Rock Health, StartUp Health: Q1 digital health funding down from last year

By Jonah Comstock
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As the numbers roll in for first quarter digital health funding, both Rock Health and StartUp Health, two companies that track funding and other data points about digital health, are reporting that the numbers are lagging behind last year's first quarter. Overall, last year was a record-breaker for digital health investments and, as Rock Health analyst Teresa Wang writes, "the big question entering 2015 was whether or not this growth would continue and it’s still too early to tell."

rock health q1 2015

StartUp Health reports $900 million in digital health funding this quarter, while Rock Health puts that number at $630 million, but both agree that it's slightly less than Q1 last year, which StartUp had at $1.5 billion and Rock Health had at $700 million. (We've written before about the funding methodologies that lead to discrepancies between the two groups. Broadly speaking, Rock Health's process is a bit more conservative than most as it only includes funding rounds that are more than $2 million, avoids conflating investment dollars with transactional costs associated with M&A, and has a stricter definition of a digital health company than StartUp Health does.)

Both reports also agree pretty closely on the breakdown of early and late stage deals -- a rise in the latter can indicate that a space is becoming seriously established and not just a hotbed for new startup ideas. Both groups reported reported that 21 percent of deals were series B this quarter, while Series A and seed rounds together accounted for 60 percent of Q1 deals in the Rock Health report and 59 percent in StartUp Health's version.

Another point of agreement was the top category for investment: Big data and analytics. Startup Health reported $202 million invested so far in that category, while Rock Health had $107 million. StartUp Health had wellness in the number two spot with $137 million invested, while Rock Health's number two (and StartUp Health's number 3) went to consumer/patient engagement, with $107 million (StartUp Health) or $68 million (Rock Health) invested.

Rock Health also noted that it was a record quarter for mergers and acquisitions with 42 deals (there were only 95 total in 2014). They highlighted major deals like Under Armour buying MyFitnessPal and Endomondo, Fitbit acquiring FitStar, and athenahealth's acquisition of Beth Israel Deaconess's EHR system.

In Startup Health's report, the top five companies received 30 percent of all the funding this quarter. They were: HealthCatalyst with $70 million, BioNano with $68 million, ClassPass with $40 million, AdvanceHealth with $40 million, and WellTok with $37 million. They also noted that GE Ventures already has five deals this quarter, despite only having made four digital health investments in all of 2014.

Both companies made an effort to find a silver lining to the lower funding numbers.

StartUp Health attributed it to "an increase in investor focus" and called it a sign of a maturing market, while Rock Health used trailing twelve months (TTM) year-over-year data to position the quarterly funding as -- at least in that context -- an increase over the year before.

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