Providence St. Joseph Health acquires Medicast, an early app-enabled house call service provider

By Jonah Comstock
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Medicast, the company that helped launch the recent mobile-enabled physician house call trend, has been acquired by Providence St. Joseph Health, a Washington state-based health system formed from the recently merged Providence Health & Services and St. Joseph Health System.

"I’m thrilled to announce that Medicast has been acquired by Providence, and that we will be joining the system’s Strategy & Innovation group," the founding team wrote in a Medium post. "We’re super excited about the value that Providence sees in our technology and our team, and we intend to continue building great new features into our platform. As Providence continues to move healthcare into the digital age, the Medicast platform will be a key component of a wider strategy to ensure that more patients can have access to convenient, compassionate care delivered both in-person and virtually."

Medicast was founded in late 2012 and launched in 2013 in a handful of cities including Miami, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The following year they participated in Sprint's Mobile Health Accelerator in Kansas City. They were also members of StartUp Health. The startup, which offers in-person house calls set up via a mobile app, raised a couple million dollars in seed funding. 

According to the Medium post, Medicast started out with a direct-to-consumer mindset, but later started working with providers -- including its eventual acquirer Providence St. Joseph, which has been a customer of Medicast for about 18 months.

"Over time, we realized the importance of working more closely with health systems and collaborating with them as a means of launching innovative at-home care services that would be powered by the Medicast platform, but offered under a health system’s brand and provided by its own caregivers," the founding team wrote. "We learned that healthcare experiences should not be purely transactional, but that house calls should be a part of a broader continuum of care — one delivered by health systems with a trusted brand and vast provider network, and more importantly, one that patients could go to for all of their healthcare needs beyond a single primary or urgent care episode."

Providence St. Joseph has a $150 million venture fund focused on healthcare innovation and a digital innovation group. Just days after announcing the acquisition of Medicast, one hospital in the network launched a new telehealth service called Health eXpress, which offers video visits with nurse practitioners for $39 a piece. 

According to Medicast, the company will continue to operate as it did before. They've promised "some exciting things in the pipeline" post-acquisition.

A number of house call apps have launched in the last two years, many of them with significant funding rounds. Those include Heal, Pager, Circle Medical, Retrace Health, Dispatch Health, FirstLine, FRND, and PediaQ. The model also has its critics, including Sherpaa founder Dr. Jay Parkinson, who launched a prototype version of the smartphone-enabled house call service in 2007 to serve his own patients in Brooklyn, NY, and subsequently declared it impossible to scale effectively.