March 11, 2016
Tel: (202) 355-8611
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AUSTIN-BASED TELEHEALTH STARTUP RAISES $400,000 AND LAUNCHES NATIONALLY
Helps people with serious chronic illness live better and longer while reducing the $210 Billion of unwanted, unnecessary care delivered annually through personalized healthcare planning
Austin, TX - Iris Plans, a tech-enabled healthcare service, announced today that it has closed its initial seed round of $400,000 in venture funding and launched its service nationwide in the US. The company utilizes a telehealth platform to provide disease-specific Advance Care Planning (ACP) services to people with chronic illness. ACP is proven to help patients live better and live longer. For healthcare organizations, Iris Plans helps to address $210B annual waste of funds spent on unwanted, unneeded, and non-beneficial healthcare services, while improving customer satisfaction. This staggering amount of waste is larger than over 90% of the sectors in the US economy. Iris Plans co-founders have more than 60 years of experience in Palliative Care, healthcare delivery, and technology-based innovation. Company officials will be demonstrating the solution at the SXSW Health & Medtech Expo, in Austin, Texas, March 12-13, in Griffin Hall at the JW Marriott.
“After being diagnosed with cancer or another serious chronic illness, people need support to understand their care choices and how those choices will impact the rest of their lives,” said Dennis Cavner, former Chairman of the Board of Livestrong Foundation and Mission Capital. “It is absolutely critical that they receive education, support and space to plan their future. Iris Plans provides all of this and more with a high degree of quality in a patient-centered way.” Cavner is among the seed round investors in Iris Plans, along with a number of family foundations and other individual impact investors.
Studies have confirmed that people with advance care plans live longer, are far more satisfied with their healthcare treatments, and experience a better quality of life accompanied by a meaningful reduction in stress, pain, and other symptoms of distress. Their families also experience lower stress resulting in improved health.
Yet, nationwide, there is a dramatic lack of access to the skilled, specially-trained healthcare professionals that can provide the support required to prepare an advance care plan. For example, a recent survey by the California Healthcare Foundation found that more than 80% of people believe it’s important to create advance care plans, yet less than 25% had actually done so and only 7% had help from their doctor.
“While the US leads the world in developing innovative drugs and other medical technologies, data shows that Americans are among the worst in the developed world at delivering actual value for money to our patients and our society,” said Steve Wardle, CEO and co-founder of Iris Plans. “We spend twice as much as other rich countries while our health outcomes and patient experiences lag behind. Iris Plans is part of the movement to put patients back at the center, improving the value we create in our healthcare system.”
To address this gap and make ACP available to all, the Iris Plans solution makes heavy use of sophisticated information technology that is designed for convenience and privacy. It uses a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model for client education and the creation and management of each client’s advance care plan. For the real-time consultations between the client, their family member or loved ones, and the Iris Plans’ healthcare professionals, it uses a HIPPA-compliant video conferencing and communications platform to reach people anytime, anywhere. Based on available data, the company estimates that 8 million Americans with serious chronic illness are in urgent need of ACP services annually and capable of participating.
“I changed the focus of my career to ACP after watching my grandparents, who raised me, go through serious illness,” said Dr. Stephen Bekanich, Medical Director and co-founder of Iris Plans. “Even as a physician, I didn't have the knowledge and abilities needed to facilitate these critical discussions,” continued Bekanich, a palliative medicine physician who has started and directed several palliative care programs across the country within major healthcare systems. “After delivering ACP to thousands of people, I am convinced that it is among the most important things you can do when faced with serious chronic illness. Iris Plans brings what's important, and largely unavailable, to people anytime, anywhere."