Vitable Is A Philadelphia Startup Bringing Health Insurance To Workers
Isadora Teich wrote this article
It is no secret that the way healthcare is structured in the US leaves many Americans with no care at all. This has led to many entrepreneurs trying to innovate in this area.
Many companies want to fill in the gaps with healthcare technology. One such company is Vitable LLC, founded by Delaware County resident Joseph Kitonga.
Let’s take a look at what Kitonga’s Vitable LLC and other companies have accomplished thus far.
What Does Vitable Do?
Vitable is a Philadelphia-based primary care startup that aims to bring healthcare to hourly workers that lack health insurance. It already has more than 10,000 clients in both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Delaware.
The company already has quite strong reviews from users across a range of industries. This includes workers in the restaurant, child care, and home care industries. They say Vitable offers high-quality care in a convenient manner.
The company accomplishes this by selling virtual and in-person primary and urgent care services to small businesses which have hourly employees. This costs businesses roughly $50 a month per employee. However, due to medicare rules, Vitable is not available for people older than 65.
How Does It Work?
The backbone of the company is a software system that Kitonga and his employees created. It allows the company to have full control of the complete experience.
This includes an app for members, an electronic medical record of visits, and also a dashboard for employers.
Users can reach Vitable by phone, email, or a smartphone app. After that first contact, Vitable’s algorithms react to suit individual users and shape their experience. Patients get routed to the most appropriate care setting.
The company also hires nurse practitioners as independent contractors. They notify vitable of their availability in two-week blocks and choose their own hours.
The Founding of Vitable
Founder Joseph Kitonga emigrated to the US at age 13 from Kenya with his family. Kitonga founded Vitable in 2019 while studying computer engineering at Pennsylvania State University.
2021 was a year of huge success for both Kitonga and Vitable.
Last year, Vitable went through the world-famous Silicon Valley tech startup accelerator Y-combinator. Kitonga also won a fellowship from Peter Thiel’s foundation. The fellowship grants winners $100,000 over two years to young entrepreneurs who skip college or drop out to build a business.
Kitonga actually dropped out of Penn State in January of 2020. He also turned down an offer as a software engineer at Microsoft to focus on his own company.
Kitonga says that Vitable was inspired by the trials of employees at his parent’s Delaware County company, Hosana Home Health Care. He told The Philadelphia Inquirer:
“At their small business, hourly workers made too much to qualify for Medicaid, too little to afford comprehensive health insurance, so they were stuck uninsured and overutilizing the ER. Vitable is built to be their primary-care plan that is both affordable and accessible.”
The Real Problem They Tackle
Overutilization of the ER essentially means that people with minor issues wait until their life may be at risk to seek healthcare because they cannot afford it.
One Vitable client, Somerset Academy, a small childcare center and preschool in Philadelphia, has used the service to provide health care to their 22-person staff. A preschool teacher at Somerset said:
“That’s what I like. Anytime I have an issue or a problem, they’re always prompt, always call, and they even check back later. I like that.”
Vitable In 2022
Since the start of 2022, Vitable has attracted a $1.6 million investment led by Softbank’s opportunity fund.
In October of last year, the startup also received $7.2 million in venture capital to focus on expansion. Kitonga says that Vitable will expand into Baltimore this year.
As of now, the company employs about two dozen people and uses about 50 nurse practitioners as independent contractors. These nurses provide care for Vitable. It fills an interesting gap in the US healthcare market.
According to Kitonga, the majority of primary care startups are designed for the employees of large companies. These people already have access to good healthcare services.
“That is obviously the most profitable segment of the market, but they left the long tail of the market, small businesses, the hourly workers completely underserved. For me, that’s where the interest lay, where I wanted to build this service for my parents and their employees. I think that’s where the problem is yet to be solved.”
A Space Desparate For Innovation
Entrepreneurs in tech are working to fill the gaps in US healthcare across the US. One such company is Pair Team, which was co-founded by Cassie Choi. After seeing how the bureaucracy within healthcare was failing patients in California, she sought to fix the problem.
Pair Team provides remote care and technology to underserved communities. Their goal is to simplify healthcare for everyone involved in health care: patients, providers, and administrators.
As well as startups, large corporations are also getting involved. CVS is planning to have primary care Healthhubs in their stores nationwide. Amazon is even throwing their hat into the ring with Amazon Care. Users can connect with clinicians virtually at any time and even schedule in-person follow-up visits.
Kitonga is a young Philly-area tech entrepreneur who has already accomplished a lot with Vitable. However, he is not the only one innovating in this space. Both large corporations and small startups are doing many things to address the gaps in US healthcare.
Ultimately, we can see in Vitable what truly creates a successful and valuable startup. Kitonga had intimate knowledge of a problem due to his own personal experiences. From that, he moved forward to solve it using technology.
As Vitable grows and continues to succeed, possibly thousands upon thousands of more working people will have healthcare access than before. This is truly a situation where both the business and its consumers win.
There is a lot of room to innovate in both healthcare and healthcare tech. Last year, many healthcare apps came under fire for being less than secure. When it comes to the services provided and tech itself, innovation from bold young companies is incredibly necessary.
What do you think about the rise of healthcare tech startups?
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