Friday Five: The week’s top digital health news and views (19 February 2021)

ECG smartwatch poll results; digital cancer care scale-up gets venture backing; SPAC-tacle continues; Carrot dangles data; MindMed looks to speed trials through tech buy.


Physicians blow hot and cold on ECG smartwatches 

The results from last week’s physician poll on ECG smartwatches are in - and there’s a mix of good and not-so-good news for makers of these devices. Responses from the 150-plus cardiologists who took part in the poll point to a generally positive attitude among physicians towards ECG smartwatches, both in terms of clinical performance and impact on their practice. However, our poll also found that most physicians are using these ECG watches to help screen for arrhythmia on a small proportion of their patients. Could this be to do with the lack of clinical guidelines supporting the use of these devices? Perhaps. But we also found differences in physician attitudes depending on geography. To get the low-down, see Physician Views Results: Confidence in ECG smartwatches grow, but clinical usage still stunted.


Philips, Debiopharm joins Cerner in backing cancer healthtech scale-up

This week’s batch of venture financing deals include a series C round by Carevive, a Florida-company offering a digital solution for monitoring and managing symptoms of patients undergoing cancer treatment. The round is modest at $18 million, but the firm has big name backers, including Philips and Debiopharm which joined as new investors. Carevive also has one of the leading health IT services providers in the US, Cerner, among its shareholders, and the two companies have worked together so that Carevive’s PROmpt solution can be seamlessly embedded into Cerner’s EHR infrastructure. Carevive appointed a new CEO, Bruno Lempernesse, in December, who told FirstWord HealthTech more about the company’s plan to deploy its new capital, while co-founder Madelyn Trupkin Herzfeld highlighted what makes Carevive different from other ePRO companies [see One To Watch: Carevive’s ePRO platform seeks to raise the bar in digital oncology care].


Healthtech SPAC-tacle continues

The SPAC frenzy does not look anywhere close to calming down. We ended last week with news of Sharecare inking a deal with Falcon Capital, and started this week with news that Compute Health Acquisition, the SPAC co-founded by former Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak, has raised over $860 million through an upsized IPO, exceeding its original target of $750 million. Additionally, Butterfly Network, which has developed an iPhone-based ultrasound imaging tool, started trading on the NYSE on Tuesday after closing its $1.5 billion merger with blank-cheque company Longview Acquisition. To find out which other SPACs have indicated their interest in the healthtech space and are waiting on the sidelines to swoop down on the right target, see Wider View: Ex-SPAC-t more healthtechs to go down blank-cheque route.


Carrot dangles more positive data on smoking cessation DTx

It’s all about data, data and more data to win over clinicians and digital therapeutics company Carrot has added more ammunition to back the efficacy of its Pivot smoking cessation programme. The firm had previously demonstrated Pivot’s ability to improve abstinence rates among smokers after they had participated in the programme, which lasts on average 12 weeks and includes the use of a breath sensor, a smartphone app and personal coaching. A paper published this week showed Pivot was able to improve on those abstinence rates even 30 days after participants had completed the programme. This data could be potentially helpful for Carrot to get buy-in from clinicians, but also fend off competitors such as Quit Genius and Click Therapeutics.


MindMed taps HealthMode to speed psychedelic meds development

The psychedelic drugs market is said to be enjoying a surge in popularity and MindMed, a player in this field, is looking to accelerate its pipeline with the acquisition of HealthMode, a startup specialising in AI-enabled digital measurement tools used in clinical trials. HealthMode’s technology is designed to increase the precision and speed of clinical research and patient monitoring and MindMed said it will integrate HealthMode into its newly established digital medicine division, Albert. The plan is to build Albert into a “full stack, digital mental health platform, capable of launching and commercialising psychedelic-assisted therapies and medicines at scale for patients.” With the acquisition, MindMed will also expand its executive team with alumni from pharma leader Pfizer and tech giant Google; ex-Pfizer digital medicine executive Daniel Karlin former Google AI industry veteran Bradford Cross are co-founders of HealthMode.


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