Digital health firm Glooko has a new round of cash to expand its diabetes management product, but it’s not ready to say how much the product is actually helping diabetics.
The Palo Alto, CA-based company has raised a $16.5 million Series B round, led by Canaan Partners. With the cash, Glooko will add more ways to feed data into its product, which lets diabetics download personal and medical information from their health devices to a smart phone, and then share the data with doctors and insurers.
As it stands now, Glooko integrates data from blood glucose meters and wearables such as Fitbits. The system also lets diabetics log their diets and carbohydrate intake, a crucial measurement when controlling blood sugar levels with self-administered insulin. The FDA cleared the system for over-the-counter sale in 2013.
Once expanded, the Glooko platform will also let users download data from their insulin pumps and continuous blood glucose meters, which, instead of using strips of paper like conventional meters, draw readings from a sensor inserted under the skin.
“We have to do an extensive amount of work to translate and normalize the data and unify it all into one platform,” said CEO Rick Altinger. He expects the new capabilities to go live in June or July this year.
A big question about Glooko and many other digital health products is whether they in fact are helping people get healthier, or if their ultimate benefit is to help insurers save money. Those goals aren’t mutually exclusive, but in either case, the amount of dollars invested in digital health has outpaced the amount of evidence produced.
Glooko isn’t ready to talk publicly about evidence. I asked Altinger if the company’s product, which aims to alert doctors and insurers if a patient’s activities or insulin doses need adjustment, is keeping diabetics out of emergency rooms. He said the question came up as part of the new investors’ due diligence. “We have some early results that look good, but we’re not ready [to share] yet,” he said.
Altinger said releasing those data would be up to the healthcare providers using Glooko, and right now they’re waiting for higher volume. Glooko said today that several providers are using Glooko, but the company would only disclose the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, the Diabetes & Glandular Disease Clinic in San Antonio, TX, and Atrius Health, a nonprofit healthcare network in Eastern Massachusetts.
Whether Glooko ultimately makes claims about its health benefits is “unclear,” Altinger said. Near term, the company is more likely to highlight economic studies about its product.
Canaan Partners’ general partner Wende Hutton will join the Glooko board. (Hutton shared her views on digital health and investment strategies with Xconomy earlier this year.) New investor Medtronic, which makes some of the devices Glooko will fit into its expanded system, joined Canaan, as did returning investors The Social + Capital Partnership and Samsung.