Karuna Health

A software platform maker that automates common care-management tasks so that care providers can better serve patients.

$1.3 million

The year before leaving his home in Cape Town, South Africa, for Harvard, Joe Kahn got sick. "I was on my back for about a month," says Kahn, who has never been satisfactorily diagnosed. "I never really got better." He went to Harvard anyway, and found himself bounced around the U.S. health care system, unable to get answers. Feeling frustrated and isolated, Kahn realized that millions of people were even less equipped to navigate such complexity. He and Yasyf Mohamedali, an MIT student, raised $1.3 million from First Round Capital to launch Karuna Health, in San Francisco. The platform is used by patient-care managers--who may be employed by social service agencies, community-based organizations, and others that work with Medicaid recipients--to help those coping with educational, financial, social, or logistical barriers to health care. All patient communications--scheduling appointments, arranging transportation for appointments, checking on worrisome symptoms--take place through the platform. Patients can send and receive messages through any media, including SMS, email, text, phone, and WhatsApp. "For the care team, it is like a shared inbox to manage every single touch point with patients," says Kahn. "For the patient, it is like texting a friend." --Leigh Buchanan