Frist also discussed how the addition of former CMS Administrator Seema Verma to Monogram Health's board of directors will boost the company's mission going forward.
Monogram Health, the Nashville-based kidney disease benefit management company, announced Tuesday that it closed a $160 million Series B funding round.
The company, which has a nationwide network of nephrologists and kidney care specialists, stated that the investment will be utilized to fuel "continued rapid expansion as the leading solution for improved kidney care."
Currently, Monogram operates renal disease clinical managed services across 20 states but is aiming for a nationwide expansion.
The funding round was led by TPG Capital, a private equity firm based in Fort Worth and San Francisco.
Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D., board chairman of Monogram Health, spoke with HealthLeaders about the recent fundraising effort and what it means for the future of the company.
Frist said that chronic kidney disease (CKD) has long been a concern for the healthcare industry, noting that more than 10% of Americans suffer from CKD.
He pointed to cost concerns related to kidney care as well as patients not receiving the required care in terms of early diagnosis, appropriate treatment, or prevention services.
Monogram's strengths, Frist said, are centered on providing evidence-based benefit management and nephrologist care, directly in the home and utilizing a robust data analytics operation, which will be supported by the new influx of capital.
"You go from five or six people doing a lot of the data and analytics to 200 people doing data analytics," Frist said. "There's a huge amount of emphasis on data analytics and careful identification of patients so they can get appropriate preventive care or early care to slow down the disease progress and stop people from going on dialysis."
Frist also discussed the recent appointment of former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to Monogram Health's board of directors and how that will boost the company's mission going forward.
Verma has been intimately involved in addressing kidney care at the federal level, given that renal disease management was a cornerstone of the Trump administration's healthcare agenda.
In July 2019, then-President Donald Trump launched a kidney health initiative aimed at saving 28,000 lives per year, with 200,000 Medicare patients slated to participate in the proposed models.
In November 2020, CMS expanded Medicare payment policies for at-home dialysis treatment of patients with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
Frist said that given his experience in both the private and public sector, he understands the value of having policymakers involved in a healthcare company's leadership in order to help navigate changes coming from Capitol Hill.
"As I recruited [Verma] and talked to her about coming on the board, it was the best of those worlds: you can understand the leadership field of the executives and have access to the capital of the private sector, coupled with the very best of understanding policy," he said.
In healthcare, the private sector also provides the "tools" of flexibility, access to capital, and the ability to carve out specific patient populations to ensure they receive the care they need, he added.
For her part, Verma recently appeared on the HealthLeaders Women in Healthcare Leadership Podcast, where she outlined the mission of Monogram as a company set on improving health outcomes for CKD patients.
"They are focused on chronic kidney disease. Kidney disease in our country is one where the quality is concerning," Verma said. "You have a lot of people that are on dialysis and Medicare pays a lot for these services, but there are alternatives. People don't have to go into a dialysis center two or three times a week, there's home dialysis. If we do a good job on the front end, hopefully, we're preventing a person from getting to that stage.
Jack O'Brien is the Content Team Lead and Finance Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.