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The U.S. healthcare system has two big problems: while costs are rising, with spending per person increasing 4.2 percent in 2017, even as the use of healthcare services grew by 0.2 percent, the quality of care continues to lag behind other many other countries. And while just about everyone seems to be in agreement that this is not a sustainable system, and that higher costs and more deaths is not the preferred outcome, actually finding the solution has proved so far to be elusive.
Boston-based Firefly Health is looking to solve both of those problems simultaneously by providing what it calls "a technology-powered concierge medicine service for average Americans."
"Over the last century, critical health needs such as chronic diseases, the opioid epidemic, and mental illness have placed an unprecedented strain on our healthcare system. However, our approach to care hasn’t changed, burning out patients and doctors alike and leading to enormous waste," Firefly co-founder and CEO Andy Ellner, MD, MSc, told me.
"We started Firefly Health because we wanted to redefine what great healthcare looks like. We marry sophisticated technology with a thoughtful care team experience for continuous, intelligent care."
Patients can download the Firefly app for free and they will get access to services that include holistic care for wellness, chronic conditions, and behavioral health, as well as same-day appointments, 24/7 chat, referrals to specialists, help with meeting health goals, virtual and in-person visits and more time with care providers.
"Our digital care platform, Lucian, helps us provide proactive, ongoing and data-driven support for the best care at the right cost," said Ellner.
Firefly's services are covered by the health benefits people have through their employer, meaning there's no extra cost to patients, instead they just pay their regular copay for office and video visits. Right now the company works with insurance companies that include AllWays Health Partners, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Harvard Pilgrom Health Care, Tufts Health Plan, UniCare and UnitedHealth Group, among others.
The company's approach to healthcare is resonating with investors; on Monday, it announced that it closed $10.2 million in a Series A funding round led by F-Prime Capital and Oak HC/FT. This brings its total funding to $14 million; previous investors included athenahealth Co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Bush, MaC Ventures and Senator William Frist.
This new round will be spent, in part, on expanding geographically, though Ellner wasn't able to share any specifics at the moment about which new markets the company plans to be expanding to next year.
As opposed to other companies in this space, who offer concierge, primary care and telehealth services, "the difference with Firefly Health is our intelligent, tech-enabled approach. With patients, their experience doesn’t end when their visit ends," Ellner told me.
"Our ultimate goal is to radically improve healthcare for, at least, millions of people, while saving them and their employers up to 20 percent on their healthcare bills."
Along with the funding, Firefly Health also announced that Jonathan Bush, will serve as Executive Chairman, while F-Prime Capital Partner Carl Byers and Oak HC/FT General Partner Nancy Brown will join the company's Board of Directors.
"As experienced leaders in the healthcare industry, Jonathan, Carl and Nancy will further round out our team and bring a wealth of knowledge in terms of growing and scaling an impactful business," said Ellner.
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Oak HC/FT is the premier venture growth-equity fund investing in Healthcare Information & Services (“HC”) and Financial Services Technology (“FT”). We are focused on driving transformation in these industries by providing entrepreneurs and companies with strategic counsel, board-level participation, business plan execution and access to our extensive network of industry leaders.