Wire #38

CB Insights DH150: CB Insights released its annual Digital Health 150 rankings of the most promising global digital health startups, over half of which were new entrants to the list this year. The DH150 companies underscore many of the biggest trends in healthcare, including the rise of digital therapeutics and virtual care. Mental and behavioral health companies accounted for 24 of this year’s companies, compared to 10 last year, a reflection of the space’s strong momentum heading into 2022.

Bright Health + Cigna: Bright Health announced a $750M capital raise led by Cigna to help its mission of aligning care delivery with financial assistance to drive better outcomes in the consumer retail market. Although Bright Health and Cigna are competitors within the Medicare solutions arena, the new partnership opens the potential for both companies to begin offering services to each other’s clients at a time when many payors are eyeing collaborations with doctor’s groups.

Early COVID Detection: A study published in Nature revealed that an algorithm may be able to alert smartwatch wearers of infections such as COVID-19 before the onset of symptoms. Researchers fed the algorithm with smartwatch data from over 3k participants, successfully detecting COVID-19 in 80% of cases where a patient tested positive. The median alert time was three days prior to the onset of symptoms, and 73% of participants found the frequency of alerts acceptable, suggesting potential for the technology as a mass-market solution.

Robin Series B: Robin recently closed a $40M Series B round ($65M total funding) to bring its Robin Assistant to new markets and expand support for existing users. Unlike the software-first strategies of competitors like Suki, the Robin Assistant is an egg-shaped device that sits in the exam room and ambiently generates the documentation during patient visits, offloading administrative tasks for providers while ensuring compliance with all current regulations.

Clinician Burnout: A report from KLAS Research found that both physicians and nurses are reporting higher levels of burnout than ever before, with an all-time-high 33% of clinicians reporting some degree of burnout (up from 25% pre-pandemic). Not only is burnout increasing, but the rate of increase has also accelerated as the Delta variant applied pressure to health systems throughout the second half of the year, causing nearly 20% of clinicians to cite COVID-19 as a top contributor to burnout.

connectRN Funding: Tech-enabled healthcare staffing company connectRN raised $76M to help expand the reach of its scheduling platform that allows nurses to find and apply for shifts while networking with other clinicians. Home care provider Amedisys invested in the funding round and will adopt the platform for its clinician network, which connectRN expects to result in 240% organic revenue growth for 2021.

Telehealth Privacy Concerns: A Kaspersky survey of 389 health-IT executives found that 81% of respondents have data privacy concerns surrounding telehealth, with over half reporting cases where patients refused to complete a virtual appointment due to mistrust of the technology. The researchers suggest taking a proactive approach to issues such as unpatched vulnerabilities and weak email security to prevent reputational damage to organizations and telehealth as a whole.

CVS Primary Care: At CVS Health’s first investor day since the beginning of the pandemic, CEO Karen Lynch outlined the company’s plans to integrate its pharmacy, home care, and digital solutions with its soon-to-be-launched primary care clinics. While it remains unclear how many brick-and-mortar clinics CVS intends to open, Lynch stated that the goal of the strategy is to center care around consumers while capturing a larger share of downstream healthcare revenue.

Chatbot Study: A study of 237 adult patients out of the UK found that chatbots were viewed as unacceptable as a consultation source for severe health issues, although the acceptability was significantly higher for stigmatised issues where sensitive personal information needs to be disclosed. For low stigma health issues, physicians were reported as the most acceptable consultation source, followed by doctor-chatbot combinations, with the authors calling for further research to establish a set of health topics most suitable for chatbot-led interventions

Alexa Together: Amazon announced the launch of its new Alexa Together elder care service that expands the functionality of Echo devices with new features such as fall detection and emergency assistance. For a $20 monthly subscription, Alexa Together allows family members to receive notifications through the Alexa app whenever a loved one falls or calls for help, while also enabling remote assist features such as setting reminders or creating checklists.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team