TTA’s Summer Rehearsal: Walmart’s drones, Verizon’s breaches, Oracle’s EU OK–maybe, AWS’ Geisinger win, ElliQ’s NY debut, and to white coat or not on virtual visits

 

 

Weekly Alert

A little bit of everything as we move towards the unofficial start of summer in the US. Walmart expands its drone delivery, AWS gains a big one in the Healthcare Cloud Wars, and Verizon publishes its latest roundup on IT breaches. Oracle-Cerner moves a little closer to full international approval. There’s an Aging2.0 challenge, a substantial RPM raise, and NY seniors get robots. And to white coat or not on a telehealth consult.

Thursday’s short takes: Walmart’s delivery drones expand, AWS lands Geisinger for AI and cloud, UHG-Kaia Health partner for virtual MSK therapy (Droning on and the Cloud Wars accelerate)
ElliQ companion robot, NYSOFA partner for NY older adult assistance (Will they like it?)
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 (Breaches multiply, and Lisa Suennen’s take on what to expect from the current financial craziness)
To white coat, or not to white coat? That is the telehealth doctor question. (A short, refreshing read through the history of the medical white coat)

Our strange May continues with a lot of legal activity, including the tale of one doctor who side gigged as Dr. Mabuse. Telehealth continues a wobbly path, with claims down along with Amwell’s performance. And Cerner has more problems, this time with DOD and VA. But a new Perspective gives us hope that the UK can save more than £14 bn through TEC–and there’s always self-driving cars for med delivery!  

Thursday legal news roundup: Oscar Health accused of IPO securities fraud; Venezuelan cardiologist moonlights as cybercriminal, faces slammer; Change Healthcare sues former employee now at Olive AI (When lawsuit news outstrips M&A, it’s not good)
Cerner EHR implementation with both DOD and VA running into interoperability, other problems: Federal audit (More process problems being sorted out in public)
Perspectives: Where next for technology-enabled care after 2025? (Is £14bn in savings over the next 10 years an underestimate?)
News roundup: telehealth claims drop 9% in February; Amwell’s good news, bad news Q1; tech-enabled practice Crossover Health growing; NowRx and Hyundai test semi-self-driving delivery (One hopes those Hyundai Ionics drive better than telehealth’s performing)

May’s ups and downs, with the stock market drowning out healthcare. Cerebral confirmed their Federal investigation for prescribing practices, putting a bucket of cold water on this hot sector. But good news pokes its head out, with a Johns Hopkins study that telehealth is benefiting the underserved and urban, not just the affluent and young. More good news with a telecare pioneer receiving the top award for UK enterprise.

Alertacall receives Queen’s Award For Enterprise: Innovation (An outstanding recognition for a telecare pioneer in this Platinum Jubilee Year)
CMS telehealth pandemic waivers boosted usage among disadvantaged, urban patients (Tide lifting all boats, and that’s good)
DOJ investigates telemental Cerebral on over-prescribing of controlled medications (A flashing warning sign for investors)

An unusual April has wrapped, but May has gotten off to an unsettling start, from the stock market to telehealth’s leaders such as Teladoc. Hot areas like telemental health and prescribing are (deservedly) under scrutiny, and Noom’s losing more than pounds. But a sign of normality is that ATA is back in person, and there were many announcements with significance. 

Weekend news and deals roundup: Allscripts closes sale of hospital EHRs, closing out CEO; DEA scrutiny of Cerebral’s ADHD telehealth prescribing; more telehealth fraud; Noom lays off; fundings; and why healthcare AI is only ML (Looks like some cleaning up is going on)
ATA conference roundup: a new board chair, a digital app review pilot, and company announcements (Hopkins study, BioIntelliSense, Connect America, AliveCor, Withings, more)
Some thoughts on Teladoc and the Week That Was in telehealth (When the whales are in trouble, there may be opportunities for the minnows)


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April is proving to be an active month for something other than rain and blooming cherry trees. A new CEO for Tunstall. Tivity and MobileHelp are sold. UnitedHealth and Optum won’t give up on Change, including a hefty break fee, nor big buys. On the retail front, Walmart finally opens up Florida superstores powered by Epic, and Walgreens ‘corners’ with Blue Shield in California. Some local telehealth grants and the surprising vitality of audio telehealth for the underserved. And, to no one’s surprise, digital health got off to a slow start in Q1.

Tunstall Healthcare announces new group CEO, Emil Peters (More changing of the guard) 

Weekend roundup: telehealth claims ticked up again in January, Walmart opens Florida health ‘superstores’, Blue Shield California partners with Walgreens’ Health Corners 
Thursday roundup: UHG/Optum, Change extend merger deadline to 31 Dec, buys Kelsey-Seybold; $2B Tivity Health sale; General Dynamics enters derm AI diagnostics; MobileHelp PERS sold to Advocate Aurora (A recovery in the works?)
Digital health funding’s Q1 hangover from 2021’s bender–and Q2 is a question mark, even for Rock Health (Some companies have aching heads still)
Wisconsin’s $5M for child psychiatry, community telehealth; FQHC patients prefer audio-only telehealth–Rand (Back to the roots of telehealth for less health served populations)


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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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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

News, deals, rumors roundup: Cerner’s DOD and VA go-lives, Akili’s ADHD therapy SPACs, Talkiatry’s $37M raise, Alto sings a $200M supper–and the Cigna-Centene rumors don’t stop

While Cerner’s acquisition by Oracle is winding its way through regulatory approvals, their EHR implementations are moving forward through both the Military Health System (Department of Defense) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

  • Within the MHS, Brooke Army Medical Center and Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, both in the San Antonio (Texas) Market, went live with MHS GENESIS on 22 January. The change most visible to patients is the transition from TRICARE Online to the MHS GENESIS Patient Portal which enables 24/7 access for visit notes, secure messaging, test results, appointment scheduling, and online prescription renewal. MHS covers military retirees, active military, and family beneficiaries. According to the MHS’s website, the goal this year is to get to halfway–to implement MHS GENESIS in more than half of all military hospitals and clinics. It’s been taking place since 2017 and, in true military fashion, it’s planned in waves. Coming up are Naval Medical Center Camp Lejeune in South Carolina on 19 March and William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso in summer.
  • VA is moving far more slowly, just getting to its second hospital. The Columbus VA go-live has been pushed back from 5 March to 30 April, citing training slowdowns due to a spike in staff COVID cases. Walla Walla, Washington is set for after Columbus, but the date is to be confirmed. The first, failed implementation at Spokane’s Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center in late 2020 was the subject of Federal hearings and a complete redo in VA’s plans and procedures in cutting over from VistA to Cerner Millenium. TTA 28 July and previous. Federal News Network

Akili Interactive, which has developed tech-driven, game-based cognitive therapies for ADHD and other psychiatric and neurological conditions, has gone public through a SPAC via a merger with Social Capital Suvretta Holdings Corp. I, The transaction is expected to close in mid-2022. Akili will be listed on the Nasdaq stock market under the new ticker symbol AKLI.

The SPAC is expected to provide up to $412 million in gross cash proceeds and value the company at over $1 billion. Investors in the $162 million PIPE are Suvretta Capital Management’s Averill strategy, Apeiron Investment Group, Temasek, co-founder PureTech Health, Polaris Partners, Evidity Health Capital, JAZZ Venture Partners, and Omidyar Technology Ventures. The funds raised will support the commercial debut of EndeavorRx, a FDA-cleared and CE-marked prescription digital therapeutic for pediatric ADHD. The technology is termed the Selective Stimulus Management Engine (SSME) and will be rolled out for ADHD, ASD, MS, and MDD treatment.

TTA noted Akili last year in a trial of AKL-T01 at several hospitals for treatment of long-COVID-related cognition problems. Unfortunately, the writing in their SPAC release made this Editor feel like she needed a few treatments.

Mentalhealthtech (psychtech?) continues to attract funding. Psychiatric care startup Talkiatry topped off its July $20 million raise with an additional $17 million from Left Lane Capital for a $37 million Series A financing round. CityMD founder Dr. Richard Park, Sikwoo Capital Partners, and Relevance Ventures also participated. Talkiatry uses an online assessment for a preliminary diagnosis and then matches you with a participating psychiatrist.  It is in-network with payers such as Cigna, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare (Oxford Health Plan), Oscar, and Humana. Funding will be used to expand beyond NYC. Mobihealthnews

Digital pharmacy is also hot. Alto, which promises same-day filling and courier delivery, raised a $200 million Series E led by Softbank Vision Fund. Their total to date is over $550 million. Alto serves selected areas mainly in California, Nevada, Texas, and NYC (Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn). Competitors Capsule had another raise of $300 million in April for a total of $570 million and Medly raised a $100 million Series B in 2020. Mobihealthnews

In the wake turbulence of Centene’s dramatic management shakeup last month [TTA 18 Dec], rumors continue to surface that insurer Cigna is interested in acquiring all, or possibly part, of Centene. Bloomberg News in publishing its article earlier this week cited ‘people familiar with the matter’ said that talks took place last year, but that they are not ongoing. Seeking Alpha picked this up, adding market activity boosting Centene. Perhaps the disclosure and the ‘denials’ align with what this Editor has heard–that it’s very much ongoing but under wraps.

A Centene buy makes sense, but only with Cigna. While Cigna is almost double the market value of Centene, it does not have the sprawling business model the latter has, nor do their businesses overlap much. However, some divestiture would be needed to do a deal, given the constrained regulatory environment in the US on the Federal and state levels. Any insurer merger is seen as anti-competitive, unless it is an acquisition of a smaller, struggling plan. 

It certainly would vault Cigna into the top rank of insurers with non-Centene branded exchange, Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans, a provider network, an established MSO, and other lines of business including Magellan behavioral health management. Cigna might also value Centene’s international holdings, such as private hospitals Circle Health in the UK and Ribera in Spain. A sale would also create a quick and profitable ROI for Politan Capital Management, the activist investor company that initiated the retirement of 25 year CEO Michael Neidorff last month, rather than managing and reorganizing the sprawl of Centene’s businesses to make it more profitable.

Update roundup: Change Healthcare sale to UnitedHealth Group/Optum may hinge on divesting, Oracle on Cerner exec departure packages up to $22 million

It looks likely that Change Healthcare will have to do some divesting in order to be bought by UnitedHealth Group. Bloomberg reported that ClaimsXten, part of Change’s Payment Integrity (PI) business, may be sold to facilitate the purchase. Sale price may be as high as $1 billion. Credit Suisse‘s analysis points out that ClaimsXten is only one part of the PI business, and more may have to be sold in PI or possibly in other lines of business. It also may not be enough to facilitate the sale though the move may be a hopeful one in the face of multiple challenges. UHG has already pushed the date forward to 5 April as we noted back in December, when it was barely noticed in the major shakeup at fellow payer Centene. Seeking Alpha

Cerner has disclosed additional details in an SEC Schedule 14D-9 on lead executive and associate compensation as part of the sale to Oracle, and it’s eye-blinking. Non-employee directors and executive officers will receive payments for their shares and cashed out compensatory awards in the Table of Equity Related Payments.  HISTalk calculated total ‘golden parachute’ packages and severances for the following:

  • President and CEO David Feinberg $22 million (company tenure – less than four months)–$17 million alone termed a ‘golden parachute’
  • EVP/CFO Marc Erceg $11 million (company tenure – less than one year)
  • EVP/CTO Jerome Labat – $11 million (company tenure – 19 months)
  • Former Chairman and CEO Brent Shafer — $21 million

Only two executives listed, CEO David Feinberg and CTO Jerome Labat, have waived ‘change of control’ separation payments as they will be continuing with Oracle [TTA 21 Jan].

If you’re an ordinary associate, from the wording, your vested shares will be cashed out (typical in change of control) and unvested shares will be rolled over to Oracle equivalents and not cashed out. Change of control benefits go only so far down the line. There is no language covering the status of unvested shares if you are one of the unlucky ones terminated due to the merger.

HISTalk also distilled a timeline from the background and board recommendation of how Cerner became open to purchase. There were risks from competition, retention of key technical employees, the risks in government contracting, and making their business goals.

News, acquisitions, funding roundup: Cerner CEO, CTO’s ‘stay-with-conditions’ deal, Quest buying Pack Health coaching platform, Wheel’s $150M Series C, mental health’s bubbly Lyra Health’s $235M and Big Health’s $75M

Cerner CEO, CTO sticking around after Oracle acquisition, but there’s a catch. Cerner’s recently started CEO (August), Dr. David Weinberg, and their chief technology officer, Jerome Labat, both received ‘stay deals’ to remain with Oracle for 12 months from the closing date. The language in the SEC filing discloses the conditions. It’s a typical waiver of the right to leave for ‘good reason’ or ‘constructive termination’ if Oracle adversely changes their authority, duties, position, or responsibilities, which would trigger their ‘change in control’ severance. In return for the waiver, even if assigned to the data center in the Yukon, they will receive their severance benefits ($4.5 million and $2.3 million in cash respectively plus stock vesting) a year and one day later, even if they remain with Cerner. One wonders how far down the top management this goes. Becker’s Hospital Review, HISTalk

Quest Diagnostics is buying Pack Health, a chronic conditions care management, coaching, and patient engagement platform. Term details other than an all-cash equity deal were not disclosed. Pack coaches across 30 chronic conditions to address patient mental health, lifestyle behaviors, access to care, and social determinants of health (SDOH) factors. They market to payers for care management and life science companies for medication adherence. Pack will be added to Quest Extended Care, which includes Quest HealthConnect, a provider of in-person home-based risk assessment and monitoring services to supplement clinical care. The sale is expected to close in Q1. Release

Wheel, an Austin, Texas-based clinical platform that combines turnkey virtual primary care, behavioral health, urgent care, and diagnostic telehealth, announced a $150 million Series C, bringing total funding since 2018 to $215.6 million. The round was co-led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Tiger Global. New investors Coatue and Salesforce Ventures participated in the round along with existing investors. Funds will be used to scale their platform. In 2021, they claimed 1.3 million patient visits in 2021 and is expected to triple visit volume by the end of 2022. Release

And corporate-focused mental health tech stays frothy with Lyra Health completing a $235 million Series F, bringing their funding to over $900 million with a valuation now pegged at $5.85 billion. Lyra is planning international expansion with all that loot. The round was led by Dragoneer, plus (again) Salesforce Ventures and existing investor Coatue Management. Lyra claims that it presently serves 10 million global employees. FierceHealthcare, release

Not-quite-as Big Health, which also claims millions of corporate and health system users including the NHS (offered for free in Scotland and select postal codes), raised $75 million in a Series C, led by Softbank Vision Fund 2 with ArrowMark Partners and existing investors Octopus Ventures, Gilde Healthcare, Kaiser Permanente Ventures (KPV), and Morningside Ventures. Big Health started in the UK, and our Readers there may be more familiar with their apps–Sleepio (first mentioned here in 2013! for insomnia) and Daylight (for anxiety). Big Health departed the UK for San Francisco and its greener money pastures back in 2015, noted here. Release

Further insights on and thoughts about the Oracle acquisition of Cerner

HISTalk, with its focus on health IT and generally short mentions without opinion on the news, in today’s issue includes some thoughts on the Oracle-Cerner deal, including a rare “Announcements and Requests” inviting reader thoughts on the acquisition’s effect on several issues. Also rare: a lengthy anonymous comment from a healthcare CIO.

A few highlights–your Editor recommends you go to the article for more:

  • Oracle’s free cash is far less than the purchase price at $23 billion. They will need additional financing to complete the Cerner acquisition.
  • Announcements and Requests: will customers on the fence between Epic and Cerner run towards the less uncertain choice? Will the Cerner VA and DOD business be affected? How does this affect Cerner’s implementations of cloud services, currently AWS versus Oracle’s Gen2, as well as healthcare’s usage of  InterSystems Cache versus Oracle’s relational databases? And will Oracle’s Voice Digital Assistant as the user interface to Cerner Millenium really fly?
  • From Change of Control: How key to the deal was CEO David Feinberg MD, who only joined in October? No matter what, he’s now a very wealthy man.
  • From On-Demand: Oracle is buying its way into healthcare. Cerner lost a lot of ground in executive changes and a less than effective CEO. (Editor’s note: This dates back to 2017–the illness and untimely death of Neal Patterson, the co-founder and CEO, at age 67 and president Zane Burke’s departure the following year after 20 years for the CEO spot at Livongo, which undoubtedly made him a wealthy man!)
  • From Anonymous Health System CIO’s Initial Thoughts: Their biggest problems are 1) people and process.”Cerner has struggled to maintain competent staff that understand healthcare and individual customer workflows. Throughout our implementations, we had major challenges with project management, availability of experienced staff, and the ability to help us make informed decisions.”  2) “If Oracle is going to help reduce the cost of healthcare, they also need to help find savings for their customers.” 

All these should be of concern to Cerner as they–and their people–try to maintain momentum until the acquisition closes. Customer uncertainty, staff competence, and Oracle’s lack of background in how healthcare operates (including a history of pulling some ‘fast ones’ around cloud licensing, as well as understanding clinician preferences such as Dragon as a voice assistant) are undoubtedly giving some investors–and hospital systems–pause. Hat tip to HISTalk. Our earlier coverage here.

One final comment from Editor Donna: Never underestimate the power of a CEO’s ego–especially one who is routinely compared to God, at least in TechWorld–in wanting One Last Coup to burnish his escutcheon, before that Long Sail Into The Sunset on his yacht Musashi.

(Breaking) Sold! Cerner to Oracle for $28.3 billion. And is Epic next?

That bombshell came in fast! From the rumor mill to reality, from last Thursday to today (Monday), Oracle and Cerner announced their deal today at 9.37am ET. It is a bracing all-cash deal at $95/share plus debt assumption totaling $28.3 billion, expected to be immediately accretive to Oracle’s earnings. Closing is anticipated sometime in 2022. It is subject to considerable regulatory (SEC and likely DOJ) and shareholder approvals. It’s Oracle’s largest deal ever, but so far their share price is not appreciative of the big move.

According to the Oracle release, Cerner and its EHR plus related systems will be organized as a dedicated Industry Business Unit within Oracle. No transition information was included, although towards the end it’s stated that “Oracle intends to maintain and grow Cerner’s community presence, including in the Kansas City area, while utilizing Oracle’s global footprint to reach new geographies faster.”

Both the Oracle and Cerner releases (headlining their home page in gigantic type) are written totally from Oracle’s POV–no shilly-shallying about how Cerner will guide them into the healthcare arena or a meeting of like companies, et al. It’s all about how Oracle will transform healthcare.

Changes will be coming to Cerner. Between the lines, they are not painted in the best light. From the Mike Cecelia (EVP, Vertical Industries) quote, “Oracle’s Autonomous Database, low-code development tools, and Voice Digital Assistant user interface enables us to rapidly modernize Cerner’s systems and move them to our Gen2 Cloud. This can be done very quickly because Cerner’s largest business and most important clinical system already runs on the Oracle Database. No change required there. What will change is the user interface. (Ed. emphasis) We will make Cerner’s systems much easier to learn and use by making Oracle’s hands-free Voice Digital Assistant the primary interface to Cerner’s clinical systems. This will allow medical professionals to spend less time typing on computer keyboards and more time caring for patients.”

There is also no mention of Cerner’s challenges with the VA. What are the implications with the Cerner implementations there and with DOD?

Do anticipate much industry speculation on David Feinberg, MD, who only this fall joined Cerner as CEO, and his role in this. The most logical is that he’ll shepherd the sale till the close and exit stage left, well-rewarded, with his future (only 59) still ahead, unless Oracle sees a role for him. In its way, it broke Cerner out of a corner that they were painted into with EHRs. At the end of the day, will there be a Cerner?

And what about Epic? A more complex picture, as Epic Systems is wholly private, on a roll, and dominated by Judy Feinberg, the founder and CEO. However, she is 78, and both personal and corporate considerations on future planning must loom large. What would Epic be worth to an acquirer? And who would it be? Amazon? IBM? (a terrible fit after the Watson Health debacle), Salesforce? Microsoft? Hmmmmm…. CNBCTechCrunch, HealthcareITNews   Our earlier coverage here.

Oracle in negotiations to buy Cerner for $30B (sold!)

2021 may go out with a bang! The Wall Street Journal (paywalled) reported late Thursday that software colossus Oracle was in discussions with EHR giant Cerner to buy it, lock stock dropdown menus and workflows. And soon, according to the WSJ‘s sources. The reported amount is $30 billion.

It would be Oracle’s most expensive purchase ever, much more than PeopleSoft (HR) in 2005 and NetSuite in 2016. Given their valuations, Cerner is a snack at $23 billion for Oracle at $280 billion. But Cerner gives Oracle four-star entree to healthcare and practice systems. Oracle has long seen healthcare as a growth area for cloud computing services targeted to payers, hospitals, and health systems, and has clients like Cleveland Clinic and Kaiser. Back in June 2020, they launched a cloud service collecting clinical data from sensors, patient apps, EHRs, and labs supporting therapy development. 

As our Readers know, David Feinberg, MD left Google Health to join Cerner as president and CEO on 1 October [TTA 21 August] in a $34.5 million compensation package [TTA 24 August]. An acquisition by Oracle, in such a short time, can be interpreted as either a coup he engineered for the shareholders (and for his benefit, as change of control usually vests the package!), or he can be viewed as a placeholder for the top spot on a previously moving deal. Both are mature companies. While Cerner has been losing market share to Epic and has had many woes with its $18 billion VA Cerner Millenium implementation [TTA 3 Dec, 28 July], it also generates $1 billion per year in free cash flow and Oracle can institute operational efficiencies to increase profit margins. In the view of some, Oracle is returning to an aggressive market strategy that most felt it left behind.

Oracle shareholders didn’t like it much today, with shares declining over 6% on Friday to $96.67. But Cerner’s liked it a lot, increasing price nearly 13% to $89.77. Kansas City-based Cerner also had 150 layoffs in November in its 28,000 employee staff. Oracle recently relocated from California to Austin, Texas, shrinking its office footprint. Seeking Alpha 17 Dec, 17 Dec AM; Kansas City Star, Becker’s HealthIT

Updated–see our short article on the sale for $28.3 billion here.

Comings and goings: Cuts hit Athenahealth, IBM Watson’s Drug Discovery unit; Bain may sell Waystar RCM

Athenahealth has announced they are trimming 4 percent of their total workforce. With a large 900-person campus in Belfast, Maine that once belonged to MBNA credit cards, and a workforce of about 5,000 headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts, there is considerable local concern in an area of Maine that offers few well-paying jobs. Reportedly dozens of jobs there will be lost. This caps a tumultuous period with the company. Athenahealth was acquired last November by Veritas Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital, then merged with a GE Healthcare spinoff they owned, Virence Health, in value-based care, under the Athenahealth name. Bangor Daily News

IBM Watson’s Drug Discovery product, which was targeted to pharmaceutical companies, is being cut back to work with only current partners and with clinical trials due to poor sales. According to The Register, a tart-tongued UK tech website which actually reached an IBM spokesperson, IBM’s Ed Barbini stated that “We are not discontinuing our Watson for Drug Discovery offering, and we remain committed to its continued success for our clients currently using the technology.” Also Seeking Alpha. IBM Watson and Watson Health, like Athenahealth, are moving through a rocky period of closing initiatives (Watson Workplace), layoffs, executive departures (head Deborah DeSanzo last November), bad publicity, and clients like MD Anderson who don’t part quietly. [TTA 8 Nov 18].

Another merged health infotech company may have a new owner soon. Waystar, which was formed by the acquisition of ZirMed and Navicure in 2017 and manages revenue cycles for 450,000 practices, is rumored to be up for sale by owner Bain Capital. Interested parties include Visa and OracleBloomberg

The Theranos Story, ch. 27: investor ‘whales’ surface in class action lawsuit news

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/jacobs-well-texas-woe1.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Don’t jump…you may land on one of them! In the Bottomless Well that is The Unicorn Losing Its Horn, The Transubstantiation of a $9 bn valuation to $9, to mix up a Whole Lotta Metaphors, the latest is that Certain Big Investors (‘whales’ in Vegas Lingo) and at least one minnow have lost their shirts, or maybe their sleeves and cuff links.

The first is via a class action lawsuit filed Monday against Theranos in San Francisco Federal Court by Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, seeking to represent potentially hundreds of purchasers of Theranos shares from July 29, 2013, through October 5, 2016 .

According to the Wall Street Journal, the charges relate to “false and misleading claims about its operations and technology while soliciting money from investors.” Hagens Berman is representing Silicon Valley investment banker Robert Colman, who is the retired co-founder of Robertson Stephens & Co. (a legendary, now defunct, investment bank specializing in tech that blew up after the dot-com bust). He invested through a VC fund, Lucas Venture Group, who participated in Theranos’ Series G funding in late 2013. Lucas was invited to invest $15 million, and their principals had personal ties to Elizabeth Holmes, according to TechCrunch. The second plaintiff, Hilary Taubman-Dye, purchased Theranos shares at $19/share on SharesPost Inc., an online exchange for shares of private companies, in August 2015. Her claim is that she tried to cancel it after the Wall Street Journal exposé in October, but the purchase went through in December after Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes and an unidentified third party refused to buy back the shares as a secondary transaction. TechCrunch identified her as a “longtime technical recruiter who now works in investor relations for a TV production company” which means that her investment was likely no bag of shells for her. Their respective investments are not disclosed.

The second, according to a second article in the Journal, comes from the usual ‘sources familiar with the matter’ and papers filed by Theranos in Delaware and Arizona. These include some very atypical startup investors, such as Rupert Murdoch of News Corp. and family-controlled Cox Enterprises, at $100 million each in the 2014-15 round when shares were valued at $17/each, and an undisclosed amount by Riley Bechtel of Bechtel Group, who was later named to the board of directors. Other, more typical Silicon Valley investments date back to when Theranos was the more pedestrianly named Real Time Cures in 2004 and the shares were 15 cents each:

  • Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison
  • VCs from firms such as ATA Ventures and Draper Fisher Jurvetson. The latter’s Tim Draper and his daughter (!) have been quite critical of anyone, especially John Carreyrou of the WSJ, claiming that Ms Holmes was perhaps mistaken in her scientific and business practices. (Partner Jurvetson in reports has expressed a more ‘que será, será’ attitude.) (more…)