Frist-founded health care startup raises $7 million

A young Nashville health care company has raised fresh capital as Covid-19 raises the need for home health services.

Monogram Health has closed on a $7 million round of funding, the company announced Tuesday, led by Frist Cressey Ventures and Norwest Venture Partners, Monogram CEO Michael Uchrin said. Monogram has now raised $12 million total since it was founded in January last year.

The kidney disease management company works with “many” health insurance plans, such as Humana Medicare Advantage and Commercial, to care for thousands of chronic kidney disease patients inside their homes in a more cost-effective manner, Uchrin said. Depending on the stage of the patient’s disease, Monogram works to either stabilize a patient’s disease progression, prepare the patient for transplant or improve their treatment results.

Uchrin said Monogram, which was co-founded by Frist Cressey co-founder Sen. Bill Frist, will use the funds to fuel the company’s growth, noting that the need for Monogram’s services has only increased during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The home is the safest place to interact with the delivery of health care. Our model of engaging patients where they are, in their homes and in their communities, really helps to safeguard them,” Uchrin said. “The relationships that we’re able to develop and foster have really helped to [protect] people from isolation during this time of social distancing. Not only are these programs geared up to bend the cost curve for individuals with renal disease and improve quality outcomes, but [they are] also really able to create opportunities to safeguard this vulnerable patient population in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Monogram is preparing for a period of rapid growth in part because of the enactment of the 21st Century Cures Act, Uchrin said, which will allow Medicare beneficiaries with end-stage renal disease to enroll in 2021 Medicare Advantage plans later this year through private insurers for the first time. He said he expects the demand for Monogram’s services to jump as patients switch to private plans.

Uchrin, who would not disclose the number of health plans the company counts as clients, said Monogram expects to add new health plans and hire several new employees in the coming year.

Frist and his investment firm Frist Cressey Ventures have invested in several Middle Tennessee health care startups in the past 16 months, starting with a $5 million investment in Monogram last January.

The firm also led a $26 million round of funding for Nashville-based Stratasan LLC in July, which was preceded by an undisclosed investment in Brentwood-based 7 Springs Orthopedics in April. Franklin-based ObjectiveGI Inc. closed on a $6.6 million round of funding led by Frist Cressey in December.

“We pride ourselves on working with innovative companies that are truly transforming the delivery of health care, and we share in Monogram’s vision of making kidney care more accessible to more people, lowering the cost of care, and at the same time improving their quality of life and health outcomes,” Frist, who is also the chairman of Monogram’s board of directors, said in a news release. “In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for high-quality, in-home kidney health services are only growing, and Monogram is at the forefront of this shift to home-based care management and delivery.”