Noom steps into mental health, Big Health inks a big deal, & a new virtual care startup on the block

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Noom gets in the mental health mood

Noom, the popular weight loss company that recently raised $540 million, is taking its first big step toward becoming a diversified digital health company with behavioral health offering Noom Mood. The company enters a crowded space that includes wellness apps and FDA-cleared digital therapeutics as well as teletherapy services. Noom has opted to go the unregulated route with its $149, 16-week curriculum based on cognitive behavioral therapy paired with daily mood logging and text-based coaching. Though Noom’s no stranger to CBT, there remain many open questions about how well such treatment translates to software — and whether some companies are playing it fast and loose with the regulations as they ride the wave of investor enthusiasm. Katie has the whole story.


Big Health’s big deal

Scotland’s National Health Service announced that all adults in the country will have easy access to products from digital therapeutics developer Big Health. Roughly 5 million people will be eligible for access to Sleepio, the company’s product to treat insomnia with CBT, and Daylight, which is indicated for anxiety. It’s a sign of the growing acceptance of the treatments and a possible blueprint for future deals. Read Mario’s story.


Three’s a crowd

Another virtual-first primary care company has elbowed its way into the fray. Marley Medical launched today with a plan to treat chronic conditions using an array of remote services and a team-based approach to care. Founded by former Propeller Health leaders including Chris Hogg and seeded with $9 million in funds from investors including Andreessen Horowitz’s Julie Yoo and 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki, the company plans to court consumers directly and bill insurers for its services. Erin has the scoop.

A high-tech white cane

Researchers at Stanford developed a tricked-out version of the familiar white cane visually impaired people use to help them get around. The experimental device, described in Science Robotics, uses lidar, a camera, GPS, and an inertial movement sensor to help the cane understand where it is in an environment plus a motorized wheel and audio cues to help direct the user safely from place to place. In testing, the augmented cane helped both visually impaired and sighted participants increase their walking speed while blindfolded, hinting that the device engenders confidence in users.

Quote of the week

“The jury is still out on their ability to provide a comprehensive offering,” Glen Tullman, the founder of Livongo, which sold to Teladoc for $18.5 last August, told Erin of the combined companies during a STAT+ Conversation. “I would like to have seen more investment in data science,” he said, adding that the combined “experience hasn’t met the standards I’d hoped it would.”

Equip expands

Equip Health, which provides virtual family-based treatment for young people with eating disorders, has been hard at work since the announcing a $13 million Series A round in February. The company has now expanded to four additional states — Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and Illinois. The company’s services will be covered by Optum in 10 states by November.

More funds & another retail-telehealth acquisition

  • Best Buy announced plans to acquire home care company Current Health for an undisclosed sum.
  • AI-powered chronic care company Lark Health closed a $100 million Series D round led by Deerfield Management Company. Returning investors Franklin TempletonKing River CapitalCastlepeak, and others also participated.
  • Sprinter Health, whose unofficial tagline is “a DoorDash for lab draws,” launched with $33 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from General CatalystGoogle Ventures, and others.
  • Software-powered medical provider Better Health raised $10 million in Series A funding led by Caffeinated Capital and General Catalyst with participation from 8VCAnorak Ventures, and others.
  • Oshi Health, a digital gastrointestinal care startup, raised $23 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture PartnersFrist Cressey Ventures, and Flare CapitalCVS Health Ventures and Takeda Digital Ventures also participated.

It’s personnel

  • Digital pharmacy Roadded former AncestryCEO and General Catalyst partner-in-residence Margo Georgiadis to its board.
  • Laguna Health, maker of a digital-first recovery platform, appointed Justin Swantchief business officer. Swant previously worked as SVP of cancer care company AccessHope.
  • Cancer data and analytics services company COTA Inc., named Ritu Bahal Before COTA, she was CFO of Kantar Insights. 
  • Boston Children’s Hospital named Heather Nelson, formerly the SVP and CIO of the University of Chicago School of Medicine’s IT division, its new CIO.

What we’re reading

Source: STAT