Minneapolis, Minnesota-based RetraceHealth has raised $1 milion from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, HealthEast Care System, and McKesson Ventures for its remote primary care offering.
RetraceHealth's founder Thompson Aderinkomi told MobiHealthNews that he started the company in 2013 after a bad experience while taking his son to the doctor’s office. Aderinkomi explained that his son came down with an aggressive cough and fever, which didn’t go away, so they went to a clinic. During the first visit, the doctors said it was viral and would resolve itself, but it didn’t. After three more doctor’s visits, his son was diagnosed with pneumonia.
“To add insult to injury we were on a high deductible plan in 2012, a $7,000 deductible, and the bill that we finally got was for $664.28,” Aderinkomi said. “This was just infuriating. Not only did we waste a bunch of time, not only did we lose hours of sleep, we had to pay hundreds of dollars. I sat there thinking with my wife, why is the system like this? I worked in the healthcare system for 10 years at that point, as a healthcare economist, but ... I had no idea that it was so crappy. It was just completely bogus. We were completely hoodwinked.”
Aderinkomi said that when he was first brainstorming starting a company, his basic premise was to retrace his steps — that there was a lot to learn from the past and not everything needed to be abandoned.
“If we retrace our steps, maybe we will find some things that we should pick back up,” Aderinkomi continued. “That was the reason I named the company that, long before i thought we would ever be doing home visits.”
The company plans to provide patients with primary care via video visits and in-person, home visits. Patients are able to schedule a visit on the company's website and then chat with the clinician from a phone, tablet, or computer. For any kind of health concern that needs to be addressed in-person, like lab tests, the clinician will visit the patient’s home.
RetraceHealth offers pay as you go pricing or membership pricing. If users want to pay as they go, video visits cost $60, home visits cost $150, home visits plus labs cost $190 (the a follow-up visit is free), in-home x-rays cost $160, and ultrasounds cost $160. An individual membership costs $50 per month and a family membership costs $100 per month. RetraceHealth is also in-network with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota. One of the company’s other investors, HealthEast Care System, is also a customer.
RetraceHealth only hires nurse practitioners to treat patients. In about 20 states, nurse practitioners are able to practice independently in primary care.
“And those states, of which Minnesota is one, it’s highly unlikely we would refer a patient out to another primary care medical doctor, but we might refer them out to a specialist,” Aderinkomi said. “That’s something a family care doctor would do anyways.”
Currently, the service is offered in almost the entire state of Minnesota, but the company will use the funds to expand the service out of the state — but only to states that offer nurse practitioners the same autonomy. Some of these include Connecticut, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Rhode Island.
Aderinkomi said he believes there are many benefits to using a nurse practitioner for his service instead of a primary care MD.
“Given the company that I am working on, I believe in the model of using nurse practitioners,” he said. “They oftentimes have better outcomes than medical doctors. They get sued less often. One interesting fact is that the malpractice insurance costs less than for a medical doctor even in the same specialty. That says something, that means something. The way they are trained is different and most nurse practitioners practice as a nurse, an RN, before becoming a nurse practitioner. So they enter it in a different way. They approach being a nurse practitioner differently, having that experience of serving patients as an RN beforehand.”
Another house call app that offers doctor house calls for primary care, called Circle Medical, raised $2.9 million a few months ago. Types of visits that Circle Medical offers include annual wellness exams, vaccinations and flu shots, chronic condition management, and treatment if the user is sick or injured.