98point6 raises $50mn Series C to reimagine primary care
Digital healthcare company 98point6 has announced that it has officially completed its Series C, raising $50mn. The Merchant Banking Division of Goldman Sachs was an anchor investor in the Series C round, which was further supported by existing investors, bringing the total amount raised to $86.1mn since the company's inception in 2015.
Founded in 2015, 98point6 is pioneering a new approach to primary care. By pairing deep technology with board-certified physicians, the company aims to make primary care more accessible and affordable—leading to better health and reducing the cost of care.
The funding will enable 98point6 to scale and fulfil the strong commercial demand of its text-based primary care service, grow its product and physician teams, expand the capabilities of the platform and continue to build its channels. Now available in 40 states and Washington, D.C. (reaching 92% of the US adult population), the service is slated to be available in all 50 states by early 2019.
Long wait times, rising patient costs and the busy lifestyles are preventing patients of visiting the doctor's office and led to consumer disengagement from a relationship with primary care. 98point6 combines artificial intelligence with board-certified physicians to deliver affordable, high-quality care right to a patient's smartphone.
This technology assists doctors by automating and completing tasks that don't require direct physician interaction, allowing them to focus their time on treating more patients. As a result, 98point6 members have experienced a 97% in-app resolution rate with more than one-third of them receiving care in non-traditional locations such as airports, coffee shops, in-transit or at work.
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"Primary care is the main entry point for individuals into an increasingly complex healthcare system, making it the ideal setting for providing patient education, encouraging preventive care and controlling downstream costs," said Jo Natauri, Global Head of Healthcare Investing for the Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division.
"We are excited to partner with 98point6 because they are dedicated to improving the physician and patient experience—empowering board-certified physicians with technology to enhance care delivery and drive patient engagement."
The latest funding will also allow for expansion into new markets, including health plans, health systems and higher education. To date, 98point6 has contracted with 27 companies nationwide across a range of industries (including retail, technology, financial services, healthcare and manufacturing) and is on track to have 100,000 members under contract through employers by the end of the year. Companies that have launched the 98point6 service to their members include Seattle Children's Hospital, Aegis Living and Zones, Inc.
"We set out to make primary care accessible and affordable for everyone, to address a crisis in America that has led to nearly one-fifth of the population not having a relationship with primary care," added Robbie Cape, CEO and Co-founder of 98point6. "The phenomenal demand we've seen in just a short period of time reaffirms the need for 98point6, and this latest investment will enable us to deliver on our vision, driving deep engagement with our patients and empowering them to take control of their health."
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025.
At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance.
Meeting regulation requirements
It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.
Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.
However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.
Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk.
With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?
Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.
Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.
Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools.
When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole.
To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone.