If ever there was an antiquated, out of date, irrational market it would be the healthcare data industry. The fact that doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers are profiting handsomely off of our personal health data is truly absurd. And yet this is how the world operates today.

To say a new solution is needed is an understatement, but of course this is easier said than done. Finding a new model that incentivizes the right behaviour around healthcare data from all stakeholders is a bold and challenging task. However, if there is a team we think is capable of maneuvering an regulatory-laden industry, it is Andrew Hoppin, Co-Founder & CEO of CoverUS and the rest of his management team.

Together they are out to empower the individual to take back control of their healthcare data and in doing so improve patient care and outcomes across the medical field. Learn more in our in-depth discussion with Andrew below, and be sure to check out our Deal To Watch rating report posted earlier this week.

Funding Round Details

CoverUS logo
Company: CoverUS
Security Type: SAFE
Valuation: $8,000,000
Min Investment: $100
Platform: Republic
Deadline: Mar 22, 2019
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Andrew you’ve been very active in the world of startups and crypto. Can you tell us about your interest and why you decided to found CoverUS?

I’ve spent much of my career as a civic entrepreneur– building organizations, inside and outside of governments, that try to empower communities through technology.  Many of these projects were in fact efforts to try to make governance itself work better– more efficiently, and more equitably, for more people.

However, we’re living at a time when governments are suffering from long-declining levels of public trust. I came to believe that we need to try less centralized solutions to the biggest challenges of efficiency and equity that our society faces; that is why I got interested in crypto and other decentralizing technologies. And there is no bigger such challenge in terms of inefficiency and inequity today than the US healthcare system.

For those that don’t know can you define CoverUS as a business?

CoverUS is an mHealth app designed to help close financial gaps in healthcare by helping consumers to earn financial rewards in exchange for sharing health data, responding to targeted ads, and engaging in healthy behaviors. Our business customers fund these rewards in exchange for research and patient engagement opportunities.  

How big is the market for our health data?

Health data brokering is already an approximately $20 billion market, and that’s for data that, by and large, you as a consumer have no connection to, even though the data is about you. We believe that data about you that *you* control, can augment, update, and be contacted about is going to be significantly more valuable. It’s difficult to assess how much more valuable it will be, because it’s not the way the industry does it today. We want to help change that.  

In order to really reinvent electronic medical records (EMR) it feels as though you will need to become the standard of EMR. What are your thoughts on that?

We’re not trying to reinvent EMRs– they do need reinvention, in my view, but plenty of other companies are working on that. Our goal is to augment EMR data with rich so called “real world” data- basically everything that happens that matters to your health that happens when you’re *not* seeing a doctor.   

This data matters to your health, but usually doesn’t make it into a medical record. This real-world data (or “real-world evidence” in a clinical research setting) is in high demand by the life sciences industry, but is challenging to get. We want to help change that.

Can you talk about how CoverUS actually works and what type of buy in do you need from the various stakeholders in the industry (e.g., doctors, insurers, patients, pharma)?

It may sound trite, but we really believe we’re addressing needs that are shared across all of these important stakeholder groups. Doctors want to know what happened at home before you come to see them, so that they can take better care of you when you get there. Insurers want to incentivize you to eat and exercise and sleep better so that you stay healthier and cost them less money.  

Patients want to have enough money to go to the doctor when they should, and to fill their prescription when they need it. And pharmaceutical companies want real-world data from your life outside of a doctor’s office, to better understand how their products can create the best possible health outcomes for you, and thus make the most money. Over time, we believe our platform will help in all of these areas.  

What regulatory bodies does CoverUS need to maneuver and what are the biggest challenges you think you will face in doing so?

Our business sits at the intersection of several heavily regulated industry domains, including at least consumer data privacy, consumer finance, healthcare, and blockchain and encryption technologies. Some of these regulations are changing rapidly and in unpredictable ways. Furthermore, as we intend to operate globally, we have to be cognisant of the fact that these regulations differ in different geographies, and on occasion conflict with one another!   

Needless to say, it’s a big challenge for us, but our team embraces this challenge, and we believe we’re well equipped to handle it, as most of us have worked in highly sensitive regulated environments before, including with government cloud security and data management, in national political campaigns, and more.  

Most importantly, we think that shifting regulations actually create a positive tailwind for this business…

How do you think about driving consumer behavior to own and control one's own data? While exciting, I could also imagine it could be daunting and hard for people to understand.

You’re right– even I as a consumer don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out how to manage my own data. So we’re keeping it really simple and straightforward– connect up this data, make some choices about sharing it, and respond to invitations to take actions you’ll get paid for. It’s complicated behind the scenes, but it doesn’t need to be for any individual consumer.  

And regarding data control, sharing, and privacy, we think consumers deserve ultimate control, including having the option to make nuanced choices such as “I want to share my data but only for non-commercial research,” or “I’m ok contributing data, when it’s part of an aggregated report, but not as an individual de-identified health record.”  Think “Creative Commons” as a mental model.

That said, we agree with you don’t think that many people want to dig into that level of detail, so we’re planning to have organizations that you trust make a default set of such choices on your behalf, to give you a default starting point.

You talk about scaling the business through healthcare partnerships. Who are these partners and what will the partnership look like?

We have three categories of partners. First, technology partners that offer leading-edge solutions to handle complicated things in the realms of data privacy and security, identity attestation, and the like. Second, distribution partners that get our app in front of consumers– these are typically organizations that already work with a large number of people organized around a particular health condition, and we’re going to market with partners in the Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) space in particular.  

Third, customer partners that pay fiat into our two-sided marketplace for your data, attention, and actions– we expect these to include a broad range of life sciences companies, insurance companies, certain health providers, and even governments some day. In different ways, they’re all economically interested in your good health, and we believe we can help them to further their goals in an efficient and ethical way.

From a monetization standpoint you will allow users to essentially broker their own data sale but how does CoverUS plan to make money?

We’ll generate revenue from rental or sales of your de-identified data in certain cases within very strict controls, but most typically from actions that your data can inform– in other words, often we’ll be able to invite you to get paid to do something that creates value or reduces risk for a payor in the system because you’ve made your data available, but we won’t necessarily be selling your data itself.  

Regardless, the business model is really simple– we take a small transaction fee off of the money that comes in as a result of your actions, and give the rest to you.  This way, the company’s economic best interests are 100% aligned with yours, and we only do well if you do well.

Where do you see CoverUS in five years from now?

We’re double bottom-line: we think of ourselves as part of a movement towards more individual agency over all personal (not just health data), and less centralized, more transparent markets for creating value from data.

We’re also deeply disturbed by rampant economic inequality in the US and worldwide, and believe that taking back control over our data can help people to take back control over their economic future as well, particularly in a future of automation of the workforce in which our labor may be less valuable than our data.  

We want to contribute materially to this more ethical future, and while there should and will be lots of companies working to make this happen, we believe we have the talent, vision, and credibility to become one of the largest global players.  It’s a 7.7 billion person addressable market!

How will you deploy the capital raised via Republic?

Presuming that we raise significantly more than our minimum goal, the largest expenditure of the capital will be for R&D, enhancing our initial CoverUS app and platform release, which we expect to take place in the second Quarter of this year.  

A successful raise will help us to build a better product, and will give us more runway to demonstrate its’ value in the market before we have to raise our next round of capital, thus, we hope, enabling us to raise that next round on more favorable terms. The whole team grateful for, honored by, and inspired to see the amazing support we’ve already received from more than 100 passionate investors on Republic to date.

The path to becoming the brand new ‘plumbing’ of the healthcare data market will be fraught with challenges, but this team is taking a focused and ambitious approach to solve a deeply intricate problem.

If successful, CoverUS will be one of the most important companies of the next 10 years. Be sure to invest HERE if you want to be a part of a truly game changing organization with a formidable management team and tech stack under development to do big things.