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98point6 raises $20m+ to power health systems with virtual care

Sep 1, 2022
Illustration of a medical cross inside of a speech bubble.

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

98point6, a text-based virtual care startup, raised an additional $20 million-plus from insiders L Catterton and Activant Capital.

Why it matters: The investment will enable Seattle's 98point6 to bring — through technology licensing agreements — its virtual care platform to health care systems' and their emergency departments, whose models are ripe for innovation.

  • "Health systems have a new series of competitive entrants in PE-backed urgent care providers popping up," 98point6 President Jay Burrell tells Sarah. "Using our platform, they have a new patient engagement model."

What they're saying: The model is a win-win. In out-licensing its technology, 98point6 gains a higher margin stream of business, Burrell says.

  • "As we focus on path to [sustainable] profitability, this is a big step in us achieving that."

Details: 98point6's debut licensing agreement is with MultiCare Health System, which will utilize its technology through its urgent care division Indigo Health.

  • MultiCare is the largest health system in Washington state with 11 hospitals, while Indigo encompasses 35 ambulatory care clinics and this year added primary care services.
  • 98point6 is in talks with another half a dozen regional health systems, and aims to have licensing agreements with a portfolio of organizations by year-end, Burrell says.
  • As needed, 98point6 can also leverage its own clinician network to provide assistance to health systems.

How it works: Offered via a smartphone app, 98point6's core business is text-based primary care that includes on-demand consultation, diagnosis and treatment.

  • Its customer base includes several hundred self-insured employers that access 98point6 on a subscription basis.
  • Users access the app at a low to no cost per visit.
  • Photo, audio and video capabilities are available as necessary, and virtual physicians can also make referrals to in-person care.
  • The startup expanded beyond primary care and into behavioral health last year.

What's next: Burrell says the startup is starting to think about entry points to chronic care and as-risk health care models.

By the numbers: The investment brings 98point6's total funding to date to $267 million, coming almost two years after it raked in $118 million in Series E funds.

  • The October 2020 funding was led by L Catterton (via its growth fund) and Activant, joined by Goldman Sachs Merchant Banking Division, Optus Capital Partners, MUUS Asset Management, Westway Capital, Summer VC, ACE & Company, and Cole Rotman.

Catch up quick: 98point6 laid off 10% of its workforce in July, per Geekwire, with the cuts including the creative team and many members of the marketing team.

  • Burrell calls the layoffs "very painful," but says amid a shift to focusing on profitability 98point6 remains in growth mode — continuing to hire on the technology side as well as build out its clinical staff.
  • Co-founder and CEO Robbie Cape abruptly left 98point6 in September 2021, following which chairman Jeff Greenstein stepped into the role, Geekwire reported.
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