Strive Health and Nation’s Largest Nephrology Group, NANI, Form Strategic Partnership to Reinvent Kidney Care Delivery

Nephrology Associates of Northern Illinois and Northern Indiana and value-based kidney care leader will jointly share and manage payor risk under long-term agreement

Strive Health, the national leader in value-based kidney care, and Nephrology Associates of Northern Illinois and Northern Indiana (NANI), the nation’s largest independent nephrology group, today announced a strategic partnership to jointly pursue and manage global risk payment models. This partnership will benefit people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and end stage kidney disease (ESKD) through a “whole patient” approach that enhances lives and communities across Illinois, Indiana, and potentially other states.

As part of this relationship, NANI has made an equity investment in Strive, joining New Enterprise Associates, Alphabet’s CapitalG, and other leading venture capital investors, building on Strive’s $140 million Series B funding round announced in March 2021.

Under their partnership, Strive and NANI will share in the financial risk, management, and governance of risk contracts with government and commercial payors. The scope will initially include Medicare, Medicare Advantage, and commercial members in Illinois and Indiana, which represent a high-acuity patient population and upwards of $400 million in annual medical spend.

“Kidney disease is a large-scale health problem that nephrologists are best equipped to manage, and we recognize that the future of nephrology is value-based,” said Brian O’Dea, CEO of NANI. “The opportunity to participate in risk contracts offers massive potential for NANI to improve patient care, enhance the physician experience, and grow the value of our practice to our patients. Strive brings a shared commitment and a proven track record in value-based kidney care, and we are excited to build a long-standing strategic partnership with them as we continue to grow.”

“The NANI-Strive partnership is poised to deliver a strong, new approach to holistic patient care,” added Art Morris, MD, President of NANI. “To accelerate our value-based approach, we spent nearly six months evaluating potential partners,” said Manish Tanna, MD, who is the physician leader of NANI’s value-based care committee. “Strive Health is unique in that they bring kidney expertise along with leading technology and innovative clinical resources that are designed for nephrologists. We believe that Strive is the most patient-focused company in this space and its model will help us elevate the way we practice medicine and succeed in innovative payment programs.

To support NANI’s focus on high-quality patient outcomes and lower costs, Strive is embedding complete-care resources within NANI practices, including preventative care, specialized clinical programs, data integration and analytics, and management of risk contracts. NANI is also leading innovative practice transformation initiatives to improve whole-patient care. Together, the companies will launch integrated workflows to enhance the patient experience, manage care, and improve outcomes. For patients, this will be a seamless part of their NANI care experience.

“A powerful movement is taking place in nephrology, and payors are increasingly looking to nephrologists to elevate the patient experience and take on global risk,” said Chris Riopelle, CEO and co-founder of Strive Health. “Strive Health empowers independent nephrologists to make the leap to risk-based contracts through advanced technology and complete-care resources. NANI is the leading nephrology group in the country and one of the most sophisticated groups in integrated care delivery, and we could not be prouder to partner with them.”

The CDC estimates that kidney disease affects 37 million adults or 15% of U.S. adults, including more than 38% of those over 65 years old. Kidney disease drives $410 billion of unmanaged annual medical spend, demonstrating a need for payment models that are based on outcomes. Nephrologists oversee key aspects of the patient journey that impact outcomes and the cost of care, which is a major reason that new government and commercial payor models now assign beneficiaries based on their nephrology care. Companies such as Agilon Health and Oak Street Health have empowered primary care physicians to shift to risk-based models over the last several years, and Strive Health is leading a similar physician-led transformation in nephrology care.

NANI employs 141 physicians in 4 states and has added 28 providers in the past year, making it the nation’s largest independent nephrology group and one of the fastest growing. NANI is a national leader in value-based delivery and outcomes, demonstrated through its success in the Medicare ESCO program and other innovative payment models. Strive has grown its team 600% in the past year and is partnered with nearly 400 nephrology providers across six states through risk-based models. Strive and NANI plan to grow together and actively expand the partnership through new payor contracts, and as NANI expands its practice into new geographies.