Empathy, a startup that develops applications to support bereavement care, has secured $13 million in seed money to grow its newly launched technology platform. Empathy received the funds from venture capital firms General Catalyst and Aleph.
Hospice providers nationwide have had to reassess how they provide bereavement care due to the need for social distancing during the ongoing pandemic. With few other options, many are turning to systems such as telehealth to support grieving families.
The Empathy application is designed to help families navigate the logistical aspects of bereavement, including documentation, funeral or memorial arrangements, validating a will and other necessary tasks.
“The end-of-life industry is a large sector that has been untouched by the wave of digital transformation occurring in every other industry,” said Joel Cutler, co-founder and managing director at General Catalyst. “Empathy is unique in that it addresses both the emotional and logistical anguish of loss.”
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requires hospice providers to offer bereavement counseling for a minimum of 13 months following a patient’s death, but hospices often make grief care available to everyone in the community.
Hospices have had to cancel in-person counseling sessions, meetings with families as well as support groups and other services to avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus. These necessary restrictions come at a time in which many families in addition to their grief are coping with increased anxiety, depression, loneliness and isolation as the outbreak continues.
Families can spend more than 500 hours in the weeks following a loved one’s death to address administrative, legal and financial concerns, including account cancellations, estate administration, and insurance claims, according to a statement by Empathy. The application is designed to help manage and streamline these activities.
“Logistics are made hard by grief, and grief is made harder by logistics,” Ron Gura, co-founder & CEO of Empathy. “Software can and will play a huge role in helping families deal with loss and will hopefully drive a much needed change in the industry at large.”