Teladoc takes a hit with $6.6 billion impairment charge on Livongo

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Teladoc records $6.6 billion impairment charge on Livongo

About a year and a half after closing its $18.5 billion cash and stock acquisition of chronic care management company Livongo— the virtual care company recorded a massive non-cash goodwill impairment charge in the first quarter.

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Teladoc had warned investors in February that the Livongo acquisition — part of Teladoc’s vision for a unified digital health platform — could net major financial losses, and that it was planning to record the goodwill charge in its first quarter earnings this year, Insider reported at the time. 

Net losses in the first quarter turned out to be were $6.6 billion — a colossal jump from the roughly $200 million loss it reported in the first quarter of 2021. The company’s stock plummeted more than 30% following the news.

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The FDA gets grilled on AI

Food and Drug Administration senior staffer Amir Khan faced sharp questions this week from MIT scientists hungry for clear answers on the agency’s plans to regulate AI in health care — including why it regulates AI algorithms drawing on medical imaging, but largely steers clear of those that use other types of clinical data, like health records.

Though Khan gave broad strokes on FDA’s recent hires and plans to make the testing and review of these models more transparent, the agency has generally declined to provide concrete answers to increasingly complicated questions about the sophisticated algorithms making their way into health care. Read more from Casey on this week’s session at MIT’s AI Cures Conference.

A closer look at no-show prediction tech

That’s the question being raised about a machine learning model to predict missed appointments at Boston Children’s Hospital. Patients miss about one-fifth of appointments, often due to hurdles like lack of transportation or scheduling conflicts. It’s a source of major concern for leaders worried that already underserved patients are continuing to lose out on lifesaving care — and it seemed like the perfect target for a machine learning model to help figure out which patients are at highest risk. While the research model — outlined in a new piece in npj digital medicine — identified some factors linked to no-shows that the hospital could easily address, such as language barriers, leadership still isn’t sure whether it’ll run with the predictive technology.

Kathleen Conroy, clinical chief at Children’s Hospital Primary Care Center within Boston Children’s Hospital and a co-author of the study, told Mohana that even if the model’s predictions were “theoretically actionable, what would you even be willing to do with that information and how would you put that through a family-centered lens?” Read more.

Big grown-up ONC turns 18

It’s been almost two decades since the establishment of the federal government’s health IT regulatory agency, whose legacy includes overseeing the transition to electronic health records and, more recently, instituting common health data standards. Among key milestones the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT’s Steve Posnack called out this week: As of 2019, the vast majority of hospitals let patients view their own records compared to less than a quarter in 2012, and about 70% of hospitals draw data from outside sources into patients’ records.

Large study boosts telehealth for chronic care

The ongoing effort to make sense of what — if anything — we can learn from the rapid transition to telehealth continues with a new study looking at data from 40 million people insured by Blue Cross and Blue Shield– affiliated health plans from July 2019 through the end of 2020. Among other findings, the study suggests that visits for chronic conditions like asthma and hypertension conducted over telehealth were associated with fewer follow-up visits.  Acute conditions, meanwhile, tended to require additional follow up if a first appointment was done virtually. Of note: The American Telemedicine Association, which lobbies for looser restrictions on telehealth, helped fund the research and was allowed to review and comment on the conduct of the study.

Deals and partnerships

  • Patient, provider, and caregiver feedback analytics company Press Ganey closed its acquisition of market research company Forsta.
  • Digital therapeutics company AppliedVR, which last year earned FDA clearance for its virtual reality-based treatment for chronic low back pain, announced it’s teaming up with data unicorn Komodo Health to better understand the long-term clinical impacts and cost effectiveness of its treatment. Such real world studies are critical to driving coverage and adoption.
  • Concert Health, which enables primary care practices to connect patients to behavioral health services, raised a $42 million Series B round led by Define Ventures with participation from Healthy VenturesVertical Venture Partners, and Townhall Ventures as well as strategic investments from CommonSpirit Health and Advent Health.
  • Waltz Health, which makes an online search engine that pharmacies provide their customers to find drug discounts, raised a $35 million Series A round to develop a slate of products around drug pricing, distribution, and prescribing. The funding was led by GV, with participation from Define VenturesEcho Health VenturesBlue Venture FundByers Capital, and Twine Ventures.

Names in the news

  • Health tech company Truepill brought on Doreen Bortel as its first chief growth officer. Bortel previously held various roles at Optum.
  • Foley & Lardner partner Nathaniel Lacktman, who oversees the firm’s national telemedicine and digital health industry team, joined the American Telemedicine Association’s board of directors.
  • Carrot Fertility hired G. David Ball as senior vice president, medical. Previously he served as director of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Laboratory.
  • Mental health non-profit Project Healthy Minds added health care investor and executive Andrew Sekel to its board of directors. Sekel previously served as an advisor to Talkspace and currently serves as chairman of Happify Health.

What we’re reading

  • Which animal viruses could infect people? Computers are racing to find out, New York Times
  • How big tech is quietly pushing for watered-down state privacy laws, Grid News
  • The doctor who is trying to bring back surprise billing, STAT
Source: STAT