Twentyeight Health Announces $8.3 Million In Funding, Making Health Care More Accessible To BIPOC And Underserved Communities
When Amy Fan’s family immigrated from Taiwan to Canada in 1996, times were tough, and jobs were hard to come by. However, they found solace in Canada’s universal healthcare system, which provided them with all the medical care their family needed, from routine vaccinations to urgent medical attention.
After completing her undergraduate degree, working for three years at Bain’s Canadian headquarters, and moving to the U.S. in 2014 to lead a skincare company, Fan fully realized the vast differences in healthcare access. Upon meeting Bruno Van Tuykom, who previously worked for the Gates Foundation, they started the telemedicine company Twentyeight Health in 2018. The company aims to increase access to healthcare for underprivileged communities by providing telemedicine services of the highest standard, making it convenient for patients to receive care in the comfort of their homes, and facilitating seamless coordination of medical care.
“Deciding to build Twentyeight Health and turning down the offer to return to consulting after business school was a big risk for me. It’s a story that resonates with immigrant founders – we often carry the financial burden for our extended families. Fortunately, my family encouraged me to follow my passion—ensuring that all women, particularly BIPOC women, and women from low-income backgrounds, can access high-quality, dignified, and convenient sexual and reproductive healthcare,” she shares with me in an interview.
The Potential Of Telehealth
While telehealth has incredible potential to improve healthcare for all, current data from both Rock Health and the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, shows that, in the U.S., it is used primarily by wealthier Americans living in urban areas. Twentyeight Health is defying this trend as the first women’s virtual healthcare platform supporting the full spectrum of patients, focusing on inclusive care for medically underserved groups including lower-income individuals and communities of color. It sets itself apart by being one of the few telemedicine providers that accept Medicaid and partners with culturally competent physicians. Additionally, their platform is available in both English and Spanish (making the platform accessible for over 40 million native Spanish speakers in the U.S.), further supporting their commitment to inclusivity and accessibility. Over the last two years, the company has expanded across the U.S. — growing from six to 34 states and covering more than 85% of women of reproductive age.
Its latest funding round (Pre-Series A) is in the amount of $8.3 million and includes multiple mission-driven funds such as RH Capital, Seae Ventures, Impact Engine, Acumen America, Stardust Equity, Gratitude Railroad, California Health Care Foundation, Penn Medicine-Wharton Fund for Health, and Great Oaks Venture Capital, and strategic angel investors including Andrey Ostrovsky, former Chief Medical Officer of US Medicaid Program and Elina Onitskansky, former SVP & Head of Strategy at Molina. Many of Twentyeight Health’s previous investors also participated in the round, including SteelSky Ventures, Third Prime, Town Hall Ventures, GingerBread Capital, and Algaé Ventures.
So far, Fan, Van Tuykom, and their team have helped over 60,000 individuals access women’s healthcare services, and its user base continues to grow each month. Van Tuykom shares how 55% of its users are enrolled in Medicaid, 58% identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color (BIPOC) and 60% reside in non-urban areas. “A whopping 63% of our birth control users did not have access to birth control prescriptions before using Twentyeight Health’s services”, Van Tuykom adds.
Highlighting the significant impact that the company is making in the field of telehealth, particularly in terms of providing access to healthcare for underserved communities, the endorsement from Andrey Ostrovsky, a former Chief Medical Officer of the U.S. Medicaid Program, underscores the company’s commitment to addressing the healthcare needs of low-income individuals and communities of color. “As a board-certified physician still practicing and with a lot of Medicaid experience, I love how much Twentyeight Health is focused and designed for underserved communities. The focus on expanding access, improving health outcomes, and reducing costs is a testament to the company’s mission to improve healthcare for everyone,” said Ostrovsky.
The Right To Obtain Contraception
Although the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill guaranteeing the right to contraception in July 2022, access to sexual and reproductive care is desperately needed in the United States, with many women facing barriers to obtaining contraception. Today in the U.S., 19 million women of reproductive age are in need of publicly funded contraception and live in areas with limited access to it. Additionally, low-income women are three times more likely to experience unintended pregnancy, and many physicians are not accepting new Medicaid patients.
To uninsured women in need, the platform offers free birth control through a partnership with the Contraceptive Access Fund of Bedsider – an online birth control support network operated by Power to Decide, the campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy. “Additionally, we donate 2% of our revenues to organizations such as the National Institute for Reproductive Health.”
In the United States, healthcare education is limited, with only 13 states mandating sex education programs to be medically accurate. Through customer interviews, Fan learned that many women turn to organizations they trust, such as community-based organizations, for healthcare information. “So to further our mission of improving access to reproductive healthcare, we are excited to announce our plans to expand our partnerships with like-minded nonprofits that share our goal of increasing access to care. In addition to expanding our services and footprint, we will also aim to use this new funding to continue to improve the quality of our telehealth services,” concludes Fan.