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  • sam patrick posted an article
    Thorne HealthTech embarking on its most ambitious expansion since moving to South Carolina in 2018 see more

    Compliments of the Post and Courier

    The pandemic-driven growth of telehealth services and online shopping, combined with a trend toward consumers taking a more proactive interest in their health has Thorne Healthtech Inc. embarking on its most ambitious expansion since moving its operations here in 2018 from the Pacific Northwest.

    The life-sciences company that focuses on nutritional supplements research and manufacturing is building a 360,320-square-foot warehouse in the Omni Industrial Campus off Interstate 26 to give it more room to store and process materials for the dozens of products it makes targeting issues like bone and joint pain, heart and brain health and metabolism.

    The new building, which will add about 50 jobs to Thorne’s 450-person workforce, is near the company’s headquarters and is part of a plan to grow Thorne’s share of the highly competitive yet fragmented supplements market. No single manufacturer has amassed more than 5 percent of the supplements market, according to Thorne’s calculations, and that market is set to almost double to $271 billion by 2028.

    A recent $70 million initial public offering — the company now trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol THRN — is another key, giving the supplements maker extra money to manage supply purchases and develop the marketing heft it needs to capture consumers where they live. 

    “Our conviction is that health care is moving to the home,” Paul Jacobson, Thorne’s CEO, told analysts during the company’s earnings call in November. “We are leading a trend that transforms health care from a disease-centric approach to a wellness-centered model focused on providing customers the tools to better manage and maintain their health long before they would traditionally enter the health care system.”

    That includes beefing up the company’s website with science-based quizzes that analyze gender, age, diet and lifestyle factors to recommend specific Thorne-made supplements. Depending on the answers, someone taking the website’s stress support quiz, for example, might get a recommendation for a vitamin-and-chemical trio that improves adrenal function. Or that person might be directed to a hemp oil blend to reduce stress and fear.

    Customers seeking more in-depth analysis can opt for one of nearly a dozen home health tests. For stress support, the test would use saliva to measure hormone fluctuations in the adrenal gland. Once a home test is submitted and then analyzed by the Thorne’s Onegevity artificial intelligence platform, the company will respond to the consumer with a targeted recommendation.

    “To deepen our relationship with our customers, we focus on getting high-quality data to offer more personalized solutions tailored to their needs,” Jacobson said.

    Growth in Thorne’s direct-to-consumer sales model depends largely on offering those personalized solutions on a continuing basis through online-based subscriptions, in which supplements are delivered to customers’ homes at regular intervals. Thorne has more than tripled the number of such subscriptions since 2018 — from roughly 61,000 then to 218,935 by the end of the third quarter this year.

    The company has managed to avoid the supply chain problems other manufacturers face because most of its sourcing comes from within the United States, said Tom McKenna, Thorne’s chief operating officer.

    Jacobson said the testing and personal engagement offered through Thorne’s website are “the on-ramps” to a lasting relationship — in other words, subscriptions — with consumers.

    McKenna said the company’s online sales growth mirrors the wider e-commerce trend and “the change in how we all behave right now in terms of gathering information and making purchasing decisions.”

    The pandemic has put health and wellness at the forefront of many consumers’ thinking, he said, and — like someone might do online research to buy a television — consumers are using their smartphones and other technologies to research health problems and manage their own solutions.

    “Our customers continue to trust us to guide them on their journey to healthy living,” Jacobson said.

    Thorne is also working more closely with physicians — both on telehealth and in-person office platforms — to let them know what products are available that might benefit their patients. There are now about 42,000 doctors and alternative practitioners in Thorne’s physician network.

    “We’ve never seen more physician interest in the work that we’re doing,” Jacobson said, adding much of that is being driven by the pandemic.

    “During COVID, we believe that we’ve seen the tipping point occur ... whether it’s because the doctors themselves have seen that preventative health techniques actually work or their patients are playing Dr. Google and coming in armed with a bunch of questions about supplements and wanting to know what works and what doesn’t work,” he said.

    The work with physicians lends scientific credibility to Torne’s products, Jacobson said, which is important as the company tries to expand its share of the market through mostly online purchases rather than through big-box retail stores or pharmacies.

    Credibility has long been a concern for the supplements industry, which has seen instances of overhyped claims and manufacturing missteps. That started to change during the pandemic when the Department of Homeland Security included supplements as part of health care’s essential critical infrastructure. The recent surge in demand is also a sign of growing consumer confidence in supplements.

    But skepticism still remains, and Jacobson said that’s one of the reasons Thorne’s IPO only raised about half of the $135 million the company was hoping for.

    “The way you prove to people that your products work is through data,” Jacobson said on Dec. 2 during a presentation to the Evercore ISI HealthCONx Conference. “We have the data that shows the things we do actually work. We have the long history with physicians’ offices that shows us the feedback that they get from their patients. So, we know what works and what doesn’t work.”

    The investment community appears to be warming up to Thorne since the IPO, with analysts at Cowen, RBC Capital, Evercore and Bank of America taking a bullish stance on the company’s stock and giving it a target price of between $11 and $13 per share. To date, the stock has traded between a high of $10 and a low of $6.65. It was trading at the lower end of that range last week.

    While Thorne hasn’t turned a net profit on an annual basis — it lost $4 million last year — it was in the black as of Sept. 30 by a margin of $5.3 million. Meanwhile, net sales continue to climb sharply, rising 32 percent from the same period a year ago to $135.4 million. RBC Capital said Thorne has the potential for 30 percent annual revenue growth over at least the next three years due to its recent marketing investments.

  • sam patrick posted an article
    More than $19 million in grants to several key connected health projects see more

    Compliments of mHealth Intelligence

    The federal government is investing more than $19 million in key telehealth initiatives, including the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (TRCs) and Telehealth Centers of Excellence (COE) program.

    Some 36 awards are being distributed by the Health and Human Services Department through the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth to some of the nation’s highest-profile connected health projects. The investments are aimed at strengthening programs and supporting innovation in areas that have seen record adoption and growth during the pandemic.

    “Telehealth expands access to care and is a vital tool for improving health equity by providing timely clinical assessment and treatment for our most vulnerable populations,” HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa said in a press release issued this morning. “This funding will help drive the innovation necessary to build clinical networks, educational opportunities, and trusted resources to further advance telehealth.”

    The TRC consortium, which consists of 12 regional and two national centers, is getting $4.55 million – or $325,000 per site - to bolster and expand their efforts. The TRCs, which provide a wide range of guidance and resources, have seen heavy traffic over the past year and a half as healthcare providers and other organizations have adopted telehealth to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

    The Telehealth COE program, meanwhile, is getting $6.5 million to expand services and strategies aimed at improving access and outcomes in underserved parts of the country that deal with high chronic care needs and poverty, and to serve as incubators for new telehealth ideas. Located in academic medical centers, COEs are seen as national models for evidence-based programs and strategies that promote best practices.

    In 2017, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) were designated Telehealth Centers of Excellence. The award is being split between the two programs.

    The Evidence-Based Direct-to-Consumer Telehealth Network Program (EB-TNP) is getting roughly $3.8 million to bolster its DTC telehealth efforts. Those awards are being issued to 11 organizations: HealthHIE Georgia, Cornerstone Whole Healthcare in Idaho, Drake University in Iowa, the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Baptist Health Foundation Corbin in Kentucky, MaineHealth, UMMC, Lester E. Cox Medical University in Missouri, the Ben Archer Health Center in New Mexico, East Carolina University in North Carolina and Texas A&M University.

    Finally, the Telehealth Technology-Enabled Learning Program (TTELP) is getting about $4.28 million to “help specialists at academic medical centers provide training and support to primary care providers in rural, frontier, and other underserved areas to help treat patients with complex conditions ranging from long COVID to substance use disorders in their communities.”

    Those awards are going to nine organizations: Community Health Center in Connecticut, the American Academy of Pediatrics in Illinois, the University of Kansas Medical Center Research Institute, Medical Care Development in Maine, the JSI Research and Training Institute in Massachusetts, President and Fellows of Harvard College in Massachusetts, the University of New Mexico, Oregon Health & Science University and the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust.