A feature on Wellist's partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital's Cancer Center
It's probably a good sign your startup is onto something big when two of Boston's largest hospitals sign up as your first partners. This is the current situation for Wellist. And the Boston startup's early success appears to have some investors lining up: as previously mentioned in the BostInno Beat, the startup is currently raising a round of financing led by Kyruus CTO Vinay Seth Mohta.
"As hospitals continue to evolve, this is an outstanding tool for them to provide services that can meaningfully help them in times of challenges."
Launched in March with MGH Cancer Center as a partner, Wellist recently signed Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, founder and CEO Ashley Reid told me.
Wellist combines Angie's List and GoFundMe for the healthcare world, offering hospital patients and their families custom-tailored lists of post-discharge services, ranging from meal delivery to transportation and home cleaning.
A 2010 report by Reuters said that post-discharge care can help reduce patient readmissions. Reid cites a 2014 study by Mannat Health Solutions finding that unmet social needs can be tied to 40% of clinical outcomes.
When hospital patients can't get all their services lined up, "it not only increases anxiety for patients and their family but also barriers to adherence," Reid said. "If you can’t get ride to your appointment, you can’t get your cancer treatment."
But doctors are restricted from recommending for-profit services, according to Reid. So, Wellist works by letting patients or their family members create a "Wellist" on the startup's website, letting them provide information about the patienta and what kind of services they need outside of the hospital. Wellist provides a customized list of services they can contact.
The startup has over 3,500 approved services signed up. A five-star user feedback system rates each service.
"What Wellist does is make life easier by connecting patients and families to 25 categories of service outside of the hospital," Reid said. "They can find what they need in less than 30 minutes and have a one-stop resource. As hospitals continue to evolve, this is an outstanding tool for them to provide services that can meaningfully help them in times of challenges."
CLIP: A introductory video describing services provided by Wellist
Wellist's other side is similar to GoFundMe in that it lets a patient or family member create a registry of services — or a "Wellistry," as it's called on its website — that allows friends and others donate money to using PayPal. It doesn't take any cut from the donations.
"We’re trying to lighten the burden because any kind of illness can be especially devastating," Lily Holland, vendor analyst manager at Wellist, said. "This is the way to empower communities."
Wellist, as a whole, is a free service for users, and that's because of its partners, like MGH Cancer Center, Quest Diagnostics and, most recently, Beth Israel, which pay the startup a negotiated fee in exchange for Wellist creating customized programs that best fits the hospitals' needs. Holland said that includes "tailoring the experience to specific patients and caregivers, managing deployment and patient outreach, providing customized and unique data analytic and other related activities."
"We’ve had great levels of engagement so far," Holland said of Wellist's partnership with MGH Cancer Center, noting that about 18% of cancer center patients have signed up with Wellist so far.
Holland said Wellist plans to continue seeking more partnerships with hospitals and other organizations, like insurance companies, and it's already expanding to cover the greater Philadelphia area, where Reid previously worked. If the early response from MGH Cancer Center and Beth Israel is any indication, it has a lot of promise elsewhere.
"MGH Cancer Center is committed to supporting our patients and families in every way possible as they navigate the difficult journey a cancer diagnosis brings," Mara Bloom, executive director of MGH Cancer Center, said in a statement earlier this year . "Support services are critical to help the patient and their family stay focused and stress free during this time. Wellist is another complementary offering we can present to patients to help make these challenges easier."