Below is an article by San Francisco Gate entitled “Health care law opens opportunities for tech startups”
Health care law opens opportunities for tech startups
By: Stephanie M. Lee, San Francisco Gate
March 25, 2014
The Affordable Care Act's website started out as a technological disappointment, but digital startups see plenty of opportunities to capitalize on the legislation on the eve of the enrollment deadline.
The law has prompted entrepreneurs to launch websites and mobile apps designed to help people sign up. The Obama administration, which took heated criticism for the botched rollout of HealthCare.gov last fall, will enroll as many people as it can by the March 31 deadline.
"Before the ACA, you really didn't have a centralized and large influence to push the industry toward these kinds of innovations," said Judd Hollas, CEO of EquityNet, who has seen an increase in health care-related ventures on his crowdfunding site that helps companies raise money from private investors.
Technical glitches have plagued the federal government's website and state-run exchanges, forcing many customers to enroll in person or by phone. More than 5 million people have enrolled in private health insurance since Oct. 1, the Obama administration said in mid-March, about 2 million short of its original projections.
Last week, San Francisco startup Stride Health launched a website that invites consumers to plug in their personal information - age, location, family size, prescriptions, diseases, preferred doctors - and generates a list of insurance policies. The site also provides descriptions and prices, highlights options with good value and explains jargon like "deductibles" and "premiums."
"We think there is a lack of great technologies to help people with very complex decisions in health care - and that's our role," said Noah Lang, co-founder and CEO of Stride, which was known in its beta-testing phase as Covered.
The company enables consumers to directly sign up with California's major insurance providers. Stride, whose eight employees are housed in the Rock Health accelerator in Mission Bay, recently received seed funding from the venture capital firms New Enterprise Associates and DCM.
Stride is similar to Castlight Health of San Francisco, which makes cloud-based software for the management and analysis of employers' health care costs.
When the company went public this month, its shares jumped nearly 150 percent to almost $40 on the first day of trading. The market values Castlight at a whopping $3 billion even though the company generated just $13 million in revenue last year.
Another Bay Area website, StepOne Health, checks consumers' eligibility for benefits and directs them to companies and people providing those services.
Other companies are trying to digitally upgrade a wide range of health care services: health records, diagnostic tests, drug prescriptions, remote patient monitoring. Health care's digital transformation should have happened years ago, but it was the federal law that gave companies confidence that there would be a market for these services, Hollas said.
"The Affordable Care Act has that impact of being the big elephant in the room that's going to, whether you like it or not, force the industry to seek some of these efficiencies," he said.