Hinge Health , a digital health startup that develops software, hardware, and services to help companies manage employees musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions, has raised $26 million in a series B round of funding led by Insight Venture Partners, with participation from series A lead Atomico. Founded in 2015, San Francisco-based Hinge Health is initially focused on getting companies the technology to combat chronic back and joint pain. Its product? A kit that contains two Hinge bands with motion sensors and a tablet with pre-installed Hinge Health software. It also includes a stand, carry case, and charging unit. Hinge health kitBut Hinge Health doesnt just ship a bunch of boxes to employers. The company also delivers a coach-led program that addresses the underlying problems causing the MSK condition in the first place. MSK disorders are among the top expenditures for employers health plans, and the total cost of lower back pain alone is estimated to be around $100 billion each year in the U.S. Hinge Health claims it can drive costs down by half. It also now claims around 40 enterprises and multiple health plans as clients — according to its calculations, it has led to a 70 percent reduction in pain and 63 percent decrease in surgery. Prior to now, Hinge Health had raised around $10 million — mostly via its Atomico-led series A round last July — and with another $26 million tranche in the bank the company plans to double down on its team and platform. Musculoskeletal pain wrecks lives, and costs billions, noted Hinge Health cofounder and CEO Daniel Perez. But it doesnt have to be that way. One year ago as we closed our series A we were 18 people, now were 70 and zooming toward 100. Our growing team has a unique opportunity to empower patients to alleviate their back and joint pain with a science-based care program. This requires substantial investment, partners committed to the long haul, and dedication to our high-quality approach that combines technology-enabled exercise therapy, behavioral health, and education. Nabbing Insight Venture Partners as lead investor is notable, and it comes shortly after the New York-based VC firm closed its tenth fund at a whopping $6.3 billion. Insight has invested in more than 300 companies, including Twitter and Alibaba, and it has seen three IPOs from its portfolio companies in the past few months alone — DocuSign, Pluralsight, and Smartsheet. Its one thing to believe in yourself, but were even more emboldened with Insight coming onboard, Perez added. Theyve taken dozens of companies public and are already helping us rapidly scale our team to capture the market. Employer-focused health care platforms are seemingly ripe for investment. San Mateo-based Lumity, for example, nabbed $19 million to bring data-driven recommendations to company health plans, while Vida Health raised $18 million to connect people who have chronic diseases to health coaches. Elsewhere, global consumer wearables juggernaut Fitbit pushed into employee health care and coaching this February through its acquisition of Twine Health.
Hinge Health , the San Francisco-based startup that offers a tech-enabled platform to treat musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders — things like knee pain, shoulder pain, or back pain — has raised $26 million in Series B funding. Leading the round is Insight Venture Partners, with participation from the companys Series A backer Atomico. In fact, I understand that the London VC firm has doubled down on its investment and has actually increased its stake in Hinge. The new round of funding brings total raised by the company to $36 million since being founded in 2015 (and originally based in London). Hinge Health founders Daniel Perez and Gabriel Mecklenburg still maintain majority control of the board. Billing itself as digitising healthcare, Hinge Health combines wearable sensors, an app, and health coaching to remotely deliver physical therapy and behavioural health for chronic conditions. The basic premise is that there is plenty of existing research to show how best to treat MSK disorders, but existing healthcare systems dont do a very good job at delivering best practice, either because of cost and the way it is funded or for other systematic reasons. The result is an over tendency to fall back on the use of opioid-based painkillers or surgery, with sub-optimal results. The startups initial target customers are self-insured employers and health plans, with the pitch being that its platform can significantly reduce medical costs associated with chronic MSK conditions. To that end, Perez tells me Hinge Health now has 40 enterprise customers in the U.S. and has partnered with 10 of the largest health plans. This is off the back of improved results, with 2 in 3 patients who go through the program avoiding the need for surgery, up from 1 in 2 at the time of the startups Series A. [Were] aiming to bump that to 80 percent soon, he says. Just dont call Hinge a software as a drug or so-called digital therapeutic. Perez isnt a fan of either term, and certainly not when applied to the work Hinge Health is doing. Both seem to imply you just pop one easy pill and thats it, he says. While software, connected hardware, and behavioural health support (e.g. education, coaching, targeted notifications, gamification/rewards) can help scale the labor intensive processes involved in chronic care, its not akin to just popping a pill and youre done. Thats why I really dislike the term digital therapeutic when applied to chronic conditions, and I wish it was retired. Instead, Perez considers Hinge Health to be a Digital Care Pathway as patients are still required to carry out a lot of work in order to tackle their chronic condition. In other words, it goes well beyond just passively popping a digital pill. I ask the Hinge Health founder if perhaps it is access to a one-to-one health coach via the app that makes all the difference, especially related to adherence, rather than technology. That depends, he says, revealing that some patients rely very heavily on having access to a coach, while others need very little or zero coaching support, and instead rely on Hinges wearable motion sensors to guide them through their exercises and to track progress. Adds Perez: The clinical literature is very compelling; when you have a relationship with a real person on the care team, it boosts adherence to the care plan. Critically that person doesnt have to be a doctor or even a nurse, but it must be someone you trust.