Wellth, a Brooklyn-based digital health company focused on improving patient adherence by paying people to make healthier choices, has raised $2 million. AXA Strategic Ventures (ASV), the venture arm of the multinational insurance firm AXA, led the round. B-Fore Capital, I2BF Venture Capital, Beta Bridge Ventures and AltaIR Capital also contributed.
“We are seeing a lot of interest for our product from health insurers, ACOs, and even life insurers,” Wellth CEO and co-founder Matt Loper said in a statement. “Improving patient adherence has been an area of industry and investor focus over the past few years but we believe that the majority of solutions on the market fail to solve the fundamental issue of low patient motivation. There is a growing field of behavioral economics research that has proven that the right incentive structures can be the most effective and scalable method for motivating patients to undergo significant behavior change.”
Wellth offers a patient-facing mobile app that encourages medication and treatment adherence by paying patients to be healthy. The company markets the software to insurers and risk-bearing providers, who then make it available to their patient population or covered members. Patients verify adherence with pictures and data from connected devices.
"Patients earn their rewards upfront with a complete explanation of their goals. As patients adhere to their care plans and hit their goals throughout the year, they are able to avoid the loss of these rewards and cash out," Loper told MobiHealthNews in an email. "In research studies, this 'loss aversion' mechanism has been shown to be 50 percent more effective than pure gain rewards. At the end of the year, patients receive prepaid debit cards when they cash out."
The company, which is still relatively young (it was founded in 2014), is committed to an evidence-based approach. Their app was created based on peer-reviewed evidence from the chronic disease management, behavioral economics, and value-based insurance design fields, and they're working to quantify their ROI with pilot customers.
“We are excited that Wellth’s ability to prompt and verify patient behaviors translates into fewer hospitalizations, readmissions and overall lower medical costs," Manish Agarwal, General Partner of AXA Strategic Ventures, said in a statement. "This investment continues our focus on digital health as a core investment thesis.” Agarwal will join Wellth's board of directors.
Wellth has participated in a number of digital health accelerator programs. It was in HealthBox's summer 2015 class, the New York Digital Health Accelerator's fall 2015 class, and is currently enrolled in Dreamit Health's spring 2016 class.
Another company with a somewhat similar offering to Wellth's is EveryMove, which announced its personalized incentive-based program Tandem in January. That same month, health kiosk company higi, which acquired health incentive app Earndit some time ago and has incorporated its functionality, raised $40 million. One of the better-known direct-to-consumer apps offering financial incentives to users who make healthy choices is Pact, formerly GymPact.