Health tech startup Cityblock Health, with its mission of delivering stepped-up primary care to Medicaid patients, is finding its footing in the very cracks that the Covid-19 pandemic has exposed. It’s leveraging its signature technology to help this highly marginalized population.
“It’s very telling here that up until before the pandemic, there was a real unspoken belief that you couldn’t [digitally] engage low-income folks, folks who don’t have smartphones readily available, folks who don’t have money for big unlimited data packages,” Cityblock’s co-founder and chief health officer Toyin Ajayi said during a Wednesday panel at STAT’s Health Tech Summit. “Very, very few folks are really engaging in the hard work of designing tools that bridge the digital divide … and from the outset, we saw a lot of potential here.”
The basic idea behind Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Cityblock, which was launched more than three years ago and carries a billion-dollar valuation, is not new: To keep patients healthy and out of the hospital — and cut costs — care is delivered by a coordinated team of providers that includes not only health professionals such as physicians and nurses, but also social workers who can help identify other factors that play a role in a person’s health, such as housing, education, and income.