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Nashville elective healthcare startup boasts 50% growth
Care Sherpa is raising a seven-figure seed round later this year
36-year-old Jane Reindhardt had been saving up for bariatric surgery since her freshman year in college. The 350lb woman who has battled chronic obesity her entire life says the excess weight has stolen her “self-confidence and health” and left her with anxiety, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
She, like many patients considering the popular weight-loss procedure, reached out to several physicians to weigh her options. Outside of the home she owns, the $25,000, life-changing surgery would be the largest purchase she would make in her three and a half decades.
Only one out of the four practices she reached out to followed up. Jane’s experience is far from uncommon.
Despite being the most profitable services in healthcare and accounting for 75-percent to 80-percent of marketing budgets, 79-percent of elective treatment leads don’t convert. The majority of providers — 53-percent to be exact — fail to respond to prospective patient inquiries, according to a Harvard study. If the provider returns a prospective patient’s call, it's on average, more than 72 hours later. The average elective procedure provider loses $376,000 in new patient revenue per month — that’s $4,515,000 per year.
Four years ago, Jessica Walker, a seasoned healthcare technology professional, set out to plug the $60 million a year elective treatment leak, and built Care Sherpa — a tech enabled service designed to capture, qualify and convert prospects into patients.
The Nashville startup has quickly become a juggernaut. Care Sherpa has been adopted by national, regional, and private healthcare practices in 38 states across 150 locations. Last year, the company reported a 50% uptick in revenue — the highest increase to date. Walker accredits the ascend to the technology and her team.
How it works
With Care Sherpa, all of a provider's new patient leads — generated via social media, email and by phone — are sent to a sherpa.
Sherpas, as they are called, are Care Sherpa employees who serve as a guide and the primary point of contact throughout the entire patient journey and typically, have undergone the elective procedure the prospect is inquiring about. Patients can call, text or email the care consultant at any time.
Sherpas are required to respond within 20 minutes of receiving the lead. The prompt response times have led to an average 26-percent increase in new consults for providers.
Using a six-question proprietary intake survey to measure motivation, the sherpas assess the likelihood a person will pursue treatment, if they are also clinically and financially qualified. The assessment measures social, emotional, time-based and relational determinants. Some determinants are more influential than others depending on the type of treatment.
For example, Walker says, a person seeking out cosmetic surgery is heavily influenced by social and time events — like a wedding or a 50th birthday — whereas those seeking bariatric procedures are more influenced by emotional and relational factors.
“By qualifying patient leads, we are reducing the number of consultation no-shows and increasing the consult to treatment conversion rate,” says Walker.
Today, Care Sherpa boasts one of the lowest consultation no-show rates in the industry with an average of less than 3-percent — compared to a national average of 18%. Walker says she has multiple clients who have achieved a 0-percent no-show rate.
Though it is highly dependent on the sector, Walker says, on average providers who utilize Care Sherpa see a 32-percent average increase in consult to treatment conversion.
Care Sherpa is currently serving elective providers in the hospice, bariatric, cosmetic, fertility and orthopedic sectors, but hopes to expand to include other elective care providers including ophthalmology, organ transplant, oncology and addiction services.
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In a bid to boost growth, the first-time founder says Care Sherpa will be raising a seven-figure seed-round later this year which will be used to expand her sixteen person team and mature the platform’s technology. She received a six-figure pre-seed investment from California-based MuckerLabs in January 2021.