Garner raises $12 million to match employees with ‘high-performing’ doctors

Garner Health, a platform that uses metrics and data to match employers and employees with doctors, today announced that it raised $12 million. The company says the proceeds will be put toward customer acquisition and the expansion of its team as Garner looks to further develop its cloud-hosted products.

According to a Washington Health Alliance report, in a single year, more than 600,000 U.S.-based patients underwent a treatment they didn’t need, treatments that collectively cost roughly $282 million. More than a third of the money spent on the tests or services went to unnecessary care, often leaving employers footing the bill — which agrees with recent findings from the National Academy of Medicine. The organization pegged the amount wasted each year by providers and patients at $765 billion, which equates to about a fourth of all money spent on health care annually.

New York-based Garner claims to reduce this waste by using a dataset that algorithms analyze to find doctors with a history of successfully diagnosing diseases and treating patients. The company was founded CEO Nick Reber, informed by his personal experience with the health care system. When he was experiencing back pain, Reber consulted a doctor that recommended a procedure, which then snowballed into multiple unnecessary operations.

Once an employee is ready to choose a doctor, Garner provides a list of physicians physically nearby who are in-network and taking appointments via the company’s app, website, or phone. The company, which says it doesn’t have financial relationships with doctors, covers out-of-pocket medical bills in accordance with an employer’s health policy. These expenses include copays, prescriptions, x-rays and imaging, surgeries, and other medically necessary procedures included in the employer’s plan.

“We saw that doctors in the same geography, who treated very similar patients, were producing vastly different outcomes. For example, one back surgeon might have a drastically lower complication rate than another surgeon just down the hall — even controlling for other relevant factors,” Reber explained. “We’ve spent hundreds of hours studying medical literature, and have developed metrics that help us identify which doctors are practicing medicine well across all specialties. Those are the doctors we recommend. When a patient sees a good doctor, the patient ends up healthier — which saves their employer money. This means that employers are happy to pay for the out-of-pocket expenses of employees who use Garner to find their next doctor.”

Fifteen-employee Garner estimates that it saves employers 10% in overall health benefit costs on average. The platform currently serves over 10,000 members in more than 30 states.

“Rising healthcare costs are an increasing issue for American industry. Businesses in the U.S. pay almost three times more than employers in similar countries do for healthcare benefits, [and] research shows that there are some doctors that systematically use high-cost treatments that aren’t medically necessary and come with massive long-term risks to patients,” Reber continued. “At Garner, we want to be part of the solution to that problem … We construct each metric individually from the ground up by leveraging the full extent of the medical literature in concert with expert medical opinions (We have a clinical advisory board to ensure all metrics are ready accurately and with context). This means that we know exactly how each metric is calculated and what biases might exist. We iterate through this process with our medical experts to ensure that our metrics are as objective as possible.”

Founders Fund led the series A round in Garner with support from Maverick Ventures and Thrive Capital. It follows last year’s seed funding of $4.5 million and brings Garner to $17 million in funding to date.

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