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Exclusive: The Wound Company debuts virtual-first, value-based care

Jun 15, 2023
Illustration of a bandaid shaped like a dollar on a person's shoulder

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Virtual-first wound care was not the most popular idea when Nima Ahmadi, CEO of The Wound Company, first started talking about it with friends.

Why it matters: Ahmadi's Minneapolis-based company raised $4.25 million in seed funding, he tells Axios exclusively.

Details: Susa Ventures and Sozo Ventures co-led the round.

  • Funds will be applied to helping the company expand nationally, deepening its tech and R&D efforts, and hiring more staff in care delivery.
  • Ahmadi says he plans for The Wound Company (TWC) to raise a Series A in mid-to-late 2024.

What they're saying: Ahmadi says widespread misconceptions about wound care required spending a fair amount of time with investors and health plans to explain how the company operates.

  • "People thought this would be the last place telehealth would make a dent," Ahmadi says. "People think of wound care as smelly and gross."
  • Susa Ventures investor and Harvard-trained physician Derick En'Wezoh explained TWC's model as "flipping the traditional paradigm," which sees "patients leave the hospital, get discharge forms in medical terms very few people can understand, and navigating through a series of people who don’t know your data."

How it works: Core to the company's model is its use of nurses trained in wound and ostomy care, as opposed to specialists or primary care physicians.

  • "These wound care nurses spend years getting specific wound care training," says TWC chief medical officer and Penn Medicine general surgery resident physician Sanford Roberts. "Compare that to the training for registered nurses which is measured in hours."
  • Those nurses, together with a care team, create custom treatment plans for patients and stay connected over text, email, phone and video.
  • In addition to virtual care, TWC offers in-person services in two states and plans to add the service in more states in the coming months, per Ahmadi.
  • The hybrid setup, which involves triaging patients according to risk, is designed to boost patient outcomes while saving payers money.

Plus, TWC sells to health plans with a primary focus on Medicaid and Medicare Advantage. (A disproportionate number of people with serious wound injuries are people of color, people with low incomes, and people above 65.)

  • Payers, which typically have specific per-patient per-month fee buckets for wound care, sign value-based care contracts with TWC as a preferred provider.
  • "We’re on the hook for making sure those savings are happening, making sure we understand the baseline costs and ensuring they know to send patients to us early so we can drive preventive strategies too," says Ahmadi.

The intrigue: TWC will likely encounter its biggest challenges in educating the market and securing a steady supply of providers.

  • "This expertise is rare," Roberts says. "There’s still the problem of recruiting these experts.
  • "It’s going to be important that Nima and Sanford can educate and story tell about what modern-day wound care and ostomy [care] looks like," says En'Wezoh.

What's next: TWC's team sees future potential for the company to offer more components of the would care supply chain with a focus on inclusive care.

  • "The second act is streamlining the whole supply process for this," says Ahmadi.
  • "Imagine getting home from something, and waiting for you is a box of bandages the color of your skin," says En'Wezoh.
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