Mar 1, 2022 - Economy & Business

Scoop: Specialty lab test startup scores $20M

Illustration of a test tube pouring into a hundred dollar bill.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Specialty lab testing company Rupa Health raised $20 million in Series A funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Rupa's thesis is that clinicians often miss an illness' true cause because they're unable to assess someone's complete health, whether because of technological barriers, high costs or preconceptions.

  • The company's core product is a specialty lab-ordering platform that gives doctors access to roughly 3,000 diagnostics.

Driving the news: The company's offering capitalizes on two big recent health tech trends:

  1. Rising interest among clinicians and the general public in how factors including genetics, lifestyle and medical history combine to impact health.
  2. The role of diagnostics — particularly those that can be done at home — in helping to identify illnesses, their causes and potential treatments.

"Doctors right now are doing all this manual work of ordering different labs to help them come up with personalized treatments," Tara Viswanathan, Rupa's co-founder and CEO, tells Axios. "We’re moving into a space where it’s less manual and more systematic."

Details: The Series A round brings San Francisco, Calif.-based Rupa's total funding to $26 million.

  • Besides Bessemer, other venture firms include First Round Capital, Lachy Groom, SV Angel, Floodgate, Hustle Fund and Operator Collective.
  • The company also has an eclectic mix of celebrity investors including electronic music duo The Chainsmokers, actor Jared Leto and former NFL star Joe Montana — all of whom you should consider sharing this newsletter with.

What they're saying: Industry experts tell Axios the staffing squeeze in the medical field raises the profile of companies that can handle tasks with a high administrative burden, including ordering specialty tests.

  • "I think Rupa offers a step in the right direction towards less overhead, greater convenience and more access to specialty care," says Natalie Schibell, a senior health care analyst with Forrester.

The ongoing shift towards more holistic care, including value-based and preventive care models, also benefits Rupa.

  • "Across the sector we’re looking at more preventive and less reactive care," says Schibell. "And getting down to the root cause instead of treating symptoms starts with physicians... having more ability to treat the patient holistically without all these administrative hoops."

How it works: Rupa serves independent and mid-sized labs as well as large hospitals. The company offers discounted wholesale prices on lab tests plus a 7% service fee.

  • The company helps physicians explain test results to patients and offers a prebuilt tool to communicate the general process and answer questions.
  • Current clients include George Washington University, The University of California at Irvine's Susan Samueli Institute and Bastyr University in Washington.

What's next: Citing the shift toward whole person care, Viswanathan hopes Rupa can expand more deeply into helping clinicians develop personalized treatment plans for their patients.

Erin Brodwin co-authors the Axios Pro Health Tech deals newsletter. Start your free trial at AxiosPro.com.

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