Rishi and Bo have been working together on health technology startups since 2012 as the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Technology Officer, respectively. We witnessed many missed opportunities in the healthcare industry due to bureaucracy, under-utilized technology, and plain stubbornness.
A Different Start
As entrepreneurs, we founded BitMED in November, 2015 to provide concierge medicine. The early version of BitMED catered to clients who valued their healthcare and were willing to pay a $10,000 yearly membership. Membership included a welcome package with cloud enabled technology. The system tracked health information such as weight, blood pressure, medication and EKG. We turned this data into insights (hence the name Ns1ghter rebranded as BitMED) and proactively managed clients’ health. It was an easy sell to individuals who were accustomed to paying a Wealth Manager fee structure. Instead of capital assets, however, we managed your most important, yet most forgotten asset: your health.
In early January 2016, we were ready for our first set of customers. At this point, the story could have ended. We had hundreds of people on our backlog; but, we had a few concerns. Our solution lacked impact. There would be a ceiling on the number of customers at this price point, and given work in MEMS, Deep Learning and Genomics, we knew that our model would disrupt in less than seven years. A lower price point made even less sense, as there was little to distinguish BitMED from an already crowded marketplace.
The Turning Point:
In March of 2016, we met Angel Investors and pitched our idea to them. We gave ourselves 12 months to figure out how to make the math work. If we failed, we would revert back to our original plan.
Our investor stated, “BitMED will be the biggest idea ever, or the fastest failure,” and wrote our first check. We now had the funds to get to work.
We knew that most of the innovation in medicine only comes from one percent of the industry. As you can imagine, healthcare as an industry is very slow and very risk-averse. We would reach out to innovators in order to address the challenge of providing a free healthcare service. This is where Rishi’s background in healthcare informatics and history with Columbia, Harvard, and U.Penn helped out, as cooperation of many supporting industries such as insurance, legal, pharma and medical services was necessary.
In the months to come, we built, tested, and iterated countless times. The focus was to create a platform that was personal, engaging and scalable. We needed to stay on budget as the testing was taking longer and legal was more expensive, but we knew we were close.
Given the market forces at play at the low-end and high-end of healthcare, we had a crazy idea:
What if we turn the market on its head by providing our white glove, high end concierge service for free?
BitMED wasn’t going to become a charity. We realized healthcare delivery is currently based on an unrealistic and unpredictable fee-for-service business model. Average utilization of telehealth services ranges 1 to 3 percent and varies by day, time and season. A user has to determine that they are sick enough for consult and then decide that we are the right point of contact. Add in a charge for each visit and it's clear why healthcare is often a losing endeavor.
We sought to develop a real business where we embraced the same technology that would eventually disrupt the service concierge market. How would the math work? We hadn’t quite figured it out yet, but we knew the data was the key.
In September 2016, we figured out the combination of services to make our platform valuable and scalable. We would generate revenue by leasing anonymized data to companies who needed it to validate algorithms, for clinical studies and so on while complying with privacy laws. By moving away from a fee-for-service model, we were dropping the barriers for members to engage with doctors. We wanted to make accessing healthcare as effortless as a google search. Data, transacted securely and ethically, provides the reliable revenue and foundation to build a global company. We’re turning the health industry’s risk aversion into our opportunity; the industry won’t move without data to back up anything and we would have the world's largest healthcare record system.
Our platform is offered at no cost and no insurance is needed. The core services would be Care, Content, and Community.
BitMED provides members real-time messaging with real medical providers. Members can chat through our messaging platform and can also make appointments for live video consultations.
Sharing in the collective health experience is an important part of a person’s health. Our community is a place where members can discuss common interests, share experiences, provide emotional support, and continuously learn how to cope with day-to-day health situations.
72% of internet users say they looked online for health information within the past year. The internet has a lot of content, but it's not always right for you. BitMED matches validated content to our members concerns and interests. Content is delivered directly to your personalized timeline for you to review, save, and even share with your communities or discuss with a medical provider.
On October, 2016, BitMED v1 platform went live. We continued to iterate, test and build.
Within a month, we signed our first big entity with 10 million members and on March, 2017, we signed MOU for another 12 million. At this point we brought in the experts at Cooley LLP as our Legal Firm to handle the legal aspects.
More discussions with several governments and organizations brought our potential pipeline to 400+ Million. However, we knew we couldn’t support this growth so quickly; we were choking on our own success. Our vision has always been in the billions of members, but the current platform can’t keep up without making changes at its core.
We need to address spammers, onboard global partners, monitor communities, and comply with privacy and health law, all while increasing efficacy with our medical providers.
What if we incentivize healthcare for everyone on our platform and at the same time address our challenges?
We found our solution in blockchain technology. Blockchain would allow us to write all the rules directly into the chain itself. This would allow regulators to verify that we comply with laws. It would also allow our partners to onboard quickly as a node in our global network while generating a revenue stream for them. Members would get tokens when their data was leased, incentivizing them to collect more data, which in turn allows us to provide better care to them. Everyone would need to contribute tokens based on their reputation score on the platform, thus reducing bad behavior.
On July, 2017, we verified all our hypotheses with the blockchain and decided to move forward with a token sale instead of raising capital from VC. Bo remembered Vinod Khosla’s quote that “90 percent of VCs add no value”.
We completed the first pre-sale on August, 2017 and are currently getting ready for our token sale in 2018. In the meantime, we're looking for amazing partners and teammates who want to be a part of this crazy rocket ship that we call BitMED.