Wednesday news roundup: PicnicHealth $60M Series C, can a downturn be good for digital health, Cerebral ran wild, a tart take on HIMSS and where it’s going

PicnicHealth had a bit of one, even in this down market. This company which uses machine learning to build data sets for life sciences by working directly with patients and giving them single-source access to their data raised a $60 million Series C via new investor B Capital Group, with existing investors Felicis Ventures and Amplify Partners. The new funding will be used to build 30 new patient-centered real-world data cohorts. Adam Seabrook, Partner at B Capital Group, will be joining the PicnicHealth board of directors. Their total raise to date is $97 million since 2014 (Crunchbase). The platform was launched in 2020. FierceBiotech, release

Funding news may be a little light nowadays, and if you’re public, you’re looking at double digit share price losses, but couldn’t you guess–the downturn may be good for digital health founders! That’s the view of Big VC General Catalyst’s Hemant Taneja, said at Collision 2022, a Toronto tech conference. Now before you’ve thought the man has totally gone out of his gourd with $5+ gallon gasoline (US), 10% inflation, and rolling blackouts looming on both coasts and the UK, it is true that businesses founded in downturns tend to be tough–my father’s business was founded at the start of the Great Depression. As Mr. Taneja put it, tighter times make for more mission-driven “better founders, better investors and better executives”. Secular trends are in their favor in tech and digital transformation, but there will be another correction coming as the market is over-capitalized. Is it the dot-com boom/bust all over again? Only time will tell, but the crackups are already piling up. FierceHealthcare

Speaking of crackups, Cerebral. A report in the annoyingly paywalled Business Insider tells a tale of Telemental Health Running Wild. Former employees and ~2,000 leaked documents claim that Cerebral had no more than a nodding acquaintance with clinical standards until the Feds stepped in. For starters, they took on patients they should not have, didn’t train their nurse-practitioners and other employees, pushed prescriptions to 95% of patients, disregarded state regulations putting licenses at risk, and generally had more twists than a barrel of pretzels. And this was a company prescribing Schedule 2 drugs that had at peak 210,000 active patients and 4,500 employees.  HISTalk summarizes the article, with our thanks. But it’s par for the course, according to a new JMIR (Journal of Medical Internet Research) study also mentioned that found that “many digital health companies have a low level of clinical robustness and do not make many claims as measured by regulatory filings, clinical trials, and public data shared online.” 

And returning to HISTalk (29 June news), there’s a group of comments from a “HIMSS insider” about how that organization is being managed that long-time observers of this organization will find interesting. Employees thought that HIMSS22 was “awkward”. New and cool conferences HLTH (which initially faltered) and ViVE (which HIMSS didn’t even bother to scout) have taken much of the ‘must attend’ and buzz away from HIMSS. Now this wasn’t supposed to happen with the buy of hipper Health 2.0, to which your Editor was connected–but H2O was HIMSS-ized and effectively killed off even before the pandemic. Regional conferences have disappeared, along with a fair number of employees. HIMSS Analytics is sold. Now this could be all one person’s opinion–but what do you think?

Wednesday news roundup: Oracle-Cerner reportedly OK’d by EU, VitalTech RPM raises $14.1 M, Aging 2.0 interoperability challenge, what do rough times mean for investors and startups, employees cause 39% of healthcare IT breaches

One regulatory hurdle down for Oracle’s $28 billion Cerner acquisition? The EU has reportedly given an unconditional EU antitrust clearance to Cerner, three sources informed Reuters. The formal announcement will be made 1 June. In the US, the long and winding road of Federal antitrust scrutiny and review began in February by the usual alphabet agencies–DOJ, FTC, and SEC–that show no sign of wrapping up [TTA 11 Feb]. Cerner continues to run into headwinds in its VA EHR implementation including spotty interoperability with the Military Health Service DOD version [TTA 18 May].

In a small confirmation that RPM is on the rise, Texas-based VitalTech raises $14.1 million in a Series B equity raise. The company offers an app-based remote patient monitoring platform for vital signs, med and nutritional reminders for use by home and hospital/acute care. Investors were not disclosed and the total offering has about $2.1 million remaining in unsold equity. Their undisclosed Series A funding dated back to 2019 and funded by Concord Health Partners and Stanley Ventures. SEC filing

The international Aging2.0 organization announced the Global Innovation Search (GIS), an opportunity for innovators around the world to showcase innovations that enable and promote a system-level approach to improving quality, continuity, and efficiency of care through interoperability. The eight finalists will participate in a Care Tech Pitch at OPTIMIZE, Aging 2.0’s annual conference on 21-22 September in Louisville, Kentucky. Applications close 12 June. The GIS is associated with the Louisville Healthcare CEO Council (LHCC) and will require the winner to relocate to Louisville. More information here.

What does this mess of a market mean for healthcare investors, startups, and companies looking for equity or VC investment? Industry figure Lisa Suennen, who has been to this rodeo before, has a POV in her Venture Valkyrie blog that HISTalk has summarized neatly, if not cheerfully. Major points: the downturn in funding will lag the market by 3-6 months, VCs will stuff the cash and wait for deals at lower valuations, few exits mean that portfolion companies will be burning through cash and dependent on existing investors, and there will be less-well-funded companies and funds which will go belly-up. This Editor’s disagreement is only that VCs lag downturns. In 2008, heading marketing in an early sensor-based monitoring company running out of funds, funding became scarce months ahead of the downturn.

39% of healthcare data breaches are caused by employees, according to Verizon’s latest cybersecurity Data Breach Investigations Report–more than any other industry at 18%. Incidents hit an all time high in healthcare, with 849 incidents and 571 breaches last year. 76% of breaches centered on basic web application attacks (attacks against a web-facing app–30%), system intrusions (malware, hacking–26%), and miscellaneous errors (mostly unintentional–21%).  Personal data was nearly 60% of the data compromised, while 46% was medical. Much more in the report. Healthcare Dive

Digital health funding’s Q1 hangover from 2021’s bender–and Q2 is a question mark, even for Rock Health

Chug the Pedialyte and pickle juice, down those milk thistle caps for the liver. It’s a morning after quarter that we knew was coming. After 2021’s mighty year for health tech investment, doubling 2020’s, capped by a $29.1 billion total across 729 deals [TTA 29 Jan], the slump we knew would arrive, did. Rock Health’s tracking of 2022’s Q1 proved to be a less than stellar $6.0 billion across 183 deals. It mildly lagged 2021’s Q1 but was still 75% more than 2020’s depressed Q1 at the start of the pandemic.

Even in January, the 2022 projections were iffy. Silicon Valley Bank projected, based on anemic post-IPO performance, that there would be ‘massive consolidation’ and even acquiring companies to hire talent [TTA 14 Jan]. Rock Health and Silicon Valley Bank noted the waning of SPACs as an easy way to IPO for a variety of reasons, including SEC scrutiny. A combination of both was SOC Telemed. which IPO’d via a SPAC at $10, and was taken private seven months later at $3 per share–after trading at $0.64. SOC was not an outlier–larger telehealth brothers Amwell and Teladoc had taken major share price kicks in the head at 50% and more by February [TTA 8 Feb].

The rest of the story is mixed as the economy continues to open up with the pandemic over, but the stock market is wobbly, inflation soars as does a Russia-Ukraine war. 

  • Average deal size was $32.8 million, again below 2021
  • January was a cheerier month than the following two, with companies raising $3.0 billion. Some of this was carryover from 2021 deals that didn’t quite make it past the post. February slumped to $1.4 billion while March ticked up to $1.6 billion, not a good trend going into Q2.
  • Rock Health’s Digital Health Index (RHDHI), a composite of publicly traded digital health securities, fell 38%, far below the S&P 500’s 5% dip over that same time period.
  • SPACs tumbled along with the market, continuing their fall since 2021. Deals were canceled, taken private (SOC Telemed), and companies sued for misleading investors (Talkspace).
  • Late stage deals continued to roll: mega Series D+ deals in Q1 2022 included TigerConnect ($300M), Lyra ($235M), Alto Pharmacy ($200M), Omada Health ($192M), and Ro ($150M). D and above deal size fell by $16 million. But average deal size fell off at every Series, less so for B and C.
  • Lead clinical investment areas were mental health continuing far in the lead, followed by oncology, cardiovascular, and diabetes. Oncology rose from the fifth spot in 2021 to #2 in Q1, displacing cardio. In value proposition, the top three were on-demand healthcare, R&D, and clinical workflow–this up from the 11th spot.

A weak start for 2022, but only compared to 2021. Q2 and maybe even Q3 will be the test in this mid-term election year. Rock Health Q1 report

Will ’22 digital health investment be historic? Or a question mark? The jury is out.

Some say historic, or will it be a historic question mark? It’s only January…Earlier this month, a Silicon Valley healthcare VC funding analysis [TTA 14 Jan] looked at 2021 funding — up over 150%–that was skewed to biopharma and health tech. It noted the SPAC slowdown, anemic post-IPO performance, and a decline in M&A value, while consolidation and buying for expansion will be the trend.

Healthcare Dive spoke to some industry mavens, and came up with a split picture. Some see turbulence ahead due to rising interest rates, a fluctuating market, and political instability leading to tighter purse strings, others see blue skies and lots of money flooding in from new investors in love with health, following the Amazons and Microsofts, fearing that they’ll miss out. Certainly, 2021 was more than warm. Both Silicon Valley Bank in the previous analysis and Rock Health came up with just under $30 billion in 2021 investment.

The feather in the wind: Rock Health’s numbers indicated skyrocketing exits–with SPACs nearly double that of IPOs. Funding hit record mega rounds of $100 million+ that spread to early rounds–10 Series B and one Series A. Mega money means mega pressure to perform in young companies. The SPAC highway increasingly narrowed to a two-lane road by end of year based on regulatory scrutiny and even some timing out (SPACs have to consummate a deal in two years). Exits for investors are to take back money or write off losses, if they get shaky about a company or category, even if they find a more attractive squirrel. Yet the fact is that $13 billion raised by VCs this month has to go somewhere–but will it be in health tech? Time will reveal all.  Also Healthcare Dive on the Rock Health year-end report.

Considering 2019’s digital health investment picture: leveling off may be a Good Thing

2019 proved to be a leveling-off year for digital health investment. The bath may prove to be more cleansing than bubbly.

We noted that the always-fizzy Rock Health engaged in some revisionist history on its forecasts when the final numbers came in–$7.4bn in total investment and 359 deals, a 10 percent drop versus 2018. When we looked back at our 2019 mid-year article on Rock Health’s forecast [TTA 25 July], they projected that the year would end at $8.4 bn and 360 deals versus 2018’s $8.2 bn and 376 deals. That is a full $1bn under forecast and $0.8 below 2018. Ouch!

In their account, the 10 percent dip versus 2018 is due to average deal size–decreasing to $19.8M in 2019–and a drop in late-stage deals. Their analysts attribute this to wobbliness around some high-profile IPOs, citing Uber, Lyft, and Slack, as well as the near-collapse of WeWork right before its IPO towards the end of 2019.

New investors and repeat investors increased to 627 from 585 in 2018, with no real change in composition.

The headliners of 2019 were:

  • Amazon’s acquisition of Health Navigator adding symptom-checking tools to its health offerings
  • Google’s buy of Fitbit
  • Optum’s purchase of Vivify Health, which gives it a full remote patient monitoring (RPM) suite (right when CMS is setting reimbursement codes for RPM in Medicare)
  • Best Buy’s addition of Critical Signal Technologies for RPM
  • Phreesia, Livongo’s and Health Catalyst’s IPOs. For Livongo and Health Catalyst, current share prices are off from their IPOs and shortly after: past $25 for LVGO and $31 for HCAT. Phreesia closed today at a healthy $33, substantially up from PHR’s debut at $15. (Change Healthcare, on the other hand, is up a little from its IPO at $16, which isn’t bad considering their circumstances on their financing.)

Rock Health only counts US deals in excess of $2 million, which excludes the global picture, but includes some questionable (in this Editor’s estimation) ‘digital health’ players like Peloton, explained in the 25 July article.

Rock Health’s analysts close (and justify their revisions) through discussions with VCs expecting further headwinds in the market–then turn around and positively note the Federal backing of further developments in building the foundation for connected health as tailwinds. No bubbly forecasts for 2020–we’ll have to wait.

Is this necessarily bad? This Editor likes an occasional dose of reason and is not displeased at Rock Health’s absence of kvelling.

Confirming the picture is Mercom Capital’s analysis which also recorded a 6 percent dip 2019/2018: $8.9bn with 615 deals, dropping from the $9.5bn and 698 deals in 2018. Their ‘catchment’ is more global than Rock Health, and encompasses consumer-centric and patient-centric technologies and sub-technologies. Total corporate funding reached $10.1bn.

€280m addition creates largest investment fund for European health tech (NL)

Amsterdam-based Life Sciences Partners LSP announced that the LSP Health Economics Fund 2 is now the largest European investment fund dedicated to healthcare innovation. An additional €280m was raised from the European Investment Fund, health insurance companies, and institutional investors.

Reportedly, the fund will look to invest in around 15 private companies with innovative products “on the market or very close to market introduction”. Rudy Dekeyser, LSP partner, said to Digital Health News that their focus areas are in drug compliance, remote monitoring, big data analytics and clinical software. Further caveats: companies must  “convince us that there is a clear path towards the integration of their innovative product in the complicated healthcare ecosystem, has to know who will pay for their product or services and should have access to the necessary partners for broad implementation of their product in the market.”

This adds to end-of-year UK and European announcements of early-stage life sciences and healthcare innovation funding. As reported in Digital Health News: the UK government’s life sciences industry partnership to advance medical technology in Britain (Digital Health News); Wayra UK (Telefónica) and Merck Sharp & Dohme’s Velocity Health £68,000 healthcare accelerator program for machine learning/AI start-ups. LSP release

Q1 digital health investment: two perspectives from StartUp Health and Rock Health

StartUp Health’s and Rock Health’s investment/M&A roundups from Q1 2017 have just hit the deck. Before we dig into them, let’s start with the differences in methodology:

  • Rock Health tracks deals only over $2 million in value; StartUp Health seems to have no minimum or maximum; the latter includes early stage deals at a lower value.
  • StartUp Health gathers in international deals at all levels, whereas Rock Health includes only US-funded ventures.
  • Rock Health omits healthcare services companies (citing Forward, Oscar), biotech/diagnostic companies (GRAIL, Theranos), and software companies not solely focused on healthcare (Zenefits)
  • StartUp Health defines ‘digital health’ differently than Rock Health, with categories of ‘patient/consumer experience’, ‘wellness’, ‘personalized health/quantified self’, and ‘research’

StartUp Health is ‘over the moon’, breathlessly (appropriately as the home of the 25-year Health Moonshot) with Q1 trending, seeing the biggest investment quarter since 2010 at $2.5 bn. Topping up this number was GRAIL, which is developing a blood test for early cancer detection, with a massive Series B at $914 million. Far behind it in the $85-110 million range were (in descending order) Alignment Healthcare (population health), PatientsLikeMe (patient/consumer experience), Nuna (big data/analytics), and PointClickCare (EHR). Population health, patient/consumer experience, and research top their investment activity. Most deals are still seed and Series A (59 percent), but that is down five points from full year 2016; Series B’s share is up three points to 25 percent. But it remains a difficult bridge to cross to C+ rounds.

Rock Health splits the difference and calls it ‘business as usual’, surprised that there hasn’t been a tailspin. Its Q1 sandwiches between 2016 and 2015, well above 2015 but trending 23 percent below Q1 2016. Their biggest deals include the aforementioned Alignment, PatientsLikeMe and Nuna, omitting GRAIL and PointClickCare. Their top three investment categories are analytics/big data, care coordination, and telemedicine (over $50 million). Rock Health tracked almost 20 M&A, noting that many transactions are now ex-California. They also uniquely track public company performance. Here in 2016 is where Readers first noted weakness in NantHealth, but Fitbit and Castlight Health also had miserable quarters. Teladoc, Evolent Health (consulting), and Care.com had a good winter as well. Let’s see what Q2 brings.

A weekend potpourri of health tech news: mergers, cyber-ransom, Obama as VC?

As we approach what we in these less-than-United States think of as the quarter-mile of the summer (our Independence Day holiday), and while vacations and picnics are top of mind, there’s a lot of news from all over which this Editor will touch on, gently (well, maybe not so gently). Grab that hot dog and soda, and read on….

Split decision probable for US insurer mergers. The Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers will reduce the Big 5 to the Big 3, leading to much controversy on both the Federal and state levels. While state department of insurance opposition cannot scupper the deals, smaller states such as Missouri and the recent split decision from California on Aetna-Humana (the insurance commissioner said no, the managed care department said OK) plus the no on the smaller Anthem-Cigna merger are influential. There’s an already reluctant Department of Justice anti-trust division and a US Senate antitrust subcommittee heavily influenced by a liberal think tank’s (Center for American Progress) report back in March. Divestment may not solve all their problems. Doctors don’t like it. Anthem-Cigna have also had public disagreements concerning their merged future management and governance, but the betting line indicates they will be the sacrificial lamb anyway. Healthcare Dive today,  Healthcare Dive, CT Mirror, WSJ (may be paywalled) Editor’s prediction: an even tougher reimbursement road for most of RPM and other health tech as four companies will be in Musical Chairs-ville for years.

‘thedarkoverlord’ allegedly holding 9.3 million insurance records for cyber-ransom. 750 bitcoins, or about $485,000 is the reputed price in the DeepDotWeb report. Allegedly the names, DOBs and SSNs were lifted from a major insurance company in plain text. This appears to be in addition to 655,000 patient records from healthcare organizations in Georgia and the Midwest for sale for 151 – 607 bitcoins or $100,000 – $395,000. The hacker promises ‘we’re just getting started’ and recommends that these organizations ‘take the offer’. Leave the gun, take the cannoli.  HealthcareITNews  It makes the 4,300 record breach at Massachusetts General via the typical unauthorized access at a third party, once something noteworthy, look like small potatoes in comparison. HealthcareITNews  Further reading on hardening systems by focusing on removing admin rights, whitelisting and endpoint security. HealthcareDataManagement

Should VistA stay or go? It looks like this granddaddy of all EHRs used by the US Veterans Health Administration will be sunsetted around 2018, but even their undersecretary for health and their CIO seem to be ambivalent in last week’s Congressional hearings. According to POLITICO’s Morning eHealth newsletter, “The agency will be sticking with its homegrown software through 2018, at which point the VA will start creating a cloud-based platform that may include VistA elements at its core, an agency spokesman explained.” Supposedly even VA insiders are puzzled as to what that means, and some key Senators are losing patience. VistA covers 365 data centers, 130 separate VistA systems, and 834 custom installations, and is also the core of many foreign government systems and the private Medsphere OpenVista. 6/23 and 6/24

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Overrun-by-Robots1-183×108.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]Dr Eric Topol grooves on ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’ of robotics and AI. (more…)

If Silicon Valley were a rose, it would be wilting

Does this signal a new ‘trough of disillusionment’? The lead in this story is one of the major practice EHRs in the US–Practice Fusion. From a high valuation in 2013 of $635 million as a healthcare darling (free to doctors, ad supported), it burned through $4 million cash per month while revenue missed targets by 10 percent, chased after rainbows such as telemedicine, overhired, overperked and overpartied in the office. Now with a quarter of their staff pink-slipped, a new CEO is trying to bail them out. Most of the other examples aren’t healthcare, but huge deals by VCs are slowing, companies are discounting the price of their shares, taking on debt to not dilute shares, laying off employees and subletting their space. Adding to this is the glut in wearables and a slowdown in demand for single-purpose devices, leading to a 20 percent loss today in value in shares of Fitbit (MarketWatch). Like the ‘oil patch’ in the upper Midwest, the San Francisco area is feeling the chill that never really left the rest of the country. And ‘unicorns’ may become an endangered species. Wall Street Journal

Now a VC concentrating on tech for older adults (US)

Don’t call it a trend yet, but Ohio’s Link-age Ventures Inc. is launching a $26.6 million venture capital fund to invest in startup to early-stage companies targeting products, services and technologies for the 55+ market. The 50 percent partner is a familiar name to those in the US non-profit senior community sector, Ziegler Companies, along with 70 non-profit senior communities (!) as limited partners. The Ziegler Link-age Longevity Fund will look to invest about $500,000 to several million dollars apiece in 10-12 companies engaged in aging in place, care coordination, disease prevention, readmission reduction and wellness strategies. An investment announcement may come in late summer. The US heartland demonstrates a different trend than the relentlessly DH3, youth-oriented West Coast and the mixed messages out of the New York-Boston corridor. Cincinnati Business Courier

Ka-ching! Mid-year digital health funding hits $2.3 B: Rock Health

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/stick_figure_push_up_arrow_400_clr.png” thumb_width=”120″ /]It’s geometric! Rock Health’s total of $2.3 billion in digital health funding as of June 2014 just rocketed through the $1.97 billion 2013 full year total. Year over year to date, it’s up over 16 percent. And there’s stardust on every sub-sector: software, digital health, biotech and even medical device, the laggard (negative growth) in previous reports. Funding rounds must have taken vitamins, because they are 50 percent larger on average at $15 million versus last year’s $10 million. But there’s the same concentration on big deals like NantHealth, Flatiron Health, Alignment Healthcare and Proteus, heavily skewed towards payer administration, digital health devices, data analytics and healthcare consumer engagement. But the clouds on the horizon are there. Last year’s disproportion in seed/Series A accelerates, and the ‘down the line’ weakness continues with proportionally fewer companies reaching B, C and D rounds. Crowdfunding has also lost its luster–50 percent off with Indiegogo dominating–but its blowout with Healbe GoBe [TTA 26 June, CEWeek] accounted for 41 percent of total crowdfunding dollars; MedStartr stayed in the game at a distant second. IPOs haven’t been great, the ‘digital health index’ is an underperform yet funders are still itchy to cash out multi-round companies like Practice Fusion (EHR/billing), Proteus and ZocDoc via IPO. VentureBeat. Rock Health report on Slideshare.

Health IT funding bubble seen by veteran investor

[grow_thumb image=”https://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/crystal-ball.jpg” thumb_width=”120″ /] How is health tech like the 1990s ‘dot-com’-ers? Veteran Silicon Valley investor (HealthTech Capital) and former entrepreneur Anne DeGheest projects a ‘Series B crunch‘ in funding health tech and IT in an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s Venture Capital Dispatch. The key factors: angels and ‘unsophisticated investors’ are pouring money into all sorts of devices, apps and related services in seed and Series A stages just to get on board in a hot sector. When the founders of these companies get to Series B and present to more demanding investors, the lack of a true value proposition and a detailed business plan that answers basic questions leave them standing on, as aptly put, ‘a pier to nowhere’ or as Joe Hage termed it last month, ‘insolvent with a great idea.’

Ms. DeGheest’s view that we are reprising the elements of the ‘dot-com’ bubble is confirmed by the numbers in Rock Health‘s and PwC‘s funding reports throughout 2013:   (more…)

Evaluating your company’s potential investors

While this Xconomy article focuses on biotech, the pointers for health tech companies starting to engage with investors are equally applicable to developers and partners in any country. It’s also helpfully divided into ‘red’ and ‘green flags’–red flags being signs that the investor is not ‘aligned’ with the company’s interests. And disrespectful or an overly short-term focus also tells you to walk away, even if bags of money are in the balance. You ideally want engaged, respectful, successful and informed investors. The writer has been there, done that. Red (and Green) Flags To Look for With Biotech’s Buyside Investors

Is ‘disruption’ the dog that didn’t bark?

Is the disruption in healthcare that we think is going on, have been told is going on, make assumptions on, not really on? This is the contrarian argument posited by Dan Munro:

  • Training of doctors, supply and demand is as it was. Training of US doctors is expensive, and doctors tend to go to the better paid specialties in order to pay down education debt faster. And patient demand for acute procedures will always outstrip doctor supply.
  • Squeezing down the small stuff doesn’t radically impact demand. In the US we have been pounding down insurers (6 percent) and low-acuity/primary care, but ignoring the heavy spend on hospitals (31 percent) and clinical services (20 percent).  Are the big slices of the pie resistant or too controversial to cut?
  • Startups aren’t a good source of disruption.  (more…)

Health tech funding reshapes, diversifies

In thinking how funding for health tech startups has changed since this Editor’s early days (2006) when VCs had a lock on the Letter Series (A, B, C) and your real goal was to ‘please, Lord, won’t you find me a strategic investor?’ (are there any of those left?), some more pointers to the future, both in EU and US:

Withings, known for its pioneering Bluetooth scale circa 2009, and more recently other Bluetooth monitors, nimbly moves to wearables with a fitness tracker about the size of a USB drive and priced at an affordable $99. It also has raised $30 million led by Bpifrance with $15 million, with participation from Idinvest Partners, 360 Capital Partners, and Ventech. (Most of us have forgotten that Withings is a French company.) A French challenge to Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone and a whole raft of smartwatches coming 2013-2014 including Sony, Pebble and Apple? VentureBeat

Angel funding diversifies geographically. No longer do the coasts have a lock on the action. Silicon Valley has had some problems [TTA 18 July], Silicon Alley (NY) is still finding its way and Boston/Cambridge is, well, Boston/Cambridge. We recently covered angel groups in Ohio (LaunchHouse), Texas (Wildcatters) and Arizona (SeedSpot). Now Delaware joins the list with FP Angels. And where are most of the companies? According to the Halo Report, in the US Southwest. Angel investing groups show love for the Southwest and healthcare in Q1 (MedCityNews)

And the rise of crowdfunding. As mentioned previously, angels and ‘FFF’ funding has been supplemented and market tested by crowdfunders such as Kickstarter, IndieGogo, MedStartr and Health Tech Hatch. Two kitchen-table entrepreneurs can market test their idea almost immediately. The problem is failure to deliver on time, on budget and as promised, as witnessed by the overwhelmingly successful Misfit Shine. The math of Hardware+Crowdfunding=Success has more than a few caveats in the formula. The hardware revolution will be crowdfunded (VentureBeat)

And a little-noticed change in Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) regulations lifted the ban on ‘General Solicitation’ which according to this Forbes article will allow entrepreneurs seeking funding to cast a net beyond their network of ‘pre-existing relationships’–but they have to be accredited investors. It makes the reach to non-accredited investor interest just a little bit closer–for good or ill. The SEC’s Removal of General Solicitation Changes Everything

For our readers, health tech appears ‘siloed’ by region and country. What does it take to move beyond borders?:

  • If your startup is based in the UK or EU, have you thought about reaching out to US funding through a US base?
  • If you’ve considered and rejected it, why? (Health tech
  • Why are we not seeing more activity by UK/EU companies in the US (or Americas) markets?
  • What do you perceive as the differences between developing health tech ex US–and translating it to the US market?
  • Has anyone had experience extending in non-US/UK/EU markets?

Funding: the concentration continues

The funding concentration trend apparent in RockHealth’s latest survey [TTA 9 July] is not contradicted by latest bits of news:

  • PracticeFusion, a free physician, web-based and ad supported EMR, is rumored to be raising $60 million from what Venture Beat last week termed “a New York-based investment firm, not one of the usual (local) Silicon Valley suspects.” Now we can suppose that sources would be silent unless the deal was signed, sealed and delivered. The leaks can also be strategic ones. (PracticeFusion has also introduced PatientFusion, a PHR with added functions of booking appointments and leaving doctor feedback–which puts it squarely in ZocDoc’s increasingly challenged, but extremely well-funded territory. (We advise them to put aside a few dollars for the inevitable MMRGlobal challenge as well.) Having raised $34 million less than one year ago, the funding is clearly going to updating ‘Meaningful Use’ requirements, the patient portal and to be determined growth.
  • Chicago-based Caremerge just raised $2.1 million for its mobile apps for coordination of long term care (LTC) between providers, doctors and families. (MedCityNews)  It claims to be the first-ever integrated mobile and web solutions provider for this market. It does answer a crying, not-terribly-glamourous need in senior care, and it’s also interesting that two of the key investors are from Poland and Switzerland. But Caremerge has deep roots in GE-land: one of its founders came from GE Healthcare IT Solutions and it’s currently part of the StartUp Health/GE Healthymagination program–which accepts only companies further along in their development for their $250 million fund, and takes a generous slice of equity for advisory services rendered. [TTA 10 Jan7 March, 4 April]
  • Health tech accelerator Blueprint Health announced its latest class–and they are increasingly not in the earlier pattern of true startups in need of guidance to appeal to angels and VCs. Five of the ten companies already have customers, versus two in the previous class. Is this mission creep? According to an article in Gigaom, their co-founder has said that they are not deliberately looking for more ‘mature’ companies, but are nonetheless accepting them. Of course, early stage companies that have already gotten into the market have a greater chance of success and look better on the record of any accelerator program. Another trend is B2B rules. Only one of the picks is consumer focused (health coaching) and another is engaged in employee wellness rewards adopted by companies.

Are these pointers to the future, at least in the US?

  1. Nascent maturity and realism in business plans–the horizon narrowing
  2. The continued collapse of practice EHRs into a few trusted providers [Doctor backlash brewing, TTA 22 Feb]
  3. With less funding to go around, and with few companies moving from A to B to C rounds, will future investment and development go to those who have already gained traction in customers and previous investment–and somehow got to that stage with the help of angels and crowdfunding?
  4. Is it the end of the Quantified Self consumer device buzz? These investments, and the past quarter’s, are largely in the surer, more VC-acceptable water of B2B tech.