Sharecare, the population-health-slash-care-navigator of the stars (literally, celebrity doc Dr. Oz is a co-founder, and Oprah’s Harpo Productions, Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications are partners) is about to hit the public market via a $4-Billion SPAC IPO with Falcon Capital. Jeff Arnold, co-founder, CEO, and Chairman drops in to talk about how he plans to make Sharecare even more successful than the first healthcare business he founded-and-exited, WebMD.
The Sharecare ecosystem is sprawling. The company’s been around for more than a decade, acquired about a dozen digital health point solutions and health tech businesses, and built a population health analytics platform that’s interwoven consumer, employer, provider, and health plan data for years. Now, the business is even getting into providing Health Security verifications for hotels, restaurants, and the like to prove that their facilities meet guidelines for health and hygiene protocols, cleaning standards, physical distancing and other health requirements implemented in the Covid-19 era.
So, how does Jeff anticipate meeting shareholder expectations for growth? The investor deck touts a future of recurring revenue driving sustainable 20% year-over-year growth; Jeff talks through each of Sharecare’s verticals in detail so we can learn how.
The exponential growth in wellness programs indicates that Corporate America believes that medicalizing the workplace, through paying employees to participate in health risk assessments (“HRAs”) and biometric screens, will reduce healthcare spending.
It won’t. As shown in my book Why Nobody Believes the Numbers and subsequent analyses, the publicly reported outcomes data of these programs are made up—often to a laughable degree, starting with the fictional Safeway wellness success story that inspired the original Affordable Care Act wellness emphasis. None of this should be a surprise: in addition to HRAs and blood draws, wellness programs urge employees to go to the doctor, even though most preventive care costs more than it saves. So workplace medicalization saves no money – indeed, it probably increases direct costs with these extra doctor visits – but all this medicalization at least should make a company’s workforce healthier.
Except when it doesn’t — and harms employees instead, which happens altogether too often.
Yes, you read that right. While some health risk assessments just nag/remind employees to do the obvious — quit smoking, exercise more, avoid junk food and buckle their seat belts — many other HRAs and screens, from well-known vendors, provide blatantly incorrect advice that can potentially cause serious harm if followed.
As both the private and public sector aggressively shift healthcare incentives from a “do more, bill more” to a value and outcome based model, healthcare providers ignore patients role in driving outcomes at their own peril. It is generally understood that patients forget 80-90% of what they are told at the doctor’s office. As incentives no longer reward outcome over activity, this is a disaster financially for health professionals. This will require healthcare leaders to think in a different way. One has to be in denial to think that healthcare reimbursement isn’t entering a deflationary period yet it’s not all doom and gloom for forward-looking healthcare organizations. In fact, it’s a massive opportunity to leapfrog competitors.
As the founder of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Dr. Don Berwick stated in an earlier piece:
“The health care encounter as a face-to-face visit is a dinosaur. More exactly, it is a form of relationship of immense and irreplaceable value to a few of the people we seek to help, and these few have their access severely curtailed by the use of visits to meet the needs of many, whose needs could be better met through other kinds of encounters.”
Smart Doctors Recognize Their Inefficiency
If one were to observe a doctor for a month, you would find that doctors have their own FAQ for various conditions, diseases, prescriptions, etc. They are essentially hitting the Replay button hundreds of times a month. Smart doctors are recognizing that there is a better way. The patient and family benefits greatly when the doctor has a mini package of curated content (video, articles, etc.) that is developed for the patients. This is predominantly a manual process today (e.g., writing down web addresses in an appointment or emailing them afterwards).
If you want to let others say who you are, don’t dive into social media. If you are too shy about the prospect, then don’t complain when surveys like this are published:
Cardiologists, for the most part, drive Japanese cars, believe in a higher power, and are moderately savvy when it comes to social media. Those are just some of the pearls from a lifestyle survey of physicians conducted by Medscape and published online today.
Asked to rank their level of happiness outside of their work on a scale of 1 to 5, the 762 cardiologists who replied to the survey provided an average happiness score of 3.92. That puts them 15th out of the 25 specialties surveyed, where rheumatologists, dermatologists, and urologists were the happiest, with scores of 4.04 to 4.09, and neurologists were, it seems, the glummest about their nonworking lives, with scores of 3.88.
Just when we thought things were calming down in the world of Health 2.0, it’s kicking off. WebMD has been watching Everyday Health take over its spot as top Health site ranking in the ComScore rankings (cue angry diatribe from those who don’t believe Comscore, and explanations from those who think they understand what Comscore is up to). They’ve also presumably been watching as MedHelp.org went from nowhere to close to 10m visits a month (WebMD claims 60m users but Comscore says closer to 24M).
Yesterday came WebMD’s response—a serious upgrade of their community features. Over the past two weeks they’ve soft launched Health Exchange and have migrated their bulletin boards over to the new platform. On Health Exchange there’ll be lots of things familiar to Health 2.0 mavens—expert advice in the Forums from leading medical centers, the ability to tip, share resources, vote on opinions and much more.
The new launch is probably a bit of welcome change of pace for WebMD which spent the last couple of weeks getting spanked for a not-too-objective quiz on its site suggesting that everyone had depression and needed Cymbalta. Whether the new Exchange is really different to the previous bulletin boards, which weren’t as vibrant as those of its competitors, remains to be seen. But overall it shows that the world of Health 1.0 is changing and that the grandaddy of online health content sites is really going to be featuring user-generated content from now on.