Oscar Health Raises $400 Million Private Equity Investment

Tech savvy insurance startup Oscar Health has closed a massive $400 million private equity investment based on a $2.7 billion valuation. The company added a full $1 billion to its value since September 2015, when it closed a $32 million investment from Google Capital on a $1.7 billion valuation. The new round was led by Fidelity, but included a laundry list of secondary investors including returning investors Google Capital, General Catalyst, Founders Fund, Lakestar, Khosla Ventures, and Thrive Capital. In total, Oscar has now raised $725 million since its 2013 launch.

Oscar launched offering insurance plans in New York during the 2013-2014 enrollment period. The company markets itself as a tech savvy option and targets a younger, generally healthier population. To attract these clients, Oscar offers free telehealth visits, free activity trackers, and no co-pay for preventative care visits and generic medications. Since launching, Oscar has expanded its territory to include California, New Jersey, and Texas. Oscar CEO Mario Schlosser notes that expanding into a new state costs the company around $20 million but confirms that the company plans to enter three to four new states per year to drive up its physical footprint and overall enrollment numbers.

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Crisis Text Line Releases De-Identified Dataset From 13 Million Conversations

New York-based startup Crisis Text Line announces that it will release a massive dataset containing de-identified text message conversations between its crisis counselors and users. The new dataset is comprised of 13 million text messages from users in crisis, representing one of the largest single sources of information on mental health and crisis available, rivaled only by a CDC survey on the same topic published every two years. Access to the text messages will be made freely available to researchers working across a multitude of fields to help improve understanding about mental health issues and the events that precipitate a crisis.

Crisis Text Line Releases De-Identified Dataset From 13 Million Conversations

Crisis Text Line is a spinoff from DoSomething.org, an organization focused on helping organize public service projects. While working on a teen outreach project within DoSomething, then CEO Nancy Lublin realized that while there were dozens of resources available to teens in crisis, there were no national text-based outreach programs aimed at anonymously connecting teens with crisis councilors over text. In response, Lublin handed over the reigns of DoSomething and launched Crisis Text Line to address the problem. Lublin piloted the service in Chicago and El Paso, TX and within four months crisis counselors had received texts from teens living in every area code in the country. Because the team was still in pilot mode, they did no marketing to promote the service. Early growth was entirely attributed to word of mouth among teens. In the two years since its launch, counselors have exchanged 13 million texts with users.

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Opternative Raises $6 Million Series A For Remote Eye Exams

Chicago-based digital health startup Opternative announces that it has raised a $6 million Series A funding round led by fellow Chicago business Jump Capital. The round also included participation from returning investors Corazon Capital and Tribeca Venture Partners, and adds NextGen Venture Partners and Pritzker Group Venture Capital as new investors. The fresh funds brings Opternative’s total disclosed funding to $9 million since its 2013 launch.

Opternative Raises $6 Million Series A For Remote Eye Exams

Opternative is building a business around the concept of moving traditional eye exams online. The market for online health services has substantiated itself over the last several years as telehealth vendors have carved out a new market in offering supplemental care options to patients willing to pay out of pocket for the added convenience of being seen without having to make an appointment or go to a doctor’s office. The world of eye care has only partially kept up with the expanded use of the Internet in care delivery. Over the last decade, online eyeglasses retailers like Zenni Optical, 1-800-Contacts, and $39 Dollar Glasses have established a strong online market, but these online shoppers were still required to go to a local ophthalmologist to get an eye exam and lens prescription. Opternative hopes to change this by offering online eye exams and prescriptions.

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IBM Watson Acquires Truven Health Analytics For $2.6 Billion

IBM announces that it will acquire Truven Health Analytics for $2.6 billion. Truven was previously owned by Veritas Capital, a private equity firm that acquired the company from Thomson Reuters in 2012 for $1.25 billion, renaming it Truven Health Analytics in the process. The deal will bring IBM new health-focused datasets, a staff of data scientists with healthcare experience, and 8,500 clients, including hospitals, health plans, employers, and life sciences companies. The acquisition marks the IBM Watson business unit’s fourth major acquisition since its 2015 formation. IBM has so far acquired Phytel, a population health management software vendor; Explorys, a health-focused data analytics vendor; Merge Healthcare, a medical imaging vendor; and now Truven. After the current deal closes, IBM will have spent over $4 billion seeding its Watson business unit with acquired companies.

IBM has largely approached its Watson project as one that it intends to build from the ground up. Engineers have been working on the analytical capabilities of the Watson supercomputer since work began on the project in 2007. In recent years, IBM has worked to find a home for Watson in a number of industries, but healthcare remains its primary focus. The technology became the underpinning of an entire business unit, and dozens of multi-year partnerships with prestigious hospitals were soon announced. These deals brought engineers together with clinicians to expose Watson to more medical data, and to train it to interpret the data correctly.

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Microsoft Partners With Novartis To Develop A Kinect-Based MS Assessment

Microsoft announces a new strategic partnership with Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis to co-develop a Kinect-based assessment tool that could be used to track patient symptoms and quantify whether certain multiple sclerosis treatments were having a positive effect. Novartis has been working on developing more consistent methods of measuring disease progress in MS patients for years, with little to show for its efforts thus far. The disease is well known for the unpredictable way that it progresses in patients. Two similar patients can often have entirely different experiences with the condition, with one losing mobility in a matter of years, while the other goes on to live a normal life with few debilitating symptoms.

Microsoft Partners With Novartis To Develop A Kinect-Based MS Assessment

Because MS often progresses over decades, doctors have developed a series of tests to objectively measure each patient’s symptoms and disease progress. Called the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite, the test is administered by a trained evaluator and attempts to objectively score a patient’s symptoms as they walk and perform various tasks using both their dominant and non-dominant hand. The test has been used with a fair degree of reliability by research organizations conducting clinical trials on MS thus far.

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