Checking the pulse of health IT

Contact: Ben Kolada

Healthcare IT is alive and well, as evidenced by the emergence of new consumer technologies, exceptionally high valuations and investments by some of the largest old-line technology vendors. New regulations, advances in sensor technologies and ‘big data’ analytics are driving many aspects of this market for both consumers and enterprises.

New devices that track fitness, sleep and other personal health metrics are driving adoption of healthcare IT by consumers. Nearly every new wearable technology product being introduced offers some health-monitoring component. The consumer healthcare IT market is already moving from hopeful hype to valuable reality, with Jawbone recently reportedly paying more than $100m for BodyMedia. BodyMedia is Jawbone’s third acquisition; all were announced this year and all focused on healthcare.

For enterprises, Cerner’s $50m acquisition (excluding $19m earnout potential) of bootstrapped employee healthcare management software vendor PureWellness shows the variety of businesses that can make money in enterprise healthcare IT. And consolidation in the health information exchange (HIE) sector continues to go off for about 10x sales. Meanwhile, ad-supported electronic health record (EHR) startup Practice Fusion is widely expected to be considering an IPO soon. The company’s growth is attributed in large part by government initiatives incentivizing medical practices to adopt EHRs.

As for investments, Oracle recently participated in the $45m second tranche of Proteus Digital Health’s series F financing (which brought the round’s total to $62.5m). Proteus offers an ingestible sensor, used by patients to monitor internal health and by clinicians to monitor clinical trialists’ drug dosing. The plummeting cost of genome sequencing has led to a rise of big-data bioinformatics startups hoping to help make sense of the mountains of genetic data. Startups such as Bina and Spiral Genetics have recently raised capital from traditional VC firms.