There are not a lot of digital health startups that are focusing on social issues for the vulnerable in America, fortunately Healthify is; I recently had the opportunity to speak with Manik Bhat CEO and co-founder of Healthify to learn more.
HealthIT & mHealth: Where are you based out of and where did you start out?
Manik Bhat: We started Healthify two years ago in Baltimore and moved to New York City after we completed the Blueprint Health Accelerator. Right now, we have a small team of six people but we are in the process of hiring more (https://angel.co/healthify/jobs)
HealthIT & mHealth: How did you get involved with Blueprint Health and what led you to choose that health accelerator?
Bhat: Blueprint’s focus is really on healthcare enterprise sales. Even though we like the consumer healthcare space, we were really focused on a specific problem and to solve that problem we had to sell to large hospital systems and healthcare insurance companies. Blueprint Health has a great network with a lot of experience with enterprise sales so that seems to be a great fit for us.
HealthIT & mHealth: Where did you receive your funding from?
Bhat: We received about $500,000 of capital about a year ago, we got another $100k of non-diluted funding from the state of Maryland and some additional funding from the New York Economic Development Corporation via the Pilot Health tech competition.
HealthIT & mHealth: What quality metrics is Healthify trying to improve?
Bhat: The main thing we are focusing on as a company is proving that fully coordinating and managing an individual’s social needs is the best way to improve health outcomes and financial metrics. These needs are housing, childcare, transportation, employment, access to mental health services, and access to substance abuse services. We are building software solutions to connect individuals with social needs to resources much more effectively, which allows our clients to better track how they are doing in the community and how they are actually doing addressing social needs. A majority of our clients spending was going to trying to manage these issues, but they did not have any infrastructure to do so.
HealthIT & mHealth: Once you refer a patient to a particular social service are their still barriers in place for the patient to utilize those services?
Bhat: There are definitely still barriers, one is the information barrier which we try to address. We have built a database of services and help staff access that database to better connect patients. However, there are always going to be behavioral hurdles that exist, which is why I think engagement matters quite a bit. We are really trying to solve the coordination and patient-engagement problem by making sure that we really understand the needs of an individual population, by making sure that information is coordinated to whomever needs that information, whether it be the patient, the case manager, community based organization and by facilitating ways to keep stakeholders in the loop and collecting data throughout the process to provide insight.
HealthIT & mHealth: Can you tell me more about the database that you have created?
Bhat: Social services data is a big mess. We built our database from pulling; categorizing, and validating online information from government, state federal and local datasets. We collect information on a lot of social issues such as: job counseling, job training, dental care, childcare and homelessness. We use a multi-pronged approach to improving this information, such as utilizing call centers and constant feedback from our users who are referring to services in the field.
HealthIT & mHealth: Are you partnered with any hospitals or health plans currently?
Bhat: Yes, we are partnered with quite a few, John Hopkins Healthcare and health plans in DC and New York. We are live in eight states and working on expanding into more. The majority of our clients are payers, but we work with ACOs and IDNs as well. We really end up selling to anyone who is responsible for and who needs to manage the health of a patient population who might have acute social needs. We are really trying to improve value in healthcare.
HealthIT & mHealth: Do you feel like the ACA has been beneficial to your success?
Bhat: Yes, I think the ACA was hugely helpful, I think there were models we could have definitely employed pre-ACA, but the incentives for innovation and trying new care-coordination practices dramatically improved the chances of selling to a lot of individuals who are trying to improve value and cut costs in healthcare.