- Doctor On Demand and Grand Rounds have acquired Included Health, a care navigation platform for the LGBTQ community, in a bid to strengthen the virtual care player's offerings for the underserved population, the companies said Wednesday.
- It's the first acquisition since the telehealth giant and care navigator closed their merger earlier this month, and first of an LGBTQ-specific platform by a major telehealth company.
- The buy is the latest in an ongoing M&A frenzy in digital health, and comes as interest grows in addressing previously underrecognized needs, like mental and women's health. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Nearly a tenth of Americans identify as LGBTQ, but research has shown LGBTQ individuals disproportionately experience discrimination in healthcare settings and struggles to access necessary medical care.
Almost half of respondents to a national study of more than 1,500 LGBTQ employees from Fortune 100 companies conducted by Included said they had experienced discrimination or stigma during a medical visit. As a result, LGBTQ individuals avoid care at a rate roughly two to three times greater than the broader U.S. population.
And those prejudices carry over into and impact the workplace as well. A Boston Consulting Group study conducted last year found 40% of LGBTQ employees remained in the closet at work, while 75% experienced negative interactions related to their identity in the office.
Grand Rounds and Doctor On Demand said the acquisition was due to client demand and the need to address inequities in care for communities including lesbian, gay and transgender patients, as well as Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).
"Rightly, employers and health plans are asking for a navigation and virtual care partner who offers integrated personalized care to all their members. We will provide it," said Owen Tripp, CEO of the combined company, in a statement Wednesday.
Doctor On Demand and Grand Rounds announced plans to merge earlier this year creating a multibillion-dollar digital health firm. In the short term, the two have continued to operate under their existing brands, but have about 100 million covered lives across commercial, Medicare and Medicaid plans.
LGBTQ-specific care is a niche space, but those are becoming increasingly en vogue as digital health basks in historic levels of funding due to COVID-19.
New York City-based Included, which has brought in $2.3 million in funding since its founding in 2020, is an employer-sponsored health platform connecting LGBTQ and BIPOC employees to providers for their specialized needs.
It's one of a number of startups looking to tackle healthcare for the community, including Queerly, an LGBTQ concierge care and digital health company; LGBTQ mental health startup Violet; Plume, a transgender digital health service; Folx, a direct-to-consumer startup for LGBTQ patients; and a bevy of websites connecting people to LGBTQ-friendly services, such as QSpaces, Zencare and MyTransHealth.
LGBTQ-specific offerings, long neglected by the medical establishment, have so far been left out of the rash of recent mergers and acquisitions in the digital health space.
However, Wednesday's deal comes as investor interest seems to grow in LGBTQ offerings, seeing massive unmet need. Both Plume and Folx announced Series A rounds in February, raising $14 million and $25 million, respectively.