Elation adds medical biller Lightning MD with plans to be the sector's first all-in-one technology solution

EHR provider Elation Health announced its acquisition of medical billing company Lightning MD.

The growth adds a piece to the Elation puzzle as it seeks to become the sector's first all-in-one technology solution for primary care practices, the company said.

Lightning’s billing interface will add to Elation’s suite of over 20 practice management and billing solutions. Lightning was founded in 2017 by registered nurses Kelly Schoenfeld and Brian Esser with the goal of creating a convenient, intuitive billing interface with user experience as its top priority.

Elation co-founder and CEO Kyna Fong, Ph.D., said that Lightning brings a central value shared with Elation Health: streamlining primary care. Fong founded the San Francisco-based company with her brother after the siblings helped their father, a primary care physician, bring his practice to the U.S. from Canada.

“There are analogies in our in our background with the background of the Lightning founders,” Fong told Fierce Healthcare. “Our formative experiences are about healthcare on the front lines of care. They took the route of removing the billing overheads to enable high quality care, and to date, we've focused more on the clinical, so it's definitely a powerful and exciting integration.”

The EHR provider’s all-in-one beta solution including Lightning’s billing tools is set to be accessible for existing small practice customers this summer and openly accessible later this year. 

The platform used by 24,000 clinicians claims to help enterprise clients achieve success in value-based care models, driving results such as 30% healthcare cost savings and four times reduction in referrals to high-cost specialists. 

Elation's application programming interface (API) is built to give customers the ability to structure proprietary applications in a way that invites communication between clinical and operations teams. The connections have been brought to scale with over 1 million daily API calls, according to Elation Health executives.

Lightning also boasts its own telehealth platform that Fong says has strengths that will be integrated into Elation’s own virtual platform. Lightning’s billing technology will enable an intuitive connection between billing and payers for Elation Health providers.

Wherever the patient goes in the healthcare system, providers need to be the quarterback, Fong said. That means interoperability at every turn, even in small clinics. “I think that connectivity, to follow the patient longitudinally and be accountable to their care, is essential as we continue to move into a more optimized or more sustainable healthcare system,” Fong said.

As value-based care moves from a buzzword to a robust care model, Fong sees billing as an invaluable piece to the Elation Health puzzle. Without getting paid for it, value-based care will never manifest as a concrete corner of healthcare, she said.

“The complexity of billing and getting paid as we transition to value-based care is just getting increasingly complex as providers have to manage many different ways and forms of getting paid. Even different payers and their value-based programs have different billing codes that they're looking for, in addition to the classic fee for service, and so we see this as really an opportunity to meet our practices where their needs are growing as challenges on the payer side are getting more complex,” Fong said.

"The opportunity to offer it in an all-in-one package where the clinical is integrated really allows us to get the right information at the right time to ensure for physicians are getting credit and getting paid for the care they're delivering."

Through this integration, providers can be prompted by billing to collect information before or during a visit. This streamlining, Fong said, is only possible in an end-to-end platform that frees up clinician time to focus on patient care as opposed to moving through different interfaces.

“We are very focused on going deep and enabling high value, primary care,” Fong said. “We believe that the future of sustainable healthcare is led by primary care. And the way we think about our roadmap, and our future expansion and growth is really with the technologies that enable that success.”

Clinicians using the Elation work in practices along the spectrum from independent clinics to enterprise providers, the latter being a recent area of notable growth according to Fong.

Recent partnerships include Galileo’s primary care practices across all 50 states, which use a “heavily data-driven” approach to provide longitudinal virtual primary care now aided by Elation. At the end of last year, Elation also teamed up with Ribbon Health to integrate Ribbon’s API data insights into its EHR system. Ribbon’s provider directory helped fill the need for primary care providers to offer the right referrals at the point of care. The EHR provider also paired up with Dock Health last summer to automate downstream clinical trial tasks and address provider burnout.

Elation has long-standing partnerships providing the operating technology for large and innovative primary care providers, including Crossover Health, Cityblock Health and Firefly Health.

In July 2022, the company raised a $50 million series D round, elevating the EHR provider's total raised to $108 million to date.