Welcome to Insider Healthcare. I'm Megan Hernbroth, the startups and venture capital reporter for our healthcare team. Here's what happened this week in healthcare news:
- Here's a pitch deck that one founder used in the 'most painless fundraise of all time';
- Startups are banking on Medicare's direct-contracting program; and
- CVS enters the VC game with a new $100 million fund.
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Vori, an MSK care startup, is just the latest startup to announce an 8-figure early-stage funding round when it came out with its $45 million Series A on Friday.
NEA general partner Mohamad Makhzoumi led the investment in Vori and told Insider that the process was one of the "most painless fundraises of all time."
Healthcare startups are still riding the pandemic-induced record levels of investment activity, with Q1 2021 numbers already setting all-time highs, according to healthcare VC firm Rock Health. It's never been a better time to be a healthcare startup.
A new Medicare program promises to be a 'huge' revenue opportunity for primary-care upstarts, but profiting from it won't be easy
In other startup news, Clover Health, Iora Health, Oak Street Health, VillageMD, and a number of other hot healthcare upstarts are all participating in a brand-new federal program that promises them thousands of new patients and a big boost to their top lines.
The Medicare "direct contracting" program kicked off on April 1 with more than 50 organizations participating. It's an experiment to find new ways to lower costs for Medicare, the federal program that provides health coverage for the elderly and some disabled people.
But, as Shelby Livingston wrote this week, profiting off the program won't be easy.
CVS is late to launching a VC fund, but plans to make a splash with its $100 million fund announced in April. Other big healthcare companies like UnitedHealth's Optum, Humana, and Cigna already have corporate VC arms.
While CVS and its health insurer Aetna previously have made more than 20 direct investments in companies, the new fund will give it a focused portfolio of early-stage health-tech companies.
Shelby spoke with CEO Karen Lynch ahead of the pharmacy giant's earnings to learn more about her plans for the fund, which looks likely to develop into a promising acquisition pipeline down the road.
"The intent here is to really have a good view on digital-tech innovation," she said. "They may present themselves as opportunities for potential M&A. They may present opportunities for partnerships, or they just might be an area that we invest in. This gives us insight into the front edge of innovation."
Finally, here's what's happening in non-startup healthcare news this week:
- Andrew Dunn took a look at Moderna's booster vaccine, which included an updated vaccine tailored against the B.1.351 coronavirus variant that worked best, the company said.
- Our news team covered the Biden administration's support for waiving intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines as a way to help make vaccines more available to developing nations.
- Blake Dodge got the scoop on Amazon Care's first healthcare customer.
- Allison DeAngelis profiled the wave of mega-biotech companies fueled by record-breaking investments and consolidation.