A model of this digest first appeared within the weekly STAT Well being Tech e-newsletter. To obtain future editions, enroll right here.
Let’s begin with a briefing on speedy monetary maneuvering proper now within the telehealth trade, and the numerous dangers that underlie it.
To catch you up: The nation’s largest telehealth firms are making massive bets on a surge in demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Teladoc, the most important supplier, is buying the net power illness firm Livongo in an $18.5 billion deal, and Amwell, MDLive, and GoodRx — which operates a telehealth enterprise referred to as HeyDoctor — are all making ready for preliminary public choices. The paperwork for these IPOs supply a brand new window into the long-murky image of funds in telemedicine, as Rebecca explains in a brand new story that digs into the filings.
It appears an excellent time for these firms to money in. America’s in a single day transition to telemedicine has launched the comfort and worth of digital visits on a large scale, and lots of sufferers and suppliers say they’ll by no means return to the way in which it was earlier than.
However there are many causes for warning. The largest is detailed in a story by Casey on a latest dropoff in telemedicine visits documented by the digital well being document vendor Epic, which reported that telemedicine accounted for simply 21% of complete visits by mid-July, down from 69% in April.
The speed of digital visits remains to be far greater than pre-pandemic ranges. However the truly fizzling out just isn’t an awesome signal when you think about that the rising demand has not translated into equal will increase in income or earnings.
Amwell’s S-1 experiences, for instance, that whereas greater than half of its 5.6 million visits since 2007 got here through the first six months of this 12 months, its income throughout that interval elevated solely 77%. In the meantime, its internet losses jumped 172%, to $113 million.
The story could range by firm, and by monetary quarter, however telehealth remains to be a younger and risky trade. Betting on its growth just isn’t a slam dunk.
This simply in:
GOOGLE SCORES A GOVERNMENT CONTRACT ON CANCER — The U.S. Division of Protection has struck a deal with Google Cloud to make use of its AI instruments to enhance most cancers prognosis. The challenge will use AI to research pathology slides on augmented actuality microscopes, and take a look at its skill to make a distinction in a scientific setting. Will probably be rolled out at remedy services operated by the Protection Well being Company and the Division of Veterans Affairs, with the hope of decreasing the 12 million misdiagnoses yearly.
DATA ON DIABETES COACHING BUSINESSES — Omada Well being this morning introduced the primary scientific influence information from 195 sufferers with sort 2 diabetes who used its diabetes teaching and monitoring program. After 4 months, sufferers decreased their A1C, a measure of glucose within the blood, amongst different enhancements. A number of essential caveats: The research wasn’t randomized or blinded. It additionally solely included a single arm that enrolled sufferers within the community of Evidation Well being, a unique inhabitants than the sufferers whose employers and insurers pay for them to entry Omada’s program.
In the meantime, Verily’s digital diabetes enterprise Onduo final week printed a paper on an identical research. That analysis, additionally designed as a single-arm research, examined the outcomes of 55 sufferers with diabetes who spent 4 months in Onduo’s diabetes program and located that they too lowered their A1C ranges.
The speak of well being tech:
VERILY QUIET ON THE OPIOID CAMPUS FRONT — Almost a 12 months since launching an “formidable endeavor” to fight the opioid epidemic with an habit medication campus referred to as OneFifteen, Verily has been quiet about its position within the challenge. The tech firm — chargeable for constructing out the system’s information capabilities and making it a “tech-enabled campus” — has been opaque on the way it plans to understand these targets. Erin has the total story.
AIN’T THAT A CHIP IN THE HEAD! — That was the headline on Saturday’s New York Submit, after Elon Musk trotted out three pigs to reveal the expertise being developed by his brain-machine interface startup Neuralink. Among the many information at the corporate’s replace Friday: Musk unveiled a coin-sized prototype of Neuralink’s mind implant — which he mentioned the corporate had labored to “dramatically simplify” since presenting an earlier model. Musk additionally mentioned Neuralink acquired breakthrough machine designation from the FDA in July — a regulatory pathway that would permit the corporate to quickly begin a scientific trial in individuals with paraplegia and tetraplegia.
A HALO FOR YOUR TONE — Amazon final week entered the well being monitoring house with a wrist wearable referred to as the Halo that tracks the emotion in your voice and your physique fats proportion, all whereas additionally conserving tabs in your exercise, sleep, and coronary heart charge. The brand new gadget matches snugly into the tech behemoth’s burgeoning well being care portfolio, trade observers informed Erin.
COVID-19 TRACING, BUT MAKE IT ‘EXPRESS’ — Apple and Google introduced on Tuesday that they’d make their contact tracing expertise accessible to state well being departments with out requiring they develop their very own apps. Thus far, solely six states are utilizing the tech, however on a name with reporters, representatives mentioned they hoped the brand new iteration — referred to as Publicity Notification Categorical — can be extra extensively adopted. Underneath the brand new protocol, states are nonetheless chargeable for deciding who will get a notification, however individuals might be traced throughout state traces because of a nationwide information alternate system created by the Affiliation of Public Well being Laboratories.
Chart of the week:
THE PANDEMIC PRESSURE IS ON — In case you wanted one other signal of the pandemic’s wide-ranging well being harms, digital care firm Livongo printed a graphic Monday displaying its customers’ blood strain developments earlier than and after lockdown insurance policies have been instituted. In a given week pre-pandemic, 62% of members had hypertension. Submit-pandemic, that determine rose to 68%. After all, the figures solely present a hyperlink between the pandemic and hypertension, not that one induced the opposite.
MEDICARE INVESTS IN “BREAKTHROUGHS” — Right here’s a head-turning improvement within the medical machine world: The Facilities for Medicare and Medicaid Companies is proposing 4 years of Medicare protection for “breakthrough units” that achieve advertising and marketing approval from the FDA. The FDA has slapped the breakthrough label on tons of of units in improvement over the previous few years, however solely about 16 have gained closing approval. Medicare’s proposal could possibly be a boon for digital units, however it additionally locations a variety of religion within the FDA’s skill to filter out merchandise that don’t enhance outcomes.
BUILDING A BIOMARKER DATABASE — The voice biomarker pioneer Sonde Well being is buying NeuroLex, one other firm looking for to make use of voice information to display for psychosis and different psychiatric situations. The deal creates a voice biobank of practically a million samples, probably accelerating analysis into audio indicators which will flag a variety of sicknesses, from hypertension to despair.
EYE OF THE TIGER — A maker of clinician collaboration software program, TigerConnect, is buying Adjuvant’s Name Scheduler product to construct its platform for enhancing communication amongst well being care groups. The transfer is designed to assist shoppers enhance coordination of staffing assignments.
FROM WATSON HEALTH TO BEST BUY — Deborah DiSanzo, the previous head of IBM’s troubled Watson Well being unit, has been employed to lead Finest Purchase’s well being enterprise as its new president. DiSanzo left Watson Well being in 2018 because the unit was falling in need of lofty expectations in a wide range of areas, most notably its flagship most cancers software program, which used AI to suggest programs of remedy.
WALMART LOSES ITS HEAD OF HEALTH — Sean Slovenski final month left his position as the top of Walmart’s well being division — and final week was named CEO of medical testing firm BioIQ