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Telehealth companies test the waters on risk-sharing

A handful of virtual care companies are inking new types of contracts that reward them for keeping patients’ cost low and penalize them for overspending — a model known as risk-sharing. It’s a departure from the traditional “fee-for-service” billing process, and a move  companies hope could help them get paid for the services they offer in addition to virtual doctors’ appointments, like in-app messaging, medication reminders, and digital health coaching. They’re also betting that embracing risk could endear them to the health plans and employers they depend on for contracts.


Execs from companies like Heartbeat Health and Teladoc say they’re in the very early stages of cementing these contracts. While there’s no clear roadmap for how to structure them, whether they take hold could clarify how virtual care will fit into the brick-and-mortar healthcare system and incentivize those companies to work with traditional providers on prevention, said Jennifer Goldsack, CEO of the Digital Medicine Society. “There is an opportunity to reimagine what health care looks like when it is around the patient,” she told Mohana. Read the full story.

The case for scaling primary care


Closely watched upstarts hawking higher-tech health care are in a fierce battle with retail giants and tech companies to determine the future of primary care. And as they make the rounds at conferences like JP Morgan, they’re out to convince investors that primary care — which has historically been underfunded — is scalable and worth backing. Medicare-focused startup Oak Street Health plans to open 70 more locations this year; One Medical expects to reach 28 markets soon. And other players including WalmartCVS, and Amazon are ramping up their own efforts. But the companies have also faced headwinds, including a DOJ inquiry into Oak Street’s potential False Claims Act violations. Casey has the story.

The promise of neurostimulation

Brain stimulation is booming. This expanding field of research is slowly revealing truths of the brain: how it works, how it malfunctions, and how electrical impulses, precisely targeted and controlled, might be used to treat psychiatric and neurological disorders. Researchers are looking into how different forms of neuromodulation affect addiction, depression, chronic pain, obsessive compulsive disorder, and more. Still, the field is in its infancy, and many hurdles to treatment remain. STAT’s Isabella Cueto has the whole story.

Yes, it was a lot of money


This is the chart we all saw coming, we just finally know what it says, courtesy of Silicon Valley Bank’s annual Healthcare Investments & Exits report. Health tech investment in 2021 more than doubled, with 60% of funding coming from mega rounds. Early stage investment also increased from $2.2 billion in 2020 to $3.5 billion in 2021. Despite these impressive numbers overall, SVB sees some indications that things may cool off: It expects venture capital fundraising will drop to $16 billion across health care in 2022 from its impressive $28 billion last year.

What the research says about AI and quality assurance

AI and machine learning promise widespread benefits in health care, but there’s no comprehensive framework for how to safely and responsibly introduce the technology, a group of researchers write in a new literature review in Nature’s NPJ Digital Medicine.

Their analysis finds that there’s an abundance of guidance about data preparation, but less about software development and how to assess impact and implementation. Their review could serve as the basis for such a framework, though they noted significant gaps in academic research about quality assessment in the later phases of predictive model development.

Tech takes over JPM

Today at JPM we’ll be watching presentations from TalkspaceColor, and GoodRx. Here’s what’s happened in tech at the conference since we last talked:

  • Headspace Health, which was formed last year with the merger of telemental health service Ginger and mindfulness app Headspaceannounced the acquisition of Sayana, an AI mental health app.
  • Transcarent, the health care startup for self-insured employers from Livongo founder Glen Tullman, announced a $200 million Series C round led by Kinnevik and Human Capital with participation from Ally Bridge GroupGeneral Catalyst, and 7wireVentures.
  • At a JPM side event, Deborah Di Sanzo, president of Best Buy Health, said that despite the company’s ambitions, it’s not interested in care delivery: “We have a big red line that we won’t cross, and that is, we are not going to be a provider,” she said.

New year, new gig

  • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center appointed Jeffrey Leek as vice president and chief data officer. Leek previously worked at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
  • AliveCor appointed Vincent Balsamo as executive vice president of worldwide sales and Archana Dubey as chief clinical officer. Balsamo previously worked at SalesforceCiscoIBM, and Propeller Health. Dubey joins from Hewlett Packard.
  • Tendo Systems, a health care software startup funded by General Catalyst and Lux Capital, appointed Bala Hota as senior vice president and chief informatics officer. Hota comes from Rush University Medical Center.
  • SonderMind, a mental health technology startup, appointed Brannan Schell as chief operating officer. He was previously the company’s chief development officer.
  • Quartet, another mental health upstart, hired Jay Meyers as chief growth officer. He was previously CEO of Wellvana Health and chief growth & marketing officer for Anthem’s diversified business group.
  • BehaVR, which is developing mental health treatments using virtual reality, appointed Risa Weisberg chief clinical officer. Weisberg is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine.
  • ClarifyHealth hired Niall Brennan, former CEO of the Health Care Cost Institute, as its chief analytics and privacy officer.
  • Cityblock brought on a host of new hires this week, including chief health officer Kameron Matthews, formerly chief medical officer at the Veterans Affairs Department; chief people officer Ara Tucker, who led talent strategy at Audible; chief administrative officer Susan Brown, formerly general counsel at Haven; and chief marketing officer Andrea Zahumensky, formerly chief marketing officer at KFC.

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