Wire #69

  • Rock Health Q1 2022 Funding: The digital health investment slowdown has officially arrived, with Rock Health’s Q1 2022 Digital Health Funding Report revealing the sector’s first year-over-year Q1 decrease since 2019. Although investments in private digital health startups still totalled a healthy $6B (vs. $6.7B in Q1 2021), Rock Health notes that it’s been a “no good, very bad time” for publicly traded digital health companies, which have tumbled 38% since July. The recent drawdown in public comparables has caused many still-private startups to tap the brakes on IPO plans, given that entering the market now would likely mean doing so at a lower valuation than their last private funding round.
  • Food-as-Medicine: Nutrition startup Season Health raised $34M in Series A funding to support the expansion of its food-as-medicine platform through new retailer partnerships. Season helps providers and health plans establish food-based treatment programs by pairing patients with dietitians to create reimbursable meal plans for conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. By combining food selection with delivery logistics in a comprehensive platform, Season is using the “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” strategy to address the 85% of US healthcare costs that it reports are directly related to unhealthy diets.
  • Digital MSK Study: A recent study of 296 participants enrolled in SWORD Health’s 12-week digital MSK program found a 51.6% average reduction in QuickDASH disability scores, as well as improvements in secondary measures such as work productivity loss (-66.5%) and surgery intent (-55.5%). Interestingly, the average age of completers (n=234, age 51.7) was significantly higher than non-completers (n=62, age 47.7), challenging the notion of lower digital health adoption among an older population.
  • Remote Exam Partnership: California-based MemorialCare health system is partnering with TytoCare to implement new virtual care technology that allows patients to perform provider-guided medical exams remotely. TyoCare’s FDA-approved handheld device and EHR-integrated app enable comprehensive physical exams of the heart, skin, ears, throat, abdomen, and lungs, reducing the number of in-person visits needed to properly manage patients with chronic conditions.
  • Role Badges Help With Bias: Mayo Clinic Proceedings recently published a new study finding that participating resident physicians (n=341) were less likely to report role misidentification or bias perceptions while wearing role-identifier badges. After eight weeks of wearing a prominent badge reading “Doctor,” participants were significantly less likely to report role misidentification at least once a week from patients, while the 66 female residents reported fewer episodes of gender bias. The authors call for universal implementation of role badges to support inclusivity efforts and limit the negative impact of stereotypes in the clinical learning environment.
  • Walmart Clinic Expansion: Walmart is continuing its Walmart Health clinic expansion with the announcement of five new Florida health centers that offer a range of medical services (yes, including telehealth) and mark the retailer’s first Epic-integrated locations. Although Walmart’s push into healthcare appears more conservative than its retail and online competitors (e.g. Walgreens or Amazon), it now has at least 20 locations and has been actively building out its healthcare team, partnerships, and strategy.
  • Communication Priming: A communication-priming EHR integration led to more documentation of goals-of-care discussions for hospitalized patients with serious illnesses, according to a recent study published in JAMA Network Open. The 150 participants were randomized into usual care or intervention groups, with patients and their clinicians in the latter group receiving Jumpstart Guides populated with data from questionnaires that were designed to prompt goals-of-care discussions. Over 21% of patients in the intervention group participated in EHR-documented goals-of-care discussions (vs. 8% for usual care), suggesting that communication-priming interventions are effective, at least in the inpatient setting.
  • Avi Series B: German telehealth startup Avi Medical closed $54.5M in Series B funding (total now $87M) to help “reshape primary care” by providing easy access to evidence-based medicine. Avi Medical provides a patient-facing app that allows users to monitor their treatment plans, nutrition, and blood work, with an assigned in-house physician dedicated to monitoring their care. The company combines the app with an AI-enabled booking system that aims to identify the reason a patient is seeking care to automatically tailor the appointment to the patient’s needs without the need for in-office preparatory work.
  • Measurement-Based Care: A survey of nearly 100 executives from US community mental health centers found that nearly all respondents believe measurement-based care (MBC) could help their organization, yet only 16% are consistently using it. MBC requires the evaluation of patient symptoms before and after clinical encounters to inform behavioral health treatment, yet 51% of the execs cited data and reporting concerns hindering its uptake, which suggests that there’s an ongoing disconnect between the recognized need and the implementation of a solution
  • Evernow Funding: Female-focused telehealth company Evernow recently completed a $28.5M Series A funding round to expand its team and continue developing its virtual menopause solution. Evernow’s telehealth platform is designed to match women with tailored treatments while providing members with access to staffed clinicians for ongoing support. The funding round was led by high profile angel investors such as Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore, who committed to elevating the conversation around women’s health alongside their investment.

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-- The Digital Health Wire team