Welkin Health gets $8M to scale, build out patient relationship management offering

By Jonah Comstock
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San Francisco-based Welkin Health, which which specializes in patient relationship management through messaging services and workflow organization, has raised $8 million in a new round led by Thrive Capital. This brings Welkin’s total funding to $12 million.

“We’re extremely proud of the team we’ve built at Welkin,” Chase Hensel, Welkin’s CEO and cofounder, said in a statement. “We started this company to improve the process of how healthcare is accessed and delivered, in order to change people’s lives for the better. Thrive’s support is exciting for us and really validates that the work we’re doing in this space is on point.”

Welkin Health started out offering a digital therapeutic for diabetes. But the company found that a number of companies trying to create digital therapeutics were lacking a tool that allowed them to comprehensively coordinate relationships with a large group of patients.

“What we observed over the past couple of years is the software people were using behind the scenes to create patient services was pretty bad,” Hensel told MobiHealthNews. “And that’s true in diabetes but also true in a lot of other situations as well. Historically what we found was all of these companies making digital therapeutics, what they ended up building was basically a CRM [(customer relationship management platform)] behind the scenes, because they didn’t have a good platform for patient service. So we realized that and started basically selling our software to those folks to help them make those platforms.”

The problem with CRMs and ticketing systems is they aren’t designed for healthcare and can’t be easily reconfigured on a workflow level, Hensel explained.

“Your tool for data entry is the ticket, but then you need to tie into some communications system like call center software, like email, or plug some sort of API to go into an app,” he said. “And then you need a bunch of custom business logic outside of the ticketing tool and outside of communications software that says ‘Hey I haven’t heard from this patient in two weeks. Maybe I should think about giving them a call.’ So you end up with a Frankenstein or like a Rube Goldberg machine to try to get this software working.”

Welkin combines the rules engine and the patient management into a single highly configurable program. The company works with vendors like Lyra Health and Neurotrack, the occasional managed care organization like the Community Health Center Network, and some large pharmaceutical companies.

Hensel says the funding will be used to make the software even more versatile, so that, for instance, it can be used to A/B test different ways of reaching out to patients. It will also be used to expand the team (the company grew from 17 to 31 employees this year) and expand sales and marketing efforts. He expects the number of companies that benefit from Welkin’s offering will only grow.

“I think the reason why all this is happening right now is just there is this increase in focus on trying to reduce waste in the system and create actual value-based care based on outcomes,” he said. “And what this means is that people who didn’t use to think of themselves this way are becoming service providers somehow. Your average device manufacturer is all of a sudden thinking that it’s really important to track real-world outcomes because they need to have better accountability as they’re selling their products and getting formulary apps up.”