Venture Funding For Health 2.0 Jumps 44%

Venture capital investors put $439 million into 70 deals in 2011 for startups that develop mobile health apps and tools for online social networking and collaboration.
Is A Personal Health Record In Your Future?
Is A Personal Health Record In Your Future?
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In 2011, venture capital investors put $439 million into 70 deals for Web 2.0 healthcare startups that develop mobile health apps and tools for online social networking and collaboration. The investments represent a 44% increase in dollars and a 63% increase in deals compared with 2010 when $305 million was raised for 43 deals, research from Dow Jones VentureSource reveals.

The numbers suggest that venture capitalists believe software companies that develop such tools will survive and thrive as changes in the healthcare market and new technologies create a new wave of investment opportunities.

"We are at the very early stages of an evolution in the entire healthcare system," Jessica Canning, global research director for Dow Jones VentureSource, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "We are essentially witnessing the democratization of healthcare where detailed information is being collected both from healthy people as well as individuals trying to improve their physical wellness."

She also noted that digitized home monitoring devices that track blood pressure, glucose readings, a person's weight and how many steps an individual takes in a day will help people gather health related information that increases personal accountability.

"It's no longer the case that an individual goes for a six month or annual physical examination, talks to the doctor, discusses the medical results and the doctor closes the chart and locks it in a file," Canning said. "That process is going away and is being replaced with tools that empower individuals to track their vital signs on an ongoing basis."

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These health apps span many areas of healthcare engagement, from patients tracking personal fitness to sharing health-related information between patients and physicians to coordination of information among healthcare teams.

Among the companies that have secured venture capital dollars over the last two years is AirStrip Technologies, which received $30 million in equity funding from Menlo Park, Calif.-based Sequoia Capital in 2010. Based in San Antonio, Texas, AirStrip makes AppPoint, a platform that sends critical patient information, including virtual real-time waveform data, directly from hospital monitoring systems and bedside devices to a clinician's smartphone or tablet. AirStrip's technology also lets doctors view electronic medical records on their iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, and Windows mobile devices, and iPad and Android-based tablets.

In December, Keas, Inc., secured $6.5 million in Series B financing led by Atlas Venture and Ignition Partners. Keas, a San Francisco-based company started by Adam Bosworth, who previously launched the ill-fated Google Health, has developed a social game for the workplace to promote health and wellness. The game requires individuals to pick three goals a week, which can include anything from exercise to eating more fruits and vegetables to reducing stress.

Players receive points for meeting their goals and for taking health quizzes. Keas targets companies that are willing to pay for programs that encourage employees to stay healthy and productive.

San Mateo, Calif.- based firm Doximity, Inc., secured a $10.8 million Series A venture capital investment in March 2011 from Emergence Capital Partners and InterWest Partners. The additional funding will be used to accelerate development of Doximity's physician network, a free communication platform for healthcare professionals across the United States. By using Doximity's platform, doctors can use their iPhone, iPad, Android device, or computer to connect with any U.S. physician to collaborate on patient treatment or identify the appropriate expert for patient referrals.

BodyMedia, Inc., is on target to meet its goal of raising $10 million to advance its technology. The Pittsburgh, PA-based company recently secured $2.7 million from four investors, which adds to the $4 million the company raised in 2010. The money is helping the company promote its BodyMedia FIT system, which consists of the BodyMedia FIT armband monitor, an online activity manager, an optional display, and free downloadable apps for mobile devices. The BodyMedia FIT armbands automatically track the calories burned during your daily activities and monitors the quality of your sleep, an important factor in weight loss.

"These companies are opening up a whole new world that people are just beginning to explore," Canning said. "This is a huge market with relatively little competition and it will be interesting to see how quickly health delivery organizations and consumers adopt the technology. I think it's safe to say that this area will only continue to grow relatively quickly."

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