- Grand Rounds Health and Doctor On Demand are acquiring Included Health, the companies told Insider.
- Included helps LGBTQ+ people navigate the healthcare system and avoid discrimination.
- The deal is part of an M&A frenzy in digital health, and shows companies are committed to diversity and inclusion.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Grand Rounds Health and Doctor On Demand are acquiring Included Health, a one-year-old startup that coordinates care for LGBTQ+ patients through their employers, the companies told Insider.
Grand Rounds, a company that helps people navigate healthcare, and
giant Doctor On Demand merged earlier this month. The idea was to form a company that can provide a kind of one-stop shop for patients, whether they need to fight a medical bill, get a second opinion on a surgery, or see doctors online for physical and mental healthcare.
Now Included is joining the roster. Grand Rounds CEO Owen Tripp told Insider that the deal is coming together in part because of a stronger commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in corporate America. The healthcare industry doesn’t always embrace that conversation, but discrimination affects health and therefore the companies’ millions of customers, Tripp said.
In a 2020 study conducted by Included prior to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly half of LGBTQ+ respondents surveyed reported discrimination or an otherwise negative experience in the healthcare system, and many chose to cease getting care entirely, per the company. The respondents were employees at Fortune 100 companies.
“The broad theme at play here is how do we not be hand-wavy?” Tripp said. “How do we actually take our words, our commitments, our values, and make them come to life inside of our product?”
The companies declined to disclose details of their agreement. Included had raised a total of about $2.5 million before being acquired.
Colin Quinn will remain the CEO of Included, and the companies will operate separately for the next couple of months. The companies didn’t say how the offerings will be sold to clients.
Included will be an independent product offering of the new company, Quinn told Insider, and over time will work more with other parts of the organization. Doctor On Demand physicians, 20% of whom are LGBTQ+, could be added to Included’s roster, for example.
Included is just getting off the ground
Included, a New York-based startup, was just getting off the ground prior to the acquisition agreement.
Quinn, who is gay, struggled himself to navigate the healthcare system. For example, it was hard to find a primary care doctor that didn’t shame him for wanting to access PrEP, or medicine that can prevent HIV, he told Insider.
Included can help patients find queer-friendly care, like access to PrEP and hormone replacement therapy, as well as gender-affirming doctors, dentists, and therapists. It also helps members understand their benefits, like if a surgery is covered, and connects them with peer support.
Quinn and cofounder Joshua Riff worked through the Employer Health Innovation Roundtable, an employer coalition focused on healthcare, to survey employees and talk with benefits managers to incubate their ideas.
They ended up uncovering a big unmet need even among the country’s top companies. Queer employees were avoiding care, for example, leading to emergency room visits. Less than a year later, companies like Salesforce and Accenture were signing up, to the point where Included couldn’t meet demand, Tripp said.
“We’ve really uncovered an unmet need here. And we recognize that we’re not able to get to everyone today, just in the early days of us being a company,” Quinn said.
“This gives us an opportunity to expedite things,” he added.
Digital health is moving fast
The deal comes at a time of intense consolidation and investment in digital health.
Investment in digital health set a record in the first quarter of 2021, and the industry accounted for nearly 10% of all venture funding, according to Rock Health.
All in the past year, telehealth giant Teladoc acquired Livongo, a chronic care company; Cigna’s Evernorth bought telehealth provider MDLive; Accolade, a care navigator, has said it’ll buy PlushCare, a virtual care provider; Walmart is acquiring a small telehealth company; and Ro, an online clinic, is buying Modern Fertility, a women’s health startup.
While Grand Rounds will continue to explore M&A opportunities, Tripp’s focus is less about finding a
startup than rethinking how to make online care better than what’s possible in-person, he said.
“What’s special about Included was the way that they looked at care for the whole person,” he said.