RetraceHealth, an online and at-home primary care service, was “born out of necessity,” according to Founder and CEO Thompson Aderinkomi. 

Aderinkomi’s son, just one year old, fell ill with a high fever during a Minnesota winter several years ago. The pediatrician’s office was five miles away, and it took four trips over the next month to diagnose the boy’s ailment: pneumonia. Aderinkomi and his family carried a high-deductible health plan purchased on the individual market and paid $664.28 out of pocket for the four patient visits.  

“Healthcare leaders should be thinking about disruptive innovation constantly.”

“I was kind of disappointed in myself because in my previous career I was a healthcare economist,” Aderinkomi explains. “And here I was in it and seeing the problem at its core. The problem wasn’t the need to build a better predictive model. We needed more affordable services. We needed better customer service. We needed value.”

Aderinkomi’s son is now a healthy three-year-old, and his father has propelled this personal experience to create an innovative model of primary care access. Minneapolis-based RetraceHealth combines the access of telehealth with the personal touch of traditional doctor house calls. The service provides virtual visits with nurse practitioners during weekday business hours via a mobile phone app, at a cost of $35 or accepted insurance co-pay, whichever is cheaper. RetraceHealth also offers in-home visits for $150, and in-home X-rays and prescription delivery. 

Perhaps more importantly, Aderinkomi and his colleagues are building RetraceHealth not only to better serve patients but also to influence the health insurance industry. As a former analyst for Ingenix (now Optum Health), Medica Health Plans and UCare Minnesota, Aderinkomi says he understands the insurance risk model. He is also a board member of Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange, MNSure. The delivery system is ripe for disruptive innovation and an alternative to the traditional doctor’s office, expensive emergency department and urgent care visits, when possible. 

“I think eventually what’s going to happen is health insurance companies will realize that RetraceHealth saves them money and it’s in their best interest to integrate these types of services into their products to reduce risk. As a result, their actuarial models will perform much better than they do today because low-cost, highly accessible, full-service primary care like RetraceHealth will lead to healthier people. This in turn saves health insurance companies money, ultimately leading to lower premiums that will save consumers money. It's a virtuous cycle.” 

Initial results indicate that the RetraceHealth model is working. Some 75% of virtual visits require no in-person follow-up care. In the other 25% of cases, an in-person, at-home visit is needed to examine the patient up close or draw blood or even do an X-ray, Aderinkomi says. To make RetraceHealth scalable, the startup is moving into new geographies to serve patients virtually and at home. 

“I want healthcare to be affordable and easy to access,” he says. “That more than anything is my objective, for healthcare to be like a utility where you just turn it on — like water.  And I think there’s a way to do it profitably and that’s what I’m searching for.”

Innovator Insight: You don’t have to create anything new to be innovative. True innovation can come from putting together existing things in a new and more sensible way.