A cost-saving healthcare startup is tapping Hinge to simplify the digital health boom for big companies

  • Carrum and Hinge Health are teaming up to simplify benefits for big companies.
  • Carrum’s CEO said that large employers have too many options and are looking to bundle offerings.
  • Hinge customers can access Carrum’s surgery cost-bundling service at no extra cost, and vice versa.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The digital health boom saturating the employer benefits market is leading to more partnerships among some of the industry’s top startups.

Carrum, a surgical cost-bundling startup that sells to large companies, is partnering with physical therapy clinical startup Hinge Health to offer a one-stop-shop benefit for companies the startups sell to, the companies told Insider.

Carrum works with providers to set fixed prices on surgeries for companies’ employees. That way, if there’s a complication, the employer doesn’t pay. But Sachin Jain, Carrum’s founder and CEO, said that customers were looking for more. 

Now they’ll have access to Hinge services as part of their Carrum membership. The same is true of Hinge customers, who will only have access to Carrum’s surgery bundling tools for members whose knee or back pain require surgery. It’ll work by adding amendments to the employer contracts that essentially save them money for the combined solution as opposed to paying for both of the programs separately, Jain said.

The goal, he said, is to give employers a single portal in which they can manage a highly specific healthcare benefit instead of tacking on more and more offerings that can only offer to help with part of the recovery process. It also means that both Hinge and Carrum have access to even more customers than each would have had they continued to operate entirely independently.

“There is a desire for more integrated offers now in the post-digital health boom,” Jain said. 

The digital health boom saw a record amount of private financing and a flurry of public debuts, but now the industry is evaluating whether a glut of startups will outpace customer interest. SPAC IPOs, for example, have stalled as interest waned, and investors have previously told Insider that consolidation is likely throughout the second half of the year. 

The Carrum-Hinge partnership gets ahead of that by bundling the two services together and insulating each startup from getting edged out of the benefits market by a more comprehensive competitor. It also helps scale each business independently, ushering forward cost-savings measures for self-insured employers. 

“Our clients see how expensive surgeries are and want an option to make it less expensive,” Hinge chief medical officer Dr. Jeff Krauss told Insider. 

A ‘plug-and-play’ benefit

As part of the partnership, Hinge customers can create an addendum to their contract with Hinge, which charges companies monthly based on how many employees opt into the service. The addendum adds Carrum, which uses a similar revenue model, to the suite of benefits at little or no extra cost. The same is true in reverse for Carrum customers. 

Hinge customers also have access to Surgery Plus, an employer-backed benefit that helps cover costs of surgery. Krauss explained that employers with existing Hinge contracts will have the choice between working with Carrum or Surgery Plus.

Patients can go through Hinge to treat common muscular or orthopedic issues, such as neck or knee pain, using Hinge’s remote monitoring technology and trained clinicians. However, if the patient doesn’t improve and requires surgery, they are moved to Carrum’s offering, which offers upfront pricing and search capabilities for qualified surgeons located close by.

“We configured everything that goes into setting up the COE program so that it is a plug-and-play for employers and providers,” Jain said of Carrum’s centers of excellence model, which has been adopted by other large employers like Walmart. “We have made the whole model reasonable.”

Carrum said it’s actively considering similar partnerships for oncology and cardiovascular care as other areas where companies tend to spend a lot of money on healthcare, similar to muscular and skeletal injuries. Jain also said that Carrum is looking into partnerships for behavioral and mental health due to the increasing interest he has gotten from the companies Carrum already works with.

“As opportunities emerge to create a fully full-stack solution, that’s the right thing to do,” Jain said of Carrum’s future expansion.

Hinge is similarly evaluating other partnerships that are adjacent to its area of focus, Krauss said. For example, it is evaluating partnerships with companies that can help reduce drug costs or other companies that address mental health conditions, he said.

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