Iora Health Dials Up $75M to Expand Primary Care Clinics

Xconomy Boston — 

[Updated 10/13/16, 5:33 pm, with CEO comments at end of story.] Investors just pumped $75 million into Iora Health in a fresh round aimed at helping the Boston-based startup expand its primary care practices to more locations and improve the software that helps run them.

The Series D round announced today was led by Singapore-based Temasek, with contributions from previous backers .406 Ventures, Flare Capital Partners, F-Prime Capital, GE Ventures, Khosla Ventures, Polaris Partners, and Rice Management Company.

Iora has now raised north of $123 million from investors since it was founded in 2011 by physician Rushika Fernandopulle, the company’s CEO.

Iora is one of the companies trying to change the way healthcare is delivered, through an approach that emphasizes more personalized care, more communication between patients and caregivers, and (ideally) lower costs.

The company runs primary care clinics where a team of doctors, nurses, and health coaches—aided by software developed by Iora—track patients’ health. The software helps clinic employees flag patients who may need care. As Xconomy’s David Holley reported last year, the system tabulates a “worry score” for each patient, based on data logged from clinical visits and medical claims. Those scores tell a clinic employee whether a patient might be in need of a check up. The employee will then call to encourage the patient to come in for a visit.

Iora’s software also makes it easy for patients to view their medical records and to share notes with caregivers, the company says.

The key to Iora’s model is that most patients don’t pay extra for more visits. The company signs deals with customers, such as health insurers and employers, who pay Iora a flat monthly fee instead of making traditional fee-for-service payments for the healthcare Iora provides to insured patients or employees. That means patients don’t pay anything out of pocket (except for maybe a small co-pay) and can visit the clinic as often as they want, the company has said. (Iora has also set up clinics where patients pay a monthly membership fee for primary care services, but the amount is lower than the typical monthly deductible for a health insurance plan.)

The idea is that Iora’s healthcare providers treat people when they’re sick, of course, but also see them when they’re healthy. And it’s not just about traditional office visits—caregivers also interact with patients via phone, e-mail, text message, and even home visits. Iora sees that as a more proactive approach that in theory could improve patient health, reduce costs, and get patients more involved in their care.

Another healthcare company, One Medical, has launched a similar network of physician practices, and raised $65 million from investors late last year. That San Francisco-based company offers patients the option to sign up with one of its primary care doctors for an annual fee, in return for quicker appointments, more intensive preventive care, and enhanced communication channels with providers. The patients’ primary insurance carriers pay for One Medical’s services to patients.

Iora has 34 clinics located in 11 metropolitan areas across the U.S., including Boston, New York, Seattle, Denver, Chicago, and Las Vegas.

Fernandopulle has said he wants to open Iora primary care clinics around the world. The backing of a Singapore investor in this funding round might signal that those plans are moving forward.

“Temasek’s investment in Iora will accelerate our vision of fixing health care delivery, which is one of the largest business and social problems, not just in the U.S., but globally,” Fernandopulle said in a press release announcing the new round.

Reached by phone Thursday evening, Fernandopulle said Iora isn’t announcing any plans to expand internationally. “But certainly the problems we’re addressing and solutions we have of high impact, relationship-based care could work in other places,” he added.

Fernandopulle said Iora plans to continue opening new practices in the U.S., but he declined to share more details. Iora is on pace to triple its annual revenue this year, he said.

The new funding gives Iora a boost, but it still has a lot of work ahead as it tries to solve hard problems in healthcare. “I think we do a good job already, but I think there’s more we could do better,” Fernandopulle said.

Fernandopulle is pictured below, second from right, speaking at an Xconomy event in 2014.

©KeithSpiroPhoto courtesy of Kendall Press

©KeithSpiroPhoto courtesy of Kendall Press