Strive Health clinches $166M from CVS Health Ventures and NEA to fuel growth

In the midst of a slowing venture capital market, Strive Health has scored a mega funding round of $166 million that it will use to continue its work combating chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates led the series C round along with the startup’s five new investors, including CVS Health Ventures. Strive said in a press release that it will use the new funds to grow and scale its business in order to expand into new markets and invest in its existing payer, health system, nephrologist and medical group partnerships. The Denver-based company also said it will work to further refine its value-based care model.

“Since our founding, we’ve strongly believed that we must meaningfully change the standard of kidney care so people with kidney disease can have better access to care regardless of their socioeconomic background,” said Chris Riopelle, CEO and co-founder of Strive, in a press release. “With the help of our investor partners, this capital raise will propel us further along in our journey to transform kidney care.”

As of May of this year, Strive serves 80,000 CKD and end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients across 30 states. According to a Strive representative, the company has received a 90% patient satisfaction score with 86% of patients seeing improvements.

Roughly 37 million U.S. adults are living with CKD with many being undiagnosed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC estimates that 40% of people with severely reduced kidney function are not aware of having CKD. Treating those with the condition racked up $87.2 billion in Medicare beneficiary costs in 2019; that number was $37.3 billion for those with ESRD.

Through the use of a machine-learning-enabled platform, Strive can assess a patient’s data to pinpoint where they lie across the stages of kidney disease in order to predict the future progression of their condition and provide targeted care. 

In addition to CKD and ESRD management and support, the kidney care company treats patients through dialysis and kidney transplants. Patients can seek treatment in traditional settings through Strive’s health system partnership or at home with portable dialysis machines through collaborations with companies like Outset Medical.

By joining a patient’s care team, Strive eases the work of existing primary care physicians and nephrologists through the use of predictive analytics, telehealth services and kidney health and treatment education.

Strive claims that its value-based kidney care approach led to a 20% reduction in the cost of kidney care and a 42% reduction in hospitalizations. The company currently manages over $2.5 billion in annual medical spending.

"Strive's focus on value-based care aligns with CVS Health’s strategy to address the challenges within the U.S. healthcare system,” said Vijay Patel, managing partner of CVS Health Ventures, in a press release. “Their differentiated approach has improved health outcomes for patients and driven success for all their customers, including their more than 600 nephrology partners.”

From 2020 to 2021, Strive grew its employee base by 600% with a current company total of 550 employees. The new pot of money will also be invested in existing employees. Patients have reported a 94% overall satisfaction with the Strive staff, according to a press release.

Partnerships with commercial and Medicare Advantage payers, Medicare, health systems and providers allow the care management company to provide value-based payment arrangements including risk-based models. Today, Strive boasts partnerships with more than 600 nephrologists across 10 states.

The company, now based in Denver, launched in April 2020 in St. Louis with 700 patients. Along with CVS Health Ventures and NEA, existing investors contributed funds to the most recent financing round, including CapitalG (Alphabet), Echo Ventures, Town Hall Ventures, Ascension Ventures and Redpoint.

Kidney care continues to attract big investment dollars. In January, Monogram Health, a tech-enabled in-home kidney disease management company, nabbed $375 million in new funding to continue rapid deployment of its care delivery model and clinical services.

Strive Health joins a short list of other digital health companies that have scored megadeals despite a challenging funding environment. According to Rock Health, there were six megadeals in the first quarter from Monogram Health ($375 million), ShiftKey ($300 million), Paradigm ($203 million), ShiftMed ($200 million), Gravie ($179 million) and Vytalize Health ($100 million)—making up 40% of the quarter’s total digital health funding.