‘Go Big or Go Home’: Lifesprk Scores $16M to Grow Company, Launch Electronic Life Record

Lifesprk — a home-based care company known for its innovative whole-person focus — has scored a new $16.1 million investment, the first the company has accepted since its 2004 founding. 

The investment — which was led by Burlingame, California-based private equity firm Virgo Investment Group — came in the form of Series A preferred stock.

St. Louis Park, Minnesota-based Lifesprk has made a name for itself in the home-based care world by connecting the dots of senior care to deliver better medical outcomes, improve quality of life and cut overall health care costs.

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That means providing everything from basic personal care services to care coordination, medication management and education to clients’ new health care providers, while also addressing social determinants of health.

CEO Joel Theisen bootstrapped the company with $500,000 in funding from friends and family more than 15 years ago. Despite investor interest, Lifesprk has used only that capital to grow slowly and organically into the “$35-plus million company” it is today, according to Theisen.

But recently, Theisen chose to speed things up.

“I made the decision that the time is now to go big or go home,” Theisen told Home Health Care News. “We’ve got the market timing and the payer reform. We’ve got the technology capabilities. … We need to fuel this vision to be a national platform to how we deliver services across the country.”

Enter Virgo Investment Group, which was drawn to Lifesprk’s disruptive, comprehensive model.

“When I think about Lifesprk, I don’t think about it as a traditional home [care] company,” Virgo Managing Director Pooja Goel, who is also on Lifesprk’s newly formed board of directors, told HHCN. “They really are providing a set of solutions for the aging senior.”

Virgo’s investment will help Lifesprk grow, both organically and through strategic partnerships, while also allowing the organization to launch its new proprietary ‘electronic life record’ (ELR) platform.

The ELR is like an electronic health record (EHR), but it includes additional non-medical information. Some examples include social determinants of health like loneliness, as well as information on seniors’ life goals, hobbies and interests.

The platform will allow Lifesprk to operationalize its Life Experience Alternative Delivery System (LEADS), which is also proprietary, according to a press release announcing the news.

“LEADS is truly saying, ‘Look, Lifesprk can be an alternative delivery system, meaning we can go at-risk for populations,’” Theisen said, noting his excitement about value-based contracting arrangements and Medicare Advantage opportunities. “That’s including everything from the social determinants to the complex medical management of people in a home-based or community-based environment.”

The ELR technology serves as an “insights engine” for the delivery system, allowing Lifesprk to leverage clients’ medical records, social determinants of health and other data to enable predictive analytics and inform best care for patients. Health care providers, clients and approved family members will have access to the ELR data. 

“We’re going to be able to curate content and push in and out information — data updates, insights, social connectedness, [and] passive data on anything from biometrics to social isolation,” Theisen said. “Based on this person’s profile and their life trending, we can push out information to socially engage them on things that they love.” 

While Lifesprk has been using such social information to help inform patient care for years, this technology replaces “bubblegum, sticks and rubber bands” with a more comprehensive, scalable model.

Plans to scale Lifesprk are already in motion: Thiesen said the company has a number of Medicare Advantage and other contracts cooking set to be announced in the next six to 12 months. Those upcoming milestones also have Goel and the rest of the Virgo team excited about Lifesprk’s future.

“The opportunity to create and innovate is quite huge,” Goel said. “Lifesprk was already innovating pre-COVID-19. … I think you’re going to see the way that patients, and particularly seniors, access care is going to dramatically change — and is already changing. [Lifesprk] is going to be on the forefront of it.”

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