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Thursday
Dec112014

How I fell in love with—and invested $250k in—the BETTER App

I never invest in music or healthcare startups. In music, anything that’s interesting to consumers is quickly slaughtered by the rights holders, and in health, anything interesting is brutally murdered by red tape.

At least that was my thinking until I fell in love with a simple little App called BETTER.

[Click to tweet (you can edit before sending): http://ctt.ec/BGFyc]

 

What is BETTER?

BETTER is an App that pairs you with a PHA (personal health assistant) in a Facebook-like feed. It costs only $20 per month for individuals and $50 per month for families.

Once in the App you can ask your PHA to do something for you. In the last six months I typed in the following questions and got the following actions:

1. “I get motion sickness and my friend gave me a pill called something like macklazine and I’d like to get a prescription for it for my vacation in Nantucket.”

The PHA informed me that the real name was “meclizine,” talked to my primary care doctor and got me a prescription for a patch that my doctor felt was even more effective. I went on a boat for hours around Nantucket and felt like an old sailor with an iron stomach for the first time in my life!

I would have never taken the time to make the phone call, but because I had the App I literally typed in the request while I was vacationing in Italy. BETTER is an awesome name for this App, but it could also have been called EASY!

Oh yeah, my PHA pinged me when the pharmacy had the drug ready.

Time saved: 2–3 hours.

2. “I’ve caught my daughters cold, and I’ve now got a tickle in my throat, a headache, body aches and a cough. Help!”

My PHA got my primary care doctor on the phone, he knew my symptoms already and we got some meds to a brand-new pharmacy in San Francisco (didn’t have one yet since I had just moved up here).

Time saved: 2 hours.

3. “Here is a photo of a mole on my ankle I’ve had since childhood—it just started bleeding! I’m concerned because my uncles all have skin cancer. Can you find me a dermatologist in San Francisco?”

PHA sent me three doctors, their reviews, and the times they had available. I picked the one I liked best, and they set up the appointment.

Time saved: 3–4 hours.

4. “I’m going to the dermatologist you set up, but I don’t want to fill out any paperwork or sit in a waiting room—can you help?”

My PHA did a Docusign for me to fill out on my phone and let the office know I that I needed to get in and out as fast as possible. Got three moles looked at and one removed—in under 30 minutes.

Total time saved: 4–5 hours.

 

Why this is so great

The health system is a complete mess and is massively time consuming. My family pays $15,000 per year for our health insurance, but we don’t use it much because it takes so long to wait on hold for doctors, get appointments, find out if folks are in our network, fill out paperwork, and generally manage everything.

With our PHA we pay $600 per year—far too cheap in my mind—and we use our healthcare at least 3x more.

For 4% of the cost of our health care we receive 300% of the value! It’s insane!

 

What do I want next from BETTER?

First, I want to have my doctor in my feed. In fact, I want all my doctors in my feed: my GP, my weight-loss doctor (down 20+ pounds and going for 10 more!), my dermatologist (for the moles), and anyone else my PHA hires for me.

Second, I want all my documents inside of BETTER with all my doctors seeing all of the paperwork—and an audit trail to see if they open them!

Third, I want to use a 3rd-party testing service to take blood, saliva, and other tests for me every six months and put them into my BETTER app—alerting my doctors to them so they can do a review and give me any feedback.

Fourth, I want BETTER to take my weight from my Withings scale and my data from my Basis Watch and give it to my PHA, wife, and doctors.

That’s the thing about an inspiring product, when you find one you just come up with all the things you want to add to it!

Whenever I get that feeling I just write a check, and so I gave BETTER $250,000 and I’m planning on giving them another $500,000 with my AngelList Syndicate in a couple of months when they get their next set of features done.

I love the service so much I bought it for all of my employees because so many young people get health care and simply do not use it because it’s too confusing! I’ve had employees come to work sick because they simply don’t have the time or inclination to find a primary care doctor—or even a walk-in clinic! Thousands of dollars in health care that goes unused because young folks don’t know how to use it.

The healthcare system is a mess, that’s why hiring your own PHA—and I call them an advocate NOT an assistant—is so brilliant. Medicine is broken and you NEED an advocate fighting for you and your family.

My main concern right now for the company is they are charging TOO LITTLE. I’ve asked them to add the features I’ve discussed above and charge me $100–150 per month (literally 2–3x as much) because that’s the value I’m getting!

I do hope you try the product out because I think it’s a revolution.

Now, if only I could find a music App to make me change my mind about investing in music startups!

Oh yeah, I asked BETTER to give me a discount code. For 50% off the first paid month, go to www.getbetter.com/app to download the App, and then type jcal in as the referral code on the sign-in screen.

all the best, @jason

PS — I just hosted BETTER’s founder Geoffrey Clapp on This Week in Startups. It’s an amazing discussion about how BETTER works, and the challenges & opportunities of innovating in healthcare. Check it out — http://goo.gl/HYfp7b

PPS — I’ve written two other “Why I invested in…” posts. For Calm.com, which is doing amazingly well http://goo.gl/TdZgWf, and for Swell, which was bought by Apple http://goo.gl/pYPQN0.

PPPS — Are you ready to change your life forever? We’re hiring a Designer in Residence and a Developer in Residence for The Incubator! http://goo.gl/GiseZU