08 May Healthcare Startup Solv Raises $16.8 Million To Build The OpenTable For Urgent Care
When OpenTable launched, it didn’t invent the restaurant reservation, but it made it easier than ever to book a last-minute table for dinner online. But restaurants are far from the only location that take appointments. For example, an estimated 89 million Americans are now turning to Urgent Care for medical problems, according to the Urgent Care Association of America’s 2018 report. But while Urgent Care is convenient, it can also be frustrating because it tends to be a walk-in experience full of long waits.
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That’s where San Francisco-based Solv comes in. It wants to do for Urgent Care what OpenTable did for restaurants by bringing transparent pricing and easy-to-book appointments to the industry. And starting Tuesday, it’s taking another step towards convenience by adding the option to pay your medical bill straight from your phone.
“There’s not a massive change in behavior” said James Slavet, a partner at Greylock, on the rise of urgent care visits. “It’s a question of modernizing it for the consumer.”
As more and more US consumers flock to urgent care facilities, Solv wants to become the go-to app for anyone looking for a same-day health appointment. To get there, the company raised another $16.8 million, lead by Slavet’s firm Greylock with participation from Aspect Ventures, to bring its total funding to over $21 million. Slavet, who previously invested in Redfin and GoFundMe, will join the board, alongside Uber and OpenTable investor Bill Gurley from Benchmark.
Solv is also expanding beyond online appointment booking with a new product, Solv Pay, that lets consumers pay their medical bills straight from their phone.
“he narrative in healthcare is that healthcare is broken. Incentives aren’t aligned. And there’s a lot of truth to that,” cofounder and CEO Heather Fernandez told Forbes. “There’s something working in healthcare today, and it’s a category called convenient care.”
Fernandez puts the rise of the urgent care centers on two trends: the rise of high-deductible health plans that have consumers looking for cheaper options, and the convenience economy that’s making customers demand more from their health care providers. The urgent care market is expected to reach $18 billion by the end of 2018, with the number of urgent care centers now near 7,700 in the US, according to the Urgent Care Association of America’s 2018 report.
In the year since Solv launched, customers have already booked more than 1.5 million urgent care visits through its products. In addition to Solv, the company also owns Urgentcarelocations.com, which helps people search for urgent care centers in their area, regardless if the clinics are paying to use Solv’s software or not. All together, the company is seeing over 750,000 visits per month to Solv’s websites.
Once on Solv, customers can search for urgent care clinics near them and see the available appointment times for the same-day. Solv users can also snap a photo of their insurance card to see how much they still owe on their deductible and the estimated price of services at the urgent care center. Fernandez says more than 70% of Solv users are searching for price information before their doctor’s visit so they won’t be surprised.
It’s this combination of traits – consumer facing app plus enterprise software – that makes Solv unique. It isn’t the only company trying to tackle easy online reservations or more transparent pricing information. It has venture-backed rivals, including ZocDoc, which offers a wider range of appointment booking from primary care to specialists like dermatologists while Solv remains focused on urgent care. Other providers, like Clockwise.MD, are more enterprise businesses that are powering the appointments behind the scenes. But Solv offers both of these services – making it a one stop shop for both health care providers and customers.
When Washington-based MultiCare switched to Solv, the company saw its online bookings jump up 10% and as high as 25% in some urgent care locations. “They’ve gone above and beyond just standard online scheduling,” said Kirsten Saint Clair, a director at MultiCare. “They’ve started thinking about what else consumers need. They weren’t just satisfied.”
When Saint Clair brought the idea of bill pay to the Solv team, the 28-person startup was already ahead of her. The company had started trialing Solv Pay with a few of its clinics to bring bill pay to a patient’s fingertips. Instead of waiting for the paper bill to arrive in the mail, Solv can now text the bill straight to the phone so patients can pay online instantly.
In a trial with Pediatric Urgent Care Fort Worth, customers used Solv Pay to pay direct from their phones 50% of the time, a dramatic change for a bill collections program that relied on mailing out paper statements and waiting for the checks to come in.
Pediatric Urgent Care Fort Worth was already using an online booking platform, but its COO Emily Strittmatter started talking to Solv two years ago as the startup was just beginning to get off the ground. At the time, only 5% of Pediatric Urgent Care’s patients were pre-booking with online appointments. Two years later, more than 30% are booking online through Solv before walking in the door. “We’re trying to make it as seamless as possible,” Strittmatter said.
Seamless is Solv’s goal, but Fernandez is realistic about the work needed to get there. The company operates now in 20 states, but will have steal business away from competitors to continue fueling its growth. Solv is also looking to expand into other areas of convenient care, from retail clinics to virtual doctors, as it helps to triage any customer’s last-minute medical needs.
“Solving the consumer problem is going to take a lot of investment and time,” Fernandez said. Thankfully for Solv, the fresh $16.8 million funding round should help it grow beyond being the OpenTable of urgent care and into a consumer company that modernizes how people find the healthcare they need at the exact time that they need it.