Startup Chattanooga uses new access to health data to alert and inform healthcare consumers


Staff photo by Matt Hamilton/Bobby Huffaker

Nearly a decade after Bobby Huffaker launched American Exchange to help consumers connect to exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act, the entrepreneur has launched a new venture to use open data under the 21st Century Cures Act to better inform and alert consumers of their options. .

Huffaker’s new venture, known as Directive Health, has raised several million dollars in capital to build the Chattanooga-based company and help patients access and obtain information to make more informed decisions, and doing, improve results.

“The paradigm is changing, and the days of patients being dominated by their doctors and insurance companies are coming to an end,” Huffaker said in a Directive Health announcement. “Why were providers and payers able to cede this power over the consumer? The answer, while complex, is actually quite simple. They owned your data, and data is power.”

(READ MORE: Making Obamacare work: Veteran insurance brokers adapt to changing market with new company)

The Cures Act, designed to help streamline the development and marketing of drugs and medical devices, also sought to give patients ownership of their data. The law prohibits the blocking of information that interferes with access to electronic health information about a patient’s medical history or treatment.

Huffaker said his work in the healthcare industry over the past nine years has convinced him of the need for increased patient access to health data and the best potential treatment options.

“The problem with the healthcare system now is that all the data is siled on the provider side and that doesn’t allow the patient to have control,” Huffaker said. “What we’re going to do is advocate for patients and help them understand their data.”

In 2013, Huffaker founded American Exchange after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to help consumers understand and connect with affordable coverage plans offered through exchanges.

Over the past nine years, American Exchange has grown into a multi-million dollar business that has worked with hundreds of thousands of people, most of whom have enrolled in one of the subsidized coverage plans offered by the Affordable Care Act , also known as Obamacare. .

American Exchange, Huffaker said, generated an impressive 4,800% return on investment for those who initially purchased the company.

Huffaker has now set its sights on the next step in improving individual healthcare with a direct-to-consumer model.

(READ MORE: What the doctor ordered: Changes make health coverage more affordable for many middle-class people)

In a phone interview, Huffaker said Directive Health would work to provide patients with their own information and educate them on how to make decisions to improve outcomes.

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, 22 million patient results will be analyzed to develop ways to alert and educate patients about treatment options. Once developed, program participants will receive text messages to help them with their health care options.

“We’re going to send them notifications on their phone about what they could or couldn’t do to improve their health,” Huffaker said. “We will also build our own provider network with physicians who will be on call to help patients at all times and help people consume health care better.”

The new venture is still taking shape, and software, systems and networks are being built to capitalize on the growing amount of artificial intelligence currently available in medicine.

Huffaker said he hopes the program will be ready for download in about three months.

He said he was still developing different funding models for the health directive, but he was considering providing the information to consumers for free – often a sign in the tech industry that someone else is paying to access the information. consumer data.

To create the new company, Huffaker hired fintech and healthcare industry veteran David Frazier to serve as CEO.

Frazier has taken several businesses through start-up stages to multi-million dollar ventures and helped build the Lendio lending platform into a major small business lending facilitator.

Among the 15 employees now hired for Huffaker’s startup is Ratna Dhavala, who worked for nearly nine years in Massachusetts as the head of the state’s Health Information Exchange. This exchange was one of the first of its kind and was the model used by many companies across the country. Dhavala will serve as Chief Technology Officer for Directive Health and will help build a technical team to lead the company’s technical production and development.

(READ MORE: Chattanooga-based American Exchange is expanding to support both sides of the healthcare equation)

Chris Tapley, Directive Health’s new chief operating officer, previously worked at Huffaker’s American Exchange.

Huffaker said Directive Health is always hiring and looking for investors who are interested in health care “and want to be part of something bigger than themselves that will help millions of lives achieve better outcomes.”

Contact Dave Flessner at [email protected] or 423-757-6340. Follow him on Twitter @dflessner1.


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