TTA’s Season of Drear 1: pull plug on VA Cerner EHR?, telehealth expansion in House air, Killnet’s 22 hospital victims, Teladoc’s mishandled Livongo buy, fundings, layoffs, more!

 

 

Weekly Update

Can VA’s Oracle Cerner Millenium Be Saved in the looming Congressional Showdown? Can Congress save telehealth expansion? Can healthcare be saved from relentless cyber attacks? And can Matt Hancock be saved from his run of Bad Luck? Much more this week, plus a Must Read on Teladoc’s mishandled Livongo buy.

Week-end roundup: more House actions on telehealth benefits, VA EHR; Oracle exec moves to FDA digital health; Angle Health raises $58M; layoffs at Akili, Innovaccer, Athenahealth, Mindstrong
News roundup: GoodRx pays $1.5M to FTC on Meta Pixel use, ATA concerns on Covid PHE end, defending Livongo sale to Teladoc, Philips lays off 18K, Amazon health layoffs–and big ’22 loss, Ireland HSE digital head quits, Matt Hancock assaulted on Tube 
Killnet racks up 22 more healthcare cybervictims and data thefts; whitepaper on best defense practices (Cyberattacks are inevitable)
Pull the plug on Oracle Cerner in the VA! Two House Representatives urge return to VistA, send bill to Veterans’ Affairs committee (Back to the drawing board?)

A potpourri of news this week from Google’s antitrust lawsuit (and 6% layoff) to Dollar General’s clinic pilot with DocGo mobile vans. Ransomware attacks by AlphV/BlackCat fizzled and the DOJ knocked out Hive. Significant research on micro samples of blood and post-traumatic biomarkers published. Oracle has more VA/MHS problems, engineering head departs. Some funding and grants. And did Elizabeth Holmes really attempt to flee the country?

Rounding out week: Oracle Health engineering head departs; Hive ransomware KO’d by DOJ; Google sued by DOJ on antitrust, lays off another 12,000; Pearl and Precision Neuro raise, Enabled Healthcare ADAPT grant
Mid-week news roundup: CVS Health Virtual Primary Care launches, VA’s two-day Oracle Cerner EHR slowdown, and microsampling blood + wearables for multiple tests (Not quite a return for the Theranos concept)
Healthcare cyberattack latest: NextGen EHR ransomwared by AlphV/BlackCat, back to normal – 93% of healthcare orgs had 1-5 ransomware incidents (Expect more of this–it’s a movable war)
Using wearables to monitor biomarkers related to neuropsychiatric symptoms post-traumatic event (Significant research)
Theranos Holmes trial updates: did she book a one-way flight to Mexico last year, or were the prosecutors reckless and wrong? (You decide)
CVS, Walgreens, Walmart….Dollar General health clinics? (A low-risk toe in the clinic water)

It must be Mid-Winter Blues, but the news was fairly light this week–even from the JPMorgan health conference, a soggy SFO affair indeed. (At least the streets were cleaned.) Babylon feels ‘misunderstood’, Teladoc lays off 6%. CVS keeps funding and KillNet keeps threatening IT Havoc. Good news from UKTelehealthcare with TECS help for the digital switchover. Plus ISfTeH’s annual meeting now set for Winnipeg and news from ATA.

Industry org news: ISfTeH International Conference call for presentations, new leaders for ATA Policy Council (Good news!)
UKTelehealthcare launches TECS consultancy in partnership with TECS Advisory (Expert help on the digital switch)
Interesting pickups from JPM on CVS, Talkspace, Veradigm backs Holmusk, ‘misunderstood’ Babylon Health; six takeaways (News from a damp, dreary, insane JPM)
Teladoc laying off 6%, reducing real estate, in move to “balanced growth” and profitability (Nice move if they can do it)
‘KillNet’ Russian hacktivist group targeting US, UK health info in Ukraine revenge: HHS HC3 report (Healthcare becomes a side battle)

A mulligan stew of a week. CVS moving in on primary care with (possibly) Oak Street, funding Carbon Health in-store clinics while the latter downsizes. Walgreens’ VillageMD closed on Summit Health and Teladoc paints a brighter revenue picture with BetterHelp. Rock Health quantified a deflated 2022 year in funding, but M&A/VC investment still proceeds in its ‘boring’ way. Verily, Alphabet’s wandering ‘bet’, finally gets a needed trim. And Theranos is still in the news from appeals to post-prison requirements.

Weekend short takes: Theranos’ Holmes post-prison mental health + more on Shultz and Balwani; global M&A, funding roundup
Rock Health puts a kind-of-positive spin on digital health’s ‘annus horribilis’ 2022–a boring 2023
Mid-week roundup: Teladoc gets BetterHelp to boost Q4 ’22 revenue; fundings for Array, Paytient, Telesair, three others; layoffs hit at Alphabet’s Verily, Cue Health
CVS works their plan in Oak Street Health buy talks, Carbon Health $100M investment + clinic pilot; VillageMD-Summit finalizes (updated)
Theranos trial updates: Holmes’ freedom on appeal bid opposed; Balwani files appeal to conviction

Two surprises not under the Christmas tree or New Year’s hat. The ITC upheld AliveCor patents and damages versus Apple, pending their PTAB appeal, and Amazon got its first state approval for One Medical. As expected, telehealth’s national Medicare reimbursement was extended for two years, setting policy for health plans. And NHS advanced rapid stroke diagnosis with Brainomix trial in 22 hospital trust trial, tripling near-full recoveries to 48%.

Weekend news roundup: GE Healthcare spins off, adds CTO; Allscripts now Veradigm; NHS Brainomix AI stroke trial success; Withings home urine scanner; Careficient buys Net Health EMR; CommonSpirit’s class action suit on data breach
Amazon-One Medical gains conditional OK in Oregon–a preview of coming scrutiny?
(What happens at the big state and Fed level?)
Telehealth extensions signed into US law with Federal FY 2023 omnibus bill (Major breakthrough to widen nationally reimbursed telehealth)
Split decision! ITC rules that Apple violated AliveCor patents; enforcement held for PTAB appeal (David v Goliath continues!)

A potpourri of news wraps 2022, starting with confirming how telehealth can stand on its own even in specialty care visits and its continued strength in mental health. In the US, most telehealth expansion is confirmed for two years. But as predicted, DEA is going hard after ADHD misprescribing — a unicorn may lose its horn as a result. Oracle is erasing Cerner’s home town presence as Epic stomps a patent troll. And beware of DDoS–it may distract from more nefarious cybercrimes.

We wish our Readers all the happiness of the season, as we look forward to the start of the New Year. We’ll be back with new articles after 2 January. 

We wish our Readers a happy, healthy holiday season and New Year!
News roundup: DDoS attacks may be ‘smokescreen’, DEA slams Truepill with ‘show cause’, telehealth claims stabilize at 5.4%, Epic squashes patent troll, Cerner meeting exits KC, MedOrbis, Kahun partner on AI intake (From cybercrime to Cerner, c-c-c-changes roll)
Telehealth two-year extensions included in US Federal ‘omnibus’ budget bill (Tucked into a Moby Dick-sized whale of a bill)
Few specialty telehealth visits require in-person follow up within 90 days: Epic Research study 2020-2022 (Findings, though, may be pandemically skewed)

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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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News roundup: GoodRx pays $1.5M to FTC on Meta Pixel use, ATA concerns on Covid PHE end, defending Livongo sale to Teladoc, Philips lays off 18K, Amazon health layoffs–and big ’22 loss, Ireland HSE digital head quits, Matt Hancock assaulted on Tube

Rounding up the week–and it’s not over. 

Prescription discounter GoodRx settled with the FTC for $1.5 million for the unauthorized sharing of user health data with Facebook, Google, Criteo, and other advertising sites. GoodRx used the Meta Pixel and other Javascript trackers in software development kits (SDK) for sharing user data with third-party advertisers. They would then be capable of serving personalized health and medication-specific ads to GoodRx users. This differs from the earlier Meta Pixel incidents which involved hospitals using the tracker on their website appointment schedulers and patient portals which exposed personal health information (PHI) under HIPAA regulations. GoodRx is not a covered entity, thus does not fall under HIPAA violations of PHI.

For the first time, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) used the Health Breach Notification Rule, created in 2009, in charging GoodRx in a Federal court with misuse of consumer health information. The action was taken in US District Court for the Northern District of California, which has yet to approve the FTC order and the settlement.

GoodRx responded to the charges in their release that they stopped using pixel trackers in 2019 to protect user privacy. The trackers transmitted no PHI but primarily IP addresses and web page URL information. GoodRx maintains that this is a “novel application” of the Health Breach rule. But they settled with the FTC to avoid ‘the time and expense of protracted litigation’ on privacy issues they’ve already updated. HISTalk, The Markup, FierceHealthcare  TTA’s Meta Pixel articles

The good news for most of us is that the Public Health Emergency for Covid-19 will be ending 11 May. Not such good news, according to ATA and ATA Action, for mental health patients. While the omnibus budget passed at the end of the 117th Congress last year extended many telehealth provisions for two years [TTA 4 Jan], it did not extend the remote prescribing of controlled substances as part of the Ryan Haight Act. They are urging the Drug Enforcement Administration to release its rules for special registration for telemedicine as a first step. Release

With Teladoc’s $6.6 billion writeoff of the costs of acquiring Livongo in Q1 2022 [TTA 4 May 22], did Teladoc pick up an $18 Billion Bunch of Lemons in Livongo? Or did Teladoc mess up the expensive buy? You have to hand it to MedCityNews’ Arundhati Parmar for asking that burning question of Zane Burke, who was Livongo’s CEO at the time and the engineer of the sale, now CEO of Quantum Health. Not surprisingly, he said that “When we left the business, it was a freaking good business”, had just turned a big funding, was EBITDA positive, and wasn’t seeking a buyer. The massive difference was in the cultures, a ‘chasm’ that wasn’t bridged. One indicator: none of the top 16 Livongo executives stayed with Teladoc.

This Editor was skeptical about it from the start–see TTA analyses 6 August and 11 August, as it happened in 2020. And while many smart observers were enthusiastic, others were not–the synergies (forgive me) they saw and the bottom line boosts were not there as predicted. Teladoc has rebooted Livongo as of last month. More than the writeoff cost for Teladoc, it cost the industry, and affected lives.  It’s an important read in today’s situation.

Philips will be laying off 6,000 globally over the next two years, in addition to 4,000 booted this past October. Reasons why are the 2021 recall of Respironics ventilators, BiPAP machines, and CPAP machines because of the potential health risks of deteriorating polyester-based polyurethane (PE-PUR) foam, supply-chain challenges, lower sales in China, and the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war. Their new focus will be on R&D and fewer ‘more impactful’ projects. Dataquest India, Mobihealthnews

Amazon’s layoffs of 18,000–and huge 2022 loss–also affected their developing healthcare areas. The shutdown of Amazon Care affected 159 jobs. But surprisingly, growth areas that had just rolled out new programs also lost staff. Amazon Pharmacy, which just rolled out RxPass, a $5 per month medication prescription service, laid off some of its program managers, risk compliance managers, and billing managers. Employees working on Halo health and fitness trackers were also laid off.  Becker’s Hospital Review  Yet many health executives see Amazon as the #1 threat to health systems’ core business. In a survey by Health Tech Nerds (sic), these execs predicted that Amazon might buy Color, Walgreens, and Smile Digital Health–in addition to a health plan! At this point, their One Medical buy is under scrutiny by both the DOJ and FTC [TTA 15 Sept 22] and on 2 February they reported a $2.7 billion net loss for 2022, the first since 2014 (The Verge) so those predictions on aggressive healthcare moves might be very blue side up.  Becker’s Hospital Review

In Ireland, Prof. Martin Curley, who headed digital innovation for the Health Services Executive (HSE), resigned in an unusual fashion. On LinkedIn announcing his resignation effective immediately, he said he has “called off this particular ascent on Everest”. In the post, he expressed frustration with supply chain and funding blockages, but later interviewed by the Irish Times cited poor IT infrastructure creating patient adverse outcomes, even death–and that senior administrators blocked new technology solutions. He is now a visiting professor at the University of Bath and a professor of innovation at Maynooth University. Irish Times 16 Jan, 25 Jan

And former Health Secretary Matt Hancock cannot catch a break. First, he was suspended from the Conservative Party in November, having decided that traveling to Australia for several weeks to appear in a reality show was more important–while he was Conservative Whip and Commons was still sitting. Now as an independent representing West Suffolk, in December he announced he will not stand for re-election next year. The insult upon injury was being assaulted last month by a 61-year-old man on the London Underground, following Mr. Hancock through Westminster station and onto a train, and earlier by the same man on Parliament Street. The Lancashire man was arrested. Lately quite in the BBC News.

TTA’s Brrrrr Season 2: JPM drear, misunderstood Babylon, Teladoc layoffs, CVS’ open purse, KillNet threatens, UKTelehealthcare’s new help for TECS, more!

 

 

Weekly Update

It must be Mid-Winter Blues, but the news was fairly light this week–even from the JPMorgan health conference, a soggy SFO affair indeed. (At least the streets were cleaned.) Babylon feels ‘misunderstood’, Teladoc lays off 6%. CVS keeps funding and KillNet keeps threatening IT Havoc. Good news from UKTelehealthcare with TECS help for the digital switchover. Plus ISfTeH’s annual meeting now set for Winnipeg and news from ATA.

Industry org news: ISfTeH International Conference call for presentations, new leaders for ATA Policy Council (Good news!)
UKTelehealthcare launches TECS consultancy in partnership with TECS Advisory (Expert help on the digital switch)
Interesting pickups from JPM on CVS, Talkspace, Veradigm backs Holmusk, ‘misunderstood’ Babylon Health; six takeaways (News from a damp, dreary, insane JPM)
Teladoc laying off 6%, reducing real estate, in move to “balanced growth” and profitability (Nice move if they can do it)
‘KillNet’ Russian hacktivist group targeting US, UK health info in Ukraine revenge: HHS HC3 report (Healthcare becomes a side battle)

A mulligan stew of a week. CVS moving in on primary care with (possibly) Oak Street, funding Carbon Health in-store clinics while the latter downsizes. Walgreens’ VillageMD closed on Summit Health and Teladoc paints a brighter revenue picture with BetterHelp. Rock Health quantified a deflated 2022 year in funding, but M&A/VC investment still proceeds in its ‘boring’ way. Verily, Alphabet’s wandering ‘bet’, finally gets a needed trim. And Theranos is still in the news from appeals to post-prison requirements.

Weekend short takes: Theranos’ Holmes post-prison mental health + more on Shultz and Balwani; global M&A, funding roundup
Rock Health puts a kind-of-positive spin on digital health’s ‘annus horribilis’ 2022–a boring 2023
Mid-week roundup: Teladoc gets BetterHelp to boost Q4 ’22 revenue; fundings for Array, Paytient, Telesair, three others; layoffs hit at Alphabet’s Verily, Cue Health
CVS works their plan in Oak Street Health buy talks, Carbon Health $100M investment + clinic pilot; VillageMD-Summit finalizes (updated)
Theranos trial updates: Holmes’ freedom on appeal bid opposed; Balwani files appeal to conviction

Two surprises not under the Christmas tree or New Year’s hat. The ITC upheld AliveCor patents and damages versus Apple, pending their PTAB appeal, and Amazon got its first state approval for One Medical. As expected, telehealth’s national Medicare reimbursement was extended for two years, setting policy for health plans. And NHS advanced rapid stroke diagnosis with Brainomix trial in 22 hospital trust trial, tripling near-full recoveries to 48%.

Weekend news roundup: GE Healthcare spins off, adds CTO; Allscripts now Veradigm; NHS Brainomix AI stroke trial success; Withings home urine scanner; Careficient buys Net Health EMR; CommonSpirit’s class action suit on data breach
Amazon-One Medical gains conditional OK in Oregon–a preview of coming scrutiny?
(What happens at the big state and Fed level?)
Telehealth extensions signed into US law with Federal FY 2023 omnibus bill (Major breakthrough to widen nationally reimbursed telehealth)
Split decision! ITC rules that Apple violated AliveCor patents; enforcement held for PTAB appeal (David v Goliath continues!)

A potpourri of news wraps 2022, starting with confirming how telehealth can stand on its own even in specialty care visits and its continued strength in mental health. In the US, most telehealth expansion is confirmed for two years. But as predicted, DEA is going hard after ADHD misprescribing — a unicorn may lose its horn as a result. Oracle is erasing Cerner’s home town presence as Epic stomps a patent troll. And beware of DDoS–it may distract from more nefarious cybercrimes.

We wish our Readers all the happiness of the season, as we look forward to the start of the New Year. We’ll be back with new articles after 2 January. 

We wish our Readers a happy, healthy holiday season and New Year!
News roundup: DDoS attacks may be ‘smokescreen’, DEA slams Truepill with ‘show cause’, telehealth claims stabilize at 5.4%, Epic squashes patent troll, Cerner meeting exits KC, MedOrbis, Kahun partner on AI intake (From cybercrime to Cerner, c-c-c-changes roll)
Telehealth two-year extensions included in US Federal ‘omnibus’ budget bill (Tucked into a Moby Dick-sized whale of a bill)
Few specialty telehealth visits require in-person follow up within 90 days: Epic Research study 2020-2022 (Findings, though, may be pandemically skewed)

It’s a week of contrasts as the holiday season starts. There are ‘green shoots’ in startups and fundings, yet so many organizations have run into the red, with a high human cost. A literal bright spot–a lighting system that can detect and report falls. And the Holmes Defense Team files an appeal for a new trial that may delay her delivery to Club Fed for a long time. (Hoping the Feds will forget?)

Rounding up fundings and startups: Override(ing) pain; brainy Synchron and In-Med Prognostics; Click off migraine; Cardiosense and CHF detection (A touch of seasonal cheer)
Smart lighting that detects and reports falls in older adults–and more–debuts in UK and Ireland (Lighting up fall detection is a big step forward)
10 reasons for a new trial? Elizabeth Holmes’ legal team files appeal, delay in prison start (updated) (Foot dragging strategy continues as financial penalty to be decided)
Mid-week roundup: Wisconsin’s Marshfield Clinic zeros out telehealth staff; Komodo Health lays off 9%; epharmacy Medly’s Ch. 11, PharmEasy layoffs; OneStudyTeam releases 25% (Coal in too many stockings)

Windups as the holidays and year-end loom. AliveCor loses its David vs Goliath patent battle with Apple, with consequences to come. The Theranos drama nears its end with Balwani’s sentence. But in new developments, robotics for care support and care becomes part of…energy management? And can VIMPRO help NHS manage its patient population crush?

Theranos’ Balwani gets an unlucky 13 year sentence, restitution to come (No tears, no dramatic statements, little media scrum, and a lighter sentence than expected)
AliveCor loses Patent Office ruling with Apple; three patents invalidated (This one isn’t over–the stakes are high)
News (and robot) roundup: ElliQ companion robot upgrades, named to 2022 TIME list; Robin the Robot introduced for older adult care; Utilita acquires Canary Care (UK) (Robots advance, interesting integration of care with energy management)
Perspectives: Could the telehealth VIMPRO model save the NHS from drowning in demand? (A smarter approach advocated in managing patient populations )
Optum Labs creates and funds digital health research hub at Cornell Tech NYC (Reviving NYC in digital health, or gathering ideas for Optum to develop elsewhere?)

Something a bit different this week with two maximum roundups. athenahealth may IPO–again. Amwell may bolster telemental health with Talkspace. Cerebral and former CEO dueling in court. Taking bets on where Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes will spend her sentence–and when. Plus…year-end buys and fundings. 

Who’s buying, selling, funding wrapup: athenahealth IPO deux?, NextGen EHR buys reseller TSI for $68M, Cloudwave buys Sensato; fundings for Lumen, UpStream, Aide Health
“Big Story” update: where Elizabeth Holmes will spend 11 years, Cerebral sues former CEO Robertson, Amwell buying Talkspace? 

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Read Telehealth and Telecare Aware: https://telecareaware.com/  @telecareaware

Follow our pages on LinkedIn and on Facebook

We thank our present and past advertisers and supporters: Legrand/Tynetec, Eldercare, UK Telehealthcare, NYeC, PCHAlliance, ATA, The King’s Fund, DHACA, HIMSS, Health 2.0 NYC, MedStartr, Parks Associates, and HealthIMPACT.

Reach international leaders in health tech by advertising your company or event/conference in TTA–contact Donna for more information on how we help and who we reach. 


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

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Teladoc laying off 6%, reducing real estate, in move to “balanced growth” and profitability

Following on Teladoc’s mildly upbeat announcement of improved Q4 2022 revenue, now the layoffs. Today, employees were informed that 300 positions, about 6% of Teladoc’s workforce, will be departing. Timing was not disclosed. Based on the employee memo and disclosure in their Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 8-K filing, the cuts will affect only non-clinical staff and eliminate ‘redundant’ positions acquired in their 2020 merger with Livongo. CEO Jason Gorevic’s statement to employees cited the “challenged economic environment”, transitioning to “balanced growth of revenue and profitability,” and bottom-line growth. Gorevic cited a path to profitability via refocusing on commercial business under the ‘whole person care’ concept covering Primary 360, chronic care management, and mental health, as well as the BetterHelp consumer behavioral health business. 

Released employees will receive severance including payouts based on years of service and grade level, 2022 bonuses, subsidized healthcare benefits under COBRA, BetterHelp therapy access, and job search assistance. Their office space footprint is also being reduced in select markets.  These and other Q4 actions will not have a material impact on 2022 financial operating results.

This Editor, who as a marketer been made redundant a few times due to company acquisitions and once in a business closure, is puzzled that Teladoc carried overlapping Livongo staff for two years after the August 2020 acquisition. The typical non-senior executive in the acquired company usually gets anywhere from ‘depart close of business’ to six months depending on their function or project assignment. Rarely, one finds a berth and even that can be temporary until the next reorg. Perhaps Livongo staff were needed for enterprise customers or Teladoc staff didn’t have the app expertise. The Livongo integration was reportedly an exceptionally bumpy one as well. This Editor also recalls Mr. Gorevic’s statements last May at the time of their Q1 2022 $6.6 billion writeoff of the Livongo acquisition: the competition in telemental health, the rising cost of paid search advertising, expensive keywords driving towards direct-to-consumer telehealth driving up the cost of acquisition, and the long cycle of closing B2B deals [TTA 4 May 22]. Amazing how these costly factors were not cited. In fact, Teladoc has launched TV advertising for Livongo, and for enterprise customers has created a new app that debuted at CES earlier this month that integrates primary care, mental health, and chronic condition management.

In any case, talking about profitability is now fashionable, based on the memes at JPM around partnerships and robust ecosystems. Even if profitability remains way off there on the distant horizon. Also Healthcare Dive, Mobihealthnews

Mid-week roundup: Teladoc gets BetterHelp to boost Q4 ’22 revenue; fundings for Array, Paytient, Telesair, three others; layoffs hit at Alphabet’s Verily, Cue Health

Teladoc may finish 2022 better than expected, at least in revenue. At the JPMorgan (JPM) annual healthcare conference, CEO Jason Gorevic shared a revised but still preliminary projection that Q4 would finish up a tick higher than expected–between $633 million and $640 million in revenue, versus their projection during Q3 that the low side would be $625 million. FY2022 revenue was updated to be the $2.403 billion to $2.41 billion range. The big contributor? Their mental health app BetterHelp. Their growth, according to Mr. Gorevic, is “staggering’. Silicon Valley Bank (SVP) analyst Stephanie Davis calculated a growth rate of 43% for the business, up from previous management targets. Teladoc’s optimism is tempered by the no/slow growth economy projected for this year, both direct to consumer and corporate. To help boost the latter, it is launching a new app for health plan members and company employees access to all of Teladoc’s clinical programs. Healthcare Dive, Becker’s

Despite the uncertain economy, funding continues in various rounds, especially in still-hot areas such as remote/virtual behavioral therapy and payments, but nowhere near the bubbly level of 2021:

CVS Health’s open piggybank helped to fund NJ-based Array Behavioral Care’s $25 million Series C. Other investors included HLM Venture Partners, OSF Healthcare System, Wells Fargo, and three others. Array will use the funds to scale its virtual behavioral therapy platform.  Mobihealthnews, Crunchbase

In that interesting area called healthcare fintech, the cleverly-named Paytient now has an additional $40.5 million in Series B funding, bringing their total to $63 million. Paytient provides corporate employees, health plan members, and health system patients with a card-based Health Payment Account (HPA) that includes a line of credit. Release, Mobihealthnews 

In hospital-to-home respiratory care, still in stealth Telesair raised $22 million in Series A funding, led by Pasaca Capital with participation from existing and new investors such as Honeywell Investors, ZhenCheng Capital, Shangbay Capital plus three others. According to the release, funding will be used for the commercialization of the Bonhawa Respiratory Humidifier for use in the ICU and the development of a second-generation, revolutionary product for hospital-to-home. Mobihealthnews   

Also highlighted in Mobihealthnews‘ article is a $10 million Series B for ModifyHealth, which delivers prepared, medically tailored meals and provides advice from dieticians. ModifyHealth provides certified low FODMAP meals for those with irritable bowel syndrome or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), as well as Mediterranean, low-sodium, and gluten-free (celiac disease) diet meals. Censinet, a developer of healthcare cybersecurity software, also landed $9 million in a funding round led by MemorialCare Innovation Fund, Rex Health Ventures, and Ballad Ventures plus five others for a total of over $22 million.  Release  CARI Health, a San Diego startup developing a wearable sensor for medication management, gained $2.3 million in seed funding from the San Diego Angel Conference plus four other funds. Release

The pace of layoffs may have slowed, but the numbers have not.

Alphabet’s Verily health tech development unit is discharging 15% of current staff, estimated at 240 people.  This is part of a reorganization designed to move to financial independence from Alphabet/Google. It’s categorized among Google units as ‘Other Bets’ which is appropriate given that so far, their bets haven’t hit any jackpots. An example we covered back in 2015-16 was a glucose monitoring contact lens developed with Alcon, an on-the-face of it Preposterous Idea that died about that time. Current discontinued areas include remote patient monitoring for heart failure and micro needles for drug delivery. Employees were told to leave the office for the remainder of the week; further information including separation would be sent to them via email. Since 2017, it has raised over $2 billion. You wonder where it went. CNBC

Cue Health, a home diagnostics company, is cutting 388 employees, about 26% of its workforce, effective March. This is in addition to an 170-person manufacturing worker layoff during the summer. Cue bet heavily on growth of its at-home molecular Covid testing packs sold direct on a membership plan [TTA 12 Nov 2021], plus to pharmacies and to businesses. It expanded from about 100 workers in 2020 to more than 1,500. That growth has cratered along with the entire testing market for a pandemic that is no longer there. According to Mobihealthnews, they have submitted to the FDA for new test such as an EUA for a combination flu and COVID-19 diagnostic as well as de novo clearances for its flu and COVID-19 standalone tests. 

 

Short takes: Will there be an Amazon Clinic?, Transcarent and Teladoc, perfect together?, Get Well partners with Palomar Health, expands with Veterans Health Administration

Did Amazon prematurely leak an initiative? Or was it an error? The Verge reports that a video was uploaded to Amazon’s YouTube page on Tuesday–then taken down–describing a new service that would offer assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of common conditions such as allergies. The Amazon Clinic video depicts a user taking an online questionnaire about their symptoms, After paying a fee, a clinician reviews it, diagnoses, and prescribes as needed, sending to the patient’s pharmacy. The disclaimer: “Telehealth services are offered by third-party healthcare provider groups.” The video directs to amazon.com/clinic which is not live. Another Amazon Mystery. Amazon Care is shuttering and the company is jumping through Federal hoops to get approval to close their buy on OneMedical. Hat tip to HISTalk today.

HISTalk also pointed to a Forbes article on health navigator companies such as Castlight and Firefly Health, with a bit of a ‘sting’ at the end. Transcarent, a health navigator that takes on risk integrating its services into employee benefits, is the latest enterprise founded by Glen Tullman, a serial entrepreneur who founded Livongo, investor group 7Wire Ventures, and built up Allscripts as CEO. The writer speculates that Tullman should buy Teladoc to give Transcarent a distribution system–a built-in network of physicians and health system relationships. Yes, this is the same Teladoc that Tullman sold Livongo to for a tidy $18.5 billion, then earlier this year wrote off $6.6 billion as an impairment. This one drips with irony. With its stock down nearly 90% from its January 2021 high, it’s never been cheaper!

Get Well, an RPM, patient care management, and workflow automation company, announced new and expanding partnerships. The new one is with Palomar Health, a health system in Escondido, California. This will implement Get Well services in four phases in five areas to improve patient experience: digital care management (GetWellLoop), inpatient experience (Get Well Navigator and a workflow automation for hospital staff), emergency department experience, care gap closure, and health equity through additional features. Becker’s  The second is an expansion with the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) into 70 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMC) and a fifth Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) with nine facilities. They also now have a FedRAMP “In Process” designation for cloud services which is enabling expansion of GetWellLoop care plans with a VAMC. Release (Business Wire)

Pre-weekend short takes: Teladoc posts much smaller Q3 loss, 17% revenue boost; is telehealth threatening disability care quality; $2.8M for Australian wearables; more healthtech layoffs at Antidote, OrCam, Ada Health

Teladoc today (27 Oct) beat Wall Street consensus in reporting revenue of $611.4 million, a 17% increase versus prior year. It also reduced its per-share losses to 45 cents per share ($73.5 million) versus last year’s Q3 loss of 53 cents ($84.3 million) and Q2’s stunning $3.1 billion loss due to goodwill impairments from the Livongo acquisition [TTA 30 July]. Powering today’s stock bump (6.5% to $28.47) was primarily loss reduction from the prior quarter zeroing out the goodwill impairments and lower net interest expense. Motley Fool, Mobihealthnews

Disability groups are expressing concern that incentives to promote telehealth may be discriminatory. The concerns are primarily around the need for in-person care.  Groups such as the American Association of People with Disabilities admit that telehealth can benefit the disabled, but are wary of a swing towards telehealth as a cost-saving measure versus in person. Federal data confirms that Medicare beneficiaries due to disabilities use telehealth at about twice the rate of age-eligible Medicare beneficiaries. There’s also concern about how the disabled can access and use telehealth platforms, as well as the quality of assessment during the virtual visit. POLITICO.

The Australian government is funding three five-year projects using wearable sensors for activity and diagnostics. The US$2.8 million will go to Curtin University for monitoring activity in children with cerebral palsy who are unable to walk (US$950,000), University of New South Wales for a cuffless blood pressure for hypertension monitoring (US$1.2 million), and Bond University for a project combining data from wearable devices and medical records for Type 2 diabetes patients (US$700,000). Mobihealthnews

More healthcare tech layoffs confirm that VC Elvis has left the building. The tech downturn has hit Israel-based startups particularly hard, but Europe is also affected. This is despite fundings for two of them earlier this year.

  • Pinkslipping over a third (23) of its employees is telehealth platform Antidote Health. Based in Tel Aviv and New York, the layoffs hit primarily R&D staff in Israel. Antidote in March closed a $22 million Series A, bringing total funding to $36 million (Crunchbase). Antidote offers telehealth primary care, mental health, and hypertension chronic care as well as featuring sinus, tick bite, and UTI treatment on its website. The platform connects users to a network of about 100 doctors with a smart chatbot and through video calls. Their target audience is uninsured and underinsured people. Calcalist CTECH, Mobihealthnews   
  • Larger OrCam in Jerusalem is laying off about 16% (62) of staff, again primarily in Israel, as part of a reorganization. OrCam develops devices to help blind or visually impaired people read and navigate daily life more easily via AI. OrCam has over $86 million in funding through a Series A and three venture rounds (Crunchbase), the last in 2018. A planned 2020 IPO valuing the company at $3 billion never happened. The company also has offices and staff in New York, London, and Cologne. Calcalist CTECH, Jewish Business News

Berlin, Germany-based Ada Health also pinkslipped 50 people. According to a spreadsheet linked on Layoffs.fyi, most of the layoffs are in Europe and the UK in tech and product development, with others in marketing and medical. Ada has a medical assessment app that claims 10 million users and 25 million assessments. Employees are based in the US, London, and within Germany. Most recent funding was in March from a $30 million Series B, adding to a 2021 Series B of €74 million funded by Bayer (Crunchbase).

Week-end roundup of not-good news: Teladoc’s Q2 $3B net loss, shares down 24%; Humana, Centene, Molina reorg and downscale; layoffs at Included Health, Capsule, Noom, Kry/Livi, Babylon Health, more (updated)

Teladoc continues to be buffeted by wake turbulence from the Livongo acquisition. The company took a $3 billion goodwill impairment charge in Q2, adding to the $6.3 billion impairment charge in Q1. The total impairment of $9.3 billion was the bulk of the first half loss of nearly $10 billion. While their revenue of $592.4 million exceeded analyst projections of $588 million, adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) of $46.7 million were barely up from projections and were down from $66.8 million year prior. Losses per share mounted to $19.22, versus $0.86 in Q2 2021.

Another weak spot is their online therapy service, BetterHelp, which in the US is pursuing a substantial TV campaign. CEO Jason Gorevic in the earnings release pointed out competitors buying the business at low margins and consumer spending pullbacks. Teladoc’s forward projections are bolstered by Primary360 and Chronic Care Complete. Projected revenue for Q3 is $600 million to $620 million. Shares on Thursday took a 24% hit, adding to the over 50% YTD drop misery. At best, Teladoc will muddle through the remainder of the year, if they are lucky. MarketWatch, Mobihealthnews, FierceHealthcare

Health plans are also presenting a mixed picture. 

  • Humana announced a healthy earnings picture for the quarter and YTD. It earned $696 million in profit for Q2, up nearly 20% year over year. For first half, Humana earned $1.6 billion, an increase of 14.8% from 2021’s $1.4 billion. Cited were growth in their primary care clinics, Medicaid membership, and investment in Medicare Advantage. Earnings surpassed Wall Street projections and Humana increased its guidance to $24.75 in earnings per share. At the same time, they announced a reorganization of its operating units that separates their insurance services (retail health plans and related) and CenterWell for healthcare services including home health. Some key executives will be departing, including the current head of retail health plans who will stay until early 2023, ending a 30 year Humana career. FierceHealthcare, Healthcare Dive
  • Under new leadership, Centene posted a Q2 loss of $172 million which in reality was a significant improvement over Q2 2021’s $535 million and looked on favorably by analysts.
    • Their ‘value creation plan’ has sold off its two specialty pharmacy operations to multiple investors, using third-party vendors in future, and agreed this week to sell its international holdings in Spain and Central Europe — Ribera Salud, Torrejón Salud, and Pro Diagnostics Group — to Vivalto Santé, France’s third-largest private hospital company.
    • Medicaid, their largest business line, has been growing by 7%.
    • Centene is continuing to divest much of its considerable owned and leased real estate holdings, which marks a radical change from the former and now late CEO’s* ‘edifice complex’ to house his ‘cubie culture’. As a result, it is taking a $1.45 billion impairment charge.  Healthcare Dive. [* Michael Neidorff passed away on 7 April, after 25 years as CEO, a record which undoubtedly will never be matched at a health plan.)
    • A cloud in this picture: Centene’s important Medicare Advantage CMS Star quality ratings for 2023 will be “disappointing” which was attributed to the WellCare acquisition (accounting for most of the MA plans), two different operating models between the companies, and the sudden transition to a remote workforce. For plans, WellCare operated on a centralized model, Centene on a decentralized one, and the new management now seems to prefer the former. (Disclosure: your Editor worked over two years for WellCare in marketing, but not in MA.) Healthcare Dive
  • One of the few ‘pure’ health plans without a services division, Molina Healthcare, is also going the real estate divestment route and going full virtual for its workforce. Their real estate holdings will be scaled down by about two-thirds for both owned and leased buildings. Molina does business in 19 states and owns or leases space across the US. Net income for the second quarter increased 34% to $248 million on higher revenue of $8 billion. Healthcare Dive

Many of last year’s fast-growing health tech companies are scaling back in the past two months as fast as they grew in last year’s hothouse–and sharing the trajectory of other tech companies as well as telehealth as VCs, PEs, and shareholders are saying ‘where’s the money?’. 

  • Included Health, the virtual health company created from the merger of Grand Rounds and Doctor on Demand plus the later acquisition of care concierge Included Health, rebranding under that name, has cut staff by 6%. The two main companies continued to operate separately as their markets and accounts were very different: Grand Rounds for second opinion services for employees, and Doctor on Demand for about 3 million telehealth consults in first half 2020. As Readers know, the entire telehealth area is now settling down to a steady but not inflated level–and competition is incredibly fierce. FierceHealthcare
  • Unicorns backed by big sports figures aren’t immune either. Whoop, a Boston-based wearable fitness tech startup with a valuation of $3.6 billion, is laying off 15% of its staff. (Link above)
  • Digital pharmacy/telemedicine Capsule is releasing 13% of its over 900 member staff, putting a distinct damper on the already depressed NYC Silicon Alley.  FierceHealthcare also notes layoffs at weight loss program Calibrate (24%), the $7 billion valued Ro for telehealth for everything from hair loss to fertility (18%), Cedar in healthcare payments (24%), and constantly advertising Noom weight loss (495 people). Updated: Calibrate’s 150-person layoff was reported as particularly brutally handled with employees. Many were newly hired the previous week, given 30 minutes notice of a two-minute webinar notice, then their laptops were wiped. Given that the company makes much of its empathy in weight loss, facilitating prescription of GLP-1 along with virtual coaching, for a hefty price of course. HISTalk 8/3/22
  • Buried in their list are layoffs at Stockholm-based Kry, better known as Livi in the UK, US, and France, with 100 employees (10%).
  • Layoffs.fyi, a tracker, also lists Babylon Health as this month planning redundancies of 100 people of its current 2,500 in their bid to save $100 million in Q3. Bloomberg

Amazon moves to acquire One Medical provider network for $3.9B (updated)

Amazon joining the in-person provider network space for real. Amazon Health Services last week moved beyond experimenting with in-person care via provider agreements (Crossover Health, TTA 17 May) to being in the provider business with an agreement to acquire One Medical. Earlier this month, news leaked that One Medical as 1Life Healthcare was up for sale to the right buyer, having spurned CVS, and after watching their stock on Nasdaq plummet 75%.

  • The cash deal for $3.9 billion including assumption of debt is certainly a good one, representing $18 per share, a premium to their $14 share IPO in January 2020. (The stock closed last Wednesday before the announcement at just above $10 per share then plumped to ~$17 where it remains.)
  • The announcement is oddly not on One Medical’s website but is on Amazon’s here.
  • The buy is subject to shareholder and the usual regulatory approvals. The IPO was managed by JP Morgan Securities and Morgan Stanley. It is primarily backed by Alphabet (Google).
  • One Medical’s CEO Amir Dan Rubin will stay on, but there is no other executive transition mention.
  • Also not mentioned: the Iora Health operation that serves primarily Medicare patients in full-risk value-based care models such as Medicare Advantage (MA) and Medicare shared savings, quite opposite to One Medical’s membership-based concierge model. However, Iora’s website is largely cut over to One Medical’s identity and their coverage is limited to seven states.

There is a huge amount of opinion on the buy, but for this Editor it is clear that Amazon with One Medical is buying itself into in-person and virtual primary care for the employer market, where it had limited success with its present largely virtual offering, and entree with commercial plans and MA. One Medical has over 700,000 patients, 8,000 company clients and has 125 physical offices in 12 major US markets including NYC, Los Angeles, Boston, and Atlanta. It has never turned a profit. Looking at their website, they welcome primarily commercial plans and MA (but not Medicare supplement plans).

Amazon, with both a virtual plus provider network, now has a huge advantage over Teladoc and Amwell, both of which have previously brushed off Amazon as a threat to their business. There is the potential to run two models: the current Amazon Care pay-as-you-go model and the One Medical corporate/concierge model. This puts Amazon squarely in UHC’s Optum Health territory, which owns or has agreements with over 5% of US primary care practices, is fully in value-based care models such as Medicare shared savings through its ACOs, and is aggressively virtual plus integrating services such as data analytics, pharmacy, and financial. Becker’s

What doesn’t quite fit is Iora Health and the higher cost/higher care needs Medicare market that is less profitable and requires advanced risk management, a skill set that Amazon doesn’t have. This Editor will make a small prediction that Iora will be sold or spun off after the sale.

This Editor continues to believe that the real game for Amazon is monetizing patient data. That has gained traction since we opined that was the real Amazon Game in June and October last year, To restate it: Amazon Care’s structure, offerings, cheap pricing, feeds our opinion that Amazon’s real aim is to accumulate and own national healthcare data on the service’s users. Then they will monetize it by selling it to pharmaceutical companies, payers, developers, and other commercial third parties in and ex-US. Patients may want to think twice. This opinion is now shared by those with bigger voices, such as the American Economic Liberties Project. In their statement, they urged that the government block the buy due to Amazon’s cavalier attitudes towards customer data and far too much internal access, unsecured, to customer information (Revealnews.org from Wired). Adding PHI to this is like putting gasoline on a raging fire, and One Medical customers are apparently concerned. For what it’s worth, Senator Bernie Sanders has already tweeted against it.   MarketWatch

Whether this current administration and the DOJ will actually care about PHI and patient privacy is anyone’s guess, but TTA has noted that Amazon months ago beefed up its DC lobbying presence last year. According to Opensecrets.org, they spent $19.3 million last year. In fairness, Amazon is a leading Federal service provider, via Amazon Web Services. (Did you know that AWS stores the CIA’s information?)  One Medical is also relatively small–not a Village MD/Village Medical, now majority owned by Walgreens Boots. This is why this Editor believes that HHS, DOJ, and FTC will give it a pass, unlike UHG’s acquisition of Change Healthcare, especially if Amazon agrees to divest itself of the Iora Health business.

Treat yourself to the speculation, including that it will be added as an Amazon Prime benefit to the 44% of Americans who actually spend for an Amazon Prime membership. It may very well change part of the delivery model for primary care, and force other traditional providers to provide more integrated care, which is as old as Kaiser and Geisinger. It may demolish telehealth providers like Teladoc and Amwell. But as we’ve also noted, Amazon, like founder Jeff Bezos, deflects and veils its intents very well. FierceHealthcare 7/25, FierceHealthcare 7/21, Motley Fool, Healthcare Dive

Weekend reading roundup: Amwell’s Schoenberg opines to Politico; Teladoc’s new CMO also opines, SPACs are done, done, done

If Teladoc’s Jason Gorevic [TTA 1 July] and new CMO Vidya Raman-Tangella (below) are suddenly available to the health press, can a Schoenberg brother be far behind? This brief Q&A with Politico is with Roy Schoenberg of Amwell and covers the state of telehealth, obstacles, abortion, consolidation, and automation. He stays pretty much on message with no surprises as the questions are short and, as is the practice, pre-submitted:

  • Telehealth is a distribution arm of healthcare, not just videoconferencing
  • The biggest war in telehealth remains state licensure–as it was pre-pandemic, past the ‘jumping in’ stage
  • Telehealth will not be a ‘pill mill’ for abortion pills (abortifacients) or controlled substances–it will be based on clinician professional judgment. (In the Editor’s opinion, this ‘hot potato’ was pre-written by the legal department.)
  • Consolidation as a question is not answered. We will see telehealth delivered by large healthcare organizations and telehealth that works with multiple brands. (What is not addressed is what telehealth services large healthcare organizations will go forward in using–the ‘high-priced spread’ of all-inclusives or the white-labels)
  • His opinion around automation is that it will be split between the camps of replacing clinicians, or augmenting them plus giving patients the opportunity to manage their health reality. (One wonders for what reality Amwell is preparing)

Teladoc’s new chief medical officer Raman-Tangella is also on the healthcare charm offensive with a Healthcare Dive interview on strategy and new products. She discusses enterprise clinical strategy and whole-person care, which echoes the Gorevic interview. There’s a diversion to ‘health equity’ which is first defined as a continuum [Editor’s term] of gathering data, taking solutions to customers, and seeking outcomes that validate the first two. She then moves on to closing care gaps through this information, especially in musculoskeletal and physical therapy, and returning to health equity, disparities and then (what we used to define as) proactive care based on all this patient information.

Forget the fork. SPACs as an IPO method are burnt and heading to the trash bin. Again [TTA 9 June] we have PrivCo’s Daily Stack addressing their demise, this time quantifying the crack of the full SPAC market (in and outside healthcare):

  • From one in 2009 to 248 in 2020
  • 2021: an estimated 50% of the total US IPO market in Q1 with 299 listings valued at $98.3 billion
  • 2022: 18 registrations this entire 2022 year and still in the process of raising $2 billion. (This Editor noted that the only healthcare SPAC apparently in progress is VSee and iDoc Telehealth with Digital Health Acquisition Corporation to close in Q3.)

As we’ve previously noted, SPACs are under attack by the SEC and by perpetual hair-on-fire for the press Senators such as  Elizabeth Warren. According to Bloomberg (sign-in needed), 30 SPACs have been called off this year. And as we’ve noted, there are healthcare SPACs like SOC Telemed which went private at a fire sale discount. Others like Owlet, Headspace, and Talkspace are struggling. Watchful eyes are on late SPACs such as Pear Therapeutics and Babylon Health. It’s a less-than-grand finale to what was touted as a low-muss way to IPO.

Weekend news roundup: Teladoc adds to Primary360; Novartis, Medtronic support UK digital cardiac startups; Bluestream adds PrimaryOne Health; NoKo ransomware threatens healthcare; more Fed scrutiny on telehealth Rx, billed time may be coming

Teladoc had some positive news this week with additions to Primary360, its new primary care service for the provider/payer market. It added in-network referrals and care coordination capabilities, free, same-day prescription delivery from Capsule, and in-home, on-demand phlebotomy from Scarlet Health. The release notes that about half of patients fail to pick up their prescriptions. In addition, Priority Health, a nonprofit health benefits company serving Michigan, has added Primary360 to its fully insured virtual first plan design for employers. FierceHealthcare

Some good news from the UK in a time of government upheaval. Novartis is supporting cardiac digital health startups through the Novartis Biome UK Heart Health Catalyst 2022. This investor partnership is to identify and scale innovations for non-invasive lipid testing and at-home blood pressure testing using software as a medical device. Partners in support are Medtronic, RYSE Asset Management and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its official charity CW+. Successful applicants will receive support from partners during the competition process, the opportunity of investment up to £3 million provided by RYSE Asset Management, subject to due diligence at RYSE`s discretion, access to the Novartis Biome UK eco-system located in White City, and opportunities to work with our NHS partners to set up and deliver a pilot evaluation of the winning innovation. Applications must be in by 31 August–form is here. FierceBiotech

Bluestream Health adds PrimaryOne Health. Bluestream provides a white-labeled customized virtual care service that will be integrated into PrimaryOne’s services. This medical group of 11 community healthcare facilities across central Ohio serves 48,000 patients with primary care, OB-GYN, pediatric, vision, dental, behavioral health, nutrition, pharmacy, physical therapy, and specialty care.  Release

North Korea’s Maui Ransomware is no Hawaiian vacation. The threat has built enough since May 2021 for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) to release a joint Cybersecurity Advisory (CSA) on Thursday warning healthcare and public sector health organizations. It is state-sponsored North Korean malicious cyber activity. The CSA provides a sample of how it executes, what it targets, how it encrypts files, and how to respond. Hackermania, NoKo Style, is Running Wild with breaches piling up [TTA 7 July], and not only in healthcare. Healthcare Dive, Healthcare IT News

And in Dog Bites Man News, a former US assistant district attorney for Massachusetts predicts that Federal entities such as the Department of Justice (DOJ) may not stop with telemental prescribing. They will not only be ramping up their scrutiny of telemental health companies–but also telehealth billing. For Cerebral and Done Health that facilitate the prescribing of Schedule 2 drugs, this assumption of scrutiny has become a no-brainer. What it also is: a caution for mainstream telehealth providers such as Teladoc and Amwell charging into psychiatric telehealth.  But the former ADA, Miranda Hooker, now a health sciences area partner with Troutman Pepper in Boston, makes a broader prediction. Prosecuted telehealth fraud, as this Editor has noted, has grown in other areas, such as prescriptions for durable medical equipment (DME) billed to Medicare [TTA 6 May] and cardiologists moonlighting as Dr. Mabuse, Master Cybercriminal [TTA 19 May]. But the next frontier may be time-specified telehealth consults billed to Medicare under various CPT codes (e.g. 994XX). A 15-minute consult billed as a more lucrative 30-minute consult can be considered fraud. The Cerebral investigation, according to Hooker, marks a shift by the DOJ into investigating the actual provision of telehealth services and whether they are being billed properly. FierceHealthcare

Two telehealth case studies: St. Luke’s University Health, CommonSpirit Health

Telehealth effectiveness measured in two different US health systems. Some of our Readers are marketers like your Editor, who are always searching for references on program effectiveness. Healthcare IT News in recent days has presented two, one using Amwell and the other using Teladoc:

St. Luke’s University Health is a small health system with 14 hospitals and multiple clinics covering eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. They were addressing several problems:

  • Network coverage expansion and time to consult reduction
  • Integration with EHR and multiple systems
  • Maintaining high privacy standards
  • Introducing behavioral telehealth for both patients and employees, especially during the Covid pandemic

The case study is primarily about the implementation of Amwell Psychiatric Care for 24/7 coverage and the SilverCloud Health platform, part of Amwell. This accelerated at the start of the pandemic. St. Luke’s instituted a Virtual Remote Monitoring Center (VRC) that monitored more than 6,000 patients supported by a 24/7 operations team.

With SilverCloud, they custom-built a support program for employees that included a self-paced program for stress, anxiety, and depression with support from a social worker and app-based 24/7 coaching interventions. If needed, the employee could be referred to an Employee Assistance Program or a St. Luke’s therapist. 

For the mental health programs, using the PHQ-9, comparing results between in-person and virtual visits from July 2021 to March 2022, results were close to identical in 6-point reductions in both virtual (96%) and in-person (90%) populations. In overall telehealth visits, between March 2021 and March 2022, they had over 205,000 unique patients use telehealth. Another metric that telehealth affected was outpatient care. St. Luke’s reduced no-show rates from 14% to 6%. Article

CommonSpirit Health is the largest Catholic and second-largest non-profit health system in the US.  The problem they were attempting to solve was primarily onboarding patients in crisis in the shortest possible time, well within the four hours recommended by the Joint Commission. They expanded their use of Teladoc in the CommonSpirit Telehealth Network to include behavioral health, instituting a.”round and respond” model to improve access to behavioral health specialists in several hospital emergency departments (EDs) and quickly assess patients as mild, moderate or severe based on patient risk. They also added services such as geropsychiatric and crisis intervention with medication-assisted treatment as consultation-liaison services. Results were:

  • Decrease in length of stay, cost; increased satisfaction and expectations of care met
  • 1,200 telebehavioral health consultations per month, through three states and across 25 hospitals
  • Establishing a standard of care of response within 60 minutes to all ED consult requests, have actionable recommendations within 90 minutes, and an ED disposition plan within the first four hours
    • 61% of cases seen within 30 minutes, 79% within 60 minutes with average response 42 minutes
    • 65% rate for discharge recommendations and a 35% rate for transfer at specific locations.

Article

Weekend news, deal roundup: Teladoc CEO’s tapdance interview, VA EHR cost reporting now law, Tunstall-Doncaster Deaf Alliance partner, Cleveland Clinic’s $33M medtech spinoff

Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic’s curious tapdance of an interview. Teladoc has had a rough 2022 to date. Their 2022 Q1 financials [TTA 4 May] were disastrous, their share price has not recovered since it cracked in late April with a 62% year-to-date plunge, the Livongo acquisition is shaping up to be the healthcare equivalent of Eastern Airlines’ takeover by Texas Air Corporation circa 1986, and shareholders are filing class action lawsuits. Now this Editor doesn’t mean to pile on. As a professional in two fields, she does understand the value of the press and leadership being available. But FierceHealthcare’s Heather Landi cleverly got Mr. Gorevic to stake his ground for growth yet again on “holistic, integrated solutions” that combine multiple care services from primary to complex care as the ‘longitudinal’ way to go. Yet Ms. Landi does have the nerve to bring up recent history and their long-time competitors like Amwell and Doctor on Demand (now Included Health) in the same space. Then there are the slices taken by players in the direct-to-consumer and niche target players (she cites troubled Cerebral and Talkspace–I’d offer DTCs like Babylon Health and the ‘white-labels’ like Bluestream Health and Zipnosis, now owned by BrightHealth, which are directly and cost-effectively working with providers). Think of this: in an economic downturn, will providers buy the ‘premium spread’ that requires a big implementation lift, or get by a less comprehensive solution that’s easier to implement and costs less?  Surprisingly, given the ‘everyone wants everything’ strategy, he again blames the cost of paid search advertising and brushes off Microsoft and Amazon. I’m not so sure that so soon after their Q1 bad news in May, with lawsuits centering on statements to investors, and nothing new in good news, this interview was particularly good timing.

VA corralled by Congress on Cerner EHR. The Department of Veterans Affairs now, by Federal law enacted late last week, has to prepare quarterly reports on its transition to the Cerner Millenium EHR to both House and Senate Veterans committees on performance and cost, including a breakdown of program funding sources. The new bipartisan law’s title is the VA Electronic Health Record Transparency Act.  Healthcare Dive

Tunstall Healthcare is now working with a local trust, the Doncaster (UK) Deaf Trust, to provide support for deaf and hearing-impaired children and adults. With Whitley Parish Council, Tunstall is working with the specialist gardening team at Communication Specialist College, part of Doncaster Deaf Trust, to secure over 100 plants for the planters which have been grown at the Trust’s gardens. Tunstall volunteers planted them in the planters across the village. Doncaster Free Press

Cleveland Clinic’s successful spinoff, Centerline Biomedical, closed a $33 million Series B equity financing. Leading it was Cleveland Clinic with participation by GE Healthcare, RIK Enterprises, JobsOhio, Jumpstart Ventures, and G2 Group Ventures. Centerline’s technologies improve visualization and guidance of stents, catheters, and guidewires in endovascular procedures, reducing dependence on radiation and contrast agents with the goal of improving patient outcomes. These include sensors and electromagnetic tracking that create 3-D color visualization and navigation of the human vascular system. Release, Becker’s

Wednesday AM roundup all about money: $28B Oracle-Cerner closes today, 9 June strategy talk; Teladoc class-action lawsuits begin; Cigna’s look at loneliness

As you read this, Oracle has closed on their acquisition of Cerner Corporation. According to the Oracle release, approximately 204,280,589 shares, or 69.2% for $28 billion, have been validly tendered and other conditions, such as passing antitrust approvals, have been satisfied. If there are other loose ends to tie off, they aren’t impediments to the closing.

Interested Readers can register to hear Larry Ellison, Oracle’s chairman, and other speakers outline Oracle’s strategy to “redefine the future of healthcare” (a song we’ve heard before) on 9 June at 3pm Central Time. If our UK Readers have been wondering what former PM Tony Blair’s been up to, he’ll be on this call. Other UK speakers are David Walliker, chief digital officer of Oxford University Hospitals, and Kevin Jarrold, joint CIO of Imperial College Healthcare. Another outside speaker is Meharry Medical College‘s CEO, James E.K. Hildreth, MD, PhD. Meharry, located in Nashville, is the second oldest medical school founded (1876) to educate black Americans in medicine and dentistry.  

Here we go with class-action lawsuits against Teladoc based on loss of share value and misleading statements. Teladoc, whose stock has taken a long jump off a very tall building (90% loss from the high), is being sued in US District Court for the Southern District of New York by a shareholder, Jeremy Schneider. This is a Federal securities class-action lawsuit (text here) with Mr. Schneider representing shareholders who purchased Teladoc shares between 28 October 2021 and 27 April 2022 (the date of announcing Q1 2022 results). The charges involve materially false statements that Teladoc made on its business, operations, and prospects including minimizing competition leading to increased advertising costs, unrealistic projections for revenue made in the period, and the impact of the Livongo writeoff announced Q1–a noncash goodwill impairment charge of $6.6 billion, or over $41 per share [TTA 4 May recaps Q1].

A lookup on Justia indicates that Mr. Schneider is being represented by Jeremy Alan Lieberman of Pomerantz LLP. The filing names Jason Gorevic, CEO, and Mala Murthy, CFO as individual defendants along with Teladoc. Mr. Schneider is not a large shareholder; his investment was a little over $250,000 from December 2021 to February 2022. Other shareholders may join the suit by contacting Pomerantz.

What usually happens after this is other firms file class-action suits in the same court representing other shareholders. An example of this trolling is this announcement/release from Bernstein Liebhard LLP

If you like risk and volatility, TDOC and AMWL shares remain relatively cheap (the latter below $5) and haven’t recovered. TTA reflected on Amwell’s equally shaky Q1 and growing losses in May 

If and when they’ll recover is anyone’s guess, with increased direct-to-consumer competition from retail (CVS, Walmart) and with providers maintaining their own telehealth systems, homegrown and whitelabeled (Bluestream Health, Zipnosis). Healthcare Dive, Mobihealthnews recap much of what led to this point.

If you feel a little lonelier after your Teladoc (or other telehealth) shares tanked, or you feel like life hasn’t gotten back to normal now that the pandemic is really over (despite the hoo-hah over monkeypox), Cigna’s latest research commissioned from Morning Consult will be on point. Isolation is a function of lower income, lower physical and mental health, and being a single parent or mother. Contrary to the usual assumption, young adults 18 to 24 feel lonelier and more left out (79%) compared to those aged 66 and over (41%). (Your Editor speculates that the office and workplace are more necessary for socialization by those starting their careers than those toward the end who’ve built their networks.) What’s also a little surprising is the increased indication of loneliness among racial lines with black/African American (68%) and Hispanics (72%) feeling significantly lonely. The impact at work is less productivity and more unhappiness with their jobs. The study recommends increases in work and community activities, work flexibility, improved benefits, and workplace inclusion. A bit more along with quotes from Cigna’s Evernorth subsidiary in FierceHealthcare

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

FAIR Health’s February monthly tracker is pointing downward again. After a brief post-holiday rise to 5.4% of claims in January, it dropped to 4.9% in February, a 9% drop. Mental health claims seized the lead again by a country mile at 64.2% of claims. COVID-19 fell off the list of top 5 claim areas, though only 3.4% in January compared to 58.9% for mental health. This month lists categories of specialists delivering telehealth, and social workers topped the list at over 31%, which fits the telemental health picture. 

Amwell’s shaky opening to 2022. It should not come as any surprise to our Readers that Amwell, the Avis to Teladoc’s Hertz, didn’t have a good Q1. Most of their key indicators around total revenue, providers, and visits grew smartly. Unfortunately, their losses did too. Comparisons are to Q1 2021 unless noted:

Revenue grew to $64.2 million [$57.6 million], up 11.5%
Gross margin: 42.8% [38.0%], up 12.6%
Total active providers grew 12% from Q4 to approximately 102,000 [91,000] Total visits also grew 20% from Q4 to 1.8 million [1.5 million]

But there’s no turning the corner on losses this quarter, despite Converge, their unified platform, shifting over telehealth visits as planned, and adding SilverCloud, Conversa, and specialty telehealth with musculoskeletal (MSK) and dermatology programs to the totals.

Net loss was ($70.3) million, compared to ($39.8) million, an increase of 77%
Adjusted EBITDA was ($47.1) million, compared to ($26.4) million, an increase of 78%

Amwell’s projected 2022 is the same–growth mixed with financial losses: revenue between $275 and $285 million, adjusted EBITDA between ($200) million and ($190) million.

Inquiring investors may very well ask when Teladoc and Amwell, now smaller by a factor of just over 9, will ever be profitable. Mr. Market had its say over the past year, from a high of $14.26 in early June 2021, to today’s close of $3.09, an enterprise valuation loss of $11.17 or 78%, just a little better than Teladoc’s 81% in the same period. It will likely be no time soon. But the shares may be an excellent opportunity at a low cost. Yahoo Finance, FierceHealthcare, Becker’s 

Crossover Health, a hybrid virtual/in-person primary care practice group, announced that they would be opening new centers in Seattle, Austin, and another one in New York this year. Their virtual care operates in all states, while their in-person footprint consists of 41 health centers in 11 states which are generally about 5,000 square feet. They have 33 on-site clinics for employers, which are a combination of exclusive to one company and shared, and in total cover 400,000 eligible employees and dependents including for 115,000 Amazon employees and dependents. In addition to corporate clinics, Crossover offers individual membership plans in a concierge, under one roof type model. FierceHealthcare

In another tech area, med delivery company NowRx is partnering with Hyundai for a limited test of their self-driving cars in the LA area. Hyundai will be using slightly modified Hyundai Ioniq 5 electric vehicles with some autonomous capability, but using a driver. The purpose of the test is to simulate and gather data on autonomous vehicle delivery, such as delivery statistics, dispatch and customer interactions, and feedback. NowRx offers free same-day prescription delivery in the San Francisco Bay area, Orange County, and Los Angeles areas. FierceHealthcare

Some thoughts on Teladoc and the Week That Was in telehealth

Yes, your Editor has, for the past few weeks, felt like Pepper the Robot, moving at two speeds–crazed and off. (‘Off ‘ to the left. Now cart me off.) Home renovations, with strangers tramping through your abode, noise, dust, and the corresponding moving of furniture, packing and unpacking, pre- and post-cleaning, then trying to put things right and get your life back will do that. Add to that an unexpected gushy kitchen sink that took three ‘fixes’ to get actually fixed. Then there were technical problems with our email sender that Editor and Administrator Emeritus Steve had to work through. One becomes more appreciative of order, routine, and Peace and Quiet.

Speaking of Peace and Quiet, there is little to be found in telehealth. Instead, there is a lot of Feeling Off. The Big News of late last week, of course, was Teladoc’s troubles. In the words of Seeking Alpha, they had one horrific quarter. The horror show started with writing off the Livongo acquisition– a noncash goodwill impairment charge of $6.6 billion, for a massive loss of $41.11 per share for a total of $41.58 per share. To compare, last year’s Q1 loss was $1.31 per share. While revenues were up almost to projection (25%), it was still a $3 million miss and in context, it was the cherry on a very nasty sundae. After rosy projections last year, Teladoc lowered their 2022 revenue guidance from $2.6 billion to $2.45 billion.  

Moving forward from the questionable Livongo acquisition at the absolute peak of the market, CEO Jason Gorevic admitted some hard truths to investors that deepened the hole: much more competition, particularly in telemental health; the rising cost of paid search advertising and the keywords driving towards direct-to-consumer telehealth driving up the cost of acquisition; and difficulty closing B2B deals. This creates, in the terms of analyst SVB Leerink’s Stephanie Davis quoted in FierceHealthIT, “a direct-to-consumer air pocket that business-to-business sales (and their inherently longer cycles) are too slow to fill” at least, in her view, until the end of the year.

Teladoc’s difficulties, as this Editor has noted, started after a peak in early 2021 as the pandemic started its protracted wind-down and telehealth volumes plunged to well below 5% of claims as practices reopened. The stock value is down over 90% from last February, not helped by a volatile market triggered by war and inflation. Similar difficulties are plaguing Amwell (down 92% since February 2021), Talkspace (down to a paltry 16 cents and in court for misleading investors), SOC Telemed (taken private at a 70% drop in value, TTA 8 Feb), and other health tech companies. For our Readers, this is no surprise: the telehealth bender is ovah.

One industry leader in a post-ATA conversation with this Editor cited a less obvious factor–that hospitals and other health providers are now putting together their own telehealth/triage packages tied into population health and case management software, with and without ‘white label’ providers such as Bluestream Health and Zipnosis (acquired by insurtech/payvider Bright Health a year ago). Teladoc is a late entry to this provider/payer market with Primary360, where they also compete with Babylon Health [TTA 7 Oct 22]. And health retailers have joined the primary care telehealth game. Walmart last week announced a virtual health diabetes care program for employers through their recently acquired MeMD.

Big Telehealth’s troubles may depress investment in related earlier stage companies–or help those in niches such as telemental and population health, or remote patient monitoring (RPM) systems that have telehealth features (e.g. TytoCare), as VC investment seeks a brighter home. Right now, this Editor’s Magic 8 Ball is saying ‘outlook, cloudy”.