VC Firms Eyeing Mobile Health App Investments

Posted on June 22, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Well, well, well. After years of industry growth and excitement that seems to have been lost on investors, the mobile health app industry has finally begun to attract their notice.

On one level, this is merely the logical,  predictable advance of money into an exploding space. The VCs are already all over the health IT space. According to the National Venture Capital Association, HIT investments shot up 78 percent between 2010 and 2011, reports iHealthBeat.

But there’s also a lot of investors looking for the next paradigm-rattling possibility, including both apps and enterprise tech. Just check out the rapidly growing number of VC-backed health incubators, including  Rock Health, StartUp Health, Blueprint Health and healthbox. (To learn more about the incubators, I strongly encourage you to check out the excellent overview of their business models and focus pulled together by The Health Care Blog.)

And the market is producing plenty of opportunities for them to consider. In fact, the market for mobile health apps could grow at 25 percent annually for the next five years, according to Kalorama Information. I’d argue that 2013 will see more like 50 percent growth, but either way, we’re talking big money.

These days, money from both incubators and VC funds is increasingly going to mobile apps, as the iHealthBeat wrap-up notes:

* AirStrip Technologies, which offers an app allowing doctors to view electrocardiograms on the iPhone, got fu nding from the $100 million Qualcomm Life Fund

* Sharecare, which offers doctors online tools helping them connect with potential patients, received $14 million in a funding round led by Galen Partners.

* Kinnser Software, which offers mobile apps and online tools to help home healthcare providers access and record medical data, got an eye-popping $40 million investment from Insight Venture Partners.

Also check out more healthcare IT investments on EMR Thoughts.

While these numbers are big wins for the startup companies involved, they still represent a small percentage of the overall money chasing good healthcare investments. But I predict that this won’t be the case for long.

With the number of highly practical apps useful in remote monitoring, patient care and even decision support increasing — and the bandwidth available on mobile devices climbing rapidly — I’m betting we’ll hear about dozens of pivotal investments in mobile apps this year.

Am I going to take a guess as to which apps are next? Not yet. But stay tuned and I’ll share overviews of the more interesting apps I hear about along the way.  And please feel free to share the news of great, practical, usable apps you’re seeing out there.