VC-backed Aspire Health weighs strategic options

  • Co-founders Smith, Frist, ex-Senate majority leader
  • VC backers: Oak HC/FT, GV, BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Sandbox
  • Largest U.S. provider of community-based palliative care

Venture-capital-backed Aspire Health, which manages in-home end-of-life care for individuals facing serious illness, is exploring strategic alternatives, four sources said.

Goldman Sachs is financial adviser to the Nashville palliative-care provider, the sources said.

Aspire as early as January engaged in on-and-off discussions with strategic buyers, including health insurers, one source said.

One possible outcome of the process is an investment from a strategic, though the company could also opt not to pursue a transaction, this source said.

Aspire was founded in 2013 by CEO Brad Smith and Bill Frist, board chairman and former U.S. Senate majority leader.

Investors in Aspire include Oak HC/FT, GV (formerly Google Ventures), BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners and Sandbox Industries. The company has raised $53.5 million in funding to date, according to Crunchbase.

The company said it is the largest provider of community-based palliative care in the country. Unlike hospice care, palliative care is not limited to terminal patients. The ultimate goal is to improve patients’ quality of life through comprehensive treatment and care coordination provided by a team of doctors.

Aspire sends physicians and skilled nurses, as well as non-clinical professionals including social workers and chaplains, to patients’ homes, helping make treatment choices, relieve symptoms and offering emotional support, among other things.

Aspire identifies patients through its partnerships with health plans. The company today operates in 67 cities in 25 states.

While Aspire is more of a home-care provider, to the extent that it contracts with managed-care companies and offers a personalized suite of services to patients, the company does some of what General Atlantic-backed Landmark Health does, sources noted.

Landmark, for its part, contracts with managed-care companies that provide an array of home-care services, and effectively acts as the risk-bearing entity for the care of the sickest and most complex sub-populations.

Landmark is paid based on a percentage of savings achieved by coordinating the care and taking on the risk of chronically ill patients that insurers otherwise would lose money on, sources explained.

Both companies ride the broader theme around the push to keep patients out of the hospital, which is considered the most costly setting of care, as well as the transition to value-based care, from a traditional fee-for-service model.

General Atlantic in late March announced its investment in Landmark, marking an exit for fellow sponsor Francisco Partners. The deal followed a Barclays-conducted sales process that sources have said drew tremendous interest.

As the Wall Street Journal initially reported, the Landmark process kicked off to free up CEO Adam Boehler to lead the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation. Boehler’s appointment was announced earlier this month.

Aspire representatives didn’t return requests for comment, while a Goldman Sachs spokesperson declined to comment.

Action Item: Take a look at Aspire’s leadership team

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