Healthrageous: A novel Idea Becomes a Reality
Four years ago, I was invited to an exploratory meeting with senior executives at EMC corporation in Hopkinton. Their Sr. VP of HR had met with one of our senior executives at a dinner, and they both agreed that Partners and EMC should be ‘working together’ on something innovative. As follow up, a number of folks from Partners were invited to discuss innovative programs. I was the only one who was able to make the meeting. Immediately, two things were apparent. One was that I got along well with the folks at EMC. The second was that EMC clearly wanted to participate in innovative programs. They were not afraid of the idea of formal controlled trials, and were committed to achieving healthcare cost reduction via a healthy workforce.
At the Center, we were wondering if it made sense for an intergrated delivery network to sell services directly to employers. We aso thought that employers would be the first group to see the value of connected health. So we worked with Delia Vetter and her team at EMC to come up with a connected health project for their workforce. At the time we were working on a concept called e-visits. Applied to hypertension, the concept was that employees would take their blood pressure readings at home. These readings would then be automatically uploaded to the web where their doctor could look at the values and alter therapy as needed communicating via web-messaging.
Of course as we thought about applying this very medicalized idea to an employee population, we knew we needed a different solution. That is when a group of connected health staffers lead by Khinlei Myint-U and Alice Watson, MD, MPH, came up with the idea of automated feedback delivered directly on via a website. We weren’t arrogant enough to think we could replace the employee’s doctor, but we started to think about how much we could rely on the employee herself to be her own provider.
Fast forward 4 years….the idea that was so bold turned out to be a good one. Employees on a program that combined biometric collection of blood pressure data with automated feedback had significantly lower blood pressure compared with control subjects. Less than 1% of employees withdrew from the program. It was a success all around and Delia asked if EMC could keep the program going as an employee benefit.
It was at that time we started the journey of creating a company to bring these services to the employer/health plan marketplace. That was a long and tortuous road. At one of the rest areas on that turnpike, we met Bill Geary of Northbridge Venture Partners. He introduced us to Rick Lee and a business plan on paper took life.
More customers expressed interest; more products were conceived of using the same formula. Bill brought other investors to the table. Rick assembled a first-class executive team. We went through a couple of name changes.
Yesterday we announced the launch of Healthrageous, including a $6 million venture capital raise from Northbridge, Egan Managed Capital and Long River Ventures.
This is a great milestone for the Center, for EMC and for the Healthrageous team.
Of course the hard work is just starting….but we’re proud of what the team has accomplished to date.