Healthcare’s Biggest Stories, week of July 3, 2019 | The Healthy Muse

Blake Madden
4 min readJul 3, 2019


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Healthcare’s Biggest Stories, week of July 3, 2019

Sanford and UnityPoint combine to create a huge Midwest system

A 26-state giant.

This week, Sanford and UnityPoint announced their intentions to merge into a sprawling Midwest nonprofit giant. With the combined entity, the two health systems will boast 76 hospitals across 26 states, $11 billion in operating revenue, and significant heavyweight players in several markets (hello, North & South Dakota, Illinois, and Iowa) on their way to becoming one of the biggest 15 nonprofit health systems in the country.

Keep ’em coming.

The deal between the two Midwest giants is yet another example of hospital and nonprofit consolidation in healthcare. Both systems plan to merge for strategic reasons, including improving operational efficiencies by leveraging strengths from each side. For instance, per the WSJ article, Sanford’s research operations strong, while UnityPoint controls several medical schools throughout the region.

AbbVie buys some beauty products

Not quite to Celgene’s level, but close.

AbbVie is buying fellow biotech giant Allergan in a $63 billion deal, just a smooth $11 billion below Bristol Myers Squibb’s $74 billion bid for Celgene. Allergan’s main claim to fame is Botox (heard of it?).

Some investors are skeptical of the deal, since Botox, Allergan’s best selling drug, is expected to see increased competition once its patent protections are up.

Biotech Boom.

It’s been a good year for biotech M&A (and their investment bankers for that matter, probably). Deal volume has already blown past $200 billion for the year, and Big Pharma has plenty of cash to spend for the rest of 2019.

Digital Health IPOs hit the market

A red hot IPO market.

A notable number of health-tech type startups are springing up in the IPO market:

Late last week, Change Healthcare ($CHNG), a revenue cycle management firm debuted on the trading floor and is up around 10% as of this writing.


Livongo is planning to go public soon, and describes itself as a chronic disease manager — helping to reduce costs by assisting patients with chronic diseases. The firm is aiming for a $2 — $2.5 billion valuation and is expected to work with the Apple Watch and other wearable devices. Here are some interesting insights from the company’s S-1 filing.

Health Catalyst.

Health CatalystHealth CatalystHealth CatalystHealth Catalyst, a provider of healthcare data analytics and services, likewise aims to trade publicly and filed confidentially in April. We don’t know much about it, other than the fact that it’s trying to raise $200 million in the offering.


Phreesia, a patient intake and monitoring software company, is looking to raise $125 million in its IPO. The healthtech firm specializes in making the patient intake process easier for all parties (remember those lengthy check-in and check-out times?).

It looks like Phreesia dabbles in payment processing too, which is a somewhat hot area right now. Of the startups listed above, this one sounds the most intriguing to me.

Dems debate healthcare

A 2-night extravaganza.

As I’m sure we’re all aware, the Democratic debate kicked off this past week with not one, but TWO nights of candidates grandstanding for attention.

Drug pricing reform?

From the healthcare side, candidates easily agreed on the need for drug pricing reform, but an interesting divide emerged from those who supported Medicare for All type policies versus those who supported a more moderate approach to healthcare reform.

Medicare for All.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (of course) quickly threw weight behind the Medicare for All cause. Kamala Harris seemed to do so as well, but then retraced her steps post-debate after saying she mis-interpreted the question.

Read more about the different healthcare policies and statements made during the debate here.

Quick Hits

State Hits:

Biz Hits:

Policy/Other Hits:

Originally published at on July 3, 2019.



Blake Madden

I write about healthcare. Policy, business, digital health, & more. Written in plain English. Here to connect, learn, and continue the healthcare convo.