LifeWallet Tries to Bring Coordinated & Consumer-Driven Care to Florida
Launched in 2014 by a former Apple exec, LifeWallet is targeting the enormous care coordination market, with a goal of “enabling consumers to own their health”.
LifeWallet, a South Florida-based startup, creates digital health assistants in the form of apps and care programs. “We empower consumers and communities to lead healthier lifestyles and take control of their health,” said Norberto Menendez, LifeWallet’s founder and CEO.
Menendez, 55, was born in Cuba, graduated from South Miami High School and the University of Miami, and then went to Silicon Valley to work for Apple. He returned to Miami in the mid-1990s to take care of his ailing father.
As he continued to work remotely for Apple while caring for his father, frustrations with insurance, the healthcare system, access to medical records, lack of communication between healthcare providers and the high costs of healthcare led him to take the entrepreneurial plunge with LifeWallet.
Menendez has his sights set high—hoping to address the systemic issues of the healthcare system by empowering consumers to control their own health data.
LifeWallet offers a consumer product, its HealthBook app, as well as products for healthcare providers and health insurance plans. Customers have included [West Kendall Baptist Hospital], where LifeWallet has done nearly 20,000 health assessments [along] with, GE, the City of Doral, YMCA, and Indiana Health University. It will be working with Athlete’s Health and the NFL Players Association, where it will be doing assessments for concussions and the health of athletes, Menendez said.
The LifeWallet team has a lot of programs running in South Florida, with even more in the works, including one to help pre-diabetics change their lifestyle, one to screen consumers and provide a “snapshot” of their health, sent to their cellphones, and one to help the city of Doral reach one billion steps in the next year.
What’s next? LifeWallet is working on strategic initiatives with Florida International University, connecting with Watson Health of IBM and doing work using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. It aims to create a digital health store where consumers can purchase health assessments they can take from the comfort of their own homes and care plans that can be monitored by health and wellness coaches, Menendez said.
“We’re talking to major healthcare systems throughout the country … about how the LifeWallet platform can save them, and consumers, billions of dollars a year, particularly in the fight against chronic diseases that account for 86 percent of the costs of healthcare,” Menendez said.
LifeWallet has already secured $6.5 million in private financing from family and friends and is currently seeking Series A financing of $10 million. But finding funding sources in South Florida has proven challenging.
“We’re talking to various funding sources in the Northeast and in Silicon Valley, but South Florida still remains a challenge,” Menendez said.
…Bob Hacker, director of StartUP FIU, startup advisor and professor, [said of LifeWallet], “The challenge is picking the early commercial partner — whether it be an insurer, hospital group, large local employer or government organization — to leverage the [software as a service] platform to scale LifeWallet. I like the insurers as the first customer segment.”