Heritage Group, Sutter Health invest $23.6M in MDLive

By Brian Dolan
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MDLiveSunrise, Florida-based MDLive, which offers telehealth services including patient-to-physician remote visits via mobile devices, has raised $23.6 million in nw funding led by Heritage Group with participation from Sutter Health and Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors. The company's first strategic investor and connected care customer was Norfolk, Virginia-based healthcare system Sentara Healthcare, which invested in late 2012. Around that same time John Sculley, the former CEO of Apple and Pepsi, invested too and became the company's vice chair. MDLive's total funding to date is approximately $50 million, CEO Randy Parker told MobiHealthNews in an interview.

"MDLive is a healthcare system in the cloud," Parker said. "We provide many of the services that a traditional healthcare system would provide, and we have doctors, nurses, and specialists. We do claims billing. We have engagement and implementation. We have analytical requirements to provide return on investment to our clients, but what what we do not have is a brick and mortar presence."

That's why, Parker said, MDLive is partnering with provider organizations across the country, including those that have invested: Sentara, Sutter, and Michigan's Trinity Health system, which is one of the many healthcare systems that is an investor and partner at Heritage Group. 

Last April MDLive inked a deal with Cigna that would equip some of its health plan members through self-insured employers access to online video, telephone or email consultations with the over 2,000 physicians that were in MDLive's network at the time. These remote visits would be for colds, the flu, rashes, sinus issues or headaches for children and adults. Parker said that the Cigna deal is on track and still set to officially launch early this year.

That type of service was MDLive's initial focus when it launched in 2006 -- "low acuity redirection, so that the patient can get access, advice, and treatment where appropriate but also determine if they had to go to a higher cost of care," Parker said and it continues to be to this day. He said that redirection might include an emergency room visit on the high end, but also an in-person visit to the doctor's office, which can sometimes cost upwards of $150, he said. "Those visits could be avoided if you had access to a certified physician who would be able to go through a set of questions about your health risk or your medical intake."

As its growing list of healthcare provider investors suggests, MDLive is working to integrate its virtual care service with brick and mortar healthcare providers like Sutter and Trinity.

"We are building a national integrated delivery network allowing the virtual care of MDLive to integrate with the brick and mortar and expertise of the health system partner that is exclusive and dedicated to that area," Parker said. "Sutter and Sentara are going to be integral to this strategy. They won't only be our connected care partner for their markets, but also deeply involved in establishing some of our strategies." Parker said, for example: Help MDLive determine how it can help a Sentara patient who lives in Virginia and is a MDLive customer to receive coordinated care in San Francisco "because the two organizations can view the patient's Epic chart and are able to collaborate through MDLive."

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