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Cancer management startups court employers

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As value-based care models continue to gain traction, executives and investors are looking for ways to apply its principles to cancer care.

Why it matters: With cancer costs rising, the $600 billion self-insured employer market is looking for cost containment tools.

Driving the news: Thyme Care, a Nashville-based VBC oncology management platform, this week raised $60 million in Series B funding co-led by Town Hall Ventures and Foresite Capital.

  • Proceeds will help Thyme expand into the self-insured employer market next year, and continue to scale after inking a partnership with a large unnamed national health plan, Thyme Care CEO Robin Shah tells Axios.
  • At $83 million total raised, Thyme has taken in enough capital to approach "the path to profitability," but is prioritizing growth over that milestone, Shah adds.

What they're saying: Investors in Thyme Care and the leaders of other cancer startups say employers are increasingly looking to reduce costs and turning to the tools they offer as a result.

  • "Employers are realizing the important of taking care of their employees, which ultimately helps with recruitment and retention," says Town Hall Ventures general partner David Whelan.
  • Adam Pellegrini, CEO of cancer care navigation startup Jasper Health, says in his recent discussions with investors, "Every single one of them has said they have a thesis around oncology and it is a priority pillar for their investment strategy."

How it works: Thyme's platform connects cancer patients with a care management team via phone, video calls and text messages.

  • Members get access to symptom management and urgent care triage, as well as social determinants of health resources, like access to transportation, financial aid, behavioral health, nutrition and housing.
  • Thyme works with commercial health plans like AmeriHealth New Jersey; Medicare Advantage health plans like Clover Health; the American Oncology Network; and several unnamed at-risk primary care groups.

Meanwhile, Jasper's platform offers a smart planner for oncology appointments, medications, and to-dos along with symptom and mood tracking and tools to activate family and friend support.

  • Jasper's employer clients include Memorial Sloan Kettering, UnitedHealth-owned Optum, Cigna-owned Evernorth, and consultant Employer Direct Healthcare.

The intrigue: Jasper last February raised $25 million in Series A funds and "may be back fundraising before next year," as it seeks to power a new remote patient monitoring suite, Pellegrini says.

What's next: Pellegrini says Jasper is working with the Biden administration's Cancer Moonshot team to add reimbursement codes to its services.

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