Hackers breach Healthcare.gov system, taking files on 75,000 people

A government system used by insurance agents and brokers to help customers sign up for healthcare plans was breached, allowing hackers to siphon off sensitive and personal data on 75,000 people.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirmed the breach in a late Friday announcement, but revealed few details about the contents of the files stolen. The hacked system was connected to the Healthcare.gov website, the front-facing portal for anyone signing up for an insurance plan under former President Obama’s healthcare law, the Affordable Care Act. Hackers targeted the behind-the-scenes system that insurance agents used to help customers directly enroll in new plans, and not the consumer Healthcare.gov site itself.  In order to sign up for healthcare plans, customers have to give over a ton of personal data — including names, addresses, and their social security number. CMS didn’t say exactly what kind of data was
Continue reading "Hackers breach Healthcare.gov system, taking files on 75,000 people"

Future Family raises $10M to make fertility treatments more affordable

Future Family, a startup that helps families more easily afford fertility services like IVF and egg freezing, has raised $10 million in a Series A round.

Just weeks back, Future Family switched up its offerings to feel less like a loan, and more like a monthly subscription. The end results might seem pretty similar — with both, customers get the services they need without having to cough up a big pile of cash up front — but the monthly subscription approach has a big advantage: flexibility. If a customer realizes a few months in that additional fertility services are needed, the cost can just be wrapped right into the monthly plan on the fly. The company’s fertility offerings start at $195 a month (for 60 months) for a plan that pairs you with a clinic and concierge to help you start navigating, while $250 a month (for 60 months) covers
Continue reading "Future Family raises $10M to make fertility treatments more affordable"

Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global is teaming up with Zenefits

Many are familiar with Arianna Huffington’s personal journey from media mogul to outspoken sleep advocate.

In April 2007 she collapsed, broke her collarbone and woke up in a pool of blood, a well-publicized accident she attributes to sleep deprivation and exhaustion. In the years that followed, she shifted her focus to wellness, authoring two books on the topic: Thrive and The Sleep Revolutionand later founded a wellness media company called Thrive Global. Thrive, which bills itself as a “behavior change” startup, helps businesses help their employees develop healthy relationships with technology and manage stress and burnout — issues with which Huffington is personally familiar. The company has raised nearly $43 million in venture capital funding to date, at a $121.5 million valuation as of May. Today, Thrive is announcing a new partnership with Zenefits, the provider of software that helps small- and medium-sized business (SMBs) manage human
Continue reading "Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global is teaming up with Zenefits"

UK health minister sets out tech-first vision for future care provision

The UK’s still fairly new in post minister for health, Matt Hancock, quickly made technology one of his stated priorities. And today he’s put more meat on the bones of his thinking, setting out a vision for transforming, root and branch, how the country’s National Health Service operates to accommodate the plugging in of “healthtech” apps and services — to support tech-enabled “preventative, predictive and personalised care”.

How such a major IT upgrade program would be paid for is not clearly set out in the policy document. But the government writes that it is “committed to working with partners” to deliver on its grand vision. “Our ultimate objective is the provision of better care and improved health outcomes for people in England,” Hancock writes in the ‘future of healthcare’ policy document. “But this cannot be done without a clear focus on improving the technology used by the 1.4 million
Continue reading "UK health minister sets out tech-first vision for future care provision"

Keeps parent company Thirty Madison raises $15 million to fight male pattern baldness

Thirty Madison, the healthcare startup behind the hair loss brand Keeps, has brought in a $15.25 million Series A co-led by Maveron and Northzone.

The company provides a subscription-based online marketplace for men’s hair loss prevention medications Finasteride and Minoxidil. Keeps sells these drugs direct-to-consumer, working with manufacturers to keep the costs low. On Keeps, a subscription of Minoxidil, an over-the-counter topical treatment often referred to as Rogaine, is $10 monthly. A subscription to Finasteride, a prescription drug taken daily, is $25 per month. “It’s an end-to-end platform that is the single best place for guys who are looking to keep their hair,” Thirty Madison co-founder Steven Gutentag told TechCrunch. Keeps is tapping into a big market. According to the American Hair Loss Association, two-thirds of American men experience some hair loss by the age of 35. You may have heard of Hims, a venture-backed men’s
Continue reading "Keeps parent company Thirty Madison raises $15 million to fight male pattern baldness"

Medical device maker Medtronic finally fixes its hackable pacemaker

Medtronic, a maker of medical devices and implants, has pulled the plug on its internet-based software update system, which security researchers had found had a dangerous security vulnerability

The company said in a notice this week that it’s switching off the software distribution network after researchers found that a hacker could update the pacemaker’s software with malicious software that could manipulate the impulses that regulate a patient’s heartbeat. The researchers, Jonathan Butts and Billy Rios, revealed the vulnerability at the Black Hat conference in August, more than a year after first reporting the vulnerability to Medtronic. The bug isn’t within the pacemaker itself but the devices that are used by doctors to connect to the pacemaker to check its battery and status. These “programmer” devices weren’t checking if downloaded software hadn’t been tampered with. Medtronic issued several updates throughout the year to try to mitigate the vulnerability, but only this
Continue reading "Medical device maker Medtronic finally fixes its hackable pacemaker"

With $300M in new funding, Devoted Health launches its Medicare Advantage plan in Florida

Devoted Health, a Waltham, Mass.-based insurance startup, has raised a $300 million Series B and began enrolling members in eight Florida counties to its Medicare Advantage plan.

The company, which helps Medicare beneficiaries access care through its network of physicians and tech-enabled healthcare platform, has raised the funds from lead investor Andreessen Horowitz, Premji Invest and Uprising. The company declined to disclose its valuation. Devoted’s founders are brothers Todd and Ed Park — the company’s executive chairman and chief executive officer, respectively. Todd co-founded a pair of now publicly-traded companies, Athenahealth, a provider of electronic health record systems, and health benefits platform Castlight Health. He also served as the U.S. chief technology officer during the Obama Administration. Ed, for his part, was the chief operating officer of Athenahealth until 2016 and a member of Castlight’s board of directors for several years. Venrock partners Bryan Roberts — Devoted’s founding
Continue reading "With $300M in new funding, Devoted Health launches its Medicare Advantage plan in Florida"

On-demand pharmacy startup NowRx raises $7 million Series A round through crowdfunding

NowRx, an on-demand pharmacy solution of sorts, just closed a $7 million Series A round via the SeedInvest crowdfunding platform. The company had previously raised a $3 million seed round.

As the on-demand industry flourished and NowRx co-founder Cary Breese surrounded himself with people from the pharmacy industry, Breese said it became clear to him that there was “no reason why [an on-demand pharmacy] can’t work.” Launched in 2016, NowRx is a full-fledged on-demand pharmacy solution. Though, it’s technically more of an on-demand prescription medication startup that functions using what it describes as a virtual pharmacy. Since its launch, NowRx has delivered more than 50,000 prescriptions from 1,900 doctors. With 8,500 customers, NowRx does about $5 million a year in annual revenue. NowRx, which is licensed to fill prescriptions in California and certified via the SureScripts pharmacy management software, enables doctors to electronically fill prescriptions for on-demand delivery in
Continue reading "On-demand pharmacy startup NowRx raises $7 million Series A round through crowdfunding"

Nurse-1-1 lets you text a nurse for health info, learn if a doctor is needed

A new startup wants to help you figure out if your medical issue requires a visit to a doctor’s office, the ER, or can be handled over a telemedicine service, while also providing you with some basic information about the problem and its severity. Nurse-1-1, the latest company from former RunKeeper co-founder Michael Sheeley, is launching today to offer a quick, affordable way to get answers from physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and registered nurses via chat.

Sheeley, a serial entrepreneur, sold his shopping app Kickscout to Mobee in 2014, and later worked on a food ordering service before starting Nurse-1-1 around two years ago. The idea for the startup emerged from an experience he had after the birth of his daughter. “My daughter was born with a congenital heart defect,” Sheeley explains – a health crisis that involved her having open heart surgery, he tells us. “I was sitting next
Continue reading "Nurse-1-1 lets you text a nurse for health info, learn if a doctor is needed"

What Is a Red Tide?

A toxic “red tide” has been affecting Florida beaches since last year, and is especially bad right now. Our friends at Earther are covering the subject in depth, but if you’re perplexed about what a red tide is and why everyone is talking about it, we have answers to your basic questions. Read more...

Teeth-straightening startup SmileDirectClub is now worth $3.2 billion

SmileDirectClub, the at-home teeth-straightening startup, has just raised $380 million at a $3.2 billion valuation, the company announced today. Investors from Clayton, Dubilier & Rice led the round, which featured participation from Kleiner Perkins and Spark Capital.

This funding comes on top of Align Technology’s $46.7 million investment in SmileDirectClub in 2016, and another $12.8 million investment in 2017 to own a total of 19 percent of the company. “We are very excited with the outcome of our most recent fundraising round,” SmileDirectClub co-founder Alex Fenkell said in a statement. “Our mission has always been to provide an affordable and convenient option to anyone who wants to transform their smile. We are excited to continue our growth into new spaces and be given the incredible opportunity to reach even more people with our life-changing service,” said Fenkell. “We can’t wait to see what the future holds and are grateful for the support from our new investors.” SmileDirectClub is a
Continue reading "Teeth-straightening startup SmileDirectClub is now worth $3.2 billion"

Brazil’s healthtech sector is new hot spot

Solving big problems for many people is the kind of opportunity that both entrepreneurs and investors love. Like recent Brazilian investment booms focused on fintech innovation and new on-demand business models, there’s been a recent explosion in healthtech startups in Brazil. With tens of millions of the country’s people impacted by gigantic inequities in access to health services, some serious quality problems, burdensome costs and inefficiencies on all sides, entrepreneurs’ plates are full in bringing healthtech innovations to the market.

In a recent study by Liga Ventures, there are now more than 250 health-focused startups in Brazil, the world’s seventh-largest health market with more than $42 billion spent annually on private healthcare. Yet, with more
Continue reading "Brazil’s healthtech sector is new hot spot"

Siilo injects $5.1M to try to transplant WhatsApp use in hospitals

Consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp are not only insanely popular for chatting with friends but have pushed deep into the workplace too, thanks to the speed and convenience they offer. They have even crept into hospitals, as time-strapped doctors reach for a quick and easy way to collaborate over patient cases on the ward. Yet WhatsApp is not specifically designed with the safe sharing of highly sensitive medical information in mind. This is where Dutch startup Siilo has been carving a niche for itself for the past 2.5 years — via a free-at-the-point-of-use encrypted messaging app that’s intended for medical professions to securely collaborate on patient care, such as via in-app discussion groups and being able to securely store and share patient notes. A business goal that could be buoyed by tighter EU regulations around handling personal data, say if hospital managers decide they need to address compliance risks around
Continue reading "Siilo injects $5.1M to try to transplant WhatsApp use in hospitals"

Former Uber exec Andrew Chapin takes the wraps off his stealth mental health startup

One can only imagine what it was like to work at Uber in the years leading up to Susan Fowler’s infamous blog post. Many of the company’s leaders were said to be overly-competitive, sexist and inappropriate — “brilliant jerks,” as Arianna Huffington once said, — and its over-arching “move fast and break things” mentality hardly left room for employees to take a step back and reflect on how the company’s culture was impacting their mental health. Andrew Chapin joined Uber in 2011 as one of its first hires in New York. He worked his way up to head of vehicle solutions and established Uber’s vehicle finance program, which helps drivers obtain and pay off car leases. He says the struggles within the company gave him severe anxiety, something he was all too familiar with from his stint as a commodities trader at Goldman Sachs. “There were days when I was walking
Continue reading "Former Uber exec Andrew Chapin takes the wraps off his stealth mental health startup"

Juul files lawsuit against other e-cig makers for patent infringement

Juul Labs today filed a complaint with the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) claiming that several organizations are infringing on Juul Labs’ patents. Juul has asked the ITC to halt the importation, distribution and sale of these products in the U.S. In all, eighteen entities are listed within the complaint as having infringed Juul patents. They predominantly hail from within the U.S. and China, with one based in France, according to the complaint. Earlier this year, Juul Labs filed for trademark infringement against 30 different companies which were allegedly using the Juul design or name brand. Obviously, competition is one reason to take legal action, but Juul has other priorities. The company is under an immense amount of scrutiny by the FDA and lawmakers with regards to underage usage of the product. Counterfeit products are often sold without any age verification, putting electronic nicotine delivery systems in
Continue reading "Juul files lawsuit against other e-cig makers for patent infringement"

How smartphone apps could help keep health records accurate

Suppose the next time you go to a new doctor’s office, you wouldn’t have to balance a clipboard on your knee, write down your whole medical history, remember the five-syllable name of every medication you’re taking and list all your allergies. Suppose that your smartphone could simply tap into the office’s computer system, where you could upload your entire medical history safely, securely and accurately. Such an app could ease the frustration patients feel when they fill out the forms for a new doctor. More importantly, it could help solve a serious but lesser-known problem that plagues hospitals and clinics: While the increased use of electronic health records has helped streamline record-keeping, providers aren’t
Continue reading "How smartphone apps could help keep health records accurate"

Alan partners with Kry’s Livi for telemedicine appointments

French startup Alan is expanding beyond health insurance by offering telemedicine appointments directly from Alan . The company is partnering with Livi, Kry’s French subsidiary. While a handful of European countries already let you talk to a doctor using video calls, France’s national health system just started allowing remote appointments. If you need to renew your prescription or your doctor already knows you quite well, chances are you don’t need to see your doctor in person every single time. With remote appointements, you can save time and talk to a doctor more quickly. This is particularly useful if you live in the countryside. Kry is already a well-known startup when it comes to telehealth. The company raised a $66 million Series B round back in July and operates in three countries — Sweden, Norway and Spain. Kry is building its own team of practitioners that you can find on the
Continue reading "Alan partners with Kry’s Livi for telemedicine appointments"

FDA seizes thousands of documents from e-cig startup Juul

E-cigarette maker Juul recently received a surprise visit from the Food and Drug Administration, CNBC first reported. Last week, the FDA seized thousands of documents from the startup’s headquarters, TechCrunch has confirmed. The unannounced inspection of the startup’s headquarters on Friday was part of the FDA’s efforts to seek documentation related to Juul’s sales and marketing practices, according to the FDA.

“The purpose of these inspections was to determine compliance with all applicable FDA laws and regulatory requirements,” an FDA spokesperson told TechCrunch. “The new and highly disturbing data we have on youth use demonstrates plainly that e-cigarettes are creating an epidemic of regular nicotine use among teens. It is vital that we take action to understand and address the particular appeal of, and ease of access to, these products among kids.”

This comes after the FDA requested documents from the company in April as part of an inspection of Juul’s
Continue reading "FDA seizes thousands of documents from e-cig startup Juul"

Vital Labs’ app can measure changes in your blood pressure using an iPhone camera

If a twinkle in the eye of a venture capitalist could predict the longevity of a startup, Vital Labs is going all the way. During a quick demo of the Burlingame, Calif.-based startup’s app, called Vitality, True Ventures partner Adam D’Augelli’s enthusiasm was potent. The company, which emerges from stealth today, is pioneering a new era of personalized cardiovascular healthcare, he said. Vitality can read changes in a person’s blood pressure using an iPhone’s camera and graphics processing power. The goal is to replace blood pressure cuffs to become the most accurate method of measuring changes in blood pressure and eventually other changes in the cardiovascular system. The app is still in beta testing and is expected to complete an official commercial rollout in 2019. Here’s how it works: The technology relies on a technique called photoplethysmography. By turning on the light from a phone’s flash and placing a person’s index finger
Continue reading "Vital Labs’ app can measure changes in your blood pressure using an iPhone camera"

Sequoia backs Maven, a virtual health clinic for women

Despite the increase in women in the U.S. workforce and public pledges from several high-profile CEOs to close the gender pay gap, women, especially working mothers, often find themselves without the resources necessary to succeed at work. Maven, a digital health startup and benefits platform focused on improving access to healthcare for women, has emerged specifically to help businesses help their female employees. Maven has garnered the support of Sequoia Capital, a household name in Silicon Valley and a venture capital firm that has seldom backed female-focused businesses. Today, the company is announcing a $27 million Series B co-led by Sequoia and Oak HC/FT. Existing investors Spring Mountain Group, 14W and Female Founders Fund have also participated in the round. As part of the deal, Sequoia’s Jess Lee and Oak’s Nancy Brown will join Maven’s all-female board of directors. The company was founded by Kate Ryder, a journalist-turned-venture capitalist-turned-founder.
Continue reading "Sequoia backs Maven, a virtual health clinic for women"