Washington state healthcare model secures $7.5M in venture capital funding

Qliance Medical Management, Inc., in Washington, has closed a $4 million funding round from three institutional venture capital firms, bringing total capital raised to approximately $7.5 million.

The company, which operates insurance-free direct primary care clinics – also known as direct medical homes – plans to use the proceeds to add new clinics for its medical practice partner, Qliance Medical Group of Washington PC, operating under the Qliance brand.

The institutional venture capital firms involved in this round were Second Avenue Partners, New Atlantic Ventures and Clear Fir Partners.

"We see the Qliance direct primary care model as an important transformational option to healthcare reform that is easily scalable for other communities across the U.S.," said Nick Hanauer, managing partner of Second Avenue Partners, based in Seattle. "Their innovative healthcare model reduces costs dramatically for individuals and businesses while delivering exceptional care and access for patients."

In lieu of insurance and co-pays, Qliance patients pay monthly membership fees, ranging between $39 and $79, depending on age. In exchange, they get unrestricted primary and preventive care for vaccinations, checkups, pneumonia, minor fractures, routine women's health exams and ongoing care for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension or obesity. Hospital in-patient rounds can also be included for a slightly higher monthly membership fee.

Other benefits include:

  • No limits for pre-existing conditions
  • 30- to 60-minute office visits
  • Same- or next-day appointments for urgent care needs
  • 24-hour, seven-day-a-week cell phone and e-mail access to a physician
  • On-site x-ray, laboratory and "first-fill" prescription drug services

"Most people don't realize that insurance is simply not needed for 90 percent of the reasons people go to a doctor today, said Garrison Bliss, co-founder and chief medical officer of Qliance Medical Management and a 30-year internal medicine physician. "By operating without the hassles of insurance reimbursement overhead, Qliance providers can reduce costs for patients and employers and focus on what we were trained to do – practice medicine and heal."

When outside specialist care or hospitalization is required, Qliance physicians and nurse practitioners serve as a patient's "medical home," operating as the central coordination point for all other care and services.

To cover the costs of any necessary outside care, most Qliance members choose a low-premium insurance plan for unpredictable serious and catastrophic illnesses, such as trauma sustained in a serious car accident or cancer. Qliance direct primary care provides a comprehensive healthcare coverage solution when bundled with a "wrap-around" insurance plan. Officials say that can typically save patients between 40 percent and 50 percent and employers between 20 percent and 35 percent on healthcare costs.

"The Qliance direct primary care model begins to fix what is broken with healthcare in America," said John Backus, managing partner of New Atlantic Ventures, based in Reston, Va. "With direct primary care like Qliance, it is possible to do what many in Congress think is impossible – to extend quality healthcare to more Americans while actually reducing cost for all."

Qliance operates one clinic in downtown Seattle and will be opening its second in Kent, Wash., in August. A third is planned around the end of theyear. The company is in discussions with several large groups to extend its model to other parts of the country.