COVID-era telehealth darling Avail Medsystems shuts down operations: report

Avail Medsystems emerged from the confusion and chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic with a plan to build a new normal: virtually connecting surgeons and operating rooms with remote experts and safely socially distant sales reps. But old habits, apparently, die hard, and this week the company shut down its operations, as first reported by MassDevice.

It’s an abrupt turnaround for the former Fierce 15 winner. As recently as mid-October, Avail was touting the expansion of its OR hub—which includes telepresence hardware and software built into a rolling, camera-equipped tower that allows medtech manufacturers to connect with surgical teams and closely observe procedures. Its latest news was a partnership with software developer ORtelligence, in what Avail described as the first in a planned series of third-party apps to connect with the platform.

“Avail's expert digital technology and product team and our Silicon Valley technology solution mindsets allow us to deliver ongoing innovation, giving our customers access to the latest technologies to provide the best possible care for patients,” Avail’s chief technology officer, James Domine, said in the October 17 release. “We're committed to understanding and anticipating our customers' needs, and these enhancements have been met with overwhelmingly positive feedback. We continue to deliver innovations at the forefront of digital healthcare, and we're excited about what's next on our product roadmap.”

However, according to MassDevice, Avail failed to close a new round of venture capital funding, and employees were informed of the immediate shutdown of the company earlier this week. The future of its platform remains unknown.

Founded in 2017, the Palo Alto, California-based company originally aimed to make it easier for medtech companies to staff various health systems and surgical centers with their own product experts or independent specialists.

The need for that type of technical support is clear in the case of knee replacement surgeries, for example, where 20 or 30 different implant systems can come with hundreds of sterile instruments and pieces, all sized to fit different patient anatomies.

According to a 2021 Fierce 15 interview with CEO Daniel Hawkins, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic Avail had planned to provide its connected consoles to hospitals for free, then charge for the time spent using the device.

The company raised $100 million in VC cash in an October 2020 series B round, led by D1 Capital Partners—for a big boost over the $25 million series A it completed the March before, just prior to COVID’s taking hold in the U.S.

Avail’s other backers included 8VC, Lux Capital, Coatue, Sonder Capital, Playground Global, Baidu Ventures and Refractor Capital, and the company had attracted COVID-era partnerships with the likes of Smith+Nephew’s orthopedics business.