Despite the fact that we spend more on healthcare per capita, the U.S. leads the wealthy world in maternal mortality. And health inequity plays a big part.
Zaya Care, founded by Leoni Runge, operates here in the States but is modeled after the European maternal care system, and wants to change things. (European maternal outcomes are superior to those in the United States.)
Right now, one of the biggest issues that expectant and new mothers face is that care from their gynecologist ends as soon as they leave the hospital after giving birth. And to be fair, much of the care they need in the postpartum period should be delivered by other types of specialists, like pelvic floor therapists, postpartum mental healthcare providers, acupuncturists and others.
Unfortunately, however, most of these specialists aren’t covered by insurance providers. And the ones who are are in short supply, while others can cost quite a bit. The reason for this is that many of these specialists run their own small practice, and the administrative burden of working alongside insurance providers is high, for less reimbursement.
Zaya is working to group up these providers and negotiate on their behalf to the insurance providers, handling the administrative side of things and getting better reimbursements.
The startup’s CEO Runge grew up in Germany, where her sister is a OB/GYN. She saw how the medical system there wrapped around the entire experience of pregnancy, from conception to postpartum care, with service providers even coming to the patient in their own homes.
Tackling the problem here in the States was not a matter of building a great product, though the administrative functionality of Zaya’s platform is mission-critical. Rather, it was about solving for distribution, both on the provider and the patient side.
In a recent conversation with Kindred Ventures‘ Kanyi Maqubela, he explained that, for healthtech companies, distribution is the product.
Right now, Zaya is partnered with Emblem Health, Aetna and United Healthcare, and is working to bring more insurance providers onto the platform. The platform currently has 50 providers visible and available to patients, with more than 500 on the waiting list to get vetted and join Zaya.
I asked Runge if the company was looking at CityBlock as a leader when trying to rearrange the healthcare system while working within its existing boundaries. She explained that Toyin Ajayi, Cityblock co-founder and president, was actually an investor in the round and has been instrumental in workshopping the platform and product.
The startup recently raised a $7.6 million round led by Inspired Capital, with participation from Story Ventures, Tiger Global, Operator Partners, and founders and executives from Oscar Health, Dispatch Health and Headway.
Zaya isn’t the first company to recognize the issue with maternal care. Mombox is looking to offer moms a curated kit of postnatal products to help a mom through their first several weeks of recovery. Oula, Poppyseed Health and Oova, and of course bigger companies like Modern Fertility, are all playing in this space.
Considering the size of the problem, seems like it very well may take a village.