Healthcare startup UpStream is trying to reshape the healthcare landscape, offering patients a more relaxed, personal approach to a doctor’s office visit.
- Fergus Hoban’s new company UpStream focuses on creating integrated primary care physician services in networks and independent systems.
- In this system, a team of nurses and doctors are led by a prescribing pharmacist to provide lower-cost, better-quality healthcare to Medicare patients.
- Hoban’s model begins with a conversation, allowing a patient to build trust with their doctor who will have more time to sit and converse with a patient before diving into finding a solution.
- “As we introduce this model into the American environment, and we speak with patients who really feel the healthcare system has been acting on them, as opposed to reacting for them. You get that profound connection with the patient that makes all the difference,” Hoban says.
- On Thursday, the company announced that it has raised $140 million—bringing total funding for the startup to nearly $185 million.
Why it’s news
In typical American healthcare systems, a pharmacist is relatively out of the loop when it comes to patient care. A primary care doctor prescribes medication, but the pharmacist distributing the medicine is unfamiliar with patient history. Hoban’s method changes this.
UpStream CEO Sanjay Doddamani explains that the current model of healthcare is “underutilizing the expertise of a pharmacist who’s spent four years in pharmacy school and two years in fellowship. They have tremendous expertise, they know disease states, yet we have not used them.”
This integration of healthcare is what makes UpStream stand out from other healthcare companies.
Funding for the company is only growing. After several recent deals with Tidewater Physicians and Medical University of South Carolina, Doddamani says the company should end the year with around $950 million. Next year, he expects the company to reach $1.75 billion.
With the growth in funding, Doddamani says the company will have room to grow while keeping the required capital reserves on hand.
Doddamani became CEO of the company in 2021 and has since rapidly expanded the company’s reach. Now, UpStream has nearly 300 employees who work with almost 3,000 physicians. They have been able to provide care for more than 175,000 patients.
Backing up a bit
Though Hoban is originally from Ireland, he became fascinated with the American healthcare system as he says it is, “the last country in the world that believes that the competitive economic framework can solve this greatest of human problems.”
One of the faults of the current system, Hoban explains, is a focus on “downstream care.” This method looks to patients when they become sick rather than focusing on promoting healthful habits.
The passage of the Affordable Care Act prompted Hoban to leave Ireland and move to Omaha, Nebraska. With the new framework established by the Affordable Care Act, Accountable Care Organizations were created to incentivize Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide better care to Medicare patients. Facilities that provided better outcomes for lower costs received compensation.
In Nebraska, Hoban founded Think Whole Person Healthcare—the prototype for UpStream. Hoban says the Omaha branch became “enormously effective.”