Home-based care company Prospero Health announced Tuesday it is expanding into 16 additional states to serve 8,000 new patients in 2021.
That vastly increases the company’s footprint. Previously just in 10 states, the move now puts Prospero into 26 states total, allowing it to serve 25,000 patients on behalf of its partners, namely the Medicare Advantage insurer UnitedHealthcare.
The Boston-based company offers both non-medical home care and home health care services through a team of doctors, nurses and social workers. It also provides telehealth support for its patients and helps mitigate environmental hazards for seniors, such as fall risks at home.
“The pandemic accelerated the need for the services we provide,” Prospero President Dr. Dave Moen told Home Health Care News. “And our ability to do work virtually, as well, allowed us to expand into geographies that were previously not reachable by an in-person model.”
Founded in 2019, Prospero’s original plan was not to move this fast. But as of July, the average age of the patients Prospero was serving was 83 years old.
COVID-19 brought with it extenuating circumstances that kept seniors in their homes and insurers scrambling to figure out ways to keep them healthy.
“UnitedHealthcare, our biggest customer, saw that our results were solid,” Moen said. “And they were very confident that we had a team in place to actually be able to deliver a high-quality product. It was really about building trust and credibility with our customers.”
“It was about them seeing results that met their goals of high member satisfaction, and decreases in unnecessary hospitalization and ER visits,” he added, noting there are ample tailwinds for all forms of home-based care.
Prospero is based in Boston, but a large chunk of its employees are based in Memphis, Tennessee. This past summer, it began expanding in southern states, including Alabama. The company does not open brick-and-mortar offices when it expands, but instead leverages scheduling software programs that match patients’ needs with the right clinicians in their area.
When it did begin serving Alabamans, the company was already working on its next move and surveying the landscape for what came next. Now, Prospero is set to be in nine more states by Jan. 1 — and the majority of states in the U.S. by the end of 2021.
When considering expansion, Prospero is “very informed” by UnitedHealthcare’s membership data, as well as its own algorithm identifying the types of patients that are best served by its offerings, Moen said. Its virtual capabilities have given the company the confidence to move into markets that have less dense populations, but still have seniors with qualifying needs.
“When we look at [strictly] in-person visits, there’s a certain density that allows us to reach a certain number of people that allows us to staff appropriately,” Moen said. “The virtual model allows us to reach a lower-density geographies.”
An example of lower-density geographies is rural areas, which have traditionally dealt with issues when it comes to access to health care.
Earlier in 2020, Prospero partnered with the technology company GrandPad, which provides tablets specifically built for people over the age of 75. GrandPad helps Prospero facilitate its live video chats with patients.
In Memphis, the company has also invested heavily in its Care Support Center.
In order to expand as quickly as it has, Prospero has had to build goodwill with staff across the country in a hurry.
As part of its care plan strategy, nurse practitioners do all the initial evaluations on patients, either virtually or in person. After that, an interdisciplinary team comprised of physicians, nurses and social workers meets to discuss the patients’ needs.
“We assign patients based on their needs, and then we risk stratify and segment them,” Moen said. “Some patients are followed by a nurse practitioner, some are followed by an RN. And those two roles are supported by a physician or social workers who were brought in as appropriate for those patients.”
The key to any company’s growth is to be able to build and sustain workers across the country.
Moen is bullish on the tailwinds for home-based care persisting, especially when it comes to staffing. It’s his belief that building a workforce will be easier moving forward due an increased interest for working in what he’d call “a purpose-built care delivery model” for the elder population.
“We’re big enough that workers can now talk to our team members who have worked with us long enough to give them a true report of what it’s like to work in a company like this,” Moen said. “And we’re fortunate that we are off to a good start.”
Prospero is still in a position where it’s fielding multiple applicants for its open positions, which is a welcoming sign for the company in terms of its future outlook.
“I think, professionally, lots of people are interested in finding a career that has a deeper meaning and a deeper connection to what they care about,” Moen said. “The mission is compelling because people see the need. I think as we continue to establish credibility and tenure in the space — and people see it not as an under-supported career, but a very intentional, purposeful career — I do think that it’ll create more momentum in attracting more workers into this part of care delivery.”