Tuesday, January 26

Heal raises $100 million for telehealth appointments and house calls


Heal, a health care platform that enables patients to arrange physical house calls from doctors, 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, enabling care to be delivered in the comfort of their own home. Through the web or mobile app, users can arrange for a house call priced at $159, though the predominant use case would normally involve a patient that is covered under their employer’s insurance.

Last year, Heal expanded into telehealth too, allowing doctors to provide follow-on assessments from afar, with remote consultations costing $79 for someone not under their employer’s insurance.

Above: Heal telehealth consultation

So while house calls serve as the foundation for Heal’s business, it ultimately now caters to both in-person and remote health care — which is just as well given the COVID-19 crisis which 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 on the 36 million that had been expected before the pandemic struck.

Over the past few months, 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 that it has seen an 800% growth in telemedicine usage over the past few months, though he also noted that his company had seen “record high demand” for house calls too.

“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.”

Choices

When VentureBeat covered Heal’s last round of funding back in 2018, Desai referred to telemedicine as a “short-sighted approach” as it “pulls the doctor further apart from the patient.” However, Desai clarified these comments, noting that “telemedicine alone” 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 percent of care outcomes, and house calls enable those factors to be seen first-hand and integrated into a personal, effective care plan.”

It’s worth noting that Heal’s telehealth offering isn’t tethered to house calls though, as anyone can use the platform to arrange a virtual visit at any time. But having these various options are what lies at the core of Heal’s appeal: you can have purely in-home visits, entirely remote consultations, or a mix of both.

“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 make the doctor-patient relationship more precise, proactive, data-driven, and personal.”

Prior to now, Heal had raised around $70 million, including its $20 million series C from two years ago, and with another $100 million in the bank from a major insurance provider in the U.S., the company is well-positioned to double down on its house calls and telemedicine platform, expanding it to more markets including Chicago, Charlotte, Houston, and elsewhere.

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