Boston-based Wellist, a digital health company that helps hospitals connect their patients to non-clinical support services, has raised $10 million in its first round of institutional funding. Summation Health Ventures, a strategic healthcare investment fund affiliated with MemorialCare Health System and Cedars-Sinai Health System and .406 Ventures, a Boston-based venture capital firm, led the round.
"We help hospitals improve their patient experience by better connecting patients to support outside the hospital," Wellist founder and CEO Ashley Reid told MobiHealthNews. "This can be everything from transportation, to meal delivery, to childcare. We don’t provide these services directly but our goal is to make all of these resources that exist, not only free and subsidized resources but also for-profit resources, more visible and accessible in a way that makes it easier for patients to find what they need."
Reid started the company after a convergence of professional experiences as a strategy director at Philips Healthcare and personal experiences of friends' patients stories made her realize the extent of the problem, which not only affects patients but also care staff.
"I left Philips to pursue this idea of creating a channel that connects patients to resources," she said. "But what we’ve learned over the years is that when [someone] is crying in the middle of the hospital, six people in the hospital stop what they’re doing to try to find the support they need. Not only does that take time away from their jobs, but I’d say people get into nursing specifically with this eye toward caring for others. So if there’s suffering they can’t address, that’s a key driver of their burnout."
Wellist addresses social needs by creating a list of resources that patients and caregivers can access via a co-branded digital platform. On the platform, they can see support services as well as accessing tailored content from their provider and creating a support plan that they can share with family and friends. This allows the user to reach out to friends for rides, food, or even to crowdfund specific financial needs.
"For example, ... home cleaning is one of the most popular categories for breast cancer patients because they might be comfortable asking a friend for a ride or a meal but they’re not comfortable saying 'Will you come clean my bathroom?'," Reid said. "And so our ability to put a vendor in the middle means that they can share a registry with friends and family. And instead of potentially sending another casserole they can give money toward a cleaning service. Or that patient might get connected with a service that would come in and clean her house for free."
Currently Wellist is active in a handful of metropolitan areas: Boston, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. The company plans to use the funding to expand operations in those cities, move out to a few more areas, and to hire additional executive staff. They also plan to continue to develop their digital platform.