MUSC Health, MetroHealth partner to launch virtual care company



The Medical University of South Carolina health system (MUSC Health) and Cleveland-based MetroHealth last week announced a partnership to launch a virtual and in-home care company.

The new non-profit, called Ovatient, is currently working with providers at the two health systems to build a technology platform supporting clinical workflow across virtual and higher-level care. 

In a press release, MUSC and MetroHealth noted the growth of nontraditional healthcare companies offering more convenient virtual care. They argue Ovatient could provide that ease of access alongside a simpler connection to acute care when needed.

“Ovatient shifts care away from traditional care delivery sites and brings it to the customer. With our proprietary platform, we will accelerate and scale it, not just across MetroHealth and MUSC Health but to other health systems throughout the country,” Michael Dalton, Ovatient CEO and entrepreneur-in-residence at MetroHealth, said in a statement. “Ovatient will help enable a health system’s digital transformation journeys and provide a user experience and care delivery model that has the best interests of patients and providers at its core.”

THE LARGER TREND

Telehealth use grew significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Utilization has fallen from the highs reached at the beginning of the crisis, but more care is now being delivered virtually, especially for behavioral health. A recent report by Trilliant Health suggested traditional healthcare players will face more pressure from newer entrants, including retail giants like Amazon, Walmart, CVS and Walgreens.

Investment in digital health startups also boomed last year, though it has dipped back down again so far in 2022. According to Rock Health, earlier-stage deals have held relatively steady, while late-stage funding has slowed to a crawl.

Other traditional healthcare players have been expanding their digital health and virtual care strategies. Last week, the Hospital for Special Surgery, which focuses on musculoskeletal care, announced it had raised $21 million alongside Flare Capital to launch RightMove Powered by HSS, a virtual triage and physical therapy company.

Northwell Holdings, the funding arm of New York-based Northwell Health, recently invested $3 million in Hume AI to continue developing machine learning models that aim to understand speech and expression.

Late last year, MUSC inked a deal with healthcare automation company Notable to build a digital front door for patients, including automated scheduling, registration and clinical intake workflows. 

ON THE RECORD

“Built for health systems by health systems, Ovatient represents an opportunity to multiply our collective wisdom and clinical expertise in telehealth and care delivered in the home. We look forward to engaging with other like-minded health systems who believe that together, we can make history by creating a new way of serving patients and addressing their health needs,” said Dr. Patrick J. Cawley, MUSC Health CEO, said in a statement.



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