Within a market that is enthralled by meme stocks and consumed by crypto, the deal flow within the healthcare sector took a noticeable jump this week as investors turned their attention to something slightly more tangible.
With three consecutive months of 200-plus healthcare funding deals completed, sector watchers do not see a downtick in the health category anytime soon. In fact, Larry Kocot, principal and national leader of KPMG’s Center for Healthcare Regulatory Insight, is calling for continued action in the market, with predictions that merger and acquisition activity will “remain robust for the coming months.”
Another Big Healthcare SPAC Is Coming
Babylon Holdings Limited, a medical artificial intelligence (AI) startup, has announced its intention to merge with SPAC firm Alkuri Global Acquisition Corp to start its life on the public markets, listing on Nasdaq under the ticker BBLN. The firm will be valued at about $4.2 billion. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2021.
Launched in 2013 to provide accessible, affordable healthcare by combining artificial intelligence (AI) with doctors, the firm says its mission is to make healthcare accessible and affordable to everyone — a feat it plans to undertake by re-engineering the $10 trillion global healthcare market to shift the focus from reactive to preventive.
“We founded Babylon on a fundamental belief, that it is possible to make quality healthcare accessible and affordable for every person on earth by combining the latest in technology and the best in medical expertise,” Dr. Ali Parsa, founder and CEO of Babylon, said of the deal.
Google’s Latest Healthcare Play
In what is big tech’s latest move on the healthcare segment, Google has announced a new partnership with national hospital chain HCA Healthcare to create healthcare algorithms using patients’ medical records.
The multi-year team-up is design to allow Google Cloud to tap into the data stream from HCA Healthcare’s information technology to advance the provider network’s digital transformation. The goal is to develop a “secure and dynamic data analytics platform” for HCA in order to advance operational models that will target “actionable insights and improved workflows.”
The aim of the partnership is to arm doctors, nurses and other providers with the tools necessary to provide patient care current to the needs of their current situation, no matter how much it may vary in a short time.
“Data are spun off of every patient in real time,” said Dr. Jonathan Perlin, HCA’s chief medical officer, per a Wall Street Journal report. “Part of what we’re building is a central nervous system to help interpret the various signals.”
The deal gives Google a deeper reach into the $3 trillion healthcare industry. And Google isn’t the only big name in big tech coming to the table this week with big healthcare news.
Amazon’s Latest Move To Streamline Care
Amazon last week announced plans to roll out two new features for prescription shopping. With the Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit, Prime members can search online drugs and compare prices for those drugs at Amazon Pharmacy and more than 60,000 pharmacies nationwide.
The feature will also allow Prime users to determine their expected insurance co-pay and compare it with the Amazon price for a medication. Amazon says the Prime prescription benefit saves members up to 80 percent off generic drugs and 40 percent off brand-name medications when they pay without insurance.
According to Amazon, only 11 percent of customers shopped online for better prices when faced with higher than anticipated costs for their prescriptions.
Slowing Down To Please Regulators
Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare and North Carolina-based Cone Health have called off a planned healthcare merger after dozens of public comments raised concerned about the planned pair-up. The two health systems had been “working in earnest” to combine the organizations since earlier his year. The merger would have created a 17-hospital system with over $11 billion in assets.
“We appreciate the efforts of Sentara to work with Cone Health to determine whether an affiliation of our two high-performing organizations is in the best interest of those we serve,” Terry Akin, CEO of Cone Health, said in the statement. “Recently, in the final analysis, we mutually decided that we can best serve our communities by remaining independent organizations.”
Shortly after cancellation of the deal was announced, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein released his own statement warning about the cost implications of hospital consolidation.
“Bigger doesn’t always mean better. In fact, it often means worse and more expensive,” Stein stated. “My office takes its role in scrutinizing proposed combinations seriously, and we were in the midst of conducting a thorough review of the Cone/Sentara affiliation. I encourage all hospital directors to be certain that consolidation is actually in the interest of the patients and communities they serve before pursuing it.”