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The relationship between the primary care physician and their patient is one of the most important in healthcare, as these doctors act as a gateway to other care (in many cases, if someone needs to see a specialist, they can't even do so without a referral). Patients are also aware of how important it is, as they are willing to wait longer to see a doctor they are familiar with, and it also been shown that continuity of care actually improves health outcomes.
Yet, that doesn't help much if someone is uninsured, or underinsured, and can't actually afford to see a doctor, which is often the case with many of the nearly 50% of US employees who work for small businesses, said Thompson Aderinkomi, co-founder and CEO of Nice Healthcare.
Nice Healthcare, a company that seeks to make primary healthcare to affordable and accessible for the working class and small businesses, announced a $30 million Series A round on Thursday, bringing its total funding to more than $41 million.
"Most businesses in this country have fewer than 50 employees, but unfortunately they don't have the buying power to either be self funded, or, negotiate the best rates that you can pass on to your employees. Larger employers have the brand name and bargaining power that is not available to small businesses," he explained.
"This disadvantage is further complicated by how health insurance works in this country: health systems and hospitals subsidize the lower reimbursement for Medicare and Medicaid, with commercial plans - the insurance payments from employers."
What this all results in is small employers getting the worst insurance, at the highest costs, while they also wind up subsidizing everyone else.
Aderinkomi was inspired to tackle this issue after his own personal experience with healthcare, when his son was one year old, and his family had a "frustrating experience" that resulted in four visits and a bill of $664 for an issue that he told me should have been one visit and less than $100.
"My curiosity led me to explore how healthcare works and then to do something to provide accessible and affordable care," he said.
Nice Healthcare's solution to the problem is to bring the primary clinic to the patient by offering in-home and virtual visits, 35 labs and blood draws, x-rays, mental health services, a formulary with over 550 medications, and physical therapy.
Employers purchase Nice Healthcare memberships for their employees, and the company currently offers two types of plans: a full service plan, which includes home visits, in-home X-rays, and 35 in-home labs, for $36 per employee per month; or a virtual only service for $28. Nice Health requires them to offer it, at the minimum, to all employees who are already on the employer's health plan. If they do offer health insurance, then all employees must be included.
The benefit to employers is that their employees stay healthier, and take less time off of work as a result, Aderinkomi told me.
"You live in a rural area and you don’t have a doctor that is minutes away. To get care, you have to take time off from work, which is disruptive to you and your employer. And time off may impact your paycheck and you can’t afford to lose money," he said, while noting that for the employee the main benefit is the convenience, as well as not having to deal with surprise billing.
"With Nice, you can use the app to get a telehealth visit or schedule an in-person visit, usually within a day. If you are prescribed medications you can have them delivered to your home. You get the care you need, conveniently and you don’t have to worry about 'gotcha' charges."
Since launching in Minnesota in 2017, Nice has expanded its services to 12 states, including Idaho, Iowa, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Colorado, and Nebraska. The company has seen over 300% growth since 2020, and it now serves more than more than 75,000 members and 400 employers, who see an average yearly net savings of $453 per employee.
"Given our ability to capture patients early on in the care pathway, we are able to replace comparable higher cost care as well as reduce or completely eliminate higher dollar downstream care costs such as unnecessary specialty visits, imaging, and non evidence based care options," said Aderinkomi.
The new funding round was led by DNA Capital, with participation from existing investors Waterline Ventures, Conductive Ventures, and Santa Barbara Venture Partner, and new investors Brown Venture Group, F.R. Bigelow Foundation, Daren Cotter, and Eddie Cisneros.
Nice plans to use the new money to expand its team, both from a product and technology perspective, and also from the base logistical needs to support that growth, meaning growing its marketing, sales, logistics, and operations teams.
Along with the new funding, Nice Health also announced the additions to three members of its C-suite: Steven Bayer as Chief Experience Officer, Charles Wyatt as Chief Financial Officer, and Shadé Akande as Chief People Officer, all of whom will bring, "leadership and expertise in each of their respective areas," said Aderinkomi.
"As companies like ours scale, it is important to balance new ideas with best practice industry experience so we can more accurately and quickly assess opportunities. We don’t want to stumble our way to the best path, but rather rely on the combination of ingenuity and muscle memory across our leadership team to make the best decisions possible in the most expedient way possible."
Ultimately, the company's goal is to have employees of every small and medium sized business have access to amazing and affordable everyday care, and part of the way Nice plans to provide that is by focusing on ensuring a sustainable business from day one.
"Nice has been carefully designed to support an amazing member experience while already realizing strong margins, a great sign for long-term success, but also a sign that the experience we offer our members will only get better over time – there is no risk of a pull back in quality to chase margins," Aderinkomi told me.
"It seems like a novel idea, but to actually reduce healthcare costs, it is important to be able to offer better care for a more affordable price, and that is what we have done."
(Image source: nice.healthcare)
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