Inside Behavioral Care Coordinator Appriss Health’s $500M PatientPing Acquisition

Behavioral and physical health have been siloed from one another for decades, but the health care system is finally starting to shift to a more integrated model.

Appriss Health — a cloud-based care coordination software company focused on behavioral health — is hoping to accelerate that shift with its latest deal.

“We’re so excited about being able to bring these two worlds together,” Appriss Health President Rob Cohen told Behavioral Health Business. “The physical health world and behavioral health world, they influence each other to such a high degree.”

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Backed by the private equity (PE) companies Clearlake Capital Group and Insight Partners, Appris Health uses data analytics to help users identify and mitigate substance use disorders (SUDs). Health plans, health systems, pharmacies, and state and federal governments are among the company’s clients.

In all, Appriss Health connects nearly one million health care workers across 500 clinical software systems, including more than 140 electronic health records.

Last month, the company acquired PatientPing, which also focuses on care coordination, for a reported $500 million.

Like Appriss Health, PatientPing is a cloud-based software company whose solutions are meant to prevent patients from falling through the cracks. However, it focuses mostly on physical health and transitions in post-acute care. PatientPing works with 1,250 hospitals and 6,000 post-acute care entities nationwide, notifying providers every time a patient shows up at a particular site of care.

As a result of the deal, Appriss Health will be able to coordinate care more holistically, beyond just within behavioral health, a shift that’s in line with the health care industry at large.

“You’ve got to be able to help across the spectrum,” Cohen said. “Now we can understand all of that information about a patient and help clinicians collaborate across the spectrum of their health care needs.”

Appriss Health’s latest evolution is far from its first. The company got its start providing software for prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs). And from there, it eventually began to integrate that information into EHRs and pharmacy systems, with the goal being to allow providers and pharmacists to easily access the information at the point-of-care and inform appropriate prescribing to help curb the opioid epidemic.

Next, Appriss Health set out to tackle the issue of connecting people to SUD treatment, Cohen said.

“It can be very difficult to find treatment for people, and so we decided to try to address that problem,” Cohen said.

The solution the company settled on came in the form of a deal. In 2019, Appriss Health acquired OpenBeds, a cloud-based platform that identifies, unifies and tracks behavioral health resources in an effort to make it easier to connect patients with treatment.

Today, Appriss Health uses OpenBeds to form networks of behavioral health programs, which include both inpatient and outpatient programs, as well as those in both the mental health and SUD spaces. Referrers can then look at the network and identify available treatment in their areas. From there, they can make a digital referral and Appriss Health can identify whether the patient is actually enrolled in treatment.  

Appriss is currently providing that program in nine states.

“We’ve been able to do two main things with those networks,” Cohen said. “One: We provide much better access to behavioral health for folks. It gets the patients in sooner, it makes it much easier for the clinicians … and so on and so forth. The other thing we’re able to do is provide a lot of really valuable information back to the state.”

Appriss Health works with state departments of health to provide departments with data and information about the behavioral health issues that exist there, from whether the treatment facilities can handle the medical complexities of patients to their insurance policies. 

Years in the making

Appriss Health’s acquisition of PatientPing has been a long time coming, Cohen told BHB. 

It all started a few years back, when he met PatientPing CEO Jay Desay at a health care conference. Over the years, the two have maintained a relationship and frequently discussed the potential benefits of joining forces given the companies’ complementary nature.

Eventually, the pair decided to pull the trigger, ultimately expanding the size and depth of their networks.

“PatientPing is very good at extracting information from the healthcare entities to understand where the patient is, the patient’s chief complaint, the diagnosis and those sorts of things,” Cohen said. “We’re very good at actually delivering information to the EHR into the workflow of the clinician. If we brought those two capabilities together, [we saw that] we would have this round trip back to the clinician where we could deliver really valuable information at the point of care about patients to improve the care and allow that collaboration.”

The overall goal is to get the right information to the right clinician or stakeholder at the right time to help inform the right action for that patient.

“In today’s world of value-based care, if someone’s in an accountable care organization (ACO) or some arrangement like that, oftentimes the ACO will be able to handle that collaboration as long as the patient stays within that system, but as soon as the patient leaves that system … that’s where it starts to break down. We’re trying to solve both the information problem and the collaboration problem.” 

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