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Oshi Health: Virtual Care Comes to Digestive Health (An Update)

(We originally profiled Oshi Health in October of 2021, please see our original Scouting Report “Scouting Report-Oshi Health: Virtual Care Comes to Digestive Health” dated 10/22/21 here).

The Driver:

Oshi Health, a digital gastrointestinal care startup, recently raised $30M in Series B funding in a round led by Koch Disruptive Technologies with participation from existing investors including Flare Capital Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Frist Cressey Ventures, CVS Health Ventures, and Takeda Digital Ventures. In addition to the institutional investors, individual investors who joined the Series A round included Jonathan Bush, founder and CEO of Zus Health, (and cofounder of Athenahealth), and Russell Glass, CEO of Headspace Health. According to the company, the ???? will be used to accelerate the next phase of Oshi’s growth, to scale its clinical team nationwide and forge relationships with health plans, employers, channel partners, and provider groups.

Key Takeaways:

  • Approximately 15% of U.S. households have a person in their household who uses diet to manage a health condition.

  • A study sponsored by the company and presented at the Institute for Health Improvement in January 2023 found Osh’s program resulted in all-cause medical cost savings of approximately $11K per patient in just six months

  • According to Vivante Health, $136B per year is spent on GI conditions in the US, that is more than heart disease ($113B), trauma ($103B), or mental health ($99B).

  • Direct costs for IBS alone are as high as $10 billion and indirect costs can total almost $20 billion.

The Story:

CEO and founder Sam Holliday encountered GI issues while observing his mother and sister’s ordeal when managing their own IBS care. Holliday’s experience watching his family deal with the difficulties of managing IBS without clinical assistance prompted his interest in companies like Virta Health that use food as medicine for treating diabetes. Holliday saw the contrast between his family’s experience and Virta’s approach of supporting people in reversing the impact of diabetes on their daily lives. Holliday was fascinated with Virta’s holistic approach of care that prioritized the user's experience while saving cost and providing easy access to virtual care that leveraged technology and was data driven.

The possibilities that Virta’s virtual model presented for GI spurred the idea of creating Oshi Health. Oshi Health’s encompassing platform supports patients by granting them access to GI specialists, prescriptions, and lab work from the comforts of their homes. Oshi Health provides comprehensive and patient-focused care to patients with GI conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

Oshi Health works by connecting patients with an integrated team of GI specialists including board-certified gastroenterologists and registered dieticians. Oshi Health has clinicians that assess symptoms and order lab tests and diagnostics if needed. In addition to the licensed GI doctors and dieticians, patients have the option of speaking with GI-specialized mental health clinicians and nurse practitioners as well. This allows patients to form a customized plan as many of these conditions often involve a mental health component in addition to a physical one. The customized plan attempts to capture the patient’s needs regarding anxiety, nutrition, or stress. The Oshi Health service extends beyond testing and planning by providing stand-by health coaches and care teams to support patients and help them stay on track.

Oshi Health’s platform also offers an app designed to help patients take action and stay organized through their GI care journey. With the app, patients can record their symptoms, quality of life measurements, and other factors known to impact their diet, sleep, or exercise. The app also features useful educational materials and recipes to help patients learn more about their condition.

The company states their products and services are currently available to over 20 million people as a preferred in-network virtual gastroenterology clinic for national and regional insurers, as well as their employer customers. In April of this year, Oshi and Aetna announced a partnership that provides Aetna commercial members with in-network access to Oshi’s integrated multidisciplinary care teams. In addition, in March of 2022, Firefly Health – a virtual-first healthcare company named Oshi as its preferred partner for digestive care.

In January 2023, the company announced clinical trial results of a company-sponsored study at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). The study demonstrated that virtual multidisciplinary care for gastrointestinal (GI) disorders from Oshi Health resulted in significantly higher levels of patient engagement, satisfaction, and symptom control resulting in all-cause medical cost savings of approximately $11K per patient in just six months.

The Differentiators:

About 1 in 4 people suffer from diagnosed GI conditions and many more suffer from chronic undiagnosed symptoms. “GI conditions are really stigmatized”. says Holliday. Integrated GI care is a missing piece of the healthcare infrastructure. There’s a huge group of people who don’t have anywhere to go to access care that’s proven to work.” By using this virtual-first model and increasing access to care at a lower cost for patients, Oshi Health is attempting to revolutionize GI care. Through its approach Oshi is attempting to tap into the large market for food-related health conditions. For example, according to a report entitled “Let Food Be Thy Medicine: Americans Use Diet to Manage Chronic Ailments,” approximately 15% of U.S. households have a person in their household who uses diet to manage a health condition. Oshi calculates that these conditions drive approximately $135 billion in annual healthcare costs and have a collective impact greater than diabetes, heart disease and mental health combined.

Oshi Health plans to use a community of irritable bowel disease (IBD) patients for disease research, personalized insights, and a new digital therapeutic. Oshi Health is one of the first companies to address GI disorders and is easily accessible for patients through a virtual approach. It is the only virtual platform exclusively for GI patients. Being virtual helps patients receive treatment from the convenience of their home, reduces stigma, and saves them the time and hassle of commuting for GI treatment which can involve extensive and costly testing. Patients are in control of their care and have access to a team of medical professionals at their fingertips.

The Big Picture:

Oshi Health’s commitment to making GI care accessible, convenient, and affordable is more likely to lower the costs of treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, colonoscopies, X-rays, sonograms, and more in healthcare centers. Oshi Health helps avoid preventable and expensive ER visits as well as unnecessary colonoscopies and endoscopies. For example, according to a study cited by the company, unmanaged digestive symptoms are the #1 cause of emergency department treat-and-release visits.

By incorporating access to psychologists in the membership plan rather than requiring it to be paid out of pocket it allows patients to access the services of mental health professionals quickly and easily. Patients can schedule appointments within 3 days and there is always support between visits with care plan implementation. By incorporating both physical and mental health Oshi Health is attempting to treat not just the symptoms but the causes as well, helping to lower the costs versus receiving in-person which can lower the incidence of GI conditions and increase the quality of care they receive. As noted by the company “Oshi Health is able to intercept and change the trajectory of unmanaged symptom escalations” helping to drive improvements in outcomes and cost savings.

Billions of dollars are saved annually on avoidable treatments and expenses because these patients are receiving the treatment they need rather than physicians ordering expensive tests without knowing the root cause of their problems. Due to the comprehensiveness of the virtual-first care model, physicians, dieticians, health coaches, care coordinators, and psychologists are all involved in the patient's journey. Under traditional models, , patients with GI issues see just a gastroenterologist. By contrast, in Oshi’s model, a holistic team is involved every step of the way that is customized for each patient’s lifestyle that creates a personalized care plan for their lifestyle.


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