Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Interview with Scott Sangster, Health In Reach
Story by Benjamin F. Kuo
Yesterday, there were a lots of startups who launched at the DEMO Fall event in Silicon Valley. One of the local firms that launched was Los Angeles-based Health In Reach (www.healthinreach.com). HealthInReach was founded by Scott Sangster, who some will know best as the President of the Los Angeles chapter of the Tech Coast Angels. Scott sat down with us to tell us about the startup and how he decided to start the company.
Scott, thanks for the time. What's Health In Reach?
Scott Sangster: What we are doing, is helping people find and schedule all kinds of medical care and doctors. People receive a discount on their service and care they select, which makes healthcare more accessible and affordable. We've been working on this for about a year, because we noticed a trend--even before the healthcare reform efforts--of patients paying an increasing amount of their own medical costs out-of-pocket. They don't have a good way of finding doctors looking for fee-for-service patients, and there are few ways to market to patients looking for care.
What sort of patients are the target market for the service?
Scott Sangster: It tends to be people who either want elective procedures, procedures which aren't covered by exiting health insurance, or have a high deductible health insurance plan. For example, even if you have insurance, and your deductible is $1500 or $2000 a year, that means that you are paying out of pocket for the first $1500 to $2000 dollars. Today, the way that works is you might go to a doctor, and get a surprise--patients are getting a bill that might be an order of magnitude bigger than they expected. That happened to me. I had dental insurance, walked in thinking I'd be paying the usual, $10 copay, but was handed a $425 bill which I didn't expect. I had to pay it, but that made me very unhappy with the experience. With Health In reach, that doesn't happen. You get the exact price for the procedure you are getting, before you go and get it done.
It seems like this might have been done before, what's different here?
Scott Sangster: There are companies that claim to help you find a doctor, or which will do online scheduling, or might give visibility into a doctor's price--but, I'm not aware of any that do all of those things. With Health In Reach, we help people find doctors which match their criteria, allow you to book online at any time of night or day, and then pre-pay for the service. In exchange, you get a discount that ranges from 5 to 30 percent on the cost of the procedure.
How's the company funded?
Scott Sangster: The company is actually funded through the Organic Startup incubator, which is a technology incubator based in Hollywood. Organic Startup works with early stage Internet and mobile companies.
For folks who aren't familiar with your background, how did you get into this?
Scott Sangster: I've been in online businesses for 20 years, both as a startup founder and as an investor. Most recently, prior to Organic Startup, I was with Walt Disney Internet Group, doing M&A, and buying startups. I decided it was much more fun to build startups than buy them.
Have you had to negotiate deals with lots of doctors to get this started?
Scott Sangster: In order to provide a good patient experience, we have included both doctors we already have deals with and who are participating, along as those whom we are just providing a profile for but aren't participating. That way, we're giving information to patients, and for those doctors who are participating, who are eager to find new patients.
Finally, where's the company now in terms of availability of the service?
Scott Sangster: The site will be fully functional and live this week. We have a comprehensive database of licensed physicians on day one, and users and patients can begin searching for new doctors right away.
Thanks, and good luck!