Podimetrics snags $45M to prevent diabetic foot amputations with temperature-detecting mat

On a mission to prevent foot amputations in diabetic patients, Podimetrics raised $45 million in a series C round to put its inflammation-detecting mat in more homes.

Roughly 200,000 people in the U.S. have amputations each year, and about 130,000 of those people have diabetes. Cardiovascular problems common in diabetic patients can lead to blocked blood vessels—especially in the legs and feet—which can damage tissue beyond repair if not addressed.

Podimetrics’ FDA-approved SmartMat, which patients are asked to stand on for 20 seconds each day, measures temperature changes in the feet to check for “hot spots,” localized inflammation in the foot that could be the first signs of diabetic foot ulcers.

If the mat detects a persistent spot in the foot over multiple weeks, Podimetrics’ care team will call the patient to intervene, first giving them a plan to relieve pressure from the feet and sending them to an in-person visit if the inflammation persists.

A former anesthesiologist, Podimetrics co-founder and CEO Jon Bloom, M.D., told Fierce Healthcare he would sometimes spend entire days in the operating room assisting with amputations.

“It felt like this was Civil War-medicine—if it’s diseased, cut it off. It’s already happened, so now we have to remove it as opposed to preventing it,” he said.

Bloom and co-founder David Linders, who now serves as chief technology officer of Podimetrics, started the company in 2011 as graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management to catch diabetic foot ulcers before they require amputations.

The tech looks to reduce the hefty healthcare spend associated with diabetic amputations, too. According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine, foot complications in diabetes patients account for about a third of all diabetes-related healthcare costs in the U.S.

Bloom said the company’s mission is centered on health equity. Black Americans are more than three times more likely to suffer amputations than white Americans, according to a Dartmouth College study.

“It preys on those with limited access to care, and with limited access to preventive care,” Bloom said.

That’s why the company worked to design an at-home solution that fits into patients’ everyday lives—“We needed to find a method that would give us very high engagement, working with patients that are often overwhelmed by their care needs,” he said.

To reach patients, the company typically partners with health plans, which Bloom said has proven “the best way to get the technology into patients’ homes.”

Podimetrics has run several clinical trials over the past few years with health systems like Kaiser Permanente and the Veterans Health Administration to back up its technology. In its 2020 study with Kaiser Permanente, usage of the SmartMat cut costs by $12,000 per patient per year.

Now that the SmartMat has plenty of data to support it, investors have started getting excited about the chance to tangibly improve outcomes with the remote monitoring tech, Bloom said.

The $45 million series C round is much bigger than the company’s previous raises—Podimetrics last grabbed $8 million in a 2020 series B round.

D1 Capital Partners led the round, joined by the Medtech Converge Fund and an undisclosed strategic investor plus existing investors Polaris Partners and Scientific Health Development.

“We are proud to partner with Podimetrics and to support its efforts to save lives and limbs,” said James Rogers, investment partner at D1 Capital Partners, in a statement. “Our growth capital will expand commercialization of the SmartMat which we believe has demonstrated the ability to reduce unnecessary healthcare costs through preventive, risk-based strategies that prioritize high-quality outcomes for vulnerable patients. We believe that Podimetrics is building a strong team and are honored to support its worthy mission.”

The Somerville, Massachusetts-based company has raised $73 million to date.

Doubling its revenue in 2021 for the third year in a row as well as doubling the size of its team, Podimetrics is hoping to capitalize on its exponential growth.

The company plans to use the series C funding to hire more talent for its product development and research teams as well as to expand the services its nurse support team can provide to patients.

“I dropped out of medicine to try to end amputation. To get a chance to get into more homes and to eliminate as many amputations as possible, that’s everything that gets us out of bed,” Bloom said. “Let’s save some limbs—it’s a crazy battle cry.”