First, the policy updates. POTUS nominates Alex Azar, a former top exec from Eli Lilly, to head the HHS. If he wants to, he can right away take credit for the blowout performance of the ACA exchange markets that saw more than 600,000 sign-ups in the first week. That one just refuses to die. Unless it is laid low by an indirect blow from the proposed tax reform which, according to the Commonwealth Fund, could well happen if plugging the 3.5 trillion budget deficit requires cuts to entitlements such as Medicaid.

The newly named IQVIA (formerly QunitilesIMS) has published research that suggests digital health apps could save $46 Bn a year in health spending – but adds that of the 318,500 mobile apps already out there, most have been downloaded less than 5000 times. In short, healthcare consumers are still not turned on by digital health apps. However, that doesn’t seem to stop the flow of investment into digital health, with Boston-based Partners Healthcare announcing a new $171 M fund.

My favorite story in the past couple of months has been the unfolding saga of Chicago-based Outcome Health whose $500 m funding round in summer exploded on us like a giant July 4th firework finale. That 5 Bn valuation for the company is rapidly evaporating after WSJ exposed questionable business practices, leading to several key departures, a slew of investor lawsuits and a DOJ subpoena, and a couple of high-profile customer pullbacks. That’s just the score for now. I have only one question at this point: who did the due diligence on this company?

Elsewhere, high-profile EHR company Athena Health seems to be in trouble, announcing the closure of its Atlanta facility which once employed over 500 associates.

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