There is expected to be a shortage of anywhere between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034 according to the Association of American Medical Colleges. The shortage has been and is expected to be more acute among specialties. Virtual telehealth platforms are one key aspect in addressing the resulting accessibility issues across the country. Summus is a virtual specialty care healthcare platform that provides access to vetted specialists, making healthcare more timely and accessible. In many parts of the country, it may take anywhere from two to five months, with Summus, patients can consult with a specialist within days. The company operates as a platform marketplace that allows PCPs, healthcare systems, and insurance plans/employers to connect with a network of over 5,100 specialists that support 2.1M+ globally.
AlleyWatch caught up with Summus Founder and CEO Julian Flannery to learn more about the business, the company’s strategic plans, latest round of funding, and much, much more…
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
Summus raised $19.5M in our latest investment round to support the company’s continued growth to solve the problem of access to high-quality specialty care. Our lead investors, Mitchell Rales, C-founder and Executive Chairman, Danaher Corporation, and Sator Grove Holdings, a permanent capital investor, believe deeply in Summus’ mission, value proposition, and capabilities to transform access to healthcare.
Following a previous investment round in 2022, Summus has now raised $70M to expand its innovative approach to care—this round of funding will help us meet the explosive demand for our solutions across the multiple markets we serve.
Tell us about the product or service that Summus offers.
In healthcare today, specialty care is where the cost and complexity lies and where wait times can range from two to five months for an appointment. Summus solves the critical issue of access to high-quality healthcare, providing education, navigation support, advocacy, and support from high-quality specialists within days across all health conditions—quickly, easily and affordably. We have three solutions:
- For employers and health plans, Summus guides employees and plan members and their dependents through the complexities of the healthcare system and their respective health concerns, serving as a trusted partner. Our national network of physicians provide navigation, education and guidance, as well as tools and resources to help employees and plan members make better, more informed health decisions across all health questions. By empowering patients, caregivers and families to make better decisions about their care, our solution drives better outcomes and measurable medical cost savings for employers and health plans through optimizing treatment paths and avoiding in-person, emergency department and urgent care visits.
- For value-based care primary care clinics and other physician groups, Summus Peer-to-Peer helps PCPs connect with our national network of specialists for econsults and virtual curbside consultations. By supporting PCPs, Summus supports better patient care and outcomes, and reinforces the primary care doctor as the medical home for the patient.
- Summus also supports leading health systems to scale their specialist expertise. We power remote second opinion programs, which allow families all over the world to access opinions and other programs at top U.S. hospitals.
What inspired the start of Summus?
There is a meaningful access problem in healthcare today. The average wait time to see a specialist is 47 days. Patients don’t know where to go, who to see, or what to ask. Summus accelerates access—in hours or days—to best-in-class clinical guidance, advocacy and navigation, helping patients, families and caregivers get the answers they need from high-quality specialists to make informed decisions about care. The most trusted party in healthcare is the physician. Since founding, we have remained steadfast in the belief that putting high-quality doctors in the middle of questions big and small can have meaningful impact—on outcomes, cost, peace of mind, and general wellbeing.
How is Summus different?
At Summus, we believe the most impactful and trusted entity in healthcare is the physician. We emphasize the value of medical expertise—and we have radically improved access and affordability to this expertise by creating a single virtual clinical front door to healthcare for patients, families, caregivers and peer physicians. With deep expertise across all medical specialties, Summus supports better decisions, measurable cost savings from changes in diagnoses, improved treatment paths, and avoided unnecessary visits, diagnostics, and procedures.
Summus has built powerful, elegant technology that is designed by and for physicians. We combine great software with our proprietary marketplace model to attract leading specialists who deliver high-quality healthcare expertise to support members and physicians in the moments that matter most.
What market does Summus target and how big is it?
Summus solves the access problem in specialty care, accelerating access to leading medical expertise for employers, health plans, hospital systems, and primary care providers to support informed decisions and improve outcomes. With a curated network of more than 5,100 specialists from the top medical institutions, Summus serves more than 2.1 million members globally.
What’s your business model?
Summus’ proprietary, tech-enabled marketplace model empowers patients, families, caregivers, and physicians to share and access high-quality specialty expertise—across all health questions, and at any point in the health journey. The Summus model creates efficiency by scaling specialist expertise that transcends geographic boundaries and transforms access to specialty care.
How are you preparing for a potential economic slowdown?
Summus has built a strong operating model and developed a product roadmap that is designed to encourage continued innovation at scale, focusing on the issues and challenges our clients face in any economic environment. By designing a model that can help employers consolidate multiple-point solutions to scalable peer-to-peer technology that focuses on improved outcomes, the Summus approach ensures long-term support for universal questions in healthcare from both members and physicians to share and access high-quality specialty expertise. Our proprietary marketplace approach also is designed to allow clients and hospital systems to access specialist expertise as needed, whether it is more condition-specific or broader needs for more targeted engagement.
What was the funding process like?
Summus is fortunate to work with experienced investors who deeply understand our business, the market opportunity, and the long-term value we provide in the healthcare ecosystem. Our investors were eager to help fund the next stage of expansion by the company given market demand across employers, payers, health systems, and clinics.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We have always taken a disciplined approach to company building—focusing on capital efficiency and making sure we stay laser-focused on our most important stakeholders: physicians and members. We have built a committed, passionate, and talented team, have a very large TAM across multiple markets, and can show results and outcomes that are meaningful—all of which made fundraising a bit easier.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
A passionate, talented, and committed team. Proven results and outcomes for our customers. Strong unit economics. And, a long-term view on the potential for our model.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
Expand our payer and clinic relationships in deploying our direct-to-patient and peer-to-peer solutions. Enhance our data and matching technology to further scale and optimize our marketplace. Continue to partner with employers across all industries to serve as a clinical front door to high-quality specialty care.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Stay true to your vision but be eyes wide open on unit economics and cash flow. It’s a tricky environment, but investors are still very interested in high-quality deals.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
As the premier platform for clinical expertise, we are focused on further scaling Summus’ growth, including meeting demand for our innovative solution to support primary care physicians in a peer-to-peer environment, and enhancing condition-specific, personalized journeys for patients to access high-quality care from renowned physicians.
Summus’ innovative peer-to-peer model shows exciting early results with improved outcomes and physician and patient satisfaction, and significant cost savings. With Medicare shifting to value-based care models, Summus’ peer-to-peer solution will be integral to reducing costly referrals for health plans and primary care provider clinics.
What’s your favorite fall destination in and around the city?
Central Park with the leaves turning and temperature cooling. Nothing better than early fall in NY.