Editor's corner: Fierce Digital Health's 10 most-read stories of 2022 tracked a market cooldown

For Fierce Digital Health readers, the top 10 stories of the year show a market in transition with headlines about record fundraising in 2021 and a few big cash infusions followed by news about layoffs.

And, also Google made a big healthcare hire.

Four of the top 10 digital health stories of the year covered hefty investments in startups or provided a look-ahead at the potential investor market in the midst of a downturn.

Employer-focused Lyra Health kicked off the year snagging $235 million in series G funding, sending the health tech unicorn’s valuation to $5.58 billion as the company said it would focus its efforts on global expansion.

In early January, Rock Health, a venture fund dedicated to digital health, released its annual funding report that charted another standout year for digital health. In 2021, startups raised an eye-popping $29.1 billion across 729 deals, according to Rock Health. The question on everyone's mind at the beginning of the year was whether the momentum would continue in 2022. (Hint: Funding this year is tracking down significantly from 2021's record-setting peak.)

In January, market intelligence firm CB Insights also released its global report detailing that digital health investment around the world hit an all-time high of $57.2 billion in funding in 2021.

But as startups began to struggle in the current macroeconomic environment, we saw many companies starting to make difficult decisions to cut costs. In June, news came that digital health startup Ro, which hit a $7 billion valuation back in February, laid off 18% of its workforce amid the market downturn. That was our seventh most-read story in 2022.

Google's latest big hire also got readers' attention. The tech giant has tapped Bakul Patel, the former head of digital health at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to develop and lead its unified digital health and regulatory strategy.

Readers also were interested in the latest play by Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company as it launched an online pharmacy. That story was the most-read digital health story of 2022.

Anastassia Gliadkovskaya reported on Walmart quietly changing its policy denying some prescriptions for controlled substances issued via telehealth unless there was an in-person visit in the prior 24 months. The policy, introduced in July, implicated virtual providers of opioid use disorder treatment and their patients. The company was one of two major pharmacies to begin curbing certain telehealth prescriptions in May.

We'll be on a publishing break through the holidays, with no newsletters, but we'll see you back here at full speed in 2023.

Here are Fierce Digital Health's top 10 most-read stories in 2022:

1. Cuban's drug company launches pharmacy, promising striking savings on generic

2Walmart has a new policy denying some telehealth prescriptions for controlled drugs. It's implicating patients in recovery

3. Lyra Health gets $235M, soars to $5.58B valuation with new acquisition for global expansion

4. Google Health hires FDA's former digital health chief to lead global strategy

5Digital health startups banked record-breaking $29.1B last year. Will the momentum continue in 2022?

6. Grow Therapy, a platform for private practices, reaches $75M in series B funding

7. Digital health startup Ro cuts 18% of workforce citing current economic climate

8. Global digital health funding skyrockets to $57.2B with record cash for mental health, telehealth

9. Judge rules Apple Watch infringed AliveCor's ECG patent, setting up potential U.S. import ban

10. JPM 2022: Teladoc projects $2.03B in 2021 revenue, up from previous guidance, after stock plummeted last year