CVS inks a deal with Medable to enroll more patients in clinical trials

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Notes from a key player in digital health investing

Julie Yoo’s tenure at Andreessen Horowitz has coincided with a sharp rise in the venture capital firm’s investments in digital health and life sciences, including 27 transactions in 2021. She’s driven several prominent deals in tech infrastructure and efforts to transform primary care, where she has a keen sense for factors that will separate the winners from the also-rans. “If you’re truly doing primary care well, you should be willing to absolutely go at risk and take full accountability for all of the patient’s costs of care,” Yoo told Mario. Read their full conversation on a16z’s strategy, how Yoo advises startups to work with incumbents, and more.

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A note of caution on machine learning 

Health insurers including United Healthcare and Highmark are looking to machine learning to predict which patients might need extra support, like a ride to their appointment or help accessing nutritious food. But the deployment of these tools also carries risks that some experts say haven’t been fully examined. There’s little standardization for the types of data they pull, or how the assessments are used. “Different companies will have different sets of analytics tools, different levels of sophistication and technology usage,” Irene Chen, an MIT machine learning researcher who co-authored a new paper on the subject in Health Affairs, told Mohana. Read more.

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Giving patients a ‘gold coin’ for their data

The health data marketplace remains largely unregulated, with a patient’s data frequently shared and monetized without explicit consent. A new paper in Science by researchers at Harvard and Duke suggests a  buzzy technology could be a possible solution: non-fungible tokens. NFTs are commonly used in video games (a gold coin buys you a superpower) and allow their owners to trade them for something of value. In health care, the authors write, NFTs could form the basis for a “smart contract” in which a patient could control who gets access to their data, under what circumstances, and at what price. They also noted the likelihood of strong resistance to the idea from private businesses that trade on health data if patients prove reluctant to share it without their express permission or compensation.

What the White House wants to know about telemedicine

The Biden administration is convening a series of roundtables on who’s benefiting from the rise of telemedicine and digital health during the pandemic. Tech companies will certainly be on the invite list, but so will community health clinics, social workers and patients who can discuss the innovations — tech and non-tech — that made the biggest difference in their communities. Casey has the full story on the effort, which will pick up again on March 3 with another workshop.

CVS inks deal with Medable

  • CVS Health will seek to enroll more patients in clinical trials by incorporating software from Medable into its MinuteClinics. Medable’s products are designed to make it easier for patients to sign up for trials and participate remotely using digital tools.
  • LabCorp is launching a new service that will allow consumers to purchase tests online, collect samples at home, or schedule appointments at bricks-and-mortar sites, including Walgreens stores. The service will include tests for Covid-19, allergies, and fertility.
  • The patient satisfaction company Press Ganey is acquiring Forsta, a provider of data analysis and market research technology. Terms were not disclosed.
  • ConcertoCare, a provider of in-home care to seniors, raised $105 million in a Series B round led by Wells Fargo Strategic Capital. The company will also acquire Crown Health, an in-home primary care provider in the Pacific Northwest.

New hires

  • Verge Genomics has tapped Al Sandrock to serve on its board of directors. Sandrock recently left his role as the top scientist at Biogen, where he oversaw development of the company’s controversial Alzheimer’s drug.
  • GetInsured, a tech platform for state insurance exchanges, has appointed Heather Korbulic to be its senior policy and strategy lead. Korbulic most recently led Nevada’s health insurance marketplace.
  • Ruth Health, a telehealth clinic for prenatal care, has hired Stacie Velehradsky to be vice president of product. She previously worked for CirrusMD.
  • Epocrates, a maker of clinical decision support tools, has named Matt Titus its chief commercial officer. Titus comes to the company from Real Chemistry.
  • Sidekick Health announced a pair of new hires: Mitchell Mudra as chief operating officer, and Pamela Stahl as chief commercial officer.

What we’re reading

Source: STAT