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HealthCrowd raises $2.1M to expand Medicaid plan customer base

In addition to transmitting alerts to health plan member mobile devices, HealthCrowd Co-Founder and CEO Bing Doh said she wants to help health plans normalize communication with their customers.

HealthCrowd, a digital health company that transmits condition-specific alerts to mobile devices to help health plan members manage their health and provide insight on which messages work and which ones don’t, has raised a fresh round of capital. The $2.1 million seed round will be used to expand its customer base among Medicaid plans, move into new markets and product development.

The seed round attracted participation from Startup Capital Ventures, Herlitz Capital, Healthy Ventures, Band of Angels, Berkeley Angel Network, and 37 Angels.

Its messaging system covers several different conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and COPD as well as smoking cessation.

“Behavior change is the name of the game,” said Bing Doh, co-founder and CEO of HealthCrowd said in a phone interview.

Doh views its platform not only as a way to help plan members but also to give plans additional analytics insights on their members based on how they respond to these alerts and which approaches — email, texting, phoning, social media, Web-based alerts — generate better responses.

“Reminders absolutely continue to be our bread and butter, but as we work with health plans…we have transitioned from a clinical focus to enterprise communication platform,” Doh said.

Doh acknowledges that the company has a greater goal: helping companies with risk mitigation by normalizing communications with customers.

When Doh talks about normalizing communications between health plans and their members, part of it involves reducing the risk of attracting fines and lawsuits from nuisance calls following the FCC’s move to toughen rules around the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Kaiser Permanente, albeit an integrated health system, settled a class action lawsuit over robocalling for more than $5.3 million.

The FCC tightened rules around the Telephone Consumer Protection Act in light of the high level of complaints robocalling has generated. In 2014, the FCC received 215,000 complaints about unwanted calls. The Commission noted in a June announcement clarifying its tougher stance that consumers are entitled to the same consent-based protections for text messages as they are for voice calls to wireless numbers.

If companies autodial a customer more than once, they not only face a fine for each instance of $500-$1,500, depending on whether it was unintentional or intentional, but also they can also be sued. The TCPA does not cap for damages, according to a client update by Debevoise and Plimpton.

Photo: Flickr user Melvin Gaal