Homeward secures $50 million, partners with Priority Health for rural value-based care

When Dr. Jennifer Schneider, CEO of rural healthcare startup Homeward, was 12, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. But she lives in rural Minnesota, and hasn’t seen an endocrinologist for a long time.

Schneider, who was previously the president and medical director of Livongo.

San Francisco-based Homeward bridges the primary and specialty care gap in rural areas. company announce On Wednesday, it secured $50 million in Series B funding from ARCH Venture Partners and Human Capital. company Launched in March with an initial investment of $20 million from General Catalyst, bringing the total funds raised to $70 million. Schneider’s own experience reflects the shortage of both specialists and primary care physicians in rural areas across the country. For instance, 61% of the primary health care professionals shortage areas are rural areas, according to Rural Health Information Center.

The startup also announced its first value-based care partnership with Michigan-based Priority Health, a BHSH-regulated health insurance company. Through the partnership, Homeward will provide primary and specialized care to more than 30,000 Medicare Advantage members in rural Michigan.

With the new funding, Homeward hopes to expand outside Michigan into additional markets and partner with other health plans, though Schneider declined to say what partnerships the company is currently exploring.

“Through the partnership, we are able to demonstrate how new types of technology-assisted models of care, designed specifically for rural Americans, and integrating with local health service providers and systems, can expand clinical capabilities within these communities and deliver better clinical outcomes,” Schneider said. After the partnership was announced, we saw great enthusiasm from across the industry.”

Working with Priority Health, Homeward physicians — local to the communities in which they provide care — will begin home visits to their patients.

“This is really fundamental in the rural market, and it allows us to gain a lot of insights into how to provide care for that individual,” Schneider said.

Physicians are also available to patients virtually or in the community with mobile clinics. If necessary, Homeward will refer patients to other local providers or hospital systems for in-person visits.

Members use cellular-based remote monitoring technology so that doctors at Homeward can track their patients’ health between visits. Schneider said that using this form of technology instead of an Internet connection is beneficial in rural areas where broadband is lacking.

“There is limited broadband connectivity in rural markets for sure,” Schneider said. But there are a lot of innovations and technology that can be gained without broadband. There are a lot of remote monitoring devices that work outside the cellular connection, so you don’t have to be online.”

Homeward makes money with a value-based model of care, which means it takes full financial risk for the cost of care and the outcomes of its patients. They are incentivized to provide home preventative care by leveraging technology. The goal is to keep patients healthy and thus avoid the chance of needing costly medical procedures.

Schneider said Homeward isn’t the only startup in the rural value-based care market. Another is Nashville-based Main Street Health, which Launched In June 2021, spouses of Medicare beneficiaries from partnering health facilities with a local health navigator. Schneider said Homeward differentiates itself by working with existing providers and adding care with its doctors.

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