Crossover Health, which provides medical services to large employers, Apple and Facebook among them, has acquired Sherpaa, an asynchronous telehealth company that has also mostly focused on serving employer populations.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sherpaa founder Dr. Jay Parkinson and his team will all become part of Crossover Health.
“Our physicians work in designated care teams for a defined group of patients. So a primary care physician would sit right next to a behavioral health therapist, who sits next to the health coach — they literally physically sit together,” Dr. Scott Shreeve, CEO and cofounder of Crossover Health, told MobiHealthNews. “As we look at incorporating Sherpaa into our business, what we will be creating is a virtual primary care practice, which will be staffed by virtualists. Now what’s interesting is they aren’t home by themselves on their computers; they’re actually physically co-located and we’re actually building a virtual care center in New York to complement our in-person physical center.”
Sherpaa has raised a total of $8 million. (Though Parkinson maintains that the company no longer operates as a VC-funded company after a falling out with Softbank, his investors have told MobiHealthNews otherwise.)
For Crossover Health, founded in 2010, the move to buy Sherpaa is an effort to address the changing nature of workforces, which are rarely anymore concentrated in one or even a handful of cities.
“What’s happening is even with all [our] success we’re only taking care of 20 percent of the workforce of our current employer clients,” Shreeve said. “And that’s because 80 percent of them are remote to where that physical center is. So there’s been this natural need for us to really extend and expand out own care capabilities beyond the physical centers to now incorporate digital health really in response to where we thought the market should go, but also where our employers wanted to take us.”
With Sherpaa’s technology, Crossover Health will be able to offer a tiered system that provides in-person care to employees at a central site and comparable virtual care to remote employees. Even for employees near an in-person clinic, virtual care may become their first option.
“I think the challenge is we’re still exam room-driven, even with connected care,” Parkinson said. “So the challenge is to ask: What does online-first care, and an exam room visit second only when necessary, look like? How does that change the cost structure? How does that change the convenience, and the way doctors and patients communicate? And ultimately how does that effect what these physical centers actually look and function? Because if they’re designed to do the things that purely online can’t do, that gets really interesting.”
Sherpaa, or more specifically Parkinson, is well-known in digital health circles for fiercely advocating that video, or even telephone, visits are not the most practical telehealth modality, but instead asynchronous care, via apps and messaging, is the best way to go. And Sherpaa has been building out an asynchronous care system which includes diagnosis, prescription, and referrals, since 2012, and operating it profitably.
For Parkinson, he chose to sell to Crossover partly because of their alignment on not only the right way to provide care, but also the importance of eschewing the fee-for-service business model.
“Scott’s been poking around, I’ve been poking around,” he said. “We came together because we felt that we both had built that non-fee-for-service business model. And if it’s not fee for service, that unlocks totally new care practices. So it’s more about how can you deliver care in a more rational way. That’s really what this is. It’s an entirely new care model. It’s going to be unprecedented in the way it operates. The history of Crossover has been about the physical centers, Sherpaa has been about virtual, but it’s really about sort of marrying them.”