Providence spins out intelligence-driven patient scheduler

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Not-for-profit Catholic health system Providence is spinning off its in-house technology syncing provider availability and patient scheduling, and has already scored several health systems as new client after its latest funding round.

Providence’s tool, called DexCare, will be used by several health systems, including Community Health Network, Froedtert Health and Houston Methodist. DexCare is akin to an air traffic-controller algorithm used by existing and potential patients to get the quickest and most appropriate health services needed.

The digital care operating system was initially built by Providence to manage ambulatory care, and the hospital system said DexCare has provided a new stream of patients, 30% who are new to Providence and 73% who have commercial insurance.

To use the tool, a consumer would input several factors, like their health issue, the acuity level and preference of virtual care or going to a brick-and-mortar location. DexCare then spits out recommendations on telehealth compared to in person, the best provider based on health needs and the soonest available appointment. It also provides registers the patient, manages insurance payments and is connected to the system’s electronic medical records.

The tool received $20 million in an oversubscribed series A funding round. The new funding round includes investments from Frist Cressey Ventures, Kaiser Permanente Ventures, SpringRock Ventures and Providence Ventures, and DexCare is now its own separate company.

Derek Streat, the CEO of DexCare, said Providence has shaved off about 22% off the cost of a low-acuity visit. That, coupled with new patients receiving care from the system, eventually ended up making Providence’s virtual ExpressCare line profitable and could help other health systems.

“If, for example, certain doctors aren’t getting patients because their last name happens to be start with a ‘Z’ and all the doctors with an ‘A’ are getting the patients, we’ll start balancing that load across the health system,” Streat said. “And that has the effect of lowering costs as well because now they’re of balancing load over resources to get those doctors seeing patients, and it’s lowering the time of delivering care becasue there’s no backlog with a few physicians.”

Dr. Sarah Pletcher, vice president and executive medical director of virtual care at Houston Methodist, said that the platform has helped manage an increased demand for virtual care in light of the pandemic.

“Our virtual infrastructure had to facilitate that richness,” Pletcher said. “DexCare offers us a ‘wrapper’ that pulls patients and consumers into our environment with ease.”

Former Providence entrepreneurs-in-residence Derek Streat and Sean O’Connor were named CEO and chief commercial officer. Lynne Chou O’Keefe, the founder and managing partner of Define Ventures, and Aaron Martin, executive vice president and chief digital officer at Providence, will join DexCare’s board of directors.

Streat said Froedtert Health in Wisconsin is using DexCare for its orthopedic business almost like a triage mechanism. The system’s algorithm can take pertinent information like the level of pain and how long a patient has experienced it, and route the patient to appropriate care.
Dexcare is the third technology incubated by the Providence Digital Innovation Group. The first was Xealth, which works with providers to prescribe and monitor digital health content and apps and was spun out in 2017. The second was Circle in 2018, a women’s health technology company.

The Series A funding of DexCare is the latest in a wave of digital health innovation by providers and others in the healthcare space. For instance, between 2011 and 2020 $39.5 billion in investments went to digital health startups, with 40% of funds raised in 2018 and 2019.

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