As a mother of two young boys, Ellen Da Silva said she and other parents in the US feel “in general, they feel quite underserved by the existing pediatric care infrastructure.” She and her husband have waited hours in the emergency room to get answers to simple questions about their children’s health, and sometimes waited days for their pediatrician to call back.
This cycle of anxious strife is why she and co-founder Matthew Wu launched Summer health last week. They created the New York-based startup that delivers pediatric care via text message to move closer to achieving their vision: for every American to have a phone number in their pocket that they can text to get medical help in within 15 minutes.
After working at Barclays and Twitter, DaSilva became the eighth employee at His and hers in 2018, serving first as the telehealth company’s director of business development and later as head of strategic partnerships. She left the company last year with a clear understanding of the telehealth industry and saw a ripe need for pediatric care to be digitized, she said in an interview.
The six other full-time employees who work at Summer Health also have expertise in health care and technology—they come from a range of companies spanning from Uber to Boston Children’s Hospital to Microsoft.
Together, the team built a platform that connects parents with licensed pediatricians within 15 minutes via text message. Usually, when parents notice a potential medical problem in their child, they either go down a rabbit hole of Googling information that doesn’t give them peace of mind, or they go to their pediatrician’s office, who is probably understaffed and unable to answer in in due course, according to DaSilva.
She said Summer Health’s mission is to simplify that process by giving parents a more timely opportunity to get answers to questions about their children’s health. When he came up with the startup’s name, DaSilva “was thinking about words that mean happiness and evoke good feelings, making people want to embrace it instead of trudging through what we call ‘health care winter.'”
Parents can use the platform to respond to urgent needs, such as sending a pediatrician a photo of a new rash their child has developed and asking if they should be concerned. They can also use the platform to help keep up with their children’s developmental needs. For example, parents may ask clinicians for advice on their toddler’s sleep regression or guidance on their adolescent’s mood swings.
Summer Health doesn’t disclose the number of pediatricians currently on its platform, but DaSilva said the startup is facing “overwhelming demand” for pediatricians who want to join the platform, so much so that it has created a waiting list. She said the company will continue to grow its reach by including these clinicians, paying particular attention to their geographic diversity and the quality of their clinical experience.
In its efforts to continue its growth, the company has collected $7.5 seed capital from famous investors. The family circle was led by Alfred Lynn Sequoia Capital and Deena Shakir c Lux Capital. It also involved Chelsea Clinton’s Metrodora Ventures, Box Group, Coalition Partners, Shrug Capital and Springbank Collective.
Summer Health will use this funding to expand its employee base and the number of pediatricians on its platform so that more parents can access its texting services.
“Something I got a chance to see during my time at Twitter was the desire for immediacy and having information at your fingertips,” Da Silva said. “And a big part of pediatric care is making sure parents have peace of mind with reliable sources of information.” There are a lot of messaging-based products that are bot-based or AI-based, but we’ve learned that’s not really what parents want for their childcare.”
Summer Health is currently available nationwide as a public beta program. Its services cost $20 per month.
Image source: Summer Health