Startups Cash In as Venture Funding for Digital Health Rises
July 15, 2021
Increasing venture-capital investment in digital health is helping startups accelerate their growth while also raising concerns that the market is overheating.
Venture investors pumped $14.7 billion into digital-health startups in the first half, topping the 2020 full-year total of $14.6 billion, according to Rock Health, a digital-health venture fund. Digital-health companies raised $7.7 billion in venture capital in all of 2019.
Startups have cashed in as the pandemic has steered more investors to healthcare and spurred the medical system to invest in digital-health tools, which include telemedicine, remote monitoring and technology to enable clinical trials to take place in patients’ homes.
“Covid exposed the lack of investment that health systems have made in technology,” said Sheila Talton, chief executive of Gray Matter Analytics Inc., a Chicago-based software company that helps healthcare insurers and providers manage quality metrics.
Recent successes, such as Doximity Inc., a San Francisco-based provider of a digital platform for doctors that went public in June and now has a market capitalization around $8.87 billion, have encouraged investment. Maturing companies with strong revenue growth are also rounding up large financing rounds, boosting the investment total.
Rockville, Md.-based DrFirst.com Inc., whose software is used for tasks such as electronic prescriptions, formed in 2000 and now has annual revenue of more than $100 million, said Chief Financial Officer David Samuels. In May the company said it had secured $50 million in new capital to bring the total amount it has rounded up over the past year to $135 million.
Investors are responding to companies that are emerging to tackle technology problems in healthcare, Mr. Samuels said, adding, “capital is chasing that opportunity.”
As investors increase deal making, one concern is that entrepreneurs feel pressure to raise more capital than they need, said Larry Cheng, a managing partner with venture firm Volition Capital. It also isn’t entirely clear which companies that have benefited from rising demand because of the pandemic will be able to sustain their growth as the crisis subsides, he said.
“This is a time where the smart entrepreneurs will leverage the buoyant financing markets to raise just the amount they need, but not overdo it,” Mr. Cheng said.
Yet startups also feel compelled to gather extra funds to build their teams and market share quickly as competition rises. San Francisco-based Curebase Inc., which sells software used for clinical trials at home, in late May said it had raised $15 million in its first, or Series A, round of venture financing. It took in slightly more than planned to accommodate investors who wanted to put more money into the company, CEO Tom Lemberg said.
Curebase has increased its team to about 45, up from around 25 in April, he said. Pharmaceutical and medical-technology companies are increasingly considering at-home, or decentralized, clinical trials, and Curebase needs to capitalize, he said.
“We need to capture the moment,” Mr. Lemberg said. “It’s powerful to have additional funding to meet our goals...” Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal here.
At Curebase, our mission is to bring quality medical innovations to patients faster and improve human wellbeing through more efficient clinical studies. We are proving that clinical research can be radically accelerated if we empower physicians everywhere to enroll patients in the communities where they live. By applying cutting edge clinical software and remote study management techniques to the problem, we are reinventing clinical trials and research from the ground up.