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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — It’s half past noon on a recent Tuesday at the Silicon Valley office of health-tech startup Livongo, and a U.S. map projected on a screen is flashing with pins that pop up and then disappear like fireworks. Each of the 5,000 pins marks the spot where a diabetes patient in Livongo’s program has just beamed in a new blood glucose reading. Most of the pins are green, meaning that the patient’s blood sugar is at a safe level, but some are blue, denoting a level too low, or red, for too high.

These days, Livongo is processing more than 100,000 such readings daily — a sign of the chronic disease-coaching company’s rapid growth ahead of an expected initial public offering sometime this year. It’s likely to be among the first of a new breed of health-tech startups to brave the public markets.


Livongo, in particular, is poised to offer a test of whether it’s possible to overcome the nagging obstacles that for years have blocked the emergence of truly big, financially successful businesses in the sector. For the most part, these companies haven’t figured out how to scale their sales. Nor have they shown that they can improve patients’ outcomes and reduce medical costs over the long term.

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