The company hopes its new Destination: Health offering – can successfully connect high-need members to social services. CVS is working in concert with Unite Us, a New York startup that builds networks of local social service providers and provides software to connect individuals with those organizations, track outcomes and collaborate on care.
“Both Aetna and CVS Health have a long track record in supporting local community-based providers from a corporate social responsibility and foundation-giving perspective, but the question is how do we embed it as a core part of the business?” said Leila Nowroozi, a leader in CVS Health/Aetna business strategy division.
If this news sounds familiar, that’s probably because Unite Us was the partner recently chosen by Kaiser Permanente to build out its Thrive Local network, a system with the same broad strokes mission to integrate non-clinical services like transportation and housing support into its larger offerings.
Kaiser’s network is meant to scale across the organization’s 12 million members over the next three years if all goes according to plan.
CVS Health hasn’t set as strong of a public timetable for the expansion of its own network and put its own near-term goals as seeing results from the network through metrics like member satisfaction, the usage rates of linked services and the impact on community-based organizations
Eventually the ambition is to have a measurable impact on Aetna’s claims through a reduction in downstream healthcare spending. A key part of moving towards this ultimate goal is developing an infrastructure where outcomes can be reliably measured
“There’s a void in that type of feedback loop, many of these community partners are under resourced entities who are focused on trying to improve people’s lives and not on reporting data,” Nowroozi said. “These collaborations through Unite Us helps with the whole industry migration towards better data and evidence-gathering.”
The Destination: Health network will launch later this year with Aetna Medicaid members in Louisville, Kentucky and Aetna dual-eligible special needs plan members in Tampa, Florida and Southeastern Louisiana.
As for what services the company hopes to prioritize? That depends on the market, according to Garth Graham, CVS Health’s vice president of community health and impact.
“It’s really what’s defined locally as necessary. That’s why the partnership with Unite Us is key since they are the ones building these local networks,” Graham said. “All health is local, so each community has its own set of challenges.”
As part of its collaboration with Unite Us, Kaiser became a strategic investor of the company, which Graham said that was one option being explored by CVS.
Medicaid looks to be an initial major focus for the company as it looks to grow out its network. Aetna currently offers Managed Medicaid plans to more than 2 million beneficiaries across 16 states.
While Unite Us will eventually make it possible individual members able to identify and select social care providers, CVS Health officials say that selected Aetna members will initially be linked to local providers through nurse case managers and community liaisons.
The large retail footprint of CVS pharmacies are certain to play a role in the build out of the Destination: Healthcare network, but executives are short on details on what exactly that could look like.
One possibility – especially as the company continues to grow its HealthHUB model – is that stores could become distribution points where members could meet with local case managers, access supportive housing services and get warm hand-offs and introductions to local community resources.
The company’s effort to address social determinants are also being expanded among its commercially insured population through the rollout of new analytics tool to help plan sponsors identify where there are specific socially-related vulnerabilities among their patient population.
This data could shape the development of new plan design. For example, Aetna plans that emphasize primary care and chronic care management provided through CVS clinic locations.
CVS Health’s initiative is meant to build on a previous pledge made earlier this year soon after the closure of its Aetna acquisition to direct $100 million over five years toward areas including free health and wellness screenings, donations to nonprofits working in areas like substance abuse recovery and financial and volunteer support for local community organizations.
Housing has also been a major philanthropic priority for the company, which is slated to invest more than $50 million in 2019 toward the construction or rehabilitation of more than 1,600 affordable housing units across six states.TrendMD v2.4.3
Following on a strong performance in 2018, global venture capital funding for digital health companies hit $5.1 billion in the first half of this year, the highest it has ever been, a new report says.
According to a new report by global communications and research firm, Mercom Capital Group, VC funding for the first half of 2019 was $5.1 billion compared to $4.9 billion in 2018. However, there were fewer deals in the first half of 2019: 318 compared to 383 in the previous year.
The report focuses on funding and mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity for the digital health (Healthcare Information Technology) sector for the second quarter and first half of 2019. The second quarter recorded a strong performance showing $3.1 billion in 169 deals. In the first quarter, $2 billion was raised in 149 deals.
Weak M&A activity not a cause for concern
“Funding activity was robust in digital health in the first half of 2019, while M&A activity was weak. Weak M&A activity has not affected investment activity over past years. We are in an ‘invest first and ask questions later’ environment where investors are more worried about missing out in this hot space,” Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group, said.
Prabhu added that after a long break, several digital health companies were entering the initial public offering (IPO) market in the United States. “Successful IPOs could open the floodgates, whereas if IPOs fizzle out, it could shut the IPO exit path for many digital health companies.”
Breaking down the deals
The report said the top digital health VC deals in the first of 2019 were $250 million raised by Tencent Trusted Doctors, followed by $205 million raised by Collective Health, $200 million raised by Tempus, $170 million raised by Doctolib, and $100 million raised by Health Catalyst.
The report further breaks down funding stats, revealing that 821 investors participated in digital health funding deals in the first half of 2019. Also, 450 investors participated in funding deals in the second quarter of this year compared to 371 investors in the first quarter.
The major corporate investors in the first half of the year included Amazon’s Alexa Fund, GV (formerly Google Ventures), Goldman Sachs, Merck, Wells Fargo, MassMutual Ventures, UnitedHealthcare’s Optum Ventures, Piper Jaffray, BlueCross BlueShield, Honda, Oracle, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity, and Cisco Investment among others.
Twenty-six different countries recorded digital health VC funding deals in the first half of the year. Of these, 21 recorded digital health VC funding deals in the second quarter.
In addition, the report says in the first half of this year, there were 91 digital health M&A transactions (16 disclosed) down from 116 transactions (26 disclosed) in 1H 2018.
“Notable M&A transactions in 1H 2019 were: Dassault Systemes acquired Medidata for $5.8 billion, Golden Gate Capital acquired a 51 percent stake in Ensemble Health Partners for $1.2 billion, Nordic Capital acquired a majority stake in ArisGlobal for $700 million, JPMorgan Chase acquired InstaMed for more than $500 million, Thomas H. Lee Partners (THL) acquired Nextech Systems for $500 million, and Hill-Rom Holdings acquired Voalte for $195 million,” a release accompanying the report said.
The top VC funded digital health categories in the second quarter of 2019 were telemedicine with $676 million, followed by analytics with $551 million and wellness with $304 million. There were 73 early stage deals in Q2 2019, compared to 48 in Q1 2019.
Wearable sensors also had a strong performance, raising $285 million in funding, while mobile wireless raised $264 million, and healthcare benefits brought in $208 million.
The report adds that since 2010, digital health companies have now raised over $40 billion in VC funding deals since 2010. U.S. digital health companies have raised approximately $30 billion to date.
Funding for digital health has had a strong performance in recent times. In its annual report for 2018, Mercom Capital Group said investments in the sector hit $9.5 billion, a rise of 32 percent compared to 2017, where there were deals worth $7.2 billion.
As wearable devices multiply and gather ever more data about our bodies, the batteries and wireless networks they rely on can become strained. To give wearables a longer battery life and to allow gigabytes of data to be transmitted at the same time, researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a new type of textile with embedded sensor networks that use very little electricity.
These days wearables typically use Bluetooth wireless connectivity to connect with users’ smartphones. This is very inefficient if you have small devices that are supposed to work for a long time. The new “metamaterial textiles” can gather signals from nearby sensors and transmit them over a conductive network woven throughout a piece of clothing. Very little energy is used to transfer data throughout the system and many sensors can be used at the same time.
From the study in Nature Electronics:
Here, we report energy-efficient and secure wireless body sensor networks that are interconnected through radio surface plasmons propagating on metamaterial textiles. The approach uses clothing made from conductive fabrics that can support surface-plasmon-like modes at radio communication frequencies. Our body sensor networks enhance transmission efficiencies by three orders of magnitude compared to conventional radiative networks without the metamaterial textile, and confine wireless communication to within 10 cm of the body. We also show that the approach can offer wireless power transfer that is robust to motion and textile-based wireless touch sensing.
Here’s a video from the University of Singapore showing off the new textiles:
The winners of the coveted Digital Health Awards have been revealed at the 2019 Summer Schools.
Jon Hoeksma, editor and CEO of Digital Health, announced the winners during a special networking and awards dinner held at the University of Leeds.
The awards, now in their second year, aim to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the leaders making the biggest contributions to UK healthcare IT.
The winners were revealed at the annual two-day Digital Health Summer Schools, which this year runs from 18-19 July, University of Leeds.
The winners of the Digital Health Awards 2019 are:
Digital Health Awards 2019 winners
• CIO of the Year (sponsored by Socitim): Mandy Griffin, CIO and Managing Director, The Health Informatics Service, Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust
• CCIO of the Year (sponsored by CareWorks): Gareth Thomas, Group CCIO, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
• CNIO of the Year (sponsored by Nervecentre): Natasha Phillips, CNIO University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Future Digital Leader of the Year (sponsored by Equal Experts): Nicola Henderson, NHS Forth Valley
• Team of the Year (sponsored by WellSky): Informatics Department, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
• Outstanding contribution award sponsored by Sectra (sponsored by Sectra): Marianne Williams, Specialist Gastroenterology Community Dietitian, Somerset Partnership NHS FT
Speaking to Digital Health News at the awards, Future Digital Leader of the Year winner, Nicola Henderson from NHS Forth Valley in Scotland, said she was “absolutely amazed”.
She added: “This is not just about me, this is about everyone who is trying to transform the NHS through digital.”
Henderson also said that as a Scottish female, she felt the award was a “major recognition” for women and Scotland.
A number of the winners were peer-voted by the 3,500 NHS chief information officers, chief clinical information officers and other digital health leaders who make up the Networks panel.
This included the Outstanding contribution award, and this year’s winner, Marianne Williams, Specialist Gastroenterology Community Dietitian at Somerset Partnership NHS FT, who said she was “stunned” and “incredibly chuffed” to win.
While CIO of the Year, Mandy Griffin, from the Health Informatics Service at Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust, said she was “gobsmacked” and “felt very privileged” to win.
Earlier in the day, delegates heard international keynotes from Nick Adkins, John Halamka and Margunn Aenestad.
The Shuri Network, which aims to support and encourage women of black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds in digital health roles, was launched.
Withings is releasing two new wireless blood pressure monitors, the BPM Core and BPM Connect, one of which is a bit more than just a BP cuff. As always, the French company has given a lot of attention to the design of these cuffs, giving them a user-friendly, comfortable look.
The BPM Connect is a fairly traditional BP cuff, though it does sync with a smartphone to allow users to see their readings and store them for the future. It measures systolic and diastolic blood pressure, as well as heart rate.
The BPM Core, though, is a pretty impressive new device, which can take electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings as part of a blood pressure screening, and be used as a stethoscope. Using the technology, it is possible to detect cardiac arrhythmias, including some cases of atrial fibrillation (AFib), valvular heart disease, and other conditions. The comprehensive test, which includes the blood pressure, heart rate, and ECG takes less than a minute and a half, and the results can be easily shared with one’s physician. The stethoscope recordings can also be quickly sent over.
Here’s a promo video that Withings just released for the BPM Core:
SugarBEAT, a non-invasive continuous glucose monitor (CGM) that can be worn around the arm, has been approved for sale in the European market. GlobalData, a leading data, and analytics company, predicts that the device is set to disrupt the wearable health tech market.
Renuka Sreeramoju, medical device analyst at GlobalData, said: “Due to its non-invasive nature and relatively low cost, SugarBEAT is expected to give tough competition to invasive CGM devices and attain a strong position in both diabetic (insulin and non-insulin dependent), pre-diabetic and wearable health tech markets in [the] future.”
What is SugarBEAT
SugarBEAT, which is manufactured by United Kingdom company Nemaura Medical, is a disposable adhesive patch worn on the arm. The patch draws interstitial fluid from the skin for glucose analysis by passing an imperceptible electric current through the skin.
Nemaura Medical said the adhesive patch system can be worn on non-continuous days, making it suitable for pre-diabetic and Type II diabetes patients, both of whom typically check their blood sugar levels periodically.
A press statement explained that the device is connected to a rechargeable transmitter and provides real-time, continuous glucose readings at five minute intervals — that is per hour — thereby creating an ambulatory glucose profile chart, where the trends, patterns and the extent of fluctuations and out of range glucose profiles can be observed.
The CGM device works with a smartphone app, which provides audible alerts or physical vibration of the Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone connected to SugarBEAT in instances where glucose levels are deemed to fall to dangerously low levels, until switched off by the user.
Sreeramoju said: “The high unmet need of standard finger stick testing and the painful insertion of CGM devices under the skin can be achieved by the availability of a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone CGM wearable device.”
Nemaura Medical plans to launch SugarBEAT in the United Kingdom and German markets in the third quarter of this year. The company says it is on track to submit an application to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mid this year.
Size of the CGM market
GlobalData estimtes that the glucose monitoring devices market in Europe will grow from $3.4 billion in 2018 to nearly $4.8 billion in 2025. In addition, GlobalData said the global and U.S. markets are set to grow 4.6 percent and 3.2 percent to reach US$16.3 billion and $5.6 billion, respectively, over the same period.
Due to its non-invasive nature, GlobalData projected that SugarBEAT was best placed to disrupt the multi-billion-dollar global diabetic and pre-diabetic markets.
Nemaura Medical Chief Executive Officer, Faz Chowdhury, described SugarBEAT, as the world’s first non-invasive, needle-free, continuous glucose monitor, which was painless and versatile in terms of wear time.
“Given these benefits, we look forward to aggressively entering both the multi-billion-dollar diabetic (insulin and non-insulin dependent) and pre-diabetic markets. In addition, we plan to target the wearable health tech market for health-conscious consumers, which is experiencing explosive growth,” Chowudhry said.
Nemaura Medical’s clinical studies took place over 225 patient days and included 75 participants with either Type I orType II diabetes. The studies generated over 12,000 paired data points, with blood samples taken via catheter every 15 minutes over a 12-hour period for three non-consecutive days for each patient, the company said in a statement.
Nemaura Medical added that no device-related adverse events were reported.
Other continuous glucose monitoring devices that are available on the market are Senseonics’ Eversense, Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre system, Medtronic’s Guardian Connect and Dexcom G6.
Abbott’s FreeStyle Libre 2 CGM and Dexcom’s next-generation integrated G7 CGM are lined up for market entry in future, the GlobalData statement said.
LifeScan has also announced plans to launch a CGM system at the beginning of next year in collaboration with Sanvita Medical, a subsidiary of Nova Biomedical.