Careverge: Bringing Together Social Networking, Gaming, and Healthcare

January 5, 2012

3:49 pm

DC-based digital health startup Audax Health launched a really interesting online health platform today called Careverge.  If one of your goals – for this year, or maybe it’s just ongoing – is to get and stay healthy, Careverge could be a fun way to go about it, as the platform combines social networking and gaming.

The Careverge team includes people from Apple, Zynga, WebMD and Ning, and it has impressed enough people to land $16 million in funding from New Leaf Ventures, John Sculley (former Apple CEO), Roger Ferguson (TIAA CREF’s CEO) and Jack Rowe (former Aetna CEO).

So, how will Careverge help you take control of your health?  It will do a lot, actually, as the goal is to be one-stop health-related destination.  You can do everything from tracking fitness goals, finding information on a medical condition, accessing health tools like medication reminders to connecting with other people around common interests and topics and getting recommendations from medical professionals.

The gaming aspect serves as a motivator.  There are rewards programs that let you collect coins, gems, medals, and badges by using Careverge and making healthy choices. You can exchange them for real prizes like workout gear, medical devices, etc.

I got to chat with Grant Verstandig, founder and CEO of Audax Health, about Careverge this afternoon.

Tech Cocktail (TC): The healthcare system has been such a mess for so long.  Why Careverge now?

Grant Verstanding (GV): Well timing is everything – and we have a perfect storm of technology, need, and political timing.  Obamacare has its ups and downs – a lot of major insurance companies and employers are trying to figure out what it means.  Costs are climbing at such an unsustainable level, and depending on how Obamacare lays out, we are going to be more responsible for our own healthcare.  And now we understand the value of social networking and gaming – so we are applying that to healthcare.

We really want to help Careverge users make better decisions.  Until now, healthcare costs have always been someone else’s problem, someone else’s money – and now we have to be accountable.

TC: Why did your team decide they could tackle this problem and provide a workable solution?

GV: We are passionate about the idea….We have the best people who are very experienced in their industries, so we figured we’d create a brain trust  and we put the smartest people we could find in the room.  We will continue to test everything to arrive at the best possible solution.

TC: How will you market the service?

GV: It’s a three-pronged approach.  Because healthcare affects everyone, we are looking at understanding the influencers in the space and how we can provide ways to use technology to help them.  We are reaching everyday folks and those in the healthcare space – insurance providers, physicians, and membership organizations.

TC: So, what is your business model – how will you make money?

GV: The user experience is the number one priority, so there is no advertising.  We are partnering with healthcare systems, insurance companies, and large companies.  They will pay us based on subscription model – costs are per member per year.

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Monika Jansen is a writer and editor who is happiest pounding out blog posts, newsletters, website content, and other materials. Follow her at: @monikacjansen

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