Wire #11

  • Alma Funding: Digital therapy platform Alma recently raised $50m in Series C financing ($90.5 total funding) to help develop its software that allows therapists to build virtual private practices and work with payers. Rates are often too low to cover a therapist’s overhead, so Alma aims to lower costs with its platform before directly contracting with payers on behalf of its member bloc, allowing therapists to focus on patients instead of business administration.
  • CEO Shakeup: GeekWire recently revealed that 98point6 co-founder and CEO Robbie Cape abruptly resigned on Sept. 1, leaving chairman Jeff Greenstein to serve as interim CEO during the search for a new chief executive. The company provides virtual primary care to over 3m patients and has raised $247m in total funding. 98point6 COO Fukiko Ogisu stated that, “While Robbie is no longer with the company, we will continue to execute on the mission he was instrumental in creating—to ensure every single human on Earth has access to high-quality primary care without ever needing to make a financial trade-off to get it.”
  • TikTok Doctors: A new study from the Nanjing University of Science and Technology analyzed 199 diabetes-related TikTok videos to investigate the quality of disease information on the video app. Each video was assessed on six types of content (definition of disease, symptoms, risks, evaluation, management, outcomes), with researchers finding that a majority of videos (n=135) addressed diabetes management but contained limited information on the other criteria. Although the quality of the information was acceptable, the study concluded that “the health information needs of patients with diabetes might not be fully met by watching TikTok videos.”
  • More Telehealth, Less Ambulances: NYC Health + Hospitals recently reported that its Virtual ExpressCare portal served over 16k patients in its first year, helping the safety net health system relieve overcrowded EDs during the pandemic. The online platform launched in mid-2020 to help address the surge in COVID-19 patients and rising 911 call volume. Virtual ExpressCare helped FDNY EMS avoid over 1.3k unnecessary ambulance trips through its 911-based telemedicine intervention, which redirected low-acuity callers to online services outside of the ED.
  • Hospital Hiring: Professional services company Aon surveyed 150 health systems between April and June 2021, finding that 40% of hospitals are accelerating hiring to meet the rapidly rebounding demand for healthcare services. Only 24% of respondents plan to be cautious by only hiring for key roles, indicating that many employers have begun shifting their focus from mitigating rising costs to addressing labor shortages and burnout.
  • Brightline Expansion: Family digital mental health service provider Brightline recently announced the expansion of its pediatric behavioral health coaching program and online content platform, which is now available in all 50 states. The news comes following Brightline’s $72m Series B in June ($104m total funding), which the company says will also help expand its clinical services (behavioral therapy, medication evaluation and support, and speech therapy) nationwide by the end of the year.
  • Solv Series C: National provider network Solv recently raised $45m of Series C funding to accelerate the growth of its offerings aimed at making same-day in-person appointments and virtual care accessible to anyone. Solv allows patients to quickly schedule same-day appointments from their phone, reduce their in-office wait-times by filling out forms pre-appointment, and text with their provider.
  • eHealth Acceptance: A recent study from the Singapore Institute of Mental Health investigated the acceptance of eHealth services for diabetes care among participants with (n=436) and without (n=2,459) diabetes. eHealth acceptance was low, with 47% of the overall sample and 76% of the diabetes group reporting that they were not ready for online diabetes management. The study found that age (≥35 years) and limited education correlated to lower odds of acceptance, which could signal a need for targeted technical literacy programs to avoid health care disparities.
  • Baxter Buys Hillrom: Medical product giant Baxter is acquiring connected care provider Hillrom in an all-cash deal valued at $10.5 billion. Baxter announced that the acquisition will accelerate its digitally-enabled connected care solutions across the continuum of care while expanding Hillrom’s penetration of international markets, a combination that it expects to generate high single-digit returns on invested capital by 2027.
  • Innovation Center: UC San Diego and Techna Institute have partnered to launch a new Center for Health Innovation that will seek to develop and commercialize technologies that make a “measurable difference in the lives of patients.” The center’s UCSD location is in close proximity to the biotech sector and was designed to create a collaborative environment as it focuses initial projects on refining the virtual visit experience.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team