a16z-Backed Sprinter Health Helping In-Home Care Agencies with Census Challenges

Sprinter Health – an on-demand mobile health startup – has raised a lot of money since it was founded at the beginning of last year.

The company, which partners with home-based care agencies, has taken a slow-and-steady approach to spending that money as it figures out what works in the home and what doesn’t. Of the nearly $38 million it has raised, it hasn’t spent more than $5 million of it.

Co-founder and CEO Max Cohen has found value in playing the long game, whether it has to do with deploying capital or finding the right home health and home care partners.


“We didn’t want to go too far too fast. The reason for that is you can end up having an idea that becomes a product that isn’t actually validated,” Cohen told Home Health Care News. “We are a Silicon Valley company. And in that world, you talk a lot about something called PMF [product-market fit], which is making sure that the market needs the product that you’ve created, and the price point you can deliver it at works.”

The company has previously described itself to HHCN as “DoorDash for your next blood draw.” It sends nurses and phlebotomists into the home for lab draws, vital checks, COVID-19 testing and more.

Its lead investor is a16z. Additional contributors in its funding rounds include General Catalyst, Accel and Google Ventures, among others.


Before it started to spend money, Sprinter wanted to hone in on a few partnerships to test its model. Now, it’s finally beginning to spread out in a more meaningful way.

“Anecdotally, what we’ve been told by these home health agencies is that they’re able to increase their census because we were able to free up their time,” Cohen said. “Their nursing staff is helping when people need nurses. And when people just need something basic like vitals or blood draws, they send us and we have next-day availability that just makes it easier.”

Sprinter has partnered with at least 20 home-based care agencies in the Bay Area at this point. The company is also live in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and looking to expand to San Diego this year. Soon enough, it hopes to be in other states as well, such as New Jersey, Texas and Florida.

“We’re starting to bring these other partnerships online that are more of a national scale,” Cohen said. “The model is something that is actually replicable in different geographies. We can bring our technology platform with us. We have national partners like Naveris that have needs all over the country. And so we can bring that business with us as well. So now we’ll start to tap into that growth funding to allow us to move a little bit quicker.”

Massachusetts-based Naveris and Sprinter announced a partnership at the beginning of February. Naveris uses proprietary technology to detect early signs of cancer in the patients it serves. Sprinter’s nurses and phlebotomists will be enlisted to draw blood on behalf of Naveris in patients’ homes.

There are a lot of innovative, scientifically driven companies out there who don’t have the time or resources to take their model and bring it to patients’ homes. That’s where Sprinter comes in.

“Their excellence is not going to be around the logistics of minimizing a person’s travel time and getting them to the right house,” Cohen said. “We say, ‘Let us take on that technology solution side.’ Then they can worry about processing the samples, and frankly, creating more value for their patients [elsewhere].”

Addressing staffing and equity in health care

Though some of Sprinter Health’s main partners are home health and home care agencies, it is, in a sense, also a home-based care company itself. That means it is subject to the turbulent staffing environment as well.

To avoid as many of those woes as possible, the company deviates from the path that other health care services companies have taken. Its nurses and phlebotomists are full-time employees.

“It actually drives cost down if you have high utilization,” Cohen said. “Because what that means is that, if you’re busy all day, you’ve got a set of fixed costs and you don’t have to pay a middleman fee to book someone that can complete that visit. And in our model of having full-time staff, it ensures that we’re actually going to follow through with it; we’re not going to cancel the appointment. And when we get there, the workers are going to be trained consistently.”

Having that full-time staff also gives off a perception of reliability to potential partners.

Additionally, that reliability means better service for the patients, many of which have been victims of an inequitable U.S. health care system, Cohen said.

“We’ve been talking about health equity forever, but it seems that there’s actually an effort to put some dollars behind it now,” he said. “We’re seeing a desire where we’re finally saying, ‘Let’s not just create concierge care for the most affluent. Let’s find a way to meet people where they’re at.’ And I’m starting to see partners actually be willing to invest in that more heavily. That’s an interesting tailwind, and I want to see where that goes, because I’m quite optimistic about that.”

Some insurers are also starting to attempt to address those health equity issues, but at the surface level. For instance, they are sending remote patient monitoring (RPM) devices, lab tests and other items to beneficiaries.

But that isn’t always successful, Cohen added.

“I do wonder how many of these people are going to get said device and leave it in the packaging, because it’s intimidating,” he said. “So one element of our business that we can build out is the ability to essentially be able to go in and teach people how to use these devices – how to set it up, configure it and make sure it has been hooked up properly. I think that’s an area that’s going to still require a human in the loop for at least the next 10 to 20 years.”

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