Sidekick Health welcomes new investors, who pumped $55 million into "digital therapeutics", another over-hyped supposedly disruptive health care trend. This involves the typical phone apps, etc. that will instantly make you lose weight, get exercise, manage your blood pressure and blood sugar, etc. The investors who get stuck holding the bag will have a digit for you.
A company called Hello Heart raises a fresh $70 million in capital for yet another app that supposedly helps improve management of cardiac health. I despair about the sanity of venture capital and private equity investors, they just seem to keep making the same mistake of funding companies that don't really do anything clinically worthwhile, but then I remember THEY ARE PLAYING WITH OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY and they are really good at the greater fool theory--they dump bad investments on some other chump before the problem becomes apparent--see Teladoc, e.g.
Having private investors own health care facilities isn't all bad. They may jack prices up mercilessly, but they don't appear to hurt outcomes for care and may even improve them, according to this study in JAMA. Mortality relatingt to hospitalizations for heart attacks was lower following an acquisition of a hospital by private equity, but there were no changes in spending or quality for other conditions studied.
You may recall how I mock some of the insane IPO valuations and acquisition activity in health care. Here is an example of why. TelaDoc, a large telehealth provider which went public at an absurd valuation, and then wasted huge amounts of money on acquisitions that made no sense, like Livongo, a supposed disruptive care management company, is taking a $6.8 billion impairment charge to write down the value of those acquisitions. The stock price, already socked over the last few months, sunk to an even more depressed, and for shareholders, depressing, level, but at least it is getting closer to its actual value as a company, which might be zero. Don't ever buy hype, especially in health care.
UnitedHealth Group, my former employer, is a health care behemoth. It has pushed aggressively in to the actual delivery of medical care in the last decade and is currently the largest employer of physicians in the country. It now is moving into home health care by purchasing LHC Group for $5 billion. Supposedly these deals will reduce total costs, but I don't believe it, I think they protect profits and profit margins and I doubt they result in better quality either.
TimeDoc Health obtains $48.5 million in new financing for its software product that supposedly simplifies administrative work for physicians and provides care coordination support. Only the 100th product in the market like this, but I am sure it has some truly distinguishing features.
In what has to be one of the strangest deals yet, large dialysis provider Fresenius is merging with two over-hyped and over-valued "digital health" companies oriented to kidney care--Interwell, which has a network of specialists and Cricket Health which supposedly does patient engagement. This apparently will make the conglomeration more attractive to payers and patients. This mess is valued at $2.3 billion.
VillageMD is one of a series of focused primary care clinics which have gone public or gotten large investments at huge valuations. All these companies are struggling to maintain those valuations. Some do so by questionable acquistions. VillageMD is buying Healthy Interactions, which offers patient education services, at an undisclosed by undoubtedly excessive price, supposedly to provide the services to its members.
I have mentioned before the phenomenon in excessive capital times that scads of money goes to unproven companies, who then try to obscure their lack of coherent strategy by acquiring with other similar companies. Health care is rife with this tactic. Here we see Signify Health acquiring Caravan Health for $300 million, much of which is funny money stock. Both firms work in the commodity space of value-based purchasing and accountable care organization support. One plus one still equals zero.
IBM ending a huge bust in its health care efforts, selling its Watson health care assets to a PE firm. IBM spent a fortune building this and claimed it would revolutionize health care, but it has very limited clinical utility. More hype in health care.
More lunacy, kind of ironic for a mental health company, as Lyra Health raises a fresh $235 million in capital at over a $5 billion valuation. Just gonna say the company will never earn enough money to justify that valuation. But institutional investors work on the greater fool principle--they think they can always find someone stupider to take a dumb investment off their hands.
More froth in the capital markets as R1 RCM pays $4.1 billion for CloudMed. R1 RCM helps health care providers with billing and other practice management software and services and CloudMed supposedly brings artificial intelligence to those activities.
Medically Home, which attempts to outfit the homes of patients with serious illnesses so that they can be treated outside of a hospital, has raised an additional $110 million in capital to support growth of the business.
The day's second incomprehensible deal involves Babylon Health babbling on about buying Higi Health, which offers kiosks for biometric screenings. Babylon is a digital and telehealth company. No price announced but whatever it was, it was too much.
The Healthy Skeptic is a website about the health care system, and is written by Kevin Roche, who has many years of experience working in the health industry. Mr. Roche is available to assist health care companies through consulting arrangements through Roche Consulting, LLC and may be reached at [email protected].