Healthcare is essential, especially in light of a global pandemic. Unfortunately, elderly patients, those with limited mobility, and others often have difficulty simply meeting with their healthcare providers.
ZiphyCare is a healthcare company seeking to help these underserved communities by delivering medical care right to their door. Through a combination of in-person care and remote technology, patients can consult medical experts from home at their convenience. We reached out to company founder and CEO Rada Sumareva to learn why she created her own healthcare solution and how it can change patients’ lives.
Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
In your own words, how would you describe your company?
ZiphyCare is an innovative healthcare company delivering at-home medical care to the most at-risk populations: the elderly, people with disabilities, and patients with multiple comorbidities. ZiphyCare utilizes a clever hybrid (virtual and in-person) care model that allows us to treat chronically ill patients in person, in the comfort of their own homes, and at rates that are covered by Medicare and Medicaid. We are changing the economics on delivering high-quality, longitudinal healthcare at home.
What inspired you to take the leap and start this company?
As a healthcare provider, I’ve seen firsthand the challenges on the provider side and barriers to care on the patient side that resulted in low compliance and poor disease management. Unfortunately, most of the mainstream telehealth solutions have limitations directly related to health disparities (including access to high-speed internet, expensive technology, and health literacy) and low diagnostic capabilities. Without a person in the home to help access the technology and survey the social determinants of health in their home, a large segment of the population is being left behind. Coordination of care between multiple providers and social services is complicated. When COVID hit, we saw a natural uptick in demand for medical care at home. So my co-founder, Dan, and I decided to launch the practice and deploy our technology in the field.
Who is on your team and how did you come together?
My husband, Dr. Gene Ukrainsky, is an ear, nose, and throat physician, and in each of our specialties, we have been treating patients for decades, many of whom are chronically ill and for multiple reasons don’t receive the cohesive treatment plans they would most benefit from. He and I had discussed over a period of years how providing care to patients in their own homes using technology would scale doctors’ time, reduce costs, allow for interdisciplinary care, and close gaps in the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set. But it wasn’t until we reconnected with our college friend, Dan Kogan, that the critical technology skills fell into place.
Dan is a renowned health tech expert who has built multiple technology solutions around patient care. His companies have been sold to IBM and Healthgrades, among others. As soon as Gene and I shared our ideas with Dan, we instantly saw the value of combining our expertise around the common goal of delivering world-class longitudinal healthcare at home. We incorporated the company in 2018 and haven’t looked back!
How is ziphycare transforming the home healthcare industry?
Traditionally, treating the 20% most complex patients who are responsible for 80% of US healthcare expenditure has been a holy grail question for insurance companies. How do you keep this population healthier and out of the ER, where treatment costs rise exorbitantly?
We believe we have the answer in ZiphyCare. We have found a cost-effective way to deliver a doctor at home by sending a cost-efficient medical assistant (MA) — who’s also a trained phlebotomist and can conduct point-of-care labs — equipped with extraordinary technology that enables the MD on screen to conduct a vastly superior, data-rich medical exam. The MA helps the patient fill out paperwork if needed, takes basic vitals, and only when the patient is completely ready does the doctor “walk in” to the digital exam room, just as they would in a clinic. This brings the cost of the exam down and makes the physician efficient.
Our clinical team coordinates an individual care plan for each patient. Working closely with case managers and other providers, our practice managers follow up to ensure continuity of appointments while the MA in the home checks for fall risks, medication compliance (in concert with the physician), and other health risks like dust for asthmatics or poor food choices for diabetics. This unique combination of technology solutions and a digital and in-person delivery model will transform healthcare at home.
What does the competitive landscape look like, and how do you differentiate?
People tend to think of our competitors as DispatchHealth, Heal, and Ready because all three send medical personnel to patients’ homes. However, these companies send either an actual provider or emergency medical technician (higher-cost personnel with a different skill set). Also, they mostly focus on urgent care rather than longitudinal care and don’t have the ability to share the raw data from the exam with other providers.
TytoCare is sometimes seen as a competitor, as it sells consumers an at-home medical exam kit, but it has limited user-grade equipment and provides no live person in the home. AMD provides a toolkit only, no software platform, scheduling, etc. Traditional doctor office visits could also be seen as our most entrenched competition, but these are cost-prohibitive and provide little opportunity for data sharing.
How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?
Our $2.2 million seed round will be used to finance our first contracts with managed care payers. These are large contracts in which ZiphyCare will take over the healthcare needs of several million people in a set geographic zone. To execute this, we will need to expand our team of on-site care coordinators, providers, practice managers, and internal operations staff. We are excited that our seed round is being led by the founder of EosHealth (now Livongo) and the founding developer of WhatsApp.
What do you want potential investors to know about you and/or your company?
Over our first 1,000 appointments in New York City, we have treated hundreds of the most vulnerable New Yorkers and created a safety net for them during the COVID pandemic. Our technology is FDA-cleared, and we hold seven patents. Our service arm is an approved medicare provider. We are focusing on a total addressable market of $1.2 trillion that is ripe for disruption.
As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? have you set any future goals for the company?
The unique product we have built and continue to build will pave the road to the future of healthcare delivery. It is clear that until AI and robots completely replace the human factor (if it happens), patients will need to see the doctor no matter what, and that pure telehealth will not work until everyone lives in smart cities and smart homes, surrounded and integrated with IOT (Internet of Things)-based instruments and sensors.
For remote locations and third-world countries as well as aging populations with limited knowledge and access to technology, this will be the utopia for a while. Our solution bridges the futuristic access to care with the play for the augmented and virtual care with traditional medicine, and it paves the foundation for future innovation. We believe that this unique approach and the product will be a differential factor not only for the insurance companies of the 21st century but also for concierge medicine catering to employers markets, the hospitality industry, military, and other industries where physical medical data must be instantly accessed by a physician on the other end.
As a minority and underrepresented founder, what difficulties have you encountered working on your company? what advice would you give to minority and women founders?
Perhaps the trust and support from the investment community is one of the biggest obstacles. Every detail in our model is based on the knowledge of the end users’ needs and resources through my own life journey, leadership, and professional experience. Convincing investors that ZiphyCare’s model is the best fit and a life-changing experience for those most in need and a game changer for the providers and the payers is at times challenging. It is not an easy path, but you just have to keep going. It is discouraging, of course, but you just have to shake it off, stay true to your vision, and remember that your determination and belief in your company will rub off on everyone else.
We look forward to seeing where Rada and her team take the company. ZiphyCare is currently raising on Wefunder.