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Why have billion dollar digital health companies struggled since the pandemic?



Digital health funding pre pandemic: 2018


Digital health companies raised a total of $8.1 billion in funding in 2018. This represented a 42% increase from the previous year's total of $5.7 billion.

There were 368 deals in the digital health space in 2018, with an average deal size of $22.2 million. The largest funding rounds in 2018 went to companies working on healthcare technology solutions such as Rhythm Pharmaceuticals, which raised $151 million, and Modernizing Medicine, which raised $231 million. Other areas that received significant investment included telemedicine, digital therapeutics, and health insurance technology.

In 2018 investors remained bullish on the digital health sector and continued to invest heavily in companies that were leveraging technology to improve healthcare delivery, reduce costs, and enhance patient outcomes.

Digital health funding pre pandemic: 2019


Digital health companies raised a total of $7.4 billion in funding in 2019. This represented a 10% increase from the previous year's total of $6.8 billion. There were 359 deals in the digital health space in 2019, with an average deal size of $20.6 million.


The largest funding rounds in 2019 went to companies working on healthcare technology solutions such as Livongo, which raised $355 million, and Tempus, which raised $200 million. Other areas that received significant investment included telemedicine, behavioral health, and clinical decision support tools.


In 2019 investors remained bullish on the digital health sector and continued to pour money into companies leveraging technology to improve healthcare delivery, reduce costs, and enhance patient outcomes.


Digital health funding during the pandemic: 2020


Despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, digital health companies continued to attract significant funding in 2020. According to a report by CB Insights, digital health companies raised a total of $14.1 billion in funding in 2020, which represents a 66% increase from the previous year's total of $8.5 billion.


The report noted that there were 1,268 deals in the digital health space in 2020, with an average deal size of $21.9 million. The largest funding rounds in 2020 went to companies working on telemedicine and virtual care, such as Amwell, which raised $742 million, and Ro, which raised $200 million. Other areas that received significant investment included digital therapeutics, clinical decision support, and health insurance technology.


The COVID-19 pandemic played a significant role in driving investment in digital health in 2020, as the need for remote healthcare solutions increased. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years as healthcare organizations and consumers increasingly adopt digital health technologies.


Why have health tech unicorns struggled since the pandemic?


While there are several factors that may have contributed to the struggles of some health tech unicorns, a few key reasons stand out:

  1. Complex regulatory environment: The healthcare industry is highly regulated, and health tech companies often have to navigate complex regulatory requirements before they can bring their products to market. This can lead to delays, increased costs, and regulatory uncertainty, which can be challenging for startups that are trying to move quickly and innovate rapidly.

  2. Long sales cycles: Healthcare is a notoriously slow-moving industry, and sales cycles for health tech products can be much longer than in other sectors. This can be especially challenging for startups that are trying to scale quickly and generate revenue to fuel further growth.

  3. Difficulty in demonstrating ROI: While there is growing interest in digital health solutions, it can be difficult for health tech companies to demonstrate a clear return on investment (ROI) for their products. This is because healthcare is a complex ecosystem, and the impact of a particular technology on patient outcomes or healthcare costs may be difficult to measure and attribute solely to the technology.

  4. Fragmented market: The healthcare industry is highly fragmented, with multiple stakeholders (including patients, healthcare providers, payers, and regulators) with different needs and priorities. This can make it challenging for health tech companies to develop products that meet the needs of all stakeholders and navigate the complex web of relationships and incentives within the healthcare ecosystem.

Overall, while health tech unicorns have faced some unique challenges, many companies in the space have continued to make progress in bringing innovative solutions to market and addressing the complex challenges facing the healthcare industry.



3 Case Studies: billion dollar digital health companies


1) Talkspace

Talkspace is a digital health company that provides online therapy and mental health services to individuals and organizations. The company was founded in 2012 and has grown rapidly, with over 1 million users and partnerships with major health plans and employers.


Talkspace offers a range of mental health services, including therapy, psychiatry, and couples counseling, which can be accessed through a web or mobile app. Users can choose to communicate with their therapist via text, voice, or video chat, and can message their therapist at any time. The company's services are available on a subscription basis, with plans starting at $65 per week.


One of the key benefits of Talkspace is its convenience and accessibility. The platform allows users to access mental health services from the comfort of their own home, without having to travel to a therapist's office. This can be especially valuable for individuals who live in areas without easy access to mental health services, or who have busy schedules that make it difficult to attend in-person therapy sessions.


Talkspace has also been praised for its affordability, as its subscription plans are often less expensive than traditional in-person therapy sessions. However, some critics have raised concerns about the quality of care provided through online therapy platforms, as well as the potential limitations of communicating with a therapist via text or chat. As with any mental health service, it's important for individuals to carefully consider their needs and preferences when evaluating Talkspace or any other digital health platform.


Why has Talkspace struggled since the pandemic?


Talkspace has faced several challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic began, including increased competition from other digital health providers and changes in the healthcare landscape.


One key challenge has been the increased demand for mental health services during the pandemic, which has led to a surge in the number of digital health companies offering mental health support. This has made it more difficult for Talkspace to stand out in a crowded market and attract new users.


Another challenge has been the changing healthcare landscape, as more traditional healthcare providers have started to offer teletherapy and other virtual mental health services. This has created more competition for Talkspace, which was previously one of the few companies offering these services on a large scale.


Additionally, some users have raised concerns about the quality of care provided through online therapy platforms like Talkspace, particularly in light of the increased demand for mental health services during the pandemic. Some critics have argued that online therapy platforms may not provide the same level of care and support as in-person therapy, or that the quality of care may vary depending on the qualifications and experience of the individual therapist.


Despite these challenges, Talkspace has continued to adapt and evolve its services in response to the changing healthcare landscape. The company has launched new products and partnerships, expanded its therapy offerings, and invested in research to demonstrate the efficacy of its services. As the mental health landscape continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how Talkspace and other digital health providers continue to innovate and meet the needs of individuals and organizations seeking mental health support.


2) Olive AI


Olive AI is an artificial intelligence-powered healthcare platform that uses advanced automation technology to streamline administrative tasks and improve efficiency in healthcare operations. The platform can be used in a variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities.


Some of the specific functions that Olive AI performs include automating manual tasks such as appointment scheduling, patient registration, and insurance verification. The platform can also help healthcare providers optimize their revenue cycle management by automating claims processing and reducing denials.


In addition to administrative tasks, Olive AI can also be used to support clinical workflows and decision-making. The platform can analyze patient data and medical records to identify patterns and insights that can help healthcare providers make more informed decisions about patient care.


Overall, Olive AI aims to help healthcare providers reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve patient outcomes by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and automation technology. By automating time-consuming administrative tasks and providing insights into patient care, the platform can help healthcare providers focus on delivering high-quality care to their patients.


Why has Olive AI struggled since the pandemic?


Olive AI, an artificial intelligence-powered healthcare platform, has reportedly experienced some challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the healthcare industry, and Olive AI, like many other healthcare technology companies, has faced disruptions and changes in the market.


One of the challenges that Olive AI has faced during the pandemic is a decline in demand for its services. Many healthcare providers and systems have faced financial strain during the pandemic, which has made it difficult for them to invest in new technologies and services. Additionally, the pandemic has created uncertainty and disruptions in the healthcare market, which has led to a slowdown in adoption of new technologies.


Another challenge that Olive AI has faced is increased competition in the healthcare technology space. As more companies enter the market and offer similar services, it can be difficult for any one company to stand out and gain market share.


Despite these challenges, Olive AI has continued to develop and expand its technology offerings. The company has reportedly raised significant funding in the past year, including a $225.5 million funding round in October 2020, which has allowed it to invest in new products and services.


Overall, while Olive AI has faced challenges during the pandemic, the company appears to be well-positioned to continue to grow and succeed in the healthcare technology space. The company's focus on artificial intelligence and automation technology is well-aligned with the growing demand for digital healthcare solutions, and its ongoing investment in product development and expansion could help it gain market share and overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic.


3) Cerebral


Cerebral is a digital health platform that provides online mental health services, including teletherapy, medication management, and online support groups. The platform is designed to make mental healthcare more accessible and affordable for individuals who may not have access to traditional in-person therapy.


Cerebral connects users with licensed mental health professionals, who can provide personalized treatment plans and ongoing support through virtual sessions. The platform also offers medication management services, which allows users to receive prescriptions for mental health medications and have them delivered directly to their door.


One of the key features of Cerebral is its focus on providing high-quality care at an affordable price. The platform offers a variety of subscription plans that can be customized to meet the needs and budget of each individual user. Additionally, Cerebral's team of mental health professionals are trained to provide evidence-based treatment that is tailored to each user's unique needs and goals.


Why has Cerebral struggled since the pandemic?


Cerebral, like many other healthcare companies, has faced challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has led to an increase in demand for mental health services, it has also created significant operational challenges and financial pressures for many healthcare companies, including Cerebral.


One of the main challenges that Cerebral and other telemedicine companies have faced during the pandemic is the need to rapidly scale their operations to meet increased demand for services. This has required significant investments in technology, staffing, and infrastructure, which can be difficult for companies that are still in the early stages of growth.


In addition to operational challenges, Cerebral and other telemedicine companies have also faced financial pressures during the pandemic. While demand for telemedicine services has increased, many insurance providers have been slow to adopt telemedicine coverage policies, which has limited the ability of companies like Cerebral to generate revenue from their services.


Despite these challenges, Cerebral and other telemedicine companies have continued to innovate and adapt in response to the pandemic. For example, Cerebral has expanded its services to include virtual medication management and has partnered with employers and insurance providers to expand access to its services. Overall, while there have been challenges, Cerebral and other telemedicine companies are well-positioned to continue to grow and succeed in the post-pandemic healthcare landscape.


Summary:


While some digital health companies have thrived during the pandemic, others have struggled, including some billion-dollar companies. There are several reasons why this may be the case:

  1. Financial pressures: The pandemic has caused significant economic disruptions, and many digital health companies have struggled to raise new funding or maintain existing revenue streams. This has made it difficult for some companies to continue operating at pre-pandemic levels.

  2. Operational challenges: The rapid shift to telemedicine and remote care has created operational challenges for many digital health companies, including issues related to technology infrastructure, staffing, and regulatory compliance.

  3. Competition: The pandemic has led to a proliferation of new digital health startups, creating a more competitive landscape for established players. This increased competition can make it difficult for established companies to maintain their market share and continue to grow.

  4. Changes in healthcare policy: The pandemic has led to significant changes in healthcare policy, including expanded telehealth coverage and reimbursement. While this has created new opportunities for some digital health companies, it has also led to increased regulatory scrutiny and changes in reimbursement rates, which can impact companies' revenue streams.

Overall, while some digital health companies have struggled during the pandemic, others have been able to adapt and thrive. The impact of the pandemic on digital health companies is likely to vary depending on a variety of factors, including the specific market niche, the company's business model, and its ability to adapt to changing market conditions.


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