Health Services, Startups, Payers, Health Tech

Insurers back kidney care startup Cricket in $83.5M round

Cigna Ventures and Blue Shield of California contributed to a funding round for Cricket Health, a startup that provides services to help patients identify chronic kidney disease and get support in treatment. The investment was led by Valtruis, a firm that invests in value-based care companies.

Citing better outcomes, two insurance companies invested in chronic kidney disease startup Cricket Health. Cigna Ventures and Blue Shield of California both contributed to a recent funding round, with Cigna claiming it had seen a 50% reduction in hospitalizations since May 2020.

Cricket recently raised an $83.5 million funding round led by Valtruis, a recently created subsidiary of private equity firm Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe that invests in value-based care companies.

The startup plans to use the funds to expand its kidney care model across the U.S.

Cricket, which splits its headquarters between San Francisco and Cambridge, Mass., uses predictive analytics to identify patients with chronic kidney disease and provides them with a care team and educational support. The company was founded in 2015 and has raised $120 million to date.

One of the challenges with kidney disease is that many patients don’t begin to experience symptoms until it is in its later stages. Cricket uses predictive analytics to identify patients with stage 3b kidney disease and beyond, where the kidneys have some damage, and it’s important to prevent progressing to later stages of kidney disease.

It uses this information to risk-stratify patients, and connect them with care teams, including a nurse, social worker, dietician, pharmacist and peer mentors. These visits are conducted virtually, or can be in-person in places where Cricket has a local clinic.

By intervening early, the goal is to reduce the number of people who start dialysis unplanned, in the hospital. Cricket claims 77% of its users starting dialysis do so in an outpatient setting, and 45% start at home.

While Cricket has touted its outcomes, it isn’t the only company taking this approach. Tennessee-based startup Monogram Health, which combines analytics with in-home care services for chronic kidney disease, recently raised $160 million. It struck a partnership with Humana to coordinate care for its Medicare Advantage and commercial members in four states.

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