As social determinant efforts become more data-driven, the industry has attracted new technology startups.
New York City-based Unite Us launched in 2013 with a software platform to help connect people to social services. As it scales up a nationwide social care network, the startup has attracted backing from major healthcare and tech investors including Salesforce and Town Hall Ventures, led by former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Andy Slavitt.
Unite Us has raised its largest funding round to date, closing $150 million in series C financing led by Iconiq Growth. The round was backed by Optum, Emerson Collective, Transformation Capital, Define Ventures and several healthcare partners as well as existing investors Salesforce and Town Hall.
The startup has now reached “unicorn” status as the funding round boosted its valuation to more than $1.6 billion, up from $210 million when it last raised money two years ago.
The company has raised $195 million to date, according to Crunchbase.
Unite Us initially served the military population and has built networks to connect community organizations, healthcare providers and plans, state and local governments and foundations. The startup saw strong growth in 2020 and expanded into 42 states, including 16 new statewide networks, driving cross-sector coordination and improved health in community-based settings, the company said.
This round of financing will allow the company to continue investing in community-based organizations to bring social care to the same priority level as medical care. Unite Us also plans to use part of the funding to bring its Unite Us platform to all communities across the country by 2023, the company said in a press release.
The company plans to invest heavily in its Unite Us payments solution, which relies on its platform infrastructure to record and process payments to its network of community partners. In addition, the startup will further fund its interoperability framework to ensure those serving clients in need are able to do so seamlessly across operating systems.
"We are excited to double-down on our vision for a person-centered, coordinated, nationwide, social care network," said Dan Brillman, CEO and co-founder, in a statement. "Our community-based partners' ability to drive improved outcomes is critical in a value-based care world, and we know that bringing the necessary technology into every community will accelerate our impact."
Unite Us' software improves coordination, tracks outcomes and helps standardize data sharing between payers, providers, government services and social services.
Unite Us works with healthcare organizations across the country including Kaiser Permanente, CyncHealth, the state of North Carolina, the Commonwealth of Virginia, Humana, CommonSpirit, CVS Aetna, the Cleveland Clinic and United Way.
Kaiser Permanente has forged a relationship with Unite Us to build a new care network to better address social determinants for its millions of members. The Thrive Local initiative is designed to more effectively connect its 12.3 million patients to the community services they need, such as housing, food or transportation, the health system said.
"Unite Us' leadership and vision in enabling coordinated, connected communities gives us hope for a future where every individual receives the holistic, whole-person care they need," said Caroline Xie, general partner at Iconiq Growth, in a statement. "We are delighted to be embarking on this partnership with the Unite Us team and look forward to supporting the company's growth and vision with our team and global resources."
"Over the next decade, with Unite Us Payments, we will facilitate an economic relationship between healthcare and social care to integrate both the delivery and reimbursement of services in communities," said Taylor Justice, president and co-founder of Unite Us, in a statement.
According to KLAS Research, two schools of vendors are emerging for social determinants of health (SDOH) software: vendors that enable the network and vendors that provide in-depth analytics to help providers and payers make sense of complicated SDOH data.
In June, Unite Us announced it was acquiring social-determinants-focused analytics company Staple Health to expand its analytics capabilities. Staple Health was founded in 2017 by Nick Lovejoy and Chris Eberly, and its platform tracks detailed data on how social factors are impacting acute care, behavioral health, substance abuse and other key patient outcomes.
The acquisition of Staple Health strengthens Unite Us’ own analytics abilities and offers the Staple team access to data on outcomes and provider capabilities they might never have access to otherwise, Brillman told Fierce Healthcare when the deal was announced.
Companies in the SDOH analytics camp include Socially Determined, which developed a cloud-based platform that offers social risk analytics and data visualization solutions for the healthcare industry, as well as Arcadia, Healthify, Signify Health and Health Catalyst.