The Pandemic Is Revolutionizing Healthcare Benefits: Now Landlords Are Offering Them Too
As the coronavirus pandemic ramped up in mid-March, U.S. employers began to worry that their employee healthcare costs would skyrocket. Meanwhile, telemedicine, which before the novel coronavirus was already being seen as a possible cost-cutting measure in employee health coverage, was poised for an explosion. In short time, major insurers began eliminating co-pays for telemedicine, telehealth companies began to see “meteoric growth,” and by summer 2020, virtual care was the new standard. Many say it is here to stay.
As companies rethink their entire approach to benefits and landlords strive to get creative in luring tenants back into office leases, Eden Health, a virtual health startup, presents a model that bridges telemedicine and brick-and-mortar care. And even more key: It allows not just company owners, but commercial real estate owners, to offer competitive healthcare benefits to the people they want to attract and retain.
“When COVID came around, you had CEOs who for the first time are waking up every day saying ‘Are my employees healthy enough to work?’ and ‘Are my customers healthy enough to buy?’” Eden Health co-founder and CEO Matt McCambridge said. “Now, that's moved into the commercial real estate world too where, whether or not they want to be, [commercial real estate owners and property managers], by virtue of having a physical space, are now in the healthcare business.”
For the past five years, Eden has provided high-quality, comprehensive healthcare (either fully subsidized by a landlord or employer, or in-network for its members' insurance plan) on demand via the Eden app. Members (and their dependents) then also get access to physical primary care, mental health care and physical therapy at Eden's brick-and-mortar clinics. Suddenly, this hybrid model is all the more relevant.
“With COVID, we had this system that was built almost exactly for the moment,” McCambridge said.
Accordingly, he has seen business development conversations with prospects accelerate.
“In the last 14 days, we have seven new [letters of intent] with Class-A landlords as well,” McCambridge told Bisnow in mid-July. While the market has accelerated in the past five years, he added, because of the pandemic, business has tripled since the start of 2020.
The company, which partnered with Convene last year, has also launched partnerships with Connell Real Estate & Development and “a high-profile Class-A landlord in the New York City area that we can’t mention yet.”
Eden partners with real estate companies by creating healthcare packages that, as companies offer them to their employees, landlords can offer to their tenants too.
Prior to the pandemic, approximately two-thirds of Eden’s clinical interactions were delivered virtually, and a third were delivered in the physical clinics, where members had access to primary care, behavioral health and physical therapy as needed. Now, virtual visits comprise 92% of members’ usage.
McCambridge said one of the company’s selling points to CRE owners, developers and property managers is the ability for a physical clinic to amenitize unleveraged space as a draw and retain to tenants.
And in March, the company launched a toolset for the compliant, safe, secure integration of individualized COVID-19 care and fast, regulatory workplace response.
Through the Eden app, members who have returned to the office or who have been part of essential business all along are prompted to fill out a COVID-19 screener daily. The digital screener checks symptoms, can verify your temperature, even take a photo. “If it's a negative — as in, we don't think you have COVID — you get a green passport in the Eden health app that you can show visually [to a property manager or employer as needed] for the next 18 hours,” McCambridge said.
“If you screen positively — as in, we're concerned you might have COVID — then you've got a yellow passport, and then you would get a synchronous clinical video encounter or messaging encounter with one of our clinicians in that same app to help address that. We manage you throughout your whole process.”
It doesn’t stop with data collection.
“We basically make a commitment to our users that no matter what's going on in your health life, we can directly provide care for you, or we're going to move heaven and earth to get to where you need to go in the healthcare system,” he said.
For its positive coronavirus users so far, Eden has arranged to provide pulse oximeters at home, and to virtually manage consistent home monitoring and care. “And then at the end of that, we can clear somebody to go back to work," he said. "So then you can return to the office and then you go back to this monitoring process virtually.”
To maintain privacy and HIPAA compliance for employers and landlords, health data stays with Eden. As of mid-July, the company was operating 15,000 screeners with “thousands more people coming on board.”
Getting the company off the ground, McCambridge said, he and his co-founder’s early conversations revolved around how “employers are really unique in their ability to provide care and do things in a different way.
“We found out later that landlords, similarly, are in a unique position to aggregate all sorts of people,” he said. “That's when we decided that the thing that was missing was this integrated model of software and clinicians — people who can pay for healthcare and who care about the quality of the patient-provider relationship, who recognize that as a central feature of healthcare.”
He hopes that as healthcare sprawls further into the digital space, this new focus of the patient-provider relationship prevails.
“I'm not sure how quickly the industry is going to fully embrace that, versus do a snap-back,” he said. “But I do think that we’ve seen the market come to us. It's more like an arc of change that's happening.”
Contact Alexandra Marvar at firstname.lastname@example.org.