Weekly Health Tech Reads | 4/12/20

Lots of funding this week (Tytocare, 98point6, SonderMind, Silvercloud, LifeSprk, Vera, Ferrum, & Dorsata)... but it sure feels like the tide is starting to go out


  • Google - which, not surprisingly, is seeing a huge increase in searches for telehealth services - is now allowing providers to link to virtual care offerings in their business profiles, as well as rolling out other features to help direct people to care. Yet another sign that telehealth has crossed the chasm and is here to stay. Link.

    • Check out this Google Trends report for ‘telehealth’ searches over the last five years… yowza:

  • A handful of former government officials, including two former FDA commissioners, released a plan to develop a national infrastructure to manage COVID-19, including rapid diagnostic testing, surveillance, and serologic testing. Link.

  • Two rather interesting partnerships were announced this week:

    • Apple and Google partner on a COVID-19 contact-tracing project. If you are like me and can’t make up from down in these conversations about contact-tracing, serologic testing, etc - this article has a nice little user journey summary Google put together on how their contact-tracing project would work. Hello privacy concerns. Link.

    • In order for HHS to dole out the $30 billion in funding to healthcare providers across the country regarding the cash crunch COVID-19 has caused, HHS announced a partnership with… UnitedHealth Group!? On the one hand, it makes total sense - who else has the infrastructure to distribute payments to providers? On the other hand… it’s UHG, the sworn nemesis of not-for-profit provider groups across the country. Either way, UHG certainly seems very adept at finding its way to be at the center of everything in the healthcare industry. Link.

  • Tytocare, a startup selling a suite of diagnostic devices for in home care delivery which are connected to telehealth services, raised $50 million. Not surprisingly, they’re apparently seeing a large uptick in demand with COVID-19. Link.

  • 98point6, a text-based primary care app, raised another $43 million to handle COVID-19 demand. Given the high demand, they’ve started needing to publish wait times to chat with a provider - in March users averaged a 50 minute wait to text with a provider. That seems less than ideal, but understandable given the demand spike. They seem to be growing quickly - hitting 200 commercial contracts and over 3 million users on their platform. I’d be very curious to know what the engagement is like on each commercial contract. I’d assume it looks fairly similar to telehealth engagement rates? Link.

  • LifeSprk, a cool Minneapolis-based(!!!) home health startup, raised $16 million in private equity funding. LifeSprk has been operating relatively under the radar, save for a splash they made announcing a partnership with Intermountain back in 2018 (link). A helpful reminder that healthcare companies don’t always need to go the VC-funding route to grow a meaningful business. Link.

  • SonderMind, a startup building a digital platform for therapists to manage their business infrastructure, raised $27 million. I’m curious to watch the mental health space over the coming months / years. Of course, it’s already seen a ton of investment the past few years. And it seems like COVID-19 is going to spur even more investment in the space as everyone slowly goes nuts sitting alone in their homes. I’m interested to see if COVID-19 will mark a turning point, where we see less funding flowing to disease management plays for employers, and more to platforms like SonderMind that are focused on enabling providers. Intellectually the SonderMind value prop makes a ton of sense to me - “Hey, doc, managing your small business is a total pain in the rear and probably not what you signed up for. We’ll help take that burden off your plate so you can get back to doing what you wanted to do in the first place when you became a doc!” “Oh ok, cool, sign me up.” I suppose its a bit more complicated than that but you get the drift. Link.

  • SilverCloud, a mental health platform for providers, raised $16 million from LRVHealth and a handful of health system venture funds. Copy + Paste the comments from above to here regarding the pivot to provider platforms. Interesting to see health system VC funds still stepping up to the plate and investing - will be curious to see how long that continues in the current environment. Link.

  • Vera Whole Health raised $10 million for its on-site primary care clinic model. Vera has now raised $70 million in total since starting in 2008 and are operating 26 clinics in 10 states. In other press releases Vera claims a 25% cost reduction in employer populations in the first year - which as many of you know I’m a bit skeptical of given the cost to operate a high touch primary care model. Link.

  • Ferrum, a startup using AI to reduce medical errors, raised $9 million. Link.

  • Dorsata raised $5.2 million to help OB/GYNs with clinical documentation (i.e. an EMR). Link.


  • This is a really good piece from Michael Greeley of Flare Capital providing his perspective on the Rock Health Q1 funding report, which is linked in the data section below. It does a good job teasing out some of the nuance in trends over the quarter, noting that the pace of investing slowed from January to March. And it also points out some of the challenges ahead - falling valuations, smaller rounds, potential exits evaporating. Link.

  • Continuing a theme from last week - more articles came out this week questioning ‘where have all the heart attacks gone?’ This article summarizes a twitter poll that showed 40% of cardiologists are seeing a 40% - 60% reduction in admissions for heart attacks, and 20% of cardiologists are seeing a more than 60% reduction. It provides an interesting look at some of the plausible explanations (either people are delaying care or somehow social distancing removes triggers that cause these events). Link.

  • There were a couple good reads this week looking at the lasting impacts of COVID-19 on the healthcare world:

    • This article provides a solid quick consulting-style rundown of impacts on various healthcare sectors and key questions for each. Link.

    • This article highlights some of the potential consequences we might face from the impacts to various healthcare sectors - networks, provider licensure, patient safety, privacy, etc. Link.


  • Rock Health released its Q1 funding report, which saw $3.1 billion of funding across 107 deals. It is worth checking out the investor comments on the state of the world - they expect startups will have a much harder time raising capital in 2020 but yet nobody seems to think they will be deploying less capital in 2020. That’s an interesting combo of beliefs, which seems to indicate that we will see a ‘flight to quality’ as Rock Health notes. Link.

  • The Association of Health Insurance Plans released a study on the expected costs of COVID-19 and found that overall costs could range between $56 billion and $500+ billion, with consumer out of pocket costs ranging between $10 billion and $78 billion (that’s if insurers didn’t waive out-of-pocket costs). Meanwhile all I want to know is how much this is going to make my individual market premium go up next year. Link.

  • Another week, another interesting nugget on the adoption of telehealth. A well-known doc, Bob Wachter, suggested on Twitter that UCSF has gone from 2% televisits to 58%. Needless to say… that is a huge jump. Will it be a sustained change over time?


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