Careverge Debuts with Strong Investors and Partners

Among the rows and rows of company displays at the Consumer Electronics Show stood a booth unlike the others. On first thought, Audax Health seemed a little out of place since it wasn’t actually offering any kind of electronic device. Then again the startup company, which launched patient social network Careverge last week, seemed at home among its surrounding partners like Fitbit and Polar.

Careverge is a digital health platform that integrates personal health data (from devices like Fitbit’s and Polar’s health metrics trackers), with gaming features and allows users to communicate with health experts and other patients like them. Washington, D.C.-based Audax Health has already raised $16 million to date and has attracted attention from some notable investors including New Leaf Ventures, former Aetna CEO Jack Rowe and former Apple CEO John Sculley. Also notable is that the young company is led by a young CEO, Grant Verstandig, who would have graduated from Brown University this spring if he hadn’t dropped out of school to found Audax in 2010.

Up until college Verstandig had always been an athlete, but after a series of knee surgeries he was told he’d never be able to play sports again. Floored, he wanted reliable information. Was this true?  He wanted to ask other medical professionals as well as those who had been through what he was going through.

“When you’ve had seven surgeries, and you open up your computer and all you have is WebMD ― that sucks,” Verstandig said.

With partners like the American College of Preventative Medicine and Autism Speaks, Careverge is taking steps to build communities around those who are knowledgeable about certain medical topics either because they have a particular condition or they’re a researcher or a health care professional. It’s a HIPAA-compliant social network, as users are only identified online by their usernames.

Careverge’s strategy calls to mind Revolution Health, an early health 2.0 company that let users answer questions, rate physicians and keep an online personal profile. A version of the company is still around today but after laying off more than a quarter of its staff in 2008, only about a year after launch, it merged with Waterfront Media to stay afloat.

But today’s climate is more favorable for Audax as more insurance companies consider wellness programs a viable way to keep members healthier and lower their costs. Careverge is free to the public, but Audax’s clients are insurance companies. Insurance companies will be able to offer the program to its members, and in turn, they’ll receive anonymous insight about their members’ needs so they can tailor their outreach programs.

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