Qliance Medical Management — a Seattle-based healthcare startup that was embroiled in controversy when it suddenly shut its doors last year — has officially filed for bankruptcy. Filings show the company owed more than $1.6 million to over 100 creditors when it closed last May. One of those creditors is the new company of its CEO, Dr. Erika Bliss.
When contacted by GeekWire, Bliss declined to comment on the filing and the relationship between Qliance and Equinox.
Bliss previously said that lender fraud was at the heart of the company’s sudden closure, which left patients and employees in the lurch. But a former employee said the company had been in financial straits long before it finally pulled the plug.
Bankruptcy filings show the company was running on fumes. It claimed just $8,100 in property — largely office furniture — and owed many times that to creditors including lenders, telehealth services and utility companies. Qliance owed Comcast Business more than $40,000 at the time it closed, for example.
Qliance’s bankruptcy filing lists Bliss’ new company, Equinox Primary Care, as a creditor that it owes more than $43,000 for “Monthly IT and medical recordkeeping expenses.” It also lists Bliss and Qliance President Cheryl Kilodavis as creditors owed $4,500 and $3,000, respectively, for “Payments made to Kent Station,” where the company had a clinic location.
Equinox uses the same business format as Qliance: Membership-based primary care that lets patients have almost unlimited access to care for a monthly fee. Bliss appears to be the only physician practicing through the company, based on a note on Equinox’s website.
Following Qliance’s bankruptcy filing, the company’s assets will be liquidated and sold. It’s the final nail in the coffin of a primary care experiment that many viewed as a promising new way to approach health care.
Originally backed by high-profile investors like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, Qliance was founded in 2007 and bought out by Bliss and president Kilodavis in 2016. Patients who spoke to GeekWire following its closure uniformly said they liked the company and the care they had received there and were puzzled and surprised by the sudden shutdown.
But membership-based primary care is actually growing in the U.S. San Francisco-based One Medical opened a Seattle clinic just days before Qliance announced it would close, and Seattle-based Vera Whole Health is growing into new markets with its employer-sponsored membership clinics.
Read the full bankruptcy filing below: