HTN Weekly Health Tech Reads 9/5

Genome Medical acquired Gene Matters, lots of big funding rounds (Cityblock $400m, Whoop $200m, quip $100m, Alma $50m, Solv $45m & more)

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News:

  • Genome Medical announced it raised $60 million and acquired GeneMatters, a telehealth platform for genetic counseling. Both organizations partner with health systems to offer virtual genetic counseling services, so it makes sense that the organizations would combine and attempt to build the clear industry winner in the genetic counseling market. Link.
  • Appriss Health has rebranded itself as Bamboo Health on the heels of its recent acquisition of PatientPing to reflect their approach to whole person care. Appriss if you'll recall from a few weeks back is also the company that has black-box opioid risk score algorithms that can mistake a person's dog's medications for that person's medications and as a result, label that person as high risk drug seeker. Call me crazy, but I think I have a better idea for how Appriss could demonstrate its commitment to whole person care than coming up with a new brand - how about you avoid creating algorithms that label people as high risk drug seekers because their dogs are taking benzos. Link.
  • UPMC and its chair of cardiothoracic surgery are being sued by the federal government under the False Claims act. The federal government is arguing the doctor submitted false claims by billing for three surgeries at once, which is not allowed. Of course UPMC and the doc deny the claims, but if nothing else it's a reminder of how these organizations learn to play the game financially to get paid. I'll never forget my experience as an intern at a medical device company observing a procedure where a patient was having an ICD (implantable defibrillator) inserted - it was shocking how little of the procedure was done by the provider and how much of it was done by the medical device company staff. Link.
  • Baxter is acquiring Hillrom for $12.4 billion. Link.
  • UnitedHealthcare is joining the rush of insurers expanding their ACA business, announcing they're expanding into seven new states. As we've mentioned previously, it will be fascinating to see who comes out on top and where in the individual exchanges when open enrollment numbers come out across UHC, BCBS, CVS/Aetna, Bright, Oscar, etc... given the collective financings and expansions. Link.

Funding:

  • Cityblock is raising another $400 million, this time from Softbank, at a $5.7 billion valuation. This comes on the heels of the $192 million that Cityblock raised only five months ago. Will be curious to see if this is the last money that goes in before we see Cityblock file for an IPO. Seems like that is the most likely scenario, either that or Cityblock is going to start making some acquisitions, which would be quite interesting. Link (behind Stat paywall). Link (non-paywalled).
  • Whoop, the wearable fitness tracker, raised $200 million from Softbank, valuing it at $3.6 billion. It remains to be seen if this resurgence in wearables can avoid the same traps Fitbit and others have fallen into in the past. That said, it is definitely more fun to see the heart rates of PGA Tour golfers wearing Whoop as they hit pressure filled shots than seeing their step counts. Link.
  • quip raised $100 million to make better digitally enabled toothbrushes and oral care products. Lots of money going after building new health brands these days. Link.
  • Mental health startup Alma raised $50 million at a ~$500 million valuation. The article provides an interesting perspective into Alma's challenges during COVID-19 as it started as a co-working space for therapists and has essentially pivoted to an MSO-like model. It's shut down those spaces and pivoted to a virtual model, focusing on helping therapists manage their small businesses. As investors / startups realize the challenge of scaling virtual care delivery businesses, it feels like we're going to see a lot more "MSO for independent providers of [insert specialty here] investments over the next few years. And just like that, what is old becomes new again. Link.
  • Solv, a startup helping patients book same-day appointments with providers, raised $45 million. Interesting to note that tucked into this press release is that Solv has launched an advisory board featuring folks from Banner Health and Multicare. Seems to indicate they're looking at health systems as a key customer, presumably pitching patient acquisition. Health systems are always willing to entertain these conversations but struggle to consistently prioritize this work, so it'll be interesting to watch how it scales over time. Link.
  • Ellipsis raised $26 million to build a vocal biomarker to assess stress, anxiety, and depression by listening to 60 seconds of speech. That makes two companies in this space that have raised funding in the past two weeks (Kintsugi was last week). Link.
  • Centaur Labs raised $15 million to create higher quality data for healthcare AI. In a space where AI algorithms are felled by challenging foes such as confusing a pets prescriptions for their persons (yes I am indeed throwing shade at Appriss again) we could sure some better underlying data. Link.
  • Wellbe, a digital care management platform for providers, raised $2 million. Link.

Opinions:

  • Here's a KHN article on telemedicine abortions that highlights the tensions in care delivery presented by new virtual models. Setting aside anyone's personal beliefs on the subject of this article, it's a really interesting lens into a conversation we're going to be having more regularly moving forward. As digital offerings appear that are more convenient and cost effective, what happens to the traditional physical clinics that have provided similar services? Of course, the physical clinics argue that virtual care is no substitute. But it's hard to argue with a cheaper alternative. It's going to be really interesting how the next decade unfolds in care delivery in this regard. Link.
  • Christina Farr featured an interview with a few folks on the remote patient monitoring space, wondering if the time is right for it to finally take off. Interesting to see the general perspective of the interview, which I'd sum up as. 1. Macro trends are good for RPM, 2. There are hundreds of companies out there pitching RPM solutions. 3. The interviewees struggle to call out a single company that stands out in the space (see the last question). That third point seems incongruent with the first two - will be curious to see how it all comes together. Link.
  • This is a fascinating profile of AdaptHealth from Ed Manzi. Adapt was SPACed in 2019 after being formed in 2012 as a private equity roll-up of the DME space. It highlights some of the underbelly of how private equity rolls up a space like this and the impacts of it. I'm not sure that I feel like this is a good thing for healthcare after reading articles like this. Link.

Data:

  • This article in JAMA looks at how insurance coverage has changed during COVID. It found that health insurance of any type declined by 1.4%, meaning 2.7 million people became uninsured. Link.
  • The Medicare Trustees put out their annual report sounding the alarm that the Medicare trust fund is expected to run out in 2026. Carry on, nothing to see here. Link.

Featured Jobs:

  • RubiconMD, a startup providing econsults connecting primary care providers with specialists, is hiring a Product Manager. Link.
  • Ophelia, a telehealth platform for substance abuse treatment, is hiring a Director of Talent. Link.
  • Cricket Health, an early stage startup focused on specialty kidney care provider of integrated nephrology and dialysis care, is hiring a General Manager. Link.
  • Flatiron Health, a startup focused building a cancer specific EHR and platform to improve patient experience and outcomes, is hiring a Director of Health Informatics. Link.

Access the HTN Jobs Board for the full list of job postings.