Last year was a remarkable time for digital health. Obviously it was pretty unusual and tragic for the world in general as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to wreak havoc. We mourn those lost, and we praise our front line health workers and scientists. But for digital health companies, in almost no time 2020 changed from fear of a market collapse to what became a massive funding boom.
But no-one has reported from the ground what this means for digital health companies, of which there are perhaps 10-15,000 worldwide with maybe 6-8,000 based in the United States. Despite the headlines, most are not pulling down $200m funding rounds or SPACing out. So working with professional services firm Wipfli, we at Catalyst @ Health 2.0 decided to find out what digital health companies experienced in this most extraordinary year.
Between Thanksgiving 2020 and mid-March 2021, we surveyed more than 300 members of the digital health ecosystem, focusing on leaders from more than 180 private (and a few public) digital health companies. We asked them about their market, their experience during COVID-19, and what they thought of the environment. We also asked them about the mechanics of running their businesses. The results are pretty interesting.
The Key Message: COVID-19 was very good for digital health companies–on average. Most are very optimistic but, despite the massive increase in funding since the brief (but real) post-lockdown crash, most digital health companies remain small and struggling for funding, revenue, and customers.
We also heard from investors, and a bigger group we called “users” (mostly payers, providers, pharma, non-healthcare tech companies, e-patients & consultants). While these “users” also saw a big trend towards the use of (and, to a lesser extent, paying for) digital health tools and services, they were not as gung-ho as were digital health companies or investors, who were even more optimistic.
The summary deck containing the key findings is below and there is more analysis and commentary below the jump.
Today in #Healthin2Point00, Jessica is not impressed by my stock trading and it’s all Walmart’s fault (well, Amazon’s too)! Part of the reason for that is Walmart buying a no-name telehealth company–well it has a name but not one anyone knows. There’s a SPAC exit on the horizon for fast growing remote clinical trials company Science37, and funds for Vim which does scheduling (we think!), and Zoe which sells a diet so expensive you might actually stick to it!–Matthew Holt
TODAY Tuesday, May 11th at 2pm ET/11am PT — RSVP here
Back in November of last year, Catalyst @ Health 2.0, supported by professional services firm Wipfli, launched the Survey on the State of Digital Health, with the goal of creating a comprehensive analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on digital health companies and the rest of the ecosystem. Between the end of 2020 and thru March 2021 we received detailed responses from 300+ digital health aficionados including 180 digital health companies. We’re sure this is the most detailed assessment of what’s happening on the ground in digital health companies you’ll find anywhere.
Join us at 2pm ET/11am PT on Tuesday, May 11th for The Catalyst @ Health 2.0/Wipfli Survey on the State of Digital Health Results Presentation, you’ll see the full results from me & Catalyst’s Elizabeth Brown, hear from Wipfli’s Paul Johnson & Girish Ramachandra, and get reaction to the results from our guests Ryan Johnson, lawyer at Fredrikson & Byron; Sunny Kumar, investor at GSR Ventures;, and digital health CEOs Helena Plater-Zyberk, Supportiv; and Mudit Garg, Qventus.
I think the zoom is full, but you can see it livestreamed below at 11 am PT – 2pm ET – Matthew Holt
Mothers deserve more than a day of recognition this year—they deserve the whole month, and more. The pandemic has been particularly hard on women, especially poor women and women of color.
To demonstrate the appreciation mothers deserve this Mother’s Day, we should get them something they really need: health care. To improve maternal health, we should look to the Medicaid program, long a pathway to accessible, quality health care for low-income Americans. Medicaid is especially important for mothers; it covers close to half of all births in the U.S.
Now, states have the opportunity to do even more for moms.
The American Rescue Plan signed into law in March gives every state the option to extend Medicaid maternity coverage for up to 12 months postpartum, a significant increase from the current limit of just 60 days. Illinois has already announced it will extend postpartum coverage; other states should follow. Extending the guaranteed coverage period will increase access to postnatal care during this ‘fourth trimester’ to ensure that women can access treatment for common conditions like postpartum depression as well as preventing organ prolapse or hemorrhage. Not only mothers will benefit. Parental insurance is associated with better health for children, including a lower risk of adverse childhood experiences.
In addition, the American Rescue Plan offers an opening to expand Medicaid with even more federal funding than is currently available through the Affordable Care Act. The 12 states, mostly in the South, that have not expanded their Medicaid programs are leaving hundreds of thousands of women without the support they deserve.
Expanding Medicaid programs will provide robust access to health care to more women and reduce maternal morbidity and mortality, which has reached crisis proportions among many women of color. Black and Indigenous women are more likely than other women to die during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. According to the CDC, the maternal mortality rate is 2.5 times higher for Black women than white women. Disparate access and uneven quality of care, higher rates of chronic illness, and racism all play a part in that grim statistic.
The disproportionate burden of maternal mortality and adverse outcomes from childbirth has long-lasting effects on mothers and their children. Black newborns have an increased risk for long-term complications resulting from pre-birth complications. They may also face generational poverty and trauma in the long run if they are born to a mother who dies during childbirth.
Today on Health in 2 Point 00, it’s time for the silliness to end, and for Jess DaMassa and I to take digital health deals seriously. Groups gets $60 million from a bunch of famous investors. Oura, they of the tracking ring used by the NBA, gets $100m, and TPA substitute Collective Health gets a whopping $280m from a big Blues plan. And our favorite privacy maven Deven McGraw gets a mention as her company Ciitizen buys interoperability tech company Stella. Did we maintain our serious demeanor? You’ll have to watch to find out but you can probably guess the answer! —Matthew Holt
With RWJF’s support, Catalyst has opened up the platform to the larger digital health ecosystem and sought organizations interested in sourcing novel technologies, both COVID-19-specific and those with a broader scope. In this video, we hear from some of our Rapid Response Open Call hosts and participants as well as some special guests like John Brownstein discussing VaccineFinder and Jacob Reider talking about the problems of how to manage the vaccine process among the underserved. This is a great discussion of past, present, and future opportunities that have emerged with the global pandemic.
Elizabeth Brown is a Program Manager at Catalyst @ Health 2.0
Believe it or not, Jessica DaMassa and I have been banging out digital health tech & funding news for 200 episodes of this oh-so-cute little show. To celebrate, after several takeover episodes when Jess replaced me with a number of special guests, this time four of the digital health & health care digerati replaced Jess to ask me some oh so serious questions. It’s a special edition with guest appearances from Glen Tullman, Eugene Borukhovic, Lisa Suennen & Ian Morrison, as well as plenty of BS from us two regulars! — Matthew Holt
Clarify Health has linked (but anonymized) data on about 300m Americans, including their claims, lab, (some) EMR data and their SDOH data. They then use it to help providers, plans and pharma figure out what is going on with their patients, and how their doctors et al are behaving. CEO Jean Drouin, a French-Canadian who incidentally at one point ran strategy for the NHS in London, explained to me what Clarify does, how it’s going to help improve health care, where these data products are going next–and why they needed to raise $116m in March to build it out. Jean thinks about creating a single source of truth, and I asked him a couple of tricky questions about whether his customers would want to know the answer. A fascinating discussion. (Full transcript below)
Hi, Matthew Holt here with another THCB Spotlight. And I’m with Jean Drouin, who has a French Canadian name, but is an American who’s lived in London–a bit like me–who is the CEO of Clarify Health. So Jean, Clarify Health is one of the new startups. You guys raised over a $110 million a couple of weeks back, which I guess is a small round these days considering what everyone else is doing.
Virtual-first primary care company Firefly Health is becoming a health plan! Backed by a $40M Series B, CEO Fay Rotenberg and Executive Chairman Jonathan Bush stop by to explain how they’re providing “half-price healthcare that’s twice as good.” (Or, as only Jonathan can put it: “we’re a bloat-less Kaiser.”) All kidding aside, some big-name health innovation investors are not only behind this raise (Andreessen Horowitz led, F-Prime Capital and Oak HC/FT dipped back in), but also this idea to wrap a benefit around Firefly’s digitally-driven comprehensive care model. Already in-market, the new benefit-plus-care product is aimed squarely at mid-sized/small, fully-insured employers – shops with 50-500 employees which, right now, have limited options for dramatically changing their healthcare spend or being able to build out their own benefits the same way large self-insured employers can.
Fay and Jonathan get into the details about how they’re extending their “Marie Kondo-ing” of healthcare delivery – which has thus far netted some pretty impressive health outcomes, cost savings, and a 92 Net Promoter Score – into healthcare financing.
BONUS: Tune in around 25:30 and stick around for a few minutes as Jonathan weighs in on the health tech funding boom, how it compares to the EMR arms race days of ole, and whether or not he thinks he can beat Glen Tullman’s $14.5B valuation if/when Firefly goes public. HA!