HealthIT & mHealth Interviews Hanny Freiwat, President, Wellero
Hanny Freiwat is the co-founder and president of Wellero, a technology solution company that helps providers and consumers negotiate the complex health insurance system more efficiently. As the president, Freiwat provides leadership and vision for the start-up company, focusing on the mission to connect consumers to their providers and health plans in new ways, while solving providers’ cash flow challenges.
HealthIT & mHealth: Tell me about yourself and the company.
Hanny Freiwat: Wellero is a mobile retail solution for healthcare which allows consumers to shop, compare and ultimately pay for healthcare at time of service. I co-founded Wellero with Shawn Smith back in 2012 after having been previously employed by different Cambia Health Solutions (parent company of Wellero) companies.
Shawn & I were frustrated with the healthcare consumer experience, specifically with the high-deductible plans & health savings accounts that we personally had a lot of experience with. We felt that there was limited guidance with those types of solutions and they truly represented consumerism without pricing transparency. We shopped the idea for Wellero both internally and externally, but ultimately Cambia provided full funding to get us started.
HealthIT & mHealth: What was the first step to Wellero getting off the ground?
Hanny Freiwat: We felt strongly that we didn’t want to have a dependence on the employer or the insurance company, and instead wanted to tie directly to the patient. We started by building an insurance-agonistic, adjudication engine from scratch. We partnered with providers and health plans to gather HIPAA 270/271 eligibility data and built our product through reverse-engineering the data. Our goal was to expose the fee schedules to the patients at the time of services so that could get a sense of how much they would owe.
HealthIT & mHealth: What challenges did you encounter along the way?
Hanny Freiwat: First and foremost, we found that the market wasn’t ready to adopt price transparency at the time of service. That said, we quickly shifted to sell to providers. We realized that we could tease out all of the components used to build the adjudication engine to provide a solution that would allow providers to handle 100% of their patient population, including features such as eligibility-checking, mobile bill pay and card-on-file.
As you might imagine, the technology was disruptive for the provider’s workflow. There was resistance to the solution as providers didn’t want just another solution to disrupt their work. We found that when we partnered with the health system, and built buy-in from the bottom-up, the new technology was better accepted.
HealthIT & mHealth: What does the future hold for Wellero?
Hanny Freiwat: Our app is currently available on Android and iOS platforms and we have over 700+ health plans we are connected to and can connect directly to payers. Recently, we started exposing APIs via RESTful, cloud-hosted web services. We’ve begun to get interest from entities who desire to use our adjudication engine as an estimation tool. Vendors who use our SDK are afforded the opportunity to get pricing feeds from participating providers.
HealthIT & mHealth: Do you have any final thoughts?
Hanny Freiwat: Overall our solution provides the consumer a rich experience and provides a quick value-add. As soon as the patient sets up insurance information (by validating their ID card), our solution reverse-engineers their benefit booklet and allows for claims to be inspected as soon as they are adjudicated, providing the pricing transparency they desire.
Taking the mystery out of who owes what.
Patients with the free Wellero mobile app can view their health benefits and manage payments, all in one place. With Wellero, a patient can:
- See where they stand with their deductible and other coverage details.
- Understand how their health benefits work.
- Know how much they owe at the time of a doctor’s visit and pay on-the-spot.
- Securely pay their share of the bill with an HSA, debit or credit card.
- Keep health care visits and payment history at their fingertips.
As their health coverage moved to high-deductible health plans, co-founders Hanny Freiwat and Shawn Smith found themselves without tools to understand their benefits and manage their deductibles. They saw an opportunity to help consumers and providers use health insurance in a retail model. They knew the get-the-service-now-and-learn-the-price-later model was dead and a new way was needed to move past the outdated system. Wellero is focused on developing solutions that connect consumers, providers and insurers in real time. As a complement to Wellero’s consumer mobile app, Wellero’s provider point-of-service solution offers instant insurance eligibility validation, patient payment collection and much more. Wellero is headquartered in Portland, Oregon as is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cambia Health Solutions, a growing family of companies that are building next-generation solutions that are changing the way people experience health care.