Zócalo Health, a virtual healthcare service for Latino patients, raised $5 million in a seed funding round led by Animo, Virtue and Vamos Ventures.
Other participants in the funding raise include Necessary Ventures and Able Partners as well as Cityblock Health CEO Toyin Ajayi, social policy researcher and venture capitalist Freada Kapor Klein, Out-of-Pocket’s Nikhil Krishnan and ORDRS CEO Erik Ibarra.
WHAT THEY DO
Through monthly and annual membership plans, the startup will match patients with a care team made up of physicians, nurses and mental health clinicians, led by a community health worker. Patients can also access same-day or next-day virtual appointments and care coordination services.
The company is currently offering care as part of a public beta in California and plans eventually to expand to new states and add in-person services.
Mariza Hardin, head of strategy and operations at Zócalo, told MobiHealthNews that she and cofounder Erik Cardenas grew up in families that had immigrated to the U.S. and struggled to navigate the complex healthcare system.
“We very much have taken a lot of our lived experiences and built this into Zócalo Health’s care model,” she said. “But we also spend a ton of time talking to patients and talking to the Latino community asking, ‘Why aren’t you accessing primary care? What are your concerns? Why do you not trust the system?’ Because it’s very much a trust issue that’s been impacted and accelerated by the pandemic.”
Zócalo CEO Cardenas said the community health workers will be key to establishing trust and helping patients navigate their clinical offerings.
“With this community health worker, we really focus on those relationships and building trust so that people can really start to engage and establish this longitudinal care with us that they’ve been missing with this one-size-fits-all health system,” he said.
Amazon Web Services recently announced Zócalo as one of 10 participants in the 2022 AWS Healthcare Accelerator focused on health equity. Cardenas and Hardin, both veterans from Amazon Care, said they want to bring the tech and retail giant’s consumer-focused culture to their startup.
Hispanic adults face a number of challenges when it comes to accessing the healthcare system, and they’re more likely to be uninsured. According to a Pew Research Center survey published earlier this summer, 70% of Hispanic adults said they’d seen a doctor or other healthcare provider in the past year, in contrast to 82% of all U.S. adults.
Access was less consistent for immigrants. Among those who had lived in the U.S. for 10 years or less, only 55% said they’d seen a provider within the past year, compared with 63% of those who have been in the U.S. from 11 to 20 years and 77% of immigrants who had lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years.
“I think there are a lot of pretty words that are shared today around health inequities and DEI [diversity, equity and inclusion], but it’s really important that we start to take action when it comes to these metrics and the importance of addressing these gaps,” Cardenas said.