Medical startup once backed by Jeff Bezos and other high-profile investors reportedly closing

Erika Bliss, co-founder and CEO of Qliance. (Qliance Photo)

Qliance Medical Management Inc. — a Seattle-based primary care provider originally backed by the likes of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — is shutting down, according to sources close to the company.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that the last day of operation for the company’s primary care clinics will be Friday, June 1, according to an employee who spoke to the newspaper anonymously. Qliance CEO Erika Bliss told the PSBJ the company will officially close its doors June 15, two weeks after the clinics shut down.

GeekWire’s requests for comment from the company have gone unanswered.

Qliance was originally a well-funded startup, with a total of $33 million raised in 2013. The company’s backers included Bezos, venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, Zillow Chairman Rich Barton, comedian and Seattle Sounders owner Drew Carey, Dell founder Michael Dell and others.

Qliance president Cheryl Kilodavis. (Qliance Photo)

Last March, the company was bought out by co-founder and CEO Erika Bliss and president Cheryl Kilodavis.

Bliss told GeekWire in an interview three weeks ago that she and Kilodavis wanted to keep the company under their own control, and said they were looking for alternative funding sources to investments. She said they had difficulty finding sources of funding outside the traditional venture capital world.

Read the full memo Bliss sent to employees, published by the PSBJ, below:

It is with sad emotions and pure disappointment that I am announcing the closing of Qliance effective June 15, 2017. We will be operating under a limited service 30-day shutdown plan with very limited availability in a reduced number of clinics. This is an incredibly difficult and unanticipated way to end Qliance, and I know I speak for everyone at Qliance that it has been a great pleasure providing for health care for our members and we are extremely sad to see this come to an end.

As you may know, this is an incredibly difficult and unanticipated way to end Qliance, a company that we started to prove that humane, high-quality primary care can change not only individual lives but also transform our very troubled healthcare system. Despite all our efforts, we have found that the more we grew and proved that this really works, the more the system resisted us and made it harder and harder to survive. It’s not surprising, given that the healthcare industry represents 19% of the GDP of this country – that represents entities with a lot of money and power that are not about to give those up without a fight.

The past four months have been very frustrating and upsetting for everyone. Despite all our attempts to keep Qliance in operation, I deeply regret that we were unable to find the bridge funding needed to help us maintain our operations until new contracts could take hold. And even when we tried to plan to have an orderly closure, we encountered even more unexpected difficulties, making our situation impossible. Every ounce of our time and effort has gone to exploring all funding and business development options, all while trying to maintain exceptional care for our patients. We are so grateful that our individual members and group clients entrusted us with the care of their employees and families and allowed us the honor of providing for their health. They have been among some of the pioneers and most forward thinking people and companies who have recognized that investing in prevention and primary care makes sense for everyone both short- and long-term.

What’s next

We have a small group of people helping transition all patient needs over the next 30 days so we can maintain temporary continuity of care for all Qliance members. This includes addressing urgent care issues, patient prescription needs, lab or test results, and record transfers. Regarding referrals, we will do our best to assist in making that happen.

It has been our honor and pleasure to serve our patients. Some of our providers are planning to start up independent practices in various areas and may be reaching out to their patients in the future to see if they are interested in working with them directly to re-instate Qliance-type care for them again. I can only say that I would give them all my highest recommendation to carry on the Qliance tradition and hope that we all may have the opportunity to serve our members again in some form in the future.

We thank our members for entrusting us with their health and for believing in our vision for better healthcare for all.