Mental health coaching startup Ginger raises $50M



Ginger, a digital health startup that lets users chat with a mental health coach, raised $50 million in funding in a series D round. Advance Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners led the funding round, with participation from Cigna Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, and LinkedIn Executive Chairman Jeff Weiner.

David ibnAle, a founding partner with Advance Venture Partners, and Steve Kraus, a partner with Bessemer Venture Partners, will both join Ginger’s board. To date, the company has raised $120 million.

The San Francisco-based startup connects users with coaches through a text-based chat. They can’t provide the same services as a therapist, but they can send users exercises and encourage them to pursue good sleeping habits and meditation, for example.

For patients who would benefit from more care, Ginger can connect them to a video chat with a healthcare provider. The company contracts with psychiatrists and therapists that then work with its coaches.

Like many telehealth startups, Ginger has seen a surge in visits since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first week of July, it saw a 125% increase in use of its coaching service compared to its averages before the pandemic.

“The goal of this system is to solve for the supply-demand imbalance that exists in mental health,” Ginger CEO Russell Glass said in a phone interview. “Even pre-Covid, there are far more people that have a need that can access it today. It can take weeks to months.”

The service is currently only available to users whose employer or health plan include Ginger as a covered benefit. The company says it has 200 clients, including Delta Air Lines, Sanofi and Chegg. Its insurance partnerships include Optum Behavioral Health, Anthem California and Aetna Resources for Living.

Ginger was initially created in 2011 by two MIT researchers, Anmol Madan and Karan Singh, who started off with the idea of using cell phone activity to predict users’ mental health. For example, if someone was depressed, they might not communicate with others like they normally do, or their daily patterns of going to the work, the gym or the grocery store might change. Novant Health, Kaiser Permanente and 20 other health systems partnered on this early concept.

Since then, the company has pivoted to focus more on providing health coaching and therapy services.  It still uses information “for proprietary analysis and development of personalized behavioral profiles,” according to its privacy policy.

Ginger is one of a number of startups providing mental health services using digital tools. Competitor Lyra Health raised $75 million  earlier this year, and struck a partnership with Starbucks. And UnitedHealth’s Optum subsidiary was reportedly planning to acquire mental health startup AbleTo for $470 million.

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Funding roundup: Billing automation startup Alpha Health raises $20M


Alpha Health, a startup looking to automate billing and reimbursement, raised $20 million in funding. The San Francisco-based company is developing revenue cycle management software to automate complex tasks, by capturing current workflows and then using that information to train machine learning models.

CEO and Co-Founder Malinka Walaliyadde, a former partner at Andreesen Horowitz, said the goal was to reduce financial complexity in reimbursement.

“Complexity in medical reimbursement drives up hidden costs that we all pay; both in terms of dollars spent, and in the erosion of trust by the American public that our healthcare system can serve them well,” he said in a news release. “Alpha Health will be a powerful force for restoring trust in healthcare, by bringing together the best of people, data and technology to address financial complexity in the U.S. healthcare system.”

The startup, founded two years ago, names Sacramento-based Sutter Health as one of its clients.

Andreessen Horowitz led the $20 million funding round, with participation by Costanoa Ventures and Jim Momtazee, former head of healthcare investing for KKR & Co. Andreesen Horowitz also led a previous, $5 million seed round in the company, bringing the total amount invested to $25 million.

Here are some other biopharma and healthcare technology startups that raised funding this week:


Cue Health

Amount: $100 million

Headquarters: San Diego

Cue Health, a company making a connected testing device, raised $100 million in funding. The San Diego-based startup received an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA for its molecular point-of-care Covid-19 test. The company also plans to submit an at-home test for influenza A and B for FDA clearance. Decheng Capital, Foresite Capital, Madrone Capital Partners, Johnson & Johnson Innovation and ACME Capital participated in the series C round.


Amount: $60 million

Headquarters: Boston

PatientPing pulls in admissions, transfer and discharge data from 1,000 hospitals and more than 5,000 post-acute care facilities. The Boston-based company raised a $60 million series C round, led by Andreessen Horowitz, F-Prime Capital, GV and Transformation Capital. With the new funding, PatientPing plans to expand its network and its analytics capabilities.



Amount: $43.9 million

Headquarters: Boston

CereVasc is developing minimally invasive treatments for patients with hydrocephalus, or the buildup of fluid in cavities deep within the brain. The startup has developed a minimally invasive cerebrospinal fluid shunt, intended to avoid the invasive surgeries currently associated with treatment.

The startup raised $43.9 million in series A funding, led by the Perceptive Xontogeny Venture (PXV) Fund and ATON Partners, LLC. It plans to use the capital to support the first clinical trial of its system, which is expected to begin enrollment in the second half of 2020.



Amount: $30 million

Headquarters: Boston

Kyruus, a company that develops provider search and scheduling solutions, raised $30 million in funding from private equity firm Francisco Partners. The Boston-based startup plans to use the new investment to expand its platform to more health systems and providers. With the new investment, Francisco Partners Co-President Ezra Perlman will join Kyruus’ board of directors.


NFlection Therapeutics

Amount: $20 million

Headquarters: Wayne, Pennsylvania

NFlection Therapeutics began clinical trials of its lead project, a topically applied gel to mitigate Neurofibromatosis Type-1, a rare disease characterized by the growth of benign nerve tumors. There are currently no treatments available for this condition.

The study will evaluate three concentrations of this treatment, called NFX-179 Gel. NFlection will enroll 48 patients in the double-blind randomized, controlled trial.  The company raised a $20 million series A funding round with investment from venBio Partners and F-Prime Capital.

Amount: $13M

Headquarters: Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv-based startup says it can measure a number of vital signs just from viewing a person’s face, including heart rate, respiration levels and stress. The startup taps users’ smartphone cameras as a health monitoring tool.

Maverick Ventures Israel led a $13.5 million investment round into the company. Esplanade Ventures, Sompo International, GiTV and IAngels also participated in the funding round.


Conversa Heath

Amount: $12 million

Headquarters: Portland

Conversa Health’s chatbot not only helps triage patients, but it can also be used to monitor patients with chronic conditions or after they are discharged from the hospital. The startup raised a $12 million series B round led by Builders VC and Northwell Health. The company also named a new CEO in Murray Brozinsky, with co-founder West Shell III becoming executive chairman.



Amount: $9.5 million

Headquarters: Boston

CareAcademy, a startup that provides online training for home care and home health workers, raised $9.5 million in funding. More than 110,000 caregivers have already used its platform, and the startup hopes to train 1 million home care workers by 2023. The Impact America Fund led the $9.5 million funding round.

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Just after ASCO, China’s Legend Biotech raises nearly $424M in initial public offering


Fresh off a data presentation of technology it had originally developed at a major cancer conference, a Chinese company that develops cell therapies has made its big debut on a U.S. stock market.

Nanjing-based Legend Biotech said Friday that it had raised $423.8 million in its initial public offering on the Nasdaq, under the stock ticker symbol LEGN. The company initially aimed for a $100 million IPO last month. Shares of the company were scheduled to begin trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on Friday.

Legend was the original developer of a CAR-T cell therapy for multiple myeloma that works by targeting the cell-surface antigen BCMA, which was in-licensed by Johnson & Johnson’s biotech subsidiary and, with a different manufacturing process, is now being developed under the name JNJ-4528.

Data from CARTITUDE-1, J&J’s Phase Ib/II study of JNJ-4528, were presented in an oral session of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2020 annual meeting, which took place virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The data showed that patients – who were heavily pretreated, with a median five prior lines of therapy – achieved a median overall response rate of 100% in 29 patients, of whom 97% achieved a very good partial response, with 86% achieving a stringent complete response.

In terms of the CAR-T’s safety profile, cytokine release syndrome and neurological toxicity occurred in 93% and 10%, respectively, but serious or worse events occurred in only 7% and 3% of patients. The therapy’s favorable toxicity profile has led to an interest in administering it on an outpatient basis, meaning that patients could potentially leave the clinic after infusion, returning to it if they showed signs of serious CRS or neurological events. However, experts have pointed out that equipping CAR-T treatment centers for outpatient use comes with a number of challenges in terms of setting up the needed infrastructure and training staff.

The ASCO meeting saw the presentation of other CAR-Ts for multiple myeloma, which also target BCMA, namely orvacabtagene autoleucel, developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and idecabtagene vicleucel, developed under a partnership between BMS and bluebird bio.

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Startup automating healthcare administration raises $51M


Decentralized clinical trial design

A startup building AI tools for health systems closed a $51 million funding round. Olive AI said it plans to use the new funding to further its growth; Olive’s AI assistant is already used at more than 500 hospitals across 41 states, including large systems such as Centura Health and OhioHealth.

Technology venture capital firm General Catalyst, which has backed Livongo and  Oscar Health, led the $51 million funding round.  Previous investors include Drive Capital, and Ascension Ventures and Oak HC/FT, which previously led a $32.8 million funding round in 2018.

In addition to the funding, Olive AI will gain a new board member in Ron Paulus, the former CEO of North Carolina-based Mission Health. Paulus currently serves as an executive-in-residence with General Catalyst. Part of the firm’s strategy is to partner software startups with experienced executives to grow their business.

Columbus, Ohio-based Olive Health uses AI to automate repetitive, error-prone tasks, such as insurance eligibility checks and code matching. For example, Connecticut-based health system Yale New Haven Health previously stated it was using the system to automate prior authorizations.

Olive Health describes its AI, called Olive, as a “digital employee” that is assigned tasks and can provide updates to a manager. It also says the system is EHR-agnostic.

CEO Sean Lane, a software entrepreneur and former Air Force intelligence officer, founded the company in 2012 after he noticed the technology systems used in healthcare were often disconnected from one another.

“The AI workforce is here, and the days of disconnected bots that don’t learn from each other are over,” Lane said in a news release. “The time is now and this investment enables us to accelerate our vision of the internet of healthcare – where when one Olive learns, all Olives learn.  We’re on a mission to radically change the way healthcare leverages and views an AI workforce.”

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Funding roundup: Element Science raises $145.6M for wearable defibrillators


The next several months will be difficult for many businesses, with the economy slowing as people attempt to mitigate exposure during the Covid-19 pandemic.  But for some startups, venture capital funding has still been trickling in since reports of the first outbreak reached the U.S. Here are a few that raised funding this week:


Element Science

Funding: $145.6 million series C

Headquarters: San Francisco

Element Science plans to use the funds to complete clinical studies and launch its product, a wearable defibrillator designed to detect and treat arrhythmias in patients with an elevated risk of sudden cardiac death. The company is led by Dr. Uday Kumar, a cardiac electrophysiologist that founded iRhythm Technologies.

Deerfield Healthcare and Qiming Venture Partners USA led the funding round, with participation from Cormorant Asset Management, Invus Opportunities, Third Rock Ventures and Google Ventures.



Funding amount: $100 million series G

Headquarters: Chicago

With its most recent funding round, precision medicine startup Tempus said it has a post-money valuation of $5 billion. The company was founded in 2015, and is led by Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky.

Tempus offers genomic sequencing to cancer patients, and works with physicians to help them select the best treatment options based on how other patients have responded. With the new funding, it plans to expand its work into other disease types, including diabetes, depression and cardiology.

Investors in the round included Baillie Gifford, Franklin Templeton, NEA, Novo Holdings, and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price.



Funding amount: $28M series B

Headquarters: Oulu, Finland

One of a slew of electronics companies offering sleep-tracking as a feature, Oura is unique in that its wearable rings are primarily focused on sleep. The company said it has sold 150,000 units of the second version of its ring.

Oura plans to use the funding to grow its team of more than 100 employees, support academic research and launch a marketing campaign. Investors in the most recent round include Forerunner Ventures, Gradient Ventures and Square, with Forerunner Partner Eurie Kim joining Oura’s board.


Quit Genius

Funding amount: $11 million series A

Headquarters: London

Quit Genius, currently offers programs for smoking cessation, and is developing programs for alcohol- and opioid-use disorders. The digital health startup’s product consists of a breath sensor coupled with coaching services.

The company was originally founded by three doctors from Imperial College London.  Octopus Ventures led the funding round with participation from Y Combinator, Startup Health and Triple Point Ventures.

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Insightec raises $150M for incisionless surgery


After it received expanded FDA approval for an incisionless surgical device, Insightec raised new funding that valued the company above $1 billion.

The company closed a $150 million funding round for its surgical ultrasound device, used to treat essential tremor in patients that haven’t responded to medication, and tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease.  Koch Disruptive Technologies, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, led the funding round, bringing Insightec’s post-money valuation to $1.3 billion.

KDT is a repeat investor in the startup, having led a $150 million funding round in Insightec in 2017.

“Our partnership with KDT and other investors is helping to fuel our momentum as a rapidly growing number of medical institutions adopt our focused ultrasound technology,” CEO and Chairman Dr. Maurice Ferré said in a news release. “This new investment demonstrates our investors’ commitment to help drive the next generation of focused ultrasound.”

In 2016, Insightec received FDA approval for its surgical device, a magnetic resonance guided focused ultrasound. It was initially approved to treat patients with essential tremor that are not responsive to medication, and was later expanded for the treatment of tremor-dominant Parkinson’s disease.

How it works: Insightec’s device uses high intensity sound waves to ablate the thalamus, leading to a reduction in hand tremors. Unlike traditional surgeries, the process doesn’t require an incision. However, the surgery can only be conducted on one side of the brain, meaning it would only apply to the dominant hand.

Medications are still the preferred method of treatment for tremors. For more severe cases, when they don’t work, deep brain stimulation surgery is the standard of care, where electrodes are used to stimulate the thalamus, blocking the signals that cause tremors.

Insightec had initially focused on using the technology for other types of surgeries, such as for uterine fibroids. It received FDA approval for these other indications years ago, but didn’t see much traction with hospitals.

Ferré, former CEO of surgical robotics company MAKO Corp., which was later sold to Stryker Corp., guided the company toward its current focus on neurology.

Insightec, which has its global headquarters in Israel and its U.S. headquarters in Miami, has sold its technology to more than 65 health systems around the world.  A study that was published in Neurology and funding in part by Insightec showed that of 76 patients with essential tremor, 58% of reported an improvement of at least 50% in their hand tremors and function at the three-year point.


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Startup raises $15M to help prevent and treat opioid addiction


Opioid pills
A startup building tools to prevent opioid addiction closed a $15 million funding round. AxialHealthcare raised the new funds from previous investors, including Oak HC/FT, .406 Ventures, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners and the Sandbox Advantage Fund. The company plans to use the additional funds to build tools to support patients struggling with addiction and connect them with resources in their communities.

“It’s not one size fits all. We want to go really deep into communities and understand exactly how the epidemics affect the community, what providers are there and which providers offer quality care,” said Carter Paine, who became axialHealthcare’s CEO last year. “We plan to use the funding to support our expansion in terms of putting feet on the street in those communities that we serve.”

Nashville-based axialHealthcare originally started as an analytics company, which analyzed claims data to help providers identify patients at risk of addiction. For example, it can show how many other physicians have prescribed a patient opioids in the past, or if they had been admitted to the ER for an overdose. The company struck a partnership with Surescripts in 2018 to add prescription fill data to its platform.

Now, axialHealthcare is building out tools for patients and their families to help them navigate substance use disorder treatment and recovery. For example, it has a tool that directs patients to the top-performing pain care providers. It also helps them connect to community resources, such as transportation, housing or job assistance programs.

“It’s one of the hardest areas to navigate. Patients and families are often just going to Google, which is not enough info on where is there high-quality treatment in community and what is the right level of care for a patient as they deal with this disease,” Paine said.

The startup also has a separate app that directly engages patients, connecting them to a health coach that can support them in their treatment.

“We want to be that trusted support and advocate,” Paine said. “It’s a wickedly hard disease to conquer or to go into remission on. Anyone who has gone through this would tell you they had people they leaned on as they go through recovery.”

Oak HC/FT General Partner Nancy Brown, who joined axialHealthcare’s board in 2016 after her firm led a $16.5 million round in the startup, said the company broadening its tools across the entire spectrum from substance abuse to treatment would allow it to have a bigger impact.

“We have been focused on solutions associated with the opioid addiction crisis since our earlier investment in axial. It became clear that in order to have the substantial and sustained impact we hoped for we needed to broaden our tools to support the entire continuum from prevention to treatment,” she said in an emailed statement. “Carter Paine is an experienced leader who has proven ability to take a disconnected healthcare ecosystem and provide tech enabled services to drive improvement to clinical outcomes and costs at scale.”

Paine joined axialHealthcare last year from his previous startup, NaviHealth, a post-acute care company. AxialHealthcare’s former CEO, John Donahue, became executive chairman of the company last year.

Seven health plans currently use axialHealthcare services, covering a few million members. In addition to building out its platforms, the company plans to build out the number of clients it serves.

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Benefits assistant HealthJoy raises $30M


HealthJoy, a Chicago-based startup that makes it easier for employees to access their benefits, closed a $30 million series C funding round. Health Velocity Capital led the funding round, according to TechCrunch, with participation from past investors including U.S. Venture Partners, Chicago Ventures and Epic Ventures.

The company’s app directs patients to a chatbot called JOY, which answers questions about health benefits and routes requests for more information to the right specialists.

HealthJoy also offers services to help users find prescription discounts or cheaper alternatives, and review medical bills for potential errors. It also has a feature that allows members to search providers for a certain procedure, such as a hip replacement, to find high quality, lower-cost providers.  The startup recently added a new service that rewards patients for “shopping” for health services.

Technologists Justin Holland and Doug Morse-Schindler founded the company in 2014. Holland, the company’s CEO, started HealthJoy after trying to search for an affordable MRI provider under his high-deductible insurance plan, and realizing how difficult of a task it was to find one.

Holland had sold his previous startup, FreeCause, which allowed loyalty programs to reward members for their online activity. Morse-Schindler became the startup’s president, after serving as a senior director of AVG Technologies, a subsidiary of Avast that develops anti-virus software.

The startup initially focused its efforts on the individual market, where it served 60,000 members across different ACA insurance plans. In 2016, the company pivoted to focus on employer benefits — a move that appears to have worked out well for HealthJoy.

The new funding will be used to add more features to the virtual assistant, develop new services for HealthJoy and build out its partnerships. So far, HealthJoy works with 500 companies, with the goal of serving more small and medium businesses, according to TechCrunch. The company claims its services can lower healthcare costs and boost employees’ satisfaction with their benefits.

“We keep employees engaged and educated year-round, meaning fewer questions for HR and a better employee benefits experience,” HealthJoy Chief Marketing Officer Rick Ramos wrote in an email. “Our new funding will allow us to drastically improve our product and include additional intelligence into many parts of our product, including our virtual assistant. We want JOY to be more proactive and synthesize more real-time benefits information. We plan to improve every aspect of the member’s journey year-round.”

Health Velocity Capital Partner Saurabh Bhansali will join the company’s board of directors. To date, HealthJoy has raised $53 million, including a $12.5 million funding round the company closed a year ago.


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Innovaccer raises $70M, adds former Athenahealth CEO to board


Innovaccer, a software startup rolling up patients’ health records into one platform, closed a $70 million funding round.  The San Francisco-based company plans to use the new funds to build out its platform, which has processed more than 3.8 million patient records to date.

The company pulls information from health plans, pharmacies, primary care providers, hospitals and labs by connecting with more than 200 different IT vendors. It uses this information to help providers better coordinate patient care and provide analytics on care quality and utilization. Some of its customers include Hartford Healthcare, Catholic Health Initiatives, Orlando Health and Stratifi Health.

“Healthcare still needs a lot of work to become patient-centered and connected by organizing information and making it more accessible,” Innovaccer CEO and Co-Founder Abhinav Shashank said in a news release. “The vision of helping healthcare organizations care as one needs a connected and open technology framework. We are excited to be at the forefront of providing the tech platform for our customers to drive that change.”

Investors for the round included Tiger Global Management, Steadview Capital, Dragoneer Investment Group, Westbridge, Abu Dhabi-based investment firm Mudadala and M12. The latter, Microsoft’s investment arm, participated in Innovaccer’s series B round last year. To date, Innovaccer has raised a total of $120 million in capital.

“We are excited to partner with Innovaccer which is working with top care organizations in the U.S. to transform healthcare to value-based care,” said Ravi Mehta, founder and managing director of Hong Kong-based hedge fund Steadview Capital said in a news release. “By using their connected care framework coupled with their leading-edge data aggregation and analytics platform, they are unifying patient records and enabling care teams to coordinate patient care at a new level.”

Innovaccer also added a well-known healthcare executive to its board in the last month. The company named former Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush to its board on Feb. 7, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Bush helped co-found the health IT company in 1997. He stepped down suddenly in 2018, facing allegations of misconduct and pressure from an activist investor to sell the company.

In the next few years Innovaccer’s goal is to generate 100 million unified patient records for 500,000 providers. The company claims it has generated more than $400 million in savings for its clients by automating workflows and helping better coordinate patient care.

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Primary care startup Iora Health raises $126M


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Iora Health, a startup that operates primary care clinics focused on Medicare patients, raised $126 million in a series F round. The new funds are in addition to the more than $220 million Iora has raised to date.

The Boston-based company currently has 48 practices across the U.S., a significant increase from the 24 practices it had in 2018, when it raised $100 million. Iora claims it can reduce patient hospitalizations through its model, where physicians charge a flat fee per patient visit rather than billing for every service provided. The company also gives its patients access to health coaches and has built its own software platform, which it uses to share records and visit information with patients.

Premji Invest, the billion-dollar investment group created by Wipro Chairman Azim Premji, led the $126 million funding round. The Bangalore-based family office has largely invested in tech companies, though it also participated in insurance startup Devote Health’s most recent funding round.

“At Premji Invest, we see the dire need – and ripe opportunity – for innovation in healthcare,” Dhiraj Malkani, a partner with Premji Invest, said in a news release. “The team at Iora is at the forefront of this transformation. The impact they have already made on the thousands of patients they serve is impressive and we’re most excited about the future development and growth that will lead to making even larger impact on both people and the bottom line.”

Previous investors Flare Capital Partners, Temasek F-Prime Capital, Cox Enterprises, Devonshire Investors, .406 Ventures, Polaris Partners and Khosla Ventures also participated in the round.

Iora Health said in plans to use the new funds to accelerate its growth and add new features to its technology platform, Chirp. The company also plans to certify its platform as Medicare electronic health record system, with new features to generate electronic patient information and share encrypted health information with non-Iora providers.

Iora Health CEO Dr. Rushika Fernandopulle said the funding round was a testament to Iora’s business model and progress, “and the industry’s — and especially our investors’ — confidence in the future impact Iora will make on the industry and more specifically on all of our patients’ lives.”

A physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, he co-founded the company in 2011.

As Iora Health raises funding, the competition is also heating up. Other companies are taking a closer look at Medicare, including CVS, which hired Iora’s former CMO to head up its walk-in clinics.

But Iora Health also has some significant partners. The company expanded an existing partnership with Humana in September to open 11 new clinics in Arizona, Georgia and Texas. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts also include Iora Health in their networks.


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