While navigating the healthcare system as any pregnant person is a complicated, uneasy task, maternal care for Black Americans is abysmal.
In Philly, Black women account for 43% of child births — yet 73% of deaths among pregnant mothers, data collected over the last decade show. It’s a fact that Dr. Olan Soremekun sought to improve when he founded West Philly-based startup Cayaba Care in 2020.
After some initial seed funding, the startup said it recently raised a $12 million Series A round to increase its staff, launch in additional markets and further invest in its tech solutions. The round was led by Seae Ventures and Kapor Capital and includes new investors Wellington Partners, Citi Impact Fund and Rhia Ventures, with follow-on from seed round funders Digitalis Ventures, SteelSky Ventures and Flare Capital. To date, it’s raised $15 million.
Cayaba Care brings healthcare to its patients’ homes through “maternity navigators” who make in-person visits between appointments, and access patient data stored in an app. It aims to alleviate the stress, time and resources needed to make the multiple prenatal care visits needed during a pregnancy, especially for low-income people.
“Our team feels grateful to have the opportunity to continue to do this important work,” said Soremekun, CEO and cofounder, in a statement. “As a former emergency room doctor, a healthcare insurance executive and most importantly, as a father, I have seen the vast gaps in the system for maternity healthcare, particularly affecting communities of color.”
With remote patient monitoring on a platform called the Cayaba Brain, Cayaba Care’s maternity navigators are able to use patient data provided by doctors and practitioners to create personalized care plans based on what those patients need, rather than relying on the patient to track that information digitally.
“Cayaba Care’s concierge solution provides wrap-around services for low-income expectant mothers; women who have historically lacked access to such high-quality personalized care,” said Kapor Capital Partner Ulili Onovakpuri. “We at Kapor Capital were impressed by the team’s fast progress and huge impact … This round of funding will help accelerate their growth and push to transform maternal health outcomes for low-income women and women of color across the U.S.”
In its first year, the company has served more than 1,000 people in Philadelphia, and has yielded about a 35% reduction in hospital visits, the company said. Cayaba Care currently partners with local health systems like Einstein Medical Center and Penn Medicine, as well as community organizations, high schools, nonprofits, church groups and local agencies to provide holistic, home-based care. The funding will help expansion of the company’s products and its geographical service area, Soremekun said.
“Funding at this scale allows us to innovate and invest in our approach to serving the community with a holistic, and local-first care model that we believe can fundamentally change the way maternity care is delivered in this country,” the founder told Technical.ly in an email. “As we move forward, we will work to develop our technology in a way that helps to bridge the digital divide within underserved communities while continuing to facilitate early engagement, measure rising risk, and automate timely intervention.”
The round will also help the company to launch in New Jersey this summer, the founder said, and develop plans for Maryland, Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee and Mississippi.
There’s hiring on the way, too.
“This will mean expanding our culturally and linguistically competent staff of medical, behavioral health, design, data, technology, social work, operations, customer service, and community outreach professionals,” Soremekun said.
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