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ZoCalo Health, a startup by Latinos for Latinos raises $5M seed to deliver virtual primary care

The Driver:

ZoCalo Health is a virtual primary care startup focusing on culturally appropriate care for Latino patients now starting in California, Texas, and Washington. ZoCalo’s seed funding was led by Animo Ventures, Vamos Ventures, and Virtue Ventures. This round also included support from Able Partners and Necessary Ventures. ZoCalo plans to focus on developing affordable and accessible primary care for the Latino population since culturally appropriate care is not one size fits all.

Key Takeaways:

  • While Latinos make up almost 20% of the U.S. population per the U.S. Census, startup funding for Hispanics represents 2 percent of the total startup investments per Business Wire.

  • Almost 30% of Latinos in the U.S. lack health insurance according to The State of Health Among Hispanics in the United States in 2022 report.

  • 44% of Hispanics believe language and cultural differences drive poor health outcomes compared to other races due to their inability to properly navigate the medical system based on data from the Pew Research Center.

  • COVID, heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death for Latinos in the U.S. according to the State of Health among Hispanics in the United States in 2022 report.

The Story:

ZoCalo Health was developed by Mariza Hardin and Erik Cardenas former Amazon Care employees who felt that individualized healthcare for Latinos like themselves was not being properly addressed. Hardin had personal experience with this herself, noting how difficult it was for her own parents and grandparents to navigate visits especially when it came to filling out forms during their appointments. As an adult, she later found herself having the same experience while at Amazon Care and wanted to do something to improve the experience. Cardenas saw the development of a large and growing Latino community and envisioned an opportunity to develop customized healthcare fit for Latinos by Latinos that didn’t have to rely on safety net services (ex: free clinics, charity care organizations, public hospitals, community, and migrant health centers). ZoCalo’s mission is to create a virtual primary care service that is cost-effective and accessible for Latinos offering health education, proper resources, and culturally tied medical care while literally and figuratively speaking the language of the community.

The Differentiator:

ZoCalo Health strives to address the needs of the Latino community by offering traditional healthcare through partnering with a team of dedicated doctors, nurses, community health workers, care navigators, and mental health providers. ZoCalo has annual or monthly membership plans that allows patients to receive their own community health worker (Promotora De Salud) who will be a guide that is there to help patients or their families navigate the healthcare system with any questions or healthcare needs. According to the company, research has demonstrated that community health workers can be crucial to connecting health systems with patients and achieving successful outcomes as the community health workers are able to connect patients to local resources and care.

Under ZoCalo’s model patients will also be able to obtain same-day or next-day virtual appointments as well as the aforementioned care coordination services. ZoCalo will provide patients with bilingual personal health guides to help connect patients to resources and allow them to access healthcare professionals that can deliver culturally appropriate care given the impact that culture and lifestyle can have on health history.

Originally founded in Seattle ZoCalo is expanding to California, Texas, and Washington. Plans and pricing range from Individual membership plans starting at $40 a month or a discounted annual membership plan starting at $420 paid in advance. Patients will receive 12 visits a year and have access to the community health worker if needed. ZoCalo Health also offers free consultations to demonstrate its model to potential patients and illustrate how it will cater to their needs

The Big Picture:

ZoCalo Health wants to connect with the Latino population which is over 62 million and counting. The health company's focus was to introduce to Latinos an individualized, customized, and new and improved upon style of care that knows how to serve the population by focusing on what they are familiar with which is a focus on health that reflects culture, trust, and community. This is particularly important as the Hispanic community tends to have poor access and outcomes. For example, according to a Pew Research Center, only 70% of Hispanic adults said they'd seen a doctor or other healthcare provider in the past year, compared to 82% of all U.S. adults. The situation is even worse for immigrants, many of whom may have concerns over status and potential legal difficulties. The study found that for those who had lived in the U.S. for 10 years or less, just over one-half (55%) said they'd seen a provider within the past year. Through services like ZoCalo providers can help overcome this difference in care by getting to know the core needs of their patients and properly helping and connecting them. Through the use of community health workers clinicians are able to establish trust, longevity, and sustainability all of which will improve access, quality and outcome over time.


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