Healthcare Reform: Where's The Push For More Innovation?

Forbes | May 20, 2019

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll again demonstrated that health care is the top government priority among voters. So how are our political leaders tackling the question? For Democratic presidential candidates, the debate is mostly about a new “Medicare for All”—somehow expanding government coverage for every American (alas, with little discussion about how to fund it). Republican leaders have focused primarily on dismantling Obamacare, though President Trump last week called for bi-partisan legislation to reform provider billing practices. Yet such issues are only a fraction of the tangle of healthcare challenges that, as Mr. Trump once noted, “nobody knew could be so complicated.

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While technology advancements are changing every industry, the field of healthcare is experiencing rapid developments.


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HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

TELUS and LifeWorks receive court approval and key regulatory approvals for proposed acquisition

TELUS Corporation | August 12, 2022

TELUS Corporation and LifeWorks Inc. announced that the Ontario Superior Court of Justice has granted its final order approving the plan of arrangement in respect of the acquisition by TELUS of LifeWorks previously announced on June 16, 2022. TELUS and LifeWorks also announced that the Competition Bureau of Canada has issued a no action letter in respect of the Arrangement. Accordingly, Competition Act Approval, as defined and as required by the Arrangement Agreement previously entered into between LifeWorks and TELUS, has been obtained. In addition, the applicable waiting period in relation to the Arrangement under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, as amended, has expired with the result that the acquisition is clear to proceed in the United States as well as Canada. The Court Approval, the Competition Act Approval and the HSR Approval are significant milestones toward closing TELUS’ acquisition of LifeWorks and follows LifeWorks’ shareholder approval, which was obtained at a special meeting of LifeWorks’ shareholders on August 4, 2022. Pending receipt of regulatory approvals in the United Kingdom and Australia, and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, the Arrangement is expected to proceed to closing which is anticipated to be on or about the fourth quarter of 2022. “We are pleased to have reached this significant milestone, with clearance to proceed with the TELUS – LifeWorks transaction in Canada and the United States. Importantly, we have seen overwhelming support from LifeWorks’ team members, customers and shareholders, and I am confident that the potent combination of the respective skills and capabilities of LifeWorks and TELUS Health will create a world-leading, end-to-end, digital-first employee primary and preventative healthcare, mental health and wellness platform, covering more than 50 million lives, and growing, on a global basis. We look forward to welcoming LifeWorks employees into our TELUS family so that, together, we can help even more people around the world lead their healthiest and most productive professional and personal lives.” Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of TELUS “This is an exciting new chapter for LifeWorks and together with TELUS we will be able to accelerate our shared vision of empowering individuals to take a more proactive role in the management of their health by unifying the continuum of care through digital-first innovations, as well as our unmatched in-person care,” said Stephen Liptrap, President and CEO of LifeWorks. “Our two organizations are aligned as leading purpose-driven companies that are committed to improving the lives of people around the world.” About TELUS Corporation TELUS is a dynamic, world-leading communications technology company with $17 billion in annual revenue and 17 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security. Our social purpose is to leverage our global-leading technology and compassion to drive social change and enable remarkable human outcomes. Our longstanding commitment to putting our customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. The numerous, sustained accolades TELUS has earned over the years from independent, industry-leading network insight firms showcase the strength and speed of TELUS’ global-leading networks, reinforcing our commitment to provide Canadians with access to superior technology that connects us to the people, resources and information that make our lives better. TELUS Health is Canada’s leader in digital health technology, improving access to health and wellness services and revolutionizing the flow of health information across the continuum of care. TELUS Agriculture & Consumer Goods is a global technology provider of innovative data insights and digital solutions, creating a unified, trusted and sustainable value chain. TELUS International is a leading digital customer experience innovator that designs, builds, and delivers next-generation solutions, including AI and content moderation, for global and disruptive brands across high-growth industry verticals, including tech and games, communications and media and ecommerce and FinTech. TELUS and TELUS International operate in 28 countries around the world. Driven by our determination and vision to connect all citizens for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired TELUS, our team members and retirees to contribute more than $900 million, in cash, in-kind contributions, time and programs, and 1.8 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world. Together, let’s make the future friendly. About LifeWorks LifeWorks is a world leader in providing digital and in-person solutions that support the total wellbeing of individuals – mental, physical, financial and social. As the trusted leader in mental health and wellbeing, LifeWorks delivers a personalized continuum of care that helps our clients improve the lives of their people and by doing so, improve their business. Guided by our purpose to improve lives and improve business, we help our clients improve the wellbeing of their people, we help them improve workforce engagement and productivity, thereby improving the performance of our clients’ organizations. LifeWorks is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: LWRK). LifeWorks has approximately 7,000 employees, 25,000 clients, and serves 36 million individuals and their families in more than 160 countries.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

Winner Medical Acquires Majority Stake in Pingan Medical to Fuel Growth

Winner Medical | June 02, 2022

Winner Medical Co. Ltd. a leading manufacturer of disposable wound care and surgical products, announced on May 18 that it will acquire a majority 65.55% stake in Hunan Pingan Medical Device Technology Co. Ltd. for 652 million yuan as the Company continues to expand its disposable medical supply lineup. Upon the completion of the deal, Winner Medical is set to hold a total of 68.7% stake in Pingan Medical for a total of 752 million yuan. The Company's move comes as it looks to make a foray into the field of injection products to diversify its product offerings besides consumer products, and comes in line with its strategy to provide one-stop disposable medical supply solutions. Established in 2010, Pingan Medical mainly produces disposable medical devices, such as syringes, infusion sets, and blood collection tubes among other medical supplies. In 2021, Pingan Medical recorded 360 million yuan in revenue and booked a net profit of 85 million yuan. The acquisition will leverage both companies' strengths and help fill the product gap in injection-related disposables of Winner Medical, enabling it to expand into new medical verticals and achieve its goal of becoming a major supplier for the domestic market. Specifically, the Company plans to roll out medical sets that comprise needle-type products from Pingan Medical and wound care supplies from Winner Medical, providing one-stop customized solutions for hospitals and large medical centers. Meanwhile, Winner Medical will help Pingan Medical with its industry-leading R&D capabilities to develop medical device solutions and build smart manufacturing plants. To fuel the growth based on the new deal, Winner Medical has signed an investment note with the local government of Li County in Hunan Province, where Pingan Medical is headquartered, to build medical equipment production lines, smart warehousing, and R&D facilities. The latest deal follows Winner Medical's April-11 acquisition of wound dressing maker Zhejiang Longterm Medical Technology Co. Ltd. as part of its expansion strategy to stay competitive in the area of high-end wound dressings. The Company has also set up a dedicated team to promote its self-developed wound dressing products as the market for such medical supplies is still in its infancy in China. Founded in 1991, Winner Medical has made efforts to offer quality cotton-based medical dressings and disposables, and will continue to push ahead with its strategy to diversify its product lineup and boost consumption. On the manufacturing front, the Company aims to expand to new medical verticals through acquisitions, while on the consumption front, it plans to enhance product sales through digitization and gradually phasing out less popular products. As such, the Company has made significant progress in digitizing its operations. Winner Medical has gone live on multiple e-commerce platforms, and has gone digital in terms of online and offline warehousing and order management.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

WELL Health Enters into Automatic Share Purchase Plan

WELL Health Technologies Corp. | June 16, 2022

WELL Health Technologies Corp.ca company focused on positively impacting health outcomes by leveraging technology to empower practitioners and their patients globally, announced today that it has entered into an automatic share purchase plancwith a broker in order to facilitate repurchases of the Company's common shares under its previously announced normal course issuer bid. WELL previously announced that it had received approval from the Toronto Stock Exchange to, during the 12-month period commencing June 1, 2022 and terminating May 31, 2023, purchase up to 5,555,386 Common Shares, representing approximately 2.5% of the 222,215,443 Common Shares issued and outstanding as of May 30, 2022, by way of a NCIB on the TSX or through alternative trading systems or by such other means as may be permitted under applicable law. During the effective period of WELL's ASPP, WELL's broker may purchase Common Shares at times when WELL would not be active in the market due to insider trading rules and its own internal trading blackout periods. Purchases will be made by WELL's broker based upon parameters set by WELL when it is not in possession of any undisclosed material information about itself and its securities, and in accordance with the terms of the ASPP. Outside of the effective period of the ASPP, Common Shares may continue to be purchased in accordance with WELL's discretion, subject to applicable law. The ASPP has been entered into in accordance with the requirements of applicable Canadian securities laws. About WELL Health Technologies Corp. WELL is a practitioner focused digital healthcare company whose overarching objective is to positively impact health outcomes to empower and support healthcare practitioners and their patients. WELL has built an innovative practitioner enablement platform that includes comprehensive end to end practice management tools inclusive of virtual care and digital patient engagement capabilities as well as Electronic Medical Records (EMR), Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) and data protection services. WELL uses this platform to power healthcare practitioners both inside and outside of WELL's own omni-channel patient services offerings. As such, WELL owns and operates Canada's largest network of outpatient medical clinics serving primary and specialized healthcare services and is the provider of a leading multinational, multi-disciplinary telehealth offering. WELL is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "WELL" and is part of the TSX Composite Index. The Company also trades on the OTCQX Markets under the symbol "WHTCF".

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

Virta Health Highlights Lasting, Transformative Health Improvements In 5-Year Diabetes Reversal Study

Virta Health | June 07, 2022

Virta Health, the leader in type 2 diabetes reversal, revealed preliminary five-year results from its landmark clinical trial at the American Diabetes Association 82nd Scientific Sessions. Presenting four unique abstracts, Virta highlighted myriad, lasting health improvements for people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes, including blood sugar control, clinically-significant weight loss, reduced inflammation, and improvements in other markers of cardiometabolic health. These transformative health outcomes coincided with medication reduction or elimination for many trial patients, including Jane Ann Dimitt. For over two decades, Jane Ann was prescribed increasing levels of medications as her blood sugar and weight continued to climb. By the time she joined Virta in 2015, her A1c had reached 11.4%; the next step was insulin. Through Virta’s treatment, Jane Ann lowered her blood sugar to 5.5% (below even the prediabetes threshold) and lost over 50 pounds, while drastically reducing her reliance on medications. She also saw improved mobility, decreased inflammation and neuropathy, and now has the energy to play with her grandchildren—all without needing the insulin doctors said was imminent. The outcomes of Jane Ann and Virta’s other trial patients contradict the belief that progression of diabetes—and a lifetime of increasing medications—is inevitable. One-fifth of Virta patients completing five years of treatment saw full remission. One-third of patients achieved A1c below 6.5% without any diabetes medications, or only requiring Metformin. Notably, inflammatory markers, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol all improved significantly. These outcomes, in conjunction with previous research demonstrating improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors, depression symptoms, sleep, and knee pain, establish the promise of Virta’s approach to impact a wide range of conditions amid America’s metabolic disease epidemic. In the U.S., costs are rising as patient outcomes continue to worsen, including surges in amputations, hyperglycemic events, and diabetes-related deaths during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, getting patients to stick with an intervention remains a significant challenge in diabetes therapy. Rates of medication adherence—that is, whether patients take their medications as prescribed—fall as low as 34% over the first three years for those starting insulin. For the National Diabetes Prevention Program, considered the gold standard in lifestyle interventions, only 13% of patients were retained at one year. In contrast, in Virta’s trial nearly 50% of participants with type 2 diabetes were retained at five years. Of those who continued past year two, 72% remained for an additional three years to year five. For Kim Shepherd, who lost 55 pounds, eliminated 10 different medications, reversed her diabetes, and even saw her GERD (acid reflux) and plantar fasciitis disappear, the reasons to stick with the treatment are clear. “Diabetes runs in my family, and I know that this disease can rob you of your whole life; it can take your eyes, your feet, and your kidneys. I have 4 kids and 9 grandkids to keep up with. I’ve learned to love hiking and biking. Nothing is worth losing all of that and going back to how I was before.” Additional key outcomes demonstrating the success of Virta’s approach at five years include Sustained blood sugar control. Virta patients experienced persistent improvements in blood sugar on average, while requiring significantly fewer medications. Medication deprescription. Half of patients prescribed insulin at the start of the trial no longer needed it at five years. Across all diabetes drugs, prescriptions were reduced by nearly 50%. Weight loss. Average weight among Virta participants decreased by 7.6%, exceeding the 5% benchmark for clinically significant weight loss by more than 50%. Broad improvement in cardiometabolic health. In addition to improvements in triglycerides, HDL cholesterol, and markers of inflammation, patients even showed encouraging signs in reversing the progression of chronic kidney disease. “Virta’s patients are helping redefine what long-term success can look like in type 2 diabetes care. The patient outcomes set a new standard for real-world applications of diabetes treatment." Dr. Alan Moses, former Senior Vice President and Global Chief Medical Officer of Novo Nordisk, and Virta advisor Trial participants with prediabetes also saw meaningful improvements, with progression rates far below what has been demonstrated in other studies. Further, Virta patients sustained 6% weight loss over five years, exceeding the clinically-significant benchmark for diabetes prevention and far surpassing the 2% weight loss observed in the NIH Diabetes Prevention Program lifestyle intervention. The study is also notable for its longevity. Five-year published results are extremely rare in digital health, where most studies follow populations for no more than a year, and usually significantly less. For many Virta patients, the five-year clinical trial has facilitated a lasting lifestyle change, improving not only traditional markers of health but overall mood, quality of life, and outlook on the future. Says patient Denise Lamb, who has maintained diabetes reversal alongside a nearly 70 pound weight loss, “My journey has been phenomenal. The Virta program has not only helped me achieve healthy blood glucose, but also attain a far better weight, normal blood pressure, and better understanding of my body. Virta’s lifestyle changed my lifestyle!” About Virta Health Virta Health helps people reverse type 2 diabetes and other chronic conditions. Current approaches manage disease progression through increased medication use and infrequent doctor visits. Virta reverses type 2 diabetes through innovations in technology, nutrition science, and continuous remote care from physicians and behavioral experts. In clinical studies, 94% of patients reduce or eliminate insulin use, and weight-loss exceeds FDA benchmarks by nearly 150%. Virta works with the largest health plans, employers, and government organizations and puts 100% of its fees at risk based on clinical and financial outcomes.

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