Health tech funding snapshot—Oprah backs Maven Clinic; Whoop scores $200M to build out fitness tracking tech

concept of one hand holding up a light bulb and other hands holding up money
(Lia Shaked)

The pandemic has placed an even greater strain on physicians, who already were suffering from burnout, as well as hospitals that are contending with shortages of intensivists.

Acute care telehealth company Equum Medical helps to address physician imbalances across the healthcare system with its physician-led and partnership-driven approach, according to Lauren Brueggen, partner at Nashville-based healthcare investment firm Heritage Group.

Heritage Group invested $20 million in Equum Medical to help the startup enhance its service model and reach more clinicians. Equum says it employs one of the largest panels of board-certified critical care physicians and a growing number of subspecialty physicians.

Heritage’s financial support, said Drs. Corey Scurlock and Brian Rosenfeld, is like getting a stamp of approval for Equum’s mission. Scurlock is Equum’s Medical CEO and Rosenfeld is the company’s executive vice president.

“What Equum does is we want to solve problems for hospitals across their whole spectrum of acute care,” Scurlock said. “If you bring Equum in, we help with standardizing care, we help solve the hospital’s problems with the right specialists and we help really reduce the burnout of the bedside staff,” he said.

A telehealth pioneer, Rosenfeld, along with Dr. Michael J. Breslow were founders of Visicu, now owned by Philips. The pair were intensive-care doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital when they came up with the idea for Visicu, designed to extend the work of specialists.

Visicu allowed intensivists to oversee dozens of patients from a control room, often in several units across several hospitals using cameras and microphones.

Equum, “is really way bigger than the original ICU business that we started,” Rosenfeld said. “I think we can really do something important.”

The pandemic has accelerated the growth of telehealth.

“Telehealth as a field was growing at a 300 percent growth rate prior to COVID, with COVID 19 we probably accelerated the adoption rate by 10 years,” Scurlock said.

As a result, he said, hospital systems, physicians and patients are more accepting of the technology.

“People are starting to use it in everyday life,” he said. “You will never go back to going to the bank to have to cash a check to get your money. People do it on their phones now. Healthcare is sort of just catching up to this. The adoption rate and acceptance rate are much higher now.” –reporting contributed by Garrison Wells

Here's a snapshot of other health tech funding deals of more than $25 million in August:

Clinical trial software: The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the need for quicker clinical trial enrollment and more decentralized studies to assuage safety concerns. Those long-lasting impacts have given investors the confidence to funnel $220 million into Reify Health. Coatue Management led the series C alongside participation from ICONIQ Capital and Adams Street Partners. Existing backers Sierra Ventures and Battery Ventures also took part in the round.

Fitness tracking technology: Whoop scored $200 million in a series F funding round as the company looks to grow internationally. The round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Alongside SoftBank, IVP, Cavu Ventures Thursday Ventures, GP Bullhound, Accomplice, NextView Ventures and Animal Capital also participated.

AI-driven diagnostics tools: InferVision, a medical artificial intelligence provider, completed its Series D2 financing led by Goldman Sachs Asset Management. The company has raised around US$140 million in total from Series D1 and D2 financing. The proceeds will be used for R&D, distribution channels expansion and business development.

First women’s health unicorn: Maven Clinic reached unicorn status thanks to its $110 million series D funding round. The investment also was backed by a female investor, Deena Shakir, partner at Lux Capital, and got a boost from Orpah Winfrey as a new backer. The round was co-led by Dragoneer Investment Group and Lux Capital, with participation from BOND and existing investors Sequoia, Oak HC/FT and Icon Ventures.

Weight loss telehealth platform: In its first year since launch, startup Calibrate raised $100 million in capital funding from investors. The series B funding round was co-led by Founders Fund and Tiger Global, both new investors, and had participation from Optum Ventures and existing investors.

Smart sleep technology: EightSleep, makers of a mattress cover and corresponding app that tracks its users’ vitals and changes its temperature in response, raised $86 million in a Series C round led by Valor Equity Partners with participation from SoftBank, Khosla Ventures, Founders Fund, and General Catalyst.

Tech-enabled kidney care: Oak HC/FT, Cigna Ventures and K2 HealthVentures backed Cricket Health’s $83.5 million Series B funding round. Blue Shield of California also made a strategic investment. The startup Cricket Health will use the fresh capital to fuel its growth as it sees growing demand for its personalized approach to kidney care. The series B funding round was led by Valtruis.

Fertility benefits: Carrot Fertility snagged $75 million in series C funding led by investment firm Tiger Global Management.  The investment was also backed by OrbiMed, F-Prime, CRV, U.S. Venture Partners and Silicon Valley Bank. Carrot Fertility plans to use the new capital to focus on its product offerings for health plans and U.S. multinational employers. 

IBS treatment app: Not long after the FDA cleared the smartphone version of Mahana IBS, investors led by JAZZ Venture Partners and Gurnet Point Capital contributed $61 million in series B funding to help commercialize the startup’s IBS program and support its continued work to develop digital therapeutics for other chronic diseases. New and existing investors Main Street Advisors, KKCG and Lux Capital also participated.

Genomics technology: Genome Medical pulled in $60 million in new financing. The series C funding round was led by Casdin Capital. More than a dozen other new and existing investors also joined in, including Alphabet’s GV, Amgen Ventures, Illumina Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures and more.

Lab-free COVID PCR test: Rapid genetic test maker DnaNudge picked up $60 million for the global launch of lab-free COVID PCR test. The funding round was led by Ventura Capital, an investment company also based in London, and was joined by international wealth management group Bank Julius Baer.

Organ preservation tech: Bridge to Life, a leading global supplier of organ preservation solutions and organ perfusion technologies, closed a round of growth financing, totaling $56 million, led by Perceptive Advisors, a leading life sciences investment firm.

Teletherapy: Alma, a membership-based network for mental health care providers to build and scale their practices, drew up $50 million in Series C funding. The round was led by Insight Partners, with participation from Optum Ventures, Tusk Venture Partners, Primary Venture Partners, Sound Ventures, BoxGroup and Rainfall Ventures.

Real-world data platform: AllStripes has secured $50 million to intensify its efforts at collating medical records and searching them for insights that could aid in drug development. Its series B round was led by previous investor Lux Capital with additional backing from Jazz Venture Partners, Spark Capital, Medidata Solutions, McKesson Ventures and Maveron.

Remote patient monitoring: Startup Cadence is putting forward a platform aimed at managing chronic conditions at home and at scale. After forming just nine months ago, it’s debuting with $41 million to kick off its efforts. That includes series A funding from General Catalyst, Thrive Capital and Martin Ventures as well as from Rubicon Founders’ Adam Boehler, a former Trump administration official, and Chelsea Clinton, through her venture capital firm Metrodora Ventures.

Healthcare AI: ClosedLoop.ai secured $34 million in fresh funding to use artificial intelligence to "pursue more problems" plaguing the $4 trillion industry. The series B investment round was led by Telstra Ventures with participation from Breyer Capital, Greycroft Ventures, .406 Ventures and Healthfirst. Notable angel investors Adam Boehler, former director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation and CEO of Landmark Health, and Sam Palmisano, former CEO of IBM, also participated in the round. 

Cardiac ultrasound AI software: Ultromics secured $33 million in funding to help boost the adoption of its AI-powered ultrasound system in hospitals. The technology helps to spot dangerous blockages in the heart’s coronary arteries. The company’s series B round was led by Blue Cross Blue Shield’s Blue Venture Fund, with additional backing from Optum Ventures, GV and Oxford Sciences Innovation, a venture capital firm that operates in partnership with the university.

Precision medicine for gastroenterology: Iterative Scopes picked up $30 million in series A financing to advance AI-powered precision medicine for gastroenterology. The round was led by new investor Obvious Ventures, with participation from Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC Inc., the venture capital firms Breyer Capital and Seae Ventures.

AI for dental care: After cutting its teeth automating the dental insurance claims process, Overjet is now ready to expand its artificial intelligence software into actual dental clinics across the U.S. The startup brought in $27 million in a series A funding round led by General Catalyst and Insight Partners, with additional backing from the E14 Fund, which provides funds to startups with ties to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Vocal biomarkers for mental health: A startup that developed a voice vital sign to quantify and manage depression and anxiety at scale banked $26 million in Series A funding. Ellipsis Health’s latest investment round was led by SJF Ventures with participation from AblePartners, Akhil Paul at Caparo Group, Alumni Ventures, Divesh Makan, Gaingels, Gary Loveman, Generator Ventures, Greycroft, Helmy Eltoukhy, Joanne Bradford, Khosla Ventures, Luminous Ventures, Marc Benioff's TIME Ventures, Richard Socher, Ricardo Villela Marino, SpringTide Ventures, and What If Ventures.

Advanced clinical analytics: A startup that developed software to spot diagnostic errors in radiology nabbed $25 million in fresh funding. Covera Health’s series C financing was led by global venture capital and private equity firm Insight Partners with participation from existing investors including Equity Group Investments.