Hybrid provider Homeward launches with $20 million to focus on rural healthcare

National hybrid healthcare provider Homeward launched Monday with a $20 million investment from General Catalyst.

The startup, led by vets from the chronic care management company Livongo, aims to improve access to primary and specialized care in rural communities, initially focusing on heart health.

Homeward uses both virtual and personal care. The remote telehealth and surveillance services will rely on mobile networks rather than broadband, which could include: harder to find in rural areas. Personal care is provided through mobile units that patients can visit at home.

The company will also work with local hospitals and doctors and send patients to these providers as needed. For starters, the company plans to partner with regional Medicare Advantage plans to offer these services.

“Homeward was founded to provide quality and affordable care to people living in rural communities using a model designed to meet their unique needs,” said Dr. Homeward CEO Jennifer Schneider said in a statement.

“We believe that by combining easy-to-use technology, evidence-based care delivery, in-home and in-community services, and aligning the care model with the right incentives, we will be the first to offer a new approach that delivers high-quality care. that everyone deserves – wherever they live.”

WHY IT MATTER

Providing care in rural areas is a pain point for the US health care system. According to the CDC, rural Americans have higher rates of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure and obesity, and have longer commutes to both emergency and special care. A study published last year in JAMA Network Open found that inequality in age-adjusted mortality between rural and urban groups has increased over the past two decades.

Meanwhile, 181 rural hospitals have been closed since 2005, according to a tracker from the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research at the University of North Carolina. Nineteen have closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 alone, the highest number since the university began following closures.

THE BIGGER TREND

Homeward’s executive team is made up of several former Livongo leaders, including Amar Kendale, former chief product officer at Livongo, now co-founder and president at Homeward; dr. Bimal Shah, former Chief Medical Officer, who will serve as Chief Operating Officer; and Brian Vandenberg, former General Counsel with both the American Medical Association and Livongo, who joins as Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel.

The company’s CEO, Schneider, was previously president of Livongo. Well-known chronic care management company merged with telehealth giant Teladoc Health in a year A $18.5 billion deal in 2020.

dr. Aaron Friedkin, former senior vice president of healthcare transformation at Michigan’s Blue Cross Blue Shield, becomes Chief Revenue Officer.

While Homeward is focused on rural areas, there are other provider startups that offer a hybrid approach to healthcare delivery. Carbon Health made several acquisitions last year, including a diabetes care platform, a remote patient monitoring company and a chain of emergency care clinics.

One Medical, a primary care provider, created the senior-focused Iora Health last year and launched its own chronic care product.