Ruth Health takes on $2.4 million to expand access to pregnancy care through telehealth

The company offers pelvic floor training, lactation counseling and C-section recovery resources

Throughout their pregnancy, expectant mothers receive increasingly regular care as their baby approaches birth. Once that happens, however, it stops almost immediately. Still, there are a host of potential issues and questions that arise in this postpartum period, as well as the specialists they might need to see.

Walk in Ruth Health, a telehealth platform for postpartum pregnant women. The company, which provides virtual access to specialists in pelvic training and recovery, cesarean section recovery and lactation support, announced $2.4 million in seed funding on Thursday.

“Women’s health has, for so long, been built by men, outdated and full of gaps in care. We started Ruth Health to fill these gaps in care to create an affordable and accessible destination. Not just a telehealth clinic, but also a care center,” said Alison Greenberg, co-founder and CEO of the company.

“We are truly passionate about providing our services specific to perinatal people, so pregnant and postpartum women, but also arming them with information and know-how to combat myths and providing information and recommendations based on evidence around the maze of questions that is pregnancy.

Expand access to postpartum care

Although supported by the state and free, perinatal care is the norm in other countries around the world, such as France and Saudi Arabia, which is not the case in the United States. Lactation consultants, for example, are often available at the hospital, and the patient will usually see one 12 to 24 hours after birth, but after that she has to find one on her own, which can be expensive, not to mention the time it takes to get to and from an office, which can mean a lot for someone caring for a newborn.

There is also a lack of specialists available, which leads to significant waiting times for those who do not even have access to a specialist; youthere are only about 5,000 pelvic floor physical therapists in the United States, which means it can take up to six months to get an appointment. And once they have one, it usually takes three hours door-to-door and can cost anywhere from $150 to $300 per session.

What Ruth is doing is filling those gaps and making it easier and less expensive to see one of these specialists: Her users wait a maximum of a week and pay $75 per session. The company also has a self-scheduling system, so users don’t have to call or wait on hold and then, once they’ve made an appointment, Ruth will put it straight in. on their schedule.

“When problems arise, it’s usually not when you’re in the hospital and things are all new. It’s over time, it’s how you see the challenges. On the breastfeeding side, it can be with supply, with the breast, pain while breastfeeding, questions about supplementation with bottles, problems using a breast pump, these are all things we can offer advice much faster than trying to book a session with someone in person,” Greenberg said.

“By using telehealth, we can get more sessions a day with one of our specialists than you would normally get with an in-person provider. And that’s incredibly valuable for people who live in rural parts of America, or who live in small towns where there are just fewer suppliers.”

Currently, the number of patients on the platform is in the hundreds, and wAlthough there is a return on investment for them in the form of better health outcomes (the company has had patients who experience improvement in conditions like painful intercourse or incontinence in just three to four sessions), the a bigger return on investment, according to Greenberg, is in the time they recover using a telehealth solution.

“They have a certified supplier providing them with answers, and that helps them avoid the hours of the day trying to figure it out themselves and the time spent trying to visit a supplier in person. So it was a noticeable return on investment for some of our patients who have seen a lactation consultant or physical therapist in person and love being able to do what we do from the comfort of their own homes,” she said.

Even more important, however, is the return on investment in terms of eliminating what she calls the “pregnancy tax”, which is “a tax paid by every person who gives birth in time, money and career, just to give birth, just to have brought life into this world”.

A study from the National Business Group on Health, found that the average employee postpartum retention was about 59% in the United States. When providing access to lactation support alone, employee retention in a company increased to 94%.

“It really goes to show that for women who want to get back to work and who put their careers first, taking care of their bodies postpartum can help them be more present at work and can help them really look like they are. themselves,” Greenberg said. mentioned.

Ruth is offered as a benefit to employers in New York, California and Idaho.

Expansion

The new funding round was led by Giant Ventures, with participation from Citylight VC, Cleo Capital Scout Fund, Crista Galli Ventures, Duro VC, Emmeline Ventures, Gaingels, Global Founders Capital, Pentas Ventures, SOMA Capital, Techstars, Torch Capital , YCombinator, and various Strategic Angels.

The company plans to use the money to expand its team; there are four providers currently on the platform, and the plan is to hire bilingual lactation support providers and new pelvic therapists.

In addition to this, it also plans to expand its payment models; as is, Ruth Health patients must either pay out of pocket for their appointments, or they can pay through their HSA or FSA. In the future, the company hopes to soon be able to accept insurance as well.

“Accepting insurance is a really critical part of our roadmap. It’s something we hope to be able to do over the next year, but it’s a challenge. Accepting insurance can cause delays, limitations of care due to lack of a diagnosis or referral,” explained Greenberg.

“What we’re trying to do is just make our care as accessible as possible, and by lowering our prices this year, we’re seeing that we can actually be there for people who otherwise might not have not considered anything outside of insurance.”

Telehealth and femtech

Ruth is riding the wave of two major trends in healthcare, the first being the rapid acceptance of telehealth services during the pandemic, which has made patients much more receptive to a solution like Ruth, Greenberg says. “would have been unthinkable three years ago.”

The other trend is the rise of femtech, which reached over $1 billion in investments for the first time in 2021. Greenberg also attributes this to COVID, noting that “increased awareness of women’s health issues” over the past two years.

“We have seen a new enthusiasm around women’s health, healthcare delivery around women’s health innovations. is over, we are 51% of the population. And, finally, investors are waking up to this fact,” she said.

Ruth Health wants to take these two trends and use them to reduce maternal morbidity and mortality rates in America, which is the worst in the developed world.

“Our goal is really to continue to close the gaps in care, to not only continue to work directly with consumers and with our patients, but also to partner with larger institutions to expand that care. And that’s really reframe women’s health as a collaborative experience, where women’s voices are a key part of their care regimen, a key part of their pregnancy, and are heard.”

(Image source: ruthhealth.com)

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