Q&A with Monogram Health CEO, Mike Uchrin & FCV Partner, Chris Booker
Monogram Health, founded and incubated by Frist Cressey Ventures in 2019, has closed $375 million in new funding to continue the rapid national deployment of its innovative care delivery model and clinical services for patients with polychronic conditions, like kidney disease. We sat down with FCV Partner, Chris Booker, and Monogram Health Co-Founder and CEO, Mike Uchrin, to discuss what led to this record-breaking growth funding and where they plan go next.
Nashville is known as the “Healthcare Industry Capital” and it’s easy to see why that’s the case following the tremendous success we’ve witnessed from you and your team at Monogram Health. Can you tell us a bit about how you got started and your company roots in Music City?
Uchrin: I was in the 2016 cohort Nashville Health Care Council Fellows Program, which was one of the first. Later, in 2018, after the health system I had been working for was acquired, I reached out to Sen. Frist to get his perspective on the industry and thoughts regarding appropriate next steps in my career. It all started with that first call. We set up a meeting where he uttered the immortal words, “So, Mike, what do you think about kidney disease?” I knew that there was tremendous opportunity to improve the quality of care patients were receiving because I had experienced it firsthand at a health plan level, so when he went on to ask, “why don’t you come to Nashville, and we’ll work to see if we can develop a company?” – I didn’t hesitate.
There was no contract. There was no agreement. I moved my family from Phoenix to Nashville on a handshake, but if you’re going to do it on a handshake, there’s nobody better to do it with than Senator Frist.
Booker: Nashville is special for many reasons but two stand out as being key to the success of Monogram. First, we have the talent. With deep roots in healthcare started by HCA, we have tens of thousands of individuals with the experience in driving healthcare innovation. Second, we are known as the “Volunteer State.” Since the very beginning of the Monogram, hundreds of Nashvillians have contributed their time and resources to help make Monogram’s missions successful.
Bill Frist and I got to know Mike through the Nashville Health Care Council Fellows program. We were very impressed with what he had done during his time at Health Choice. At the same time, we had identified a need in the kidney care space. It was clear that there was insufficient care and an opportunity for innovation amongst a population that was lacking necessary treatment. One night over dinner, we came up with early ideas for what Monogram is today on a napkin. We’ve been honored to be there every step of the way, but the real kudos goes to Mike and his team for their commitment and perseverance.
Why did you choose the name “Monogram”? There must be a story there!
Uchrin: Frustrated by cookie-cutter approaches to care planning and delivery, and given the sheer volume of members with complex polychronic conditions in need, we set out to create personalized, evidence-based care plans rooted in clinical research and tailored to their unique needs. While brainstorming potential company names on a drive through rural Georgia, my wife said, “What about the name Monogram?”
Booker: The name “Monogram” symbolizes the personalized focus of our services. While the application of the latest technology and evidence-based data science is critical to our success, we never lose sight that health care is ultimately about trusted individual relationships between health care professionals and their patients. We believe in whole-person care, and that starts with getting to know the full story of each person who entrusts us with their well-being.
What do you think has been key to the growth you’ve experienced since starting in 2019?
Uchrin: We call it “The Monogram Difference” – a highly differentiated approach that is modernizing kidney care through an innovative model focused on early disease detection, slowing the progression of kidney disease and treating for comorbid chronic conditions and metabolic disorders. Through our unique in-home nephrology, primary care and chronic condition treatment as well as benefits management services, we enhance access to affordable care in all communities, drive better health outcomes and, in turn, decrease total cost of care, creating value for our patients and partners.
Innovation isn’t just our vision for the future, it’s been key to our successes to date as we’ve developed and leveraged proprietary, evidence-based interventions. Our home-first, patient-centric model connects patients with our nationally scaled, value-based platform of primary and specialty providers. And by strategically growing our value-based partnerships with leading health plans as well as risk-bearing providers, we’re improving access to scientifically driven care while also improving the affordability of care through reduced medical expenses. Through Monogram’s transformative, high-touch model, we now care for patients across all insurance products and deliver services in nearly 4,000 U.S. cities across 34 states.
One by one, our patient successes and outcomes are adding up to significant value for our partners and driving accelerated demand for our services.
Booker: There’s been a noticeable shift towards value-based care as decreased quality-of-life and heightened costs of dialysis and other chronic conditions have caught the attention of payers and providers. A driving factor of growth is Monogram’s innovative care model, which benefits patients, payers and providers alike through enhanced care access, improved health outcomes and decreased total cost of care.
With kidney disease impacting a disproportionate share of disadvantaged communities and communities of color, how does Monogram help these disadvantaged populations?
Uchrin: Unfortunately, individuals living with polychronic conditions, including advanced chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease, often face dismal health outcomes and poor quality of life due to barriers in accessing care and a deeply entrenched, volume-first system with poor adherence to evidence-based care and a lack of sensitivity to social determinants of health. Monogram was born with a vision to serve disadvantaged patients as well as health plans and other health care sponsors to solve these systemic problems and reverse decades of sub-optimal outcomes. We believe that patients and health plans deserve a value-based kidney care partner whose fidelity is to clinical evidence and not perverse financial incentives. What distinguishes Monogram Health is our obsession with evidence, compassion and execution, without economic conflicts of interest. Our proven platform improves lives and reduces costs while our full array of managed services is designed to aggressively address the industry’s systematic failure points and improve care for kidney disease and related chronic conditions. We guide our patients, especially those who have historically been underserved, every step of the way to find and understand the best evidence-based care pathway that meets their physical, emotional, and socio-economic needs.
Looking to the future, what excites you most about this additional funding?
Uchrin: We’re excited to aggressively expand and continue the widespread deployment of our clinical programs and services for managing kidney disease and other polychronic conditions while building out our clinical infrastructure and workforce. This latest funding also allows Monogram to continue to invest in the latest technology to develop industry-leading AI algorithms as well as clinical order sets that better serve our patients’ complex care needs. We are big believers in utilizing technology to enhance delivery of our services and provide more effective care at the right place and right time – notably, in the home.