FundRx Venture Partner Perspectives: Robbins Schrader

Welcome back to FundRx Venture Partner Perspectives, where a FundRx team member interviews a FundRx Venture Partner or portfolio company executive, with the aim being to share the knowledge and opinions of a diverse array of healthcare clinical and industry experts. We hope these interviews spur further thought and potential innovation.

Today we’re featuring Robbins Schrader, CEO of SafeRide (Full Disclosure: FundRx is an investor in SafeRide), a platform that helps health plans manage logistics for 50K — 500K+ members. SafeRide aggregates non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) supply and allows providers to access immediate or scheduled transport based on time, quality or price. They reduce costs for insurance providers, streamline operations for hospitals, and improve patient outcomes.

Dr. Chris Duff at FundRx: What trends in healthcare are shaping your solutions?

Robbins: Our mission is to connect the world of care, one ride at a time. If you step back, we see three trends shaping healthcare, the first is population aging. Second is, unfortunately, the explosion of chronic conditions (including dialysis and opioid use). Finally, the third is the shift to value-based care. Combined, we see an older, sicker, at-risk population that needs to be managed. Access to care is at the very heart of that story.

Chris: What’s the most exciting thing that going on with your team at Safe Ride right now?

Robbins: The market is now rallying behind our mission. Access to care is at the center of the national healthcare conversation. The people we serve, folks that manage 50,000- 500,000 lives in a geographical area are rallying behind the mission of restoring access to care. That is where I get most excited.

Second, I’m excited to see a refocus on the patient experience. For too long, the service mindset of incumbents has neglected the challenges a double amputee faces on a daily basis to access food, medicine and health services. It’s really refreshing to see Managed Medicaid coming to be seen as a dominant, better way to manage lives. We’re excited to be part of that experience.

Chris: The growth has been solid over recent years, and impacts many companies in healthcare. How do you and your team balance solving this clear, clinical, unmet need with a commercial willingness to pay? How has your team found success in balancing that trade-off?

Robbins: One of the things we learned early on was that to affect change, you need to affect the funding source. Initially, we targeted providers. Down south, they have the expression, “Why buy the cow if I can get the milk for free?” Our providers were reticent to pay for things that should be paid for by Medicaid or by Medicare Advantage plans.

So we shifted our focus, and now we work with the health plans directly. The providers are still core to our solution, but we found a way to help them by serving the plans who are thinking carefully about access to care for their members.

Chris: How do you define your customers?

Robbins: I would say we have three customers.

The first is the health plan. They think very carefully regarding the efficacy of capital they apply to transportation benefits, but they also think about compliance. As an example, an industry norm of 10% spot check on driver / vehicle compliance, we do 99.98% spot check because everything runs together in central platforms. Those compliance differentiators matter a lot to our plan partners.

Healthcare providers are also our clients. The providers are delighted because a provider partner of a health plan can book rides in real time, and have those flow to a funding source. That is a material point of differentiation — now the point of care is substantiating transportation versus somebody at a call center in Tuscaloosa.

The last member, and probably the most important, is the patient. We’ve transformed access to care for these plan members, and we’ve restored dignity to care. And when we do that, we’ve seen our patients become more compliant, which full circle, goes back to the health plan, because now their payout rates are lower.

Chris: Can you share an example of a client that SafeRide works with?

Robbins: A national dialysis provider is both a client and investor in SafeRide. We serve them across the country. This client manages an at-risk dialysis population and care both deeply about their members' experience and ensuring access to care. Success means happier, healthier patients and no ER visits. That’s one client that we serve.

Chris: Are there any surprise learnings from pilots? How have you have iterated upon your business model over time?

Robbins: The key thing was elevating from providers to the health plan. So in our initial build, we thought a lot about the patient, the provider, and also the fleet that makes the logistics happen. We’ve now integrated the health plan persona, and it’s been working really well for us.

Chris: In gauging SafeRide’s 3–5 year outlook, are there any other things that you’re keeping an eye on regarding SafeRide’s pathway into the market? Any headwinds that need to be overcome?

Robbins: It’s interesting to track the national conversation on Medicaid for All. Our core market is the Medicaid market, so as that market expands, that’s a tail-wind in our sails.

The second thing is the shift in Medicaid to Medicaid Managed Care. That, I think, is here to stay. We see continued expansion across the US. Most notably, North Carolina just launched a nearly $6 billion annual program to support 2 million plus Managed Medicaid lives in the state.

Chris: Besides regulatory shifts, are there any technology innovations that might benefit the healthcare population in a similar manner?

Robbins: The consumerization of healthcare is absolutely real. We’re impressed by companies like Oscar Health, who have transformed the way a patient engages with the plan. We believe this is going to carry through to every single facet of the experience, including logistics. We see a world where many touch points get automated, the experience shifts from a call center to the patient or the point of care. That is a better, quicker, more efficient experience for all.

Chris: What’s the best way that you’ve found to stay informed or become more informed? What are your best sources that keep you up to date and ahead of the market?

Robbins: One of the best sources for understanding what’s going on in the market is my sales team and our clients. We’re in the market every day talking to customers, learning about their vision and building solutions to drive them forward. That is our best source of intelligence.

Additionally, periodicals like Modern Healthcare are fantastic. Finally, I’d like to thank our advisors/investors. They have the benefit of some pattern recognition in the space.

Chris: Anything else you wanted to mention?

Robbins: I’m excited by the enthusiasm for what’s happening in the market. Our mission is to connect the world to care, one ride at a time. We do this over a million times a year now and we can’t wait to help more of the nations aged, sick and poor.