Here's a recap of funding in digital health, the latest healthcare innovations, and trends in virtual care for October 2020.
Funding in Digital Health
Austin Startup Receives $100,000 Grant For COVID-19 Screening Test
Austin-based healthcare startup Robin MD has received a $100,000 grant from the Austin Emergency Supply Foundation to “support the validation and launch of a new population screening test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19,” Robin MD CEO James Coan said on Wednesday. “A ton of work has been done since the beginning of the pandemic to expand access to individual diagnostic tests, and to bring better, faster, cheaper tests to market,” said Coan.
Sidekick Health scores $20M for its gamified digital care platform
Nordic digital therapeutics company, Sidekick Health, has closed a $20 million Series A led by pan-European VC Wellington Partners and healthcare focused VC Asabys Partners. Existing investors, Novator and Frumtak Ventures, also participated in the oversubscribed round.
Costco is selling at-home COVID-19 tests for $130
Costco is selling COVID-19 tests that you can take in the comfort of your home. The retailer is selling at-home tests that allow customers to test for the coronavirus via saliva samples, instead of inserting swabs into their noses for samples. The COVID-19 saliva PCR test kit costs $130 on Costco.com. Costco is charging an extra $10 for the same kit with video observation and assistance.
Goldman Sachs-backed 98point6 banks $118M to expand virtual primary care
Major investors are bankrolling 98point6 with $118 million in a series E funding round, betting big on the continued demand for virtual care. The Seattle-based startup developed an on-demand digital primary care service that delivers personalized consultation, diagnosis and treatment to patients. The text-based platform now has more than 240 commercial partnerships—accounting for 3 million members—with prominent brands including Banner|Aetna, Boeing, Circle K, Red Bull North America, Sam's Club, Teamsters Western Region and the New Jersey Health Care Fund.
SaaS telehealth platform eVisit scores $14M in new funding
The company provides a telehealth platform that includes several facets, including a scheduling, intake, waiting room management and discharge function. Its main customers are hospitals and health systems. First founded in 2013, the tool is able to integrate with EHRs and analytics platforms. The company announced receiving $2 million in 2017 from KickStart Seed Fund, Arizona Founders Fund and an angel investor.
HHS invests $480 million in Cue Health to boost manufacturing of rapid coronavirus test
The U.S. is investing $481 million in California-based start-up Cue Health to boost manufacturing of its coronavirus test that produces results in about 20 minutes and without needing to be processed at a lab, U.S. agencies announced Tuesday. Cue, which is backed by Johnson & Johnson among other investors, will increase production from several thousand test kits per day now to 100,000 per day by March, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. It added that the U.S. will acquire 6 million tests and 30,000 lab instruments used to process the tests.
Latest Healthcare Innovations
Best Buy Health partnered with Amazon to launch a telehealth-enabled flip phone for seniors
Electronics retail giant Best Buy's health unit launched a new flip phone—dubbed LivelyFlip—that can integrate with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and boasts telehealth features to connect seniors to on-demand providers, per Becker's Hospital Review. The phone's Amazon voice-powered tech enables seniors to make calls and send texts—in addition to the device's urgent call button, which links a user directly to 24/7 access to care teams at telehealth company GreatCall.
Fitbit CEO reveals the company's plan to conquer fitness wearables and telemedicine
When asked about the Fitbit's strategy moving forward, Park explained the company would continue to nurture innovations around health and fitness. Another key focus will be to improve its subscription service and keep users of Fitbit devices engaged instead of relying strictly on device sales to drive the bottom line. Part of that strategy will involve tapping into the growing popularity of telemedicine and convincing consumers that it's worth it to invest in tools like a connected thermometer or an otoscope to "give your physician that same level of insight that they might get when you go in for an in-person visit."
Amwell CMO: Google partnership will focus on AI, machine learning to expand into new markets
Amwell is looking to evolve virtual care beyond just imitating in-person care. To do that, the telehealth company expects to use its latest partnership with Google Cloud to enable it to tap into artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to create a better healthcare experience, according to Peter Antall, M.D., Amwell's chief medical officer.
Quil launches in-home health monitoring solution as telemedicine usage explodes
Quil Health, a joint venture from Comcast and the Independence Health Group, today announced plans to launch a product that connects caregivers with loved ones. The Quil Assure platform leverages sensors, voice-activated tech, and coordination tools to keep everyone in the loop. The company says over time it will integrate with existing product Engage to help customers manage their health and wellness needs.
Austin-based Verifiable raises $3 million for its API toolkit to verify healthcare credentials
Verifiable is working with Dock, a blockchain-based ledger company that issues digital credentials and anchors them to a public ledger. Verifiable provides an API that connects to hundreds of primary sources to keep updated records on the 17 million licensed healthcare providers working in the U.S. Companies like Talkspace, Sesame and Verge Health are already using the API to automate real-time verifications for more than 50,000 healthcare providers.
Lyft deepens its healthcare ties with Epic integration
In a move to deepen its ties to healthcare providers, Lyft is integrating with Epic's medical records system to make it easier for hospital staff to schedule rides for patients. It's the first ride-sharing company to integrate with Epic, one of the largest electronic health record (EHR) companies. Lyft worked directly with Epic to create the Lyft for Epic integration, enabling health system staff to schedule a Lyft ride for a patient directly from that patient’s record rather than needing to sign into a separate tool.
Trends in Virtual Care
How COVID-19 shifted healthcare executives' technology priorities and what to expect in 2021
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit earlier this year, health system executives had to shift their priorities to fast-track innovations such as virtual care services and artificial intelligence tools. About a quarter of healthcare executives (26%) said the shift to telehealth and virtual care was a top innovation priority at their organizations prior to the pandemic, according to a survey of 117 executives conducted at the beginning of the year by the Center for Connected Medicine (CCM). That has now jumped to 49% of executives who say virtual care is a top innovation priority, according to CCM's follow-up survey from this summer.
Where will you stand in healthcare’s new world order?
The fact that the healthcare industry is on the verge of disruption has been the topic of conversation for a long time. If there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that the digital disruption of healthcare is inevitable, in fact it’s already here. All players, incumbents and disruptors alike, are now including digital as a cornerstone of their strategy, but the open question remains, who will be the winners in the new world order?
JD Power Survey Charts the Top 12 Reasons for Using Telehealth
Healthcare providers and payers looking to drive sustainability in a telehealth platform in a world affected by the coronavirus pandemic should focus on safety, quality and insurance coverage. That’s the take-away from J.D. Power’s second annual Telehealth Satisfaction Study, released earlier this month. According to the consumer advisory company’s survey, respondents showed increased attention in those three topics this year, as opposed to last year’s pre-COVID-19 survey.
Here's how Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are targeting the health insurance market
Tech giants are ramping up their investments in digital health initiatives, signaling some significant moves to target the health insurance space. Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon have invested heavily in personal health monitoring devices and virtual care and have been able to integrate these capabilities into health insurance offerings relatively easily, according to an analysis from CB Insights. As one example, Google’s subsidiary Verily recently formed its own insurance company to provide tech-driven employer health insurance plans.