Brewing data battles, One Medical’s dueling offers, and monkeypox bottleneck

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The brewing battle over data surveillance

Health privacy advocates are urging patients to respond to the Federal Trade Commission’s request for public comment on the need for new rules to protect consumers against commercial data surveillance. Health care came up often during an FTC press conference last week to lay out the process for making new rules and why “commercial surveillance” has become a focus for the agency. “In a growing number of spheres…consumers are subject to information collection, often without their knowledge or control,” said Sam Levine, director of the agency’s bureau of consumer protection. He noted, however, that the agency needs to demonstrate that a certain practice is “unfair or deceptive and is prevalent in the marketplace” before a rule could be issued — and that’s where the public comments come in.


Meanwhile, the legal blowback from hospitals’ use of a Facebook data-tracking tool has ensnared another major hospital, with Northwestern Memorial in Chicago joining a growing list of defendants facing federal class action claims. The hospitals and Facebook parent Meta are accused of violating state and federal laws by installing the data-tracking tool in their online patient portals to share sensitive information with the social media company. UCSF Medical CenterDignity Health, and Medstar Health of Baltimore are also defendants.

Dueling bids for One Medical signal an M&A spree


Before Amazon made a deal to acquire One Medical for nearly $4 billion, the tech-first primary care company had another offer in the works: this one, from CVS Health. A report from Bloomberg revealed the identity of ‘Party A,’ a company that made the same $18 per share bid as Amazon, according to One Medical’s securities filing. The details of their back-and-forth are a striking peek into the deal-making that is expected to continue as brand name retailers execute their campaigns to expand into health care and young, unprofitable health tech startups struggle to raise the cash they need to grow. Read the analysis from Katie and our colleague Bob Herman.

Dog days of DTX

Digital therapeutics companies are putting on a brave face for their second-quarter releases, but some of the numbers are hard to spin:

  • Dario Health, which seeks to treat an array of chronic conditions, reported $6.2 million in revenue, missing its estimates by $2 million, or 24%. The news triggered a quick drop in its stock price. While the company’s revenues actually increased from the same period last year, overall earnings decreased amid higher costs.
  • Coming off recent layoffs, Pear Therapeutics also missed its estimated haul in Q2 and lowered its forecast for revenue and prescriptions for 2022. The company, which makes digital therapies to treat substance use disorders and insomnia, said it is shifting its strategy to increase paid subscriptions while cutting expenses. Its negotiations with payers are moving slower than expected.
  • Better Therapeutics, which is developing digital tools to root out cardiometabolic diseases, received a slight boost in its stock price after reporting a decline in loss-per-share. It did not report any revenue, as it is still preparing for commercial launch. But the dip in loss per share is a sign that it’s been able to cut costs as it awaits an FDA clearance.

When low-tech works just as well 


Along with patient feedback and counseling, home blood pressure monitoring is a solid tool to help control hypertension. So it stood to reason that linking monitors to a helpful app — digitizing and automating certain lifestyle and medication reminders — could make them even more useful without requiring extra provider time. But a randomized trial from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute published in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that while an app-connected monitor on its own (from device maker Omron) was associated with lowered blood pressure, its impact was no different from a simple blood pressure cuff on its own. With more than 2,000 enrolled participants and results that align with other recent randomized trials, it’s a strong signal that more tech isn’t always better.

Monkeypox data infrastructure still lags behind

Vaccination campaigns for Covid-19 forced the government to build new digital infrastructure to distribute, record, and share data about immunizations across states and territories. Now threatened by an outbreak of monkeypox, the country is again trying to get shots in arms across the country. This time, a pre-existing vaccine makes the effort easier. But as Claire Hannan, executive director of the Association of Immunization Managers told STAT’s Helen Branswell, the rollout is challenged by many of the same data and tracking problems. “We’ve got a whole system built around Covid,” said Hannan. “And we’re not using it.” Read more in Helen’s Q&A.

Ramping up and paring back

  • Diagnostic biosensor company Monod Bio, founded in late 2021 on the back of computational protein design work from David Baker’s University of Washington School of Medicine institute, pulled in a $25 million seed round led by Matrix Capital.
  • Abridge, a company that sells software for automated clinical note-taking, secured $12.5 million in a Series A-1 round led by Wittington Ventures and with participation from UPMC EnterprisesWhistler Capital, and more.
  • With a product that uses virtual reality to support surgical trainingFundamentalVR raised an additional $20 million in a Series B round led by EQT Life Sciences with participation from Downing VenturesTern Plc, and Sana Kliniken.
  • Amazon Care continues to expand its services, adding mental health care through a partnership that uses Ginger’s coaches, therapists, and psychiatrists. The service is available as an optional “add-on” for employers.
  • No sector of health tech seems safe from layoffs this season. In the latest, potential CVS acquisition target Signify Health plans to cut nearly 500 positions as it winds down one of its value-based care programs. And meditation and wellness app Calm laid off about 90 employees, or 20% of its total workforce, according to a memo leaked to the Wall Street Journal.
  • ChenMed is mulling the sale of its majority stake in JenCare, a five-state, 50,000-patient network of senior medical centers, Business Insider reported.

New hires

  • CVS boosted Creag Milford to the role of SVP of retail health, where he’ll be charged with integrating its line of its in-person and virtual care options. Milford previously led enterprise virtual care for the drug store chain.
  • Intermountain Healthcare CEO Marc Harrison is leaving the Utah-based health system to start a health care platform business for the VC firm General Catalyst, according to a LinkedIn post. General Catalyst backs a number of health tech companies, including Cityblock HealthCommure and aidoc.
  • Unite Us, a tech company that links health care and social services, tapped Raffaelle Breaks to serve as chief product officer. Breaks previously worked for American Express.

What we’re reading

  • Bright Health Group heads toward insolvency as it rushes to raise more cash, STAT
  • Real-world data can help expedite drug approvals for serious diseases with few options, STAT First Opinion
  • Medicare billing codes for digital therapeutics: a path forward, Health Affairs
  • A hole in the head: Can a brain implant treat drug addiction?, Harpers
Source: STAT