Medtronic backs diabetes device connectivity, analysis startup Glooko in $16.5M Series B

Careful, consistent management of blood sugar levels is key to improving outcomes for diabetes patients. Doctors want easy access to and intelligent analysis of blood glucose, insulin and activity levels for their diabetes patients; payers want to manage their diabetic population more cost-effectively; while patients are looking to make their lives better and simpler.

Most of the traditional makers of insulin pumps, blood glucose meters and continuous glucose monitors (CGM) haven't been very good at integrating these devices with mobile devices and big data--with all the potential advantages that would entail. That's where startup Glooko hopes to fit in--providing its technology to make diabetic device data mobile-compatible and enabling population analysis of it for providers and payers.

Medtronic ($MDT), which roughly splits the CGM market with more Internet-savvy Dexcom ($DXCM), is among the backers of Glooko's $16.5 million Series B financing. Canaan Partners also joined existing Glooko investors The Social + Capital Partnership and Samsung.

"The healthcare industry is at an inflection point with the advent of the Affordable Healthcare Act and increased demand for better quality care without raising costs," Wende Hutton, general partner at Canaan Partners, said in a statement. "Companies that are able to offer unprecedented access to actionable patient information combined with intuitive mobile applications are poised to meet those demands." She is joining the Glooko board as part of the financing.

Glooko has "delivered a solution that improves patient outcomes by engaging both patients and their healthcare providers to more easily manage and gain insights from the often complex web of diabetes devices," she added.

By the end of the year, Glooko expects its technology will be able to connect more than 93% of diabetes devices, Glooko CEO Rick Altinger told FierceMedicalDevices in an interview. This is expected to include not only blood glucose meters, where Glooko already connects with more than 30 devices to give it a 90% reach now, but also CGMs and insulin pumps. That last market is dominated by four top players: Medtronic, Insulet ($PODD), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) with its Animas pump and Tandem Diabetes Care ($TNDM).

The Glooko MeterSync Blue app--Courtesy of Glooko

Beyond simply connecting the devices, Glooko provides data aggregation on a particular patient as well as analytics for a given diabetes population. It's also integrating data from activity trackers, as well as diet and weight data so that it can be considered alongside blood glucose and medication data. The startup has a mobile app for patients to track and analyze this data, while it offers a population management web app for healthcare providers.

Altinger said the financing is to enable the startup "to scale integration with insulin pumps and CGMs. … So providers can get access to data from whatever device."

At one undisclosed client, patients have about 80 interactions a month with Glooko to bring data into the system, Glooko VP of Marketing and Customer Success Michelle de Haaff said. She noted that typically only at about 10% of physician visits do diabetic patients have data that is downloaded and available to share with the healthcare provider. The Glooko system allows patients to download their diabetes data remotely, share it with their healthcare team and receive alerts to adjust their behavior or prescription or even to come in to the physician's office.

De Haff said to expect outcomes data soon from some of Glooko's partners that evaluate the impact on patients and the healthcare system itself of better, more consistent management of blood glucose levels.

Despite some past disappointments with population health management, Altinger added that the ability to manage multiple, ongoing data streams from any given patient is transforming the promise of population management into a reality.

"In the past, population health management meant tracking has the patient seen a podiatrist or had an A1C test recently," he said. "Now it's the quantified self with exercise data and blood glucose data available in a timely manner. The provider can see that yesterday on a Tuesday at 7 o'clock this person had a dangerously low level at 7pm. That may be a moment to reach out and teach the patient how alcohol can create a hypoglycemic event."

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