Category Archives: Insurance

Glow: Max Levchin’s New Fertility App Will Leave You Glowing

Entrepreneur Max Levchin, co-founder of PayPal, Chairman of Yelp, and Yahoo! Board Member, launched his latest project, HVF in 2011 to tackle modern problems with data-driven strategies. Two companies have successfully spun out of HVF, Affirm and Glow. While Affirm tackles the challenges of the financial industry, Glow focuses on helping couples get pregnant. Max answers some of my questions regarding Glow.

Using data and machine learning, Glow asks women using the app to input a few details about their menstrual cycle, basal body temperature, etc., to reveal a personalized fertility calendar, showing the “% chance of pregnancy” for each day. A companion app for the partner helps make the experience more inclusive for the couple.

A: Data analysis is your specialty, but manual data entry is prone to human error. In what ways does Glow more accurately collect information?

ML: Today, mostly through excellent visual and experience design, and some basic gamification ideas, we make it easy and compelling to stay on track with your logging. Soon, however, we envision integrating with personal trackers, both software and hardware (existing and new), to make the process entirely passive. We have just partnered with MyFitnessPal, which makes tracking calories, BMI, and fitness events a lot easier for MFP users that also use Glow – they never have to do it twice. This is a very nice feature, with a lot more in the same vein coming soon.

Unlike other pregnancy apps on the market, Glow has a very special community sourced, non-profit program called Glow First. Couples using Glow First contribute $50/month to a pool for a 10-month duration. If the couple becomes pregnant during those 10 months, their contributions stop. At the end of the 10 months, the pool of donations redistributes to couples who aren’t pregnant. With proof of medical costs, Glow First will pay for infertility treatments at an accredited infertility clinic of the couple’s choice. Max has personally donated $1 million of his own money to the Glow First program.

A: Glow First is the first of its kind – to collect and offer a pool of community contributions in an industry that insurance companies refuse. What makes First work today versus in the past?

ML: It’s actually not the first time this type of a financial mutual-help system has been built – it works really well in small communities where people know each other and adverse selection is not a major issue. But it has not been done at scale. Smartphones and real-time communications enable this change – you can learn as much as you need before making a decision, and once you choose to go forward, the process is almost frictionless.

Glow announced last month that the app has helped over 1,000 people get pregnant so far.

A: The Glow app is beautiful in its design. Can you speak as to how design is important to Glow and more generally?

ML: It’s absolutely a critical part of the approach. Conception is a very intimate, and frequently for our users, a complicated process – it’s key we do not disrupt it, but enhance it, and where we can, add beauty and simplicity. There has been a fair amount of research showing that any form of stress negatively affects likelihood of conception. We hope to bring peace and calm to our users through our design, in addition to all our data-driven goodness!

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Event Summary: Rock Health Demo Day

Today at the Rock Health Demo Day, I watched as 14 bright and eager CEOs presented their start-ups to an audience of supporters, mentors, partners, journalists and potential investors. These 14 companies, now graduating from the Rock Health seed accelerator, are focused on tackling a range of issues, from making pregnancy healthier, safer and less costly (Wildflower Health), to making at-home fitness more accessible, affordable and personal (Wello). Stay tuned for upcoming interviews and deeper dives into many of these businesses, but for now, here are a few photos from tonight.

Top: Jacob Sattelmair – Wellframe, Kevin MacDonald – Kit Check, Leah Sparks – Wildflower Health

Bottom: Jason Langheier – Zipongo, Alex Frommeyer – Beam Technologies, Jack Challis – CliniCast

You can learn more about these companies at Rock Health San Francisco 2013 Portfolio.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

2012 was an exciting year for healthcare with the fierce growth in mobile health technologies and the preservation of the Affordable Care Act.

I have highlighted below some of my favorite companies I’ve posted about this year, and if you haven’t checked these products out, you certainly should. Perhaps one or more will help jump start a New Year’s Resolution.

A big thank you to my followers for an amazing year and here’s to health and happiness in 2013!

– Alexis


Best Body Monitor and Activity Tracker:

Fitbit – Self-tracking device

Lumoback – Posture sensor and app

Misfit Shine – Self-tracking device. Not on the market yet, but the size and sleek design makes it one of my favorite

Best Self Tracking and Reminder App:

SkinVision  – Mobile app that tracks changes over time for various skin conditions

PillBoxie – Simple and effective medication management app

Cardiio  – iPhone heart rate sensor

Best Medical Answer:

Healthtap – Health questions answered by doctors and doctor locator

iTriage – Self-triage and doctor finder

iCouch – Tele-therapy website

Best Exercise Motivator:

 – Monetary workout incentivizing app

StickK – Monetary goal incentivizing website

Skinnyo  – Health challenge creator, using social media to incentivize

Best Insurance and Payment Management:

Cakehealth – Streamline health insurance billing and payments onto one platform

Simplee – Compile healthcare records and bills into one easy to understand online dashboard

GoHealth – Quotes for purchasing individual health insurance

Best Up and Coming:

Proteus – Ingestible sensors, embedded in medications to capture information regarding the foods you eat and how your body reacts to them

GeckoCap – Inhaler usage tracker for kids with asthma

Vitality Glowcaps  – Prescription reminder pill cap tops that transmit data about your medication adherence

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

HealthPocket: Find Your Best Health Plan

By upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the Supreme Court confirmed that everyone in the United States must have health insurance – whether it is through an employer or through individual coverage. This past June, I had written about GoHealth, which had built their healthcare insurance search and buy platform before the Supreme Court ruling. Being a first mover is always important – but this business model can be replicated and now we are starting to see second movers take advantage of current market momentum.

HealthPocket ranks all the health plans in your zip code that best fit your age, gender and tobacco use to find the highest quality and lowest priced health insurance available. The site is free to use and the plan ratings aren’t affected by insurance companies or drug companies. The site’s goal is to be as transparent as possible so you can identify the right plan for you and save the most out-of-pocket costs.

Tagged , , ,

Get to Know: HealthVault, CakeHealth, Simplee

I received an email yesterday from a reader mentioning that he would like to see less posts on the user experience, and more introducing cool healthcare companies. Swallowing the urge to write back, “you’ve missed the POINT of my blog,” I’ve decided to add a “Get to Know” bucket where I’ll briefly introduce a few neat websites. After all, there are hundreds of consumer focused healthcare websites and whether I spend the time to examine the websites in detail or not, I would like to share them with you. So yes, as stubborn as I am, I will acknowledge when a good suggestion is made.

Today’s Get to Know is on organizing your medical expenses and tracking your meds and doctor visits. I’m sure many of you use Mint or Quicken to consolidate your bank accounts and recurring bill payments, or at the very least you log on to your various bank websites to pay off monthly bills. Now there are companies that do the same thing but for your medical expenses– i.e. dentist, doctor, pharmacy, medical insurance, etc.

About a year ago, Google disabled Google Health. Citing that the application targeted too small of a demographic (only tech-savvy patients and their caregivers), Google urged people to download their medical data and transfer it to Microsoft’s HealthVault. Check out some other up and coming firms that are also doing personal medical expense management and health information tracking/sharing.

Microsoft’s HealthVault (HealthVault) has some upstanding qualities. You can upload data from multiple fitness and health tracking devices into HealthVault (such as Withings). You can also track prescriptions and manage family prescriptions by connecting HealthVault directly to your pharmacy (such as CVS and Walgreens). Additionally, you can check your drug regimen for any negative drug interactions your doctor may have missed. And, if you have a chronic disease, you can link HealthVault to your glucometer, blood pressure monitor, etc., and deliver that information directly to your healthcare provider. Microsoft HealthVault is designed to get all your medical records in one place for you and your family. What the system lacks is a way for you to pay your medical bills through the user dashboard – however, some medical record systems, such as Greenway, are starting to integrate with HealthVault so you can do just that. It will be interesting to see what HealthVault transforms into in the near future.

CakeHealth (CakeHealth) is aiming to better streamline your health insurance billing and payment experience. The Company rolled out a redesigned website last month and is growing fast. Unfortunately the young company hasn’t connected with too many insurance companies yet so my personal dashboard doesn’t give a great showcase of what they have to offer, but it’s only a matter of time. There is also currently no way to directly pay your bills online.

Simplee (Simplee) is a great tool to compile you and your family’s healthcare records and bills into one easy to understand online dashboard. You can pay your medical bills through the Simplee website and also see exactly what each health plan covers. Simplee also cross-checks your bills vs. your plan to make sure you aren’t being wrongly charged. The site is easy to understand and demystifies questions regarding deductibles, co-pays and other ‘insurance jargon.’

The Company has been around longer than CakeHealth and currently works with a much broader range of health insurance companies, including my health/vision and dental plans. However, for this and CakeHealth, the system is only as perfect as those companies that report to it. It looks like I never paid for a doc visit in April but after cross checking with my credit card statement, I did pay for it. This is likely an issue with my insurance company / healthcare provider’s accounts receivable and not with Simplee.

Managing healthcare expenses is important especially with rising costs and an uncertain economy. Hopefully some of these sites might be useful for you.

Tagged , , ,

GoHealth: Easier Than Booking a Flight to Vegas

You can comparison shop flights, hotels, and shoes, so why not health insurance? This week the Supreme Court will likely announce their ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (aka. Obamacare). GoHealth, which just received a $50 million equity investment from Norwest Equity Partners, is betting on a favorable ruling, meaning that it hopes millions of Americans will soon be looking for health insurance, and of course, the best deal.

1) Panels: Three easy steps are laid out on the homepage – enter information, compare quotes, and look at individual plan details. The application process is left out of these three steps and should be put in as step #4: Select and Apply for Health Insurance. It is after all, why we are here.

2) Get Quotes: This is slightly misleading, as I actually need to give them my gender, DOB, smoking preference, zip, and coverage start date before I can get a quote. This button should read “START” or “GO” and on the next slide (image below), the “GO” button should be renamed “GET QUOTE.”

3) Stats: Helpful to put that 2 million customers have successfully used the site – certainly takes away some of my anxiety!

1) Chat: The site does a good job of making you feel taken care of. You can chat with a specialist at any time.

2) Get Quote: You filled in your information so “Get Quote” makes more sense than “Go.”

3) Reminder: Great reminder, saves me time as well knowing that I will get the same deal anywhere.

1) Preferences: As you know by now, I love easy to use preference/relevance sidebars and options!

2) Definitions: This is very helpful in reminding users what deductibles and copays are and how they affect your plan. Puts customers at ease physiologically as well, knowing that the 2 million other users probably also didn’t know what a deductible was when they first used the site.

3) Details: Details are very helpful and you can get brochures on additional information.

4) Compare: After selecting a few plans (up to four), I can view them side-by-side, sort of like comparing stats on different models of laptops. Also as soon as I selected the option to compare, a chat message appeared from a sales agent, asking me if I had any questions or concerns in making my selection. This is a great point of entry for a sales agent since presumably I am close to narrowing down a choice and need a gentle nudge in the right direction.

1) Competitive Confusion: If you go to you see a similar page as GoHealth, with the same purpose of selling health insurance. It looks like GoHealth uses the eHealthInsurance backend application platform and the logo placement must be part of the contract. It is a little unfortunate as I immediately went to the other site and found their page just as welcoming and not very differentiated.

2) Make it Easy: Always draw out the path to success for the client. Each step filled makes it harder for them to turn back.

The concept of this site is straightforward and easy to use, with search options and comparison views that are reminiscent of popular consumer websites such as It will be interesting to see how things shake out with the Supreme Court this week, and it could mean a big pay day for GoHealth. Stay tuned.

Tagged , , ,