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

The Department of Justice lawsuit to block the $13 billion acquisition of Change Healthcare by UnitedHealth Group started on Monday. It is a bench trial in US District Court in the District of Columbia that will last 12 days, concluding on 16 August with a verdict date to be determined. The DOJ and the plaintiffs, including Minnesota and New York State, are presenting their case over seven days. UHG and Change will have five days. It’s expected that UHG CEO Andrew Witty and former chief David Wichmann will be testifying. The American Hospital Association (AHA) was a key player in pushing for a DOJ action (their article here). TTA recapped the main competitive issues in play on 23 March, along with this Editor’s opinion that the merger will be blocked given this current administration’s anti-trust stand. ‘It will be one for the books–the ones marked ‘Nice Try, But No Dice’. FierceHealthcare, HealthcareFinanceNews

Will Amazon’s acquisition of One Medical be reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)? That is what Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) is requesting. He cites that Amazon will have “access to enormous tranches of patient data. While HIPAA and other privacy laws exist to thwart the worst potential abuses, loopholes exist in every legal framework.” He also cites, somewhat broadly, that information of this type could be used to suggest over-the-counter blood pressure medications to a One Medical patient shopping at a Whole Foods Market. (What is meant here is that there are many supplements that claim to benefit blood pressure available OTC, such as Garlique; however, there are many OTC meds that can increase blood pressure such as decongestants.) This Editor agrees with Senator Hawley that the acquisition should be carefully reviewed by FTC and, to go further, HHS as it involves patient data.) Hawley Senate.gov page 

The Cionic Neural Sleeve, designed to aid people with mobility issues, is getting a design upgrade via Yves Behar and his fuseproject. The Neural Sleeve [TTA 30 June] aids the legs through sensors in the sleeve that monitor movement for muscle firing and limb position, then analyzes them through an app to optimize functional electronic stimulation (FES) delivered through the sleeve. The Behar team, according to the release, has delivered a neural sleeve “designed for everyday wear, and importantly, is easy to put on and take off – a critical design element for those with inhibited mobility. The lightweight, breathable fabric feels like an athletic legging, and is available in multiple colors and sizes. Paired with the intuitive CIONIC app, the sleeve enables the user to be in control of their own mobility journey.” Cionic is taking pre-orders for delivery in early 2023. Also The Robot Report.

Medable partners with Withings for clinical trials. Medable, a clinical trials platform, is partnering with Withings Health Solutions to connect Withings devices for monitoring at home. Withings devices will provide medical-grade measurements, including temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, sleep patterns, and weight to connect the data into Medable’s decentralized clinical trial platform. Direct monitoring also assists in attracting and retaining subjects in clinical trials, plus improving accuracy, by eliminating subject manual reporting and checkins. Financial terms and duration were not disclosed. Release, FDA News, FierceBiotech

Short international take: Orion Health, an Auckland, New Zealand-based health IT company headed by Ian McCrae for the past 30 years, announced he is stepping down for health reasons. Replacing him in late August as CEO will be Brad Porter, coming from Fisher & Paykel, a NZ-based medical device company. Mr. Porter is Mr. McCrae’s son in law.  Orion recently won what could be the largest health information exchange system in the world for Saudi Arabia, covering 32 million people. Healthcare IT News 

And a sad passing: Our UK and European Readers likely know Simon Hawken from his long career with IBM, including Watson Health (now Merative) and Merge Healthcare, and earlier with BEA Systems. HISTalk reported that he passed away on 25 July. This Editor has not been able to find other notices, so is asking for Reader help and comments.

Thursday news roundup: IBM Watson Health sale closed, now Merative; OneMedical inviting buyers–maybe; worst healthcare data breaches rounded up

It’s a post-Independence Day and early summer holiday relatively quiet week….

It’s Merative, not IBM Watson Health anymore. Francisco Partners‘ buy from IBM of Watson Health closed last Thursday (30 June) but didn’t make the news until after the holiday. The announcement of the new brand, Merative, was splashed on HLTH’s website today (not HIMSS) with the usual language about how their data connects and transforms health through pioneering “cloud, real-world data and industry-leading AI” through health systems, hospitals, health plans, life sciences, and government. Speaking of data points:

  • HQ now in Ann Arbor, MI
  • New CEO Gerry McCarthy from CEO of eSolutions, a former Francisco Partners portfolio company that exited to Waystar in October 2020
  • The former general manager, Paul Roma, will be a Senior Advisor to Francisco Partners
  • Merative will have six product families: Health Insights; MarketScan; Clinical Development; Social Program Management and Phytel; Micromedex, and Merge Imaging 
  • Other investors include True Wind Capital and Sixth Street

Since 2015, IBM had built up Watson Health through four acquisitions and over $4 billion in investment. They sold it for perhaps $1 billion to get it off their books. Once upon a time they were the leader, now they’re up against Oracle and a dozen other competitors like IQVIA that sell connectedness and ‘actionable insights’ across and in chunks of their business (example, life sciences). Given the track record of the controlling private equity partner, Merative needs to become profitable quickly. Merative will not be a long term investment for them. FierceHealthcare. Our prior coverage: 7 Jan, 22 Jan, 25 Feb (Who needs Watson Health?)

Also apparently up for sale to the right buyer is One Medical. The clinic group flirted with but ultimately sent packing CVS Health. One Medical offers concierge in-person and telehealth primary care in seven metros and has over 700,000 members. They bought Medicare value-based primary care provider group Iora Health a year ago [TTA 11 June] but since then their stock (trading under 1Life Healthcare) and valuation has cracked by 75%. Not mentioned in the Bloomberg article is whether Iora is included in the possible deal.

And for those who like their Hackermania on the Wild Side, there’s a massive list over at Wired that racks up the Greatest Hits. It’s only halfway through 2022, but the data breaching and ransomware perps have multiplied. From Russia/Ukraine to extortion gangs like Conti and Lapsus$ to cryptocurrency theft and China, the Old Reliable Healthcare continues to star. Our recent list is here but topping out the Wired list are Shields Health Care Group, Baptist Health System, Resolute Health Hospital, Kaiser Permanente, and Yuma Regional Medical Center. Also Becker’s.