Virtual reality in the health care space heats up

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What to know about insurtech earnings

Oscar Health and Clover Health have generated a ton of hype with their promises to make health insurance more efficient with tech, but they’re still proving the financial merits of their models, analysts say. Both have seen dismal stock performances since their closely watched entrances into the public market, and they’re still grasping for profits despite increasing membership and revenues. In a new story, Cowen’s Gary Taylor tells Mohana that their stock performance belies investor skepticism, and that it’s not yet clear that sophisticated software can actually cut medical loss ratios or help turn profits.

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For Clover, Oscar, and Bright Health — whose earnings are expected next week — analysts are keenly interested in whether it’s benefits and pricing drawing new members, or whether there’s something uniquely attractive about the technology.

On a related note, telemental health provider Talkspace reported earnings that were a smidge better than the numbers previewed at JP Morgan, with the company saying it’s seeing strong growth in direct to employer signups. That’s a positive sign following a cascade of bad news last year, including executive departures and missed earnings targets. But Talkspace still hasn’t named a new CEO or put out 2022 projections.

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And Hims & Hers, the specialty telehealth provider, beat expectations, reporting 83% year over year growth for 2021. It’s projecting growth of 34 to 40% in 2022.

Does Peloton’s crash explain telehealth trends?

The pandemic prompted a boom for both Peloton and telehealth.  As the world creeps toward normalcy, Peloton has been forced to contend with declining sales following the surge in demand for at-home fitness during the pandemic. While the number of user workouts continues to sit far above the pre-pandemic baseline, the number has dropped from its peak.

The chart above from analytics firm Trilliant Health argues that something similar may be happening with telehealth: given the option, many people will choose in-person care just like they’ll choose their local gym over a spin class at home. It’s an interesting framing from Trilliant’s expansive new report on telehealth, which argues as a whole that the lasting impact of the pandemic on telehealth utilization will not be as pronounced as some make it seem.

Omada raises big and more industry news

Digital chronic care company Omada raised a $192 million Series E round led by Fidelity Management & Research Company, with participation from aMoonPerceptive AdvisorsWellington Management, and Civilization Ventures. The company said it will spend to make new hires to support its 1,700 customers, personalize its coaching technologies, and invest in research and development. The funding comes as chronic care companies are angling to own ever bigger populations by raising rounds to fuel expansion. Read Katie’s story for insights on the rise of “chronic care bingo,” the likely wave of consolidation that’s coming, and how services need to connect to the broader health care system.

In other news:

  • Independence Blue Cross and Patina Medical Group inked an agreement to give Independence Medicare Advantage members in certain HMO and PPO plans access to Patina’s primary care services.
  • Health and beauty science company FemTec launched its telehealth and prescription subscription service Awesome Woman this week.
  • Aflac will partner with NeuroFlow to make its solution for behavioral health screening and monitoring available to employer customers.
  • Story Health, a health tech company extends specialty care into patient homes, announced a $22.6 million Series A funding round led by Northpond Ventures and B Capital Group with participation from LRVHealthDefine Ventures, and General Catalyst.

Virtual reality hires heat up

  • BehaVR, which uses virtual reality to address anxiety-related disorders, has appointed former Humana solutions architect Patrick Murta as its chief platform architect.
  • Psious, a virtual reality mental health company, rebranded as Amelia Virtual Care and appointed Afsana Akhter as president and CEO. She held previous health tech jobs at KiioLivongo, and other companies.

What we’re reading

Source: STAT