Heal, a health care platform that enables patients to set up physical house calls, has raised $100 million — at a $300 million valuation — from health insurance giant Humana.
Founded in 2014, Heal’s core service is about connecting doctors from across the U.S. with patients, bringing care to the comfort of their home. Through the web or mobile app, users can arrange for a house call priced at $159, though the normal use case would involve a patient covered under their employer’s insurance.
Last year, Heal expanded into telehealth, with remote consultations priced at $79 for someone not covered by their employer’s insurance.
So while house calls are the foundation for Heal’s business, the company caters to both in-person and remote health care — which is just as well, considering the pandemic has kickstarted something of a telemedicine revolution. Virtual health consultations rose by 50% in the first month of lockdown alone, according to Frost and Sullivan, while online medical visits are on course to hit 200 million in 2020 — up substantially from the 36 million expected before the pandemic struck.
A number of telehealth startups have raised significant money from investors looking to capitalize on this trend. Just last week, Tasso secured $17 million for home blood-testing kits, while Tyto Health locked down $50 million in funding for a software and hardware platform that lets doctors examine patients’ vital signs from anywhere.
Heal CEO Nick Desai said the company has seen an 800% growth in telemedicine usage over the past few months, though he also noted that it had also seen “record-high demand” for house calls.
“The global COVID pandemic was an unforeseen event that underscored the importance of our multimodal care approach,” Desai told VentureBeat. “For patients who prefer — or need — telemedicine for COVID safety, we are able to offer them quality telemedicine with our doctors. For patients who prefer house calls and aren’t exposed to COVID, we do house calls.”
When VentureBeat covered Heal’s last round of funding back in 2018, Desai referred to telemedicine as a “short-sighted approach” that “pulls the doctor further apart from the patient.” However, Desai has since clarified this comment, explaining that it’s “telemedicine alone” that is short-sighted.
“Truly effective care starts with an in-depth doctor-patient relationship and an understanding of the social determinants of health, which can only be seen in the home,” Desai said. “Factors like fall risks, food insecurities, and medication adherence affect 80% of care outcomes, and house calls enable those factors to be seen first-hand and integrated into a personal, effective care plan.”
Heal’s offering isn’t tethered to house calls, of course, but having a range of options is part of its appeal.
“Our vision has always been that the doctor-patient relationship is not tied to a modality of care,” Desai added. “There is nothing magic about the four walls of a doctor’s office. Similarly, once the doctor and patient do have a relationship, extending that relationship with video telemedicine and with real-time remote monitoring makes the doctor-patient relationship more precise, proactive, data-driven, and personal.”
Heal had previously raised around $70 million, including its $20 million series C from two years ago. With another $100 million from a major U.S. insurance provider, the company is well-positioned to double down on its house calls and telemedicine platform, expanding to more markets, including Chicago, Charlotte, and Houston.
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