Pomelo Care, a virtual, value-based provider focused on maternity care, has emerged from stealth fueled by $33 million in seed and series A funding.
The two rounds were led by Andreessen Horowitz with participation from First Round Capital, SV Angel, Operator Partners, Allen & Company and BoxGroup plus angel investors. Pomelo will use the capital to continue expanding its payer, employer and provider partnerships.
The startup’s multispecialty team focuses on medical, social and behavioral care for mothers and infants. Each patient receives a personalized care team to comprehensively address inequities and the root causes of outcomes.
“We know that the right care at the right time can dramatically improve outcomes for families. Everyone deserves access to high-quality care, regardless of their circumstances or health plan,” Marta Bralic Kerns, founder and CEO at Pomelo Care, said in the announcement. “That’s why Pomelo exists—we address patient concerns right away and at home, keeping them out of the emergency room unnecessarily and lowering their risk of pregnancy, postpartum and newborn complications.”
The company was founded in 2021 and now serves patients in 44 states. It is expected to serve 2 million patients this year and has partnerships with national payers, Medicaid managed care organizations, employers like Mount Sinai Health System and academic medical centers like Penn Medicine.
The U.S. has some of the worst maternal and birth outcomes of the developed world despite spending $111 billion annually on maternal health care—twice that of most other high-income countries. These disparities, predominantly affecting women of color, grew worse during COVID-19.
Vineeta Agarwala, M.D., Ph.D., general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, and Josh Kopelman, partner at First Round Capital, were appointed to the company’s board of directors.
"It’s inexcusable that women in the U.S. face one of the highest national mortality rates from preventable complications during pregnancy,” Agarwala said in the announcement. “Pomelo Care’s technology-driven, value-based care model completely reimagines how new families access high quality specialty care and achieve better outcomes while also reducing costs for our leading health plans, health systems and employers.”
Pomelo’s tech-enabled model aims to be “accessible by design,” being mindful of technology not creating a barrier to accessing care, Bralic Kerns told Fierce Healthcare. That’s why care is available around the clock via phone, text or video.
The company uses data to personalize care and predict risk. Its goal is not to replace physicians but to “really keep people in between visits,” Bralic Kerns said. Pomelo patients must have an OB-GYN or midwife for in-person visits.
All of the company’s contracts are value-based, and Pomelo chose not to pursue a direct-to-consumer approach for the sake of integration.
“It’s really, really important for this to work through the traditional healthcare system,” Bralic Kerns said.
Evidence shows elements of care critical to a healthy mother and baby are not necessarily reimbursable, and that has resonated so far with Pomelo’s payer partners, Bralic Kerns said. “The only way to actually make some of these things accessible to patients is through some of these innovative payment models,” she said.
In an effort to understand and address the root cause of disparities, Pomelo screens for social determinants like nutrition, housing or intimate partner violence and refers to resources as needed. It also helps patients understand their benefit coverage. And Pomelo screens for behavioral health issues multiple times during pregnancy and postpartum. Because of its integrated care model, Pomelo patients can receive mental health care within three days via an internal referral.
The provider plans to study outcomes and other data to understand the impact its programs have on improving patients' health. It also participates in health information exchanges to share interoperable patient data.