Grand Rounds Raises $40 Million to Help Patients Access Specialists

6/24/14Follow @xconomy

For about six months, Pat Martell experienced persistent headaches. He went back and forth with his doctor about treatments, but the aspirin and amoxicillin they tried weren’t working. “The doctor was out of ideas,” he says.

After an MRI, he got a call telling him to go straight to the emergency room: His doctors had found a brain tumor with multiple cysts.

At 22, Martell was hit with a bombshell diagnosis that needed immediate action. “We’d never had the experience of knowing anyone who has had brain surgery done,” he says. “We didn’t know where to go. And we did want a second opinion on course of action.”

Martell’s parents called a doctor friend for advice, and he suggested they get in touch with Grand Rounds, a San Francisco-based startup that connects patients to qualified specialists, both to set up treatment in their area, and to get a second opinion from doctors around the country. “We actually do, despite everything you read, have great healthcare in this country,” says Grand Rounds CEO and cofounder Owen Tripp. “The problem of all of it is an unfair lack of access. What Grand Rounds does is provide access to state-of-the-art care for the sole purpose of improving outcomes for patients.”

Tripp and his co-founder, Lawrence “Rusty” Hofmann, a professor of radiology at Stanford, founded the company three years ago, and so far they have 35 corporate customers, which cover approximately one million employees. Today, the company announced a Series B round of $40 million led by Greylock Partners, with participation from Venrock and Harrison Metal, bringing total funding to $51 million. The startup has less than 50 employees and approximately 1,000 consulting physicians, though it does not disclose the number of physicians it has on staff.

Tripp and Hofmann launched Grand Rounds with two goals: One, to connect patients to the best possible doctors, and two, to reduce the amount of money companies spend on healthcare. “What we really are after is making sure that no matter where you are as a patient in your healthcare journey, we get you connected with the best of the best,” Trip says. “The clever part about all of this is we actually save the patient, we save the system, a whole bunch of money. The biggest driver of costs in system today is inappropriate or ineffective care—things doctors or hospitals are trying that don’t deliver resolution.”

Eliminating incorrect diagnoses and unnecessary care by getting patients to the best doctors at the outset is a huge value proposition for the people who pay for the bulk of healthcare costs—namely employers, Tripp says. Though individuals can pay for Grand Rounds’ services out of pocket if necessary, the majority of the company’s customers are employers. They pay a monthly fee per employee, depending on the size of the company. Those with fewer than 1,000 employees, for example, pay $10 a head. Companies with between 2,500 and 4,999 employees pay $6.

There are, of course, other companies that offer easier access to medical treatment. New York-based ZocDoc, for instance, helps patients find doctors, including specialists, and book appointments online. Sherpaa, also based in New York, connects patients and doctors via video, apps, and text. In Boston, Best Doctors offers up second opinions, and institutions like the Cleveland Clinic have similar services.

Grand Rounds offers three main products. Visits connects patients with specialists in their area. With Opinions, the company gathers all of the necessary data—medical records, lab results, x-rays, etc.—and assigns the case to a staff doctor. That physician then connects with one of the top specialists in the field to review the case and reconsider the diagnosis. The third product, Stat, is for emergencies. If a patient is already in the hospital, he or his family members can connect with a specialist at the top of the field to work with the treating physician to figure out the best treatment options.

Patients who purchase Grand Rounds’ services directly pay $7,500 for Opinions and Stat products, while Visits costs $200.

Martell, the brain tumor patient, came in as an individual customer. Grand Rounds connected him with neurosurgeon William T. Curry at Massachusetts General Hospital. Martell went to the ER on a Thursday; Friday afternoon … Next Page »

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