Wire #40

  • Oracle In Talks to Acquire Cerner: The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Oracle is exploring the acquisition of healthcare IT giant Cerner in a transaction expected to be worth over $30B. The acquisition would expand Oracle’s enterprise software operations deeper into the healthcare market and would be among the largest healthcare M&A moves since Microsoft’s $19.7B acquisition of Nuance earlier this year.
  • Emails Improve Wearables: A study published in JMIR found that adding behavioral support emails to a wearable activity tracker interventions increased physical activity levels among obese women compared to  activity tracker–only interventions. Over a six week period, the email + tracker group received weekly emails to enhance motivation for physical activity, which led to a mean weekly walking minute measure of nearly 1.4k minutes (vs ~700 for the tracker-only group).
  • UpLift Funding: Behavioral health startup UpLift closed an $8M funding round to integrate psychiatry into its platform that connects patients with in-network therapists and mental health providers. UpLift’s approach to digital mental health focuses on working directly with payors as opposed to employers, reducing the friction associated with finding a new provider when a patient switches jobs.
  • Obesity Telerehabilitation: New research out of France compared telerehabilitation (TR) to standard care for 49 patients with obesity, finding that TR significantly improved body composition and quality of life, but was not statistically superior to standard care. Despite similar results across both cohorts, the TR group had an abnormally high 95% adherence (compared to standard dropouts of 43%-62%), indicating that telerehabilitation should be considered when developing obesity programs.
  • Clover Launches Kidney Care: Clover Health is partnering with Cricket Health to launch a new clinical program targeting chronic kidney disease (CKD) within the Clover Assistant, a CDS tool that aggregates health data to drive earlier disease detection. Clinicians using the Clover Assistant can now access Cricket Health’s comprehensive services for patients with CKD, which often goes undiagnosed within the Medicare Advantage population that Clover serves.
  • Digital Depression Treatments: The American Psychological Association conducted a systematic review of 83 randomized controlled trials of digital interventions, finding that while computer- and smartphone- based treatments were generally effective, the largest positive outcomes were for tools that incorporated human guidance (feedback on assignments, exercises), rather than self-directed care. The APA recommends that digital mental health apps keep patient attrition as a top priority, given that nearly 50% of participants across all studies failed to complete the full intervention.
  • Pear Acquires Depression Assets: Pear Therapeutics announced that it completed the acquisition of two digital therapeutics targeting depression, which will be incorporated into Pear’s own depression product ahead of clinical evaluation. Pear is hoping that the new assets will help expedite the FDA clearance for its Pear-015 depression solution, allowing it to join its roster of approved treatments that includes reSET (substance use disorder), reSET-O (opioid use disorder), and Somryst (chronic insomnia).
  • Rural Telehealth: The share of rural households interacting with providers online reached 54% in 2021 (up from 34% in 2019), according to a Connected Nation survey. Of the 360 head of household respondents from rural Michigan, 75% plan to continue using telehealth as much as they do now in the next year, with another 6% planning on using it more frequently, suggesting that telehealth adoption within this population will persist for the near term.
  • Wheel + GoodRx: Virtual care technology company Wheel is partnering with GoodRx to improve access to medication and help patients adhere to their treatment plans. Companies using Wheel’s white-labeled virtual care platform will be able to take advantage of GoodRx’s integrated service, which processes over 200B data points every day to find ways to reduce medication expenses.
  • Believing in Black Boxes: A University of Toronto editorial argued that healthcare machine learning tools don’t need to be explainable to be evidence-based, noting medicine’s long list of treatments / procedures that are not fully understood (e.g. acetaminophen or gastric bypass surgery). Instead of holding ML to unnecessarily high standards, the authors suggest that we should focus on improving how we evaluate ML, an approach that aligns with another recent paper that calls for the rigorous validation of AI models until suitable explainability methods emerge.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team