NantHealth, an information technology company seeking to change cancer care, has acquired NaviNet, a communication platform between insurers and providers.
Boston-based NaviNet began as a network that allowed doctors' offices to get information directly from insurers about patients' copays, deductibles and plan limits. But increasingly, it has waded into population health, allowing the insurers to prompt providers about whether, for instance, a patient is due for a mammogram.
“What the company learned over the years is that the moment a provider opens up a line of communication with a payer is a very important moment,” said Frank Ingari's, NaviNet's CEO. “Because getting a doctor's attention is hard.”
NantHealth and parent company NantWorks similarly see the NaviNet platform as a tool to increase communication between doctors and insurers at the point of care—not just to verify insurance coverage but, for example, to connect patients with clinical trials based on their cancer's molecular profile.
“The reason we've acquired NaviNet is not what it currently is but what it will be,” said Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, NantHealth's founder and CEO. “Here was an opportunity to really have this bidirectional communication tool.”
NantHealth is creating what Soon-Shiong describes as a knowledge engine that combines big data with personalized medicine. Its primary focus has been to change the treatment paradigm for cancer, by treating tumors based on their molecular expression rather than where they show up in the body.
Soon-Shiong had hoped to take NantHealth public by the end of 2015. In November, he told the Los Angeles Times that he was postponing the initial public offering of the company because the current market was not the right atmosphere for NantHealth and companies like it, which have in recent months faced a lot of scrutiny, as the public, lawmakers and presidential hopefuls call for tighter regulation over drug pricing.
Acquisitions have been a key part of NantHealth's strategy. In a recent October deal, it made a $50 million investment in Precision Biologics, a biotechnology company developing vaccines to treat cancer as well as companion diagnostics.
The company is also building an operating system that allows doctors to select a clinical trial for someone based on a cancer's molecular profile—and immediately get a coverage decision from the insurer.
“It's the payer side that I haven't previously focused on,” Soon-Shiong said. “This is the first time anyone has integrated all these pillars.”
Financial terms were not disclosed. Prior to the deal, NaviNet was owned by three health plans, Highmark, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Independence Blue Cross, as well as software company Lumeris. In an October interview, Ingari placed NaviNet's revenue between $50 million and $100 million.