Health care startup founder launches new in-home senior care venture

Will Saunders founded Synergy Healthcare. (Photo courtesy of Synergy Healthcare)

For his next startup, Will Saunders seeks to bring medical care closer to home for elderly folks.

Saunders officially launched in-home care provider Synergy Healthcare on Monday. The company provides personal care, primary care, prescription drugs and remote monitoring to seniors in their homes.

Synergy is the latest venture for Saunders, who has years of experience in health care. In 2014 he founded AllyAlign Health, a health care provider for residents of senior living communities.

Last year, he sold the company to private equity firm New Enterprise Associates for an undisclosed sum.

Synergy’s pitch is that a good baseline level of care helps elderly people with multiple health conditions stay at their healthiest, and that the company is well positioned to provide that care in a home setting with a range of medical professionals on staff, its own pharmacy and in-home technology.

“You don’t need rocket-science care, you need good primary care. At that age, what causes people to have a negative change in condition is dehydration, urinary tract infections, heart failure and falls,” Saunders said. “People want to age in place in their home. One of the biggest barriers is feeling safe and getting quality health care because the US health care system is dysfunctional for seniors with chronic conditions and complex medication regimens.”

Synergy looks to capitalize on pandemic-inspired changes in how Medicare works for home-based health care. Saunders said Medicare now offers more coverage for in-home services and that shift helped motivate his decision to launch the company.

“Post-COVID Medicare has rolled out several new programs intended to keep people in the home and those programs haven’t been widely adopted. We’re taking advantage of those programs because we understand how Medicare works,” he said.

Saunders said the company has 80 employees. Fifty of them are personal care aides, who handle things like cooking and bathing for customers. The rest of the team includes half a dozen nurses, a couple of pharmacists, a physician and an operations team of about 10 people.

Synergy filled out most of its ranks through the acquisition earlier this year of Petersburg-based personal care agency Adult Healthcare Solutions. Synergy was also able to leverage the personal care agency’s existing clients to form the core of its current patient roster.

Synergy has about 150 patients, half of whom came by way of the acquisition. Saunders’ elderly parents are also patients, and he said their frustrating experience with medical care in a senior living facility was also a motivator for the concept.

In addition to in-home service, Synergy also operates in independent living and assisted living homes.

Synergy accepts major Medicare Advantage plans for most of its services, except for the services of in-home care aides.

Saunders said that the annual medical costs for the people Synergy caters to is about $20,000 to $60,000.

The high cost associated with the company’s target customers has allowed it to build out a large team to facilitate its care.

“The reason we’re able to deliver such a comprehensive team is that these folks consume a lot of health care resources,” Saunders said.

Synergy is headquartered at 1504 Santa Rosa Road, Suite 116 in Henrico County. The 3,500-square-foot space is home to the company’s offices and pharmacy.

Synergy launched amid talk of cuts to Medicare’s reimbursements for at-home services next year. Saunders said Synergy wouldn’t suffer should those cuts be put into effect because the type of care his company provides wouldn’t be affected.

Saunders said the sale of AllyAlign buoys his new company as it seeks to take advantage of changes in Medicare to develop a business in a different setting.

“That gives us credibility,” he said of the sale. “We have a track record of building companies that address some of the most complex problems faced by Medicare.”

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