Brighter days in eHealth financing? It depends…

Yesterday’s reports seem to indicate so, at several different stages from public to startup.

An analysis of Epocrates’ IPO, Vitality GlowCaps’ acquisition, Massive Health’s massive ‘seed round’…and whither Series C financings?

  • Epocrates, the medical applications provider of drug information for healthcare professionals (and soon to be EHR), went public on the NASDAQ market (EPOC) and raised $86.4 million. The IPO was attempted twice before and Epocrates joins a select few eHealth companies to be public. Release. Mobihealthnews’s Brian Dolan analyzes.
  • Medication reminder Vitality GlowCaps, which has come a long way since 2009 when Ed. Donna first met CEO David Rose in the audience at Connected Health Symposium [AT&T ForHealth, TA 6 Jan], was acquired by one of its key investors, Patrick Soo-Shiong, M.D., executive director of UCLA’s Wireless Health Institute and dubbed ‘the richest man in Los Angeles’ due to his drug development successes. A part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, supposedly the acquisition was negotiated courtside and closed in January. Early (2007) investors were rewarded ten-fold; the 2009 financing was reputedly $9 million. Co-founders Rose and president Josh Wachman will remain with the company in Cambridge MA to further develop GlowCaps and also new products. Congratulations to David and Josh!  Release. Boston Globe article. Also background on Mobihealthnews.
  • And San Francisco-based Massive Health announced a substantial initial round of funding ($2.25 million, which they called a ‘seed round’ but more nearly Series A financing.) According to Mobihealthnews, Xconomy (see below) and on founder Sutha Kamal’s blog, (their website is in ‘ninja’ mode -‘stealth’ being passé?), they will be developing wow-quality smartphone app designs for chronic disease management that ‘appreciate that you’re a person’ and that incorporate the most advanced designs.
    • Brian Dolan dashes with cold water facts: in US only 31% of mobile phones are smart (Nielsen); provider experience has been that near or more than half of chronic condition patients don’t have internet connectivity, much less a smartphone, for a lot of different reasons (including being 50+); chronic condition apps are the slowest growing type of app at the iPhone store.
    • But the founders have serious Silicon Valley cred (see more at Xconomy), this is a ‘hot rock’ deal by size and investors, and by the time it’s ready to market, perhaps the user base will catch up with the technology.

Roundup on all three at Mobihealthnews.

Ed. Donna missing something here: the announcements of Series C or even D financing, that ever-so-dicey point where the early-stage company is expected to be breakeven, is poised for major moves, and some of the angels get to fly home with cash in pocket. That inflection point has proven to be the comeuppance of more than one promising eHealth company. And there are companies with products not so sexy, or needing FDA approval, which in the past two years were lucky to gain bare-bones Series A or B financing, now running out of funds and time. So while all the above is cheering news and an indicator that investors are no longer wary of eHealth, when we see the veterans in the field get later rounds of decently-sized financing and/or attractive (not punitive) buyouts, it will then truly be cause to break out the Pol Roger.