Empathy exits stealth mode to help families manage death, Real lands $10M to establish mental health studio and more digital health fundings

Also: Pre-conception genetic-testing startup Orchid completes seed round, and Canvas Medical scores $17M for its physician practice platform.
By Mallory Hackett
01:23 pm
A pile of dollar bills

(Image: "1 US Bank Note"/geralt via Pixabay, licensed under Creative Commons Zero)

A new digital companion application helping families navigate the logistical and emotional journey of losing a loved one launched this week with $13 million in seed funding. Called Empathy, the company is backed by the round’s leading investors General Catalyst and Aleph.

Empathy’s platform leads grieving families through end-of-life bureaucratic tasks such as arranging a funeral, validating a will, canceling accounts and cleaning out properties. It also has a human support element where loss experts are available to provide emotional and practical advice.

"It’s the inherent optimism of human nature that causes us to avoid talking about death,” Ron Gura, the cofounder and CEO of Empathy, said in a statement. "But because we don’t discuss it, we miss out on important opportunities to innovate and provide families with technology that can help them manage some of life’s most challenging moments – and this leaves families overwhelmed and underserved.

“Logistics are made hard by grief, and grief is made harder by logistics. Software can and will play a huge role in helping families deal with loss and will hopefully drive a much-needed change in the industry at large."

Digital therapy platform Real recently announced its $10 million Series A round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners.

The company has raised $16 million to date and has attracted notable angel investors, including U.S. Women’s National Team member Megan Rapinoe and Minnesota Vikings Linebacker Eric Kendricks, as well as actress and Goop's CEO and founder Gwyneth Paltrow.

Real takes an on-demand approach to therapy. Members can access weekly audio or video learning “Pathways” and their corresponding journal prompts whenever it's convenient for them. They can participate in biweekly community Q&A sessions with the Real therapy team or attend members-only events like talks, panels and workshops.

With the newly raised capital, Real will continue investing in the growth of its platform and membership. It expects to grow its employee team with hires across product development, engineering, and the therapy team. As soon as the pandemic allows for it, Real also plans on opening its first mental health studio in New York City to enhance its offerings with in-person experiences.

Pre-conception genetic testing startup Orchid launched this week with $4.5 million in seed funding from Refactor Capital, Village Global, Day One Ventures, Olive Capital and Boom Capital. The round also had participation from leaders of 23andMe, Counsyl, Clover Health, Coinbase, Eventbrite, Flatiron, Oscar Health, and Stellar.

Couples can now sign up to get on the waiting list for Orchid’s Couple Report genetic test. Using an at-home saliva test kit, Orchid detects whether a couple's future child will be at an elevated or normal genetic risk for diseases such as heart disease, stroke, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes and more.

The report includes results for both partners and their future child, so prospective parents can proactively manage their own health and make informed reproductive decisions.

"Having children is the most consequential choice most of us make, yet parents go into pregnancy with zero visibility into how genetic risks could impact their future child," Noor Siddiqui, the founder and CEO of Orchid, said in a statement.

"With Orchid's ultra-high-resolution reports, prospective parents can now conceive with confidence, prepared with information and guidance to give their children a better chance at a healthy life."

Later this year, Orchid will also begin offering follow-up embryo health reports that will give prospective parents a look at which embryos have the lowest disease risk to be chosen through IVF.

San Francisco-based Canvas Medical has tacked on another $17 million funding raise to its digital health platform for physician practices. The round was co-led by Inspired Capital and IA Ventures, with participation from IRONGREY and previous investors Upfront Ventures and iSeed.

The Canvas platform is designed to replace traditional electronic health records and physician practice management systems to help providers and insurers collaborate for value-based care, the company said in its announcement.

“Physicians in every corner of the country have told us they need better technology to succeed in new payment arrangements with their insurance partners – not just faster software that's easier to use, but smarter software," said Andrew Hines, founder and CEO of Canvas Medical, in a statement.

"Leading insurers know their longitudinal data is key to building smarter clinical systems, and they know a reimagined EHR is the ideal context for those insights to empower clinical teams day in and day out.”

Among its features are: 

  • narrative charting capabilities that use predictive autocomplete technology to quicken data entry.
  • population health insights.
  • automated billing and revenue cycle management tools.
  • care coordination mechanisms that can schedule appointments and streamline patient communication.



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