Valence Health Raises $15 Million In Equity Funding For Population Health Tools

Chicago, Ill.-based Valence Health announces that it has closed a $15 million equity investment led by Heritage Group. Foundation Medical Partners, GE Ventures, and North Bridge Growth Equity also contributed in the round. As part of the exchange, both North Bridge and Foundation Medical have added representatives to the Valence Health board of directors. The new funding brings Valence’s total raised to $45 million, following a $30 million round in 2012 that was led by returning investor North Bridge.

Valence Health Raises $15 Million In Equity Funding For Population Health Tools

Valence is not a new name to healthcare, the company originally launched some 20 years ago, in 1984, and have a longstanding history of working with providers on risk management and clinical integration. Until 2012, the company had bootstrapped both its initial launch and its scale up. Now, as the Affordable Care Act created a boom in the population health market, Valence is taking outside money to position itself to take advantage of the new opportunities.

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Harvard Announces Finalists In Its Inaugural Health Acceleration Challenge

Harvard University has announced four finalists in its inaugural Health Acceleration Challenge. The challenge was organized by the Forum on Health Care Innovation, a collaboration between Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School. The challenge called on digital health entrepreneurs, regardless of whether they ever attended Harvard, from anywhere in the world to nominate startups that had already developed and implemented their solutions in at least one health care organization. Specifically, judges were looking for “proven ideas that, if more broadly disseminated, could move the needle on cost, quality or access.”

Harvard Announces Finalists In Its Inaugural Health Acceleration Challenge

Applications were accepted through September 29. In total, 478 startups entered the contest. From September 29 through October 20, each startup’s idea was opened up to public comments and questions. At the end of this period, judges created a short list of startups that they then engaged in more serious discussions. Short-listed startups were asked to show evidence of their solutions ability to improve outcomes, or curb costs. Startups were also expected to brief judges on their scale-up plan.

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Second Sight Shares Double After Artificial Retina Unveil

 

On a market valuation of $311 million, prosthetic eye manufacturer Second Sight completed a $32 million IPO on Wednesday, offering 3.5 million shares at an initial stock price of $9. The company then watched its shares soar more than 150 percent, opening at $17, and then reaching $22.45 before settling down to a $19.97 end of day price.

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Smartphone-based Lab Analyzer Startup Cue Raises $7.5 Million Series A

San Diego, Calif.-based digital health startup Cue has raised a $7.5 million Series A led by Sherpa Ventures. An interesting mix of secondary investors, including Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff, former Obama campaign manager Jim Messina, and Hollywood A-lister Leonardo DiCaprio, filled out the round. The new funds bring Cue’s total raised to $9.5 million after a $2 million seed round provided by hardware startup incubator Highway1.

Cue has developed a DIY blood, saliva, and nasal fluid analyzer that has the potential to process hundreds of diagnostic tests in a person’s home, that would otherwise required a trip to the doctors office. The company modeled its analysis after the ELISA test, a diagnostic test that is frequently used in hospital labs. Cue differentiates itself from ELISA by being much cheaper, and much faster. Cue takes three to five minutes to process a sample, as compared to ELISA which can take several hours in some cases.

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Walgreens To Roll Out Blood Test Services Across All Stores

Walgreens today announced that it will partner with blood test innovator Theranos to roll out minimally invasive blood tests across its 8,200 stores. The tests will be will be available on a walk-in basis, and will reportedly cost 50 to 90 percent less than the Medicaid reimbursement rate.  

Walgreens To Roll Out Blood Test Services Across All Stores

Theranos, a Palo Alto-based healthcare company, was founded in 2003 by a then 19-year old Stanford University drop out named Elizabeth Holmes. Ten years later, and Elizabeth is the youngest billionaire in the US, worth $9 billion as the founder of Theranos, according to Forbes. The has raised $400 million in equity funding since its launch, and recently found success after finalizing an analyzer that can run 70 blood tests on a  sample that is 1/1000 the size of today’s typical blood draw. The sample size required is so small that patients can skip the needle altogether and provide a simple finger stick blood drop, from which an entire array of tests can be processed in just a few hours. The analyzer is FDA approved, and Theranos is now moving head first into the commercialization of its new technology.

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Enter Exhibit A: Your Fitbit Data

It is an unfortunate truth that in our overly-litigious society, there is real demand for new ways of proving that a person is faking an injury, and for the very same reasons, there is an equal demand for better ways of proving that a claimed injury is genuine. Court cases, totaling billions of dollars per year, often hinge on a lawyers ability to validate or debunk a claimed injury. In personal injury cases, plaintiffs sue businesses or other members of the general public for disabilities resulting from an accident or injury. In insurance fraud cases, payers are pressing charges on seemingly healthy individuals that are collecting disability checks illegally. For decades, doctors have been called upon to provide objective testimony in these lawsuits. In these cases, doctors would examine the patient for 30 minutes to an hour, and then discuss the patient’s injury, and the level of disability they are likely experiencing as a result. In some cases, private investigators have been hired in an effort to prove that a patient was faking their disability.

Enter Exhibit A: Your Fitbit Data

Now, lawyers are looking past doctors and private investigators to substantiate disability claims. Instead, they are turning to Fitbit data. The practice started with a personal injury case in Calgary in which a young woman that had been a personal trainer was injured in an accident and is now turning to Fitbit to prove the extent of her disability. In the case, the woman has agreed to wear a Fitbit for several months while activity data is collected. After the monitoring period, data analytics vendor Vivametrica will analyze her physical abilities, and benchmark them with other healthy females of a similar age. The woman’s lawyers hope that the data will show that the woman is less physically capable than she was before the accident, thus substantiating her claim. The benefit of turning to Fitbit data is that it extends the court’s view of physical ability to cover several months, far more than the 30 minute doctors office examination that legal decisions would have been based on when a doctors testimony was the only information available.

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Harvard Launches Healthy Heart Online Tools

Researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health have launched a new heart health risk calculator that is designed to look beyond blood pressure and cholesterol numbers, and instead focus on behavioral choices. The science behind the calculator is based on lifestyle trends identified during a 24-year long study of 62,000 women and 34,000 men. In the study, researchers were able to pinpoint certain traits and behaviors, like having an elevated BMI or eating processed meats, and then quantify the overall impact each of these traits had on developing heart disease later in life. Findings from the study were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association last week.

Harvard Launches Healthy Heart Online Tools

Now, Harvard public health researchers have turned the lifestyle data uncovered in the study into an online survey where users can answer questions about their own lifestyle choices, and then see their overall heart disease risk. The survey is long, and focuses almost entirely on diet and activity levels, asking detailed questions about how much fiber you’re getting, how many alcoholic drinks per week you are having, how many times you’re going to the gym, and how sedentary your overall daily life is. At the conclusion of the survey, the calculator benchmarks your heart disease risk, with “low”, “moderately low”, “moderately high”, and “high” risk levels. The lifestyle choices that contributed to the overall risk factor are then clearly explained. Interestingly, the calculator has no tolerance for any amount of sugary drinks or processed meats, but takes a more refined approach to weighing other diet shortcomings, like not eating enough vegetables or fiber.

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IBM Backs Genetics Firm In Pursuit Of Watson Powered Personalized Medicine Apps

IBM today announced that it has invested an undisclosed sum in a genetics laboratory startup called Pathway Genomics, bringing the company’s funding total to $80 million since its 2008 launch. Pathway Genomics markets a series of targeted genetics tests, such as cancer screenings that look for key chromosome mutations, tests that look for resistance or hypersensitivity to common prescribed medications, and tests that attempt to help consumers with pain management and weight management. Next, the company hopes to bring a new service to its customers, a personalized health information and symptom checking app.

Pathway Genomics is setting out to build a smartphone app that will leverage IBM’s Watson supercomputer to process medical questions posed by its customers. The app will look to both the patient’s genetic profile, as well at a laundry list of other information sources, suggesting that the app will be one of the first to leverage the new health data aggregation services that smartphone manufacturers have been developing, like Apple’s HealthKit. Pathway’s claims that its app will consider electronic medical record data, biometric data consumed from wearable devices, and other information. The app will then feed the user’s question, their genetic profile, and any available medical data into the Watson supercomputer, which will interpret the question, and reference its growing medical database to provide a personalized response.

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