Digital health companies globally raised a collective $7.2 billion in this year's first quarter, a sizeable jump from both the previous quarter and 2020's first quarter, according to a new report from market research firm Mercom Capital Group.
Here are four funding trends to take away from the quarter:
1. Q1 2021 represented a massive jump from previous quarters. In terms of funding dollars, 2021's first quarter marked a 60% rise quarter-over-quarter from $4.5 billion raised in 139 funding deals in 2020's fourth quarter. It also marks a 100% rise year-over-year from $3.6 billion raised in 142 deals in 2020's first quarter.
2021's first quarter represents the largest funding quarter to date for digital health since 2010, according to the report.
2. More investors are pouring more money into digital health. Nearly 550 investors participated in 179 funding deals in 2021's first quarter, according to the report. In the year-ago quarter, 433 investors participated in 142 funding deals.
That said, it's unclear whether that rapid growth will continue.
"Almost half of all funding raised in 2020 was matched within just the first quarter of 2021," said Raj Prabhu, CEO of Mercom Capital Group, said in a statement. Digital health companies raised a collective $14.8 billion in full-year 2020. "While it certainly looks like digital health is positioned for a record-breaking year, the next two quarters will tell whether the COVID-19 fueled funding surge is peaking or has peaked."
3. Interest in telehealth continued to surge. Telehealth was the top-fund digital health category in 2021's first quarter at $2 billion, representing a 100% increase in funding quarter-over-quarter. Telehealth was followed by mobile health apps ($912 million), analytics ($906 million), clinical decision support ($661 million), and wellness ($559 million).
4. Mergers and acquisitions also increased. In total, there were 63 mergers or acquisitions of digital health companies in 2021's first quarter, up from 41 such transactions in 2020's first quarter and 52 such transactions in 2020's fourth quarter. Fourteen of the transactions disclosed financial details, the biggest of which was Optum's plan to acquire Change Healthcare in a deal valued at $13 billion.