SteadyMD buys credential sharing network BlocHealth

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The company builds and maintains a clinician network that digital health companies can tap into

As we all know by now, COVID was a boon to telehealth and digital health companies, as the entire healthcare system was forced to implement strategies to connect to their patients digitally, basically overnight, thanks to the pandemic. That’s easier said than done, though: it requires a network of clinicians that they can plug into, who also need to be licensed and credentialed for their state.

That’s more than what most digital health companies have the capacity for, so B2B telehealth infrastructure company SteadyMD provides it for them: the company takes the complexity and the cost and expenses of building and maintaining a clinician network off the hands of the digital health companies, while also building technology so they can easily connect to that network. 

Now, the company enhancing its value proposition even further, announcing on Tuesday that it made its first ever acquisition, buying clinician licensing, credentialing, and payer enrollment platform BlocHealth

While no financial terms of the deal were disclosed, but Guy Friedman, the company’s co-founder and CEO, revealed that, for the time being, BlockHealth will remain a separate brand under the SteadyMD name, and that Jared S. Taylor, the founder of BlocHealth, will remain as the company’s CEO.

Providing telehealth infrastructure

SteadyMD started out as a direct-to-consumer virtual primary care business, before shifting to its current model, and it was during that time that it “built all this infrastructure to run our own platform,” Friedman explained.

That included a team to recruit, manage, and train clinicians, clinical and medical operations to oversee and manage those clinicians, and also clinical protocols for all the different use cases, prescriptions, labs, and referrals.

“We had a great product and technology to connect the patient experience to the clinician experience, and then a lot of the legal and regulatory infrastructure as well, which is a beast in telemedicine, if you know the space,” he said.

Around 2020, Friedman saw the shift to digital health happening, with billions of dollars being poured into the space. This was happening even before COVID put that into overdrive, and that that’s why the decision was made to take that infrastructure SteadyMD had built up and begin offering it as its own service to companies who needed to have their own digital health and telehealth capabilities.

“Companies might have a front end patient experience that integrates into our back end but the cost to build and maintain a 50 state, on-demand clinician network across recruiting, training, matching your forecast to clinician skill set and state licensure, and overseeing managing those clinicians is years and millions of dollars for most companies,” said Friedman.

“We allow them to just plug into our system and now they have a turnkey, clinician network that they can utilize to see patients all over the country very quickly, as compared to building it yourself would be years and years of investment as well as manpower.”

Licensing and credentialing 

One aspect of digital health that’s especially complex, but also ncessary, is licensing and credentialing, which allows clinicians to see patients in certain states; SteadyMD had built its own internal licensing team for that purpose, but was also using BlocHealth for some of its licensing efforts.

Now that BlocHealth has been acquired, the entire team will be coming to SteadyMD, and will be augmenting the existing licensing team.

While SteadyMD will provide the network, its digital health clients will go to BlocHealth, which will automate the process across every state licensure application, every payer enrollment and credentialing opportunity. 

“It makes perfect sense to link up with a company like that, because it’s the same universe of clientele that we’re targeting, and just allows us to serve the industry in a more robust way. Now someone could just come to us for all the different things that they need versus having two or three vendors they go to,” Friedman said.

On top of that, once they have that doctor in a database, the companies will have a real-time view of capacity, meaning that the doctor has this skill set, whether they’re credentialed with certain payers, and licensed in specific states.

“You can imagine the enhanced capabilities once we are able to pull from that database and find clinicians quickly who are qualified to do digital health for different companies. That’s the vision: I want to have a real time view of clinician’s experience and be able to license and credential them quickly to help serve the whole industry.”

BlocHealth is used by companies that include hims & hers, Antidote, NOCD, and Found.

The home for the clinician in digital health

Friedman sees this acquisition as a potential new revenue opportunity for SteadyMD but, more important, he sees it as a symbol of what he wants SteadyMD to be in the industry: the home for the clinician in digital health. 

He believes that the share of visits in digital health will continue to increase as a share of overall visits, meaning in-person care is transitioning to digital health at an increasing rate every year.

“Given the tremendous amount of investment that’s been happening the last five years, we think we’re just in the first innings of that, where there’s going to be major winners in space and we want to be powering as much as possible,” he said.

“Right now, we are a critical infrastructure company to help power this whole industry. It does not make sense for every company in the space to recruit, manage, and train their own bespoke provider network. It just is not economically rational. We believe we’re going to be the equivalent of an AWS or Shopify that helps run and helps all these companies scale and grow with our team.”

(Image source: steadymd.com)

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