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Exclusive: Hint buys AeroDPC amid health tech enablement wave

Erin Brodwin
Nov 1, 2022
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Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Primary care software company Hint Health acquired health record company AeroDPC in a cash and equity deal, Hint CEO Zak Holdsworth tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: The move is emblematic of two big shifts in health care: broader consolidation of health tech infrastructure and growing popularity in subscription-based forms of hybrid primary care.

Deal details: San Francisco, Calif.-based Hint purchased Denver, Color.-based AeroDPC in a half cash, half equity transaction.

  • As part of the acquisition, AeroDPC cofounder and medical director Brad Brown joins Hint as its medical director.
  • The deal lets Hint offer clinicians a more comprehensive set of administrative tools that includes patient medical records.

What's next: Holdsworth says Hint is "on a path to profitability" and plans to acquire more companies in the near future as it expands its product lineup to potentially include specialty care.

  • "We’re in conversations with more entities about acquisitions," Holdsworth says. "We have M&A firepower now."
  • "We have networks of awesome doctors already negotiating price-transparent cash rates for imaging and specialty care," he adds. "Can we accelerate those and further integrate downstream care?"

Yes, and: Hint in 2023 will launch a new product combining its existing operating system, HintOS, with AeroDPC to enable patient management, messaging and records, billing and business management.

How it works: Hint Health's cash-only model, also known as direct primary care (DPC), has patients pay a set subscription fee to their primary care provider for services including wellness visits, acute care, medication management and lab testing.

  • Hint operates in 21 states representing over 2,400 primary care providers and 1,600 clinics and plans to be in 40 by the end of next year, says Holdsworth.
  • Current customers include Proactive MD, Equinox Primary Care and MetroHealth, among others.
  • On average, the practices using Hint's platform charge patients $75 a month for a membership, per Business Insider.

Flashback: AeroDPC is Hint's second acquisition to-date. In 2021 Hint bought Equal Health, a Detroit, Mich.-based direct primary care network and benefits provider.

  • Hint in June raised $45 million in a Series B round led by Banneker Partners and Frist Cressey Ventures, bringing total funding to $60 million.

State of play: The subscription-based primary care movement has been slowly gaining momentum since it first emerged in the early 2000s.

  • Everside Health, an employer-facing DPC provider, has fielded many inquiries from strategics, CEO Chris Miller told Axios earlier this month.
  • Those inquiries came on the heels of Amazon's June agreement to acquire primary hybrid care chain One Medical for $3.9 billion.

Meanwhile, health tech is consolidating as the hybrid care revolution ratchets up competition, and companies that provide the infrastructure required to help those practices streamline are attracting fresh capital.

  • Tebra, which formed out of a 2021 merger between medical software developer Kareo and health care marketing company PatientPop, in July raised $72M at a valuation of more than $1 billion.
  • Fold Health, which charges primary care clinics a per-member per-month fee and offers tools for patient onboarding, marketing, messaging and billing, in July pulled in $6M in seed funds.
  • Capable Health, whose software includes tools for patient onboarding, care plan creation and patient-provider messaging and video chat, in May debuted with $6M in seed capital.

The big question: Do subscription-based models actually reduce medical spending for consumers and employers, and how do they start making money?

What they’re saying: It's all about scale, and companies in the sector will need to attract more members before they can start raking in the cash, analysts say.

  • “While these models represent a relatively niche sub-segment of the primary care landscape, we expect they will become more mainstream as operating models improve,” Pitchbook emerging technology analyst Kaia Colban told Axios in January.

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