It can be tough to keep up with the latest news in the virtual care space. Wheel's Virtual Care News is a monthly newsletter for stakeholders in the digital health industry. As a subscriber, you'll receive timely information on trending news, regulatory updates, engaging conversations, and key innovations emerging in the space.
Happy Pride Month! 🏳️🌈 As part of our celebration, we’ve included a special LGBTQ+ health section. Our regularly scheduled news features conversations related to patient engagement and consumer-centric care including a report about how retailers are impacting the industry. Digital health funding held strong in Q1, and we’re seeing moves in the market as players stake a claim in the weight-loss and metabolic health space. Plus, more innovative collaborations across the virtual care ecosystem.
Wheel be out of the office (see what we did there?) to celebrate Juneteenth on Mon, June 19! In the fast-paced tech industry, it can feel like society’s progress is slow but we’re grateful for time to celebrate Black Americans, progress, and the continued fight for freedom and equity in our country. 🖤🤎🖤
Trends & Insights
Telehealth companies are targeting the $100 billion weight loss drug market
Since 2019, the number of prescriptions for GLP-1 agonists like Wegovy and Ozempic has increased 2,082% to over 5 million. Analysts project that the global obesity therapeutic market could be worth $100 billion by around 2030. This data points to why telehealth companies are racing to offer weight loss and diabetes programs.
Telehealth companies have a unique advantage for improving access. For example, metabolic management company, Calibrate, helps patients deal with insurance hurdles and provides 1:1 coaching and nutritional guidance. Other virtual care providers like Everlywell, Ro and Hims & Hers are adding it to their existing offerings for a holistic weight loss program.
Health tech startups show stakeholders how digital solutions offer ROI
“You really have to show people the money,” says Feyi Olopade Ayodele, CEO and co-founder of CancerIQ. Digital health startups continue to face challenges like regulatory hurdles, lack of data, and the high cost of development — but investors are still interested in investing. Industry experts identify virtual care, AI-powered solutions, population health management, and consumer health apps as the areas investors are most interested in supporting.
First Opinions & Engaging Conversations
Outside-in vs inside-out: Rethinking patient engagement
Amy West, Head of US Digital Transformation and Innovation for Novo Nordisk, says healthcare experiences are often “needlessly stress-inducing.” Studies have shown that patients are often disengaged from their care which leads to poor health outcomes.
West argues healthcare is lagging behind because of the traditional “inside-out” approach focusing on the needs of the system such as improving efficiency. Instead, healthcare orgs should adopt the "outside-in" approach which focuses on the needs of the patient, such as improving their health outcomes and quality of life. Healthcare organizations who leverage technology, offer patient-centered education, and create patient-led communities are using the outside-in approach and studies have already shown improved outcomes.
Health systems can’t afford to not invest in digital health
Sixty percent of consumers expect their digital healthcare experience to mirror their retail experience. Health plans and retailers are investing in virtual health to provide consumer-centric care. CIO of a university health system, Michael Saad says, “Organizations that are not venturing into the digital health space are going to fall behind and do so pretty quickly, and it will be hard for them to catch up."
🌈 LGBTQ+ Health
Here’s to stigma-free LGBTQ+ healthcare
Our mission at Wheel is to put great care within everyone’s reach. It’s been harder to do that in some states because of the increase of laws targeting gender-affirming care, but we’re still rooting for stigma-free healthcare access for all. Our queer-identified team members scoured the internet for healthcare resources and news worthy of Pride month. 🏳️⚧️
🏳️🌈 LGBTQ+ RESOURCE
🏳️🌈 LGBTQ+ RESOURCE
💜 ALLY RESOURCE
📣 GOOD NEWS
📣 GOOD NEWS
🩺 CLINICAL RESOURCE
🩺 CLINICAL RESOURCE
🩺 CLINICAL RESOURCE
Growth & Innovation
Digital health funding holds steady in Q1 after year of decline
According to a report by CB Insights, global digital health funding held steady in the first quarter of 2023, capturing $3.4 billion for the second quarter in a row. The number of digital health deals also stayed consistent, bumping up 1% from the fourth quarter last year to 387 deals. The digital health sector defied trends seen in the larger venture capital environment, where funding fell 13% quarter over quarter. This is the first period without a quarter-over-quarter funding decline since the fourth quarter in 2021.
Health system goes hybrid
While many hospitals are piloting hospital-at-home programs, FirstHealth launched an “Observation-at-home” program to take care of the capacity problem at the source. Patients with qualifying conditions can be sent home and a paramedic can be sent to their house to observe, get them ready for their telemedicine appointment, and take observations that require special tools.
Healthcare IT News >
Funding updates and innovative collaborations from the last month.
- Babylon secured financing and went private with help.
- Lifeforce, a celebrity-backed optimization platform, nabbed $12 million.
- Amino, a digital health guidance company, raised $80 million.
- Wellthy scored $25 million for its tech-enabled caregiver concierge.
- Hippocratic AI, a large-language model for healthcare, launches with $50 million.
- Florence buys Zipnosis from Bright Health for an undisclosed sum.
- Pear Theraputic’s assets were sold for $6 million at auction after bankruptcy.
CRO Vince Balsamo to speak at Virtual First Care West
Virtual-first care has its very own summit and nickname – “V1C.” After success on the east coast, the west coast will get its first Virtual First Care summit June 28-29 and Wheel’s Chief Revenue Officer, Vince Balsamo, will kick it off with a keynote panel discussion about the future of virtual-first care. The theme of this year’s summit is “Defining the Virtual Evolution of Healthcare” and will focus on building sustainability throughout the V1C ecosystem.
Virtual-first plans pose new challenges for payers
Virtual-first care provides a number of benefits for enrollees such as lower premiums and more convenience, but they also have a unique set of challenges to consider. Our VP of Strategy, Dan DeSantis, spoke to Health Payer Specialist (industry journal, link requires email) about health plans adopting virtual-first strategies to compete in the consumer-centric healthcare market.
“Over the past number of years, we've seen this massive escalation [and] adoption in virtual care and it's here to stay and growing. As a health plan if you do not currently have a virtual-first strategy — and that doesn't mean just a virtual-first health benefit, but a virtual-first strategy — now's the time to think about it.” - Dan DeSantis