UnitedHealthcare, an insurance giant, acquires patient monitoring start-up Vivify Health

UnitedHealth Group's Optum division has acquired patient-monitoring start-up Vivify Health, according to two people familiar with the deal.

Vivify sits in the remote patient monitoring space, providing connected devices and other technologies to track at-risk patients at home. In theory, such interventions will help reduce the number of patients rushing to the emergency room, which is highly expensive for a health plan. Instead, remote patient monitoring companies claim that they can intervene earlier, when a patient might need less costly support, such as an in-person visit from a nurse to their home.

The market for these tools is large and growing, making it attractive to health care companies like UnitedHealth, which is the world's largest health care company in the world by revenue. The global remote patient monitoring system market could reach more than $30 billion by 2023, according to one 2018 report.

Vivify says on its website that it helps patients with a variety of conditions, including asthma and diabetes. Its founder Eric Rock has previously said that he started the company because consumer technologies like the iPhone offer a "better way" to monitor patients. The company was founded in 2009, and its program incorporates health devices ranging from wireless weight scales to portable blood pressure cuffs.

UnitedHealth has been on a spending spree of late, scooping up PatientsLikeMe, a patient social network, and Equian, a payments business, in recent months. In June of this year, it closed on a $4.3 billion purchase of DaVita Medical Group after getting sign off from the Federal Trade Commission.

Optum is a division of UnitedHealth that provides business and technology services, pharmacy benefits management and a variety of other services. The people familiar with the deal asked for anonymity discussing confidential information, and did not comment on the price. UnitedHealth declined to provide a comment for this story, and Vivify did not immediately return a request for comment.

Vivify had raised more than $20 million in funding from the venture firms of large health care organizations including Ascension, a health system, and diagnostics giant LabCorp, according to Crunchbase.

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