- NewYork-Presbyterian, Walgreens (Duane Reade) and American Well: Kiosks located in private rooms at select Duane Reade drugstores (left above) connect to NYP OnDemand using American Well telemedicine and Weill Cornell Medicine emergency medicine physicians. In addition to the live consult, the patient can send select vital signs information to the doctor using a forehead thermometer, a blood pressure cuff, a pulse oximeter, and a dermascope for a high-resolution view of skin conditions. Pediatric emergency physicians are available through NYP OnDemand weekdays between 6 – 9pm. Prescriptions are e-prescribed to the patient’s preferred pharmacy. The first kiosk opened this week at 40 Wall Street with additional locations to open in 2018. NYP OnDemand telemedicine consults are also available to NY area residents through the Walgreens website. American Well release, Healthcare IT News, MedCityNews
- H4D (Health for Development): French doctor Franck Baudino wanted to reach those who live in what the French term ‘health deserts’ in their rural areas. Over the past nine years, he developed a booth-type kiosk connecting to a live doctor and with vitals instrumentation. The Consult Station is fully equipped with a wide range of vitals instrumentation, including vision, audio, eye, and blood glucose, functioning almost as a remote doctor’s office. In France, to gain access, all users need do is pop in their carte vitale. Reportedly the kiosks can treat 90 percent of common illnesses. Prescriptions are printed out in the booth. Consult Stations are now in France, Italy, Portugal, Philippines, Canada, Belgium, UAE and were recently cleared by FDA as a Class II device. ZDNet
We have scant facts about the reported bid of US drugstore giant CVS to purchase insurance giant Aetna for a tidy sum of $200 per share, or $66 billion plus. This may have been in development for weeks or months, but wisely the sides are keeping mum. According to FOX Business, “an Aetna spokesperson declined to chime in on the reports, saying the company doesn’t “comment on rumors or speculation” and to Drug Store News, a CVS Health spokesperson did the same. Aetna’s current market cap is $53 billion, so it’s a great deal for shareholders if it does happen.
Both parties have sound reasons to consider a merger:
- CVS, like all retailers, is suffering from the Amazon Effect at its retail stores
- Retail mergers are done with the Walgreens Boots Alliance–Rite Aid merger going through considerable difficulties until approved last month
- The US DOJ and Congress has signaled its disapproval of any major payer merger (see the dragged-out drama of Aetna-Humana)
- It has reportedly had problems with its pharmacy benefit management (PBM) arm from insurers like Optum (United HealthCare), and only last week announced that it was forming a PBM with another giant, Anthem, called IngenioRx (which to Forbes is a reason why this merger won’t happen–this Editor calls it ‘hedging one’s bets’ or ‘leverage’)
- Aetna was hard hit by the (un)Affordable Care Act (ACA), and in May announced its complete exit from individual care plans by next year. Losses were $700 million between 2014 and 2016, with over $200 million in 2017 estimated (and this is prior to the Trump Administration’s ending of subsidies).
- It’s a neat redesign of the payer/provider system. This would create an end-to-end system: insurance coverage from Aetna, CVS’ Minute Clinics delivering care onsite, integrated PBM, retail delivery of care, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies–plus relationships with many hospital providers (see list here)–this Editor is the first to note this CVS relationship with providers.
We will be in for more regulatory drama, of course–and plenty of competitor reaction. Can we look forward to others such as:
- Walgreens Boots with Anthem or Cigna (currently at each others’ throats in Delaware court)
- Other specialized, Medicare Advantage/Medicare/Medicaid networks such as Humana or WellCare?
- Will supermarkets, also big retail pharmacy providers, get into the act? Publix, Wegmans, Shop Rite or Ahold (Stop & Shop, Giant) buying regionals or specialty insurers like the above, a Blue or two, Oscar, Clover, Bright Health….or seeking alliances?
- And then, there’s Amazon and Whole Foods….no pharmacy in-house at Whole Foods, but talk about a delivery system?
UPDATED. In seeking an update for the Anthem-Cigna ‘Who Shot John’ court action about breakup fees (there isn’t yet), this Editor came across a must-read analysis in Health Affairs
higi, the wellness kiosk + consumer engagement program, received an infusion of ‘vitamin B’–as in Series B–from Blue Cross Blue Shield Venture Partners. The exact amount is undisclosed in reports. This adds to their Jan 2016 $40 million venture round (Crunchbase). BCBS Venture Partners is the investment arm of the BlueCross BlueShield trade association, which licenses the BCBS names to insurers.
They also took the opportunity to announce their acquisition of the EveryMove fitness tracker/wellness incentive app primarily marketed to employers. The tie-in is that higi’s wellness program also integrates data from 80 different devices, wearables, and apps, plus the kiosk locations. higi claims 11,000 locations at places like RiteAid, Publix and Stop&Shop; 36 million users, 4.5 million who’ve signed up for a higi account and 200 million screenings. Where they need improvement is the number of sticky users who stay with them over time, which is where an employer-based program like EveryMove fits. Built in Chicago, PRNewswire release
AnthemHealth didn’t encrypt, Blueprint Health collects, HealthSpot funds again, Sense4Baby goes to Europe, Apple Health pilots in hospitals and buddi gets bigger still.
Another hack attack claimed major US health insurer AnthemHealth, the former WellPoint. It’s estimated that 80 million of its customers, former customers and employees had data breached: names, addresses, dates of birth, emails, employment information, income, medical IDs and SSIs. The Wall Street Journal reports that Anthem didn’t encrypt data for analytics reasons. It’s unconfirmed where the hackers originated but Bloomberg’s latest report tags the usual Chinese state-sponsored suspects. Unusually, it was reported within days of discovery; Anthem has called in Mandiant (FireEye) to beef up its cybersecurity. Other reports: WSJ, Modern Healthcare….The Blueprint Health accelerator has a new initiative, the Collective. It is designed to pair up major healthcare providers and payers with startups and early stage companies. So far signed up are Aetna, AstraZeneca, HP, Montefiore, North Shore LIJ, New York-Presbyterian, Samsung, EmblemHealth, Philips and Razorfish Healthware. More information here….The HealthSpot Station telehealth/telemedicine kiosk is readying a $11.6 million funding round from four investors soon, based on (more…)
[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/BlueStar-promo-image-WD.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]WellDoc, developer of a prescribable Type 2 diabetes management smartphone app (BlueStar), announced today a $20 million Series A round from Merck Global Health Innovation Fund and Windham Venture Partners. The interest by Merck is understandable in several ways. Pharma companies are moving beyond the meds into other management models as blockbuster drugs become scarce (those cuts in R&D do hurt down the line), operating costs higher and profitable drugs go off patent. Because it is prescribable, BlueStar is reimbursable by US insurers (not disclosed by WellDoc); it is currently offered as a pharmacy benefit by Ford Motor and major drugstore chain RiteAid. In addition to these, WellDoc has developed strong partnerships (AT&T, Alere) since their founding in 2005 (see below). BlueStar also can be considered a strong fit for a Merck subsidiary, Vree Health. (more…)