Health

Software company DrFirst banks $50M equity investment to expand its reach in digital health space

Healthcare software provider DrFirst has pulled in a $50 million equity to invest in targeted acquisitions and accelerate the company’s growth.

The investment was backed by Sixth Street Growth, the growth investing platform of investment firm Sixth Street.

The venture backed-company provides e-prescription and telehealth-related software products for healthcare providers, payers and life science companies. DrFirst’s solution is used by nearly 300,000 healthcare professionals, including more than 100,000 prescribers, nearly half of the electronic health record systems in the U.S. and more than 1,400 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. 

James Chen, CEO and chairman of DrFirst, founded the company in 2000 to tackle some of the most challenging issues in healthcare, starting with e-prescribing and progressing to its current portfolio of solutions, which encompasses telehealth as part of care collaboration and patented artificial intelligence that improves the accuracy of patient medication history.

The company’s capabilities have expanded into care collaboration, price transparency, patient engagement and medication adherence challenges.

Following Sixth Street’s previous $35 million investment and another $50 million from Goldman Sachs Growth, both in 2020, DrFirst’s investment total over the past year is now $135 million.

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DrFirst plans to use the fresh capital to expand its reach through targeted acquisitions that will build on its capabilities in areas like patient medication adherence, care collaboration and telehealth, according to Chen.

The company’s solutions are designed to connect people at touchpoints of care with the information they need to improve patient outcomes.

“We reach about 1 million patients a week right now through our patient-facing platforms. We’d like to reach far more than that, up to 5 to 6 million patients a week. So we need to take a hard look at how we can have more touchpoints with patients and have a broader impact than we have today,” G. Cameron Deemer, president of DrFirst, told Fierce Healthcare.

The company’s sustained business growth, long-standing work with leading health systems, expanding customer base and proven leadership in the digital health solutions market underscore the investments, according to the company.

“Software that improves healthcare workflows has been a long-term theme for our team, and DrFirst stands out as a scaled and differentiated enterprise technology platform providing high-quality, user-friendly technology solutions,” said Michael McGinn, partner and co-head of Sixth Street Growth, in a statement. “Their offerings help physicians provide better, more informed care, which ultimately accrues to the benefit of patients and all healthcare stakeholders.”

The company has seen accelerated growth as providers turn to digital health tools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last spring, DrFirst partnered with EHR companies to make telehealth available to healthcare providers throughout the U.S.

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DrFirst has made investments in AI and machine learning to solve “dirty little secrets” in healthcare, Deemer said. The company’s SmartSuite artificial intelligence tools deliver immediately consumable drug data from the provider’s EHR to the pharmacy’s information system accurately and with fewer clicks and keystrokes.

In the 21 years since DrFirst launched, the health technology space has become increasingly competitive with new players. But Deemer said the company stands out by offering solutions that tackle the broader medication management challenge.

“Individual aspects of what we do are competitive, such as telehealth, secure texting and care collaboration. In the secure care collaboration space, there are a ton of people competing for hospitals but not so many in the areas around hospitals, such as post-acute care, rehab, hospice, and EMS services,” he said.

“We’ve worked hard to distribute in those empty spaces and hospitals need to talk to those people so we have developed that footprint. For the major health systems and big payers that are looking for an innovative partner and industrial-strength technology platforms, they come to us for that,” he said.

The company also announced that Lee Mooney of Sixth Street has joined DrFirst’s board of directors.

“The follow-on investment from Sixth Street Growth signals their deep commitment to DrFirst as we continue to bring practical, collaborative tools to market that solve daily problems among healthcare stakeholders, including clinicians, patients, hospitals, ambulatory practices, pharmacies, and payers,” said Chen. 

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