Welltok acquires Tea Leaves Health for more than $80M

By Jonah Comstock
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Health enterprise software company Welltok has acquired Tea Leaves Health from j2 Global subsidiary Ziff Davis for north of $80.8 million. While the company didn't disclose the amount of the acquisition, CEO Jeff Margolis told MobiHealthNews in an interview that the company was required to file with the FTC under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act, and that $80.8 million is the HSR reporting threshold. Margolis also said the amount wasn't substantially higher than that minimum.

Update: The Denver Post has the exact figure at $83 million.

Tea Leaves Health is an analytics company that works with healthcare systems and hospitals to provide three different services: customer relationship management, physician relationship management, and a decision support capability that connects patients with services both in the clinic and in the broader community.

"All these things are thematically consistent with the Welltok construct that patients are not the same as consumers," Margolis said. "People are patients a very small percentage of the time and they are consumers all of the time. And that approach of dropping [a patient] off at the doorstep of a medical episode and having that be your interaction with the health system is not very useful as compared to having health systems able to develop longitudinal relationships with consumers in the communities that they serve."

Welltok's current offering is geared at health plans, employers, and retail pharmacies. Through services like Cafewell Concierge, WellTok provides consumer health services to patients outside the healthcare system. The acquisition will give Welltok a foothold with provider groups as well.

"What we do at Welltok, ultimately what we’re trying to do in the marketplace, is to ensure that in the populations our customers serve, that every consumer in those populations can achieve and sustain their highest possible state of wellbeing, their highest possible health status," he said. "Obviously, across the life of a consumer you’re going to have sick care episodes some of the time, you’re going to be in a consumer mode most of the time. The blending of these two worlds is what the new essential platform in healthcare needs to be able to do."

While Tea Leaves provides analytics that help hospitals learn about what's happening in patients' lives outside the hospital, it hasn't been able to actually reach out and affect those lives. That's where Margolis says Welltok can contribute.

"It’s one thing to be able to outreach and target the right people, which they’re very good at," he said. "It’s another thing to have a platform that can maintain ongoing two-way connections with those people and can curate and put the right kinds of health programming in front of those people. If you put those together, you get a powerful combination. Outreach without an actual platform to get things done is not as powerful as what we can do together."

ZIff Davis came to own Tea Leaves last fall, when it acquired health media company Everyday Health for $465 million. Everyday Health had acquired Tea Leaves back in the fall of 2015 for an undisclosed amount. 

"Ziff Davis is a very rich media and content asset company," Margolis said. "Tea Leaves, being the only enterprise software company there, was not a great fit for the rest of their assets, but for Welltok, being a consumer enterprise software company, they’re a great fit for us."