New digital health player. Health insurer slowdown. Microsoft + Genomics.
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Insure yo'self before you wreck yo'self

In the first digital health newsletter, we talked about an interesting trend we picked up about life insurance companies investing in digital health, noting PokitDok receiving investment from Guardian Life Insurance via their venture arm and MassMutual recently partnering with Human Longevity to provide whole genome sequencing to its customers. 

Life insurers are an interesting new entrant into the healthcare space, mostly because they're one of the few players in the area that has an incentive to maximize their customers' long-term health outcomes. If you're proactive and stay healthy, then you typically live longer (and it should be obvious why that's good for life insurers).

We chatted with Gareth Ross, MassMutual's Chief Digital and Customer Experience Officer, about their partnership with Human Longevity and increasing interest in digital health. MassMutual Ventures has been consistently active in private markets in the past few years and already made a few bets in 2017 (investor profile snapshot below).

The full interview can be found here, but here's an excerpt:
Why are life insurers interested in genomics? What is the ultimate promise of developments like the Human Longevity partnership for the industry?

I can’t speak for the entire industry but, for MassMutual, our involvement in this partnership is aimed at promoting further innovation and helping people get access to information that could potentially help them – and the broader community – live longer and healthier lives. This is part of our commitment to overall well-being, and is a means of expanding our innovative offerings to our customers. Those who participate can potentially find out if they have genetic issues that predispose them to certain conditions. HLI won’t share this information with MassMutual but it will be communicated to the individual’s physician and it may be useful in treating / preventing disease.

Speaking Of Insurance...

We took a look in the CB Insights database to see where health insurers have been investing in private markets. You can find our full research here.

Despite the fact that the regulatory landscape is in flux, a few tenets (among others) of the healthcare system won't change for insurers:

  • We're moving towards value-based + preventive care
  • Improving collaboration between the stakeholders in patients’ health improves outcomes
  • Chronic disease patients need the most management and drive the most costs
  • Carriers need to find ways to attract customers and differentiate their offerings

Most of the private market investments that health insurers have made are along these lines. What might change is their pace of investment depending on how regulation shakes out. Looking at this deal search from the platform, the private market activity of these insurers has remained relatively steady since 2012 but 2017 is off to a very slow start.

Stay healthy,



Q&A: MassMutual’s Gareth Ross On Life Insurance Digital Health Investments

We talk with MassMutual's Chief Digital and Customer Experience Officer about where they're looking in digital health. See the interview.
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Major Health Insurers’ Bets: Where They’re Investing Across Digital Health, Elderly Care, & More

Health insurers in the US market are investing and acquiring private companies as changes from new healthcare legislation continue to reshape their sector. See the research.
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Digital Health Funding Reaches Record Level

Large deals to GRAIL and Hao Daifu in Q1'17 pushed global funding up 100% over Q4'16. See the data.
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This Week in Digital Health
A curated mix of recent articles on digital health financings, exits, announcements, hirings, partnerships & perspectives.

Notable Deals

VitalConnect Series C. The maker of wearable sensors for remote patient monitoring raised a $33M Series C from investors including Baxter International and MVM Life Science Partners.

Lemonaid Series A. The telemedicine and online-prescription startup raised an $11M Series A from Correlation Ventures and Novartis Venture Funds, among others.
PE Hub

MyMatrixx acquired. The provider of workers compensation solutions was acquired by the nation's largest pharmacy benefit manager, Express Scripts.
Biz Journals

Frontline BioVentures & Wuxi Healthcare Ventures merge. The two China-based VC firms merged to form a healthcare investment group called 6 Dimensions Capital with combined assets under management of $800M.

Min Doktor raises. The Sweden-based mobile consultation platform raised a $25.2M Series B from EQT Ventures, HealthCap Venture Capital, Inbox Capital, and multiple angels.

Bain Capital launches life science fund. Bain has raised $720M for its first life science fund, called Bain Capital Life Sciences, which has already made investments into Solid Biosciences and Dicerna Pharmaceuticals.
Boston Business Journal

Nebula Health. The Australia-based startup, developing an app to help surgeons communicate with patients, has raised $190K from angel investors.

Sync Project Series A. Machine learning and music therapy startup Sync Project has raised a $5M Series A from Greylock Venture Partners, Reid Hoffman, and PureTech Health, among other investors.
New York Times

Medrio financing. Clinical trial data company Medrio raises first institutional capital in the form of a $30M equity round from Questa Capital Management.
PR Newswire


Proteus resubmits FDA application. Initially rejected, Otsuka and Proteus Digital Health are again seeking FDA approval for their combination of Otsuka's Abilify and Proteus' ingestible sensor technology.

Warby Parker vs. your local optometrist. Warby Parker is now testing a smartphone-based eye exam, called Prescription Check, which may reduce the need for frequent eye exams.

Microsoft moving into genomics. The tech giant has formalized the goal of having an operational DNA-based data storage system in place by the end of the decade.
MIT Technology Review

Merck, Toyota to help build blockchain network. The two companies have recently joined the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to help determine if etherium blockchain could be used to cut costs and increase supply chain efficiency.

Color secures deals with major insurers. Starting June 15, the startup will begin accepting health insurance through United Healthcare and Anthem, among others.
San Francisco Business Times

Apple, Nokia settle suit. Nokia and Apple hint at potential digital health partnership following the settling of a patent infingement lawsuit for an undisclosed amount.

GE dives into AI. Partners HealthCare and GE Healthcare have entered into a 10-year partnership with the initial goal of using AI to improve diagnostic imaging and clinician productivity. 

Articles & Perspectives

The end of human doctors. In a series of posts, radiologist and Ph.D candidate Dr. Luke Oakden-Rayner (@DrLukeOR) breaks down where medicine may be susceptible to automation and the potential outcomes of that shift, with an emphasis on radiology.

First-hand account. Former US Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil (@dpatil) shares his thoughts regarding how the American Health Care Act will impact the use of genomic data and AI in medicine.

Access to healthcare in India. In a recent study by Lancet and based on data from the 2015 Global Burden of Disease report, India ranks highest in per capita income, but last on the healthcare index.
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