Founders of Flatiron Health, Hims & Hers back $20M seed round in startup targeting chronic pain

A digital health startup has launched a new platform to provide opioid-free pain relief with the aim of reaching the 50 million Americans living with chronic pain.

Clearing, based in New York City, nabbed $20 million in seed funding to scale operations for its healthcare platform that delivers physician-prescribed, personalized pain management treatment plans.

Lead investors were Bessemer Venture Partners and Founders Fund, with participation from Breyer Capital, Threshold, and the founders of Flatiron Health, Curology, Hims & Hers, Seamless, Grubhub and Forward Health.

Founded by Avi Dorfman, Jacob Hascalovici M.D., Ph.D., and Yakov Kagan, Clearing seeks to remove the barriers to access high-quality, personalized pain treatment and connect patients to customizable, nonaddictive, prescription pain relief.


RELATED: AppliedVR testing the use of at-home virtual reality therapy for chronic pain

The number of patients seeking treatment for chronic pain was already far greater than the number of board-certified pain doctors, further exacerbated by the fact that treatment facilities were deemed non-essential at the outset of COVID-19, according to company executives. With lockdowns and lack of care options, a recent survey found that 70% of chronic pain sufferers report an increase in chronic pain during the pandemic. 

"At least one in five Americans are affected by chronic pain, and the issue is only getting worse," Clearing founder and CEO Avi Dorfman said in a press release. "Patients lack answers to the most basic question—how do I feel better—and they don't know where to turn for help, or fear judgment if they do ask for care. Clearing provides a safe and reliable solution that removes the stigma around an invisible and highly personal experience."

The company connects patients with a medical professional who reviews their background, history and symptoms to customize a treatment plan and offers personalized, non-addictive, and affordable pain treatment delivered to patients' doors, according to company executives.

RELATED: Hinge Health scores $300M series D to expand digital musculoskeletal health solution

There are other startups trying to tackle chronic pain with digital solutions and the area is gaining interest from investors. Hinge Health, which is valued at $3 billion, developed a digital musculoskeletal clinic that offers a complete clinical care model for back and joint pain with dedicated programs for different patients' needs, from early-stage prevention, acute pain, chronic pain or surgical rehabilitation.

Los Angeles-based virtual reality company AppliedVR has tested its platform—which uses goggles and headsets to create an immersive, 3D virtual world—to alleviate everything from labor pains during childbirth to the pain from burns to discomfort experienced undergoing infusions for cancer treatment. The company was granted breakthrough designation status from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its platform that treats chronic lower back pain.

The new digital health platform is a "game-changer" for the millions of Americans living with chronic pain," according to Steve Kraus, partner of Bessemer Venture Partners.

"The crisis of chronic pain in America is real and has only gotten worse since the pandemic began. Clearing aims to remove the barriers to access high quality, personalized pain treatment for so many who are left out of, or confused by, the current system."

Clearing says it has convened a medical advisory board that represents 465 peer-reviewed articles on chronic pain, more than 150 years of clinical experience, medical leadership of five national professional sports teams, and leading medical institutions such as Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Brigham, Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Cornell Medicine / New York-Presbyterian, the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center