Grand Rounds Health and Doctor On Demand are buying Included Health to expand care for LGBTQ communities

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The acquisition of Included Health will strengthen the virtual care companies' member-centric offering to support diverse and under-resourced populations, executives said.(Getty/Kritchanut)

The combined company of Grand Rounds Health and Doctor On Demand has expanded yet again to include a care concierge platform for the LGBTQ+ community.

The virtual care companies announced Wednesday they signed a definitive agreement to acquire Included Health to improve health outcomes and address the health challenges facing communities including lesbian, gay and transgender patients as well as black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC), the companies said in a press release.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Included Health provides a care concierge and healthcare navigation platform for diverse and underserved populations. 

The acquisition of Included Health will strengthen the virtual care companies' member-centric offering to support diverse and under-resourced populations, executives said.

"Our job is to make the healthcare system work for everyone, including those who've had to survive for far too long outside it,” said Owen Tripp, CEO of the combined Grand Rounds Health and Doctor On Demand in a statement.

“LGBTQ+ people face serious discrimination in healthcare settings, and are two to three times more likely than others to avoid care. This needs to change. So we are extremely proud to go into business and innovate with Included Health. Rightly, employers and health plans are asking for a navigation and virtual care partner who offers integrated personalized care to all their members. We will provide it."

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The deal marks the first acquisition of an LGBTQ health care platform by a leading virtual care company.

There are a growing number of digital health companies tackling health issues for the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Queerly is an online marketplace where LGBTQ people can connect with vetted and trained providers, telehealth tools and concierge health. Violet is a mental healthcare startup run by and for the LGBTQ+ community, and Plume is a digital health service focused exclusively on the transgender community and has expanded into employee benefits
 
The LGBTQ+ community disproportionately experiences discrimination and health-related stigmas which result in deferred or delayed care. Denials of care, misgendering, and rude or uninformed comments about identity and sexual orientation are too common. In a national study conducted by Included Health with over 1,000 LGBTQ+ employees from Fortune 100 companies, nearly half of respondents reported a negative healthcare experience or discrimination in a healthcare setting. As a result, many are postponing or avoiding care at a rate that is two to three times greater than the broader U.S. population—putting their physical and mental health at risk.
 
Negative experiences are also common in the workplace. A 2020 Boston Consulting Group study found that 40% of LGBTQ+ employees are in the closet at work and 75% reported experiencing negative day-to-day workplace interactions related to their LGBTQ+ identity in the past year. Employees who experience negative interactions are less productive and more likely to quit.

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“The past year has been a time of cultural awakening across the U.S., with employers, healthcare providers, and others stepping up to create more inclusive environments. But for many in the LGBTQ+ community, there is still much progress to be made,” said Colin Quinn, co-founder and CEO of Included Health in a statement.

“We are proud to join forces with Grand Rounds Health and Doctor On Demand to deliver on our shared vision of improving healthcare equity for underserved communities. Our combined team of care providers and care navigators mirrors the diverse population of our members, and together we can make affirmative, culturally competent healthcare a reality.”

Telehealth company Doctor On Demand announced in March plans to combine with Grand Rounds to form a "first of its kind patient-centric integrated virtual care company." The deal was finalized earlier this month.

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San Francisco-based Doctor On Demand provides on-demand and scheduled visits with U.S.-licensed healthcare providers in both medical and behavioral health. 

Grand Rounds launched in 2011 and got its start with virtually connecting patients with top-ranked medical experts for a second opinion.  The company's services are now used by more than 6 million workers at companies such as Walmart, Home Depot, Salesforce, Travelers and other firms. 

The combined company provides personalized, longitudinal care services include primary care, specialty care, integrated behavioral health, everyday and urgent care, chronic condition management and prevention and 24/7 triage. The companies serve nearly 100 million covered lives across commercial, Medicare and Medicaid.

Doctor On Demand and Grand Rounds say that their diverse clinical team boasts 43% people of color and 20% LGBTQ+.