The leading digital musculoskeletal platform raises $163 million in a Series D round of funding less than two years after its commercial launch


Draper, Utah-based SWORD Health just announced that it has closed a $163 million Series D round of funding.

This funding, plus "a secondary transaction" where existing investors purchased "an additional $26M" in company stock, propelled SWORD's valuation to $2 billion (aka, Double Unicorn status).

Now if you've never heard of SWORD before, don't beat yourself up too badly. Me either, at least not before yesterday.

But I know SWORD now. And personally, I wish it had been around 20 years ago.


My Personal Journey with Musculoskeletal Challenges

If you'll indulge me, here's a personal aside to explore the value and benefits of a company like SWORD and its Physical Therapist-informed digital musculoskeletal platform.

My favorite sport to play is volleyball. No question about it.

And although I can't jump very high, I do understand the game quite well, and I'm a pretty decent setter.

So ... some 20 years ago I'm playing volleyball in a Church tournament. I'm in back row at the time, things are going well, everything is fine.

Except when I take a step forward my left foot slides briefly, then catches on the carpeted gym floor in our local meetinghouse. (Yeah, carpeted gym floors was a thing for a time here in parts of Utah. UGH!)

Anyway ... my foot slides, catches, and then there's a POP that reverberates from my foot all the way up to my head.  

I take a half-a-step and then collapse in agony and start pounding the floor with my fist as I mutter, "Oh-my-crap! Oh-my-crap! Oh-my-crap!" over and over again.

The pain was excruciating!

What I learned less than an hour later was that I had suffered a complete Achilles Tendon rupture. Not a tear, mind you, or a separation off of my heel. Oh no, it was a lot worse.

My Achilles Tendon had been completely ripped apart from my calf muscle, kind of like what would happen to a rope if you tied it to the bumpers on the back of two cars and then had those vehicles drive in opposite directions (at least that's how my doc explained it to me). And no, not pretty.

Soon followed a surgical intervention, then six weeks in a hip-to-toe cast, followed by four weeks in a knee-to-toe cast, followed by two weeks in a walking boot.

Then I started physical therapy.

To be clear, besides having a left Achilles Tendon that is roughly 4-5X thicker today than my right one, I recovered completely.

I still can't jump worth beans.

But I can jump and run and walk and do everything else a relatively healthy adult can do, and I can do so without pain. So for that, I'm totally grateful.

BUT ... I now understand that I had likely suffered a series of micro injuries to my Achilles Tendon BEFORE the actual rupture.

And had SWORD Health and its products/services been available to my then Health Plan, perhaps (just perhaps) my horrific injury could have been prevented.


The SWORD Health Opportunity and Offerings

As it turns out, musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries and treatments cost over $450 billion each year in the United States alone.

PepsiCo, a company with 230,000 employees and a SWORD client, spends $150 million annually on MSK injuries, treatments and prevention for those employees.

Simply put, MSK means anything involving your muscles, bones, and/or the tissues that hold them together.

As explained on its website, SWORD has

"... clinically-validated programs (that) work for all the major MSK issues, at any point in the journey: prevention, acute conditions, chronic pain and post-surgical recovery."
SWORD Health video downloaded from YouTube 23 November 2021.

So that ongoing pain you have in your wrist after you fell and jammed it against the ground? SWORD can help you with that.

The creakiness you feel in your knee from simply getting older? SWORD can help you with that.

Same for helping the healing process after certain surgeries or procedures.

As shown in the illustration below, SWORD helps patients (you and me) deal with MSK challenges in almost every joint region of the body.

Illustration captured from the SWORD Health website 23 November 2021.

So what is it that SWORD actually offers?

SWORD has a three-pronged solution set that combines

  1. A computer tablet and motion sensors that are worn by individuals dealing with MSK issues, sensors that record the patient's range-of-motion when performing exercises assigned by a Physical Therapist.
  2. The captured range-of-motion data results are reviewed by a PT, with feedback provided to the patient.
  3. Additionally, SWORD provides patients with access to a comprehensive online library of instructional and training videos centered around MSK health and treatments.

Does SWORD work?

According to an article published in 2019 by the scientific journal, JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies, SWORD found that total knee replacement patients using the interactive SWORD's approach for rehabilitation had better outcomes at three and six months versus using traditional PTs.

And Concordia Plans, a health plan provider in the Midwest, explains SWORD this way to its members:

"SWORD is a physical therapy alternative program for back, joint and muscle pain that combines the best in human care with easy-to-use technology to provide a more convenient option than traditional in-person physical therapy."

SWORD's target clients are

  • Health Plans, and
  • Self-Insured Employers.

In both instances, the reason firms sign-up for SWORD is simple: M-O-N-E-Y.

SWORD

  • Helps prevent employee/patient MSK injuries,
  • Gets employees/patients back on the job if/when they do suffer an MSK injury, and
  • It helps employees/patients recover faster after surgery to address an MSK issue.

AND ... SWORD is now worth $2 billion, a Double Unicorn no less.

AND ... SWORD is now headquartered in Utah, something it did fairly quietly at the beginning of 2020.

How 'bout that?

Good on ya, SWORD Health. And good luck.


A Closing Thought

To be clear, SWORD Health was initially founded in 2015 in New York City.

And since then it's been developing and assembling its digital musculoskeletal platform.

So here's my question?

Is anyone aware of another Utah-based company that has reached a $2 billion valuation in under two years since launching commercially?

I am not.

But maybe I forgot.

If I did, please let me know. Thanks.

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