Hoping to Create an In-Home Care Convener Powerhouse, The Helper Bees Acquires healthAlign

The Helper Bees (THB), an “insurtech” company that works with payers and home-based care providers, has acquired healthAlign, a similarly positioned convener also focused on the home.

It’s a move that reflects the larger shift of health care services into the home, a trend that provides an opportunity for organizations like THB and healthAlign to create value by making home-based care in the U.S. more organized and effective.

Announced Tuesday, the acquisition is effective immediately. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.


“I think we recognized right away that it just felt like one of those rare ‘1 plus 1 equals 3’ combinations,” Andy Friedell, the CEO and founder of healthAlign, told Home Health Care News. “We recognized that there was stuff we were doing that they thought could benefit from. And likewise, they had solutions that we recognized would be beneficial to our customers and our providers.”

Annapolis, Maryland-based healthAlign offers a data-driven platform to its health plan and provider partners, which range from national to local enterprises and collectively operate 2,500 locations across the U.S..

On its end, Austin, Texas-based THB works with insurance carriers and providers to help keep people at home longer through its data-driven products. Its vision is to “own the home care experience.”


Its acquisition of healthAlign is another step toward that vision. Both believe that in order to support a migration of care into the home, health plans must be able to coordinate a variety of home-based services, which requires a large network of providers.

“I think we were both reluctant at first to take the meeting, as our businesses seemed to be slightly competitive,” THB CEO Char Hu told HHCN in an email. “The amazing traction they’ve had in the new Medicare Advantage (MA) space [was attractive]. healthAlign was one of the first vendor contracts to deliver on the new in-home supplemental benefits, and it has maintained that advantage through new innovative initiatives.”

healthAlign was similarly impressed by THB’s large network of referral sources, in addition to its data-collection abilities.

The companies are not just similar in what they do and who they work with. They also have a shared vision: that home-based care works best when different levels of services are layered on top of each other. While valuable, that kind of comprehensiveness is difficult to coordinate.

Ultimately, the goal of the acquisition is to create a platform that allows payers to more easily bring a full range of services into the home. That, Hu and Friedell hope, can be accomplished through better data collection from member touch points. They’re banking on that — and good technology — to gain a better understanding of members or patients for both providers and payers.

Convener-type companies work between the payer and home-based care agencies.

They are a third party, which may not always be desirable for an agency attempting to win a contract with a payer. Still, conveners often make it easier for a more diverse group of providers to care for patients in the home and get paid by insurance companies.

“This acquisition benefits a few of our partners,” Hu said. “First, of course, is the payers. They benefit greatly through the scale that we now bring to them. Second are the home care agencies that we work with today, and those we will work with tomorrow. Our ability to help them solve major problems, from customer acquisition, reimbursements, access to new technology and customer retention has dramatically increased through this acquisition.”

Over the next three to five years, Hu and Friedell hope that they can continue to expand through MA, growth in Medicaid and in other new models for private long-term care insurance.

“Our focus is on building that infrastructure out to make that [shift to the home] easier,” Friedell said. “The real problems usually with patients are these underlying barriers to adherence and the challenges they may face, and many of those have their root in the home… And so that’s certainly our focus.”

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