If you’re someone who just underwent a major procedure or are managing ongoing medical conditions, the value of ongoing support cannot be overstated. That’s because treatment doesn’t end when you leave the hospital (or clinic).
It is certainly in your best interest to follow through with the guidance you received from your clinician. But beyond that, the healthcare system also has a major stake in seeing that you return back to a normal status of health, or that you receive the proper ongoing treatment.
Wellframe is a company in Boston that has developed a mobile platform which enables healthcare organizations to amplify the reach of clinicians providing support to patients outside of traditional care settings.
“Patients get pretty good care when they’re face-to-face with a clinician, but then they go home and they’re on their own. There are a bunch of folks in the healthcare system, like nurses and social workers, whose job it is to help patients during that time. But historically they have lacked the tools needed to provide convenient support to patients on an ongoing basis,” Co-Founder and CEO Jacob Sattelmair said.
Wellframe’s platform is issued to patients through the payer or provider. It’s essentially a one-to-one connector between the patient and their care team, and allows the patient to chat with a care manager via secure mobile messaging. The app also features a checklist to track daily tasks (medicine, exercise, etc.), surveys to see how the patient is feeling, and clinician-designed, modular care programs featuring curated video and written material.
“We have dozens and dozens of these kinds of care programs that support everyone from kids with pediatric cases of chronic diseases to seniors with multiple chronic conditions, people who just got a knee replacement, people who are managing stress and anxiety, high-risk pregnancies—you name it. We help organizations transform their health management programs to deliver more value,” he said.
For care teams, they have access to Wellframe’s Care Team Dashboard. In addition to chat functionality, it allows the patient’s care team to see patient insight data collected by the app. With this, they can track patient progress, identify which patients have the highest need on a given day, and follow up with support and guidance in a more timely and effective manner.
“One piece is reducing the overall cost of care, but we also want to show improved patient experience, quality of care, and outcomes among patients supported on our platform. Not just in getting care, but getting better care. Are they seeing better clinical outcomes and refilling their meds more often? Do they have a better overall experience navigating an ecosystem where they feel supported and cared for? Can we show improved efficiency and capacity on the care team’s end?”
How Wellframe Came to Be
Wellframe was founded in 2011 by a four-person team, including Sattelmair, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Trishan Panch, Vinayak Ramesh, and Archit Bhise.
Before co-founding Wellframe, Sattelmair held roles at a number of health-adjacent companies, including Runkeeper (as Product Manager) and Dossia (as Director of Research and Strategy). Moreover, the now-CEO also earned a doctoral degree in Epidemiology from the Harvard School of Public Health. He, along with the rest of the founding team, had what Sattelmair described as a “shared vision.”
“We got together with the shared vision for how we could use technology and data to help better organize healthcare resources around the needs of patients—not when they're in front of the physician or at the hospital, but during all the other time in-between,” he said. “In particular, we saw mobile emerging as an intimate-but-scalable channel with which to provide both clinical and emotional support to patients during periods of vulnerability.”
Over the first few years, they had to gain traction the hard way, as they didn’t have experience selling in the healthcare system. It started with trials with various academic medical centers and health organizations, which helped prove the platform’s potential. They then signed up small clinics, built out their business model (focusing on partnerships with payers and providers), and slowly-but-surely grew to their current size.
“We did a case study with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska where, without adding any nurses, they've been able to reach six times as many of their members and deliver thousands of dollars of additional cost savings per member; they've really differentiated what they can offer to their employer partners, while providing a great experience for their high-risk members as well. They have come to see us not as a vendor that gives them technology, but as a partner with which to innovate and create value.”
Last year, Wellframe raised a $15M Series B led by F-Prime Capital Partners. The company has also grown to 60 employees—one-third of those joining in the past six months—and they just moved to a new office on Summer Street in Boston.
“The thing that we're focused on right now is recruiting, which is a really big one. We have key roles to fill on every team at every level across the board.”
As for other future prospects, he sees an opportunity to expand the company’s reach through partnerships. With one partner, for example, they’re beginning to focus on global expansion, setting up sites in Europe and, eventually, beyond.
“We see an opportunity over the coming years to work with more and more organizations that allow us to impact more patients more profoundly, and so we are investing a lot to not only grow commercially and bring on more clients and new partnerships, but to take on more ownership over helping our partners engage more with their patients or members, and deliver more value to them through our technology.”
To close out our interview, Sattelmair shared some words of wisdom from the perspective of a first-time founder saying that first and foremost, a founder’s dedication to their vision is paramount.
“I think for people who want to build a business, especially in healthcare, it takes a long time to get it right. You’ve got to be willing to dedicate a good number of years in your life, and even then, there are a lot of factors that go into getting something off the ground. There's a lot of need and there's a lot of opportunity, but I would only do it if you couldn't imagine doing anything else.”