RPM tech provider Athelas hits unicorn status with $132M raised for chronic care management

Remote patient monitoring startup Athelas hit unicorn status after raising $132 million in two consecutive funding rounds that boosted the company's valuation to $1.5 billion.

Athelas creates technologies for chronic care management in the home, partnering with hospitals and health systems so providers can give their patients remote monitoring tools without incurring upfront costs.

General Catalyst led one of the two funding rounds, while Tribe Capital led the other. Sequoia Capital, YCombinator, Greenoaks, Human Capital and Initialized Capital also contributed funding.

Athelas now serves more than 40,000 patients with chronic conditions like hypertension, cardiac disorders and immunosuppression, making it the largest provider of remote patient monitoring services in the U.S., according to the company.

While many chronic care management platforms partner with employers or health plans to deliver remote monitoring services, Athelas works directly with providers, which founder and CEO Tanay Tandon sees as the company’s market advantage.

“Where we think our approach is different is that, for the most chronically ill patients in the country, their primary caregiver is not their employer or even their insurance company. Rather, it’s a specialist,” Tandon told Fierce Healthcare. “As opposed to building a consumer app, we’re trying to create a new distribution channel.”

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Tandon and his co-founder, Deepika Bodapati, have known each other since high school. In fact, Tandon said the early research behind Athelas started as a science fair project.

That research led to Athelas One, a blood diagnostics device that allows patients to test their white blood count from their homes with a single drop of blood.

Tandon and Bodapati designed Athelas One for cancer patients who track their white blood count before undergoing chemotherapy treatments. The device received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2018.

But the startup soon developed a host of other technologies for chronically ill populations, including a medication adherence tool called PillTrack, which sits on the patient’s bathroom counter and records every time they take a pill. The company also provides LTE-enabled blood pressure, weight, glucose and pulse ox monitoring devices.

“Our goal as a company, number one, is to build the tools that give today’s experts the ability to monitor patients in the home rather than creating a new experience from scratch,” he told Fierce Healthcare.

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The data collected by Athelas’s remote monitoring devices integrate with major electronic health records systems, and the platform is supported by clinical staff who can assist providers in rolling out the program among their patients.

“Our goal is, we want to be able to offer all the sensors possible and then some, to offer the baseline of what exists today and then push on what’s possible by building our own sensors,” Tandon said.

Tandon said the company plans to announce partnerships with more health systems in the next few months as their team hopes the FDA will clear the use of tests for hemoglobin and platelets on Athelas One.

As healthcare shifts to a value-based care model, Tandon said he expects remote patient monitoring to face higher standards as providers increasingly trust the technologies to maintain patient health.

“The first phase was all about building the tools and infrastructure to make this possible,” he said. “This next phase is all about improving end outcomes.”