Friday Five: The week’s top digital health news and views (11 June 2021)

Healthtech opps amidst Alzheimer’s drug approval; CGM plays catch-up; One Medical bulks up; key hires to lead growth at Noom, PacBio; Apple’s new health features.

Alzheimer’s drug, more opportunities for healthtech?

The biggest news to hit healthcare in a decade - arguably more - is the FDA approval of aducanumab, Biogen and Eisai’s amyloid-targeting antibody which is now branded Aduhelm. The approval has stoked a lot of debate, not least because of the questionable risk-benefit ratio of this drug and its eye-watering $56,0000 price tag (yes, per treatment). But what impact would a disease-modifying therapy have on the broader management strategy of Alzheimer’s patients? What opportunities could this open up for adjunct digital therapeutics to augment the efficacy of the drug? We are asking this and other questions in a new poll fielded to neurologists and psychiatrists on both sides of the Atlantic [see Physician Views: What impact does Aduhelm’s approval have on other Alzheimer’s management strategies?]. Look out for our results, coming soon. 

Continuous glucose monitoring in type 2 diabetes plays catch-up

Data from the Mobile study unveiled at last week’s virtual conference on Advanced Technologies and Treatments for Diabetes back the use of continuous glucose monitoring in type 2 diabetes patients on a basal insulin-only regime. This is positive news for the likes of Dexcom - whose G6 CGM was used in the study - and for Abbott with its Freestyle Libre, but are primary care practitioners ready to recommend this modality of glucose monitoring to their broader type 2 diabetes patient base? We ran a snap-poll to find out; our top-line findings show that physicians recognise the need for insulin-treated type 2 diabetes patients to have better glycaemic control, but the use of CGM is still limited to certain segments of this population. Interestingly, there was a notable difference in CGM adoption levels between US and Europea PCPs. To get the details of our results, see Physician Views Results: CGM still the laggard in type 2 diabetes management strategy.

One Medical bulks up

The week kicked off with a billion-dollar M&A deal - $2.1 billion, to be precise - between integrated care providers One Medical and Iora Health. One Medical provides membership-based virtual and in-person primary care services to consumers and employers; Iora will give One Medical access to the Medicare Advantage value-based healthcare market, and boost the combined company’s total addressable market to $870 million. It might have been the first but it is not the biggest M&A deal in digital health this week; data management firms Datavant and Ciox Health said they are to merge in a $7 billion transaction, and create the biggest health data ecosystem in the US.

Noom, PacBio fill top exec spots

Noom has tapped former CVS Health’s chief digital officer, Firdaus Bhathena, to take the company’s digital therapy platform - best known for weight management - into new healthcare market segments and new geographies. This appointment, together with two other senior hires in marketing and HR, follow a $540 million series D round closed by Noom in May. Long-read sequencing specialist Pacific Biosciences is also looking to expand internationally. It has appointed Neil Ward, the former Northern Europe sales director of Illumina, to oversee the company’s growth in the EMEA region. 

Apple can now let you share

May saw Google hold its annual I/O conference and it’s Apple’s turn this month for its WWDC global developers summit. Among the new health and wellness features unveiled at the conference was a health data sharing functionality on iOS 15. This means iPhone and Apple Watch users in the US are now able to securely share health metrics such as heart rate, detected falls, hours of sleep or exercise minutes - the data would typically be shared with physicians and caregivers, but users do have full control over who receives the information. Apple noted that at participating healthcare organisations, a physician would be able to review the shared app data directly in the electronic health records system.

Other key stories:

Physician Views Results: US, EU dermatologists split on skin screening apps’ impact on clinical workflow

GSK, Progentec to assess proteomics, digital health tools for lupus

Bausch + Lomb, Lochan to develop next-generation eyeTELLIGENCE software


Physician Views Results articles are available to FirstWord HealthTech PLUS subscribers (contact for more details).

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