Author: Paula Glover

Quarter 3 of 2018 Shown to be the Biggest Funding Quarter yet for Digital Health

The third quarter of 2018 was the biggest funding quarter for digital health ever, according to StartUp Health Insights. The research group attached to healthcare startup alliance StartUp Health reported $4.5 billion in digital health funding.

With $11.1 billion invested so far, investment is only $600 million short of last year’s overall total, even including the fourth quarter.

The top five deals of the quarter were Peloton’s $550 million round, Oscar Health’s $375 million, Grail’s $300 million, 23andMe’s $300 million and American Well’s $290 million. The most active investors were Khosla Ventures with 13 deals, while Founders Fund, NEA and F Prime had 10 each.

Why it matters

In addition to the broad takeaway of more funding than ever, StartUp’s report also showcases some other interesting investment trends.

International digital health companies are raising more money, especially those based around Beijing, China, which saw $863 million raised and fostered five of the top 10 international deals. Three other Chinese cities, Zhenjiang, Shanghai and Hangzhou, did $100M or more in deals.

While there is still plenty of seed and early funding, late-stage funding is making up a larger part of the pie every year. Forty-three percent of deals were series B through F, the highest percentage since 2010.

Patient empowerment was the biggest category with 149 deals, followed by wellness with 64 deals and biometric data acquisition with 50 deals.

Digital health is certainly not mobile health anymore. Web app-oriented companies raised $4.4 billion, most of the total, while mobile app companies raised $2.9 billion.

What’s the trend

StartUp Health is one of a handful of companies that tracks digital health funding on a quarterly basis. The numbers tend to fluctuate because different groups define the category differently.

Rock Health’s recent report put funding for the quarter at a more modest $3.3 billion, but its analysis of the trends — the biggest quarter ever, fueled by larger-sized deals, lined up.

On the record

“Q3 was the largest digital health funding quarter in the history of our industry. We’re building toward another record year, definitely on track to be the largest year as well,” Katya Hancock, StartUp’s director of strategic partnerships, said at the Digital Health Innovation Summit today in Boston. “We’re seeing more follow-on investments and later stage deals and a steady increase of unique investors — so more people coming into the space and an increase in deal sizes.”


Public-Private Partnerships Will Accelerate Data-Driven Discovery

Big news came from NIH in July 2018 when they announced their new initiative to develop and test new ways to best implement cloud services in support of biomedical research. Called STRIDES for “Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation and Sustainability,” the initiative will allow NIH to explore the use of cloud environments to streamline NIH data use. By partnering with commercial cloud service providers, NIH expects to improve access to biomedical data and provide cost-effective cloud infrastructure, data storage, computation, and machine learning services for NIH and NIH-supported investigators. The full NIH press release follows:

NIH makes STRIDES to accelerate discoveries in the cloud

The National Institutes of Health has launched a new initiative to harness the power of commercial cloud computing and provide NIH biomedical researchers access to the most advanced, cost-effective computational infrastructure, tools and services available. The STRIDES (Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability) Initiative launches with Google Cloud as its first industry partner and aims to reduce economic and technological barriers to accessing and computing on large biomedical data sets to accelerate biomedical advances.

“NIH is in a unique position to bring together academic and innovation industry partners to create a biomedical data ecosystem that maximizes the use of NIH-supported biomedical research data for the greatest benefit to human health,” said NIH Principal Deputy Director Lawrence A. Tabak, DDS, PhD, who also serves as NIH’s interim Associate Director for Data Science. “The STRIDES Initiative aims to maximize the number of researchers working to provide the greatest number of solutions to advancing health and reducing the burden of disease.”

In line with NIH’s first-ever Data Science Strategic Plan released in June, STRIDES will establish additional innovative partnerships to broaden access to services and tools, including training for researchers to learn about the latest cloud tools and technologies. Services are expected to become available to the NIH-supported community after a series of pilot activities to refine policies and test and assess implementation approaches.

The initial agreement with Google Cloud creates a cost-efficient framework for NIH researchers, as well as researchers at more than 2,500 academic institutions across the nation receiving NIH support, to make use of Google Cloud’s storage, computing, and machine learning technologies. In addition, the partnership will involve collaborations with NIH’s Data Commons Pilot—a group of innovative projects testing new tools and methods for working with and sharing data in the cloud—and enable the establishment of training programs for researchers at NIH-funded institutions on how to use Google Cloud Platform.

“The volume of data generated in biomedical research labs across the world is growing exponentially,” said Gregory Moore, MD, PhD, Vice President, Healthcare, Google Cloud. “Through our partnership with NIH, we are bringing the power of data and the cloud to the biomedical research community globally. Together, we are making it easier for scientists and physicians to access and garner insights from NIH-funded data sets with appropriate privacy protections, which will ultimately accelerate biomedical research progress toward finding treatments and cures for the most devastating diseases of our time.”

A central tenet of STRIDES is that data made available through these partnerships will incorporate standards endorsed by the biomedical research community to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). NIH’s initial efforts will focus on making NIH high-value data sets more accessible through the cloud, leveraging partnerships to take advantage of data-related innovations such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, and experimenting with new ways to optimize technology-intensive research.

“By launching STRIDES, we clearly show our strong commitment to putting the most advanced cloud computing tools in the hands of scientists,” said Andrea T. Norris, NIH Chief Information Officer and director of NIH’s Center for Information Technology. “Beyond our partnership with Google Cloud, we will seek to add more industry partners to assure that NIH continues to be well poised to support the future of biomedical research.”

For more information, please visit the NIH New Releases page.

Healthcare Information Technology Workforce: Updated Analysis Shows Continued Growth and Opportunity

A new analysis of the healthcare information technology (IT) workforce indicates that as hospitals and health systems continue to adopt electronic health records (EHRs) and other forms of IT, as many as 19,852 to 153,114 more full-time equivalent (FTE) personnel may be required to maintain operational efficiency. This analysis has been published  in an article by Dr. William Hersh and colleagues Keith Boone and Annette Totten in JAMIA Open called "Characteristics of the healthcare information technology workforce in the HITECH era: underestimated in size, still growing, and adapting to advanced uses." This article updates an original analysis done before the passage of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which has led to substantial growth in both the adoption of EHRs and healthcare IT workforce.

The data used in the analysis focused only on hospitals and health systems, but informatics/IT workforce growth will also likely occur in other health-related areas. The results remind us that there  will likely be growing opportunities for those who train and work in biomedical and health informatics for entrance into a variety of fields and disciplines.

This article serves as a continuation of a research interest of Hersh that emerged over a decade ago. Over the course of his professional career, Hersh became interested in the characteristics of the healthcare IT workforce and its professional development, leading him to inquire about research that had been done in this area. Finding essentially none, Hersh embarked on a research project that centered on the analysis of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society ( HIMSS) Analytics Database. The HIMSS database mostly focuses on the IT systems that hospitals and health systems implement, but also contains data on IT staffing . The result of the analysis was a paper that garnered a great detail of attention when it was published in 2008, including an invitation for Hersh to present his findings in Washington, DC to the Capitol Hill Steering Committee on Telehealth and Healthcare Informatics.

Click here to read more from Hersh's blog post on this paper. Additionally, click here to read more on the author. 

HiDAV Boot Camp Students Present on their Summer Projects

The Health Informatics, Data Analytics, and Visualization (HiDAV) summer boot camp is a seven week program hosted by ENABLE, an extension of the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP) at UNC Chapel Hill. The boot camp seeks to expose underrepresented minority undergraduate students to principles of biomedical health informatics (BMHI), and encourage them to explore advanced training and careers in this field.

Over the course of the boot camp, students were introduced to a wide range of concepts such as predictive analysis using text mining, analytic model development related to machine learning, and data visualization. To help reinforce engagement and learning of these concepts, our boot camp students were tasked with working together to develop a research project using what they learned from the program, and applying it to an area of interest in healthcare and/or public health. At the end of boot camp, the students gave presentations on their projects and reflected on their experience in gaining critical BMHI skills:

Miguel Anderson and Joseph Fonseca presented their project, titled 'Sub-Topic Classification of HIV-related Opportunistic Infections,' which was established upon three core objectives of creating a predictive text analysis model that could: (1) identify opportunistic infections derived from exploratory analysis; (2) classify common opportunistic infections of immunocompromised patients; and (3) associate features of opportunistic infections to HIV patients. To achieve these objectives, they implemented a hybrid text model that used text mining to identify words related to opportunistic infections associated with HIV. Their model served as a precursory look into the possibilities of using text mining to improve surveillance of disease in target populations.

Kashley Rishforth and Paris Parsons presented on 'Opioid Treatments and the Adverse Effects,' which highlighted the need for provider and patient education in current opioid associated adverse effects. Their project involved the use of text mining software to fetch PubMed Abstracts for opioid and non-opioid related papers on pain management in the clinical setting. The project was done with the goal to provide an early recommendation on opioid-relevant documents to physicians to optimize patient outcomes.

Lastly, Dara Bradley, Kerani Davidson, and La’Presha Whitfield presented their project on 'Socioeconomic and Societal Effects on Influenza Rates in North Carolina.' Their project sought to understand the surveillance of influenza rates in the context of socioeconomic and behavioral characteristics, which are often left out of most traditional disease surveillance measures and reporting. Their hypothesis that diversity in socioeconomic status factors between North Carolina counties had a role in the diversity in rates of influenza reported in these counties was tested using analytic models to compare rates of influenza related to selected population attributes such as health insurance coverage, employment status and poverty level.

Overall, each project spoke as a testament to the diversity of our students in their interests and knowledge gained in biomedical health informatics and public health topics this summer. We hope to continue our success in teaching successive students through our next boot camp, which will begin next May of 2019. Interested students are encouraged to apply.

For more information about the ENABLE HiDAV boot camp, please contact Shikha Yadav, ENABLE Program Coordinator, by email ( or phone (919.962.2208).


© 2023

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Log in with Onyen