Several former executives of Livongo have formed a startup called Homeward to partner with Medicare Advantage plans to improve care in rural areas. The company is being launched with an initial $20 million investment from General Catalyst.
The company said it would deliver a hybrid model of technology and services in order to increase access to primary care and specialty services in rural settings, 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. Rather than rely on broadband in these markets, Homeward said it will employ cellular-based monitoring devices and virtual services to better connect to even the most remote members.
Homeward gave this 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 said it will redesign 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 said it would embrace a value-based model and take responsibility and risk of improving the health of its patients as well as their care experience, while reducing costs.
The company stressed it would 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 Jennifer Schneider, M.D., CEO of Homeward, 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 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.”
In her most recent role, Schneider served as president of virtual care company Livongo through its growth stage, IPO and subsequent $18.5 billion merger with Teladoc Health in 2020.
Her leadership team at Homeward includes several other former Livongo executives:
• Amar Kendale, former chief product officer at Livongo, who joins as co-founder and president;
• Bimal Shah, M.D., M.B.A., former chief medical officer at Livongo, who joins as chief operating officer;
• Aaron Friedkin, M.D., 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.
Homeward is the first investment in General Catalyst’s new $800 million Creation fund, which focuses on creating and building new businesses in the firm’s core areas of interest.