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Merger time in mental health
With all the money pouring into companies aiming to use tech to address mental health, observers have been whispering for months that some kind of consolidation was surely on the horizon. We got a first look at what that might look like on Wednesday when two giants of the space, Headspace and Ginger, announced they intend to merge to form a single $3 billion company. With Headspace’s focus on meditation and other self-guided treatment and Ginger’s text and video-based coaching and therapy, the newly formed Headspace Health offers health plans and employers a range of options to buy. The company now claims 100 million covered lives. Read more here.
Detecting Covid from speech sounds great, but…
The pandemic created an urgent need to test millions of people for the disease, prompting research into ways to reliably test for infection quickly and without needing to jab a swab deep into the skull. By applying machine learning to audio recordings of speech, breath, and coughs, investigators have isolated what appear to be unique features that might be used to identify the disease, but as AI boffins at Imperial College London write, the existing research has drawbacks. For example, many participants in studies know their Covid-19 status, creating the risk that their corresponding emotions could leak into the data. There’s also the recurrent problem in machine learning of researchers not publishing their code and data sets, making it impossible to independently validate the findings.
Was Theranos ahead of its time?
Had Theranos’ technology not been a mirage, one that will land Elizabeth Holmes before a court soon to face charges of fraud, the company might have been on the leading edge of what has become a massive boom in patient-driven testing. While Theranos collected nearly $1 billion from investors over 10 years, patient-driven diagnostics companies have raised at least that much in just the last year and a half amid soaring demand for convenient Covid-19 tests. Since the beginning of the pandemic, for example, Everly Health and LetsGetChecked have pulled in $275 million and $220 million, respectively. But as Katie reports, this boom isn’t a guarantee of future success, and companies will have to prove their products are helpful and affordable enough to win over patients in the long run. Read Katie’s story here.
Verily & Mayo try to tailor CDS
Verily is teaming up with Mayo Clinic in an effort to create a commercially available clinical decision support (CDS) tool tailored to clinicians’ specific needs. As part of a two-year collaboration, the organizations will build the system upon the AskMayoExpert tool, a platform that lets clinicians type in questions and get answers based on previously analyzed deidentified patient data. While the new tool, which is initially focused on cardiovascular conditions and related morbidities, will first be deployed at Mayo Clinic, it will also be made available to Verily’s other health system partners. “We recognize that CDS can be a loaded term,” Verily’s head of clinical informatics, Paul Varghese, told Erin. “We now have the ability to address some of those known vulnerabilities — in particular, how to make it relevant to the clinician in the room.”
C-suites & ladders
- Home care company Current Health appointed Chris Pilkington, the former EVP of payer innovation at Apervita, as CSO, Sarah Joyce, the former CCO of Healthcare Source, as CCO, and Lauren Levinsky, the former senior product marketing manager of Virta Health, as VP of marketing.
- Pediatric telemental health company Brightline hired Peter Antall, the former CMO of Amwell, as its CMO, and Renee Schneider, the former VP of clinical quality for behavioral health startup Lyra Health, as VP and head of therapy.
- Arielle Trzcinski, formerly a principal health care analyst at Forrester, joined Lyra Health as director of product marketing.
- Walmart hired Brian Setzer as CFO of health and wellness. Setzer was previously EVP of enterprise planning and operations for health care delivery and financing network Highmark Health.
- Health care venture and growth equity fund Oak HC/FT appointed Mike Matteo, the former president of Grand Rounds Health, as a venture partner in the health care team.
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