Investing in the Healthcare Holy Grail

Encouraging consumers to take responsibility for their personal wellness has long been the holy grail of healthcare.   Disease management (DM) was all the rage in the 1990s and early 2000s, with bellwether companies like Health Dialog and Healthways reaching great heights.   The challenge with these version 1.0 companies was that their wellness interventions were mostly driven by human-based one-on-one interactions, which were costly, not consumer-friendly, and ultimately didn’t provide a great return-on-investment.

Fast forward to today and wellness 2.0 is here and it looks like it is here to stay.     Today’s HCIT companies are attacking this massive market opportunity with modern day technology.  “Gamification” and cloud and mobile delivery have all helped to vastly improve the end-user experience and decrease the cost of intervention. Healthcare entrepreneurs watched as Zynga and other social gaming companies developed meticulously designed games that drove daily, weekly, and monthly active engagement among its user base and started to incorporate many of these elements into their products.  And why not? If Zynga could drive tens of millions of people to take care of a virtual farm every day, why couldn’t products be designed that drove a similar number to take care of something much more important – their health?   The concept of ‘badges’, ‘challenges’, and ‘leaderboards’ dominated social gaming product roadmaps for years.   At first slowly—and now quickly—employers, providers, and payors are now incorporating these concepts to drive selected health activities.

The rapid proliferation of health apps/trackers/sensors/games does come with one downside: customers (i.e., population health managers) have quickly become overwhelmed by the many choices they face when it comes to the vast wellness 2.0 content:

  • Which app/tracker/sensor/game/contest is most effective in managing asthma? How about for diabetes? Obesity? General health & fitness?
  •  Is the answer to this the same for my Commercial insurance population as for my Medicare and Medicaid populations?
  • What about for specific individual members?   Does a “one-size-fits-all” approach work or do I need to tailor/personalize the content I deliver?
  • What type of incentives should I provide, if any, to motivate individual members to engage with the content provided?

Today’s announcement that we are investing in Welltok is the culmination of years of analyzing the industry and literally meeting with every company and every team in the space that we could. We were compelled not only by Welltok’s vision to become the industry-leading platform used to manage what many estimate to be at least $20 billion in wellness-related spend but by the product they had created, which solves many of the issues we had seen with the wellness 2.0 proliferation. Welltok’s personalized health optimization platform connects payors, health systems, ACOs, and other population health managers with their members, tailors appropriate wellness content for them, and provides incentives & rewards to them for healthy behavior. By providing such a platform, Welltok solves the “few to one to many” problem that exists in the current wellness 2.0 marketplace.

Welltok

Equally as compelling as Welltok’s vision is their talented team led by the highly successful and talented Jeff Margolis, who previously founded and ran Trizetto.   Welltok already reaches tens of millions of consumers today, and we at BVP are very excited to join Jeff and his team as we strive to help tens (if not hundreds) of millions more in their quest to improve their health.  We could not think of a better outcome for BVP!