In Good Companies, Volume IV

Working at an insurance brokerage and consulting firm, I have the privilege of learning about some very innovative companies who work with clients at the firm.  I also do quite a bit of research myself on various healthcare companies – it only helps me to do my job better.  Some of what you’re reading below is research I’ve gathered on my own.

With that said, I thought it would be sort of neat to highlight some of these companies in a piece I’m calling “In Good Companies”. You’re currently in the midst of Volume IV!

Here are a few in no particular order. If my blog does not do them justice, check them out for yourselves!

ReInforced Care – Hospital re-admissions are a real problem in healthcare. In fact, the website for ReInforced Care shares some date from the New England Journal of Medicine, namely that 25% of all discharged patients are re-admitted within 30 days.  Not good. The reasons for this range from lack of a support system to not having a PCP to manage care.  ReInforced Care helps reduce admissions through a number of means – assistance with scheduling appointments and finding a PCP, communications to assure appointments are kept and medicine is filled/taken, and patient education around the discharge plan.  With ACOs looming on the horizon, this organization is poised to really impact healthcare in a positive and meaningful way.

Audax Health – Have you ever tried putting together a complex puzzle without seeing what the finished product is supposed to look like?  It ain’t easy.  And I’d kind of like to think this metaphor works for our healthcare puzzle here in the U.S. How’d you like to have something to help connect the dots?  Audax Health is the child of gaming and social media, not healthcare. But the principles that drive it are directly applicable to healthcare. It helps connect the dots between formal healthcare, lifestyle choices and disease prevention. By taking popular trends in gaming and social media (sites like Facebook and Linked In), individuals are educated on their health status, diseases, and lifestyle choices that directly impact health.  The result – better health.  In a cool, hip fashion no less! (Do the kids still say “cool” and “hip”?)

Health Leads – Nothing compares to the heart of a volunteer.  And now, nothing compares to the health impact that the volunteers at Health Leads have on the individuals, children, and families who work with Health Leads.  I recently blogged about Atul Gawande’s Hot Spotters and how Joseph Brenner lead a city-changing approach to healthcare that extended far beyond the care received in the hospital or doctor’s office.  Health Leads is taking a similar approach. Rather than write about it myself, I’m going to take a quote off their website from one of their former college student volunteers, Mia Lozada, now a resident at the University of California-San Francisco: “My classmates think you write a prescription, and you’re done. I ask, can the patient read the prescription? Does she have health insurance to fill it? Does she need transportation to the pharmacy? Does she have food at home to take with the prescription?” By addressing the questions Mia poses here, Health Leads is able to make an impact. Read more about them. And donate if you can, because they’re doing great things.

Extend Health – If you think commercial health plans are complicated, take a look at Medicare and all of the Medicare supplement plans. Now put yourself in the position of a Human Resources executive working with their company’s retiree population.  In addition to worrying about each of the employees, spouses and dependents enrolled in the commercial plans offered by the employer, they need to get up to speed on Medicare (Parts A through Z) as well as the Medicare Advantage plans that are out there in each state. Sounds like a lot to manage? Well then let Extend Health lend a hand.  Their Medicare Exchange allows an employer to outsource this portion of the business which is good for a number of reasons: 1) the retiree typically gets a better individual rate than through any sort of group plan sponsored by the employer, 2) Extend Health has specialists that spend as much time as is required to assist the retiree in choosing the right plan, and 3) the HR exec can focus attention elsewhere.  Sounds like a good idea?  I think so.

FairCareMD – You’ve heard of all those sites that let you shop for the best rate or bid on whatever trinket or electronic device you want.  How about applying that idea to healthcare?  FairCareMD is the first Open Healthcare Network that exists to remove some of the “unfairness” in healthcare and allows professionals such as doctors and dentists to compete for market share on prices they negotiate with their patients.  These patients are paying out-of-pocket and agree to the pricing and the doctor without having to worry about getting confusing EOBs from their insurance companies.  Once again, the insurance company is being removed from the equation.  Good idea?  With over 238,000 care searches to date, I’d say the idea is catching on.

That does it for another edition of In Good Companies.  If you know of an innovative health company, let me know!  You might just see it in Volume V!  And if you enjoyed this post, check out some of the companies I’ve showcased in previous volumes of In Good Companies!

[Disclaimer: I am not receiving any compensation or bonus from any of these companies to do this. This isn’t an endorsement of these companies based on personal or professional experience.  I do not speak for my employer.  This post does not influence client placement or recommendations to clients. I just think it is neat to showcase some great minds and great companies at work.]

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In Good Companies, Volume III

Working at an insurance brokerage and consulting firm, I have the privilege of seeing some very innovative companies who work with clients at the firm.  I also do quite a bit of research myself on various health care companies – it only helps me to do my job better.  Some of what you’re reading below is research I’ve gathered on my own.

With that said, I thought it would be sort of neat to highlight some of these companies in a piece I’m calling “In Good Companies”. You’re currently in the midst of Volume III!

Here are a few in no particular order. If my blog does not do them justice, check them out for yourselves!

Sermo – Two docs are better than one.  What about 120,000 docs? With all of the treatment variation in healthcare today, why not have physicians collaborate in a community just for them?  Enter Sermo.  68 Specialties? Check.  All 50 states?  Check.  With the philosophy “no one physician is as knowledgeable as physicians working together” this community of doctors share information and collaborate using the organization’s real-time communications portal that also verifies credentials. In an age when two docs right down the hall from one another may not even chat about the same patient that they both saw that day, Sermo is a welcomed guest to the way healthcare is sometimes done, but shouldn’t be.  Social media + Medicine/Docs = Sermo.

Silverlink Communications – How do you influence behaviors?  How do you get people to make better decisions regarding their own health? With nudges – small but meaningful changes in behavior.  And what results from better decisions?  Why, lower costs and improved health!  With consumers at the heart of health care utilization, organizations such as health plans and disease management vendors are desperately seeking ways to get individual patients to take better care of themselves…get a check up, get a flu shot, take their meds…Silverlink provides a unique “test and learn” technology backed by mounds of data analytics to provide targeted communications (phone, text, etc) for each individual consumer – senior citizen, a person with a chronic illness, a healthy person.  And I think they’re just scratching the surface with regards to their market.  Do you think employers would love something like this?  I do.

The Vitality Group – There are lots of wellness companies out there. There is only one group like The Vitality Group.  At least that I know of.  [In the interest of disclosure, there are a whole lot of wellness companies I haven’t researched.]  By offering a health enhancement solution backed by clinical, behavioral and actuarial science, The Vitality Group stands out.  Using their network of vendors and tying incentives to targeted activities, employers utilizing this solution help their employees understand their health status and take meaningful steps to make positive change resulting in healthier behaviors.  And how do they help their clients achieve the best ROI?  With “100% verifiable activities”. This is something I haven’t heard from other wellness companies. If you want to know which activities are verifiable…check out their website or give them a call.

Vitality – On the vitality theme, I figured I couldn’t leave out this gem.  In order to solve the billion dollar medical adherence problem, some MIT folks figured a simple but incredibly effective way to target this problem.  A flashing pill cover.  Yes, that’s it. Glow cover with lights and sound.  Sometimes the most simple approach is the best approach. Those on prescription meds are reminded to take them. Loved ones rest easier knowing they don’t have to worry as much about mom or dad forgetting to take their meds. Good Morning America, Today, and The New York Times have all featured this company and their product. And Dr. Oz says, “I love this product.”  Well…that’s all I need to hear. I’m sold! And for those who aren’t, this product isn’t just a flashing pill cover.  It not only alerts the patient to take their meds, but it sends a weekly alerts to a selected member of the patient’s social circle to alert them of compliance. It re-orders the prescription from pharmacy when it is running low.  And for those who stick to the regimen, the product sends a printed report with incentives to both the patient and the doctor. Sounds like something you should have thought of but didn’t?  Yeah…me too.

WEGO Health – Where do the top 10% of online health social media go to connect? WEGO Health, of course!  In order to help health advocates continue to do what they’re doing and to expand the reach to help others, WEGO Health exists.  Sometimes others say it better than you ever could, so here it is, straight from the horse’s mouth…and by that I mean WEGO’s website:  If online health communities are an unruly high school, then Health Activists are its dedicated teachers – and WEGO Health is the teacher’s lounge. We help leaders to come together, to learn from each other, and to go back to their classrooms better at their craft. There you have it.  Now go check them out.  And please be nice to any substitute teachers.  Aw, who am I kidding…torture away. Because you know you were going to do it anyways…

That does it for another edition of In Good Companies.  If you know of an innovative health company, let me know!  You might just see it in Volume IV!

[Disclaimer: I am not receiving any compensation or bonus from any of these companies to do this. This isn’t an endorsement of these companies based on personal or professional experience.  I do not speak for my employer.  This post does not influence client placement or recommendations to clients. I just think it is neat to showcase some great minds and great companies at work.]

In Good Companies, Volume II

Working at an insurance brokerage and consulting firm, I have the privilege of seeing some very innovative companies who work with clients at the firm.  I also do quite a bit of research myself on various health care companies – it only helps me to do my job as a client advocate better.  In addition, I’m a bit of a healthcare geek…I know…shocking.  I actually find this stuff fascinating.  Some, if not most, of what you’re about to read below is information I’ve gathered on my own (meaning independent of my work).

With that said, I thought it would be sort of neat to highlight some of these companies in a piece I’m calling “In Good Companies”.  You are now in the midst of Volume II!  And in case you are interested, I’m including a link to Volume I. 

Back to Volume II: here are a few companies I’ve selected – they are in no particular order. If my blog does not do them justice, check them out for yourselves!

Patients Like Me – When you’ve been diagnosed with a rare, complex and/or terminal disease or illness, you can feel quite alone. Hopefully you have family to support you, but even if you do, they are not going through what you’re going through.  There has been research done on how sharing stories and bringing together a community around particular disease states helps patient outcomes.  Started by brothers Benjamin and James Heywood in response to seeking information about their brother Stephen’s ALS, PatientsLikeMe was born using this approach of sharing information.  The data gathered and shared isn’t just amongst patients, however.  Healthcare professionals and medical companies like pharmaceuticals share the data as well.  And with sharing comes better ideas and better treatment so that those afflicted with awful diseases may benefit from those who have walked the path before them.  What a tremendous tribute and show of love from the Heywood brothers for Stephen.

Shape Up The Nation – Rajiv Kumar and Brad Weinberg started Shape Up the Nation…but it wasn’t “nation” back then. It was Rhode Island – the biggest little state in the nation.  Come to find out, their idea was a good one and this Rhode Island company expanded nationally.  What do they do?  Good question!  I would describe it as wellness with a social/community spin. They work with large enterprise employers as well as health plans to gather the company’s employees together into a wellness community and then use that social circle to drive action and healthy behavior.  Statistics show that the social approach drives upwards of 30%-50% participation – much better than the more static “incentive” based wellness and prevention programs out there.  With a vendor agnostic approach and expansion into the smaller markets, they can work with other companies to bring their community approach to prevention and wellness. You will likely be hearing more from the folks at SUTN.

Consumer’s Medical Resource – Healthcare today is changing rapidly.  Those who practice medicine have evidence based guidelines to help determine the ‘best practice’ for particular conditions.  Patients are in high deductible plans that force more involvement and engagement.  The Internet is fast becoming the leading medium in which information in healthcare is shared and exchanged.  EBM + Consumerism + Internet + a dash of patient empowerment = Consumer’s Medical Resource (CMR).  Talk about a needed service.  Those who have chronic diseases are able to gather information and be an active participant when it comes time to discuss treatment options with their physician.  Those who may not be ill but like to be engaged healthcare consumers will also find this service valuable.  I would wager that many more will soon be looking at this company for themselves and their loved ones.

AdhereTx – With the population continuing to age, it’s only a matter of time before you know a loved one, relative, or friend who is sick, getting up there in age, and on multiple medications.  Medication management is a real challenge for some.  AdhereTx is helping to tackle that challenge. With their web-based KnowMyMeds software platform, they are able to help manage the medication regimes for older adults.  Providers can use the software to collect self-reported patient data that can then be aggregated and reconciled automatically with EHRs and claims.  A rules-based engine then conducts an automated medication review for the patient and authenticates data to support medication reconciliation at transitions of care.  The results:  better outcomes, lower costs.  Just another step in the right direction. 

Aliment Health – I must admit that I know very little about this organization. In fact, I don’t even think they’re up and running yet. But here’s what I do know.  They are developing a hand-held diagnostic device for those with food allergies or metabolic disorders like Celiac disease (taken pretty much verbatim from the company’s Linked In profile).  In addition, the founder is Mitch Portnoy, the former President and COO of Symmetry (now part of Ingenix).  Mitch was one of the founding fathers of Episode Treatment Groups (ETGs) and Episode Risk Groups (ERGs) which help determine cost/efficiency and risk for episodes of care.  This standard is used throughout the healthcare industry.  So if Mitch is onto something with Aliment Health, I’d be sure to monitor them closely.

That does it for another edition of In Good Companies.  If you know of an innovative health company, let me know!  You might just see it in Volume III!

[Disclaimer: I am not receiving any compensation or bonus from any of these companies to do this. This isn’t an endorsement of these companies based on personal or professional experience.  I do not speak for my employer.  This post does not influence client placement or recommendations to clients. I just think it is neat to showcase some great minds and great companies at work.]

In Good Companies, Volume I

Working at an insurance brokerage and consulting firm, I have the privilege of seeing some very innovative companies who work with clients at the firm.  I also do quite a bit of research myself on various health care companies – it only helps me to do my job as a client advocate better.  Some of what you’re reading below is research I’ve gathered on my own.

With that said, I thought it would be sort of neat to highlight some of these companies in a piece I’m calling “In Good Companies”. Here are a few in no particular order. If my blog does not do them justice, check them out for yourselves!

1)  WhiteGlove House Call Health:  If you thought the days of a visiting doctor were over, you’re wrong! Well, sort of.   If you don’t mind a nurse practitioner, then this company deserves a look.  Imagine this: when your child is sick, you may need to see the doctor.  If you work, then you need to get approval to leave work.  And then you have to go to the school to pick up your child.  Then wait in the doctor’s office.  And wait.  And wait.  Then, you’re seen, the child is given a work up, and the doctor recommends you fill a prescription. So it’s off to the pharmacy to wait…and wait…you get the point.  It’s basically a day off that you hadn’t planned.  But what if a nurse practitioner came to you?  Yes, came to your job or to your home.  After 5 pm.  When it was most convenient for you.  No loss of productivity. And the NP came with a bag of goodies (meaning the most common prescriptions) so that it can be filled right then and there.  Just pay the visit “co-pay”. But it’s not really a co-pay because this never even hits your insurance.  Wow.

2) Castlight Health: In an age of rising deductibles, patients are being forced to learn more about their own health costs.  The problem is that the data isn’t exactly easy to find.  Until now.  By working with employers and insurers, Castlight Health raises the curtain and shows its clients the wizard behind the curtain.  By using historic claims data, Castlight determines the actual medical costs based on the actual medical plan that the employer has. Talk about a need in today’s system!  Imagine this – you’re thinking about whether to have surgery, but you’re in a high deductible health plan (note: this service works best with this type of product) and you have no idea what your out-of-pocket will be.  Well, if that’s the case, go talk to your HR Director and ask them to call Castlight.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

3) Best Doctors:  I’ve heard them described as “a second opinion on steroids” but that description does not do them justice. With current payment models in today’s healthcare system, doctors spend less time with each patient and try to crank out as many patients in a day as possible.  Hey, it’s not their fault. They’re just trying to do the best they can in the system in which they work. But this can lead to mistakes…mis-diagnosis…that’s where Best Doctors comes in.  Give them a call and their team will take the time to view your diagnosis, your planned treatment, your medical records, your history, etc. to assure the recommended treatment plan is the best for you or to uncover a missed diagnosis. And this is just their InterConsultation model! Check out their website and learn more. And if you have time, check out the flash mob dance party too.

4) Hea!thrageous:  Technology is one of the biggest winners with the PPACA.  And here’s one company that’s jumping into the thick of things.  A personally connected healthcare company spawned from the Center of Connected Health, a division of Partners Health Care and founded by Brigham & Women’s Hospital, this organization transformed from an R&D company into a full-blown connected health care company.  They enable an individual to take meaningful and impactful action after having biometric data analyzed and then having an individualized wellness program put together…and delivered to you in the way that you choose (ex. cell phone).  Apparently real-time dynamic personalization makes a difference!  And Hea!thrageous is helping folks become healthier.

5) MedMetrics:  Ever hear the term PBM?  If yes, ever hear the term carve-in vs. carve-out?  Or AWP?  Or discounts? Or rebates?  Well, don’t feel bad if you don’t know what any of this means. But know that it contributes to your drug cost as your organization or your health plan probably uses a PBM for its prescription drugs and the PBM is making money somewhere.  This isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It’s just how business is done today.  Or…at least it was.  How about a not-for-profit PBM that partners with their clients to provide best-in-class clinical solutions to lower their client’s costs.  Oh, and they also provide 100% pass-through on drug pricing.  That’s right.  Transparency at its best.

That’s it for this inaugural “In Good Companies” blog.  If it goes over well, I’d like to do this again.  So if you work for an innovative health company and would like it showcased here, drop me a line!

DJK

[Disclaimer: I am not receiving any compensation or bonus from any of these companies to do this. This isn’t an endorsement of these companies based on personal or professional experience.  I do not speak for my employer.  This post does not influence client placement or recommendations to clients. I just think it would be neat to showcase some great minds and great companies at work.]