Doctor On Demand lands $75M to invest in virtual primary care, behavioral health

Doctor On Demand wasn't planning to raise capital this year, but the company has seen demand for virtual visits surge during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The venture-backed telemedicine company raised $75 million in series D financing led by General Atlantic, a global growth equity firm, with participation from existing investors.

"By early March, every aspect of our business accelerated, sales, our new payer and employer pipeline swelled, demand from patients. We decided that now is a good time to pull everything in by a year and invest ahead of our schedule," Doctor On Demand CEO Hill Ferguson told Fierce Healthcare.

"Just as COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption curve of telemedicine, it also has accelerated our investment schedule to keep up with it," Ferguson said.

Doctor On Demand will use the funds to build out its technology and invest in its virtual primary care and behavioral health platform, he said.

The company has raised $236 million to date.

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The San Francisco-based company provides on-demand and scheduled visits with U.S.-licensed healthcare providers in both medical and behavioral health. The company currently covers more than 98 million lives.

“We believe virtual care has reached an inflection point, with significantly increased adoption levels, and that Doctor On Demand is well-positioned to capture the sustained growth of the broader industry," said Robbert Vorhoff, managing director and global head of healthcare at General Atlantic, in a statement.

The company more than doubled its covered lives in the past six months, propelling Doctor On Demand to 3 million virtual visits, the company said.

Doctor On Demand has been pushing forward to expand its virtual primary care services.

Last year, the company teamed up with Humana to launch a new virtual primary care model. Called On Hand, the plan gives patients access to a dedicated primary care physician as well as access to preventive care, urgent care and behavioral health through video visits with lower monthly premiums.

The new plan design represented a paradigm shift in healthcare, according to Chris Hunter, segment president, group, and military business at Humana.

The primary care model also demonstrated that Humana members can and will build long-term relationships with primary care providers and care teams in a virtual-first care setting, Hunter said in a statement.

In response to the public health emergency, the company mobilized quickly to roll out its critical virtual medical services to 33 million Medicare Part B beneficiaries across all 50 states, just weeks after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanded coverage to allow for the reimbursement of telemedicine visits for this high-risk patient population, the company said.

RELATED: Humana, Doctor On Demand launch virtual primary care health plan

Behavioral health visits are up 180% year over year, and the company's overall business is up triple digits, Ferguson said.

While COVID-19 has driven a sharp increase in the utilization of Doctor On Demand’s urgent care and behavioral health services, more than half of the company’s 2020 future growth is focused on the continued expansion of its virtual primary care offering.

“COVID-19 awakened the industry to the benefits of virtual care as a means to reach all patient populations, and at the same time, demonstrated the high quality of care that can be delivered in a virtual-first setting,” Ferguson said.

Not only are patient appointments up, but provider interest has grown as well. The company has 1,000 providers in the pipeline who want to join its virtual services, Ferguson said.

As virtual care grows, Ferguson sees opportunities to integrate telehealth with remote monitoring devices to improve healthcare services to patients.

"The remote monitoring opportunity is huge, particular with Medicare. Adding remote monitoring to that Medicare population is an important and interesting growth area for us. So much of what traditionally has been done in the annual physical check-up in the doctor’s office can be done at home with the right devices," he said.

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Virtual care continues to be a bright spot during the COVID-19 pandemic, and telemedicine companies are flourishing. Venture capital funding for telemedicine companies surged in the first half of 2020 to $926 million, Rock Health reported.

While there have been some reports that telemedicine usage among physicians is declining as practices reopen, Ferguson says Doctor On Demand's virtual visits continue to climb, and he believes telehealth has hit an inflection point.

"Once you’ve tried a better way to access care, there is no reason to go back to how things were before. The genie is out of the bottle," he said.

He also believes there is growing industry momentum behind federal policy changes to support expanded access to telehealth.

"We’re running a giant beta test of the American healthcare system and now we will have a huge amount of data to look at when it’s over to help inform policy decisions," he said.