× Startups Business News Education Health Finance Technology Opinion Wealth Rankings Politics Leadership Sport Travels Careers Design Environment Energy Luxury Retail Lifestyle Automotives Photography International Press Release
×

July 5, 2021

For the majority of her professional life, Lindsay Jurist-Rosner led what she calls a “secret double life”: she was a caretaker for her mother, who had primary progressive multiple sclerosis. Jurist-Rosner—who moved home after college and stayed there for most of her 20s—would help her mom with breakfast, go to work, slip home again to check in during lunch, go back to work and then return to caretaking during the evening. She barely told any of her friends or colleagues exactly what she was doing, or how challenging it could be.

“The logistical and administrative aspects of care are, I think, the more complicated” part of being a caretaker, Jurist-Rosner says. “The MS part was almost straightforward—doctors prescribed treatments; my mom had specialists she would see a couple times a year—but it was the day-to-day stuff that was just suffocating for us to navigate through and set up.”

In 2009, as she was graduating from Harvard Business School, Jurist-Rosner had the seeds of an idea that she thought might be able to help her and the millions of other Americans in similar situations (which today is 53 million people, or more than 20% of the U.S. adult population): a care coordinator service that would provide a bevy of caregiving experts who could help families navigate the labyrinthine systems of Medicare, Medicaid and long-term care. She even had a name for it—Wellthy—and bought the domain for wellthy.com that year. But it would take another five years (and day jobs in marketing roles at Microsoft and Simulmedia) to ready the idea and prepare for life as an entrepreneur. Jurist-Rosner officially launched the service in 2014.

For much of its existence since then, Wellthy has flown under the radar. It started as a direct-to-consumer service and expanded to employers, as an employee benefit offering, in 2017. Over the last four years, Jurist-Rosner has quietly accumulated an A-list book of business that includes everyone from Silicon Valley heavyweights—like Facebook, Accenture, Cisco and Salesforce—to manufacturing and media companies like Kohler, Ashcroft, Colgate-Palmolive, Hearst and News Corp. And now, Jurist-Rosner tells Forbes exclusively, Wellthy has raised a $35 million Series B round of funding that she will use to grow head count (she’s looking to add at least 50 people to the 200-person team) and expand Wellthy’s care coordinating services to the U.K. and Canada.

“As much as caregiving is an American sandwich-generation issue, it’s also a global issue,” Jurist-Rosner says.

 

The oversubscribed round, which brings the company’s total funding to $50 million, was led by Rethink Impact, the largest American venture capital fund focusing on female founders solving problems through technology. Rethink founder and managing partner Jenny Abramson says she was attracted to the company both because of Jurist-Rosner’s vision as well as the potential returns that Wellthy can drive.

“When you think about the caregiving space being worth $111 billion, and growing at about an 11% compound annual growth rate, that is a really interesting market,” Abramson told Forbes. “About 20% of employees, at least in the data we saw, provided some kind of extra care to either special-needs kids or adults just in the last 12 months alone. And it's an area where as more Boomers age, this is just going to grow.”

The need will grow, but the Covid-19 pandemic laid bare the systemic issues that already exist and have long been in place when it comes to caregiving in America. More than 2 million women were pushed out of the U.S. workforce last year to care for a dependent or family member in need, and a recent Time’s Up study found that one third of all U.S. employees have left a job in order to manage an “unmet” caregiving responsibility.

That same Time’s Up study found that most employers significantly underestimate how many of their workers are shouldering the equivalent of a second job by providing care for a loved one: These companies assumed that 25% of their workforce had caregiving duties when in fact the number was closer to 75%, or three out of every four.

Wellthy helps employees who are navigating tricky caregiving scenarios by leveraging the expertise of social workers who have a foundation in this kind of work. There’s a “Wellthy University” training so that social workers who want to serve as a Wellthy care coordinator are up to speed on the specific needs of Wellthy clients; once they’re officially onboarded, they can help families with everything from finding in-home health aides and scheduling doctors’ appointments to contesting insurance bills, nabbing medication discounts or even, in the age of Covid, securing vaccine appointments. Wellthy users can track all of this on a digital care dashboard.

For employers, the service costs $300 per employee per each month of need; for individuals, $350 per month. The average “care project,” as Jurist-Rosner describes it, lasts three months. But she and investor Abramson argue that the tradeoff in time gained is well worth it. “When you save this kind of time money for employees, and their families, it is a huge benefit,” Abramson says. “They're finding that 55% of users recouped more than ten hours of work when they started using Wellthy, and 33% of people using them have said that it prevented them from actually taking a leave of absence or resigning.”

Paurvi Bhatt counts herself among the latter group. Bhatt is the president of the Medtronic Foundation and the vice president of the health tech company’s philanthropic arm. Bhatt has dedicated her career to global healthcare issues—she led global health and corporate social responsibility efforts at Levi Strauss and Abbott, and before that led the economics and HIV/AIDS portfolios at USAID—and has done so while serving as the primary caregiver for both of her parents. 

An only child and a second-generation South Asian immigrant for whom elder care is an important family priority, Bhatt had long managed to juggle her executive career with her caretaking duties, which began when she was 28 and her dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Ten years ago, with her mother in treatment for cancer, Bhatt moved home in an attempt to ease the caretaking lift, but two years ago, right before Covid hit, her mother was hospitalized and put on oxygen.

“I was sinking under a list of things that needed to happen,” she says. “The pathway of healthcare to get anything done, especially for those that are older, requires at least three follow-up phone calls—and during working hours—for every single thing. And then, if you're homebound, how do you orchestrate everything that needs to happen at home?”

Around this time, Medtronic started offering Wellthy as an employee benefit, so Bhatt tapped into the service and was introduced to Stephanie, a Wellthy care coordinator who has helped take on the administrative lift of Bhatt’s mother’s care.

“It was as if I had an additional person on my day job team that I could delegate to, to get some of this done so that I can get back to focusing on what everyone else is asking me during my day job,” Bhatt says.

The regained hours have been transformational for Bhatt, who says that she would have been “lost” navigating her mother’s care alone during Covid and could see an alternate reality without Wellthy in which she stepped out of the job market entirely.

“This was the first thing I saw in my experience that was set up to keep me [at work].” she says. “I may not have stayed, or who knows what would have happened. But I know for a fact that Wellthy is a big part of helping me stay and you can’t underestimate the power of that.”






Source: Forbes
Image Source: Getty Images