– Avera Health is selling its telehealth business line, sending one of the nation’s largest and most innovative connected health programs into the private sector.
The South Dakota-based health system announced this week that Avera eCare is being purchased by Aquiline Partners, a private capital firm based in New York and London with $6.4 billion in assets under management, for an undisclosed sum. The deal is expected to close before the end of the year, with the unit changing its name to Avel eCare.
“We are very proud that Avera’s innovation in the telehealth space created this nationally renowned telehealth company,” Bob Sutton, president and CEO of Avera Health, which comprises more than 300 physical sites in five states, said in a press release. “During the pandemic, people nationwide recognized the value of telehealth, and telehealth grew in significance. The time is right for us to fulfill this piece of our strategic plan so Avel eCare can scale and help even more people. Avera will continue its tradition of being an innovator in the virtual care space well into the future. And, Avera will maintain a relationship with Avel eCare as a recipient of telemedicine services.”
Avera eCare has built a solid reputation across the country for its connected health platform, which features virtual care in behavioral health, correctional health, emergency care, hospitalist and ICU services, pharmacy services, school health, specialty clinics and senior care.
The organization also launched the American Board of Telehealth in 2020, addressing the growing need for telehealth education and standards. It debuted with a seven-module CORE (Clinical, Operational, Regulatory and Ethics) Concepts in Telehealth Certificate Program and this year added a certificate program for telemental and telebehavioral health.
Officials say the 230 employees of Avera eCare will remain with the new company, and the headquarters will remain in Sioux Falls, SD. There will be no disruption of services for patients now in any of the telehealth programs.
“Over the past decade, Avera eCare, now Avel eCare, grew telehealth services to over 600 sites across 32 states,” Deanna Larson, who will remain the CEO of Avel eCare, said in the press release. “We are proud of the team that pioneered this unique care model, cultivating thousands of clinician-to-clinician relationships in support of the bedside care teams. We are excited to be given the blessing of Avera’s founders, and the investment of Aquiline to build our program further and provide quality, compassionate care to even more individuals.”
The announcement highlights a busy time for telehealth, propelled by rapid adoption and expansion during the coronavirus pandemic, and puts Avel eCare in the upper echelon of telehealth companies, alongside the likes of AmWell, Teladoc Health, Doctor On Demand and MDLive.
Earlier this week, AmWell announced the acquisition of two well-known virtual care companies, SilverCloud Health and Conversa Health, while Teladoc recently announced a collaboration with Microsoft to enhance its online platform. Doctor On Demand made its own move in March when it joined forces with Grand Rounds, and in February MDLive was acquired by Evernorth, part of Cigna’s portfolio.
The telehealth space will likely become even more active as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services looks to expand coverage for telehealth and remote patient monitoring, and as both state governments and Congress look to set long-term telehealth policy in the wake of the COVID-19 public health emergency.