HEALTH

Funding round brings higi $21M, new investors

BY David Salazar

Population health enablement company higi has completed a fundraising round that brought the company $21.3 million, led by such new investors as Flare Capital Partners and 7wireVentures. Higi said it would focus its new resources on expanding access points to its health monitoring stations, broaden engagement and bring population health workflow insights to bear on prevention and value-based outcomes.

Currently, higi has more than 11,000 smart health stations that enable consumers to create and build a longitudinal health profile and connect it to 80 health devices and applications, as well as their electronic health records.

“Building on their vast reach and established partnerships, higi is uniquely positioned to enable healthcare organizations improve risk stratification of their patient population and deepen their understanding of people’s health needs in real time – leading to prevention, early intervention and better care at lower costs,” Flare Capital Partners’ Michael Greeley said. “This investment will accelerate the company’s growth, and provide the leverage needed to continue building deeper data-driven solutions that can truly close gaps in care.”

As health care shifts to where it’s delivered — with retail becoming the frontline health-and-wellness marketplace, higi said it is hoping to accelerate this shift and serve as a “digital connective tissue” to help track and manage their health data.

“We are pleased to have raised over $21 million during this round. The significant investor interest reinforces higi’s unique position to connect consumers with payers and providers to deliver the services they need,” said higi CEO Jeff Bennett. “As retailers continue to bring healthcare solutions into their storefronts and consumers are looking for more effective means to manage their health, higi is forging this path by providing convenient and free ways to measure, connect, and act on health information.”

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Study: Probiotics may help with bone density

BY DSN STAFF

A new study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine is highlighting a potential connection between the gut and bone density in older women. Though only covering 90 women, only 70 of whom completed it, the study found that the probiotic L. reuteri reduced bone density loss compared with the placebo.

“Previous studies in rodents have suggested that treatment with specific bacterial strains can improve bone density, but the present study demonstrates for the first time that this may also be the case in humans,” the researchers wrote, while acknowledging that their trial mostly functions as a proof-of-concept and a push for more, similar trials.

The study notes that data from 2005 showed that fractures related to osteoporosis, which is partly characterized by a loss of bone density, numbered more than 2 million and cost roughly $17 billion.

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TABS: Brick-and-mortar still VMS king as e-commerce grows

BY David Salazar

New data from TABS Analytics has clocked the vitamins, mineral and supplement’s latest sales increased at $500 million, or 3% in the past year. The gains to the $14 billion market, driven by sales increases on Amazon.com and at Walmart stores, also were bolstered by gains in sales to occasional VMS consumers, according to the 11th Annual Vitamin Study.

Though e-commerce made gains, Walmart’s brick-and-mortar sales were in the pole position, and the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer also picked up a solid amount of online shoppers. Roughly 39% of survey respondents said they bought a VMS product at Walmart, up 7% from last year, while Amazon saw 10% of respondents say they bought their vitamins from the e-tailer.

“Walmart continues to hold its leadership position in VMS sales at its brick and mortar stores, and it is showing online growth while Amazon remains at the top and continues to extend is lead in the e-commerce space,” said Kurt Jetta, president and founder of TABS Analytics. “These trends counter conventional wisdom that online sales are coming at the expense of purchases in physical stores. These two types of outlets do not need to be mutually exclusive; rather they both can continue to grow sales with the right approach to marketing and product mix.”

From a channel perspective, food retailers saw gains, making up 18% of the market, as such specialty stores as GNC and Vitamin Shoppe remained static. Losing share were club stores and the natural food channel TABS said. Penetration also increased in the past year, hitting 78% in 2018, with most growth attributable to the 2% increase in shoppers who purchase 1-to-2 product types. Though purchasing by women 55 years old and older dipped 9%, TABS said that was offset by an increase in purchases from men across age groups.

Products seeing growth are adult multivitamins, vitamins B and D and niche products. In particular, gender-specific launches helped grow multivitamin penetration to 55% from 48% last year. Melatonin also was a driver among niche products. Declining in popularity are fish oil and calcium, with fish oil’s penetration dropping to 22% in 2018 and calcium penetration hitting 17% after remaining steady for two years.

“Analyzing more than a decade’s worth of data, the VMS market is showing the classic characteristics of a mature category and I expect that mass market and eCommerce will continue to expand, at the expense of specialty retailers,” Jetta said. “In fact, specialty outlets are under duress in other sectors such as baby, sporting goods, and books. Looking ahead, we expect growth of about 4 percent to 5 percent between 2019 and 2021, but this could increase depending on inflationary pressures, which are highly likely over the next 12-24 months.”

To read the TABS VMS white paper, click here.

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