January 14 2021

Accolade expands its clinical impact by acquiring 2nd.MD

By Shantanu Nundy, M.D.

Blog-Hero

Today Accolade announced its intent to acquire 2nd.MD, the market leader in the Expert Medical Opinion (EMO) industry, to create a comprehensive, integrated healthcare navigation experience. This acquisition is an exciting and important one for us, not in the least because we share a similar focus, mission, vision and culture. But now we are even better positioned to significantly support decision-making for our members facing high-complexity, high-cost decisions by integrating EMO seamlessly into the Accolade model. 

Together, we will improve healthcare outcomes for our members and reduce unnecessary spending for our customers. Accolade has already made significant investments to build best-in-class capabilities for guiding members to the right physician. Last year, we acquired MD Insider , which helps members find the doctor who best fits their needs. This year, we incorporated global appropriateness of care measures . The acquisition of 2nd.MD is the latest in Accolade’s continuing investments to build best-in-class capabilities for guiding members to better healthcare decisions. 

When it comes to high-cost or complex procedures, getting a second opinion has increasingly become routine practice—the medical equivalent of the craftsman’s adage: “measure twice, cut once.” Considering what we know about rates of diagnostic error, unwarranted variations in care and the prevalence of unnecessary surgeries in the U.S. healthcare system, ready access to expert consultations about potentially life-changing healthcare decisions is something we believe is paramount to effective healthcare.

Medicine is a fast-changing and complex science, and patients and doctors alike benefit when they’re able to consult with expert physicians during a healthcare journey. By offering a best-in-class EMO service integrated directly with our services, we’re strengthening our core clinical strategy of engaging the right members, helping them make the right decisions and putting them on the right path in their care journey. 

As we integrate 2nd.MD’s capabilities, we’ll make it easier than ever for individuals facing stressful decisions about their healthcare to make the right call with confidence. Employees and their families will simply engage with their Accolade nurse as usual, whether we identify them for outreach through risk stratification or the member contacts us. If it’s decided an expert medical opinion would be beneficial, we support them every step of the way in their care journey. 

Because timely engagement is essential when getting a second opinion, 2nd.MD has made it a priority to provide patients with quick access to their experts, measured in a matter of days as opposed to the weeks of waiting that’s customary with their competition. They connect patients with a network of approximately 900 nationally recognized, board-certified medical specialists from across 120 specialty areas. And they’ve set themselves apart by connecting patients and healthcare professionals directly via live, collaborative video consultations, rather than the standard in the EMO space, which is through written reports.

Offering EMO as a benefit is becoming increasingly standard among large employers, with 73% planning to provide it in 2021 . With a reported 1 in 3 Americans delaying medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s even more reason to expect a high demand for Expert Medical Opinion services this year. By helping identify where complex and costly procedures are necessary and where other treatments could be more appropriate, Accolade will be able to help patients get the right care at the right time, while also controlling healthcare costs for employers. 

How employers and payers benefit from EMO

For healthcare payers, EMO delivers on both healthcare outcomes and spend reduction. 2nd.MD reports that 85% of consultations lead to an improved treatment plan and 35% result in an alternative diagnosis, while 1 in 3 surgery-related consultations result in the member canceling surgery to pursue a more conservative treatment option. Simply put, 2nd.MD is highly effective at driving waste out of the healthcare system. 2nd.MD customers realize an average ROI of better than 2x, with many reporting an ROI of 3x - 4x, making EMO a compelling offering for payers. 

The acquisition of 2nd.MD is the latest among Accolade’s continuing investments to build best-in-class capabilities. 2nd.MD’s industry-leading expertise adds a new level of clinical support at moments that can be particularly difficult for members to navigate.

Throughout 2021, you’ll see Accolade continue to innovate and introduce new clinical services. We’ll be pursuing new partnerships, embracing new technological advancements, and evolving models of healthcare to provide every one of our members with the access and resources they need to live their healthiest life.