TTA’s Realignment Autumn 7, Turkey Week Edition: Babylon’s decent Q3, more Oracle misery at VA, DOJ appeals UHG-Change, Walmart loses senior exec to JPM, health tech funding yellow flagged to 2025

 

Weekly Alert

As usual in the rollup to (US) Thanksgiving, it’s a light news week. Our two roundups include Babylon Health’s encouraging Q3 results, DOJ’s appealing to block the UHG-Change buy–already closed (!)–an senior exec move from Walmart Health to JPM, and digital health/health tech funding yellow flagged to 2025 by Very Important Investors.

Mid-week news briefs: House members’ ‘grave concerns’ on two deaths tied to Oracle Cerner VA rollout; care.ai’s $27M funding; Clear Arch’s new mobile RPM platform; digital health investment in rough times
News roundup: Babylon Health Q3 revenue up 3.9x; surprise–DOJ to appeal UHG-Change buy approval; Walmart loses senior health exec Pegus to JPM

Legal matters led this week, with Friday’s sentencing of Elizabeth Holmes to over 11 years in Federal prison and Cerebral’s ex-CEO fishing for evidence to use in legal actions. Amazon unveiled Clinic, a low-budget messaging platform for common condition diagnosis. Women’s health Maven rounded up $90M but Sema4 exited that testing field, losing 500. 

Breaking–The Theranos denouement: Elizabeth Holmes sentenced to 11.25 years with an investor loss of ~$121 million (Loss to be finalized at later date, sentence to start 27 Apr 2023)
Ousted Cerebral CEO may sue company, accuses management of scapegoating on Schedule 2 prescribing (Set up for legal action–or more settlement to go away)
The Theranos denouement: ‘Humble, hardworking’ Elizabeth Holmes sentencing Friday; prosecution and defense paint different pictures (updated)
News briefs: ResMed-Verily’s Primasun sleep solution; Maven Clinic’s $90M Series E; Mount Sinai genomics spinoff Sema4 lays off additional 500, exits women’s health
Yes, Virginia, there is an Amazon Clinic, after all; non-face-to-face consults for common conditions (Amazon’s Chevrolet–or Yugo–entry?)

VillageMD makes a quick, pricey deal for Summit Health. Many announcements on new products and partnerships. We stop in Singapore for funding while Oracle restructures its kitty. Amazon let a product ‘slip’. A rationale for a Transcarent-Teladoc tie-up. Telecare progress in Wales. Assessing where are we going, what are we doing in health tech funding after all this….realigning.

Short takes: Will there be an Amazon Clinic?, Transcarent and Teladoc, perfect together?, Get Well partners with Palomar Health, expands with Veterans Health Administration (Speculation can be fun)
Figuring out the future for health tech after 2022’s realignments: new SVB study (Solid weekend reading)
Oracle proceeds with $7B bond sale to restructure debt funding Cerner buy (Easier to manage, but bond rating still falls)
News roundup: cybersecurity benchmarking study, Tyto Care’s Home Smart Clinic, Long Island’s $2.6B life sciences hub, Singapore’s Speedoc raises $28M, NantHealth’s sinking feeling, Hims & Hers revenue up 95% 
TEC Cymru launches telecare programme strategy for Wales to complete digital transition by 2025 (Moving from analog to digital expands telecare)
VillageMD opens the Walgreens purse, set to buy Summit Health for $8.9B (This week’s Big Buy)

A mix of good and not-so-good news. Nearing year’s end, a flurry of fundings and promising partnerships. Walgreens’ VillageMD looking at a huge provider merger. JPM puts its venture money down on healthcare. UK GPs struggle with Data Saves Lives, as do health systems with lawsuits about Meta Pixel. And sadly, digital health layoffs continue at Kry/Livi and Brightline.

News roundup: WakeMed sued on Meta Pixel; Hint Health buys AeroDPC; Neurotrack’s $10M raise, 3 min. cognitive tool intro; layoffs dim Kry, Brightline (Good and bad news)
News roundup UK, AU, NZ: BMA England’s concerns on digital medical records; Australia and NZ’s health connectivity initiatives advance (Data Saves Lives agita)
J.P. Morgan forms life sciences/healthcare VC group; virtual care Ovatient formed by MUSC Health, MetroHealth; Oracle’s putting lots of KC office space on market (JPM sees opportunity, one new partnership, and office space to let!)
A spooky ‘good news’ roundup: AtlantiCare rolling out Orbita AI, Health Wildcatters Pitch Day, RapidSOS, HealthJoy fundings and more (Good News. Boo!)
VillageMD considering $5-$10B merger with Summit Health provider group: reports (A BIG provider consolidation, if it happens)

‘Fixing the holes’ this week. Global digital health funding is in a hole even deeper than the US. Telehealth a wobbly panacea, whether for discharged urban patients or care for the disabled. The pothole of layoffs hit Cerebral plus Israeli and German companies. Oracle’s Cerner acquisition requires more funding rearrangement, while VA deployment further delayed. Theranos tries the ‘mental’ defense as it digs out of that hole. But some light for Teladoc in narrowing its quarterly loss, and for smartwatches in accelerating adoption.

Is there a way out of the digital health funding black hole? Can it rebound to…2020? (So much depends on the next few months)
Telehealth-only follow up increased repeat ED visits by 2.8%, return admissions by 1.1%: JAMA Network study (Puts a hole in the savings points)
Smartwatches lead wearables, adoption now at 29%: Parks Associates study (Slow but sure development)
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
Oracle talks to banks to increase loans funding Cerner buy; VA delays Cerner deployments to June 2023 (Oracle’s hornet’s nest?)
News updates: Theranos’ Holmes goes ‘mental’ in last ditch defense; troubled Cerebral telemental health fires another 400 (Theranos defense shows desperation, can Cerebral be saved?)

Perhaps it’s because the investment froth is off and it’s downscaling time, but the industry’s current and future status is a bit ‘Back to the Future’. A version that’s muted yet fractious, like the Conservative Party….

Meta Pixel is now considered a PHI breach that’s all Meta’s fault. Both Theranos trials move towards sentencing, despite defenses pulling ever-scrawnier rabbits out of hats. Back to antitrust action with CVS-Signify, while CVS apparently walks away from an expected deal with Cano Health. What’s moving forward? Smaller fundings, partnerships, and reorgs in a world resembling…2017 or 2018?

Meta Pixel ad tracker collects another 3 million data breaches at Advocate Aurora Health; Zuckerberg getting Senate scrutiny (Not going away despite denials and Zuckerbucks)
Breaking: CVS’ Signify Health buy under DOJ scrutiny in ‘second request’ (DOJ and FTC crave an antitrust win)
News roundup: CVS abandons (?) Cano Health buy; Signify adds home RPM; BioIntelliSense RPM acquires AlertWatch; GE Healthcare, AMC Health partner; Viome raises $67M, other fundings
Rosendorff stands pat on Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes: “She needs to pay her debt to society” (He’s right–and now he needs a job and a relo)

There’s no escaping realignments in health tech. CVS sells an inherited business from Aetna. Babylon Health exits the practice business, financially maneuvers to avoid NYSE delisting. Layoffs continue to hit the formerly hot companies in health tech. Theranos’ Holmes and Balwani try to avoid the inevitable sentencing. And we have a Perspectives contribution from Avaya on NHS England’s ICS. 

Theranos’ Holmes sentencing now 18 November, defense wants to expand hearing scope; Balwani can’t join in
News roundup: CVS sells bswift; Babylon puts Meritage IPA up for sale, financially realigning to prevent delisting; Redesign Health sheds 20%, Noom 10%
Perspectives: How joined-up communications can enable connected patient care across healthcare Trusts

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Mid-week news briefs: House members’ ‘grave concerns’ on two deaths tied to Oracle Cerner VA rollout; care.ai’s $27M funding; Clear Arch’s new mobile RPM platform; digital health investment in rough times

A pre-Thanksgiving news roundup in this short week.

More miseries for Oracle Cerner’s VA rollout. This week, three House members sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). After a 2 September visit to the Chalmers P. Wylie VA Ambulatory Care Center in Columbus, Ohio and interviewing the staff, they determined that the Cerner Millenium EHR as currently in use possibly led to the deaths of two veteran patients. The deaths were due to 1) hypoxia after an antibiotic ordered for mail delivery was never tracked nor received, leading to a decline in the patient’s condition; and 2) alcohol withdrawal symptoms after a patient’s missed appointment was lost in the EHR and not rescheduled, leading to his decline and death several months later. The three Representatives are asking Denis McDonough, the Department secretary, for answers on the processes and problems that led to this, and more. They are Mike Bost, R-Ill., Mike Carey, R-Ohio, and Troy Balderson, R-Ohio. Becker’s

care.ai, a system that uses sensor-based AI for care facilities, secured $27 million in venture funding from Crescent Cove Advisors. care.ai’s sensors and their Smart Care Facility Platform are currently used in 1,500 facilities in the US to automate, monitor, and streamline clinical and operational workflows in hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and assisted living facilities. care.ai plans to use the funding from Crescent Cove Advisors to build on their ongoing operations and deliver ambient intelligence to healthcare. Release, Mobihealthnews

Clear Arch Health is introducing a new RPM mobile app, Clear Arch Mobile, as an alternative to its current tablet-based system. It connects via Bluetooth to devices and is based on the LifeStream Clinical Monitoring Dashboard by enhancing security (with two-factor authentication) and simplifying the collection and transmission of patient data for clinician assessment and intervention, as needed. LifeStream was acquired by Clear Arch earlier this year with their buy of Life Care Solutions. Clear Arch is a division of MobileHelp. Both were acquired by Advocate Aurora Enterprises in April. Release (PDF)

How to cope with the transition from easy funding to showing investors that they are squeezing every dime? That was the topic of a roundtable of investors at HLTH last week. One major problem was that the 2020-21 influx of capital boosted valuations to unrealistic and unsustainable levels, leading to unrealistic expectations for growth and moving into businesses that weren’t core. The advice was bracing from investor luminaries such as Glen Tullman of 7Wire Ventures/Transcarent, Emily Melton of Threshold Ventures, Andrew Adams of Oak HC/FT; and Krishna Yeshwant of Google Ventures.

  • Don’t focus on valuation. Focus on how much capital your enterprise needs to the next phase of inflection, minimize dilution, and set yourself up for the next up round.
  • Refocus and reprioritize, making the most of cash resources on hand
  • Have a plan to get to profitability, not just growth
  • Even more depressing news: the downturn is expected to continue through 2023 into 2024 — make cash last into 2025

Growth areas in healthcare they identified will be familiar: mental health, senior care and primary care –one is not, the Medicaid space. Mobihealthnews

Connecting JPM and CES dots: Babylon Health tripling revenue in ’22 to $1 billion–how? And Bosch tiptoes back into healthcare.

Dig for dots with your Editor….Babylon Health used their JPM forum last week to announce that with some US agreements signed, they expect by the end of this month to top $80 million per month, closing in on $1 billion this year, based on signing US value-based care agreements. The US agreements add an estimated 88,000 organic new members, bringing global managed lives to over 440,000. The $1 billion in revenue is nearly triple their 2021 preliminary closing revenue of $321 million. Interestingly, the US agreements were not specified in the release.

Does this tie in with the Higi acquisition [TTA 7 Jan], or are there others? Looking back on the Higi buy, we see one of the investors coming over from Higi is Glen Tullman, CEO of Transcarent and Managing Partner of VC 7wireVentures. His comments about Babylon in that release glow:

“Babylon’s innovative value and risk sharing models fit well with market leaders and innovators, including Transcarent, because they believe that, with the appropriate use of technology, data science, and good old-fashioned clinical care, you can impact the member satisfaction and quality of care, while, at the same time, reducing costs. This is the formula everyone has been searching for and the combination of Higi and Babylon bring us all one step closer.”

Higi is not large enough (though they claim ‘millions’) to boost Babylon’s revenues into the stratosphere, but some of Transcarent’s business very well might.

  • Transcarent earlier acquired BridgeHealth, a surgical and value-based benefits provider claiming 1 million members.
  • In October, Transcarent inked an agreement with Walmart to provide services for self-insured employers linking them to Walmart’s, including drug prescriptions.
  • Transcarent is on a funding roll of its own, with its own announcement at JPM in landing a $200 million Series C.

We’ll see if this Editor’s dots connect correctly….

Remember Bosch and health tech? Bosch was one of the ur-companies in remote patient monitoring with Health Hero/Health Buddy plus other telehealth/telecare businesses. Once upon an early 2010s time, they were a major supplier to VA Home Telehealth along with Viterion, Cardiocom, and Medtronic. After multiple setbacks, rounded up by TTA here, they exited European telehealth/telecare in January 2015 and shuttered Health Buddy six months later. So it’s déjà vu all over again to see Bosch technology used in a three-way project with Highmark Health in Pennsylvania and their Pediatric Institute of Allegheny Health Network (AHN) in Pittsburgh. AHN will be using Bosch’s SoundSee sensor-based tech to capture patient breathing audio that is then analyzed via Bosch’s proprietary AI and machine learning to detect pediatric pulmonary conditions. Clinical studies at AHN will be starting this quarter. Bosch’s Intelligent IoT group responsible for SoundSee is located at Bosch Research in Pittsburgh. Bosch has patented SoundSee for multiple applications in industrial and healthcare monitoring. Release, FierceHealthcare

Buried in the release is Bosch’s other step back into health tech. Vivatmo me, a breath-gas analyzer device that allows patients to accurately determine levels of inflammation, documenting them via an app–a very interesting concept–has been commercially available from March 2020 in Germany and Austria. It may be introduced in the US.

Short takes: rounding up revenue and acquisition action during JPM

The  JP Morgan conference (JPM), which wrapped on Thursday, is traditionally a major venue for healthcare announcements, from revenue to staff to investments. Having never attended but harboring a secret desire to observe (as a poor churchmouse on the wall–no fly am I) the 1% doing their thing, this Editor cannot imagine how boring it must be in virtual format. 

Here are a few highlights: the important, kind of interesting, and not too tedious.

  • Teladoc projects full-year 2021 revenue to hit $2.03 billion, nearly doubling its 2020 revenue. 2022’s projection is about $2.6 billion. It’s revenue without profitability, however. Teladoc lost $84.3 million Q3 2021, which more than doubled its PY $36 million loss. As we noted in our earlier article, Teladoc, like every other telehealth company, saw its shares plummet in 2021 as patients returned to offices and telehealth claims plunged to 4%, mostly for behavioral health. FierceHealthcare
  • Transcarent, Glen Tullman of Livongo’s ‘encore’ company, has landed a $200 million Series C and is now valued at $1.62 billion. Transcarent’s market is self-insured employers and provides a care management model focusing on personalized health and care support for employees. Kinnevik and Human Capital led investors and were joined by Ally Bridge Group, General Catalyst, 7wireVentures, and health systems Northwell Health, Intermountain Healthcare, and Rush University Medical Center. Release
  • Boston-based Medically Home, which supplies hospital-to-home support and integrates technology services, nabbed a $110 million venture round from investors Baxter International Inc., Global Medical Response, Cardinal Health, Mayo Clinic, and Kaiser Permanente. To date, they have worked with 7,000 patients. Release 
  • DexCare, a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that ‘orchestrates’ digital demand and health system capacity, closed a $50 million Series B funding led by Transformation Capital, with participation from Kaiser Permanente, Providence Ventures, Mass General Brigham, Define Ventures, Frist Cressey Ventures, and SpringRock Ventures. Release
  • Mental health/meditation app provider Headspace Health acquired startup Sayana to build out AI capabilities in mental health and wellness. Its self-care app leverages chat-based sessions with an AI persona. Terms were not disclosed, but Sayana CEO/founder Sergey Fayfer will join Headspace in a product leader role. Headspace acquired rival Ginger back in August [TTA 27 Aug]. FierceHealthcare, release

Headspace is also facing a shareholder lawsuit on securities fraud after going public in a $1.4 billion SPAC deal. According to FierceHealthcare, the charges filed 7 January center on non-disclosure in their financials of critical growth headwinds, including increased advertising and customer acquisition costs and worsening growth and gross margin trends. They also overvalued its accounts receivable from certain health plan clients. Coupled with management turmoil–their president/COO resigned after a ‘conduct’ problem at an offsite event–their share price has plummeted over 80%. Their projection of full-year 2021 revenue was cut to $112 million from $125 million. Headspace, of course, has said the suit is meritless.

  • Aledade, well known to this Editor as an organizer of accountable care organizations (ACOs) and a management services organization (MSO) for physician groups in value-based care, bought Iris Healthcare. Iris provides advance care and palliative care planning for health plans and providers for seriously ill and high-risk patients via its network of 1,000 independent primary care practices and health centers. It will be folded into their new Aledade Care Solutions unit. FierceHealthcare, release

A smash Q1 for digital health funding–but the SPAC party may be winding down fast

An Overflowing Tub of Big Funding and Even Bigger Deals. The bubble bath that was Q1 deals and funding is no surprise to our Readers. Your Editor at one point apologized for the often twice-weekly roundups. (Better the Tedium of Deals than COVID and Shutdown, though.)

Rock Health provides a bevy of totals and charts in its usual quarterly summary of US digital health deals.

  • US funding crested $6.7 bn over 147 deals during January through March, more than doubling 2020’s $3.1 bn in Q1 over 107 deals.
  • Trending was on par through February, until it spiked in March with four mega-deals (over $100 million) over two days: Clarify (analytics), Unite Us (SDOH tech), Strive Health (kidney care), and Insitro (drug discovery). These deals also exceeded 2020’s hot Q3 ($4.1 bn) and Q4 ($4.0 bn).
  • Bigger, better. Deals skewed towards the giant economy size. $100 million+ deals represented 66 percent of total Q1 funding
  • Deal sizes in Series B and C were bigger than ever, with a hefty Series B or C not uncommon any more. Series B raises were on average $49 million and C $77 million. One of March’s megadeals was a Series B–Strive Health with a $140 million Series B [TTA 18 Mar].
  • Series A deal size barely kept up with inflation, languishing in the $12 to $15 million range since 2018.
  • Hot sectors were a total turnaround from previous years. Mental health, primary care, and substance use disorders, once the ugly ducklings which would get their founders tossed out of cocktail parties, became Cinderellas Before Midnight at #1, #2, and #3 respectively. Oncology, musculoskeletal (MSK), and gastrointestinal filled out the Top 6 list.
  • M&As were also blistering: 57 acquisitions in Q1, versus Q4 2020’s 45

Given the trends and nine months to go, will it blow the doors off 2020’s total funding of $14 bn? It looks like it…but…We invite your predictions in the Comments below.

Les bon temps may rouler, but that cloud you see on the horizon may have SPAC written on it. A quick review: Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) typically are public companies that raise money through their own IPOs for the express purpose of buying other companies. Often called a ‘blank check’, they have no purpose other than buying one or two other companies–in the latter case, merging them like the announced Cloudbreak and UpHealth last November–and converting over to the company’s identity and business. The timeframe is usually two years. Essentially, the active company goes public with a minimum of the messy, long, expensive, and revelatory process of filing directly with the SEC (in the US). This quarter, Rock Health’s stat on SPACs was that they raised $83.1 bn this quarter, exceeding by $0.5 bn all SPAC activity in 2020, mainly late in the year. Their count was two SPACs closing in Q1 and 8 more announced but not yet closed (counting Cloudbreak/UpHealth as one).

As an exit door for investors, it’s worked very well–but is dependent on private equity and public investors having confidence in SPACs. One thinning of the bubble may be the scrutiny of Clover Health’s SPAC by the SEC [TTA 9 Feb] over not revealing that they were under investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ). Certainly this was a material circumstance that could dissuade investors, among other dodgy business practices later unveiled. Mr. Market tells a tale; Clover went public 8 Jan at $15.90 and closed today at $7.61. Their YahooFinance listing has a long list of law firms filing class-action lawsuits on behalf of shareholders.

Clover may be the leading edge of a SPAC bust. SPACs are losing their luster because there are too many going through, jamming bandwidth at the bank and law firm level. As time ticks by and deals are delayed, the private funders of SPACs are growing squeamish, according to this report in National Review’s Capital Note (yes, National Review has a finance newsletter). “In the past two weeks alone, four blank-check deals have been halted, with SPAC shares declining significantly from their highs early this year. The slowdown follows an influx of short-sellers into the opaque financial vehicles and a sell-off in high-profile SPACs such as Churchill Capital Corp IV.” Reasons why: lower quality of companies available to go public via SPAC–the low hanging ripe fruit has been picked–and the last mile in SPACs, which is PIPE funding (private equity-investment-in-public-equity financing) is getting skittish. The last shoe to drop? The SEC in late March announced an investigation into SPACs, making inquiries into several banks seeking information on their SPAC dealings, which is alluded to near the end of the Rock Health report. CNBC  (Read further down into the NR article for a Harvard Business Review dissection of the boom-bust dynamics of ‘controversial practices’ like reverse mergers as a forecast of what may happen to SPACs. Increased popularity led to increased negativity in reverse mergers.)

And speaking of SPACs...Health tech/digital health eyes are upon what Glen Tullman and the ‘late of Livongo’ team will be doing with their SPAC, Health Assurance Acquisition Corp., which is backed by Hemant Taneja’s General Catalyst, also a former Livongo funder. Brian Dolan, who is now publishing Exits and Outcomes. His opinion is their buy will be Color, formerly Color Genomics: opinion piece is here. Messrs Tullman and Taneja are also leading Transcarent, a company that brings together employers, employees, and providers in a seamless, app-driven integrated care model. Forbes

The cool-off in SPACs may burst a few bubbles in the bath–and that may be all to the good in the long term.