Hanauer-backed health care provider Qliance appoints CEO

Erika Bliss

Qliance Medical Management, a Seattle company that operates primary health care clinics in the Puget Sound area, has appointed Erika Bliss as president and CEO. She replaces Norm Wu who co-founded the company in 2006. Wu plans to continue with Qliance as an adviser, focusing on strategic partnerships and other growth efforts.

The company has raised $14 million from Second Avenue Partners, Clear Fir Partners, New Atlantic Ventures and MSD Capital. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos also is an investor through his venture capital arm, Bezos Expeditions. Other high-profile backers include comedian Drew Carey and entrepreneur Michael Dell.

Bliss has worked at Qliance for five years, most recently serving as chief quality officer.

“Qliance is on an important trajectory to transform health care as we know it and Norm has led us through a critical growth period,” said Nick Hanauer, chairman of the board of Qliance and managing partner of Second Avenue. “As we look to continue our expansion, it’s an ideal time to appoint Erika as it gives us a wonderful opportunity to outline what we do for patients, how we are changing healthcare and that this mission is at the core of everything we do.”

Qliance doesn’t operate like typical health care providers, bypassing the traditional insurance providers and offering unlimited visits to a primary physician. It charges a monthly fee of $49 to $89, boasting “unhurried” office visits and 24-hour telephone access to physicians.

There are no limits or restrictions on pre-existing conditions, and the company says the costs are typically 20 to 50 percent less than more traditional insurance-based systems.

In late August, the company announced plans to expand its operations in the region with a new clinic in Tacoma and an affiliate relationship with a clinic in Mill Creek. It also operates clinics in Seattle, Kent and Mercer Island, serving about 100 business customers.

The company has not grown as fast as initially planned, cutting some staff last year. At the time, Chief Operating Officer Ona Karasa, a former aQuantive executive, left the company.

Wu told PEHub.com last year that Qliance could one day grow to more than 700 clinics.