Rural Health Startup Homeward Emerges with $20M to Support Rural Communities

What You Should Know

– Homeward, a new company focused on improving access to high-quality, affordable primary and specialty care in rural communities launches with an initial $20M investment.

– The organization is rearchitecting care for rural Americans who have a 23% higher mortality rate than those in urban communities.

Homeward – a San Francisco, CA-based mobile, in-person, and telehealth hybrid care model (with specialty and primary care providers) for people in rural communities, today announced it has emerged from stealth with $20M from General Catalyst. The funding was led by General Catalyst, whose health assurance thesis aims to transform the delivery of healthcare and champion health access and equity for people everywhere. Homeward is the first investment in General Catalyst’s new $800M Creation fund, which focuses on collaborating with world-class executives to create and build new businesses in the firm’s core areas of interest.

Today’s healthcare isn’t working for rural Americans.

Today, 60 million Americans living in rural communities are facing a crisis of access to care. In the U.S. healthcare system, rural Americans experience significantly poorer clinical outcomes and higher costs. This trend is rapidly accelerating as rural hospitals close and physician shortages increase, exacerbating health disparities. Americans living in rural communities suffer a mortality rate 23 percent higher than those in urban communities, in part because of the lack of access to quality care

Led by key executives who drove Livongo’s success, Homeward will be the first comprehensive provider to take on full risk in rural markets. Homeward delivers a new, hybrid model of technology and services that will immediately increase access to primary care and specialty services, beginning with cardiology. Homeward employs a multidisciplinary care team, available both virtually and on the ground via mobile care units, with in-home remote monitoring that keeps patients connected to their care team. Rather than rely on broadband in these markets, Homeward will employ cellular-based monitoring devices and virtual services to better connect to even the most remote members

For example, under a traditional care delivery model, a patient suffering from heart failure is often diagnosed only after they arrive in the emergency room. Homeward will rearchitect this typical patient journey using a sequence of more proactive measures, including remote patient monitoring to detect the signs of a heart problem early; followed quickly by an in-home visit to test, diagnose and treat the problem; followed by virtual visits until the issue is resolved.

Homeward’s commitment to innovation extends to payment for care. It will replace the fee-for-service model – which defaults to in-clinic care settings and limits the ability to leverage new, innovative technology and services – in favor of a value-based model. Homeward will embrace the responsibility and risk of improving the health of its patients as well as their care experience – all while reducing costs.

And by working with existing, trusted healthcare provider networks, Homeward will augment rather than displace local primary care physicians and hospitals. When needed, Homeward will refer its members to local facilities for appropriate and timely care, thereby reducing total cost of care and avoiding costly admissions to hospital emergency rooms. The company will initially partner with regional Medicare Advantage plans, many of which are seeking innovative solutions to engage traditionally hard-to-reach members living in rural communities.

“Homeward was created to provide high-quality and affordable care for people who live in rural communities using a model that is designed to meet their unique needs,” said Dr. Jennifer Schneider, CEO of Homeward. “We believe that by combining easy-to-use technology, evidence-based care delivery, in-home and in-community services, and aligning the care model to the right incentives, we’ll be the first to offer a new approach that provides the high-quality care that everyone deserves – no matter where they live.”

Executive Leadership

As a physician and business leader, Dr. Schneider has focused her career on finding innovative solutions to some of the healthcare system’s most challenging problems. In her most recent role, she shepherded Livongo as president through its growth stage, IPO and subsequent $18.5 billion merger.

Homeward features one of the strongest leadership teams in the industry, including:

– Amar Kendale, former chief product officer at Livongo, who joins as co-founder and president

– Dr. Bimal Shah, former chief medical officer at Livongo, who joins as chief operating officer

– Dr. Aaron Friedkin, former senior vice president of care delivery transformation at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, who joins as chief revenue officer, and

– Brian Vandenberg, former general counsel at both the American Medical Association and Livongo, who joins as chief administrative officer and general counsel