Xconomy Health Tech

Business, Life Sciences, and Technology News

AI Can Unlock Health Data’s Potential, But Access Is Still Difficult

When Mark Bakken formed the healthcare technology investment firm HealthX Ventures nearly five years ago, he says hospitals, insurers, and other potential buyers of digital health products were less open to conversations with the kinds of early-stage healthtech startups Bakken’s firm wanted to back.

At the time, healthcare organizations’ top priority was installing electronic medical records systems and getting the most out of the technology, Bakken says. That’s still important to them today, but “that’s been kind of stabilized,” he says.

“They’re realizing [electronic health records software] doesn’t solve all their problems, so they’re looking to augment that” with additional... Read more »

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 03:00

Nuance & Microsoft Team Up on Conversational AI for Doctors’ Offices

Nuance Communications’ plan to lighten the clerical burden on physicians is coming into focus, and it involves an assist from tech giant Microsoft.

Nuance (NASDAQ: NUAN), the 27-year-old speech recognition technology pioneer, in February revealed it’s developing a device that would sit in exam rooms and listen to conversations between doctors and patients. The system’s artificial intelligence-based software works in the background to capture the exchange, parse clinically significant information, and automatically save it in the correct spots in patients’ electronic medical records. Doctors could also use voice commands to quickly retrieve information, such as a person’s treatment history. The... Read more »

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 06:00

Five Years After Y Combinator First Admits Biotechs, They’re Dug In

Five years ago, the big tech incubator Y Combinator started to welcome life sciences companies into its sizable startup classes, which had previously nurtured entrepreneurs in information technology almost exclusively.

That opening to biotech startups in 2014 was controversial at the time. Some observers simply wondered what kind of guidance a deeply tech-focused accelerator could offer to biology lab scientists messing with live cells and tissues, and facing lengthy development times for new medical treatments.

Others worried about a new startup model that was emerging for young biologists who were frustrated with career barriers at universities and constraints on government grant... Read more »

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 03:00

Unpack Digital Health’s Progress & Pitfalls at X·CON on Oct. 22

Digital health is having a moment, thanks to a convergence of increasingly sophisticated computing technologies, a more favorable regulatory environment, and growing buy-in from hospitals, insurers, and patients. But plenty of challenges and questions remain.

Join Xconomy on Oct. 22 for an elite conference that will help industry stakeholders better understand the most promising opportunities and potential pitfalls for their businesses and organizations.

Our second annual X·CON conference, “Digital Health Gets Real,” features many of the leading companies and experts shaping the future of the intersection of healthcare and technology: John Halamka of Beth Israel Lahey Health; Rosalind Picard of... Read more »

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 02:00

Meissa Scores $30M to Test Vaccine for Dangerous Respiratory Virus

No vaccine is yet available for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which causes lung infections that, while usually mild, can be deadly for very young children. Biotech startup Meissa Vaccines, which aims to fill that treatment gap, announced today it raised $30 million to fund early-stage clinical trials for its experimental RSV vaccine.

Morningside Ventures, a private equity and venture capital firm founded in Hong Kong in 1986, was the sole investor in the Series A financing, which brings Meissa’s fundraising total to nearly $34 million. The startup is a resident company at Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s facility JLABS in South San... Read more »

Thu, 09/26/2019 - 06:00

Report: IPO Activity Picking Back Up Following Quiet, Volatile Q3

While the headlines may be dominated by news of WeWork putting its IPO on hold after reports about its questionable corporate governance, the overall initial public offering market is doing just fine. So far, 127 US companies went public in the first nine months of the year and the amount they raised already topped three of the past four years.

Collectively these businesses raised about $44 billion in their debuts, topping the $34 billion, $21 billion, and $40 billion raised in 2015, 2016, and 2017, respectively. The total for the first three quarters of 2019 was about $8 billion shy of... Read more »

Wed, 09/25/2019 - 17:50

Amazon Launches Virtual Clinic to Help Its Employees Get Healthcare

Amazon has created a new service where its employees can get treatment and advice for non-emergency health issues, according to a website the tech giant recently brought online.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) says the program, Amazon Care, combines telemedicine services, in-person visits with licensed clinicians, and prescription medication delivery. Amazon Care is currently “being piloted for Amazon employees and their families in the Seattle area,” where the company is based, according to the website.

The new service is part of Amazon’s push to deepen its footprint in the healthcare industry. Other healthcare-focused moves by the company include its mid-2018 acquisition of... Read more »

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 18:21

HMS’s $36M Deal to Buy VitreosHealth Combines Complementary Firms

One Texas-based healthcare software business has acquired another in an all-cash deal worth $36.5 million, the companies announced late Monday.

Irving, TX-based HMS Holdings (NASDAQ: HMSY) acquired VitreosHealth, which is located in neighboring Plano, TX. Both cities are suburbs of Dallas. The companies worked together previously, and analysts that track the digital health sector said the company’s products and services are highly complementary.

“In our view, VitreosHealth’s predictive analytics and prescriptive intervention platforms should enhance [HMS’s] existing capabilities,” Matthew Gillmor and Connor Oleferchik, two analysts at Robert W. Baird & Co., wrote in a research note.

HMS’s software is... Read more »

Tue, 09/17/2019 - 13:56

John Halamka, Livongo Health & AI Progress at X·CON on Oct. 22

The consumerization of healthcare is accelerating. Within five years, a “significant percentage” of healthcare services will be run through mobile apps and other digital tools, predicts John Halamka, a Boston-based doctor and prominent digital health expert.

Halamka shared his prognostication in a recent conversation, but we’ll dive more deeply into his vision for healthcare’s tech-enabled future during a fireside chat on Oct. 22 at X·CON 2019, Xconomy’s second annual Boston summit gathering an elite group from across sectors. This year’s theme is “Digital Health Gets Real,” a nod to healthtech’s progress, driven by technological advances, federal policy changes, and... Read more »

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 01:00

WI Watchlist: Epic, Frontdesk, Shine, StartingBlock Madison & More

With summer coming to a close, it’s time to catch up on recent happenings in Wisconsin’s innovation clusters. Read on for details.

—Epic Systems, the electronic medical records giant, unveiled several new products at its annual Users Group Meeting held at its headquarters near Madison. Per a report by the Wisconsin State Journal, the additions include software called Cosmos that can crunch anonymous patient data across different healthcare organizations to spot trends and study how treatments are faring; software technologies to make clinical operations more efficient; and speech recognition software to make it easier for doctors to capture important information during... Read more »

Thu, 09/05/2019 - 22:01

Boston Tech Watch: DraftKings Drives, The Engine Revs, NuTonomy Swaps

Welcome to August’s automotive-themed tech news round-up. This week’s batch of news features a dose of updates that range from self-driving cars to funds or new ventures that sound close enough to being automotive-related (but aren’t) that I just couldn’t pass up making a point about it. Read on for the details.

—DraftKings says it has launched a sports tech investment fund and athlete-entrepreneur network both under the brand DRIVE. The venture is “partially owned” by DraftKings and has funding from General Catalyst, Accomplice, and Boston Seed. Janet Holian, a sports tech veteran and DraftKing’s former marketing head, is co-founding... Read more »

Fri, 08/30/2019 - 02:55

Healthcare’s Future is Telemedicine & AI, But Will Everyone Benefit?

John Halamka thinks the digital health industry is still “emerging.” But it has come a long way and is starting to deliver after years of hype.

Halamka, a Boston-based physician and healthcare technology expert, says that’s thanks to several coalescing factors: improved technology, more favorable financial incentives for using digital products in healthcare, and growing demand from patients accustomed to tech-enabled convenience in other areas of their lives.

“In 2019, the tech is better, but also the alignment of incentives is better,” says Halamka, who leads innovation at Beth Israel Lahey Health system and is a Harvard Medical School professor.

Over... Read more »

Wed, 08/21/2019 - 21:01

Boston Tech Watch: Buoy Health, Cambridge Crops, Polarity & More

This week, we’re tracking venture capital deals in digital health, augmented reality for the enterprise, wellness, and food tech. Read on for details.

—Buoy Health said it snagged $15 million in a Series B funding round led by Hambrecht Ducera Growth Ventures, which was joined in the investment by Humana (NYSE: HUM), F-Prime Capital Partners, and Optum Ventures. Boston-based Buoy developed a chatbot that provides users with information about health symptoms they’re experiencing, and can guide them through next steps, such as visiting a nearby pharmacy or calling their doctor.

Buoy previously raised at least $9.2 million from investors.... Read more »

Thu, 08/15/2019 - 21:01

After Drought, Digital Health’s Summer of IPOs Brings Validation

After a nearly three-year period in which not a single digital health company held an initial public stock offering, the dry spell has ended.

In recent weeks, four healthcare software and technology businesses—Change Healthcare, Health Catalyst, Livongo Health, and Phreesia—held IPOs. Taken as a whole, these public market debuts were mostly successful, and could persuade digital health companies that have been in business for years but remain private to consider an IPO, according to people who monitor investments in the industry.

“It’s very good news for the sector,” says Michael Greeley, general partner at Flare Capital Partners, a Boston-based venture capital... Read more »

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 12:48

WI Watchlist: AmFam, Venture Investors, Understory, Gener8tor & More

It’s time to catch up on some recent headlines from Wisconsin’s innovation clusters:

—Venture Investors and American Family Ventures are making progress on raising new venture funds. Madison-based Venture Investors has closed on $73.1 million for its latest fund, and it could grow the fund to $100 million, according to an SEC filing.

Meanwhile, American Family Ventures, the venture capital arm of American Family Insurance, has raised $162.5 million for its third fund, which could reach $200 million, according to an SEC filing.

—Primorigen Biosciences, a Madison-based life sciences research and recombinant protein manufacturing company, was acquired... Read more »

Wed, 08/14/2019 - 03:00

AIQ Solutions Hits On $3.2M to Pinpoint Drug-Resistant Tumors

Many companies developing artificial intelligence software for healthcare are trying to improve doctors’ ability to diagnose disease. Fewer emerging healthcare AI businesses are focused on what happens after a diagnosis, aiming to figure out how treatments are working.

One of them, AIQ Solutions, has developed software that analyzes medical imaging data to identify all of a cancer patient’s lesions—areas of abnormal tissue—and quantify how they have changed after treatment. CEO Eric Horler claims his company’s technology, focused initially on metastatic bone disease caused by prostate or breast cancer, can provide such insights faster and at a more granular level than competing... Read more »

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 10:05

Digital Health Gets Real: Hear From Pear, Nuance & More at X·CON

At times in recent years, it seemed like digital technologies would never live up to the hype in healthcare. In many cases, they still haven’t. But some have turned a corner and are starting to have a real impact.

Devices with health-minded features, such as home-monitoring systems and smart watches, are helping patients and doctors monitor daily health. The first prescription mobile apps have been cleared by the FDA and are rolling out. Machine learning and other artificial intelligence tools are enhancing treatment plans, improving drug discovery, and augmenting clinicians’ skills in tasks such as reading medical scans and diagnosing disease.... Read more »

Mon, 08/05/2019 - 05:52

Exact Sciences Buying Genomic Health in $2.8B Cancer Diagnostics Deal

With ambitious sales goals and its stock trading at an all-time high this year, cancer diagnostics firm Exact Sciences decided to go shopping. The result is a deal announced Monday to acquire Genomic Health for $2.8 billion in cash and stock, a combination that Exact CEO Kevin Conroy argues will create a global leader in the sector.

“Together we have a stronger financial profile than on our own, allowing us to continue to invest in growth opportunities,” Conroy said on a conference call Monday with financial analysts. “We’re bringing together complementary capabilities to create a leading cancer diagnostics company.”

In pre-market... Read more »

Mon, 07/29/2019 - 05:54

Livongo Upsizes IPO to $355M in Bid to Become Netflix of Health

Livongo, a digital health company developing devices and software to help patients manage treatment for diabetes and other chronic conditions, said it expects to net $355.2 million in an initial public offering.

Mountain View, CA-based Livongo late Wednesday priced its offering of approximately 12.7 million shares of its common stock at $28 per share. That would give the company a market capitalization of about $2.5 billion. Strong investor interest enabled Livongo to offer more shares than it planned, and for a higher price. When the company set IPO terms last week, it targeted the sale of 10.7 million shares for... Read more »

Wed, 07/24/2019 - 19:48