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Sharecare recently announced it was going public via a SPAC merger worth $3.9 billion
Steven Loeb and Bambi Francisco interview Akshay Sharma, Executive Vice President of AI at Sharecare, a health and wellness engagement platform providing consumers with information, programs and resources to improve their health.
Sharecare was founded in 2010 by WebMD founder Jeff Arnold and Mehmet Oz, in partnership with Harpo Productions, HSW International, Sony Pictures Television, and Discovery Communications. It had raised $425 million in funding before announcing plans to go public in February via a SPAC deal worth $3.9 billion.
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For these digital health podcasts, our goal is to also understand these three high-level questions: How are we empowering the consumer? Are we creating productivity that also allows us to see overall economic costs go down? How is this advancement changing the role of the doctor?
Highlights from the interview:
- Sharecare is a digital health platform that helps people manage all their health data in one place. Healthcare is extremely fragmented, which means that data could be in many different places, and getting them to a single point of view is very difficult. Even the care is siloed. Sharecare takes this fragmented version of the healthcare ecosystem and it tries to unify all of this into a single point of view.
- The company has what it calls a B2B2P model, meaning it with employers, health plans, and providers. It also works directly with their people that work for those companies; employers join Sharecare and then it can onboard all their employees, but then there's also a B2C component so anyone can use its free services.
- Sharma joined Sharecare from the acquisition of Doc.ai, where he was CTO. Doc.ai built technologies where it could collect data about a person using their mobile phone, including being able to ingest across different devices, such as Fitbits, as well as from aggregators like Human API or Validic.
- The company can collect data, such as facial expressions, pictures and video, to understand a person's health by looking at their phenotypic data. It can also use location information to understand socioeconomic risks for health. All of this is about understanding and building a comprehensive profile of health.
- All of this data collection is done through an opt-in and none of this happens without disclosure and clearly articulating what is being captured, what is being inferred, and then actually what is being sent back to a cloud service.
- AI is more than a tool; it's a culture, in the sense that if you don't think about data first, if you're not data driven in healthcare you're doing lossy transformation when you go from one silo to another. If you're able to bring everything together in one single point of view, bring all the different stakeholders that matter for healthcare, including the clinician, physician, actuarial person, patient, data scientist, and data engineer, then you're able to build something that's much better for the user.
- There are many different audiences that Sharecare sells to, the biggest one being its enterprise line of business, which includes payers and health plans that want to offer digital health solutions for their employers. The company also works with providers directly, especially in the value based care setting, providing them with enterprise tools. There are more than 6,000 individual providers using the system and about 75 health plans using it.
- AI can reduce healthcare costs as just 5% of patients represent 50% or more of costs. Being able to intervene sooner is important, as is helping get patients into care sooner. Sharecare has advocates and care nurses that can intervene and triage patients better in the system.
- The future of healthcare is going to be a hybrid of telemedicine and in-person care. The care element has to do with the human, and the human touch cannot be replaced. While telemedicine actually has accelerated access, it has also diminished a little bit of what the human touch felt like.
- Sharecare is playing in both of those worlds: it already has virtual tools and platforms, but behind the scenes it also has advocates and care nurses that help triage high risk patients. It can bring people to address and answer questions via telehealth consultations, as well as phone calls, but then also they can help triage and get your appointment scheduled sooner and quicker. Sharecare actually was designed to operate in this world already.
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