US OIG Warns on Physician Owned Distributors

USDOJ Office of the Inspector General Seal

In 2011 I urged extreme caution for medical device companies considering  selling products through physician-owned distributorships (Caution: Physician-Owned Distributorships Ahead).  This week, the US Office of the Inspector General (US OIG) issued a fraud alert for physician-owned distributorships, stating that “OIG views PODs as inherently suspect.”  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Medical Device Marketing – Segmentation With Procedure Data

Portrait of Jan de Doot and the kidney stone h...

Ask most medical device marketers about market segmentation, and you’ll get an earful about physician specialty (and subspecialty), hospital/facility size or type (academic, ASC, for profit, large system, etc), or adopter type (early adopters, followers, and skeptics). Unfortunately, these approaches rarely help companies identify customer groups that are differentially addressable – i.e. best served by different products or services, different price points, and/or different marketing channels and sales techniques.

Contrast the typical medical device approach to the sophisticated techniques of consumer product firms. Are you a Barry, Jill, Buzz, Ray, or Mr. Storefront? Best Buy’s in-store staff segments you with a few questions before steering you to the products you’re most likely to want. Amazon suggests possible purchases for you, based on your clicks plus the buying history of other customers who bought the same products you did. Target buys your demographic data to combine with your Target purchase history to create custom coupons for you.

Medical device firms can do much, much more to understand and better serve their markets. Even back in the 1980’s much more could be done. Let me explain how I approached market segmentation twenty-something years ago.

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Healthcare Venture Capital Fundraising List 2012 Q4

Time Is TightThe glass is half full. I’ve been tracking the fundraising activity of healthcare venture firms for the last few years, and I estimate that there are about 250 VC firms actively investing in healthcare innovation worldwide. In contrast, a list I created ten years ago, at InfraReDx, included about 500 healthcare VC firms. Times are tight in 2013.

Why the drop?

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Healthcare Venture Capital Fundraising List 2012 Q2

 

Sanger Institute and Hinxton Hall, Cambridge, UK
Sanger Institute and Hinxton Hall, Cambridge, UK (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been several months since I’ve updated my list of “Healthcare VC’s with money to invest,” so I have plenty to report.

I’ve added about 35 new announcements of firms that successfully raised new funds or are actively raising new funds. Most VC firms that are actively raising new funds are simultaneously looking for investment opportunities, so they will be positioned to put their new money to work right away. Definitely consider pitching them.

While there are a few really small funds (under $100M), the majority of healthcare-focused firms seem to target a$150M to $300M fund sizes. A handful of diversified firms have also raised new funds. While diversified firms are typically larger, it’s important to remember that the healthcare portion is just one piece, and may not be bigger than the healthcare-focused funds.

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Healthcare Corporate and Debt Funding Sources

Loans
Loans (Photo credit: zingbot)

If you don’t follow Bruce Booth’s blog Life Sci VC  you should.

Booth, a biotech partner at Atlas Ventures, posted recently on both corporate funding and venture debt. While medical device startups typically think of corporate investors coming in to Series C or later stage deals, Booth wrote that “Corporate VCs are now truly ‘preferred partners’ for [Atlas’s] early stage deals.” Booth also pointed out that “Corporate VC funds have very large implied ‘assets under management’.” He estimated that the fifteen top biotech corporate investors “represent about $2.5B+ worth of ‘traditional’ venture funds by conventional measures of fund ‘size’.

Booth’s post Venture Debt: Under-Appreciated Tool for Building Biotechs teaches similarly valuable lessons. He suggest that the “the debt market in the life sciences is about 10% of the equity market,” and that:

Companies use this debt financing for a variety of things: extend visibility to reach key value inflection (e.g., completion of a clinical study); purchase expense capital equipment; strengthen their balance sheet prior to deal negotiations or IPO; or, expand the pipeline by purchasing new assets or advancing secondary programs, among other things.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I try to make it easy for medical device startups to identify potential sources of funding. My list of ‘healthcare venture capitalists with money‘ has been really popular. So today I put together a list of healthcare corporate and debt funding sources.

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Healthcare Venture Capital Fundraising List 2011 Q4

English: The Village Duck Race Held each Febru...
Image via Wikipedia

My list of ‘healthcare VC’s with money to invest’ has become increasingly popular, and today I’m very happy to say that I’ve reached an important milestone: three years of data.

In total, my list now includes about 250 VC fund raising announcements from January 2009 to February 2012. Considering that VC’s typically make their new investments within three years of the fund’s raise, I suspect that the list includes the vast majority of healthcare VC’s that are actively making new investments in startups today.

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Everything You Never Wanted To Know About The Medical Device Excise Tax

As the January 1st 2013 start-date approaches, the medical device excise tax is back in the news. Here’s the latest:

On Jan 25th Minn Representative Eric Paulsen and 225 cosponsors introduced H.R. 436: Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2011, which aims to repeal the tax. Despite congressional support, Minnesota Public Radio states that the bill is unlikely to make it through the Democrat-controlled US Senate.

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New England Medical Device Entrepreneurs and Exits

Bijan Salehizadeh of NaviMed Capital recently presented more statistics on the great returns that VC investors have realized in the life science industry over the past decade.  Life Science investing has outperformed IT over the past 10 years.  Really.

You might be surprised to learn that quite of few of those successful investments were New England medical device startups.

In the last half-dozen years, there have been more successful exits than you may think. While a handful have exited in the hundreds of millions, success for many was defined as a solid return on a less-than-$20M total investment.

Somehow these exits have managed to stay under the radar screen. Until now.

Who are these New England medical device startups? Who are the entrepreneurs who led their companies to success?

Read on.

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Healthcare Venture Capital Fundraising List 2011 Q3

Willie Sutton (1901-1980) Source http://www.fb...

For medical device startups, raising venture capital is a challenge that seems to keep getting harder. For healthcare VC’s, raising money from limited partners is just as challenging. Despite the reality that some VC’s are exiting the healthcare investment business, the good news for entrepreneurs is that there are still many healthcare VC’s raising new funds, even in today’s less-than-stellar economic environment.

Who are these VC’s? For almost 3 years I’ve been tracking the fundraising activity of venture funds that focus on healthcare, and generalist firms that make some healthcare investments. My goal is to create a reasonably comprehensive and current resource for life science entrepreneurs, and make it available here.

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The Looming Impact of Healthcare Service Consolidation

St. James' and Murray Hospitals, Butte (1915)
Image by Butte-Silver Bow Public Library via Flickr

Last week, the Boston Globe reported that Lahey Clinic and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center held early discussions on a possible merger.

Last November, Cereberus Capital, a private equity firm, bought Caritas Christi, a group of six hospitals in the Boston area.  In December the newly named Steward Health Care System bought two more hospitals in the region.  This April, Steward added its ninth local hospital.  In June, Steward offered to purchase Landmark Medical Center in Rhode Island. More acquisitions are planned.

In January, Northeast Hospital Corp (owner of Beverly Hospital, Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, BayRidge psychiatric hospital in Lynn, and a Danvers outpatient clinic) began exploring a merger or sale to a larger regional player. By June, Lahey Clinic, Beth Israel Deaconess, Steward Health Care System, and Vanguard Health Systems had all made offers to buy.

In April, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Milton Hospital announced plans to merge in six months.

Provider consolidation isn’t just a Boston phenomenon. Healthcare services M&A is heating up all across the US. What’s going on, and what does consolidation mean for medical device companies?

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