MIAMI, Nov. 4, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Papa, a curated platform of companionship and support for older adults, families, and other vulnerable populations, today announced a new round of funding to extend the reach and scale of Papa‘s innovative solution. The $150 million in Series D funding will help address social determinants of health, including loneliness and isolation, for older Americans and others who stand to benefit from companionship and everyday assistance. Through access to on-demand and at-home social support, those enrolling in Papa are less likely to need costly medical intervention and more able to live independent and healthy lives.
By using technology to match older adults and other appropriate members with vetted and trained companions, called “Papa Pals,” Papa meets needs that promote one‘s health, but are non-medical in nature — ranging from technology assistance, meal preparation, light housework, transportation, and, of course, social interaction. Papa recently partnered with Uber Health, Uber’s solution for health care organizations, to further ensure transportation is not a barrier to timely doctor visits or meaningful social experiences.
Increasingly, the health care industry, including insurers, is recognizing the value of non-traditional, yet clearly impactful approaches like Papa — those that enhance member experience, improve health outcomes, and reduce and ultimately eliminate determinants that disproportionately affect marginalized groups.
“On average, every two minutes in the United States a Papa Pal starts a companionship visit with a Papa member,” said Andrew Parker, founder and CEO of Papa. “That figure will dramatically increase when an additional 26 health plans start on January 1, and as more plans and employers add Papa over time. The collective physical, social, and emotional benefits of this companionship are vast, and the opportunity to reduce loneliness and to support health where it happens — at home — is boundless. This latest round of funding, along with an ever growing number of Papa clients, underscores the power of Papa‘s approach and, even more so, the power of human connection.”
Loneliness and social isolation have emerged as critical public health issues, particularly among older Americans. Surveys, conducted by Cigna using a research tool called the University of California Los Angeles Loneliness Scale, found loneliness increased among American adults during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2019, a staggering three in five Americans felt lonely, representing a sharp increase from 2018. Loneliness is directly impacting mental and physical health, including fueling substance abuse and men are more likely to be impacted by loneliness than women, Cigna found.
On average, Papa Pals reduce member loneliness by 68 percent; lonely people have been shown to use the hospital 60 percent more than others who don‘t self-identify as lonely.
COVID-19 brought to the forefront persistent loneliness and isolation among segments of America‘s population. A study on the impact of Papa during COVID-19, to be presented at the Gerontological Society of America conference on November 10, found that virtual Papa Pal companion visits improved loneliness status and were an “impactful and scalable tool for older adults who want to age at home and have limited social support, especially during the COVID landscape.” While Papa visits were effective during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, issues with loneliness or isolation are enduring.
“Loneliness amongst older adults is one of the largest public health challenges and creates a crushing human and economic cost,” said Lydia Jett, partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers and Papa director. “Against a backdrop of health care provider shortages and an ever growing understanding of social needs as health needs, Papa is using technology to create a new care force to provide companionship and support to those who need it most. We are thrilled to partner with Andrew and the Papa team to help older adults and families connect to vital social care.”
The funding is the latest marker in Papa‘s dramatic growth with the addition of more than 25 health plans in the last seven months, making Papa available to over 65 health plans. Since its 2017 founding, Papa and its Papa Pals can now serve members in all 50 states, across Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, and employer health plans. Papa also retained all customers from 2021 into 2022 as it continues to address loneliness and other factors that contribute to individual health. With a valuation of $1.4 billion, this funding round, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and with participation from TCG, Tiger Global Management, Canaan, Initialized Capital and Seven Seven Six, brings Papa‘s total funding to $240 million.
Papa and its Papa Pals platform provide “family on demand,” by working with Medicare, Medicaid, and employer-sponsored health plans to provide a companionship and care benefit for older adults and families. Founded in 2017 and headquartered in Miami, Papa is backed by Canaan, Tiger Global Management, Comcast Ventures, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, TCG, Initialized Capital, and Seven Seven Six, among other revered institutional and individual investors. For more information, visit papa.com.
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SOURCE Papa Inc.
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