Digital Health Startup Omada Snags Another $73 Million in Funding: Brainstorm Health

Hello and happy hump day, readers.

Sean Duffy, the co-founder and chief executive at digital health upstart Omada Health, approached the company’s new $73 million funding round with a philosophical question: “What will healthcare delivery look like in 20 years? How should it look?”

Duffy’s firm has taken a decidedly digital approach to the business of diabetes prevention and maintenance, creating an online platform that links patients to online coaches with the help of medical biometrics communicated via connected devices. The latest funding round was led by Wellington Management and joined by a host of big names from Kaiser Permanente Ventures to Andreessen Horowitz. CNBC reports that Omada’s overall VC haul now brings it to about a $600 million valuation, or more than halfway to “unicorn” status.

But Duffy’s vision, to borrow an entirely overused term, is to make the company a true disruptor through the use of sleek technology and personally tailored advice for patients—he even goes so far as to say the biggest and most effective health care providers of the future will be digital ones.

“Digital care means providing holistic, preemptive support to avoid the adverse outcome in the first place, instilling small changes that add up to powerful—and lasting—gains in health,” wrote Duffy in a post on Wednesday. “That’s our vision for Omada, and for healthcare: human-centered, elegantly designed digital experiences for patients. We can increase access to life-altering care, improve outcomes, and lower costs. We’re eager to help millions of people in their journeys to lifelong health, one step at a time. In short, it’s time to build the healthcare provider for the 21st Century.”

As I reported in Fortune‘s July issue, digital health firms enjoyed a record $8.1 billion in venture funding in 2018. The money doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.

Read on for the day’s news.


Livongo teams up with Apple, Fitbit, Samsung smart watches. Speaking of digital health news... Livongo, which focuses on chronic disease management (with an emphasis on diabetes care), announced Wednesday that it's integrating with popular smart watch platforms including Apple Watch, Fitbit, and certain Samsung devices. Users would be able to access personalized health readings and suggestions through the affiliated smart watches. Earlier this year, the company (which is rumored to go public at some point in 2019) took advantage of Amazon Alexa's new HIPAA-compliant program to read out blood glucose stats for its members.


Drug pricing, surprise medical billing legislation advances in the Senate. The U.S. Senate did a weird thing on Wednesday—it advanced an actual piece of health care legislation on a bipartisan basis. The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee easily approved of a bill that aims to tackle surprise medical billing (the practice wherein patients may be left with massive health care tabs after treatment by an out-of-network provider). The wide-ranging bill also includes measures to require price increase disclosures by drug companies and bolster vaccination rates. (Kaiser Health News)


Medical supply companies aren't fans of the trade war. The Wall Street Journal reports that medical supply companies—the firms that make common products such as tongue depressors, surgical gowns, etc—are warning that escalating tariffs on China could significantly add to health care providers' costs. Despite the low prices of such products, the sheer volume required by doctors and hospitals would have a notable effect, claims industry groups such as the American Health Care Association. (Wall Street Journal)

San Francisco becomes first city to ban e-cig sales. San Francisco is now the first city in the nation to ban sales of e-cigarettes, the latest in a series of regulatory measures meant to combat the vaping industry as youth use of the products soars. The kicker: Juul, the ubiquitous e-cig giant and foe of many public health advocates, is based in San Francisco. (Fortune)


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