StayWell acquires Provata to bolster employee wellness app offerings

By Jonah Comstock
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Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Provata's 2016 revenue.

Merck subsidiary StayWell, which offers a preventative health platform for employers, health plans, and health systems, has acquired Provata Health for an undisclosed sum. Provata Health makes a digital health platform for employee wellness, which includes a chronic disease management program incorporating a connected scale and blood pressure monitor; a lifestyle management platform that incorporates an activity tracker; and a mental health platform that incorporates a VR headset.

"We really see this as significantly advancing our capabilities," StayWell CEO Nicole Latimer told Babyforyou.net.ua. "We knew that we would have to get more advanced in terms of offering our programs through mobile devices. Our acquisition of MedHelp was a step in that direction. But as we think about being able to now offer the capabilities that Provata’s platform offers, that advances us by several years. This is something we no longer have to build ourselves, but we can immediately go to market with a very robust set of mobile capabilities... Many of the health plans we’ve been working with have been asking for mobile capabilities, so it’s important to have that now rather than in a few years."

Provata Health was founded in 2013 and has received little if any venture funding. The only funding the company has publicly announced was a $1.4 million infusion from the National Institutes of Health in 2015. The company appeared on the Inc 5000 list last year, reporting $3.2 million in 2016 revenues.

In April 2016, Provata published data showing that its program acheived an average weight reduction of 4.8 percent and an average blood pressure reduction of 8.8 systolic and 7.68 diastolic — double the weight loss outcomes of the CDC's Diabetes Prevention Program. Latimer said the presence of peer-reviewed evidence was a driving factor in StayWell's decision to acquire the company.

"Like StayWell, [Provata is] absolutely committed to generating results and to publishing those results in peer-reviewed journals," she said. "They too want to demonstrate that lifestyle behaviors can change, that people can have a higher quality of life by being educated and participating with their colleagues and with others in engaging health activities."

Provata's cofounders, CEO Alex Goldberg and Head of Business Strategy Aaron Goldberg, will stay on at StayWell as VP of innovation and VP of client solutions, respectively. The rest of the StayWell team is staying on and will continue to work out of the company's Portland, Oregon office and service their existing clients. The company will gradually integrate additional StayWell offerings for Provata customers and vice versa.

"There are some redundancies, in that we both use health coaches and we both have challenges for employees and health plan members to be using, but we think of those as more complementary than truly redundant because we’ve tended to focus on different things," Latimer told Babyforyou.net.ua. "There’s a lot about nutrition that Provata has been working on, helping to increase the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that participants are eating on a daily basis. We haven’t concentrated as much on nutrition, but we’ve spent time working on sleep and that hasn’t been an area Provata has spent as much time on. So we think this is a really good, complementary merging of the products and services that we have."

StayWell acquired the mobile health part of MedHelp, another Merck holding, last fall. That acquisition also brought a number of mobile apps into the company, but those apps are broadly available to consumers rather than offered via health plans, health systems, and employers. 

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