Papa Inc. — the rapidly growing company that originally launched as a “grandkids-on-demand” platform to help curb senior isolation and loneliness — announced Tuesday it is rolling out a new virtual care platform known as “Papa Health.” The news marks the latest development for the Comcast Ventures-backed startup.
Currently, Miami-based Papa is a membership-based platform that mostly connects college students — or “Papa Pals” — and older adults. The goal of that connection is to provide companionship and general assistance, including transportation services and similar task-based help, in turn lowering the odds of hospitalizations and other negative health events.
With the launch of Papa Health, the company expands its services to include health management. This means virtual primary care, urgent care and chronic care management through the Papa platform.
The new services are building on and enhancing the company’s current capabilities, Papa founder and CEO Andrew Parker told Home Health Care News. Thanks to the rollout, Papa will now be a mix or social and clinical services to address the holistic needs of its members.
“Papa historically has provided — and still very much so does, as our core products — companionship and support to older adults and families through health plans,” Parker said. “With Papa Health, we’re now able to continue our mission of supporting older adults and families throughout the aging journey, by not only providing them curated companionship but also curated care.”
“Curated care” is something many aging services operators are trying to advance. Despite progress in breaking down care silos across the continuum, senior care is often still too fragmented.
Through Papa Health, members will be able to connect virtually with “Papa Docs” for appointments. Papa Docs are part of a network of board-certified and licensed clinicians that include MDs, nurse practitioners and behavioral health providers, put together by Papa’s chief medical officer, Dr. Ford Brewer.
Papa Docs can, for example, provide care plans or prescribe medicine. Papa Pals are also in the mix, to do things like help navigate appointments, provide transportation or help with care facilitation.
“If [members] need a lab test, for example, a Papa Pal will go and pick the member and take them to get the lab tests,” Parker said. “When the test is uploaded to the internet and onto our platform, the member will be able to have a review of that lab with the doctor. We’re launching Papa Health as a foundation of our products so that we support members socially and clinically.”
This isn’t Papa’s first time supplementing its core services.
Amid the COVID-19 emergency, Papa launched “Assistance from a Distance,” a virtual platform that enables Papa Pals and seniors to connect during quarantines and stay-at-home periods. Papa Health is a natural progression of Assistance from a Distance, according to Parker.
“Our platform, which has always been HIPAA-compliant and secure, can effectively provide virtual and in-person services, whether it be companionship or Papa Docs,” he said. “We see virtual as a very important component, but we also see in person as an important component. Through our platform, we’re able to support members with all of those modalities. Sometimes they need to go to the doctor, sometimes their blood needs to be drawn, so it’s a really flexible configurable experience for the varying needs of the members.”
Papa’s latest move shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have been paying close attention to the company, financially backed by Magnify Ventures, Canaan Partners, Initialized Capital and several others in addition to Comcast.
At the beginning of the year, Papa threw its efforts behind revamping the company’s brand. The aim was to move away from its “grandkids-on-demand” branding to the more all-encompassing “family-on-demand” label. This was a move that Parker made with an eye toward future opportunities.
Over the past few years, the company has also raised more than $31 million in funding while forming partnerships with health sector giants, such as Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) and Aetna, a CVS Health company (NYSE: CVS).
For now, the company remains focused on the launch of Papa Health and what it means going forward.
“A big focus of mine right now is that we’re launching this particular product,” Parker said. “It’s a significant undertaking and incorporates capturing data from the health plans improving the lives of their members. It’s a pretty big initiative.”
Papa is planning to be in all 50 states by January 2021, according to the company.