Axios Pro: Health Tech Deals

November 08, 2022

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1 big thing: Local Infusion bags $4M in debut

Illustration of a saline bag solution with money as the liquid in the bag.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Local Infusion, a tech-enabled ambulatory infusion center (AIC) startup, is emerging from stealth with a $4 million seed led by Brand Foundry Ventures and Meridian Street Capital, founder Woody Baum tells Sarah.

Why it matters: The demand for infusion care outside of the hospital is accelerating, calling for more innovation around patient experience because people with chronic conditions often require treatment for multiple years at a time.

  • Investment in the AIC sector has been accelerating, but the focus is largely on filling the capacity gap in a low-cost manner, Baum says.

Zoom in: Affordability is important but just one part of the equation.

  • Whereas consumer-focused specialties like dental are powered by technology that makes for a more seamless user experience, "referral-based health care practices have lagged behind," Baum says. "It takes a little longer to change those patterns."

How it works: Local Infusion says it will treat patients with chronic autoimmune diseases on specialty medications in private, comfortable suites.

  • It aims to harness digital tools and other technology to improve the treatment process, starting by simplifying what are typically lengthy referral and onboarding processes.
  • It offers a dedicated infusion guide to answer questions throughout treatment — around both the care plan and billing.

The big picture: Baum sees an opportunity to leverage the powerful relationship AICs build with patients into a care coordination model.

  • "We have this ability to capture these patients, develop relationships with them and act as an extension of their primary care providers," Baum says. "I don't want to just compete on being the lowest-cost provider."

What's next: The seed funding will be used to build out Local Infusion's tech team and support the launch of its first five clinics, which are intentionally situated in areas Baum says are facing a massive access problem: Maine and New Hampshire.

  • In both states, the cost differential is among the nation's highest between between the status quo — what the hospital is charging — and what Local Infusion can charge, Baum says.
  • Five locations are scheduled to open in those states by early next year, starting with a clinic in Concord, New Hampshire, in December.
  • Local Infusion will follow with clinics in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey in 2023 and 2024, Baum says.

The backstory: Baum, an investment banker early in his career, recognized how antiquated the AIC model was from a tech and patient experience perspective via his previous role as CEO of OI Infusion, an in-office infusion center management company.

  • Local Infusion hired former Kindbody product development specialist Tina Liu as head of product and Ashley Knapp, former McKesson Intrafusion infusion nurse and clinical manager, as head of sales.

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