Healthsense acquires WellAWARE (US)

Another sign of consolidation in technologies targeted to long term care and aging services providers is the acquisition of telecare system WellAWARE by Healthsense. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. It was long rumored that WellAWARE, which lately concentrated on sleep monitoring in LTC and SNF residences, was having long term difficulty seeking next round funding. Some speculated that it was due to its ownership structure shared by users/early funders Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society (GSS) and Volunteers of America (VOA). More recent investors .406 Ventures and Valhalla Partners were also rumored to be eager to exit after 3 1/2 years with no major breakthroughs, significant technology difficulties and management turnover. In retrospect, the 2009 $7.5 million round of funding was inadequate yet quite possibly misdirected in essentials like developing positioning and the business plan. Some evidence: a narrow focus on resident sleep quality versus diversifying capabilities, not aggressively going mobile, and not strengthening technology to be rock solid reliable, a major issue in all telecare/remote monitoring sold into senior housing. In such circumstances, acquisition was WellAWARE’s final bid.

In contrast, once also-ran Healthsense has superior funding from major investors (BC Ziegler, Radius Ventures, Merck, West Health etc.–now joined by .406 Ventures but not Valhalla) and is up to Series D [TTA 28 Sept 12] funding round. Healthsense over the years diversified considerably with capabilities and offerings spanning telehealth and telecare, strategic partnerships and a month ago received the Triple Tree iAward in recognition for clinical effectiveness. Combined, the two companies now serve over 20,000 individuals, which in the mHealth context would be a blip but makes Healthsense a formidable competitor to Care Innovations’ QuietCare and Health Guide. There is no statement in the release regarding customers or staff integration, but this Editor notes that the release is not on the WellAWARE site and most pages (notably Team and Board) are blank, which does not bode well for the reportedly few employees left. Healthsense Acquires Monitoring and Analytics Provider WellAware (release)

Update 5 July. Previously in TTA: Depending on the exact start, this June may also have marked the close or near close of a $8.1 million grant that The Good Samaritan Society received in June 2010 [TTA 24 June 10] to study and operate the WellAWARE system versus traditional care for residents of rural communities. Its operation of the system may very well be ended as active data gathering concludes and the study moves into evaluation of data/writing/publishing phase. But ‘between the lines’ readers will note that neither GSS nor VOA are mentioned in the Healthsense release.

Update 8 July. The local Minneapolis Star-Tribune gleans some additional information about the acquisition from Bryan Fuhr, Healthsense co-founder and current VP Business Development. WellAWARE was bought specifically for its greater capabilities in sleep monitoring such as breathing; the acquisition adds “5,000 new customers to Healthsense’s base of 15,000 people in 24 states”; that major Midwest provider Ecumen, one of the earliest adopters of now Care Innovations’ QuietCare, has switched to Healthsense; and that “there are no plans to cut jobs as a result of the acquisition”. But this must mean at Healthsense, as according to sources, a number of the few remaining employees at WellAWARE were released as the press releases went over the wires.

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