Health Tech

Meet The Startup That’s Building ‘Spa-Like’ Infusion Centers

A new startup named Uptiv Health launched to make infusion care more accessible and enjoyable for patients. The company, which was built at Redesign Health, is launching its flagship infusion center later this month in the Detroit area.

This year, several new companies have emerged from Redesign Health, a New York City-based company that launches healthcare startups. Some of these include children’s mental health provider Fort Health, women’s healthcare platform Iron Health and Peppermint, a startup seeking to combat loneliness in seniors. 

Redesign’s latest offspring is Uptiv Health, a startup that launched on Wednesday to make infusion care more accessible and enjoyable for patients. The company is launching its first infusion center later this month in the Detroit area.

The U.S. infusion care market is worth about $100 billion, and it serves more than 3.2 million patients each year. Infusion therapy is gaining popularity as a growing treatment choice for patients seeking relief from chronic conditions like cancer, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hemophilia and immune deficiencies. However, both traditional infusion facilities and at-home infusion therapy are struggling to meet this increasing demand. As a result, patients’ overall care experiences become even more burdensome, with multiple visits and tough decisions for patients regarding balancing quality, convenience and cost.

Uptiv was created to address the lack of accessibility and poor patient experience plaguing today’s infusion care market, said CEO Torben Nielsen in a recent interview.

He pointed out that most infusions typically occur in a hospital setting. Making frequent trips to the hospital for treatment usually isn’t ideal for patients — they often have to search for parking, navigate a confusing hospital landscape to find their provider and try to find comfort in a noisy setting. These hospital infusion settings also usually lack privacy, meaning that it’s hard for patients to have conversations with their nurses without others listening in, Nielsen added.

“We think that we can provide something totally different — we can humanize the infusion experience the way it exists today. We are creating conveniently located infusion centers that are close to the neighborhoods in which patients live. They’re going to be open late night and over the weekends, because we know it’s hard to fit healthcare into a nine-to-five schedule,” he explained.

Uptiv has headquarters in Nashville, but its flagship infusion care center is opening its doors August 30 in Westland, Michigan, which is a suburb close to Detroit. When deciding where to open its first location, Nielsen said Uptiv “looked at a lot of urban areas in the U.S.” and “had a lot of criteria,” including factors like payer mix, patient demographics, prevalence of certain diseases and household income. 

The flagship center is currently taking patient referrals. Most of the referrals will come from neurologists, rheumatologists and gastroenterologists, Nielsen explained. He said Uptiv is staying away from oncology infusions for now because not all infusion nurses are specialized in that area of care.

Uptiv’s center will be staffed with nurses, nurse practitioners, nutritionists and behavioral health specialists. It will offer infusions for a wide range of conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and Crohn’s disease.

Once a patient enters the center, a nurse will take them to a private suite, where they’ll sit in a recliner and receive their infusion in a serene environment.

“There’s a flatscreen TV that’s WiFi-enabled, so you’re going to be able to stream Netflix or Hulu. And we’re going to have a very low nurse-to-patient ratio of one to three, so there will always be somebody who can help you if need be. The experience is going to be almost like a spa-like experience,” Nielsen declared.

Uptiv also gives its patients access to an app that allows them to stay in touch with their care team when they’re outside of the infusion center. Using the app, patients can connect to their care team via 24/7 messaging or video consultations. Patients can also complete their onboarding paperwork, schedule appointments and make digital payments on the app. 

Nielsen said that incorporating technology into its care model via an app helps set Uptiv apart from other ambulatory infusion centers. Another differentiator is that Uptiv focuses on whole-person care by offering its patients behavioral health services, he added.

Uptiv will accept Medicare at its flagship center. The startup is also in-network with several health plans, including Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield, Priority Health, Aetna, Humana and United Healthcare.

Along with the announcement of its launch, Uptiv also disclosed that it has raised $7.5 million in seed funding. The company will use this capital to open infusion centers in additional markets in the future, Nielsen said.

Photo: Uptiv Health