Local rheumatology telehealth startup strikes deals with Sentara, OrthoVirginia

blake wehman2 Cropped

Blake Wehman, founder of Remission Medical. Remission is preparing to launch an initiative in which it will provide virtual care to patients of Sentara Healthcare. (BizSense file)

Two years after launching as a standalone telehealth clinic with a focus on rheumatology, Remission Medical is branching out by contracting itself out to other health providers.

The local startup is slated to start offering virtual rheumatology care on behalf of Hampton Roads-based health system Sentara Healthcare next month.

Under the arrangement, Remission’s practitioners will provide services to Sentara’s patients with rheumatic conditions like arthritis and Crohn’s Disease in exchange for fees charged to Sentara for the virtual visits handled by Remission.

The contract is similar to a recently launched agreement between Remission and Richmond-based OrthoVirginia, in which Remission’s team provides virtual care to the orthopedic practice’s patients located in western Virginia.

“We are partnering with them and bringing forth this virtual rheumatology network to help these institutions bolster their rheumatology care under their banner,” said Remission CEO and founder Blake Wehman.

Wehman said the company has no plans to end its own in-house virtual care, which it has offered since its launch in 2022, but that he anticipates the contract agreements will be Remission’s main revenue stream in the future.

The company currently has 500 patients under management, who collectively have had 1,500 visits with Remission providers. Wehman said he expected the contract work to bring hundreds or thousands more patients into Remission’s care.

Remission is licensed to provide virtual care in 20 states, with most of the patients in Virginia and Florida.

Wehman said he reached out to a vice president at Sentara in July 2022 and pitched the health system on the idea of the contracted telehealth service partnership.

Though Remission had launched just weeks earlier, Wehman felt confident he could win Sentara over on the idea because his startup was still afloat in an industry that Wehman said tends to see concepts either take off or fail quickly.

“We had gone live for a month and half, and we had seen 15 patients. It usually blows up fast in healthcare,” said Wehman, who has a background in healthcare administration. “Bad things can happen later, but usually if you flip a switch and people come and the clinicians are happy and no one catches on fire, it’s a good sign we have something here.”

Wehman said much of 2023 was spent hashing out the partnerships that are now active or on the cusp of launching.

He said the arrangement is advantageous for the organizations that contract with Remission because it gives them the means to connect their patients with rheumatology providers more quickly than might otherwise be possible. He said there is a nationwide lack of rheumatology specialists, and Remission is able to fill in gaps that its clients have in their resources.

For Remission, the partnerships provide a pathway to scaling up and allows the company to focus on care, spending less time and resources on the administrative side of running a medical practice.

“We believe the most efficient way is to align with pre-existing incumbents,” Wehman said.  “These partnerships allow us to focus on what we want to do.”

Remission has 11 practitioners on its team, five of whom will be dedicated on a full-time basis to the Sentara and OrthoVirginia partnerships. Remission began providing care to OrthoVirginia patients earlier this month.

Sentara operates hospitals and other facilities in Virginia and North Carolina, and Remission will be available to the health system’s patients across its markets. The health system’s Richmond-area presence consists of just a therapy center in Quinton, but it has a large presence in southeastern Virginia and elsewhere in the state.

Wehman said since Remission launched, there has been strong interest by practitioners in joining the team and Remission expects it will be able to quickly ramp up its headcount if the demand generated from the partnership requires more resources.

Remission’s practitioners are a mix of in-house equity holders paid through a revenue-split arrangement and contractors.

Wehman was inspired to create Remission based on his experience in getting diagnosed with early-adult onset of undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis and managing his condition.

“(Remission was founded) to really establish that we can provide adequate care and help people move into low disease activity or remission and provide an alternative to traditional care pathways that might require long wait times or long drive times,” he said.

Remission practitioners are able to meet with patients online and order labs, imaging and prescriptions. Wehman said the company tries to address the shortage of rheumatologists with a telehealth model that allows practitioners to be based anywhere and credentialed in multiple states.

To date Remission has raised $500,000 from angel investors and that funding has fueled the company’s operations. Remission plans to raise additional funding in a capital raise later this year, Wehman said.

While not currently profitable, Wehman expected the new contract partnerships to push the company into the black.

Looking forward, Remission hopes to ink additional agreements with health organizations to provide virtual rheumatological care on their behalf.

Remission also continues to work alongside Mayo Clinic, a Minnesota-based nonprofit with clinical, research and educational operations and an international reach, on the creation of a software product aimed at shortening the time between diagnosis and treatment for rheumatic conditions, as well as predict flare-ups to minimize hospitalizations and medical procedures.

blake wehman2 Cropped

Blake Wehman, founder of Remission Medical. Remission is preparing to launch an initiative in which it will provide virtual care to patients of Sentara Healthcare. (BizSense file)

Two years after launching as a standalone telehealth clinic with a focus on rheumatology, Remission Medical is branching out by contracting itself out to other health providers.

The local startup is slated to start offering virtual rheumatology care on behalf of Hampton Roads-based health system Sentara Healthcare next month.

Under the arrangement, Remission’s practitioners will provide services to Sentara’s patients with rheumatic conditions like arthritis and Crohn’s Disease in exchange for fees charged to Sentara for the virtual visits handled by Remission.

The contract is similar to a recently launched agreement between Remission and Richmond-based OrthoVirginia, in which Remission’s team provides virtual care to the orthopedic practice’s patients located in western Virginia.

“We are partnering with them and bringing forth this virtual rheumatology network to help these institutions bolster their rheumatology care under their banner,” said Remission CEO and founder Blake Wehman.

Wehman said the company has no plans to end its own in-house virtual care, which it has offered since its launch in 2022, but that he anticipates the contract agreements will be Remission’s main revenue stream in the future.

The company currently has 500 patients under management, who collectively have had 1,500 visits with Remission providers. Wehman said he expected the contract work to bring hundreds or thousands more patients into Remission’s care.

Remission is licensed to provide virtual care in 20 states, with most of the patients in Virginia and Florida.

Wehman said he reached out to a vice president at Sentara in July 2022 and pitched the health system on the idea of the contracted telehealth service partnership.

Though Remission had launched just weeks earlier, Wehman felt confident he could win Sentara over on the idea because his startup was still afloat in an industry that Wehman said tends to see concepts either take off or fail quickly.

“We had gone live for a month and half, and we had seen 15 patients. It usually blows up fast in healthcare,” said Wehman, who has a background in healthcare administration. “Bad things can happen later, but usually if you flip a switch and people come and the clinicians are happy and no one catches on fire, it’s a good sign we have something here.”

Wehman said much of 2023 was spent hashing out the partnerships that are now active or on the cusp of launching.

He said the arrangement is advantageous for the organizations that contract with Remission because it gives them the means to connect their patients with rheumatology providers more quickly than might otherwise be possible. He said there is a nationwide lack of rheumatology specialists, and Remission is able to fill in gaps that its clients have in their resources.

For Remission, the partnerships provide a pathway to scaling up and allows the company to focus on care, spending less time and resources on the administrative side of running a medical practice.

“We believe the most efficient way is to align with pre-existing incumbents,” Wehman said.  “These partnerships allow us to focus on what we want to do.”

Remission has 11 practitioners on its team, five of whom will be dedicated on a full-time basis to the Sentara and OrthoVirginia partnerships. Remission began providing care to OrthoVirginia patients earlier this month.

Sentara operates hospitals and other facilities in Virginia and North Carolina, and Remission will be available to the health system’s patients across its markets. The health system’s Richmond-area presence consists of just a therapy center in Quinton, but it has a large presence in southeastern Virginia and elsewhere in the state.

Wehman said since Remission launched, there has been strong interest by practitioners in joining the team and Remission expects it will be able to quickly ramp up its headcount if the demand generated from the partnership requires more resources.

Remission’s practitioners are a mix of in-house equity holders paid through a revenue-split arrangement and contractors.

Wehman was inspired to create Remission based on his experience in getting diagnosed with early-adult onset of undifferentiated inflammatory arthritis and managing his condition.

“(Remission was founded) to really establish that we can provide adequate care and help people move into low disease activity or remission and provide an alternative to traditional care pathways that might require long wait times or long drive times,” he said.

Remission practitioners are able to meet with patients online and order labs, imaging and prescriptions. Wehman said the company tries to address the shortage of rheumatologists with a telehealth model that allows practitioners to be based anywhere and credentialed in multiple states.

To date Remission has raised $500,000 from angel investors and that funding has fueled the company’s operations. Remission plans to raise additional funding in a capital raise later this year, Wehman said.

While not currently profitable, Wehman expected the new contract partnerships to push the company into the black.

Looking forward, Remission hopes to ink additional agreements with health organizations to provide virtual rheumatological care on their behalf.

Remission also continues to work alongside Mayo Clinic, a Minnesota-based nonprofit with clinical, research and educational operations and an international reach, on the creation of a software product aimed at shortening the time between diagnosis and treatment for rheumatic conditions, as well as predict flare-ups to minimize hospitalizations and medical procedures.

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Chris Kain
Chris Kain
2 months ago

Congrats Blake!