Untethering Healthcare One Patient at a Time | Sprinter Health

October 13, 2021
Max Cohen

We all know people close to us, important to us, who have skipped medical care at some point.  “I’ll do it next week,” “I just need to find time,” or “I don’t think it’s that important, I feel fine,” are all pretty common refrains. I’ve been on the receiving end a few times of “Stop bothering me or you’ll be sleeping on the couch!”  The person making excuses may be staring back at you in the mirror; I’m six months overdue for a needed shoulder X-ray. The standard approach to healthcare—missing work, driving to a doctor’s office, waiting around—was enough of an inconvenience in normal times.

The past year and a half have not been normal times. Even a routine visit to a doctor’s office could create risk, especially for people with pre-existing conditions or diseases that affect our immunity.

The pandemic forced a complete cessation of facility-based care for non-emergencies, which in turn led to dramatic growth in the use of telehealth technology. The key lesson from this unexpected experiment was that being able to connect with your doctor from home is an amazing patient experience for many types of care interactions. However, it also leaves significant gaps for anything that requires lab work involving blood draws or specimen collection, vital signs like blood pressure and heart rate, or more specialized diagnostics including tools like digital otoscopes and EKGs. How do you fill that gap? You can’t do it with pure technology; you need a blend of the latest telehealth technology with boots-on-the-ground clinicians offering personalized service.  

We call this “healthcare untethered,” where the quality of care isn’t constrained by the physical distance between a doctor and patient. Transitioning clinical interactions out of expensive facilities and into the home is a paradigm shift that can dramatically change the patient experience. This obviates the need to arrange childcare coverage before scheduling an appointment, zeroes out waiting time, and resolves the concern of being around others who may be ill. Early intervention requires early diagnosis. Early diagnosis requires early engagement with medical experts. And early engagement requires unfettered access to care.  Healthcare untethered will lower overall costs to the system while addressing the very real concerns that prevent people from seeking care in the first place.

The Sprinter Health solution

We set out to create a modern version of what we call “last mile healthcare delivery”—solving for ways to meet people where they are with high-quality care. Sprinter Health makes getting a fully-employed, highly-trained clinical professional sent to your home as easy as ordering food delivery.  We provide updates on who your “Sprinter” is and when they’ll arrive, and they come prepared to perform blood draws, COVID-19 tests, vitals collection, and much more. Every Sprinter is phlebotomy-certified, meaning they can draw blood if that’s what the provider needs, and they’re trained to follow our Sprinter Checklist, which was developed with clinicians to customize services on a per-patient, per-provider basis. This ensures that our interactions are always relevant, high quality, and, of course, fast!

We aren’t trying to replace existing providers, specialty labs, or other systems that work well; we want to extend their reach, not replicate their services. Realizing this untethered healthcare vision requires sending the right level of licensed clinical professional to keep these interactions affordable. Sprinter Health makes that happen.

We’ve designed our systems to ease the difficulties that people often deal with when coordinating their care. Bookings can be made for patients by providers, partners, caregivers, or directly for themselves with an easy-to-use interface. We’ve already seen self-bookings, bookings for elderly parents, bookings for children, and bookings on behalf of patients; the key is letting Sprinter Health manage the complexity of navigating healthcare, making the “care” part as painless as possible.  

Why this excites us

While tracking the latest developments in healthcare, we were thrilled with the rapid pace of scientific progress and product development, but recognized that the deployment of many of these advances was lagging far behind. We wanted to build a company that could participate in this ecosystem with a primary focus on the patient experience, enabling other amazing researchers and companies to get their latest therapeutics, technology and health services into the field. It’s difficult to send medical equipment through the mail and have patients unpack, set up and operate them successfully -- it’s easier if we send a dedicated clinical professional equipped with the right technology to gather their health data and get it to the providers to make informed medical decisions.

Sprinter Health might not be right for every interaction, but we’ve designed our systems to optimize dispatching a clinician at the right licensure level with minimal travel time to make the service as affordable as possible. This isn’t concierge medicine, although we’re confident it’ll feel that way. This is one of the early stages of untethering healthcare, to provide a premium experience from your existing providers and a service dedicated to treating you like the most important patient in the world. It’s like having a personal medical assistant in every home, who will gracefully get out of your hair when the appointment is over. Healthcare untethered means getting care wherever you’re at, on your time, and regardless of what the condition may be. It’s going to take a lot of cooperation from all stakeholders in the system, but it’s achievable, and Sprinter Health wants to play a small part.

What comes next

To make this work, we needed to combine a team of technologists with healthcare professionals who have decades of experience actually working on behalf of patients. Our leadership team hails from Oculus, Facebook, and Google, as well as Labcorp, Disney, Cricket Health, Family Practices, Kaiser Permanente and a Federally Qualified Health Center. We are developing Sprinter Health with humility, eager to learn from the lessons of the past, while leveraging learnings from the consumer technology world to create a patient experience that is considerate and delightful.

We recently closed a round of funding led by Julie Yoo at Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from General Catalyst, Accel, and Google Ventures (GV). This builds off our earlier seed round led by Hemant Taneja at General Catalyst. We’re also thrilled to be backed by an amazingly knowledgeable set of angel investors including Senator Bill Frist, Tony Xu, Kevin Lin, the Oculus founders, and many other successful entrepreneurs with whom we’re thrilled to work.

If you want to help untether healthcare, taking inefficiencies out of the system in an affordable, scalable way, we'd love to hear from you.  Say hi at hello@sprinterhealth.com and learn more about us at www.sprinterhealth.com. Let's partner on merging the best of the technology world with the expertise and empathy of the healthcare world, in the comfort of our patients’ homes—where it belongs.

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