Patient adherence has been plaguing the healthcare system for years with non-compliant patients costing the healthcare system upwards of billions, if not more. Not only is it an economic problem, but it’s also a societal problem as patient outcomes for a number of chronic conditions is dismal due to non adherence. What’s one way to stop this – pay the patient through financial incentives to follow the prescribed treatment plans and protocols. Sitting at the center of this incentivization model is Brooklyn-based startup, Wellth. The DreamIt Health-accelerated company serves a number of health insurers, ACOs, and even life insurers to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and reduce readmissions through the use of motivation – in the form of money, facilitated by its app. Speaking of money, the company just raised its seed round from a number of marquis investors.
Today, we sit down with CEO and cofounder Matt Loper to discuss the new round of funding as well as the future of mHealth and the role that Wellth will play in this changing landscape.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised a $2M seed round led by AXA Strategic Ventures with participation from B-Fore Capital, I2BF Venture Capital, Beta Bridge Ventures and AltaIR Capital.
Tell us about your product or service.
Wellth works with insurers and risk bearing providers to create verifiable cost saving behavior changes in chronic disease patients through financial incentives and great user experiences
What sets you apart from competitors?
There has been a lot of investor and digital health focus on patient adherence over the past few years, but none of the solutions on the market solve the main underlying issue of low patient motivation. We leverage the growing base of financial incentives and behavioral economics research that has proven that you can actually influence patients’ choices and motivation with the right incentive structures. We also focus on creating tools and processes that are always helpful and painless to patients in their daily lives. Managing a chronic disease is a tough job and a lot of times, we see products that don’t try to understand and help the complexities of patient care and end up getting no adoption by end users.
What’s your business model?
We quantify the 12 month Return-on-Investment of running our incentive programs for our payer and risk-bearing provider up-front in a transparent way. In most cases, we shoot for 4x returns or better inclusive of our fees and all expected incentive payouts. We typically flat per user fees for our products and services that are a tiny fraction of the expected cost savings that we expect to generate.
Can you share some numbers? How many users do you have?
We recently completed a pilot with a large national health insurer in which we demonstrated greater than 50% improvements to daily oral medication check-in adherence in 114 type 2 diabetics.
Where do you see the company going from here?
We’re very excited by a number of opportunities we have in the pipeline. In the near term, we are trying to objectively prove our interventions across several disease states (Type 2 Diabetes, Congestive Heart Failure, Post Heart Attack Discharge, COPD, and Asthma) and measure our direct effect on adherence, biometrics, hospitalizations, readmissions, and utilization. Once we have this objective data on our outcomes, our long term goal is to scale to help as many patients achieve better health as possible.
Where do you see the mHealth industry going?
I think that the mHealth industry is still in the very early stages of maturity. Digital health has the ability to drastically improve the efficiency and quality of our healthcare system but in order to have a large scale impact, payers and providers have to become more open to innovation and evaluating new technologies in low risk implementations. Startups must adopt evidence-based practices and prove that they can objectively lower costs and improve outcomes.
How long are we from seeing modern mHealth technologies going mainstream?
What gets me excited is that there are so many enabling technologies that are drastically reducing the time, cost, and complexity of mHealth innovation. Cloud hosted HIPAA compliant backend services. Open source libraries. Services that integrate into EMRs. All of these products allow small companies to have a potentially big impact.
We don’t have a technology problem in our industry. We have a stakeholder problem. In order to see widespread adoption and impact of mHealth, we need all stakeholders to work together. Payers, Providers, EMR vendors, Pharma, startups all must work together in ways that foster new ways of thinking and doing business. We have to realize that potential failure is inherent to innovation and get out of our risk-adverse mindset as long as we are not putting patient health at risk. I think the movement is starting but we still have a long ways to go.