Cigna Ventures and MDLIVE Partnership: Fueling the Future of Virtual Care.
MDLIVE: Convenient, Cost-effective, High-Quality Virtual Health Care
Each year, millions of Americans do not obtain medical care due to transportation barriers. The proximity and accessibility of health care services plays a large role in Social Determinants of Health, where those without access to transportation are more likely to experience negative health outcomes. Cost is another common barrier to necessary preventive care and even urgent care.
MDLIVE is a leading provider of virtual health care services delivering simple, convenient and affordable access to the highest quality medical and behavioral health care, around the clock, from the comfort and safety of patients’ homes. From the beginning, MDLIVE has differentiated itself from other virtual care providers by working directly with health plans, health systems and self-insured employer partners to serve their member populations.
Turning a Vendor Relationship into a Strategic Partnership
Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, MDLIVE and The Cigna Group saw a critical need for virtual care offerings and an opportunity to expand access to care services through telemedicine. When MDLIVE was founded in 2009, it focused on providing virtual urgent care services. MDLIVE first engaged with The Cigna Group in 2013 to give Cigna Healthcare members access to 24/7/365 virtual consultations for non-emergency medical issues. The partnership was the first step toward The Cigna Group’s vision of a future hybrid world with both virtual and in-person health care. “We have this core belief that care is going to move to a state where it’s delivered more in the home and more virtually,” said Craig Cimini, Head of The Cigna Group Ventures.
In 2018, The Cigna Group Ventures co-lead a growth investment round for MDLIVE to change the relationship from vendor-customer to strategic partners. The partnership helped position MDLIVE as a leader in the virtual care market and allowed both companies to scale the relationship into different service lines and offerings. A member of the The Cigna Group Ventures team was appointed to MDLIVE’s board of directors, bringing over 30 years of health care domain expertise, to work closely on the strategic growth of MDLIVE.
[The Cigna Group] Ventures was very strategic in helping us think through, not only how to continue to service our health plan partners, but how to think about virtual care in a broader ecosystem.– Jonathan Salon, President of MDLIVE
Delivering on Virtual Urgent Care
- Patients who saw MDLIVE providers during urgent care visits avoided unnecessary tests, saving an average of $118 for each episode of care
- Patients who saw MDLIVE providers had 19% fewer unnecessary visits to the emergency room or urgent care than those who saw in-person providers
- MDLIVE visits resulted in 16% less duplication of care in urgent care visits compared to other virtual primary care providers and specialists
Advancing Virtual Care Services and Accessibility
Following The Cigna Group Ventures’ investment in MDLIVE, leadership on both sides began to focus on expanding MDLIVE’s services into areas of health care where greater access was needed including behavioral health, dermatology, and primary care. The business also scaled from servicing only commercial health plans to include Medicare Advantage and Individual and Family Plans (IFP). Throughout this evolution, MDLIVE’s partnership with Cigna Healthcare tightened and evolved with The Cigna Group Ventures facilitating introductions to different service lines within Cigna Healthcare. In 2019, Cigna Healthcare added behavioral health services through MDLIVE and, in 2020, Cigna Healthcare and MDLIVE launched virtual annual wellness screenings.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, the MDLIVE team noticed mainstream adoption of telehealth and saw utilization spike across all plans including Cigna Healthcare. Specifically, MDLIVE saw rapid growth of its behavioral health business and invested in growing its team of licensed psychiatrists and therapists to meet the clinical demand.
The pandemic also spurred the Cigna Healthcare team to have more formal conversations around the future of virtual care and how it fit into The Cigna Group’s long-term strategy. In January 2021, The Cigna Group named MDLIVE the sole vendor for its telehealth program, and just a few months later Evernorth Health Services, the health services arm of The Cigna Group, completed its acquisition of MDLIVE.
“[Evernorth Health Services’] care delivery strategy is digital-first, virtual-led, and data-informed but connected to physical site offerings, and MDLIVE fits right in as the virtual anchor for that strategy,” said Jonathan Salon, President of MDLIVE. “The other capabilities within Evernorth, like pharmacy, health coaching and case management, together all form an ecosystem for care delivery that MDLIVE becomes a part of.”
Since the acquisition, Cigna Healthcare has strengthened its partnership with MDLIVE adding more virtual care services for members in primary, urgent, behavioral and dermatology care. MDLIVE has also expanded into new service areas including chronic condition management and the patient health monitoring program. “MDLIVE was born an urgent care business, and now the future is really around virtual primary care, routine and preventative care, and being able to provide care to a larger universe of patients and more conditions, and managing care, which will keep people healthy and well and drive value,” Salon said.
Closing Gaps in Care
- 70% of patients who completed a virtual wellness screening with an MDLIVE physician had no primary care visit in the previous 24 months
- Fewer than 25% of those patients reported having a local primary care doctor
- 68% of those patients had at least one chronic condition
Key Milestones of the Strategic Partnership
- May 2013: Cigna Healthcare and MDLIVE partnership begins with urgent care services
- August 2018: The Cigna Group Ventures invests in MDLIVE
- December 2019: Cigna Healthcare adds behavioral health services via MDLIVE
- January 2020: Cigna Healthcare and MDLIVE partner to launch annual wellness screenings
- January 2021: Cigna Healthcare makes MDLIVE the sole vendor for its telehealth program
- April 2021: Evernorth Health Services completes acquisition of MDLIVE
- October 2021: Cigna Healthcare adds expanded virtual services through MDLIVE
- January 2022: MDLIVE launches patient health monitoring program
- November 2022: MDLIVE announces enhancements to virtual primary care program targeting chronic conditions
Designing a Hybrid Future Together
For both MDLIVE and The Cigna Group Ventures, the partnership was a true success and the vision is now set on continuing to grow and develop a hybrid care model.
“MDLIVE has become part of a broader care delivery ecosystem with our virtual capabilities being leveraged throughout the Evernorth [Health Services] portfolio, going from a virtual-only care model to a hybrid care model that has grown in demand since the pandemic,” Salon said. Having the power of Evernorth [Health Services] and The Cigna Group behind MDLIVE in terms of capital and commitment to building out a hybrid care strategy is a differentiator in new business and customer retention.
MDLIVE has gone from being a vendor to a strategic partner to now a core part of our thesis and our Care+ business within Evernorth [Health Services].– Craig Cimini, Head of The Cigna Group Ventures
MDLIVE reached unicorn status while The Cigna Group Ventures was an active partner. The Cigna Group Ventures exited the company at a full valuation, but the strong relationship continued throughout MDLIVE’s integration into Evernorth Health Services. The Cigna Group Ventures continues to support MDLIVE’s growth by facilitating partnership opportunities with its new and existing portfolio companies.
Now MDLIVE and Evernorth Health Services are focused on designing a hybrid care modality that meets the needs of today’s health consumers. “The idea of personalization of proactive versus reactive care, longitudinal care versus transactional care, and hybrid care versus virtual-only care, those are the three things that I think are core to what we’re trying to build in the care delivery business for us at Evernorth [Health Services]” Salon said.