Health tech investors talk frothy valuations, healthcare consumerism, and bothersome buzzwords

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 7, 2015        

Tags: | | | | | | |  |

Money TreeDigital health funding is on the rise — for example, MobiHealthNews tracked $689 million in deals this quarter, spread across 49 deals, compared to $392 million in Q3 of last year. But investors at a Health 2.0 panel this week said that dollar amounts don’t tell the whole story.

“There are a lot of different sources of capital than there used to be before,” Ankur Luther, an executive director at Morgan Stanley said. “Mutual funds, sovereign wealth funds, strategic investors, and a lot of that has driven up competition, driven up valuations for sure. I think we all know that valuations have been very frothy. [But] I think it’s more because people have been smart. You want to take advantage of the market while you can finance bigger because there will be a time when you can’t do that.”

Abhas Gupta, a partner at Mohr Davidow Ventures, added that healthcare investments in particular can look inflated because everything in healthcare is so expensive.

“All the dollars in healthcare have multiple zeros behind them, that’s just how it works,” he said. “The average revenue per user in Facebook is $4. For eBay it’s $89 dollars, for Amazon it’s $189 dollars. For Medicare it’s $12,000. … So you have to get wrapped around this idea that a company may only be doing tens of millions of dollars of revenue, but it’s worth a half a billion dollars, even though it’s literally in the first 16 months of its inception.” Keep reading>>


CareSync raises $18M for mobile-enabled care coordination platform

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 7, 2015        

Tags: | | | | | | | | |  |

CareSync CCMWesley Chapel, Florida-based care coordination platform CareSync raised $18 million in a round from the Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (Merck GHI), Greycroft Partners, and Harbert Venture Partners, with participation from existing investors Tullis Health Investors, Clearwell Group, CDH Solutions, and CareSync CEO Travis Bond. The company raised $4.25 million around this time last year.

“Our country spends 86 percent of its healthcare budget on treating chronic disease, which we could decrease by getting people on the same page about a patient’s care,” Bond said in a statement. “That’s why we’re leading the mission to simplify the healthcare experience for everyone involved. With this investment, our team is excited to embark on CareSync’s next chapter of growth as we continue to arm patients and providers with the personalized data they need for better outcomes and lower costs.”

Over the next 18 months, the company plans to hire an additional 500 employees. CareSync offers a version of its platform to providers, called CareSync CCM, and another direct to consumer. The company now works with more than 100 provider facilities that care for more than 300,000 chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries.

CareSync’s product, available on the web or on mobile devices, helps caregivers and patients keep track of medical records or medical records for family members.

The service is available in tiered pricing. If patients want to use the platform for medication reminders, appointment planning, health tracking with wearable devices, access for family and friends, as well as task management, the service is free. But if the patient plans to build a one-time health history with summaries from past medical visits and medical records from providers, on top of all the free features, they pay a one-time fee of $129. Last year, the service was priced at $99.

If, on top of these features, the patients want to get access to a CareSync health assistant, which can help with medical appointment scheduling and care coordination, they pay $29 per month, up from $19 last year, or $299 for the year, up from $199. Users who choose the one-time option get a 60-day trial with a CareSync Plus Health Assistant.

Noom, NY urgent care network to pilot Samsung S Health for diabetes prevention

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 7, 2015        

Tags: | | | | | |  |

S HealthNew York City-based wellness app maker Noom and CityMD, a network of urgent care medical centers in and around New York City, are launching a pilot for people who are at risk for Type 2 diabetes using Samsung’s S Health app, integrated with Noom’s health program.

The pilot will include, at most, around 670 New Yorkers who have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Noom aims to use the pilot to create a health program that offers users preventive protocols and disease treatment therapies in near-real time.

“CityMD is excited to be a pioneering partner in the development of protocols that impact what happens in between doctor visits,” CityMD CEO Richard Park said in a statement. “When brought together, innovative behavior change interventions and leading technology can be powerful tools for delaying and preventing the onset of chronic disease. We understand that the potential impact of programs like this for prediabetic and diabetic populations could be economically significant and highly effective for preventing the onset and complications associated with chronic disease.”

S Health helps users track activity, fitness, and nutrition and also offers digital coaching programs to help users reach their health goals. The app uses this data to create health information summaries for users. People can also personalize their S Health dashboard by adding or removing goals and picking which health metrics they want to track. According to the app store description, S Health has been downloaded between 50 million and 100 million times. Keep reading>>

Employee wellness: Bank of America, Southwest value intrinsic incentives over cash

By: Aditi Pai | Oct 6, 2015        

Tags: | | | |  |
Kembre Roberts Southwest

Kembre Roberts, Manager-People, Southwest Airlines

Employers should be less concerned about their return on investment when they consider launching an employee wellness program, according to Bank of America Senior Vice President of Employee Benefits Jim Huffman, who spoke at an event in Boston this week. Huffman and Kembre Roberts, Manager for People at Southwest Airlines, who both selected ShapeUp’s employee wellness program for their employees, discussed strategies they use and challenges they have faced.

“What’s the ROI? What are you going to get back on this program?” Huffman told attendees at the 29th National Conference on Health, Productivity and Human Capital. “I’ll be the first to say it doesn’t matter what the ROI of your program is. Ask your CFO or ask your head of HR whether a connected, focused workforce is what they want. If that’s what they want to drive productivity, revenue, and customer interactions, then this is one way to get it. We don’t have to measure a three for one return on wellness, and we don’t have to measure how much we are going to get back on this Fitbit investment.”

Bank of America has 235,000 employees across the globe and about 200,000 in the US. It works with at least two other digital health companies — Teladoc and Fitbit.

“As a self insured medical plan, we have over a billion and a half dollars of spend forecasted for this year, running us anywhere between 4 to 6 percent year over year increase,” Huffman said. “So when we invest in programs like this, physical activity challenges, wellness programs, we are confident it’s going to make an impact. Whether it’s financial impact or organizational impact.”  Keep reading>>

Smart sock maker Sensoria and OHI to launch fall prevention device

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 6, 2015        

Tags: | | | | | | | |  |
The non-connected Moore Balance Brace.

The non-connected Moore Balance Brace.

Textile sensor company Sensoria has expanded its offering beyond the realm of wellness tracking for athletes and is developing a device to sell to healthcare providers via a partnership with New York medical device company Orthotics Holdings Incorporated (OHI). Sensoria demoed the new provider-facing system at the Health 2.0 event in Santa Barbara this week.

Sensoria has incorporated the textile sensors it uses in its smart socks into the Moore Balance Brace, and orthotic brace from OHI, to create a new product called the Smart Moore Balance Brace. The brace will track not just motion, but things like gait, cadence, and stride length that physical therapists can analyze to predict falls and track recovery. The data is sent to a mobile app accessible by the consumer and to a back-end dashboard for the provider, who can not only see the patient’s data, but can communicate with the patient through the app to put that data to use.

“As the clinician who has actually prescribed the brace, I can tell [the patient] what to do in terms of what his activity level should be,” Sensoria cofounder and CEO Davide Vigano said from the stage. “I can actually send text messaging and voice feedback to him. The other thing I can do is bring up the full dashboard of all my patients, which are color coded [by level of adherence]. I can see cadence, stride length, exam date, and so forth. I can pull up each one and see the level of activity.”

The brace has sensors built into it, and Sensoria also will provide a snap-on anklet accelerometer that will provide additional data to providers. Keep reading>>

Health Catalyst looks ahead to 2017 IPO, more risk-sharing contracts

By: Jonah Comstock | Oct 6, 2015        

Tags: | | | | |  |

Health Catalyst CEO Dan Burton

Utah-based data warehouse company Health Catalyst is frequently mentioned as a candidate for the next digital health IPO, and CEO Dan Burton coyly addressed that chatter from the stage at Health 2.0 in Santa Clara.

“Hard to be a fortune teller there, but we’re trying to think of 2016 as our last year as a private company,” he said.

Part of the reason Health Catalyst is such a favorite to IPO is that the company has been very transparent about its unwillingess to sell. Burton told Michelle Noteboom, a writer for The Health Care Blog, that the decision to be so transparent cost them some investors, but it was worth it because it allowed them to fully commit to planning for the long term.

“It’s tempting to sell out quickly and it can be personally rewarding financially,” he said. “But we’ve seen over and over the long term effect of that decision. So early on we decided that wasn’t the path we were on. We also felt like, if we’re going to ask customers to choose us as a long term partner and we’re open to selling out in the short term, I just couldn’t look customers in the eye and say ‘choose us’.” Keep reading>>