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GroundGame, SameSky Health merge with $17M for underserved populations

Animated illustration of an equals sign morphing into a health plus.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

GroundGame.Health, a startup linking community-based organizations with health plans and providers, raised $17 million and merged with patient engagement company SameSky Health.

Why it matters: Two rocky financial years have focused investor attention on the roughly $93 billion in excess care costs tied to health disparities — a gap in care GroundGame aims to close.

Zoom in: 7wire Ventures led the Series A. Health insurer and existing GroundGame investor Elevance Health also participated.

How it works: Based in North Hollywood, California, and launched in 2017, SameSky Health provides patient engagement tools to help health plans boost outcomes. The company had raised about $30 million to date, per PitchBook.

  • Based in Tampa, Florida, and launched in 2022, GroundGame links patients, managed care organizations (MCOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs).

Between the lines: The combined company's leaders envision shoring up each entity's strengths in using patient engagement to improve health care outcomes while offering "last mile" services such as food delivery and health care literacy.

  • Patients receive personalized outreach, assessments and action plans while payers and providers get tools for outcomes tracking, claims and billing.

Context: Racial health disparities exist in every U.S. state, per a recent Commonwealth Fund report.

  • Black and Native Americans are much likelier to die early from preventable illnesses than their white and Asian counterparts.
  • Unequal access to primary care and to comprehensive health insurance help perpetuate racial health disparities.

The big picture: Health inequities have revealed some improvement areas for investors, startup builders and other industry players, per a recent Rock Health report. They include:

  • Facilitating adoption and trust among overlooked population groups by designing for the end user.
  • Promoting responsible design practices by being mindful of digital fluency and tech barriers and considering safety profiles.
  • Expanding growth opportunities for digital health businesses that reach overlooked and underserved consumers.

Flashback: The 2020 murder of George Floyd helped increase calls for equity and inclusion in areas including health care, and in the years following, several companies focused on health equality raised fresh funding.

  • Health data analytics company Socially Determined in 2022 closed a $26 million Series B led by Questa Capital.
  • Zócalo Health, a virtual care service for Latino patients, in 2022 raised $5 million in a seed round led by Animo, Virtue and Vamos Ventures.
  • Unite Us, which helps connect people to social services, in 2021 raised a $150 million Series C led by Iconiq Growth.

Yes, but: The space has been quieter in recent months.

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