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The company is serving 10,000 members in more than 30 states
One of the most overlooked aspects of healthcare, at least from the consumer perspective, is helping with finding a good doctor. The best you can do is maybe go onto a site like RateMyDoctors.com to see what other people say, but mostly it's just a crap shoot: you do your best to try to find the right one and hope that they take good care of you. Sadly, that will not always be the case
It was an experience like that led Nick Reber to found Garner Health, which uses metrics and healthcare data to connect employers and employees with the best medical professionals. On Wednesday, the company announced a $12.5 million Series A round led by Founders Fund, with support from Maverick Ventures and Thrive Capital.
"I really believe that for too long doctor performance has been completely overlooked in the healthcare system. Americans right now are paying hundreds of dollars in deductible costs for care, which might be profitable for hospitals, but typically results in poor outcomes for patients," he told me.
"A few years ago, I was experiencing back pain and consulted a doctor that recommended a procedure, which wasn’t totally necessary. It then snowballed into multiple unnecessary operations in order to correct some issues that were entirely avoidable. It was only after I did some pretty intense research that I saw the massive discrepancies in care, and ultimately recoveries, of patients who had the same exact symptoms, but different doctors. I knew there had to be a better way to find effective care, so that is what led me to create Garner."
Launched in 2019, Garner Health analyzes large amounts of medical insurance claims data to identify the highest quality doctors in a user’s city or neighborhood. It then partners with local employers to help guide their employees to those doctors.
Here's how it works: an employer integrates Garner into its existing benefits, providing access to its employees and their families. The company's employees then use Garner’s platform to search for doctors, procedures, or symptoms. They can also engage with Garner’s live concierge through phone, chat, or email.
Garner automatically runs each search through its algorithms before recommending healthcare providers who are in-network, have appointment availability, and who are deemed to be high quality.
Employers pay for their employees’ out-of-pocket costs if that employee chooses a doctor through Garner, as a way to incentivize them to use the service; the benefit is that better performing doctors keep patients healthy, meaning that they lower the overall cost of care. In fact, Garner estimates that it saves employers, on average, 10 percent in overall health benefit costs.
"Garner combines three key components: deep physician analytics, a concierge experience, and plan incentives. Other solutions have a subset of these components and thus are somewhat competitive, but no one is really combining these three elements into a compelling solution for employers," said Reber.
"Garner is also unique in that it has no financial relationship with healthcare providers; doctors cannot pay Garner to receive higher placement in Garner’s rankings, so the options that patients see are unbiased and transparent. All healthcare provider recommendations are based on cost and quality analytics derived from hard data."
This allows Garner to be both an added employee benefit, as a layer on top of a proper insurance plan, and an essential health resource, given its doctor recommendation and search engine.
The platform currently serves over 10,000 members in more than 30 states, and can be used by any company that wants to offer better health benefits to its employees, including steel factory workers in Ohio, as well as finance professionals in New York City.
This new funding follows a $4.5 millon seed funding round raised last year, led by Thrive with support from Sequoia Capital. This new round, which brings Garner's total funding to $17 million, will be used to continue to focus on product development, serving its existing employers, and bringing on even more users. The company is also actively hiring, specifically in its product, engineering, customer experience teams, with the hope of bringing on an additional eight to 10 team members by the end of 2021.
One of the trends that Garner is able to take advantage of is the changing relationship between doctors and their patients. As the younger generations moving to using digital tools, "the traditional primary care relationship is disintegrating for large segments of the population," said Reber.
Garner's goal is to be the company that help facilitate that shift, and to help people be better empowered to seek and secure the best possible care.
"More people are self-serving and using doctors episodically. The allegiance to primary care doctors is lower, with upwards of 80 percent of people now regularly using online search tools to find a doctor. There’s this huge move to using digital tools to manage care needs, which is where Garner can really step in and thrive as a resource."
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