A behavioral telehealth company focused on caring for Medicare populations in rural areas — including skilled nursing residents — closed a Series A Preferred growth equity funding round led by Spring Lake Equity Partners.
The Novato, Calif.-based Forefront Telecare also added Rob Rebak, who previously served as president and CEO of behavioral telehealth platform AbleTo, as CEO.
The amount of the funding – which was announced Tuesday – was unspecified, but Spring Lake typically puts up a minimum of around $10 million for its investments, Phil Knudsen, the president and chief operating officer of Forefront, told Skilled Nursing News. Since there are some other secondary investors participating, including the Ziegler Link Age Fund, the funding will “be north of that, but not a huge number,” he said.
Forefront, which was founded in 2010, offers its services in approximately 190 skilled nursing facilities in 20 states. The way it primarily expands, however, is by adding rural hospitals and then reaching out to the acute care providers’ SNF partners, Knudsen explained.
“We’re contracted in 21 hospitals where we’re doing essentially geriatric psych unit support services,” he said. “As we get those units, we’ll be working with those hospitals to ensure that the SNFs that are related to them or [getting] their patients have adequate services. So we’ll be reaching out to the SNFs in those regions.”
The service is essentially free for SNFs; Forefront supplies the equipment and charges no monthly fee because it bills Medicare for services to the patient populations. The core offering is psychiatric medication management, but the company also provides geriatric psychological services. The exact lineup depends on the state, Knudsen noted, as well as on the patient profile in each building.
Behavioral health has been cropping up in the skilled nursing world as providers try to cope with a bevy of changes that pose challenges to the old models of care. In the state of Washington, for instance, some skilled providers have shifted to or added behavioral health as they battle low Medicaid reimbursements. In Colorado, some facilities have taken advantage of reimbursement add-ons for behavioral care, as well as the fact that there are not enough facilities able to meet the need for such service.
The funding will help Forefront to perform more targeted market analyses, Knudsen said, and recruiting providers is a top priority.
“Essentially what we’re doing is providing psych services into an ecosystem [of care], county by county,” he said. “Wherever there’s psych services needed for that ecosystem, that’s where our targets are. We’d love to be in 100 of those ecosystems around the country, which could include as many as 1,000 SNFs within the next three to four years.”