Health care referral service plans to hire 180 by 2019

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Indianapolis-based HealthPro LLC plans to hire 180 employees in Indiana by 2019 as it extends its personalized health care referral service to surrounding states.

The company, which spun out in March from OurHealth, an Indianapolis-based employer clinic operator, has nine employees so far. HealthPro has raised more than $1 million to help it open up in three to five markets outside of Indiana in the next year.

Since late 2013, HealthPro has built up a database of information about health care providers around Indiana—their services, hours of operation and, most importantly, prices.

HealthPro uses that information to suggest health care providers to patients based on the patients’ stated preferences for price, proximity and availability.

In an interview with IBJ last fall about the service, OurHealth President Jeff Wells described it as a kind of Priceline for health care services.

HealthPro is currently providing its service to employers and employer clinics that combined serve about 50,000 Hoosiers. When one of those patients is referred by a primary care physician to get a lab test or an imaging scan or to see a specialist physician, HealthPro helps patients pick out a health care provider and schedule a visit.

“HealthPro is not just about saving consumers and employers money – it’s about the greater impact that can be made on health care by establishing a marketplace that makes everyone accountable,” HealthPro President Chad Ashcraft said in a prepared statement.

In an interview, Ashcraft said HealthPro’s referral coordinators help educate patients on the types of services they’re trying to get and get can achieve significant savings for them and their employers. In the first quarter, one large employer that used HealthPro saved 81 percent versus those that did not, Ashcraft said.

Even more important, Ashcraft said, is that HealthPro can provide insights to health care providers—not just on patients that chose them but, more importantly, on the patients that did not.

And since HealthPro has survey reponses from all the patients it serves, it can even tell providers what kind of patients they’re losing—those that are more price sensitive, those that are partial to non-business hours or to quick availability,

“We’re helping them run their businesses in a way that they aren’t empowered to do in the health care marketplace today,” Ashcraft said. Some health care providers are offering special pricing via HealthPro, including bundled payments for common surgical procedures.

While HealthPro’s business relies on significant amounts of data analysis, its referrals still involve people—a key feature it thinks will differentiate its service from existing price-transparency tools, such as Castlight Health.

Kyle Shipley, one of the first employees of San Francisco-based Castlight, co-founded HealthPro with Ashcraft and now serves as its chief of technology.

“Castlight got everyone talking about price transparency, but we're building for a post-transparency world,” Shipley said in an e-mail. “We bring a human touch to the experience and allow providers to compete on their strengths, whether those are price, quality, availability or something else entirely."

Each employer that hires HealthPro pays a monthly subscription fee for each employee. If employers desire, they can adjust the size of the subscription fee by adding a transaction fee for each referral.

HealthPro wants to hire referral coordinators, provider relations representatives and information technology workers.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered HealthPro up to $1.75 million in tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants. The incentives are performance-based, meaning the company can’t claim them until it has added jobs in Indiana.

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