Patient Engagement

Luma Health scores $16 million in Series B round

As providers look for ways to better engage with patients and improve outcomes, investors see potential in companies that are rewriting the rules of effective provider-patient communications.

money

San Francisco-based patient communication company Luma Health announced Tuesday that it has raised $16 million from existing and new investors.

The Series B funding round was led by PeakSpan Capital and included investments from existing investor U.S. Venture Partners as well as new investors – Cisco Investments and the Texas Medical Center Venture Fund.

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The money will be used to hire software developers as well as those who can help to sell the product to more clinics and healthcare systems.

Founded in 2015, Luma Health’s goal is to facilitate better communication between patients and providers. Users don’t need to download an app or log in to patient portals to utilize Luma’s features. Rather, they receive automated, secure text messages directly on their phone. For instance, when it’s time for a particular test, the user gets a text message with that information with an option to schedule an appointment.

Results of a survey show that Luma Health may be on to something. The survey from DrFirst, a company that provides e-prescribing and medication management solutions, found that 19.6 percent of respondents said they prefer to receive secure text messages from their physician when in-person discussions and phone calls aren’t an option. Only 10 percent indicated they prefer to receive physician communications via patient portals.

In the news release announcing the fundraise, the company stated that it now serves 7.5 million patients, representing a 150 percent growth in the past year.

“Luma Health has transformed the healthcare industry by seamlessly connecting patients with providers with a smart, simple, and flexible patient engagement solution,” said Brian Mulvey at PeakSpan Capital in a statement. “Providers are feeling the pressure to find better ways to connect with their patients, and Luma Health’s intelligent suite of solutions, real-time electronic health record integration, and commitment to being a trusted partner with their customers make them the clear winner.”

The ability to integrate with the EHR is a key ingredient for digital health solutions overall. Earlier this year, Luma Health formalized its partnership with Wisconsin-based EHR company Epic. The company’s technology tools can also work with athenahealth’s Marketplace and Nextech System.

“Luma Health addresses the entire patient journey, not just a specific segment of it,” said William F. McKeon, president and CEO, president of the Texas Medical Center, in the news release. “Luma Health unlocks value for its customers through unprecedented patient-centric insights, and the TMC Venture Fund eagerly anticipates the continued development of this innovative solution.”

Aside from supporting HIPAA-compliant messaging, Luma Health has made certain things easier for both patients and providers. For instance, patients can upload a picture of their insurance card through a text message link sent by their provider. In turn, Luma can extract the data and record the patient’s name and policy number, thereby reducing manual data entry for its staff members.

There’s also a custom audience broadcast whereby a provider can let a group of patients know en masse about office closures or where to get flu shots. And then there is a collaboration tool that allows care teams to virtually collaborate.

While effective and engaging communication with patients and the ability to remotely collaborate is important to providers because they can affect patient outcomes, part of the attraction of these types of tools is reducing no-shows. At least one customer has seen that happen.

In an interview with MedCity News in September 2018, the CEO of North Florida Women’s Care said that the provider had to tackle the problem of patients not coming for their appointments.

“One of our main problems was our high no-show rate,” said Bill Hambsh at the time. The issue was partially due to “patients attempting to call our office to reschedule but not being able to get through.”

Ever since implementing Luma Health’s tool in 2017, that rate has fallen. In the release announcing the fundraise, Samantha Guthman, chief operating officer of Cloverdale, California-based Alexander Valley Health Center, said that after opting to implemented Luma’s technology, they have noticed a 1,500 monthly drop in phone calls.
The no-show rate has been cut to 8 percent from 14 percent.

Photo: freedigitalphotos user Salvatore Vuono