One of the best reads of last week was Rock Health’s deep dive into the digital health M&A trends that have defined 2022 as the funding bubble lets some air out.
While big ticket acquisitions have taken up most of the spotlight, Rock Health makes the case that declining valuations, customer overwhelm, and an unfriendly IPO market are setting us up for a widespread upswing in M&A activity.
- Here’s where digital health M&A stands through Q3 2022.
This year’s 144 M&A moves have been shaped in part by supply-side dynamics (harsh fundraising conditions make M&A look more appealing than a down round or shaky IPO), but the report lays out four acquirer archetypes that are likely to drive the next wave.
- Consolidation for inorganic growth – Lets startups grow their customer base while building confidence from investors looking for growth. This approach is particularly useful as purse strings tighten and customer acquisition costs climb.
- Enhancing core operations – These acquisitions ideally offset their cost with the internal efficiencies gained in areas such as data integration or analytics. Provider orgs are leaning into this approach, logging 11 transactions Q1-Q3 2022 (3x 2021’s total).
- Buy-and-build – Acquiring complementary features that enable the acquirer to move along the care delivery value chain or into adjacent categories. Examples include Quest Diagnostics’ acquisition of Pack Health (pushed Quest beyond lab testing into patient engagement / condition management) and Advocate Aurora’s acquisition of MobileHelp (propelled the health system into in-home care).
- Disruptive innovation – Transforms an acquirer’s existing services and positions them to create a new business model or drastically differentiate in the market (Ex. Amazon acquiring One Medical). Rock Health predicts that the most likely targets will have strong clinical evidence and user bases, but may be struggling with their business model.
Rock Health makes a pretty convincing argument that digital health M&A is poised for an active year ahead, but also wraps up the report with a warning that acquisition announcements are rarely the end of the story.
“Successful M&A approaches are determined by important choices (e.g. how best to integrate tech stacks as well as cultures and operations, what to keep and where to cut bait, workforce strategy, etc.)… but assessing these frameworks alongside financial, cultural, and operational aspects of M&A is necessary to help organizations—both acquirer and target—maximize impact.”