Sprinter Health and Firefly Health, two companies dedicated to improving access to home-based care, are partnering to bring a new hybrid model of telehealth and at-home care to patients in the Boston area.
The new partnership will aim to improve access to care by integrating Sprinter Health’s in-home clinical services into Firefly Health’s virtual primary care model.
Sprinter Health is an on-demand mobile health startup that was started in Silicon Valley. The company has described itself to Home Health Care News in the past as “DoorDash for your next blood draw,” partners with home-based care companies.
Firefly Health, based in Watertown, Massachusetts, is a virtual health care company that focuses on providing primary care.
“Most primary care can be virtual,” Jeff Greenberg, co-founder and chief network officer with Firefly Health, told Home Health Care News. “Chronic disease management, mental health, even a lot of acute care. But there are times, obviously, when folks need to be seen in person for something. We look for partners to provide that care.”
Firefly has always been interested in folks going into the home, Greenberg said. When the team was introduced to Sprinter Health a little over a year ago, they were excited about the opportunity to work with them.
“We really tried to redesign the way that patients are engaging and interacting with common primary care journeys,” Nick Kirby, vice president of partnerships with Sprinter Health, told HHCN. “The idea of Sprinter was initially born out of this concept of virtual care taking off. How can we better enable that system to reach and engage with patients?”
The partnership’s goal, Kirby said, is to take patients’ diagnostic journey from hours into minutes.
“It also strengthens the existing engagement and relationship between the PCP and the patient,” Kirby said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 deaths occur on an annual basis from preventable diagnostic errors. Meanwhile, studies show more than 120 million adults have gone more than a year without visiting a PCP.
Both Sprinter and Firefly believe the typical primary care journey is not working. Patients can often wait weeks for an appointment and spend hours just to get a few minutes with a doctor.
After that, patients often have to navigate complicated referral processes.
Firefly’s services are 100% remote. Firefly Health members enjoy the experience of engaging with a virtual PCP on their own terms, Greenberg said.
“This is a really important component to our model,” Greenberg said. “These are services that our patients need that we partner for and it can be done in the home. We see in-home care as one part of the solution, but we would like to see it grow, both geographically and also in terms of services.”
Through the partnership, Firefly patients will be able to get lab draws, vitals checks, electrocardiograms, diabetic eye exams and other services at their home. Sprinter’s phlebotomists and nurses — “Sprinters” — will perform the services and Firefly will pay for it.
After every in-home visit, the referring Firefly Health physician will receive lab results electronically for review.
“There is not a lot of joy in the health care experience,” Greenberg said. “We know that the experience is better when people will engage more. When they engage more, they’re more likely to do things like preventive care and follow up on referrals. Most of staying healthy is behavior. We’re trying to manage people’s behavior so having that great experience is key. It’s key for people’s care, key for our business, and so partnering with Spinter is us taking that seriously.”
The collaboration is being launched for Firefly patients in the Boston area. Both companies have already talked about expanding the partnership to other markets.
“One of our next big markets is the Houston area and we were actually just talking about that this week,” Greenberg said. “We’d love to work with Sprinter there.”
For Sprinter Health, expansion is a pretty seamless process compared to other companies.
“With expansion with the home-based model on our side, it’s a pretty asset-light situation,” Kirby said. “When we go to a new area, we have to make sure we’re licensed and have a centralized supply hub. Our footprint is wherever we find good, quality clinicians. Historically, it takes us about six to eight weeks to launch in a new area and Jeff and I have already been chatting about Houston.”
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