GOODCo Finalist: An Innovative Company Makes Health Care Cheaper

Posted by Tim Fernholz


 

This post has been updated.

This month’s GOOD challenge is to get healthier, and in that spirit, October’s first GOOD Company finalist is a health care innovator looking to change the troubling trends in the sector. In the United States, health care prices are rising far faster than other services, putting pressure on public budgets, companies and consumers alike. Part of the problem is the structure of the health care system, which is undergoing a major evolution following the passage of health care reform in 2010, but another issue is that information technology hasn’t had the same impact on health care as it has in other sectors. This GOOD Company finalist is working to change that:

Castlight Health

Our health care system is structured to make costs opaque: Employers, insurance companies and public health programs do most of the paying while patients and physicians make decisions about health care. This disconnect has given little incentive for economic restraint and been a key driver of cost-growth, and today there is almost no correlation between the cost of care and its effectiveness.

Since opening its doors in 2008, Castlight Health has attempted to shine a light on health care costs and bring some market efficiency to the system, earning plaudits from physicians, consumers and investors alike.  Castlight provides data analysis solutions for consumers, employers who offer health care plans, and health care plans themselves, all designed to identify and take advantage of pricing disparities for different services and procedures within a network. By helping health care consumers identify providers with the lowest costs, the system not only saves money up front, but also creates a real incentive for competition among providers to reduce prices. Castlight says that companies can reduce costs 10 to 30 percent with their system while improving employee wellness and satisfaction. Information is the key to any functioning market, and if Castlight can make health care price information widely available and easy to use, it could have a significant impact on health care reform.

Like any major social challenge, providing effective and cheap health care in a market economy requires contributions from government, the private sector and citizens alike. Castlight has a huge opportunity to break new ground, make good money and solve serious problems all at once—and we’ll have a front-row seat to see how they do it.  

Editor's Note: Athenahealth, an innovative firm that brings cloud information technology to health care providers, was originally included as a GOOD Company finalist, but we've learned that their success had lead to corresponding growth and they are no longer a mid-sized company. A loss for our list, but a victory for a GOOD company.