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The company's sole investor was Pandion Optimization Alliance, a group purchasing organization
Even before COVID, digital health adoption was on the rise, but the pandemic has forced a mass increase in adoption of services like telemedicine and remote patient monitoring in a very short amount of time. To wit, the global digital health market is expected to grow by over 37 percent in 2021 to and reach $508.8 billion by 2027.
Yet, there still isn't one unified healthcare marketplace where everyone in the ecosystem, including health systems, payers, biopharma and entrepreneurs, can go to not only find out which digital health tools work best, but to actually connect with vendors to quickly adopt them.
That is why Dr. Manny Fombu founded digital healthcare marketplace Marché Health, a company that announced a $1 million seed round of funding on Tuesday from strategic investor Pandion Optimization Alliance, a group purchasing organization.
"We have all these digital solutions available in the market and the biggest problem everyone talks about is scaling. ‘We can’t scale.’ Great ideas get developed and then they die because you've got to find the right model, or whatever it is. At the same time, clinicians are also not that familiar with it. They don't know what that digital health means, and they reach out to me and say, ‘Do you know where I can take a course on digital health? Do you know where I can learn more about digital health? Is there like a certification for digital health? Is there a digital health class for rare diseases?’ So, there’s a lot of ignorance in this space and the places where people get other information is on LinkedIn or Twitter," said Fombu.
Marché is meant to be act not only as a marketplace, where it can connect buyers and sellers, but also as community, where people in the healthcare space can come together to actually learn about these solutions, and to identify which solution is the best or not.
"Literally my vision and passion will be to have partners to educate the community to say, ‘We have a common goal and common interest to not only talk about our problems but work together to actually solve it.’ But, at the same time, you can also shop on a platform based on objective data to make decisions on what best solutions that you need."
For example, a hospital might be looking for a remote monitoring solution for patients after they have a thoracic surgery, since they have to do post-op management and wound management after they leave. If the clinician is looking for a digital solution, they will probably have four different vendors reaching out to them, and will have no idea which is the best one. In that scenario, they'd come up on the Marché platform, put in the name of that company, and they will be shown not only information about that company but also companies similar to the one that they are looking for.
"We have data on how much money they’ve raised, the management team, the geographical location. Are they just located in your state or are they nationwide, are they global? What is their HIPAA certification? Do they have third party validation? Do they have clinical studies? Are there other peers that have used it where you have feedback community review to help you make a decision in an objective manner?" said Fombu.
In addition to helping them identify the vendor that's the right fit for them, Marché can also help them contact that vendor, shortening the time it takes for them to finalize a potential sale. That is in contrast to other marketplace where you have to click and then send a request or make an appointment to pick a time to speak to the vendor two days later.
"We realized that there are many clinicians, myself included, if it takes two days for a sales rep to email me, I forgot why I was actually on the website in the first place. We know what questions will be asked from these vendors so we are actually getting them to upload that information automatically and give the buyer access to that information right then, so they can answer those questions faster. That means, when they want to talk to the vendor, we advanced that process, where the legal team has already seen the data and we actually hasten that procurement process to make sure they're on boarded."
Right now there are 5,000 hospitals on the Marché platform, and 4,000 of the largest digital health companies in the U.S.; having Pandion, which works with more than 4,100 hospitals and health systems, as an investor will help the company facilitate transactions between those systems and vendors. And while there is a potential revenue stream in helping facilitate those financial transaction between vendor and clinicians, Fombu makes it clear that he is much more interested in monetizing the data that the company is able to collect.
"My interest is the datasets. I’m interested in the data to understand what people want. That's why I like the community aspect of it. I want to see what people are looking for. I want to get datasets on how to make the right decisions profiles on clinicians and hospitals and pharmaceutical companies and vendors, I want everyone to know each other on both sides. I want a two-sides marketplace where the buyer knows the vendor very well, and the vendor also knows the buyer pretty well, to know that could give them the right solution at the right time. That's my interest. So, I'm a data play, long term," he said.
The company plans to deploy its new funding toward expanding the team, which currently consists of nine employees; Fombu expects the number to be 12 by the end of the year. It will also go toward helping Marché Health scale to the next phase, which is having the profiles of individual clinicians and hospitals and pharmaceutical companies and payers, fully done.
"We want to build that but our focus is to build a trusted solid community. We're not rushing to scale, per se, our investors are not in a rush. There's no pressure in terms of making money, it’s about building the right product and having the right partnerships so we could scale," he said.
"It happens that because of COVID we can’t have face-to-face meetings or do conferences anymore. People need a place where they could come to meet each other and make that decision. We’re more focused on building a useful product that the community wants as opposed to the rest of the stuff."
The ultimate goal, he said, is to be the world's largest digital health marketplace, and to have data on every single company, comparing it with going to Hotels.com and finding every hotel you want. With Marche, Fombu wants to have every company so it can give them the opportunity for everyone to make the right decision, while also shortening their revenue cycle.
"Five years from now, success for me will be that, if you're a vendor, the time to actually sell a solution doesn't take a year. Revenue cycles are miserable. That's what kills the industry, when it takes 12 to 14 months to make a decision. It doesn't need to take 14 months to make a decision, because the budgets already put in," he said.
Marché is also helping support a more global healthcare ecosystem, one where even if you're not based in one of the main tech hubs in the U.S., like New York, San Francisco or Boston, you can still make an impact on the space.
"We're trying to democratize healthcare and break down these boundaries. I think innovation can come from anywhere in the world and you don’t need to be in one particular market to impact another market. For example, the same kind of solutions that work in Ghana or in Nigeria or India, could be a solution that works in Baltimore or rural areas in the US," he said.
"We want to open up the space and show solutions that could fit your budget and actually work and show value, and who you might want to partner with. What we're trying to do is use data to open up this whole transparency, to make things work. We're not just trying to be a marketplace, like I said, where you just come shop. We want to be a be marketplace community to get people to talk to each other, and be the place where you go for digital."
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