The eHealth sector is on a roll, and the momentum seems to be gaining every month. Deal volume in the first quarter of 2018, at 45 announced transactions, was 50% higher than in the fourth quarter of 2017. With only four deals fewer than the same quarter in 2017, the 8% dip in deal volume hardly counts as a sell-off.
Deal values, which aren’t a solid measure of growth in mergers and acquisitions, were still impressive. In Q1:18, digital health transactions totalled approximately $3.9 billion, up 96% compared with the same quarter a year earlier.
That puts the eHealth sector ahead of the Pharmaceuticals sector, which has endured at least 18 months of slow M&A activity. Pharma’s dollar volume in Q1:18 was approximately $3.0 billion, down 21% compared with the same quarter a year ago.
Private equity firms have made some big bets in this space, and some big exits. In 2017, at least 18 deals were direct acquisitions made by the likes of The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG), Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, GTCR, ABRY Partners and Waud Capital Partners. Each of the targets in those deals were owned by smaller PE firms, and no prices were disclosed.
More information was available on the exit side, in 2017. One of the sector’s largest deals, at $1.8 billion, was Thoma Bravo’s sale of Global Health Exchange, a cloud-based supply chain management services provider to the healthcare industry, to Singapore-based Temasek Holdings Limited.
Francisco Partners exited its portfolio company CoverMyMeds for $1.4 billion. CoverMyMeds provides electronic prior authorization (ePA) solutions that automate the medication prior authorization process for more than 500 EHR systems, 47,000 pharmacies and 700,000 providers. The buyer was McKesson Corporation (NYSE: MCK).
There are plenty more startups receiving funding, as well. Rock Health, which tracks investments in digital health, reported that Q1:18 was the largest Q1 ever, and pegged total funding in the quarter at $1.62 billion. Among its findings: investment is increasingly coming from non-traditional investors, although traditional venture capital firms were behind 64% of the quarter’s investment. That’s keeping the pipeline full, for sure.