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Healthy Investment

Pepper hosts 2019 Mid-Atlantic Health Care IT Forum with Philadelphia Health IT Circle

5/14/2019
Healthy Investment

The health care industry is evolving. Whether it is payors advocating for value-based payment models or providers focusing on enhanced patient engagement and communication, every aspect of the health care ecosystem is undergoing change — and health care technology is making it possible. The robust health care IT market, and investor activity in the space, were the topics of the second annual Mid-Atlantic Health Care IT Forum, hosted by Pepper Hamilton in partnership with the Philadelphia Health IT Circle.

Tom Dwyer welcomed guests to Health Care IT ForumPepper partner Thomas P. Dwyer opened the event by welcoming returning attendees and discussing the current state of the health care IT market.

“The health care IT space is certainly accelerating,” Dwyer said. “Transaction activity has been very healthy. In the M&A space, there were 283 deals with $37 billion in transaction value. Investment activity has also been good, with 530 deals and $10 billion in investment value.”

As one example of success in the industry, Dwyer cited Proscia, a digital pathology company that presented at the 2018 Health Care IT Forum. Since its presentation, Proscia has raised more than $10 million in funding from venture capital and strategic health care investors.

Dwyer then introduced the event’s investor panel, which featured Glen Bressner, managing partner, Activate Venture Partners; Bruce Luehrs, general partner and co-founder, Rittenhouse Ventures; and Matt Rice, partner, Ballast Point Ventures. Dwyer kicked off the discussion by asking each panelist to describe what their firms look for in health care investments.

Rice noted that Ballast Point Ventures, which is based in Tampa, Florida, splits its investments between companies in the technology and business services areas and companies in health care. Its health care investments include companies in the health care services, health care IT, pharmaceutical, medical device, and pharmaceutical services spaces, with a focus on capital-efficient businesses that serve payor and provider markets.

Luehrs’s firm focuses on early-stage companies where Rittenhouse Ventures can provide the first institutional round of capital. Rittenhouse focuses exclusively on tech companies and does not invest in biologics or other companies focused on drug development. He noted that Rittenhouse invests largely in the Mid-Atlantic area.

“Philadelphia has been a great region for us,” he said.

Like Luehrs, Bressner said Activate Venture Partners focuses on the Mid-Atlantic region and invests in early-stage companies. When choosing an investment opportunity, his firm looks for deep industry knowledge.

“We’re looking for people with a lot of domain experience in the industries in which they’re trying to build their businesses,” Bressner said.

Investor Panel of Health Care IT ForumDwyer next asked the panelists to discuss the strength of the health care IT market and to explain why their firms continued to be active in the space.

Luehrs, who has been a leading investor in the Philadelphia region for decades, noted that venture capital in the Philadelphia area was largely nonexistent 30 years ago. As the region has grown in early-stage venture capital resources, it has been important for those VCs to tap into the region’s strong health care and pharmaceutical roots.

“If you’re going to be a local VC, you better get health care right or at least be conversant in what the opportunities are,” Luehrs said.

Rice provided another perspective as a Florida-based investor who focuses on the Southeastern region but who also invests in Philadelphia-area companies. He noted that there is a deep talent pool in the greater Philadelphia region, but comparatively less available capital. This means that emerging health care businesses really need to prove themselves to successfully raise capital.

Bressner spoke about the areas where his firm has seen the greatest investment success, namely business that focus on pharma IT, medical devices, the consumerization of health care, and helping at-risk providers manage costs. He noted that more companies are developing solutions to improve the patient experience and engagement as “individuals are becoming better educated about the type of care they want.”

Before opening up the panel to audience questions, Dwyer asked the speakers whether they had seen any recent trends in health care IT investments.

Rice said that he has observed more players in the market, which has led to increased valuations.

“There is a lot of capital out there in tech-focused funds, and those funds are going to have to get into other industries, like health care. So health care IT is a natural fit,” Rice said. “Right now, it’s very easy for hot companies to attract interest across the private equity landscape, even beyond the classic health care investors. That has pushed prices up in the market.”

Chris Miller introduced the presenting companies at the Health Care IT ForumFollowing the investor panel, Pepper partner Christopher S. Miller introduced the company showcase. The showcase featured presentations from six groundbreaking companies in the health care IT space:

  • Astarte Medical Partners, based in Yardley, Pa., is the first microbial health informatics company focused on improving health outcomes during the first 1,000 days of life. Through its software solution NICUtrition™, the company aims to revolutionize the care of preterm infants by providing quantitative data about gut health, allowing for personalized care and nutrition to optimize growth and outcomes.
  • NeuroFlow, headquartered in Philadelphia, is committed to promoting behavioral health access across the care continuum. Founded by an Army Veteran, NeuroFlow provides a digital health platform to enhance patient engagement and outcomes related to mental and behavioral health.
  • PatientWing, based in Philadelphia, provides a platform to educate and instantly connect patients to clinical trials in order to help discover new treatments for diseases and advance medicine. Focusing on rare diseases, the company helps lessen the delays and costs associated with lack of patient enrollment in clinical trials by listing and promoting clinical trials and easily enabling patients to enroll.
  • Real Time Tomography LLC, based in Philadelphia, develops innovative technologies that increase diagnostic accuracy and improve clinical workflow. The company’s software imaging products are cost-effective, efficient solutions for manufacturers of medical imaging systems, and can easily be adapted to optimize new and existing systems.
  • StationMD, headquartered in Maplewood, NJ, is a telemedicine company focused on delivering superior care to the most vulnerable populations while also reducing unnecessary hospital use. The company’s secure video-conferencing system, augmented by sophisticated diagnostic tools, is combined with clinical expertise to evaluate and treat patients in their home environment.
  • Tabula Rasa HealthCare, based in Moorestown, NJ, provides patient-specific, data-driven technology and solutions that enable health care organizations to optimize medication regimens. The company delivers its solutions through a comprehensive suite of technology-enabled products and services for medication risk management and risk adjustment.

The Health Care IT Forum concluded with a networking reception, where attendees could meet the investors and presenting companies from the event.

Thank you to our strategic partner for the event, the Philadelphia Health IT Circle, as well as our sponsors: Activate Venture Partners, Ballast Point Ventures, Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, G-Squared Partners and Sharp Financial Group.

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