Rethinking care after an ALS diagnosis

Livongo “leaded people to believe that you could build these kinds of businesses,” said Hemant Taneja, managing partner at venture capital firm General Catalyst, one of Livongo’s early investors.

Investors have taken notice, pouring money into so-called health technology deals. U.S. investors poured about $32 billion into private health-tech companies last year, a record high, and nearly double the amount in 2020, according to PitchBook data.

Dr. Krishna Yeshwant, GV’s managing partner who leads its investment in Synapticure, learned about the company through a colleague, Graham Spencer, who has ALS. Although Dr. Yeshwant, who is a physician, and others at GV looked for ways to help their colleague, he said the company would not have invested in Synapticure unless there was a clear opportunity for big yields.

“You can lose a lot of money solving complex problems for friends,” Dr Yeshwant said.

Synapticure makes money much like a typical medical practice does, billing insurance companies for its services, including neurological consultations and counseling. It does not charge any additional fees to patients.

The company’s nurses, counselors, neurologists and physician assistants help patients triage their existing care and connect them with providers who can fill the gaps. The company is also monitoring ongoing and pending clinical trials to see which of its users might be eligible. With a database of customers willing to share their health records, Synapticure hopes to make it easier for the biotech start-ups conducting these trials to find potential research subjects, an expensive and time-consuming undertaking.

“It’s a clear need,” said Dr. Eva Feldman, director of the University of Michigan ALS Center of Excellence. She and her team spend about four hours with each patient each visit – about the maximum they can manage – leaving no time to talk about outside research.

“Right now, we’re only discussing the clinical trials that we’re running, and that’s what all the centers are doing,” Dr. Feldman said.

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