Fruit Street Health, a digital health and telemedicine company currently focused on delivering a digital diabetes prevention program, has raised $3 million in new funding from physician investors. Dr. Jeremy Tucker, a senior emergency medicine physician on the board of directors of Fruit Street, led the round, which brings the company's total funding to $8.4 million.
Raising money from physicians, rather than from venture capitalists, has been a strong intentional preference since the company's founding in 2013. CEO Laurence Girard expounded on the philosophy in a recent Huffington Post editorial.
"Most venture capitalists will never interact with a patient, much less hold a medical degree," Girard wrote. "VC investors do not use your product. Our investors commonly use our product with their patients and provide valuable feedback we can use to continuously improve our product."
Based in New York, Fruit Street offers a telemedicine service to providers that allows them to monitor patients via wearables, mobile apps and virtual visits. The clinician can pull up the patient's aggregated data on a virtual whiteboard during the teleconference and discuss it with them.
The platform incorporates a number of connected health devices including wireless scales, Fitbits, blood pressure cuffs, and glucometers, as well as a mobile app for taking pictures of food that the company describes as "Instagram-like".
The company is one of many diabetes prevention programs (some digital and some in-person) that works with DPP marketplace Solera Health. Diabetes Prevention Programs are backed by a good deal of efficacy data, going back to a landmark 2002 study of in-person DPPs. As of last year, the DPP has the distinction of being the first (and so far only) chronic disease prevention program that's reimburseable by Medicare.
In addition to working with health insurance companies through Solera, Fruit Street also licenses tech to physicians to engage patients who are obese, overweight, or otherwise at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Two years ago, Fruit Street launched a program with CS Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan to help address childhood obesity among patients.