In the week leading up to WinterTech we sat down with the leaders of the most exciting consumer technologies on the market today. Each of them tackles a unique niche in the healthcare experience which collectively offers solutions we’ve been seeking our entire lives.
Better will identify money you’re owed in reimbursements from out-of-network medical expenses.
Parsley provides physicians who act as collaborators and will spend real time with you.
Simple Contacts allows you to take an eye exam anywhere you can bring your phone.
Habit is the answer to your diet woes by designing a nutrition plan based on your personal biomarkers.
Buoy Health will triage your illness before you make the mistake of turning to Google.
From how the company was founded to their biggest surprises, Rachael Norman (Better), Robin Berzin (Parsley), Joel Wishkovsky (Simple Contacts), Neil Grimmer (Habit), and Andrew Le (Buoy Health), are here to change the game.
Q1) Tell me about your company’s genesis story… what was going on in the market? What was the unmet need you saw in healthcare? What compelled you, personally, to jump into this venture?
Rachael (Better) – Starting Better was very personal. I’ve been fortunate enough to have great benefits from my employers but I could never get my money back from my insurance when I went out-of-network. Something would always go wrong and I couldn’t leave work during the work day to spend hours on the phone figuring out the issues. I have lost thousands of dollars because of this and I know this is a common experience. I started Better because there were no other companies tackling this problem.
Joel (Simple Contacts) – When my Optometrist refused to give me my prescription without an office visit, we realized it was a great place to start. We could do an online eye exam and provide a supply of lenses entirely online. No taking time off work. No waiting rooms. No scheduling issues. A simple solution to a problem affecting 40 million Americans.
Robin (Parsley) – I started Parsley at a time where two important things were happening. First, the rise of wellness culture undeniably happened – wellness is now a core value of the average consumer, especially millennials, which wasn’t the case a few years prior. Second, the move toward value-based payments and direct consumer spending on health care was hard to miss. In an era when 86% of disease in America is chronic and almost all of it – from diabetes to cancer to mental health – is lifestyle driven and modifiable, I felt primary care had to do better than 15 minute visits and prescribing another pill. So I started Parsley to bring the functional approach to health to everyone – and so far it’s been wildly successful.
Neil (Habit) – I had always led an active life, but when I was running my first company, Plum Organics, I found myself competing in less triathlons and spending longer hours at the office. After too long of putting the company first and my health last, I was 50 pounds overweight and at risk for long-term health issues. I wanted to get healthy and after many genetic and blood tests, trips to specialists and nutrition analysis, I ultimately found a diet that was made just for me. I wanted to make this process of personalized nutrition easier to access for the average consumer, and that’s how the idea of Habit was born.
Andrew (Buoy Health) – I was a medical student doing my last rotation in the ER and I kept seeing patient after patient having Googled their symptoms, often guessing what was wrong with them, and often guessing wrong. Right around then, my dad got sick and didn’t go to the doctor when he should have. When I asked him why he didn’t call me, he said, “because you were working.” When I asked why he didn’t Google it, he said, “What am I going to find on Google?” That was the emotional tipping point that led me to start Buoy.
Q2) How have your customers surprised you?
Joel (Simple Contacts) – We’ve been surprised by all the places people take their exams. Of course there are bedrooms, living rooms and offices, but we’ve also seen exams taken during a break at work, by mothers holding babies, by students before class and by people on vacation at a hotel. It’s not just when it fits into a doctors schedule, it’s when it fits into theirs.
Robin (Parsley) – They love the unlimited online messaging with their doctor but they also surprised me in that even though we offer virtual visits, which are more convenient, they still love to see us in person – there is something about the human connection that people crave in medicine no matter what.
Q3) Any sneak peek into new products or features for 2018?
Rachael (Better) – We just shipped a feature that reinvents the explanation of benefits (EOB) to help people truly understand how their insurance pays their claims.
Joel (Simple Contacts) – Our big focus for 2018 is making the exam even more interactive. Adding tools that will react to audio commands and help solve issues like taking the exam wrong or having issues with lighting or people’s cameras. It’ll feel a lot more like the experience patients receive a doctors office.
Robin (Parsley) – We are launching a few new memberships this year in response to demand around areas where we really excel – think fertility, GI and mental health. We also noted that 80% of our members want us to see their children – so we are taking that into account.
Neil (Habit) – Habit plans to roll out digital tools and resources such as food plans, recipes and food-curating tools. We are also assessing options to provide a nationwide meal delivery program.
Andrew (Buoy Health) – We’ll be getting patients to exactly the right provider for their given illness.
Q4) What is the significance of naming your company Parsley?
Robin (Parsley) – I wanted something that felt fresh, clean and memorable – that could be a tech company or a medical company – as we are both. Funnily enough it has nothing to do with the medicinal properties of the parsley herb, but it’s a nice bonus that there happen to be many.