General Catalyst launches at-home startup amid economic uncertainty

General Catalyst is launching a digital health startup with a $25 million investment, betting that demand for at-home care outweighs the challenging macroeconomic environment. 

The startup, called Maribel, will be led by former Mission Health CEO Dr. Ron Paulus and former Bayada Home Healthcare Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adam Groff. 

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The digital health funding landscape has been relatively quiet this year. The collapse of popular digital health institution Silicon Valley Bank Friday may lead to an even more difficult funding climate. But Paulus, who serves as an advisor at General Catalyst, said he is confident in starting up a digital health company in challenging economic times because of the venture capital firm.

“One of the beauties of having General Catalyst as a partner is they can be a long-term capital funder and invest across multiple stages,” Paulus said Wednesday.  

Maribel is the fifth company General Catalyst has created through its own developer program. The others are Livongo, Commure, Kayak and Homeward.    

Maribel will provide a tech platform and advisory services to health systems offering complex care services in the home. “We can meet health systems where they are and support them, either in a turnkey way where we develop and operate the program or in a supportive way from an advisory services perspective,” Paulus said. 

Maribel will be paid largely through performance-based clinical and financial outcomes within these at-home care programs, Paulus said. The company will use the $25 million to develop the tech platform, hire employees and grow service offerings with Maribel’s initial partners. 

Those partners are Moorestown, New Jersey-based home health company Bayada and St. Louis-based health system Mercy Health. Bayada CEO David Baiada said the home healthcare provider wants to expand its ability to provide acute-level care in the home. 

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With Mercy, a 25-hospital system, Maribel will develop a hospital-at-home program with a potential capacity of 200 participants. 

Paulus said its partnerships won’t be limited to hospital-at-home programs.

“I wouldn’t want to be just the hospital-at-home company because that’s too limiting,” Paulus said. “It ignores the broad range of services that can be provided in the home community… our vision is much broader and [can achieve] sustainability, which is a lower-cost, higher-quality, better satisfaction side of care that’s part of an overall risk platform.”

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a public health emergency waiver in November 2020 to establish a program where home hospital Medicare payment matches inpatient stays. In December, those payment flexibilities were extended until the end of 2024 through the $1.7 trillion spending bill.  Beyond 2024, it’s unclear how hospital-at-home programs will be reimbursed through Medicare although Paulus suggested they could be contracted as value-added clinical services. 

Paulus said he will continue as an advisor at General Catalyst but devote most of his time to Maribel. After leading Mission Health for nine years, Paulus joined General Catalyst in October 2019. He was one of the first of many notable CEOs to join General Catalyst including former Intermountain CEO Dr. Marc Harrison in August and former Jefferson Health CEO Dr. Stephen Klasko.

This story first appeared in Digital Health Business & Technology.

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