Better Health raises $3.5M seed round to reinvent medical supply shopping through e-commerce

The home medical supply market in the U.S. is significant and growing, but the way that Americans go about getting much-needed medical supplies, particularly for those with chronic conditions, relies on outdated and clumsy sales mechanisms that often have very poor customer experiences. New startup Better Health aims to change that, with an e-commerce approach to serving customers in need of medical supplies for chronic conditions, and it has raised $3.5 million in a new seed round to pursue its goals.

Better Health estimates the total value of the home medical supplies market in the U.S., which covers all reimbursable devices and supplies needed for chronic conditions, including things like colostomy bags, catheters, mobility aids, insulin pumps and more, is around $60 billion annually. But the market is obviously a specialized one relative to other specialized goods businesses, in part because it requires working not only with customers who make the final decisions about what supplies to use, but also payers, who typically foot the bill through insurance reimbursements.

The other challenge is that individuals with chronic care needs often require a lot of guidance and support when making the decision about what equipment and supplies to select — and the choices they make can have a significant impact on quality of life. Better Health co-founder and CEO Naama Stauber Breckler explained how she came to identify the problems in the industry, and why she set out to address them.

“The first company I started was right out of school, it’s called CompactCath,” she explained in an interview. “We created a novel intermittent catheter, because we identified that there’s a gap in the existing options for people with chronic bladder issues that need to use a catheter on a day-to-day basis […] In the process of bringing it to market, I was exposed to the medical devices and supplies industry. I was just shocked when I realized how hard it is for people today to get life-saving medical supplies, and basically realized that it’s not just about inventing a better product, there’s kind of a bigger systematic problem that locks consumer choice, and also prevents innovation in the space.”

Stauber Breckler’s founding story isn’t too dissimilar from the founding story of another e-commerce pioneer: Shopify. The now-public heavyweight originally got started when founder Tobi Lütke, himself a software engineer like Stauber Breckler, found that the available options for running his online snowboard store were poorly designed and built. With Better Health, she’s created a marketplace, rather than a platform like Shopify, but the pain points and desire to address the problem at a more fundamental level are the same.

Better Health Head of Product Adam Breckler, left, and CEO Naama Stauber Breckler, right

With CompactCath, she said they ended up having to build their own direct-to-consumer marketing and sales product, and through that process, they ended up talking to thousands of customers with chronic conditions about their experiences, and what they found exposed the extend of the problems in the existing market.

“We kept hearing the same stories again, and again — it’s hard to find the right supplier, often it’s a local store, the process is extremely manual and lengthy and prone to errors, they get the surprise bills they weren’t expecting,” Stauber Breckler said. “But mostly, it’s just that there is this really sharp drop in care, from the time that you have a surgery or you were diagnosed, to when you need to now start using this device, when you’re essentially left at home and are given a general prescription.”

Unlike in the prescription drug market, where your choices essentially amount to whether you pick the brand name or the generic, and the outcome is pretty much the same regardless, in medical supplies which solution you choose can have a dramatically different effect on your experience. Customers might not be aware, for example, that something like CompactCath exists, and would instead chose a different catheter option that limits their mobility because of how frequently it needs changing and how intensive the process is. Physicians and medical professionals also might not be the best to advise them on their choice, because while they’ve obviously seen patients with these conditions, they generally haven’t lived with them themselves.

“We have talked to people who tell us, ‘I’ve had an ostomy for 19 years, and this is the first time I don’t have constant leakages’ or someone who had been using a catheter for three years and hasn’t left her house for more than two hours, because they didn’t feel comfortable with the product that they had to use it in a public restroom,” Stauber Breckler said. “So they told us things like ‘I finally went to visit my parents, they live in a town three hours away.’”

Better Health can provide this kind fo clarity to customers because it employs advisors who can talk patients through the equipment selection process with one-to-one coaching and product use education. The startup also helps with navigating the insurance side, managing paperwork, estimating costs and even arguing the case for a specific piece of equipment in case of difficulty getting the claim approved. The company leverages peers who have first-hand experience with the chronic conditions it serves to help better serve its customers.

Already, Better Health is a Medicare-licensed provider in 48 states, and it has partnerships in place with commercial providers like Humana and Oscar Health. This funding round was led by 8VC, a firm with plenty of expertise in the healthcare industry and an investor in Stauber Breckler’s prior ventures, and includes participation from Caffeinated Capital, Anorak Ventures, and angels Robert Hurley and Scott Flanders of remote health pioneer eHealth.

#8vc, #advisors, #caffeinated-capital, #health, #healthcare-industry, #humana, #medicare, #medicine, #oscar, #oscar-health, #pain, #port, #robert-hurley, #shopify, #software-engineer, #surgery, #tc, #united-states

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Insuretech startup Counterpart raises $10M in funding round led by Valor Equity Partners

Insuretech startup Counterpart, has raised $10 million in funding led by Valor Equity Partners. Also participating was Susa Ventures and Felicis Ventures. Counterpart works in the ‘management liability’ insurance market. Counterpart will also partner with Markel Specialty, a specialty insurance division of Markel Corporation, to offer its management liability insurance products.

Insuretech startups like Oscar, Lemonade, and Root have made incursions into personal insurance. What has been less prevalent, says Counterpart, is startups tackling the $300bn corporate insurance market.

Counterpart is competing with Next Insurance which has raised $631M, and which also provides small business liability insurance, as well as the big insurance carriers, from AIG to Berkshire Hathaway.

Counterpart is used by some wholesale brokers in the United States to allow small to medium businesses get insurance coverage, because it digitizes much of the process, from application submission, coverage selection, binding, claims management, and loss prevention. Counterpart says this market has become less attractive to insurance carriers because of the increasing claims costs and severity, and their lack of digitization of the process.

Tanner Hackett, founder, and CEO, said in a statement: “The $1.2tn insurance industry is going through a digital revolution.. We saw an outsized opportunity with management liability, a critical insurance line in which we have unique expertise.”
 
Valor Equity Partners partner and Counterpart board member Jon Shulkin said: “Counterpart’s platform goes beyond the scope of a traditional insurer, layering in insights, tools, and services to help business stakeholders navigate this extremely challenging operating environment.”

Valor was an early backer of Tesla, SpaceX, Addepar, and GoPuff. Susa has previously backed Robinhood, PolicyGenius, and Newfront Insurance. Felicis has funded Hippo, Plaid, and Credit Karma.

#addepar, #board-member, #ceo, #companies, #credit-karma, #europe, #felicis-ventures, #insurance, #lemonade, #newfront-insurance, #oscar, #spacex, #susa-ventures, #tc, #tesla, #united-states, #valor-equity-partners

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SoftBank makes mountains of cash off of human laziness

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

Natasha and Danny and Alex and Grace were all here to chat through the week’s biggest tech happenings. It was yet another crazy week, but did our best to get through as much of it as we could. Here’s the rundown, in case you are reading along with us!

  • Square is buying Tidal in a deal that some are skeptical of, but one about which we found quite a lot to like.
  • How capital-as-a-service can get you your first check in 2021, and a nod to Indie.VC, a pioneer in alternative financing for startups that announced it is shutting down net new investments this year.
  • Oscar Health priced its IPO above its raised range, which was good for it in terms of fundraising. However, since its debut the company has lost pricing altitude. Its declines mimic those of other public neo-insurance proivders in what could be a new trend.
  • And sticking to the insurtech beat, Hippo is going public via a SPAC. Because everyone else is?
  • Compass filed its S-1, which triggered a debate on how its different than OpenDoor.
  • Coupang’s IPO is also coming, replete with huge growth, an improving profitability picture, and a massive valuation. This is one to watch.
  • There was also a whole global news circuit around grocery delivery startups, with Instacart raising at a $39 billion valuation.
  • And we wrapped with the Surreal seed round that we found to be more than a little spicy. As it turns out, commercialized deepfakes are not merely on the way; they are here.

And with that we are back on Monday. Have a rocking weekend!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PST, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00 AM PST, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts!

#clearbanc, #compass, #coupang, #equity, #equity-podcast, #fundings-exits, #grocery-delivery, #hippo, #indie-vc, #instacart, #insurtech, #opendoor, #oscar, #oscar-health, #square, #startups, #surreal, #tidal

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Springtide, an autism treatment center network, raises $15.6 million

With one in 54 children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in the US, the issue of how to treat patients diagnosed with the condition has become almost as acute as the prevalence of the condition itself.

That’s one reason why Jia Jia Ye and the team at the healthcare startup studio Redesign Health, were able to raise $15.6 million in a recent round of funding for the new startup, Springtide Child Development.

A longtime executive in the healthcare industry with previous stints at OneMedical and Oscar, Ye and Redesign Health’s team began talking two years ago about potential business ideas. The group settled on autism care because of what they saw as the clear need in the market, Ye said.

“Why this immediately clicked is that the supply and demand imbalance was super clear,” Ye said. 

Simply put, Springtide combines the concierge medical business model with early childcare and education businesses like Sylvan Learning to offer autism care through specialists and a team of registered behavioral technicians.

To ensure that as many people as possible can use Springtide’s services the company takes both private insurance and Medicaid.

So far, the company has one clinic set up in Connecticut providing both remote and in-person services, and it plans to launch several sites throughout the Northeast on the back of its $15.6 million in financing.

Joining Ye in designing the company’s facilities and treatment services is Dr. Tiva Pierce, who previously worked at Constellation Health Services, which provides behavioral and physical healthcare through schools.

Like many companies which had an in-person services model, Springtide had to pivot to delivering remote care as soon as the pandemic lockdowns hit the Northeast.

Image Credit: Thetaree Sarmkasat iStock / Getty Images Plus

The company charges Medicad $46 per hour and commercial payers will be charged between $50 and $60 per hour, but the company’s services will only cost families their typical co-pay and deductible.

Taking Medicaid was a priority, Ye said, to increase access for more people who need it.

Already, the families in the US spend about $17 billion on ABA therapy, according to Ye. And the overall spending on autism related issues is $68 billion, she said.

The financing, which came from Deerfield Management and Optum Ventures, will be used to expand the company’s footprint and staff, which currently numbers roughly 30 employees.

“The rapidly growing autism care market is highly fragmented and uncoordinated, which creates significant challenges for children and their families who deserve to have access to care that is consistently of exceptional quality,” said Julian Harris, M.D., Partner at Deerfield. “Springtide offers an interdisciplinary, in-center care experience with a tech-enabled wrap-around for families who want their children to get all of their care in one setting.  With an emphasis on outcomes measurement, we hope that Springtide can serve as a platform for care and research, ultimately establishing the gold standard in this field.

#autism, #connecticut, #executive, #getty-images, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #medicaid, #optum, #optum-ventures, #oscar, #tc, #united-states

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Khosla Ventures seeks $1.1 billion for its latest fund

Khosla Ventures, the eponymous venture firm helmed by longtime Silicon Valley rainmaker, Vinod Khosla, is raising  $1.1 billion for its latest venture fund, according to documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The filing was first spotted by Ari Levy over at CNBC.

Khosla, whose investing career began at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (back when it was still called Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) is rightly famous for a number of bets on enterprise software companies and was a richly rewarded co-founder of Sun Microsystems before venturing into the world of venture capital.

Like his former partner, John Doerr, Khosla also went all-in on renewable energy and sustainability both at Kleiner Perkins and then later at his own fund, which he reportedly launched with several hundreds of millions of dollars from his personal fortune.

Over the years Khosla Ventures has placed bets and scored big wins across a wide range of industries including cybersecurity (with the over $1 billion acquisition of portfolio company Cylance), sustainability (with the Climate Corp. acquisition), and healthcare (through the public offering of Editas).

And the current portfolio should also have some big exits with a roster that includes: the unicorn lending company, Affirm; the nuclear fusion technology developer, Commonwealth Fusion Systems (maybe not a winner, but so so so cool); delivery company, DoorDash; the meat replacement maker, Impossible Foods; grocery delivery service, Instacart; security technology developer, Okta; the health insurance provider, Oscar; and the payment companies Square and Stripe .

That’s quite a string of unicorn (and would-be unicorn) investments. And it speaks to the breadth of the firm’s interests that run the gamut from healthcare to fintech to sustainability and the future of food.

Khosla will likely benefit from the surge of interest in investments that adhere to new environmental, social responsibility and corporate governance standards.

There are billions of dollars that are looking for a home that can invest along those criteria, and for the last 16 years or so, that’s exactly what Khosla Ventures has been doing.

#affirm, #cylance, #doordash, #impossible-foods, #instacart, #john-doerr, #khosla-ventures, #kleiner-perkins, #okta, #oscar, #stripe, #sun-microsystems, #tc, #vinod-khosla

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Watch the trailer for Netflix’s new family space drama about a mission to Mars

As deep space missions and Mars colonies continue to shift from science fiction to potential near future reality, it’s not surprising to see Hollywood think about different types of stories to tell about space exploration. Away, a new series from Netflix premiering on September 4, looks like that kind of story.

The show stars Oscar-winner Hilary Swank, and is created by the people behind Parenthood and Friday Night Lights. It’s a show about an astronaut mission to Mars – but it’s clearly also about the family drama and tensions that arise, both for those in space on a multi-year long-duration mission, and for the families they left back home on Earth.

The show also looks to feature The Good Wife’s Josh Charles in a key supporting role, which is awesome because he’s fantastic. Given the level of talent, the pedigree of the show runners and the space setting, this looks like a fantastic recipe for a great new show. The first season will be available to stream on September 4 on Netflix.

#aerospace, #astronaut, #netflix, #oscar, #outer-space, #science-fiction, #space, #spaceflight, #tc

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Clever Care Health Plan launches with a holistic healing spin on Medicare Advantage programs

Angling for a slice of the multi-billion dollar Medicare Advantage market with a pitch to integrate holistic medical practitioners into its network of service providers has netted Clever Care Health Plan some big backers and a huge market opportunity, the company says.

The company has raised $23 million in a new round of funding from investors led by Norwest Partners for its unique take on how to create a new network of healthcare providers for potential Medicare Advantage beneficiaries.

Several healthcare startups have raised hundreds of millions of dollars to tackle the Medicare Advantage opportunity. These include companies like Bright Health, Clover Health, Devoted Health, and Oscar, but, to-date, none have tried to put an emphasis on cultural sensitivity and holistic healing that chief operating officer Myong Lee and his co-founders settled on.

Joining Lee in the launch of Clever Care’s services are chief executive David Firdaus and chief financial officer Hiep Pham. The three have a long history of working together at other health plans. 

We’re looking to have a really unique supplemental benefit on the Eastern Medicine side,” said Lee of the company’s pitch.

Of course, there’s one hitch. Whether the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will approve the treatments for coverage. ““All of this is predicated on CMS approval,” Lee acknowledged.

Already, CMS has identified some holistic medical treatments — notably acupuncture — as eligible for coverage, and Lee and his team are hoping that more approvals could be forthcoming. 

Lee said that the problem was particularly acute for California’s aging immigrant population, which does not necessarily feel comfortable accessing the current healthcare system. Often, these populations are comprised of people who don’t speak English very well and whose needs are going unmet by current providers.

Using his own parents as an example, he said, “There wasn’t anything from their perspective. Nothing that spoke to them from an Eastern Medicine perspective.”

As Norwest general partner Casper de Clerq noted, Medicare Advantage has grown to encompass roughly 35% of all Medicare recipients. “There are 64 million Medicare members and 22 million are on Medicare Advnatage,” de Clerq said. “As this market matures it’s going to become more and more specialized and more niche with different populations that are not properly served. This hyperlocal phenomenon will be more and more important.”

The company said it would use the capital to establish its California Medicare Advantage health plan and hire staff for its two offices in Little Saigon in Orange County and Arcadia in Los Angeles County. 

“Medicare spending was 15 percent of total federal spending in 2018 and is projected to nearly double due to the retirement of the Baby Boom Generation and the rapid growth of per capita healthcare costs,” said Sean Doolan, healthcare partner at Global Founders Capital, which joined the round alongside Norwest. “We are excited to partner with the Clever Care Health Plan team and fully believe in their bold vision to create a progressive and affordable Medicare Advantage plan that will dramatically expand access to high quality care for diverse communities.”

#articles, #bright-health, #california, #chief-financial-officer, #chief-operating-officer, #clover-health, #devoted-health, #global-founders-capital, #health, #healthcare, #medicare, #norwest-partners, #oscar, #partner, #tc

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Er trug es auf Händen – Joaquin Phoenix rettet Kalb vorm Schlachter

Joaquin Phoenix rettet Kalb vorm Schlachter: Er trug es auf Händen in die Freiheit US-Schauspieler Joaquin Phoenix (45) ist bekennender Tierschützer. Zuletzt bekam er viel Zuspruch aus der veganen Community.
Foto: Jennifer Graylock / dpa

#joker, #leute, #oscar, #peta, #phoenix-joaquin

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