Wire #42

  • Volumes Up, Multiples Down: PwC released a report showing that health services M&A activity was up 56% in 2021, driven in part by 407 physician medical group acquisitions (up from 185 in 2020). The findings also include figures that could be interpreted as early indicators of a slowdown in M&A demand, such as declining exit multiples in four of the seven tracked subsectors.
  • Rheumatology Telehealth: A study out of the University of Cambridge surveyed 1,340 patients and 111 clinicians about the effectiveness of telemedicine for rheumatology, finding that 86% of patients and 93% clinicians felt that telediagnosis was less accurate than face-to-face assessments. Misdiagnoses were frequently attributed to the absence of in-person examinations that are critical for initial rheumatological diagnosis due to clinicians’ reliance on non-verbal cues to gauge pain levels and the mental state of patients.
  • The Nocebo Effect: A recent Bloomberg article warns of the “nocebo effect” from smartwatch notifications for stress and fatigue. The nocebo effect shows that perceptions of distress can increase when the sensation is highlighted, such as when someone believes they’ve had a good night sleep, then receives a poor sleep score from a wearable and feels more tired after the fact.
  • In-Home Diagnostic Support: Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, published a viewpoint in JAMA in support of in-home diagnostic testing, outlining how the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of rapid assessments tests that will be “increasingly coupled with telemedicine visits” for a range of pathogens. Gottlieb predicts that the FDA will be highly supportive of in-home testing moving forward, which is good news for entrepreneurs solving problems in this space.
  • EU Approves Microsoft + Nuance: The European Commission unconditionally approved Microsoft’s pending acquisition Nuance Communications, clearing the last major hurdle for the acquisition that is now expected to be finalized in the coming weeks. The investigation found that Nuance’s transcription software for end-users differs significantly from Microsoft’s speech recognition APIs targeted at developers, and that combining the two will not stifle competition.
  • Telepsychology Preferences: New research published in Telemedicine and e-Health found that 257 patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures that were enrolled in a 12-week counseling program were three times more likely to choose a telepsychology visit than an in-office session when given a choice between the two. Telepsychology visits were also significantly less likely to be cancelled (OR=0.43), highlighting the barriers that impede seizure patients’ ability to attend treatment such as lack of mobility or nearby specialists.
  • Data Guidelines: The FDA published draft guidance on using digital health technologies (DHTs) to acquire data remotely from clinical investigation participants. The guidance includes specialized direction for both hardware and software to safely gather health information from study participants to accelerate medical product development.
  • Biogen Acquisition Rumors: The Korea Economic Daily reported that Samsung is in talks to acquire pharmaceutical giant Biogen for $42B, which would be the largest overseas acquisition ever by a South Korean company. Samsung recently stated that it would invest $206B into biopharmaceuticals, AI, and healthcare over the next three years, although the company quickly denied the acquisition report.
  • Mindfulness Training Study: A new study published in JMIR tested the efficacy of app-delivered mindfulness training (MT) on patients with generalized anxiety disorder, finding that the MT group (n=32) demonstrated a significant reduction in anxiety compared with the control group (n=33) (median change in GAD-7 questionnaire at two months: -8.5 vs -1.0). The MT modules targeted maladaptive reinforcement learning by helping individuals simply observe repetitive cycles of worry rather than habitually react and reinforce them.
  • PandemicX Accelerator: Fifteen digital health startups are joining the PandemicX Accelerator program sponsored by the HHS to address health inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. The companies will use publicly accessible data to develop interoperable tools targeting areas such as national public health, socioeconomic outcome indicators, and community resilience.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team