Q&A with Castlight: Selling to Corporations, Designing for Consumers

Optimized-PraterQ. Can you give us an overview of Castlight Health?

Ethan Prater, VP of products at Castlight Health: Castlight Health makes tools for self-insured employers and their employees and also the members of health plans to make better decisions about health care primarily on the basis of cost and quality. So we offer tools to help people understand the cost of their care, the quality of their care, and alternatives to their care so they can make good decisions. This is really important in the world where a lot of the cost of health care is being transferred from employers to their employees.

The company has been around about five years and our major market self-insured employers, and our users are the employees and spouses of those large self-insured employers in the U.S.

Q. And what are you specifically working on at Castlight?

A. I’m specifically in charge of product marketing and product management so, what do we build, in what order, and why? The main goal of Castlight is to make sure that our products are easy to use and meaningful to the end employee or the end consumer of health care, and that they make the health care system somewhat accessible and somewhat approachable at least to the end consumer.

Costs vary hugely in health care and if they know before they go, they can get much better quality at lower costs just by using conventional e-commerce style, consumer shopping tools to help make their decisions about which providers to see and which services to get.

Q. So your products are consumer-driven and consumer-designed?

A. On the one hand, Castlight Health is very much an enterprise software and service company. Our paying customer is the benefits department at a self-insured employer in the U.S.  But our user is the end consumer — any employee of that company on the employer’s health plan and to give the spouses or adult dependents of those employees.

So we market and sell products that have value to the enterprise and to the benefits department and HR departments of these corporations that they need to be usable, useful and to delight the employees of those companies such that they want to use Castlight’s products as a way of engaging with the health care system, making decisions about their care.  So there’s a lot around product design that is very much about designing for the consumer. There’s also a lot about product design and positioning that is about appealing to the enterprise and making sure that there is an enterprise value to the products that we market.

Q. Can you talk about the rise of self-insured employers?

A. It’s sort of traditionally over the past 40 years or so, large employers, by which I mean the employees may be greater than 400 employees, have self-insured. But now it’s becoming economic viable and attracts even a lot of other ways or even smaller and smaller employers to self-insure, meaning they pay their own health care claims directly or their employees health care claims directly rather than becoming a part of the risk pool with other employers or employee groups.

This interview was edited for length. 

Prater demos Castlight Health at a Health 2.0 annual conference. Watch more videos on Castlight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *