gains made during the worst of 2020 are sticking. Haven, the three-headed hydra that was going to slay the ‘hungry tapeworm’, is closing. But never fear–CES and JPM are next week, with plenty of news to be expected.

Digital Health as Boom Town: 2020’s dizzying funding rounded up by Mercom Capital, StartUp Health (Funding fiddles merrily while COVID burns)
Telehealth claims rose 3,060 percent to October, settling in to over 5 percent of all claims–led by mental health (US) (Telehealth utilization sticks–but so is CoronaDepression)
New Year’s Deal and Event Roundup: Optum-Change Healthcare, Walgreens-Amerisource Bergen, December’s deal potpourri, CES and JPM (No sign of deal cooldown, and big events go virtual)
Haven finds no haven in healthcare, will close in February (Where lack of focus and an embarassment of egos will get you)

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Telehealth & Telecare Aware: covering the news on latest developments in telecare, telehealth, telemedicine and health tech, worldwide–thoughtfully and from the view of fellow professionals

Thanks for asking for update emails. Please tell your colleagues about this news service and, if you have relevant information to share with the rest of the world, please let me know.

Donna Cusano, Editor In Chief
donna.cusano@telecareaware.com

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GAO tells VA to postpone Cerner EHR implementation–but VA will be continuing

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is still in the long rollout of the Cerner/Leidos EHR system to replace their home-grown, once groundbreaking VistA and to be interoperable with the Department of Defense’s Cerner Millenium system. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report (PDF link) that concludes that “VA should postpone deployment of its new EHR system at planned locations until any resulting critical and high severity test findings are appropriately addressed.” These potential system failure points were brought up by GAO to Congress last October at the time of the first implementation in Spokane, Washington. The sidebar on GAO’s report states that VA agreed with the postponement, but a news report in FedScoop indicates that VA believes, per their comments in the report, that:

  • VA and Cerner have resolved the major issues (down to 55 from close to 400)
  • They will resolve the rest by January 2022
  • They will proceed with the scheduled rollout to the VA’s Puget Sound Health Care System in Q4 2021.

Hat tip to HISTalk, which managed to summarize this in seven short sentences (!).

VA’s ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ telehealth initiative finalizes

VA Secretaries may come and go (or never get there), but their initiatives stay. With much fanfare last year, then-Secretary David Shulkin announced the ‘Anywhere to Anywhere’ telehealth and telemedicine program [TTA 3 Aug]. This program will use VA practitioners to provide virtual patient care across state lines when a veteran cannot make it to a VA hospital or clinic. The Department of Veterans Affairs published the proposed rule last October [TTA 3 Oct 17] with the Final Rule published in the Federal Register on 11 May.

Technically, it preempts state and local regulations around telehealth. “VA is exercising Federal preemption of conflicting State laws relating to the practice of healthcare providers; laws, rules, regulations, or other requirements are preempted to the extent such State laws conflict with the ability of VA health care providers to engage in the practice of telehealth while acting within the scope of their VA employment.”

It was widely supported by ATA, the American Association of Family Physicians, American Medical Informatics Association, Federal Trade Commission, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), and many other industry organizations. It also enjoys wide Congressional support.

There is plenty of room for growth. Only 1 percent of VA’s veterans used Home Telehealth, while 12 percent used other forms of telehealth. They will be doing so with few suppliers: Medtronic, 1Vision/AMC Health, and Care Innovations. Iron Bow/Vivify Health was found to not have tablets which met the US production qualification. This Editor wonders how the current three suppliers will fare.

This telehealth program will be located in the apparently newly named Veterans Health Administration Office of Connected Care. mHealthIntelligence.com

VA awards over $1 billion in Home Telehealth contracts–at long last (updated)

Breaking News, Updated  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on 1 Feb issued over $1 billion in awards to four companies to provide Home Telehealth vital signs monitoring technologies to veterans in home care and monitoring. The four companies are Medtronic, Care Innovations, Iron Bow Technologies, and 1Vision LLC. The $1 billion is split evenly between the four ($258 million for each company over the five-year duration). The contracts are for an initial year (31 Jan 2018 end date listed on GovTribe.com), renewable annually for five years total. The bid process started in 2015 and the award had originally been scheduled for early-to-mid 2016.

On the suppliers:

  • Medtronic is the incumbent as a supplier since 2011, dating back to Cardiocom’s 2011 award for its home monitoring units (Cardiocom was acquired in August 2013). Medtronic is a Dublin, Ireland HQ’d company with a US headquarters in Minnesota.
  • Care Innovations is well known to our Readers as the developer of Health Harmony and the acquirer of the QuietCare telecare/behavioral monitoring used in senior housing. Their parent is Intel.
  • Iron Bow Technologies is a supplier to VA in other healthcare areas (telemedicine and store-and-forward) and is a large, privately held IT company with multiple Federal contracts and deep Federal contractor roots. Their revenue has been reported at over $462 million (Washington Technology Top 100 2016).
  • 1Vision LLC is a new company formed as a joint venture between HMS Technologies, Inc. and MBL Technologies, Inc. Neither are previously engaged as home telehealth providers, but both are Federal contractors. According to their individual websites, HMS is an IT systems integrator and MBL is engaged primarily in cybersecurity.

The question for this Editor is how Iron Bow and 1Vision, which are not telehealth (vital signs) monitoring companies but telemedicine and IT service providers respectively, will execute Home Telehealth with the VA. Have they partnered with yet-to-be disclosed providers in providing home telehealth services to the VA? (Watch this space)

While the award is the largest in US telehealth, the VA is, by this Editor’s experience in her last position with Viterion Corporation, extremely demanding on its service providers and will be even more so in the future. The future reasons are clear: 1) President Trump has put a Klieg light on the VA and 2) he’s named a new VA secretary, Dr David Shulkin, who is currently VA Undersecretary for Health (confirmation hearing notes courtesy of POLITICO, nomination approved by the Senate committee Tuesday, and easily confirmed Monday night 13 Feb), who has been highly engaged with HIT issues, including both the VistA EHR modernization/replacement and initiatives such as the recently unveiled Digital Health Platform [TTA 12 Jan]. (more…)

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee takes evidence on VETS Act (US)

Further to our report in October on the introduction of the Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine [grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Dept-of-VA-logo.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Support Act (“Veterans eHealth & Telemedicine”, 10 October 2015), Sen. Joni Ernst’s website reports that Sen. Ernst was the first witness to testify in front of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Wednesday (19 November 2015) about the proposed legislation.

“The VA has been practicing telemedicine since 2001, and they are largely cited as leaders and innovators in the field. Their efforts in telemedicine have saved money and veterans’ time by eliminating often an hour or more long drives to the VA, and reducing bed days at the VA” Ernst is reported to have said.

“For example: According to the VA, in Fiscal Year 2014, telehealth reduced bed days of care by 54%, reduced hospital admissions by 32%, and saved $34 in travel savings per  consultation. (more…)

Tunstall adds services for Australian veterans, upgrades US call centers

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Big-T-thumb-480×294-55535.gif” thumb_width=”150″ /]Tunstall has been quiet on the newsfront lately, so these two items from Australia and the US are to be noted. In Australia, the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) rehabilitation appliances program (RAP), which provides subsidized personal response systems to veterans, now includes Tunstall’s PERS, iVi fall detector pendant, PIR movement sensor and GPS watch. The program requires that veterans be evaluated for need by a qualified health provider. Tunstall has participated in the RAP program since 2002. Pulse+IT (Australasia) In the US, a significant part of Tunstall’s purchase of AMAC were medical answering service operations in Long Island City, NY, Pawtucket, RI, and Newington, CT. A $10 million upgrade of their 24/7 service includes CRM for healthcare providers for after-hours, overflow support, appointment reminders, insurance verification and help desk services. Release

12 percent of US veterans now using VA telehealth services

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has some good news (for a change)–that during the just-closed Federal FY 2014, 690,000 veterans, or 12 percent, used telehealth services. This was a 13.3 percent increase over FY 2013 (608,900). While this report is preliminary (beware!), we see a slowing of growth in the number of veterans accessing telehealth and a concentration–not dispersal–of telehealth services in rural areas (+ 10 points). This chart compares the numbers:

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/VA-2014-vs-2013.jpg” thumb_width=”350″ /]

Chart: EIC Donna. Please note that percentage of telehealth users add up to over 100 percent due to usage (one patient could access two or three forms of telehealth. FY14 telehealth user breakout is estimate based on FY13 percentage, to be eventually compared to official figures.)

Telehealth as defined by VA: (more…)

The King’s Fund videos, presentations online

The King’s Fund has posted video highlights from last month’s International Digital Health and Care Congress. Talks include those from futurist Ray Hammond, Kathleen Hammond (US Department of Veterans Affairs), Dr Ali Parsa (Babylon), Paul Rice (NHS England) and Sian Jones (NHS Bristol). Click on the tabs at top for presentation decks and posters. TTA was a media partner of the Congress. Hat tip to Mike Clark via Twitter (@clarkmike).