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Digital Health Firm Livongo’s Secret Sauce: Brainstorm Health

Happy Thursday, readers. I hate to be a tease—but I think this is one worth teasing. I’ll have a report out soon (alongside a video interview) about one of the most interesting aspects of Livongo, the digital health chronic disease management firm which enjoyed a massive pop in its public debut on the Nasdaq last […]

Happy Thursday, readers.

I hate to be a tease—but I think this is one worth teasing.

I’ll have a report out soon (alongside a video interview) about one of the most interesting aspects of Livongo, the digital health chronic disease management firm which enjoyed a massive pop in its public debut on the Nasdaq last week.

Here’s one teaser: Jennifer Schneider, Livongo president and the company’s former chief medical officer, is herself a diabetes patient. And she personally uses the company’s platform—which hooks her up with health coaches on-the-fly with the help of digitally connected devices—to manage her condition. In fact, she benefited from the tech during Livongo’s hectic IPO road tour just last week when she felt dizzy and out of the loop because of low blood sugar.

I spoke with a number of other Livongo executives and customers (both on- and off-camera) on how the service works. But what I found most striking is this nugget: Nearly half of the company’s employees actually have a chronic condition, such as diabetes or hypertension. And that reality has shaped Livongo’s fundamental approach to its business strategy and vision.

Stay tuned for a broader look—alongside video interviews with Schneider and Livongo CEO Zane Burke, a veteran of Cerner, on Fortune.com. And (one last tease) – we’re going to have a special guest post for you tomorrow to cap off the week.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy, sayak.mukherjee@fortune.com

DIGITAL HEALTH

Uber continues to sink its teeth into the health space. Ride sharing giant Uber has been dipping its beak into the health care pond for a while now, offering up services to transport elderly and isolated Americans to their hospital appointments. Now, Uber’s health care arm – the aptly named Uber Health – is partnering with health products distributor Henry Schein to deliver newfangled medical devices directly to patients’ residences. The device in question is the Medpod telehealth platform; under the partnership, physicians can order these portal microcarts to be sent directly to patients in order to remotely monitor their conditions (such as skin lesions or biometrics like blood pressure). And if that patient requires more detailed, in-person assistance, Uber could then schlep them over to the doctor’s office. (Becker’s Hospital Review)

INDICATIONS

Novartis’ Kisqali continues to impress. Novartis’ Kisqali, a cancer treatment for breast cancer patients, scored another victory on its quest to (potentially) become a blockbuster drug. The company said new trial results show the medicine can extend the lives of certain breast cancer patients. But Novartis still has its work cut out for it; rival Ibrance, from Pfizer, uses a similar action mechanism and launched on the market several years ago, giving the latter treatment a distinct advantage. (Endpoints News)

THE BIG PICTURE

The Medicare for All food fight. Predictably, last night’s Democratic debate – the second in a two-part slug fest in just as many days – put a major emphasis on health care. Night one featured Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, two darlings of the left; Wednesday evening featured battles between Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden. And I’d imagine that some folks who don’t follow the space closely may just be plain old confused following two straight nights of wonkish details washing up against political spin. What’s striking to me is that the fight has become one focused on whether or not private insurance is in any way desirable. And, frankly, that’s a complicated question from both a policy and political standpoint. For instance: Americans largely are not fans of eliminating private and employer-sponsored insurance entirely. And yet, as several candidates have noted, the current system of employer-sponsored insurance more or less forces people to lose their existing health plans every year when they have to be renegotiated. It seems to boil down to disruption versus a systemic overhaul. And don’t expect this topic to fade away anytime soon – it may very well prove the most divisive issue among the Democratic field (ironic given that pretty much all of the candidates are pushing for some version of universal coverage).

REQUIRED READING

Your Job Will Be Automated. Here’s How to Figure Out When, by Gwen Moran

This VC Firm Just Raised More Than $1 Billion to Invest in Moonshots, by Polina Marinova

In India and China, Scandals Blunt Investor Confidence, by Jeremy Kahn

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