Roundup: Walgreens’ new chief legal officer; Digital Health Collaborative launched; fundings/M&A defrosting for b.well, R1 RCM, Abridge; Veradigm likely delists, buys ScienceIO–mystery?

Walgreens’ CEO Wentworth’s final add to Executive Committee named. Lanesha Minnix was announced on Monday as the company’s new global chief legal officer and EVP, effective 15 April. She comes from being general counsel and corporate secretary for Ecolab, a Fortune 500 water, hygiene and infection prevention company. As chief legal officer, she will oversee Walgreens’ global legal, compliance, corporate governance and corporate security functions. Ms. Minnix succeeds Danielle Gray, who left in January to “pursue an external opportunity” (Reuters). Yahoo Finance from PR Newswire

A new organization to ‘advance digital health adoption’ launched last week. The Digital Health Collaborative, a coalition of 14 healthcare and consumer organizations, is committed to “evidence-based, cost-effective, equitable digital health solutions.” Their initial activities are expected to include a national purchaser survey, grantmaking, and convenings. The DHC is supported by the Peterson Health Technology Institute (PHTI) and led by Caroline Pearson, also the Executive Director at the NYC-based Peterson Center on Healthcare.

The 14 organizations backing the DHC are: AARP, AHIP, Alliance for Connected Care, American Medical Association (AMA), American Telemedicine Association (ATA), Consumer Technology Association (CTA), Digital Medicine Society (DiMe), Digital Therapeutics Alliance (DTA), HLTH Foundation, Innovation and Value Initiative (IVI), International Consortium for Health Outcomes Measurement (ICHOM), National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions, The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), and RockHealth.org.

The DHC with support from PHTI has established a Research and Impact Fund for aligned research and programs. The first grant was provided to DiMe for its Integrated Evidence Plans for Digital Health Products. While a fine list, this Editor notes no payers or hospitals (end user groups) or cybersecurity organizations to advocate for digital health security. DHC release

Some funding and M&A action…zounds!

b.well Connected Health’s Series C clocks in at $40 million. Leavitt Equity Partners led the raise which tops up b.well’s funding to $98.8 million. Their last funding round was a $32 million Series B in July 2021 with HLM Venture Partners as the lead. b.well markets its FHIR-enabled Connected Health platform to unify healthcare data, solutions, and services for end users at payers, providers, and employers. Joining the board are three new members: Andrew Clark, Managing Partner at Leavitt Equity Partners, Ryan Howells, Principal at Leavitt Partners and Executive Director of the CARIN Alliance, as an independent director, and Hon Pak, MD, Head of Digital Health at Samsung. Samsung is a key partner of b.well. A key joint project involves giving Galaxy smartphone users control over their longitudinal health records, as well as proactive, personalized health insights via Samsung Health, with easy access to care from providers including Walgreens, Northwell Health, Lee Health, ThedaCare, and others. Is the lettered round an indicator of Better Times ahead? Release, FierceHealthcare

R1 RCM may go private via investor group. An investor group led by New Mountain Capital is offering to take the revenue cycle management (RCM) company private to buy up shares they do not already own at $13.75 per share. New Mountain holds 32.43% of shares and is working with an investment group that includes another major shareholder TCP-ASC (TowerBrook Capital Partners that has a 29.64% stake, plus Ascension Health Alliance–Ascension accounts for nearly half of R1’s income), putting them at over 62% if TowerBrook goes all in. Mr. Market has weighed in and says that the offer price is already obsolete. It  represented a tidy premium to Friday’s close at $11.10, but the current trading on Nasdaq is well above the bid at $14.45. Current shareholders such as Coliseum Capital Management LLC, one of the five largest shareholders, have already stated to the board that the company is undervalued at the offer price. R1 traded in the $18 as recently as last summer, but hit a headwind at end of year with the loss of customer Pediatrix on implementation issues. But based on their 2023 performance despite this, the other investors are making a good case. R1 RCM is the largest publicly traded RCM company for hospitals and healthcare systems. They closed 2023 profitably with net income of $3.3 million, flipping a $63 million 2022 loss, on a revenue increase of nearly 25% to $2.3 billion.  Reuters, Healthcare Dive

Abridge, a clinical documentation and ‘clinical conversation’ company, is enjoying a lush Series C of $150 million led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Redpoint Ventures leading five other investors. Abridge has a conversational AI technology using LLM and speech recognition to ease the burden of taking notes during the doctor’s appointment and states it is fluent in 14 languages across 55 medical specialties. Its last raise was a $30 million Series B just last October. A good reason why both is that it is fully integrated within Epic. According to HISTalk, Lightspeed advisor Paul Ricci is a former chairman and CEO of Nuance, one of Abridge’s biggest competitors, so one has to assume he knows what’s what inside this technology. Axios

Another NLP and AI powered healthcare data analytics company, Reveleer, is also topping its tanks with a $65 million raise. Hercules Capital led the venture round on a total funding of $208 million. Release

Veradigm nears a delisting on Nasdaq due to reporting–but plans acquisition of ScienceIO, in what has to be a first. The continuing delisting watch on Veradigm (the former Allscripts) is fading to black with the company anticipating its failure to file needed financial statements with Nasdaq. Its stock continues to decline (today at $7.32 as of noon ET).

Since March 2023, Veradigm has had trouble with required reports due to faulty financial software and has begged extension after extension. The required reports due by Tuesday 27 February are for 2023 quarterlies on form 10-Q and its annual 2022 report on form 10-K.

Veradigm is also facing a slew of shareholder lawsuits on the decline in its share price [TTA 3 Jan]. To counter this, Veradigm announced today (27 Feb) that the board of directors is adopting a limited duration stockholder rights plan that issues by means of a dividend one preferred share purchase right for each outstanding share of Company common stock to stockholders of record on the close of business on 8 March 2024. This becomes exercisable only if a person or group secures beneficial ownership of 10% or more of the outstanding shares in the next year. The rights plan is obviously designed to compensate shareholders in the event of a takeover not approved by the board (i.e. a hostile takeover) via accumulation of stock and make a sale to an unapproved buyer less attractive. Release, MarketWatch/WSJ

Apparently Veradigm is healthy and profitable, according to analysts reported in Healthcare Dive. The company estimated unaudited revenue between $608 million and $622 million for its fiscal year 2023. Net income from continuing operations is estimated between $49 million and $58 million, according to the filing. This, coupled with its business as a data company, further adds to the mystery around their reporting to Nasdaq.

Simultaneous to the delisting, Veradigm announced today that it is acquiring yet another company, ScienceIO, that is (surprise!) an AI company. Veradigm will leverage ScienceIQs proprietary large language models on Veradigm’s rich data set and more. Acquisition cost of $140 million in cash (subject to customary adjustments for cash, indebtedness, working capital and transaction expenses) has approximately $44 million deferred, substantially all of which is payable in installments on each of the first three anniversaries of the closing date. Release

This is not the first acquisition that Veradigm has made with the delisting hanging. In January, Veradigm announced the acquisition of Koha Health, which specializes in orthopedic/musculoskeletal (MSK) revenue cycle management (RCM).

News roundup: Cano Health gets 2nd NYSE delisting warning; Veradigm acquires Koha Health RCM, faces class-action lawsuit; Bright Health-Molina sale closes; Devoted Health’s $175M Series E (updated)

Cano Health gets another billet-doux from the NYSE. Spoiling the confetti and champagne, tech-based primary care provider Cano Health was notified on 29 December that it faced delisting from the NYSE, this time not for the share price (which is above $1 at $5.23) but for its total market capitalization. The NYSE has a pesky rule (Section 802.01B) that a company’s total market capitalization must be above $50 million over a 30 trading-day period and its stockholders’ equity must be above $50 million. The timeline: Cano has 10 business days from the 29th to respond to the NYSE to state intent to cure the deficiencies, and 45 days from that time to submit a business plan to regain compliance within 18 months. If accepted, shares will continue to trade. In its release, Cano announced accelerating its ‘transformation plan’ to further cut costs, divesting operations and terminating underperforming affiliate operations to save approximately $290 million by the end of 2024, which includes the $65 million of previously planned cost reductions. They will also need to pay $30 million in pre-tax charges to resolve exiting leases and staff termination charges. Earlier in December, Cano appointed two independent directors, Patricia Ferrari and Carol Flaton, both with strengths in restructuring companies and their financials. It also established a three-person finance committee, to assist in trimming down the company and exploring a sale. Release

Veradigm buys Koha Health, which specializes in orthopedic/musculoskeletal (MSK) revenue cycle management (RCM). Acquisition cost and management transitions were not disclosed. The purchase of Koha adds to Veradigm’s RCM portfolio in ambulatory health. Koha, based in Merrimack, New Hampshire, was still owned and run by younger members of the founding family.  Veradigm is still working out over a year of trouble with its Nasdaq listing and has changed out its CEO and CFO recently [TTA 14 Dec]. Release. Also HIStalk 1/3/24   

Updated  Veradigm faces a shareholder class-action lawsuit on its share price. As is typical in these cases, there is a lead plaintiff (John M, Erwin) represented by a law firm (in this case Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP of San Diego) which is filed on behalf of a class, in this case individuals who bought shares between 26 February 2021 and 13 June 2023 and suffered losses. It charges Veradigm as well as certain of its current and former top executive officers with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  This centers around Veradigm’s ongoing problems in stating its financials from Q3 2021 and overstating its earnings from there through 2023, negatively affecting the share price. The lawsuit was filed 22 November 2023 in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Robbins Geller is now seeking other plaintiffs to join in the suit. Release, Justia Dockets & Filings, Mobihealthnews

Wrapping up another continuing story, Bright Health closed the sale of its California plans to Molina Healthcare on New Year’s Day. With the proceeds, reduced to $425 million [TTA 20 Dec 23], Bright as predicted cleared what was owed on its credit facility with JP Morgan, reduced on Friday by $30 million to approximately $298 million. The remaining funds will go to their cash position ($90 million in unregulated cash plus approximately $155 million in excess cash surplus after reserving for expenses) and $110 million from escrow, and now on its sole continuing value-based primary care business, NeueHealth. Cash reserves do not include CMS Repayment Agreements which come due on or before 14 March 2025, sufficiently far in the future (?). No mention of repayments to their lender New Enterprise Associates (NEA) or the Texas Department of Insurance clawing back money owed out of its insolvent Texas plan. You have to hand it to Bright Health. They’ve managed to play multiple ends against the middle and tie masterful Gordian knots (pick your analogy) to stay alive until, they hope, 2025.  [TTA 5 Dec].  Release 29 Dec. Release 2 Jan   FierceHealthcare

Updated  And one more bright spot: $175 million raised by Devoted Health. Devoted is a combination of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans with in-house telehealth and in-home care delivered by Devoted Medical. The Series E was funded by a lead syndicate composed of The Space Between (TSB), Highbury Holdings, GIC, Stardust Equity, Maverick Ventures, and Fearless Ventures with an arms-length list of other participants. Devoted was started by two brothers, former athenahealth and government IT leaders Ed and Todd Park, CEO and executive chairman respectively. Devoted release, Becker’s. Fierce Healthcare, Mobihealthnews

What a difference a little over two years makes. At the time of their hefty $1.15 billion Series D, raised in the heady days of October 2021, they were considered one of the smaller, more specialized ‘insurtechs’ along with Alignment Health. Now they are walking tall in a field of damaged or expired payers: Bright Health, Oscar, and Clover among the survivors, and Friday Health Plans deceased. Devoted now states that its MA plans serve 140,000 members in 299 counties across 13 states, as of December 2023. Most impressively, 94% of their members in Star-eligible plans are in 4 to 5 Star plans. Their HMO plans in Florida and Ohio were all 5 Star plans. 

Some thoughts on the insurtechs, why the hype didn’t quite pan out, and the damage they may have done [TTA 7 July 2023].

Signs of the next phase in 2024? Veradigm CEO, CFO booted (updated); SmileDirectClub fails, TeleDentists steps up; FruitStreet sues Sharecare for $25M; Walgreens’ former CEO Roz Brewer’s platinum parachute

As your Editor reflects on 2023’s BloodOutOfARock versus 2020-2021’s Alcoholic Bender or the ‘new normal’ touted by the Usual Suspects (with 2022 only a burp on the way), she actually sees some Signs of Hope. 

Having lived through the Digital Health Slough of Despond of 2008-2009 as the marketer for an early telemonitoring company, there are many actions that to the observant are markers that the board is being cleared of the also-rans and never-should-have-beens. They are like dead plants and brush that need to be cleaned out so that new growth can happen. We are cycling through some of them already as we move to a New Reality and winding this up, with some examples. 

  • Early stage companies still in the red, with promising financials, but needing to get to the next stage, suddenly unable to get even modest funding (an early indicator of funding drought)
  • Large companies that can get funding snapping up smaller companies at knock-down rates to fit a ‘vision’. Watch for fill-ins, add-ins, bolt-ons that later are revealed to have taken place ‘just in time’. (And may be sold or spun off later in the cycle.)
  • Large companies veering off into lines of business that look like meadows but are minefields–and hiring expensive senior executives who don’t know one or the other but then have to run both at very high levels. They then depart (or are departed) with expensive packages.
  • VCs and PEs really snapping the purses shut–and shutting. (The latest is OpenView in Boston, not even much of a healthcare player except for a couple in HIT over a decade ago but a recently participant in a Series B for RPM Optimize Health)
  • Public companies moving from party-hearty unicorns to hoarding pens and Post-It notes to locking the doors bankrupt in two to three years. (Cracked SPACs, IPOs, and more)
  • Too many players competing with each other with near-identical services in what turns out to be a limited market–and gaining advantage by cutting patient health, privacy, and regulatory corners. (DTC telemental care and drug prescribing)
  • Layoffs at companies that over-hired in the boom spreading to larger companies that largely did not, cutting their next generation of leaders in response to Mr. Market and creating internal chaos. (Instigating panic at blue-chips like CVS and Walgreens)
  • Stupid (yes) acquisitions being acknowledged and cleaned off the books–none too quietly, but done for survival’s sake. (Somewhere there should be a memorial to Teladoc-Livongo. Sorry, Teladoc.)
  • Increased Federal and state regulation of normal business processes. (FTC’s sudden prominence adding to the usual DOJ antitrust pile-on and senatorial posturing)
  • A general cleansing of the cant and hype infecting a sector. (Look to the conferences and press releases for changes in language.)

In this Editor’s observation, another latter-stage sign is when C-levels don’t survive management failures and are sent packing. Another is seeing a small company sue a larger one over failed partnerships, usually involving IP or program design theft. This past week had examples of these two, plus examples tracking with the above markers.

Veradigm still minus 2022-23 financial statements, boots and replaces its CEO and CFO. The former Allscripts has failed to file financial statements for full year 2022 and to date in 2023 due to a massive flaw in its financial reporting software adopted in 2021 that affected its revenue reporting going back to then. While it is still trading on Nasdaq despite 14 November and earlier 16 August, 18 May, and 20 March notices from the exchange under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5250(c)(1) (Veradigm release), there still is no resolution about when their statements will be filed with the SEC. The company’s latest move was to force the resignations of CEO Richard J. Poulton and CFO Leah S. Jones, replacing them with two interims. From the board, Dr. Shih-Yin (“Yin”) Ho becomes CEO for six months and Lee Westerfield, CFO of Clearsense, becomes CFO. Mr. Poulton, a 10-year veteran, will receive a $1.6 million severance. Ms. Jones will receive a six-month continuation of salary plus additional payments to “provide business-development related services” which is corporate-speak for paying you to transition to her replacement. The board will search for permanent replacements for the CEO and CFO positions.

According to their announcement, the management changes resulted from “the Audit Committee’s previously disclosed, ongoing independent investigation, which is being conducted by legal counsel and relates to the Company’s financial reporting and internal controls over financial reporting and disclosure controls”. Reading it, Job #1 for the new team appears to be reviewing the fiscal 2023 guidance that was released on 18 September and regaining compliance with the Nasdaq Listing Rule. Veradigm also reiterated that they will have a 2020-22 revenue reduction “relating to certain revenue recognition practices.”  

Additional board changes include the chairman, Greg Garrison, as executive chairman and the appointment of Carol Zierhoffer (bio), retired CIO of Bechtel Corporation, as lead independent director. Perhaps Ms. Zierhoffer can help with the conundrum of a software company engaged in vital health and financial information transmitted via practice EHRs and practice management having its own massive accounting software problem derailing them for two years. CFO Dive has more details on the audit and a shareholder suit filed in November.

Update: A Nasdaq panel spared Veradigm’s exchange listing, for now. Mark 27 February 2024 as the date Veradigm is required to provide their 2022-2023 financial reporting to Nasdaq as required under Listing Rule 5250(c)(1). This was reported in Veradigm’s 8-K filing to the SEC on 13 December. Note that Nasdaq’s release states “The Company plans to file its Form 10-K and the Form 10-Qs as soon as possible; however, no assurance can be given as to the definitive date on which such periodic reports will be filed.” (Editor’s emphasis) Stay tuned. Healthcare Dive

No rescue for direct-to-consumer clear dental aligner provider SmileDirectClub. SmileDirect, which along with Byte (acquired 2021 by dental industry giant Dentsply Sirona), NewSmile, SnapCorrect, and several others market DTC aligners and teledentistry, failed to find a buyer or new financing after its Chapter 11 filing in September. The plan centered around the once-billionaire founders buying the company back, but they could not get their main lender HPS Investment Partners and other creditors owed $900 million, nor new investors, on board.

Heavily advertised SmileDirect IPO’d in 2019 with a valuation of $8.9 billion, but never turned a profit from its combination of DIY and teledentistry. Other drains were a patent fight with CandidCare and multiple patient complaints including jaw damage, migraines from misalignment, and tooth loss. Candid, like Invisalign, now works only through dentists who do the impressions, filings for tooth separation if needed, progressive aligner delivery, and tracking progress over what is typically one year for children, teens, and adults (over 60% of business)

In the FAQs on the lone page on its website, SmileDirect no longer will honor customer contracts for aligners and dental checkups or lifetime guarantees, but continues to demand payment from patients on SmilePay contracts. (Good. Luck. With. That!) The Hill, Fortune, HIStalk 11 Dec. For the teledentistry service The TeleDentists, it is a marketing opportunity to join with Byte in prescribing and providing dentist services for their clear aligners (email promotion). The TeleDentists is also partnering with WebMD Care for consumers seeking care after researching a dental condition. (Release

(Editor’s note: Having gone through Invisalign as an adult to correct a growing problem with alignment, your Editor cannot conceive of a DIY approach to a complex process that also required a significant amount of daily self-discipline.)

Fruit Street Health sues former partner Sharecare for $25 million. The interestingly named Fruit Street provided its diabetes management program to digital health conglomerate Sharecare as part of Sharecare’s unified virtual health management platform for individuals and enterprises. Starting in 2018, Fruit Street had a business agreement with Sharecare to offer its CDC-recognized diabetes prevention program (DPP) on Sharecare’s platform. Sharecare now has its own diabetes prevention program, “Eat Right Now”, which Fruit Street claims violates the terms of its agreement. The lawsuit was filed in Fulton County, Georgia. Sharecare claims not only that the lawsuit is without merit, but also that Fruit Street owes them $3 million in payments.

Fruit Street was founded in 2014 as a public benefit corporation [explained here TTA 24 Feb] headquartered in NYC by Laurence Girard. It is modestly funded at $35 million. Atlanta-based Sharecare was founded 2018 by serial entrepreneur and WebMD founder/CEO Jeff Arnold with Mehmet Oz, MD, surgeon, TV celebrity, and former Senate candidate. Sharecare went public on Nasdaq in the palmy days of early 2021 via a SPAC with Falcon Capital Acquisition Corp. It broke out of the gate with a $3.9 billion valuation, but like most SPACs it cracked downward within months and shares now trade at an anemic $0.99. In January, current CEO Arnold will be transitioning to executive chairman. Long-time Centene exec and retired president Brent Layton will move from a board director position to the CEO chair (release). MedCityNews, Axios

Former Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer eyewatering compensation revealed. A final example of our third bullet above is the excellent financial arrangement Ms. Brewer had with Walgreens Boots Alliance. Her package of compensation and stock options awarded by the board was $71 million for about 30 months, which included a $4.5 million signing bonus to lure her from Starbucks, over half a million in moving expenses, and $60 million in three years of compensation. According to the information in The Messenger, a good portion was in stock which fell in value 57% during her time at Walgreens, continuing a trend before her arrival. It was also consistent with an executive termination without cause, which also tied her to non-disparagement and non-disclosure agreements. Was her departure by mutual agreement with the board? That is fairly typical language, but reports in the article attributed the real cause in this statement from a source indicating loss of confidence by the most important man at WBA, Stefano Pessina: “Stefano thought she was a lightweight and unable to do the hard, transformational things he needed her to do.” (Was buying the majority of VillageMD, starting the joint store/practice location plan, buying CareCentrix and specialty pharmacy Shields Health Solutions during her tenure, not quite enough? Perhaps too much spent in a hot market and not enough return, especially by VillageMD on Summit Health and CityMD?) 

Her departure and replacement by a healthcare veteran with directly related management and organizational expertise, Tim Wentworth, is yet another example of this particular cycle coming to completion. And now that we’re in the midst of clearing the field, what happens next?

News roundup: Veradigm facing Nasdaq delisting, UpHealth files Chapter 11, Virgin Pulse-HealthComp $3B merger, MidiHealth’s $25M Series A, Inbound Health’s $30M Series B

Veradigm way out of compliance with Nasdaq, faces delisting. Nasdaq apparently is facing the end of its patience with Veradigm (the former Allscripts) and is moving to delist the company from the exchange as of 20 September. Veradigm plans to appeal to the Nasdaq Hearings Panel to gain an additional 22 days. Starting in March, the company has attributed to a massive financial software flaw the delay of its annual report for 2022, a restatement of FY 2021, and reporting of their 2023 Q1 and Q2 financials to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). All these are required by Nasdaq for listing. After multiple extensions begged from Nasdaq since June, whether 22 days will make any difference is doubtful. Veradigm closed today at $13.38. Stay tuned. Release, Becker’s Health IT, TTA 23 Aug

UpHealth Holdings filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, to reorganize. The parent company UpHealth Inc. claims this was not due to operational shortfalls, but to a court decision that found that the company owed investment bank Needham & Company $31 million in fees as a result of its November 2020 SPAC [TTA 26 Nov 2020]. The company release is unusually coy but states that the Chapter 11 was necessary to “mitigate the financial impact of the trial court’s decision” and was not the result of operation nor will affect operations. This was a more complicated than usual SPAC that merged the public entity, GigCapital2 Inc., with UpHealth Holdings and Cloudbreak Health to create a $1.3 billion (at that time) digital health company, UpHealth Inc., with care management platforms and virtual care infrastructure plus behavioral health services. Cloudbreak Health is not in Chapter 11. The UpHealth Inc. stock on NYSE stopped trading with the bankruptcy on 19 September and is currently at $0.98 from a 2021 peak of $28. Another cracked SPAC.  MarketWatch, HIStalk.

In more cheerful funding news:

Employer wellness platform Virgin Pulse and benefits analytics platform HealthComp to merge. The $3 billion deal creates a combined entity that will improve outcomes and lower costs for primarily self-insured employers and members through the Homebase for Health platform. Chris Michalak of Virgin will serve as CEO of the combined entity upon anticipated closing in Q4. The merger is backed by New Mountain Capital, Marlin Equity Partners, Blackstone, and Morgan Health, with New Mountain Health to be majority owner. FierceHealthcare, Healthcare Dive, Virgin release

MidiHealth backed by GV (Google Ventures) in $25 million Series A. MidiHealth focuses on female menopause and midlife transitional care in a direct-to-consumer model. Investors Frederique Dame and Cathy Friedman from GV are joined by current investors Felicis, Semper Virens, Icon, 25M, and Operator Collective, for funding to date of $40 million. The menopause/women’s health segment is one of the few bright spots of the current wobbly healthcare funding scene. MidiHealth recently inked a deal with fertility benefits company Progyny to widen their scope to midlife care for US employers.  Release, FierceHealthcare

And it’s a $30 million Series B for Inbound Health. Based in Minneapolis, the company assists hospitals and health systems to offer acute and post-acute/skilled nursing facility-level care in the home. Funding was led by HealthQuest Capital with participation from existing investors Flare Capital Partners and McKesson Ventures for total funding to date of $40.25 million. The new funding will assist expansion into new markets including further development of the company’s clinical programs, the next evolution of its proprietary technology and advanced analytics platform, and the continued build-out of customized operating assets focused on supply chain, labor, and logistics. Hospital-to-home is another one of the few bright spots this year.  Release, Axios

Rounding up the week-end: Oracle Cerner layoffs hit 500+ in VA, DoD groups (updated); AWS cash cow stumbles; Transcarent-ViewFi team on virtual MSK; Veradigm delays annual, quarterly reports again; Olive AI sells BI to BurstIQ

Oracle, which already laid off 3,000 since its Cerner acquisition and dumped its real estate, is proceeding with more layoffs in Cerner groups serving the Federal government, specifically DoD and VA. According to the Reddit group r/cernercorporation on this thread, the layoffs hit broadly within the Federal teams: VA and DoD professional services, Federal care delivery, Federal change management, support service owners, and consulting. The number is at least 500 but may be more. The severance package is four weeks plus an additional week for every year of service plus unused vacation with the layoff date 30 June. Offers made to start for new hires have been rescinded. This has fueled speculation that Oracle Cerner may start to wash its hands of the just-renewed VA EHR implementation by outsourcing most of it. There is precedent for this: Cerner partnered with Leidos for the DoD implementation from the start and Oracle Cerner brought in Accenture for training in February. Of course, the all-heart Mr. Market liked the layoff news coupled with Oracle’s Q4 ending 31 May results of net income of $3.32 billion, a rise of 7% versus last year. CNBC  Oracle is now at a $342 billion valuation, a new high. HIStalk 16 June    

Updated 16 June: details remain sketchy but confirmation that layoffs are in the ‘hundreds’ Reuters, Becker’s, KC Business Journal (paywalled); the last posits from CEO Katz’s statement that this is only the first of many to come.   Further details on the Reddit group is that consultants were onsite at clients working on projects and go-lives when they received their layoffs, that 80% of departments were affected, and that the layoff may go over 1,000. 

Amazon Web Services’ business continues to slow, with the AWS cash cow’s growth slowing to half versus last year’s, with further decline expected this quarter. This Editor noted that market analysts at Seeking Alpha called it back in February when we looked at Amazon’s ability to spend cash so freely in healthcare, for example on OneMedical. Google and Microsoft have been tough competitors and while their growth is off too, they are starting with smaller pie slices. Companies are using more than one cloud provider in a ‘belt and suspenders’ approach; Gartner predicts that by 2026, more than 90% of businesses will use multiple providers, from 76% in 2020. AWS’ plans continue to build outside of the US, with a $12 billion investment in cloud infrastructure in India by 2030 as well as five data centers in Oregon due to a controversial $1 billion tax break. Google and Microsoft have also led in generative AI, while AWS has not. AP

Enterprise health navigator Transcarent has made another bid in the virtual health area. It’s a partnership with ViewFi, which helps MSK providers to diagnose and treat MSK injuries in real time. ViewFi providers are affiliated with the NYC-based Hospital for Special Surgery. The idea for ViewFi came from retired tennis champion Andy Roddick who, with his orthopedist Josh Dines, MD turned their bad experiences during the pandemic using FaceTime for virtual consults into a new platform. ViewFi’s platform now takes patients through an intro screener that records physical and mental health, through diagnosis and a recovery care plan with personalized diagnostic tests and exercises with real-time support from their health guides. For Transcarent-contracted companies, a ViewFi initial appointment can be set in as little as two days as opposed to the usual average of 17 days. Transcarent bought the virtual care platform developed by 98point6 in March. FierceHealthcare

We noted back in March and last month that Veradigm (the former Allscripts) had serious problems with their Q4 and FY 2022 reporting due to a software flaw (!) that affected its revenue reporting going back to 2021. Nasdaq has extended for the second time–from 14 June to 18 September–their 2022 annual 10-K filing and their 10-Q for the quarter ending 31 March 2023. Not filing the reports will mean delisting. Seeking Alpha

Olive AI’s reorganization continues [TTA 23 Feb], with data solutions company BurstIQ buying its business intelligence platform.  LifeGraph Intelligence uses AI tools such as natural language processing and machine learning to extract insights from clinical notes and EMR fields. The platform presents cost and clinical data in a meaningful way through cohort comparisons. According to an example on their website, it contributed to $90 million in savings for one health system. Acquisition cost and management transitions were not disclosed. BurstIQ release  Hat tip to HIStalk 16 June

Thursday roundup: Kaiser-Geisinger won’t close till ’24, Validic buys Trapollo, Veradigm’s ’22 financials delayed again, ORA telehealth’s $10M Series A, ATA adds 3 to board

Some more reveals on the Kaiser Permanente/Risant Health/Geisinger Health deal. Perhaps the most significant one in Kaiser’s quarterly financial statements was that the closing with Geisinger is projected to be sometime in 2024, subject to the usual regulatory approvals. As announced in April, Geisinger will be the founding system of a new non-profit group, Risant Health, that will bring together a targeted five to six non-profit community health systems. Financial disclosures were also made that were centered on the timing of substantial investments and commitments:

  • Kaiser’s financial commitments to Risant will be made in the five years following closing. The $5 billion previously announced is the upper end of the support. Confusingly, Kaiser is also committing to a minimum investment of $400 million over five years inclusive of funds generated by Risant Health. 
  • Risant’s support and investment into Geisinger will end earlier, in 2028, but in that time will make an investment of a minimum of $2 billion to support Geisinger’s hospital, technology, and strategic development. It will be inclusive of funds generated by both Risant and Geisinger.
  • Risant will also make available to Geisinger no less than $100 million” through 2028 to support expansions of Geisinger’s health plan and care delivery services into bordering Pennsylvania communities.
  • Risant will also make available to Geisinger funds for research and education for 10 years after the 2024 closing

Kaiser’s Q1 was far better than its money-losing ($4.5 billion) 2022, with $1.2 billion in net income. Geisinger has not yet reported Q1, but it had a $842 million net loss in 2022.  FierceHealthcare

Digital health/personalized care company Validic is buying Trapollo, a similar connected care company. Both have platforms facilitating chronic care patient management via remote care and EHR integration. The acquisition price and workforce transitions were not disclosed. Trapollo’s former owner, Cox Communications, will become a shareholder in Validic. Trapollo senior VP/general manager Steve Nester will have the same title at Validic. It will remain at the Validic HQ in Durham, NC, with Trapollo’s former distribution center remaining in Sterling, VA. This continues the trend of consolidation of businesses in similar or complementary services. Release

Veradigm, the former Allscripts, 2022 financials continue to be in a tangle. As previously reported [TTA 3 Mar], Veradigm delayed its Q4 and FY 2022 reporting due to a software flaw that affected its revenue reporting going back to 2021. On 22 March, this expanded to their extending their year-end audit and 10-K filing because of “internal control deficiencies related to revenue recognition.” In a recent SEC filing, they stated that they may be able to file their 10-K by 14 June, but cannot guarantee it. The revenue impact may be as high as $40 million and affect their 2021 closing. HIStalk 5/17/23

Singapore’s ORA Telehealth just scored the region’s largest Series A raise–US$10 million. It was co-led by TNB Aura and Antler with participation from Gobi Partners, Kairous Capital, and GMA Ventures for a total funding to date above US$17 million. ORA is unique in that it’s a vertically integrated platform that markets to a young customer base (average age: 38) on three platforms: Modules (676 different formulations of prescription skincare), OVA (women’s health), and andSons (men’s health).

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) welcomed three additions to its board this week:

  • Marc Adelson, JD, Teladoc Health’s deputy chief legal and global chief compliance officer. Prior to joining Teladoc in 2011, he was  co-founder and executive legal director of the Institute for Patient Safety & Quality in Virtual Care, the first federally qualified patient safety organization (PSO) focused on virtual care.
  • Kavita Patel, MD, MS, a practicing primary care physician at Mary’s Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Washington DC and Maryland. She is also a venture partner at New Enterprise Associates, an NBC/CNBC/MSNBC contributor, and was formerly director of policy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement in the Obama administration
  • Sarah Pletcher, MD, MHCDS, system vice president and executive medical director for strategic innovation at Houston Methodist, and responsible for advancing a wide range of virtual and other innovative care models and solutions.

Week’s end roundup: Theranica clears, Pixel Watch fall alert, Veradigm delays, Walmart adding 40+ clinics by 2024, Bright Health’s dim future, Ontrak founder charged with insider trading

Theranica received FDA 510(k) clearance for its Nerivio device for migraine prevention in patients 12 and older. Theranica’s devices are based on a pain inhibition mechanism known as Conditioned Pain Modulation (CPM) where someone who suffers pain has a dysfunctional response to harmless stimuli. According to their product information, Nerivio wraps around the upper arm and uses non-painful remote electrical modulation (REN) to activate peripheral nerves to modulate pain. In addition to the device, the app allows users to customize their migraine treatments, receive reminders for preventive treatments, track patterns, and share migraine data with their doctor, as well as a guided relaxation routine. Theranica is based in Israel and New Jersey. Release, Mobihealthnews

Google’s Pixel Watch added fall detection to capabilities. It uses the motion sensors already in the watch and machine learning to detect a hard fall. If the wearer hasn’t moved within 30 seconds, it will vibrate, sound an alarm and display an on-screen notification that can be called off by pressing ‘I’m OK’ (left) or ‘I need help’. If the former, the alarms escalate until an automated call to 911 is made. The user has to activate the feature and Google claimes that the ML will help it avoid false positives. A very useful feature for older people, lone workers, and runners/walkers, but at the price point of $350 at Best Buy or $11/month via AT&T or Verizon, perhaps not all that attractive to cost-conscious users.    Engadget, Google blog post, Mobihealthnews

And in the Delays Must Be Catching Department, Veradigm, the former Allscripts, is delaying its Q4 and FY 2022 reporting due to a software flaw that affected its revenue reporting. Originally 1 March, the new date is yet to be determined, but they anticipate a reduction of $20 million dollars against what was previously reported from Q3 2021 into estimates for Q4 2022. Not exactly confidence-making for a company in the data management/software business. Coincidentally, the company which bought then-Allscripts’ large hospital/practice EHRs, now called Altera, Canadian giant Constellation Software, is also delaying its Q4/FY 2022 reporting, in this instance due to the Altera acquisition [TTA 15 Feb]. Veradigm’s release gives you the more complicated explanation.

Walmart Health’s Big Announcement is that it will be doubling the number of its Health Centers from the current 32 to over 75. By Q1 2024, Walmart’s plan is to open 28 new locations in the following metros: Dallas (10), Houston (8), Phoenix (6) and Kansas City MO (4). Missouri and Arizona are new states. All these will include the Epic EHR and the infrastructure improvements previewed earlier this week [TTA 1 Mar]. Release

Insurtech Bright Health may have a dim future. 18 months ago, Bright Health seemed to be the most promising insurtech out there, with a healthy Medicare Advantage plan base, family and individual plans, substantial growth, acquisitions of Zipnosis (‘white label’ telehealth triage for health systems) and development of the NeueHealth value-based care provider management network. Bright Health had a buttoned-up management team from UnitedHealth Group, investment groups, Target, CVS, and the Advisory Board. They raised $2.4 billion from prestige investors, including Cigna Ventures and Bessemer, went public on the NYSE in June 2021, and added $925 million in two post-IPO raises in December 2021 and October 2022 (Crunchbase). Fellow insurtechs Oscar and Clover struggled through their own financial and management challenges after an IPO and SPAC respectively. Oscar was sued last year by shareholders for misleading information; Clover lost $558 million in 2021, but reduced to $338.8 million in 2022 and promising a path to profitability. Healthcare Finance

Bright Health now appears to be a broken-bulb-filament away from default and bankruptcy. They ended 2021 with a $1.2 billion loss which is not unusual with companies of this type (see above). Bright exited individual and family plans in six states plus cut back MA expansion plans, also not atypical. Healthcare Finance This didn’t appear to help. By last December, their stock declined to below $1 triggering a notice of delisting from the NYSE if it’s not above $1 by May. The stock continues to trade below $0.50. They reported a 2022 loss of $1.4 billion, $0.2 billion up from 2021, on increased revenue. This week, it’s been reported they have told investors that they are facing credit insolvency, having run through $350 million in revolving credit, violated a liquidity covenant, and need $300 million to cover it by end of April. Further analysis in FierceHealthcare and on an interesting LinkedIn post by Ari Gottlieb, ‘Pay for Failure’.

And if there weren’t enough proof that the High Wide and Handsome Days Are Over, the Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted CEO Terren Peizer of Ontrak, a telemental health provider, with insider trading using Rule 10b5-1 trading plans. This rule was actually set up by the SEC to allow insiders to safely trade their shares by setting up a predetermined plan that specifies in advance the share price, amount, and transaction date, plus certifying that they are not aware of non-public information that can influence the price. The last is the rub. DOJ alleges that during mid-year 2021, Peizer was aware that the largest Ontrak customer, Cigna, was at high risk of departing on the heels of Aetna, and sold his stock. If convicted, Peizer may be facing up to 45 years in Club Fed plus disgorgement of funds. Ontrak trades on Nasdaq, today at about $0.60. FierceHealthcare

Mid-week news roundup: Parsa admits Babylon SPAC was ‘big mistake’, FTC’s strategy on GoodRx action, Oracle signs Accenture for VA training, Constellation delays ’22 reports, Emirates Health launches Care.ai and Digital Twin

Regrets? Babylon has a few. A short but surprising interview in Mobihealthnews by Ali Parsa will give Readers an idea of the bubbly mindset of 2020-21 and the crises that followed for some companies. Babylon had 400% growth, then felt it had to go public via a SPAC in October 2021. It cost them a lot, including losing US shareholders, yet being listed on the NYSE. Parsa admitted “But in hindsight, that was a very big mistake. There’s no question.” While their revenue has continued to climb, on target to hit over $1 billion this year as of January, the cracked SPAC (opening at $272, today at $11.50) has forced Babylon to reorganize, selling non-core businesses like the Meritage IPA, reorganizing as a foreign private issuer to a domestic, and planning a reverse share split. These were announced last fall to avoid an NYSE delisting when the shares fell below $1 [TTA 13 Oct 22].  It also is leading them to shed Medicaid business and target commercial payers, such as Centene’s Ambetter. There’s a hint at the end of the article of some tech changes to promote continuous vital signs monitoring. You have to give Mr. Parsa credit for not papering over his errors.

FTC’s moves against GoodRx a preview of coming courtroom attractions–and collections? The start of February marked the first time that the Federal Trade Commission used the never-used-before Health Breach Notification Rule (HBNR), enacted in 2009, to elicit a penalty. With GoodRx choosing to settle for $1.5 million rather than fight [TTA 3 Feb], the FTC has now demonstrated a willingness to use Federal action against other online health companies sharing user data with third parties and monetization of that data. An attorney quoted in the Healthcare Dive article analyzing the ramifications: “This is the FTC trying to signal all these apps and other startup companies that are collecting a lot of sensitive data that we have a mechanism for enforcing data privacy rules against you.” Seven charges against GoodRx were around deceptive representations and unfair practices, with the HNBR the eighth layer of cake icing. According to another attorney quoted, the FTC is expanding the definition of breach into data that is shared or distributed “without the consent or authorization of the person whose data it is.” It seems like HBNR are yet more initials to be dreaded by digital health businesses that aren’t covered entities and stay well outside HIPAA privacy laws. 

Oracle Cerner getting help in digging through the Mound of Misery around their VA EHR implementation. FedScoop reported today (14 Feb) on Oracle’s signing of Accenture to improve clinician training on the Cerner Millenium system. Oracle EVP Ken Glueck confirmed that “We signed a contract with Accenture probably a month ago. So they are part and parcel of the training procedure for the continued rollouts when they resume in June of 2023.” They also confirmed that it was within the current ‘budget envelope’. Not surprisingly, Accenture is part of the Leidos Partnership for Defense Health that is implementing the Department of Defense’s considerably further along and relatively less troubled version of the Cerner EHR, MHS Genesis.

EHR watchers last year also noted the $700 million sale of EHR pioneer Allscripts (now Veradigm) five hospital and large physician practice EHRs to Constellation Software, integrated into their N. Harris Group [TTA 6 May 22] and now called Altera. Constellation has delayed reporting its Q4 and FY2022 results, usually released about this time, to a date to be determined, because of the Altera acquisition. Release Constellation, a Canadian company, trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange at an eye-watering share price of C $2,405 and a capitalization of C$49 billion.

Swinging over to the UAE, Emirates Health Services at Arab Health 2023 launched both the Care.ai and Digital Twin services for its facilities across the region. Care.ai is an Orlando-based company. For EHS, this will create an AI-enabled automation system that will update and analyze patient data and and assist doctors in diagnosing patients using computer vision. Digital Twin is an energy management system developed in partnership with Schneider Electric and Microsoft using Azure. At Al Qassimi Hospital, it cut consumption by up to 30% and reduced breakdowns and maintenance work by up to 20% .EHS release  Hat tip to HISTalk 

Interesting pickups from JPM on CVS, Talkspace, Veradigm backs Holmusk, ‘misunderstood’ Babylon Health; six takeaways

Out of a decidedly soggy JPMorgan healthcare conference that concentrated mainly on pharma and biotech, there was some news in the downtrodden health tech and related areas. Selected from FierceHealthcare’s Heather Landi’s take:

CVS Health’s open checkbook for the right companies in primary care, provider enablement, and home health was a throwback to the palmy days of 2020-21. A big announcement at JPM was their investment in in-home kidney care and end-stage renal disease management provider Monogram Health. Their Series C raise of $375 million was lead-funded by CVS Health, Cigna Ventures, Humana, Memorial Hermann Health System, and SCAN.  Release, Mobihealthnews This added up to a busy January for CVS with leading Carbon Health‘s $100 million series D [TTA 11 Jan] and $25 million for Array Behavioral Care [TTA 12 Jan].

Talkspace, the cracked telemental health SPAC most recently rumored to be in buy talks with Amwell, touted their “defined, very significant path to profitability within a short period of time.” New CEO Jon Cohen, MD, a surgeon and veteran healthcare exec, touted the strength of the telemental health model, the effectiveness of their asynchronous messaging therapy for depression and anxiety,  and their market change from consumer to employers and health plans. Talkspace has some distance to go, quickly, with a loss through Q3 2022 of $61 million on revenues of $89 million and a share price today of $0.74, which means eventual delisting from Nasdaq. Is a quick buy in their future?

Veradigm, still settling in on their new corporate name, has its own bet on behavioral health data on the analytics side, with a lead investment in Holmusk‘s $45 million Series B. Holmusk will pull in de-identified patient data from Veradigm to their NeuroBlu Database.  Release

And on to Babylon Health, where Ali Parsa must feel like Eric Burdon of the 1960s blues group The Animals in the depth of being ‘misunderstood’Dr. Parsa promises a path to breakeven by end of 2024.  Babylon’s revenue is on target to hit over $1 billion. They operate in over 15 countries with well over 5 million transactions. But their SPAC cracked too from a high of $272 per share after listing in October 2021 to today’s price just above $11, leaving a lot of investors in the lurch. Even though Q3 revenue increased by $288.9 million versus $74.5 million in 2021, an increase of $214.4 million or 3.9x, and the Q3 loss correspondingly widened to $89.9 million, the loss was significantly lower as a percentage of revenue. They are also converting from a foreign private issuer to a domestic, planning a reverse share split, and selling non-core businesses like the Meritage IPA [TTA 22 Nov 22] It’ll either be more correctly understood by Mr. Market or…be bought?

Arundhati Parmar in MedCityNews had a tart take on the proceedings, leading with the convergence of therapeutics with devices and data, Primary Care-Primary Care-Primary Care, billion-dollar bolt-on acquisitions that may be good for biopharma (but not necessarily so in health tech where integration is leading), and innovative therapies that don’t save but actually cost mo’ money. All of which is no surprise to our Readers. And why is there a JPM every year? Healthcare insanity may be catching.

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

GE Healthcare now trading on its own. On Wednesday, GEHC rang Nasdaq’s traditional opening bell virtually on its first day of trading Wednesday (4 Jan). The bell ringing was unique as the first company in Wisconsin to do so from their plant in Waukesha. GE retained approximately 19.9% of the outstanding shares of GE HealthCare common stock with the remaining 80.1% distributed to current GE shareholders. Today it closed at $58.95 and remains headquartered in Chicago. (It moved from Amersham UK back in 2016.) Management is now independent, with Peter Arduini as CEO and adding yesterday a new chief technology officer, Taha Kass-Hout MD, MS, from Amazon’s health AI area to lead the company’s new science and technology organization through their four areas: Imaging, Ultrasound, Patient Care Solutions, and Pharmaceutical Diagnostics. Release, Yahoo Finance  Also Mobihealthnews

Remember back in 2019 when problematic EHR Practice Fusion was renamed Veradigm? Allscripts has now renamed the entire company as Veradigm, after expanding it to analytics and research. After two years of reorganizing and downsizing (plus paying off Practice Fusion fines), selling off their hospital/large practice EHRs to Constellation Software/N. Harris Group for $700 million last May, the slimmed-down Veradigm Network encompasses electronic health records, practice management systems, and patient communication platforms. Interestingly, a search first leads you to a main corporate website under Allscripts and doesn’t forward automatically to Veradigm, making this a softer-than-usual name change. Now Veradigm can pick up a few companies on the market, as they announced last year. Release    Hat tip to HISTalk

NHS using Brainomix AI to diagnose stroke faster, tripled near-full recoveries to 48%.  The key finding: patients diagnosed using AI made near full recoveries increased from 16 to 48%. The trial of e-Stroke Suite took place in 22 hospital trusts in England across 111,000 suspected stroke patients. The AI in the e-Stroke Suite cut average diagnosis to treatment time by an hour from 140 to 79 minutes. The AI technology was developed by UK company Brainomix. Daily Mail, Oxford Academic Health Science Network case study (Note: Oxford AHSN, Brainomix, and Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust (RBH) are partners in the National Consortium of Intelligent Medical Imaging (NCIMI).)

Withings is debuting the U-Scan, an in-home urinalysis device, at CES. The 90 mm device sits in the toilet bowl and uses cartridges to analyze urine components, sending results to the Withings Health Mate app. Cartridges for Europe so far are Cycle Sync for menstrual period tracking and ovulation windows, and Nutri Balance for hydration and nutrition. Nutri Balance analyzes specific gravity, pH, vitamin C, and ketone levels. The U-Scan will debut in Europe at the end of Q2, with the U-Scan starter kit priced at €499.95.  Both await FDA clearance. Withings U-Scan page, Mobihealthnews

Careficient buys Net Health’s home health/hospice EMR. Careficient already is present in the home health, hospice and home care cloud EMR market. Net Health is selling its home health, hospice, home care and palliative solutions EMR, marketed under HealthWyse and Hospicesoft, as well as its revenue cycle management (RCM) division, to concentrate on wound care and rehabilitation therapy. This expands Careficient’s client base by 750 locations in 39 states. Transaction cost was not disclosed. Release

Add to the cost of hacking multiple class action lawsuits. CommonSpirit Health, based in Chicago and the second largest health system in the US covering 21 states under CHI and Dignity Health names, not only has to remedy a massive 600,000 patient data breach discovered last October [TTA 3 Dec], but also fight a class action lawsuit filed 29 December by a patient in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Financial, health insurance, and medical information were all breached. The suit requests damages exceeding $5 million and injunctive relief, including stronger data protection practices. It will be the first of many as a quick search indicates multiple law firms seeking claimants. FierceHealthcare, WGNRadio

Week-end news roundup: Allscripts on the acquisition hunt, Amwell’s CVS telehealth deal, Cerner’s $1.8M racial discrimination settlement, predicting Parkinson’s progression via smartwatch data

Another company on the hunt for strategic buys. Health IT and EHR company Allscripts is seeking to add to its Veradigm analytics, research, and provider/payer platforms with some strategic acquisitions. Announced on its Q2 earnings call by new CEO Rick Poulton is the intent to expand the company from its current provider base into a more diverse one serving payers and life sciences. Allscripts does have some free cash–about $700 million–having recently sold its hospital and large physician practice EHRs to Constellation Software/N. Harris Group, though there were some settlements around their Practice Fusion EHR now incorporated into Veradigm [TTA 2 Apr]. With a free cash flow from continuing operations around $120 million and about 7% growth, they feel the time is here for some accretive, strategic, and proven acquisitions–at the right price. FierceHealthcare

Amwell’s Q2 earnings call also had good news for shareholders, who of late haven’t had much to cheer. CEO Ido Schoenberg, MD announced that Amwell will provide CVS Health’s Virtual Primary Care, formally launched in late May  Amwell will be providing primary, behavioral health, and chronic care management through the platform. CVS will be providing these services to Aetna fully-insured, self-insured plan sponsors, and CVS Caremark clients effective first half 2023. As this Editor wrote earlier this week, CVS Health is making no secret of its intent to expand into delivering primary care and home health. One way Virtual Primary Care will be leveraged is converting in-store health services to virtual, such as non-emergency treatment and nutrition/wellness programs. CVS is even dabbling into blockchain with downloadable non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for virtual services. HealthcareFinance 

Cerner, on the other hand, is paying out $1.8 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by the US Department of Labor. As a Federal contractor, Cerner went under review by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. That office alleged that Cerner systematically discriminated against qualified Black and Asian applicants who applied for positions at five facilities in Missouri and Kansas between 2015 and 2019. Cerner agreed to pay $1,860,000 in back pay and interest to 1,870 applicants in areas such as medical billing, system engineers and technical solution analysts. Certainly Oracle wanted to get this off the plate before the cutover on 1 October. HealthcareFinance, Department of Labor release

Can enough data collected build a predictive model for the progression of  Parkinson’s? Koneksa, a digital biomarker builder, is working with the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research to build a predictive model on how Parkinson’s will progress over time in an individual. The Fox Foundation already has a database to analyze — the Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative, launched in 2010, with health information and biosamples from Parkinson’s patients. Added to this will be data from Verily’s smartwatch:  activity tracking, gait analysis, and sleep cycles, which will be analyzed using Koneksa’s algorithms and additional machine learning. The award by the Fox Foundation was not disclosed, but it is the second for Koneksa after another grant awarded in mid-June to analyze vocal abnormalities relating to early progression of the disease, in conjunction with Northwestern University. FierceHealthcare

Weekend wrapup & reading: Amazon Health on talent hunt, Practice Fusion fined $200K for violating $145M prosecution agreement, and must-read studies and articles on older adults tech

Resumes and networking up! A writer at Becker’s Hospital Review tired of their usual diet of healthcare departures, ‘alarming’ rises of COVID rates by state, and cyber-attacks on hospitals to publish six top-level jobs opening up in Amazon’s healthcare areas. The lead is Head of worldwide health technology solutions to lead strategy in that area at the C-level. Two are in UX and software development at Alexa Health, a senior solutions architect, health artificial intelligence , a principal of behavioral health for digital health benefit programs, and a health information exchange specialist. So if your spring brings a yen for change….

Physician EHR Practice Fusion, now Veradigm owned by Allscripts, got another $200,000 spanking from the Feds. Back in January 2020, right before Pandemic Hell really broke loose on the world, the Department of Justice successfully resolved both criminal and civil charges against the EHR company. Practice Fusion was charged with “soliciting and receiving kickbacks in return for embedding electronic prompts in its electronic medical record (“EMR”) to influence the prescribing of opioid medications” as part of the platform’s clinical decision support (CDS) alerts. The kickback was $1 million from an unnamed ‘opioid company client’, The deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) was accompanied by 1) a $145 million fine and 2) maintenance of an Oversight Organization based on three specific requirements. DOJ in the District of Vermont found that Practice Fusion did not comply with the terms of the latter, charges that Practice Fusion denied. They settled with the DPA extended by 11 weeks with a fine of $200,000. Release, US Attorneys Office, District of Vermont 29 March, US DOJ release 27 January 2020

Weekend Reading. Laurie Orlov of Aging and Health Technology Watch has been hard at work, recently updating her Market Overview Technology for Aging and releasing The Future of Smart Homes and Older Adults. No time with spring cleaning to tackle long-form? Try three tart short takes on PERS smartwatches (not getting the ‘why’), did ‘voice first’ technologies meet their 2018 promises (not quite), and what she sees as the Seven Top Trends for tech to reach older adults–with the first being hospital to home (Optum and Humana have voted ‘yes’).