The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a shift to virtual care with telehealth visits continuing at a pace much higher than pre-pandemic levels.
But there are necessary services that can’t be performed virtually, such as blood draws for lab tests and vitals checks.
Sprinter Health launched out of stealth as an on-demand mobile health company to help fill these gaps. The startup sends full-time nurses and phlebotomists, who the company calls “sprinters,” into patients’ homes for lab draws, vitals checks like blood pressure and heart rate and COVID-19 testing.
The company addresses that “last mile” in modern healthcare delivery by making access to the appropriate level of clinician as easy as ordering food delivery, like a DoorDash for lab draws, according to co-founders Max Cohen and Cameron Behar.
“We do believe that, in time, all health companies will be home health companies, at least as part of their business, and there is a huge opportunity to help drive health home,” Behar, who serves as chief technology officer, told Fierce Healthcare.
Sprinter Health just banked $33 million in series A funding, led by Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). General Catalyst, Accel, GV (formerly Google Ventures) and other leading investors also participated in the round. Prominent angels who backed Sprinter Health’s round include Tony Xu, CEO and co-founder of DoorDash, and Senator Bill Frist.
As technologists—both Cohen and Behar have leadership experience at Facebook and Google—the pair felt they were well equipped to address the technological gaps and barriers for access to diagnostics at scale.
The company doesn’t want to replace existing providers, specialty labs or other systems that work well, but rather to extend those providers’ reach, Cohen, who serves as CEO at Sprinter Health, said.
In addition to serving patients directly, Sprinter Health has partnered with leading specialty labs and physician practices and plans to team up with insurance companies, employers and health systems.
While some digital health companies focus on sending medical kits to patients to perform self-exams, there can be challenges with patients setting up and operating the equipment successfully.
“We can send a dedicated clinical professional equipped with the right technology to gather their health data and get it to the providers to make informed medical decisions,” Cohen said.
Sprinter Health is currently providing services in the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, with plans to expand to Los Angeles next month and San Diego soon to follow.
The series A funding will fuel the company’s growth into new markets, specifically Texas and Florida in early 2022, Cohen said. Texas is a “hotbed of innovation” while Florida is a hub for value-based care and can serve as a test-bed for providing value to organizations participating in at-risk models, Behar said.
Behar said the company has made significant investments in its technology, such as building out its routing optimization system to ensure “sprinters” get to patients in a timely way. “We’re not just giving four-hour ‘plumber time’ windows,” he said.
The company also has worked to simplify the booking process for patients and provide pricing transparency along with “DoorDash-like messaging” that alerts users that a “sprinter” is on the way to their house.
The clinical professionals follow a Sprinter Checklist, which was developed with clinicians to customize services on a per-patient, per-provider basis.
“We want to bring that same level of user experience that represents the best of what tech has to offer and bring that over to the healthcare side so it’s much more patient-focused,” Behar said.
The booming at-home care market
“There’s tons of competition, and we see that as a good thing,” Cohen said. “I think DispatchHealth and Heal, most of them play at a different level of the space. We’re on the affordable side of the spectrum, whereas they are on the medical and clinical decision-making side of the spectrum, as they are sending in doctors and nurse practitioners. We send in clinical professionals. I think this is potentially creating a market where we see the value of sending people into the home, and if they are successful, that’s, frankly, good for us.”
Julie Yoo, general partner at investor 16z, who will be joining Sprinter’s board, said every healthcare company has been forced to contemplate its strategy for delivering services in the home.
“The world-class team at Sprinter Health has created the infrastructure to democratize access to clinical services in the home that enable just that,” Yoo said.