Pediatric telehealth startup Hazel Health has grown its business 400% in the past three months as many families lost in-school health services during the COVID-19 shutdown.
The company operates virtual care clinics inside the school nurse's office to connect students to a physician via telehealth. Working with insurers and school districts, Hazel Health recently extended its service to provide an at-home telemedicine program called Hazel at Home.
Silicon Valley-based Hazel Health has grown to work with more than 40 U.S. school districts representing more than 1.5 million children.
To fuel its growth, the company scored a $33.5 million Series C funding round led by Owl Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures. Investors Uprising, UCSF Foundation Investment Company, and Centene Corporation also participated in the round.
Hazel Health will use the funding to expand its footprint even further across and scale its operations, CEO Josh Golomb told Fierce Healthcare.
"I’m a parent myself and nothing feels more important than taking care of your kids to make sure they are safe and healthy. We see parents struggling to make sure they get their kids the healthcare that they need," he said. "This is an opportunity to transform pediatric care, with a particular focus on kids in underserved areas. Schools make perfect sense as a starting point."
The response from districts and families before the pandemic validated the need, with 90% of eligible families choosing to enroll in the program, according to Hazel Health.
Engagement was also incredibly high at 70% in the first year, well above the pre-COVID industry standard of about 10% for telehealth, the company said. More than 40% of families using Hazel Health services indicated that they did not have a primary care physician, therefore typically relying on costly ER and urgent care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has turbocharged interest from school districts in Hazel Health's services, Golomb said.
"Patients and providers realize that there is an important place that virtual health and telehealth can play," he said. "But, not all virtual care is created equal. There's a visit that's purely a phone call with no health record and it's just quick access to clinical expertise."
"The model that we're excited about is having the full health record and medical history to support kids over multiple visits and develop a relationship with them, versus something that is more transactional in nature," Golomb said.
Hazel Health launched five years ago by a former Apple software engineer and serial entrepreneur, Nick Woods along with experienced education and healthcare executives.
The idea was to tap into trusted healthcare staff at schools to help identify undiagnosed healthcare issues like allergies and asthma as well as acute problems like pink eye.
In one example, one student had missed 22 days of school in a single year. After he was diagnosed with asthma and began treatment, he only missed five days the following year, Golomb said.
He sees Hazel Health's telehealth as a tool that complements, rather than replaces, community-based care.
When patients have primary care providers, Hazel Health coordinates with them to ensure continuity of care. When families do not have a primary care provider, the company connects them to local pediatricians or community-based clinics to help them establish a medical home, Golomb said.
The company now partners with large urban school districts like Denver Public Schools and Clark County School District to smaller, rural districts in the Central Valley of California as well as federally qualified health clinics such as Livingston Community Clinic.
Company officials say the need for remote care services will likely grow as school districts plan to continue distance learning classrooms or combine online learning with in-person classrooms.