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Exclusive: PicnicHealth packs $60M for health data

Jun 27, 2022
Illustration of a filing cabinet in the shape of a red cross.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Medical data sharing startup PicnicHealth packed $60 million in Series C funding led by B Capital Group, CEO and co-founder Noga Leviner tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Health records — long the least sexy and unwieldiest of medical technologies — are beginning to be made more useful and consumer-friendly by both startups and tech giants.

How it works: PicnicHealth helps people gain access to medical records and partners with drugmakers to match patients with clinical trials.

  • Most of its users have chronic illnesses and visited numerous providers, meaning their records can be tough to chase down.
  • As part of its data-hunting process, PicnicHealth deploys a combination of human staff and machine learning tools to parse unstructured providers' notes — and even the dreaded PDF.
  • "A lot of the value is in that narrative text — it’s in doctor’s notes," Leviner says. "There’s no shortcut. You can’t just use the data that’s easy to get."

Backstory: Leviner started PicnicHealth after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and struggling to manage the condition while keeping track of her latest medical information.

  • "I got into this originally as a frustrated patient, and at the time it was all about making life easier for patients by getting them the data they needed," Leviner says. "But the deeper into the work we got, the more it became ... about ensuring that data gets used for the full benefit, for clinical research and improving patients' lives."

Context: The medical records industry for decades has been dominated by major players Epic and Cerner, but with a new federal rule granting patients unprecedented access to their medical data, dozens of companies are trying their hand at better solutions. For example...

  • Flexpa raised $8.5 million for a platform to assist virtual care startups and patients with data sharing.
  • PocketHealth raised $16 million to help patients collect the medical images from their records.
  • Oracle entered the race earlier this month with its $28 billion takeover of Cerner, on the heels of efforts from Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Zoom out: Recent FDA guidance encourages pharma companies to use real-world data (RWD) — not just information from randomized controlled trials — for drug approvals.

  • "The government is creating this market by allowing companies to use RWD to apply for approvals," says B Capital general partner and head of health care Robert Mittendorf.

What's next: With the funds, PicnicHealth plans to create new data cohorts across 30 new indications in complex, chronic and rare conditions.

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