Carbon Health, a startup developing a mobile platform for connecting patients to urgent and primary care, has merged with the Northern California-based Direct Urgent Care network.
The result is network of seven brick-and-mortar clinics caring for 40,000 active patients, all of which is supported by a connected telehealth app that also support appointment management, payments, EHR access, prescription fulfillment and other capabilities aimed at delivering a complete continuum of care.
Although the new entity appears to be keeping Carbon Health’s name, Direct Urgent Care founder Dr. Caesar Djavaherian — who will now be serving as chief medical officer at Carbon Health — stressed that the change was “true merger” of two companies with very complementary approaches to care, as opposed to one company’s acquisition of the other.
“So many technology initiatives fail, mostly because there is a disconnect between what the engineers saw as important and what the providers and patients saw as important,” Djavaherian told MobiHealthNews. “When we met with Carbon Health about a year and a half ago — we started working together just over a year [ago] — we saw tremendous synergies in actually becoming one company, marrying the technology with the healthcare delivery side and creating this vertically integrated experience to better serve our patients. Now we can actually take data that we generate from our electronic health record intake, combine that with feedback from the providers [and] staff members, and then iterate on the technology side to create a much better experience and drive down costs as well.”
Djavaherian said that there would be no major staffing shakeups for the two companies as a result of the merger, and that executives from each will be taking on new positions within the new entity.
What’s the impact
The addition of physical care locations to Carbon Health’s platform certainly gives the service a greater foothold in the Northern California healthcare market. However, Djavaherian noted that the company’s tech-driven service could see wider implementation across the country as a result of partnerships with other care providers.
“We’re absolutely using our telemedicine platform to go beyond the local market in this state, but one of our core beliefs is that technology alone won’t solve all of healthcare’s problems,” he said. “We are actually going outside of California. We have some potential partners in New York that we’re talking to, in the Southeast. We used our local marketplace as a testing ground to see whether this could drive down cost, if it could improve the patient and provider’s experience. Once we decided that it could, the merged company made sense in that [it] would deliver the same kind of product across the country.”
The merged company's vertical offering also gives it the opportunity to collect a wider range of health data that can be translated into improved outcomes for its patients, Djavaherian continued.
“One of the things that gets missed is the importance of using big data to make a better experience. So for example, if we know what drives satisfaction scores, we can actually in a very granular way identify what those components are and iterate to make it better. What that translates to is better delivery of care,” he said.
What’s the trend
A growing number of players are eyeing mobile platforms as the doorway to physical urgent and primary care locations, albeit to different degrees of continuity. Take, for instance, Iora Health’s digital-physical approach to primary care for the Medicare population, or K Health's free diagnosis and care connection app. In fact, just this morning 98point6 announced $50 million in funding for its texting-driven primary care delivery and referral platform.
On the record
“Our mission is to make world class healthcare accessible to everyone. Traditional healthcare models are centered around doctors and hospitals, but we are rebuilding an entirely new system that specifically meets the needs of the people who matter the most — the patients,” Eren Bali, cofounder and CEO of Carbon Health, said in a statement. “By combining Direct Urgent Care's clinical expertise with our great technology platform, we are able to provide an amazing care experience without incurring any additional costs.”