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Digital health platform Xealth strikes partnership with another big health IT vendor

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Xealth, a startup working to solve some of the logistical challenges faced by digital health companies, struck a partnership with Cerner. The Seattle-based company makes it easier to prescribe digital health tools and integrate them with health record systems.

The partnership is intended to make it easier for patients and their health teams to keep track of engagement with digital health tools and the effect on patients’ health.

“In order for digital health to have lasting impact, it needs to show value and ease for both the care team and patient,” Xealth CEO and Co-Founder Mike McSherry said in a news release. “We strongly believe that technology should nurture deeper patient-provider relationships and facilitate information sharing across systems and the care settings. It is exciting to work with Cerner to simplify meaningful digital health for its health partners.”

Cerner and venture capital firm LRVHealth also invested $6 million into Xealth. Last year, the company raised $14 million in series A funding, with investors including Providence Ventures and the Cleveland Clinic.

David Bradshaw, senior vice president of consumer and employer solutions for Cerner, said the partnership would give patients the opportunity to participate in their own treatment plans.

“Patients want greater access to their health information and are motivated to help care teams find the most appropriate road to recovery,” he said in a news release.

Xealth had already been integrated into Epic, and with this partnership, it will be tied into the two most widely used EHRs. The company is integrated with more than 30 different digital health solutions, ranging from diabetes management platforms such as Omada and Glooko, to Resmed’s connected sleep apnea machines, and patient engagement platforms like Twistle.

One of the startup’s clients, Providence St. Joseph Health, used Twistle in combination with Xealth’s platform to monitor patients with Covid-19 symptoms at home. It helped them keep track of patients’ temperature and oxygen saturation by providing an easy form for them to record their metrics.

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CVS Caremark adds five companies to digital health platform

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Livongo, Hinge Health, and a handful of other digital health companies will join CVS Health’s platform for PBM clients. CVS announced it would add five companies to its Point Solutions Management Service, a service it launched last year to make it easier for CVS Caremark clients to contract with third-party apps and monitor their performance.

“Plan sponsors increasingly see the value in health care point solutions for improving workforce productivity, satisfaction and overall well-being, however with so many options on the market, it can be challenging to identify trusted solutions that best meet the needs of their members,” CVS Caremark CMO Dr. Sree Chaguturu said in a news release

He added that the company had analyzed pharmacy and medical claims, and conducted an evaluation of each solution to ensure each of the recommended apps are safe and effective.

CVS is adding five companies to its platform, including:

  • Hinge Health, a digital health startup that helps users with back pain, joint pain or other musculoskeletal conditions to receive virtual coaching. Users receive a wearable sensor that allows coaches to guide users through exercises and ensure they’re doing them properly. The company recently raised $90 million in funding.
  • Hello Heart, a startup that helps users understand and improve their heart health. They are sent a connected blood pressure monitor that syncs with an app to give users blood pressure readings, and sends them medication reminders and alerts during exercise for out-of-range hypertension.
  • Livongo, a digital health startup for diabetes management that went public last year. Livongo sends users scales, blood glucometers and blood pressure monitors that connect with its app. It also offers health coaching for its user. The company currently offers solutions for management of diabetes, hypertension and weight management, as well as diabetes prevention.
  • Torchlight, a caregiver support solution to help families handle the financial, social, health and legal complexities of caring for a loved one. It provides users with advice and helps them connect to experts across the U.S.
  • Whil, a mindfulness and meditation app. The company offers users 5-minute daily sessions and more than 250 mini-courses. It also has recorded video and audio sessions with tips and exercises to help employees improve their health and happiness.

CVS said it plans to add more digital health solutions in the future, including in weight loss, women’s health, mental health, and other categories.

Photo credit: CVS Health

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Stride Health launches new benefits platform for gig workers

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The changing nature of work means that new innovations are necessary to ensure that gig workers have access to necessary benefits and coverage options.

In response to this market need, San Francisco-based Stride Health has launched a platform to provide benefits for the millions of independent contractors who otherwise may not be able to receive them.

Stride Health was initially founded in 2013 to help consumers find what health plan they should choose by taking into account factors including demographic information, existing conditions, preferences, income and subsidies members can use to defray costs, to give people more personalized options for their health coverage.

Through Stride’s enhanced direct enrollment CMS integration users can choose benefits and apply for and receive subsidies directly from the company’s platform. Stride offers health plans from more than 200 insurance companies including Oscar Health, Anthem and Kaiser Permanente.

The startup’s Stride Benefits Platform allows companies like DoorDash, Postmates and Instacart to bolster the company’s health recommendation service with ancillary benefits like dental vision and life insurance, as well as mileage and expense tracking and prescription discounts.

“With The Stride Benefits Platform, we’re helping our community of more than 700,000 Dashers spend more time achieving their financial goals by delivering great service to customers and less time worrying about expenses and access to benefits,” DoorDash Head of Policy Max Rettig said in a statement.

“With today’s announcement, alongside our recent roll out of a free, no-opt-in-required Occupational Accident Insurance policy, we are looking forward to offering unprecedented freedom and flexibility to enable everyone from students to teachers to retirees to achieve their goals on their own terms, while enhancing their economic security.”

Workers at sponsoring companies can access the benefits at no charge. Others will be able to access the benefits independently for a small fee.

Through the Stride mobile app, workers have the ability to access these range of offerings and additional benefits like telehealth visits and discounts for services ranging from auto repair to phone service to movies to travel.

Stride’s benefits platform also includes financial tools like health savings and no-fee checking and savings accounts.

The company touts its support team as a key part of their offering which can help users through the process of signing up for coverage and answer questions related to their benefits.

“Here at Stride, we’re focused on one thing: creating economic security for everyone who works for themselves,” Stride CEO Noah Lang said in a statement.

“The Stride Benefits Platform is a massive step forward in realizing that vision, and we couldn’t be more proud to be working with the world’s largest platforms for independent workers and helping those workers keep more of their earnings.”

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Kronos Bio bags $105M in Series A round for platform technology

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The latest early-stage venture capital mega round has gone to one of a growing crop of companies exploring “undruggable” drug targets.

San Mateo, California-based Kronos Bio said Thursday that it had closed a $105 million Series A funding round, led by Vida Ventures and Omega Funds. Other firms that participated included Nextech, GV, Perceptive Advisors, Invus and Polaris Partners. Kronos CEO Norbert Bischofberger, a veteran of Gilead Sciences, also participated, as did board members Arie Belldegrun – founder of CAR-T company Kite Pharma, which Gilead acquired in 2017 – and John Martin.

The company is part of the portfolio of New York-based venture capital firm Two River, whose portfolio also includes Allogene Therapeutics, led by Belldegrun and fellow Kite alumnus David Chang.

Kronos’ platform is called Small Molecule Microarray, or SMM. The company describes it as ideally suited for rapid discovery of compounds that can modulate or degrade historically undruggable targets like transcription factors. Its pipeline page currently lists four programs: MYC/androgen receptor related cofactor, in preclinical development; along with transcription factors and oncoproteins and novel E3 ligases, in the discovery stage.

“This financing will help us advance two preclinical programs built upon hits identified from SMM screens, accelerate our research and further expand the Kronos team in the Boston and San Francisco areas,” Bischofberger said in a statement. The company maintains its research lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “We seek to challenge the historic belief that certain targets cannot be pursued. Our goal is to unlock new therapeutic approaches and bring treatments to areas of high unmet need.”

Several firms have been pursuing various “undruggable” targets, and some have drawn significant attention from investors. Last week, Redwood City, California-based Revolution Medicines closed a $100 million Series C equity financing that it plans to use to explore drugs to go after elusive targets like RAS in cancers. Late last month, another company, South San Francisco, California-based Frontier Medicines launched with a $67 million Series A round, with similar goals in mind. The biggest breakthrough so far has come from Amgen, which presented data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting last month on AMG 510, a drug that hits the KRAS G12C pathway, one of the RAS targets.

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Prescription management and delivery platform Phil secures $25M

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Phil, a San Francisco-based startup offering a platform to connect stakeholders in the pharmacy ecosystem, has raised a $25 million Series B funding round. It was led by GreatPoint Ventures, and Tarsadia Investments, Crosslink Capital and Uncork Capital also participated.

According to a news release, the company plans to use the money to hire technical talent and expand its geographic footprint.

Phil’s offering unites patients, prescribers, pharmacies and manufacturers. Here’s how the tool works: Patients ask their doctor to send their prescription to Phil, which will then text patients to ask for their insurance and delivery information. The company accepts most commercial insurance plans. Next, patients receive their medication, which is typically delivered in one to three business days. Individuals can also use the platform to schedule refills.

“Phil offers a systemic solution for a systemic problem,” said company founder and CEO Deepak Thomas in a statement. “Because the underlying challenges in this space are experienced not just at the pharmacy but extend to other stakeholders including prescribers and manufacturers, Phil aims to address these issues as a whole.”

The San Francisco startup works with more than 36,000 doctors, and its network spans all 50 states.

It has numerous goals, including helping patients get better price transparency, enabling manufacturers to see higher fulfillment rates and letting independent pharmacies benefit from workflow automation.

“The medical prescription industry and pharmaceutical supply chains are in desperate need of modernization,” said GreatPoint Ventures managing partner Andrew Perlman in a statement. “GreatPoint is excited to back Phil’s novel approach to the distribution and management of specialty drugs. We believe Phil’s platform significantly improves access and affordability of important medications for patients.”

Other companies working in the prescription space include PillPack, which Amazon acquired last year, and Alto Pharmacy, which nabbed $50 million in December. PillPack packages patients’ medications by time of day and sends them in the mail, and Alto Pharmacy offers patients same-day delivery seven days a week for prescriptions.

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American Medical Association reveals online education platform for physicians

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The American Medical Association has revealed an online education portal geared toward doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Dubbed the AMA Ed Hub, the tool enables physicians to earn CME credits and find other educational information. It includes materials on a variety of topics such as hypertension, oncology, professional well-being, patient care, ethics, health disparities and lifestyle behaviors, among other issues.

“Physicians are committed to lifelong learning to continually improve patient care,” said AMA president Barbara McAneny in a statement. “We also know that physicians are time pressed, so we want to make learning and the process of obtaining credits for that learning as effective and as streamlined as possible.”

The material on the Ed Hub comes from sources such as the JAMA Network’s JN Learning and AMA STEPs Forward. The AMA has also partnered with the American College of Radiology to offer educational content on the platform. Users can now access a selection of free ACR content on the Ed Hub.

“The ACR is proud to share a selected portion of our free educational opportunities with physicians of all specialties through the AMA Ed Hub,” said ACR CEO William Thorwarth in a news release. “These include educational offerings and trainings regarding physician leadership, data science, research and clinical practice management.”

Going forward, the AMA intends to partner with other organizations to offer more educational content on the platform.

So far this year, the American Medical Association has revealed partnerships with a few other organizations.

In April, it teamed up with UnitedHealthcare on an initiative aimed at standardizing how information regarding social and environmental factors is collected, processed and integrated. Together, they are supporting the creation of almost 24 new ICD-10 codes related to social determinants of health. They’re bringing together medical data with self-reported SDOH information, and the ICD-10 codes trigger referrals to services that connect patients to resources in their communities.

Additionally, the AMA unveiled a collaboration with PatientPoint, a patient and physician engagement business, in March. The goal of their alliance is to help doctors and patients prevent the onset of two chronic diseases. PatientPoint will deliver AMA-developed educational material to patients and physicians to help them identify the risks for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and encourage them to take action.

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San Francisco startup secures $20M for nursing jobs platform

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San Francisco-based startup Trusted Health, which offers a technology tool to help nurses find job opportunities, has nabbed $20 million in a Series A funding round led by Craft Ventures. Previous investors Felicis Ventures and Founder Collective also participated.

With the new funding, Trusted Health plans to improve its tools and resources and increase the types and quantities of opportunities available.

The company offers an employment platform that nurses can use to find flexible job opportunities as well as permanent staff positions. To use the tool, a nurse can create a profile, view opportunities in real time and apply to positions he or she likes.

Trusted Health integrates timekeeping, benefits enrollment and contract signing into its platform. The startup also provides W2 employment, including paid sick leave, insurance and overtime.

Additionally, Trusted Health users are each connected with a nurse advocate, who is a nurse and can answer questions, assist with the application process and provide support.

“At a time when there aren’t enough nurses to fill critical jobs, the Trusted Health team has built a successful technology-based platform that appeals to modern nurses, and ultimately helps hospitals deliver on their goal of improving patient care,” Jeff Fluhr, general partner at Craft Ventures, said in a statement. “With an experienced leadership team that understands both the employment and healthcare industries, we believe Trusted Health will fundamentally change the way the next generation of nurses approaches career development.”

The California startup was founded in 2017.

Trusted Health isn’t the only company leveraging technology to tackle nursing staffing issues.

Atlanta-based SnapNurse is an on-demand tool that enables hospitals and other facilities to find and book nurses. From a nurse perspective, an individual can sign up for the platform and begin the credentialing process. The nurse uploads all required documents and is sent a set of forms to digitally sign. Once verified through the SnapNurse platform, the nurse is ready to go.

Another organization, Nomad Health, offers an online marketplace for clinical jobs. The New York City company lets organizations post locum tenens, telehealth and permanent doctor jobs as well as travel nursing positions. Locum tenens references doctors who take temporary clinical positions.

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Microsoft and Imprivata collaborate on cloud-based healthcare platform

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Microsoft and health IT security company Imprivata have teamed up to create an identity and access management (IAM) cloud platform for the healthcare industry.

The solution pairs Imprivata’s technology with Microsoft’s cloud identity platform, Azure Active Directory.

Through the first part of the collaboration, Imprivata has launched Healthcare Seamless SSO, which enables single sign-on into shared clinical workstations and mobile devices. The aim of the solution is to prevent clinical and non-clinical Microsoft users from having to repeatedly enter usernames and passwords.

“We’re delighted to announce this strategic collaboration with Microsoft and to introduce the Imprivata IAM Cloud Platform, which first brings the simplicity of Tap-In and Tap-Out to the cloud, and seamlessly supports access to Microsoft cloud applications like Microsoft Office 365 and more for our 1,945 healthcare customers,” Imprivata president and CEO Gus Malezis said in a statement. “Furthermore, the platform leverages the existing Imprivata investments of our joint customers, enhancing the ROI of their current and future technology investments.”

Last year, Lexington, Massachusetts-based Imprivata unveiled a solution that allows healthcare providers to quickly and safely access clinical devices. Dubbed Imprivata Mobile Device Access, it lets clinicians tap their badge to a mobile device, then single sign-on into their applications.

As for Microsoft, the tech company has recently announced it will pull the plug on some of its healthcare endeavors, including HealthVault, a web-based personal health record system, as well as its Health Dashboard site and Band apps. However, Microsoft is still involved in the space, in part through ties to companies like Redox and Oxford Biomedica.

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ExplORer Surgical raises $5M for its cloud-based platform for the operating room

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Chicago-based startup ExplORer Surgical has closed a $5 million financing round led by Aphelion Capital. All major existing and new investors participated, according to a news release.

The company offers a cloud-based platform for the operating room. The tool is focused on boosting communication and coordination between all members of the surgical team. Through the use of tailored checklists and analytics, it aims to reduce errors, improve efficiency and decrease any confusion that may arise among team members.

ExplORer Surgical sells its product to hospitals and medical device companies, both of which can use it to analyze activity in the OR. More specifically, hospitals can leverage the technology to provide better instructions to members of the surgical team. For device companies, the offering can assist with improving procedural development for new devices.

Via email, co-founder and CEO Jennifer Fried explained that although her startup originated out of a hospital research lab, medical device companies started to approach it in 2017. Today, its device company customer base is larger than its hospital customer base. She said the company does not disclose specific names of clients.

“This new funding allows us to continue to grow across both customer bases and to further build out our medical device product offering,” Fried added.

Regarding investors, Fried pointed out that Aphelion has strong experience investing in early-stage med tech and health IT companies. The firm also led ExplORer Surgical’s $3 million Series A round in 2017.

Additionally, the University of Chicago is an investor through its endowment. “The University of Chicago is the institution where our company began, and we are proud to have had them as an investor in every round of funding — starting from our very first small research grant,” Fried said.

She noted that the startup has an angel investor base as well.

As far as next steps, ExplORer Surgical intends to grow its user base and add new features to its offering. Fried mentioned that the company is close to signing its first non-U.S. customer.

Plus, the Chicago startup has doubled its team in the past two years and continues to hire employees across various functions.

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Boston addiction recovery startup raises $4.1M to expand its financial incentive-based platform

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The statistics around substance abuse disorder in the U.S. are grim. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health roughly 20 million Americans 12 years and older suffer from addiction.

Those numbers have been compounded by the opioid epidemic and a shortage of qualified treatment providers. Some entrepreneurs have been pitching technology as a way to bridge the gap.

One example is DynamiCare Health, which is launching its addiction recovery technology platform in the consumer market with the help of $4.1 million in seed funding from investors including Hyperplane Venture Capital and former U.S. Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy.

DynamiCare was founded in 2016 by the father-and-son team of Eric and David Gastfriend who serve as the company’s CEO and chief medical officer, respectively. David Gastfriend is a psychiatrist specializing in addiction recovery and previously was the CEO of the nonprofit Treatment Research Institute.

The new capital will be used to build out the company’s telehealth recovery coaching service which allows for personalization of treatment plans and more consistent follow-up and support. DynamiCare’s platform, which is currently being used at seven addiction treatment centers, is also being made available directly to consumers.

The Boston-based startup provides technology services that support existing addiction treatment programs such as smartphone-based breath and saliva tests, treatment check-ins and a smart debit card which can be funded with rewards for healthy behavior, but blocks cash withdrawals and spending at bars.

DynamiCare’s technology also has a predictive analytics component that can alert treatment providers and family members in the case of a high-risk event.

“Fusing proven interventions with readily accessible technology is allowing us to bring effective recovery tools directly to the people who need it and fill a noticeable gap in the addiction space,” Eric Gastfriend said in a statement.

DynamiCare’s approach is based on a behavioral therapy called Contingency Management, which uses positive reinforcement to change behavior. The company’s methodology links its financial incentives with evidence of recovery including appointment attendance and clean breathalyzer tests.

“DynamiCare Health offers the kind of innovation the recovery community desperately needs. Evidence-based, affordable behavioral intervention is out of reach for far too many people,” Kennedy said in a statement. “DynamiCare’s platform offers an easily accessible option for payers, employers, families and individuals to work together to help a person achieve sustained recovery.”

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