Two MATTER digital health companies acquired

Digital solutions continue to transform the healthcare industry

Digital health companies raised more in the first half of 2021 than in all of 2020, according to Bloomberg. This trend is continuing through the rest of 2021, with two MATTER member companies adding to the rise — NowPow and Explorer Surgical. MATTER is thrilled our community is contributing to this transformation, as it furthers our mission to accelerate the pace of change in healthcare.

Read on for insight from NowPow and Explorer Surgical CEOs on starting their businesses, challenges they faced on their journey to acquisition and how MATTER helped them along the way.

NowPow, a self-care referral platform, was acquired by Unite Us, a technology company that builds coordinated care networks connecting health and social care, on September 21, 2021.

What was the inspiration to start NowPow?
Rachel Kohler, CEO of NowPow:
“As a practicing physician on Chicago’s South Side, Dr. Stacy Lindau knew her patients wanted to take care of themselves and their families, but many needed better access to community resources to do so. Supported by a 2012-15 Health Care Innovation Award from the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to her University of Chicago research lab, Dr. Lindau set out to make e-prescribing community as easy as e-prescribing medicine.

“To meet expectations of that grant and further promote health equity and whole-person care, she founded NowPow. We launched the company together in 2016 on Chicago’s South Side. Fast-forward a few years, and we’ve powered up 23 states, conducted over one million screenings and made millions of connections to community-based organizations.”

What challenges did NowPow face on the journey to acquisition?
“The pandemic exposed and exacerbated needs across the country, which meant communities and policymakers rightfully demanded a faster pace, greater interoperability and comprehensive solutions from companies in our space. We were growing quickly, but our challenge was to find a way to scale the science even faster and deepen our impact. It became clear early on that the best way to do that was to join forces with our biggest competitor.”

How did MATTER help NowPow along the way?
“MATTER shares NowPow’s commitment to innovating healthcare, cultivating diversity and doing good. MATTER accelerated our growth from the very beginning by connecting us with like-minded companies and leaders, providing practical tools and resources and sharing essential knowledge — which we believe is power.”

What does this acquisition mean for NowPow?
“To meet rising needs, Unite Us and NowPow are coming together to supercharge the integration of health and social care across the country. By combining NowPow’s personalized, evidence-based and flexible referral technology with Unite Us’ end-to-end social care solution and infrastructure for community and direct support, we are able to scale the science of social referrals so everyone, everywhere knows where to go for resources in their community.”

Explorer Surgical, a digital case support platform connecting medical device teams to providers, was acquired by Global Healthcare Exchange (GHX), a healthcare business and data automation company, on October 14, 2021.

What was the inspiration to start Explorer Surgical?
Jenn Fried, CEO & co-founder of Explorer Surgical:
“Studying operating room (OR) workflow and OR efficiency at the University Chicago Medical Center in 2011, my co-founder, Dr. Alex Langerman, had a vision for transforming the OR by using a digital platform to bring best practices into the intraoperative environment regardless of the inevitable variability in the room and to capture real-time data to continuously improve.

“Two years later, I met Alex when I was in graduate school and working as a healthcare investor. I didn’t believe the problems that Alex described to me until he invited me into the OR to observe procedures for myself. I was astonished at the magnitude of the problem and at the same time the incredible size of the opportunity for improvement, both operationally and clinically. We spent three years collaborating together on early prototypes, research grants and writing business plans, and I left my full-time job on the West Coast in 2016 to focus on building the company and creating a commercial product to bring to market.”

What challenges did Explorer Surgical face on the journey to acquisition?
“Like most healthcare IT companies, we had plenty of ups and downs along the way. The problem we were solving wasn’t a new problem — this had plagued ORs and procedure suites for decades — but our solution was a bit ahead of its time when we launched. Long sales cycles made it challenging to raise enough funding to hit commercial milestones, and despite my background as a venture capitalist, I didn’t raise as much money as I felt the business truly needed in our first funding round in 2016 and had to go back to the market very early.”

How did MATTER help Explorer Surgical along the way?
“It comes down to the people. MATTER CEO Steven Collens was tremendously helpful to our company along the entire journey, making customer and investor introductions and most importantly facilitating introductions to other founders and CEOs working in related spaces. The best connections and advice I have received has been from fellow founders and operators, and MATTER is the central hub to make those connections happen.”

What does this acquisition mean for Explorer Surgical?
“This acquisition is the starting point for our next chapter. It validates that our market, while nascent, is real, and solidifies us as the leading player in the space. Being a part of the GHX family will enable us to invest significantly in our product and team, and its vast, existing customer base of providers and medical device suppliers in the US (and globally) will allow us to grow even faster than we have as an independent company. We are incredibly excited for the future!”

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MATTER, the premier healthcare incubator and innovation hub, includes more than 300 cutting-edge startups from around the world, working together with dozens of hospitals and health systems, universities and industry-leading companies to build the future of healthcare. Together, the MATTER community is accelerating innovation, advancing care and improving lives. For more information, visit and follow @MATTERhealth.