In 2009, Tomer Shoval went on vacation with his family to Mexico, which unfortunately ended on a sour note — and one with which many travelers can empathize — they all got sick. Back in the U.S. several months later, Shoval and his wife started receiving a series of invoices and summaries of benefits, which seemed to add insult to injury. The bills were expensive, the invoices were complex, and what their insurance covered and what it didn’t was confusing.
Frustrated and beginning to get the sense that he wasn’t alone, Shoval stepped down from his job at eBay and co-founded Simplee with Roberto Rabinovich and Tom Tsarfati to help both patients and healthcare systems understand and manage healthcare expenses — from the comfort of their smartphones.
Fast forward to 2013, Simplee is tracking and managing more than $3 billion in patient medical expenses and now processes “tens of millions” in patient payments each year, Shoval tells us. Since launching in 2011, the startup has raised $7.8 million from investors like Greylock IL, The Social+Capital Partnership and Embarcadero Ventures, and today, with adoption continuing, Simplee is announcing that it is adding $10 million in Series B financing, in an investment led by Heritage Group. The company’s existing investors, Social+Capital and Greylock IL, also contributed to the round, bringing its total investment to just under $18 million.
Shoval attributes the raise, and the startup’s growth over the last two years, in part, to the rise in consumer-driven healthcare in the U.S. In the big picture this is a positive trend, but it also means that people are increasingly opting into insurance plans that come with the pain of high deductibles — meaning a larger share is coming out of their own pocket. In fact, Shoval says that the average family in the U.S. pays an additional $4,000 every year — on top of what they’re already paying for insurance.
This leads to a scenario in which patients inevitable end up confused and distressed, unsure of exactly what they’re paying for and why. On the other hand, due to the rise in consumer-driven models, hospitals, practices and care providers are having to collect a larger share of bill payments directly from these confused patients. There’s friction on both sides of the transaction, but considering Simple’s origin story, it’s no wonder Shoval and team decided to start with reducing the friction on the consumer side.
To help patients deal with the hassle of confusing healthcare payments, Simplee created a platform that essentially combined the financial management tools of a platform like Mint.com with a mobile wallet in an effort to simplify bill and expense management, while making it easier to track visits, monitor benefits and pay bills online.
And that has been the crux of Simplee’s platform: The fact that, in addition to being able to filter and track expenditures by each family member, Simplee’s mobile apps really act as a payment platform so that users can pay their bills direct, link their spending accounts and set up alerts so that they’re notified when problems with billing arise. This, in particular, is a huge value-add considering the changes that the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) will bring to this space.
While it’s not all the way there in terms of offering support to every patient, today, the app offers coverage for 80 percent of insurance plans in the U.S., and Simplee continues to work to expand the list of insurance providers it supports, the co-founder says.
On the other side, over the last year, Simplee has stepped up product development on the enterprise, or healthcare systems side of the coin. SimpleePAY, its new B2B-style payment and loyalty platform for hospitals and care providers, which launched earlier this year, has been key to extending its functionality on the provider side.
The platform allows hospitals to more easily distribute and collect bills and text and email patients simple URLs instead of sending out printed versions, for example. The goal, really, is to enable hospitals to access the same kind of consumer-friendly medical wallet it had made available to its own customers, giving hospitals the ability to offer it to their patients. In turn, the providers can access a more robust set of features aimed at helping them cut down on the costs of paper invoicing, billing and so on, while increasing revenues and delivering new features.
The startup is already working with partners like El Camino Hospital in Mountain View to enable patient payments online, and today, it announced that Emergency Medicine Associates — the largest provider of emergency room services in Washington D.C. — will be deploying SimpleePAY as well.
In the coming months, Simplee hopes to continue expanding its roster of SimpleePAY customers, leveraging its new strategic investment from the Heritage Group — an organization that represents hundreds of hospitals across the U.S., investing in solutions that seek to “reduce cost, improve outcomes and increase the efficiency of healthcare delivery.”
With the new funding under its belt, Shoval says that Simplee will look to significantly expand its team of 30, and continue to invest in innovation and growing sales and marketing around SimpleePAY, which has become its chief source of revenue. But, in the end, he says, Simplee will look to stick to its core mission, which is helping both patients and healthcare providers to reduce the complexity of healthcare payments — even as Obamacare makes that job all the more difficult.
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