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Quicker autism diagnosis using data
Autism spectrum disorder is often diagnosed years later than it could be. In a development that could help accelerate the process, researchers at the University of Chicago set out to make a screening tool to quickly identify kids at risk of an eventual diagnosis by analyzing information collected during routine doctor’s visits — no specialized tests or appointments required. Using millions of claims from Truven Health Analytics, the researchers built a model that “has superior predictive performance to questionnaire-based screenings and can reduce their current socioeconomic, ethnic, and demographic biases,” the researchers write in Science Advances.
One of their immediate next goals is to prospectively validate the model in a clinical setting, and they’re also studying whether they can use a similar method to build a predictive model for Alzheimer’s disease.
Virtual primary care pushes forward
Virtual primary care looks to be one of the big winners of the pandemic telehealth boom. Teladoc Health on Wednesday announced the Primary360 service — which it has piloted for the past few years — will now be broadly available to commercial health plans, employers, and other benefits sponsors. Teladoc says several large companies use the service now, and it will be available through Aetna next year.
Meanwhile Firefly Health this week announced a virtual-first health plan aimed at small- and medium-sized employers. In addition to providing access to a virtual first primary care team, Firefly provides navigation services to guide people to in-person partner clinics, physician groups, and specialty care when necessary. The company reportedly serves fewer than 7,500 patients right now.
Series A is the new B
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, health tech entrepreneurs were considered lucky to close a $9 million Series A financing round. Not so today, when average deal sizes across Series A, B, and C rounds have roughly doubled their 2017 figures. Homing in on early-stage deals, average financing for 2021 Series A and B rounds has nearly tripled over the past four years. In 2021, the average health tech Series A round of $18 million surpassed the average Series B round of $17 million in 2017. “In other words, A is the new B,” write the authors of Rock Health’s third quarter report.
Speaking of funding trends…
- Twin Health, which uses a digital twin approach to develop treatments for metabolic disease, raised $140 million in a Series C round that included participation from ICONIQ Growth and Sequoia Capital India.
- Magellan Healthcare, the behavioral and specialty health care division of Magellan Health, announced it is partnering with mental health startup NeuroFlow to screen and manage patients using its virtual platform.
- Aquant, maker of an AI-powered platform designed to keep medtech service technicians informed, closed a $70 million Series C funding round that brings its total funding to $110 million.
- Syneos Health, a clinical and commercial biopharma research company, acquired health care-focused data analytics company RxDataScience.
- Neurotherapeutics startup MindMaze closed a $125 million investment round from AlbaCore Capital Group.
- The University of California, Irvine announced a five-year partnership with health data governance company Syntropy to bring together clinical, research, and patient-reported information with the ultimate aim of creating a database of real-world data for researchers.
- Walmart namedAndrea Marks VP of clinical performance of its health and wellness division. Marks, who will oversee Walmart’s clinical data and analytics team, was formerly VP of people analytics and the reporting center of excellence at UnitedHealthGroup.
- Ashwini Zenooz, the former president of health records and data infrastructure startup Commure, was appointed CEO of the company. Former Commure CEO Brent Dover will remain an advisor to the startup.
- PBM startup Capital Rx hired former Oscar Health VP of finance Ari Fischel as CFO.
- Patient communications startup WELL Health added Isabelle Meyer Stapf to its executive leadership ranks, appointing her SVP of product. Meyer Stapf previously worked as VP of growth for real estate data company AppFolio.
What we’re reading
Correction: A previous version of this newsletter misstated the investor who led the funding round for Twin Health.