Health2Sync, a Taiwanese diabetes management startup, has raised $3 million in a round led by WI Harper Group; with participation from Cherubic Ventures, iSeed Ventures, and SparkLabs Global Ventures. The investors are mostly firms with a presence in both Silicon Valley and in Asia. Funds will be used to expand the program outside of Taiwan and into surrounding markets, especially Japan.
The company provides a multi-part patient management platform that includes a patient-facing app, a cable that connects different kinds of glucometers to a smartphone, and a data analytics engine that uses patient data to make automated, personalized recommendations.
“[In Taiwan,] the certified diabetes educator to patient ratio is about 1:900,” Ed Deng, CEO of Health2Sync, told MobiHealthNews. “When you include all of Asia, including South Asia, that ratio skyrockets to 1:25,000. … Because there’s a huge shortage, we thought about building a platform that would be smarter. That would really make the practice, the clinical practice more efficient by the time we get to China, by the time we get to Southeast Asia.”
The lack of diabetes educators is only one part of what makes Asian markets a good target for the software, Deng said. They also have a different reimbursement environment than the US. In Southeast Asia, the company intends to partner with insurers to distribute their technology (elsewhere they’ve worked with providers).
“In Southeast Asia, we are actually in discussion with insurance companies to offer protection for diabetics that otherwise would have been rejected outright, because in this part of the world diabetics don’t get coverage,” Deng said. “The market strategy there isn’t necessarily to put our own boots on the ground, to go after, clinics, to go after hospitals, but it’s to really work with payers in going after that market.”
Though Health2Sync might target the US market eventually, right now there’s a lot of ground to cover in Asia. Japan — which has very high smartphone adoption and health literacy — is the company’s immediate goal, followed by Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, and China, which Deng says the company will only enter if they have distribution partners, since the market there is so large and competitive. But he thinks Health2Sync has a lot to recommend it, even in a crowded market like China.
“What really differentiates us is number one the smart analytics, number two the partner function we have — it’s like a messenger component we’ve built into our app,” Deng said. “And the third is, we get a lot of feedback from our users telling us our data entry design is very intuitive and user-friendly. Not many apps have blood pressure logging, have body fat and weight tracking. We released that earlier this year because a lot of our patients also track weight, blood pressure, and body fat."
Deng says the company is working on a Bluetooth dongle and already has Bluetooth connectivity built into their SDK, but most customers now are happy to use the cable, or even to just manually enter their glucose readings.