Flatiron Health Raises Massive $175 Million Series C

Digital health investment activity has been notably active since the start of 2016, with nearly $250 million in fresh capital announcements coming in just the first week of the new year. By a wide margin, the largest funding round thus far has been Flatiron Health’s newly announced $175 million Series C funding round, led by pharmaceutical giant Roche, with additional participation from Allen & Company, Baillie Gifford, and Casdin Capital. The new investment brings Flatiron’s total raised to $313 million, a huge sum for a technology company working in healthcare.

Flatiron Health Raises Massive $175 Million Series C

To provide some context, Flatiron’s new round would have been the second largest in all of 2015, coming in just behind NantHealth’s $200 million investment from Allscripts. Despite having no active customer base, Flatiron has now surpassed other highly-funded digital health startups, including ZocDoc, 23andMe, and Proteus Digital Health. What makes Flatiron even more impressive is that it has passed these other startups in a fraction of the time, having only launched in 2012. At its core, Flatiron is a specialty EHR company – a market segment that investors appear to be bullish on. In 1999, when Athenahealth launched, it managed to raise $40 million in its first three years of fundraising, a fraction of the financial backing Flatiron has attracted over the same time period. As part of the new funding round, Roche has committed to buying several of Flatiron’s products and using them within its cancer drug development business units, an important development as it represents one of the company’s first major clients.

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Fitbit Slapped With Class Action Lawsuit Over Heart Rate Accuracy

Fitbit has been named in yet another lawsuit, this time in the middle of the CES conference as it launches a new product line and works to keep consumers excited about its offerings. Unlike the last several suits, its newest legal troubles are not coming from a competitor, but rather its own customers. Fitbit was named in a class action lawsuit filed in the Northern District Court of California this week, with plaintiffs alleging that its heart rate sensor is unable to accurately record heart rate during intense physical activity, despite marketing materials that claim it can.

Fitbit Slapped With Class Action Lawsuit Over Heart Rate Accuracy

Fitbit relies on an LED-based optical sensor that illuminates the capillaries directly under the skin and then counts the change in capillary size as the heart beats. It’s a method that is widely adopted in the fitness tracker industry, with Basis, Samsung, and Apple all including the technology in their wearable devices. Optical sensors can be accurate under the right conditions, but to accurately capture real-time heart rate readings during periods of intense activity, a chest strap-based heart rate monitor is far more accurate. CNET hired Kaiser Permanente cardiologist Jon Zaroff, MD to evaluate the accuracy of heart rate sensors found within a group of fitness trackers and concluded that optics-based sensors were only reliable at a resting heart rate. Zaroff explains that by the time blood gets to the wrist, it has already slowed down. This does not impact accuracy when heart rate is below 100 BPM, but as a user’s heart rate climbs, wrist-based sensors will struggle to maintain an accurate reading. As a result, most fitness tracker manufacturers carefully word the marketing material that goes out with new products.

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Under Armour Unveils $400 Digital Health Kit At CES

In 2015, Under Armour announced that it would make major investments in its digital health ecosystem in an effort to win the space and, ultimately, draw in the kinds of fitness enthusiasts that make up the bulk of its customer base. This vision met reality in February 2015, when the apparel company dropped more than $500 million on its acquisitions of MyFitnessPal and Endomondo, immediately establishing itself as a major player in the digital health fitness sector. One year earlier, Under Armour acquired MapMyFitness for $150 million and as a result, Under Armour now controls a digital health ecosystem with 150 million active users spread across three fitness apps. While Under Armour trails its chief rival Nike in total revenue, its digital platform is now five times larger than the Nike+ platform.

Under Armour Unveils $400 Digital Health Kit At CES

Under Armour has spent the months since its acquisitions weaving its apps into a single platform called UA Record that pulls information from its own apps as well as competitors to present users with a snapshot of sleep, fitness, activity levels, and nutritional information. Under Armour has also been working with R&D partner HTC on several new supplementary hardware options. This week, at CES 2016, the company unveiled its new hardware platform, called UA HealthBox.  Retailing at $400, Under Armour’s new fitness devices are being marketed as the “world’s first Connected Fitness system.” HealthBox includes a fitness tracker that measures steps, resting heart rate, workout intensity, and sleep patterns; a wireless scale; and a chest strap that tracks heart rate during exercise. All of the information collected from the devices is automatically pushed to Under Armour’s digital health platform, creating a seamless, synchronized ecosystem. Under Armour also announced a new smart shoe that monitors exercise duration and distance, and two models of wireless headphones, one of which monitors heart rate.

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Fitbit, Fossil, Healbe Unveil New Wearables At CES 2016

The International Consumer Electronics Show kicked off in Las Vegas this week, starting what will be the biggest electronics conference of the year. The event is expected to draw nearly 200,000 visitors and 4,000 companies from across the globe. CES is regularly used as a platform for new product releases, and 2016 has proven to be no exception. On its first day, Fitbit, Fossil, and wearable newcomer Healbe have unveiled new devices.

Fitbit, Fossil, Healbe Unveil New Wearables At CES 2016

Fitbit unveils the Blaze, its newest fitness tracker. The company has dominated market share in the fitness tracker market with such a significant competitive edge that competitor Jawbone has filed complaints against it for turning the industry into a monopoly. Analysts were lukewarm about the future of the fitness tracker market as recently as last year because consensus was that smartwatches from Apple, Samsung, and others would absorb the customer base. By most accounts, Fitbit is on track to avoid that outcome, but looks to be adding another layer of security with its newest tracker. The Blaze is, more or less, a Fitbit smartwatch. The Blaze introduces a new color screen with custom watch faces, and comes with several options for different watch bands. In addition to the standard activity tracking options, the Blaze syncs with a smartphone and supports call, text, GPS navigation, and calendar updates.

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Hometeam Raises $27 Million Series B To Ramp Up Home Care Platform

 

Hometeam Raises $27 Million Series B To Ramp Up Home Care Platform

New York City-based startup Hometeam announces that it has closed a $27 million Series B funding round led by Oak HC/FT, with additional participation from returning investors IA Ventures, Lux Capital, and Recruit Strategic Partners. The funding follows an $11 million Series A that closed in July 2014, bringing Hometeam’s total funding level to $38 million since its 2013 launch. Founded by a 26 year-old Silicon Valley transplant with programming experience but no healthcare background, the startup is working on software that supports the $80 billion in-home senior care market. Founder Josh Bruno notes that his motivation for starting the company came after his family struggled to pair his 93 year-old grandfather with a quality caregiver.

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Trevia Digital Health Raises $1.6 Million For Its Diabetes Care Platform

Overland Park, KS-based startup Trevia Digital Health has raised $1.6 million in early stage venture funding according to a recently filed SEC Form D. This round is Trevia’s first disclosed investment round. The company began its fundraising push in December 2014, and continued throughout 2015. A March 2015 Form D filing showed only modest progress, with $117,000 in confirmed investments. In its newest filing, Trevia appears to have hit its stride, brining its total raised to $1.6 million out of a targeted $8 million initial round. Investors have not been disclosed, but Trevia does report that it has secured investments from 14 individuals or institutions thus far. While the momentum appears to be picking up, the round will likely close sometime in 2016, and appears destined to fall short of its initial $8 million goal.

Trevia is building a business around the need to improve diabetes care coordination, a market ripe for disruption that has attracted the likes of Google, which is working to on a number of projects aimed at improving the technology used to monitor blood glucose levels; and IBM Watson, which has partnered with both Medtronic and Novo Nordisk to bring Watson’s analytics capabilities to the software side of diabetes management. For its part, Trevia is building a telehealth platform designed to improve access to eye exams for diabetics. Diabetic eye exams are a critical, but often missed, preventative measure used to monitor for signs of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which uncontrolled blood sugar damages the blood vessels responsible for providing nutrients to the retina, leading to vision loss and glaucoma. If caught early, the condition can be corrected with laser surgery, and so preventative screenings are part of the standard treatment plan for all diabetics.

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Trevia Digital Health Raises $1.6 Million For Its Diabetes Care Platform

Overland Park, KS-based startup Trevia Digital Health has raised $1.6 million in early stage venture funding according to a recently filed SEC Form D. This round is Trevia’s first disclosed investment round. The company began its fundraising push in December 2014, and continued throughout 2015. A March 2015 Form D filing showed only modest progress, with $117,000 in confirmed investments. In its newest filing, Trevia appears to have hit its stride, brining its total raised to $1.6 million out of a targeted $8 million initial round. Investors have not been disclosed, but Trevia does report that it has secured investments from 14 individuals or institutions thus far. While the momentum appears to be picking up, the round will likely close sometime in 2016 and appears destined to fall short of its initial $8 million goal.

Trevia Digital Health Raises $1.6 Million For Its Diabetes Care Platform

Trevia is building a business around the need to improve diabetes care coordination, a market ripe for disruption that has attracted the likes of Google, which is working to on a number of projects all aimed at improving the technology used to monitor blood glucose levels, and IBM Watson, which has partnered with both Medtronic and Novo Nordisk to bring Watson’s analytics capabilities to the software side of diabetes management. For its part, Trevia is building a telehealth platform designed to improve access to eye exams for diabetics. Diabetic eye exams are a critical, but often missed, preventative measure used to monitor for signs of diabetic retinopathy. Diabetic retinopathy is a condition in which uncontrolled blood sugar damages the blood vessels responsible for providing nutrients to the retina, leading to vision loss and glaucoma. If caught early, the condition can be corrected with laser surgery, and so preventative screenings are part of the standard treatment plan for all diabetics.

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Google Glass 2.0 Welcome News For Many Digital Health Glass Startups

Google has updated its Google Glass FCC filing with new images and descriptions of a second edition device expected to be released in 2016. The new device represents a strategic shift of Google’s original vision for Glass. While Glass was originally designed as a consumer electronics device, it is now being designed as a workplace tool, and will be marketed under the Glass Enterprise Edition label when it is released. Rumors have swirled around the Google Glass project since Google pulled the plug on its Glass Explorer program in January 2015. At the time, it was reported that Glass would be redesigned for the workplace, and Google encouraged Enterprise developers to continue working on their apps. One industry analyst responded, “Given the uncertainty around the program and whatever changes may come in the next few months, it’s likely that many developers will put their efforts on ice until they hear more about Google’s plans for the platform.”

Those plans began to solidify over the next several months. Google confirmed that its Glass team was being moved out of the X labs and under the direction of former Nest CEO Tony Fadell, and that software updates for the devices would cease. For the next year, Google has quietly worked to improve its original design. Now, with both pictures and descriptions available on the FCC website, the public can see the changes Google has put in place. The most notable physical difference is that the new version can be folded up like a pair of traditional glasses, something that the original Google Glass could not do and one of the most requested enhancements to come from the Explorer program. Glass also got a larger display prism, an external battery pack, improved WiFi connectivity, and a new chip set that improves overall performance.

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