Iris Plans closes $5.1M in funding for hiring, partnerships and product strategies

Physicians generally agree that at least 20 percent of medical care is unnecessary. That works out to about $210 billion wasted per year. Iris Plans hopes to address this.

Written by Kelly O'Halloran
Published on Sep. 27, 2017
Iris Plans closes $5.1M in funding for hiring, partnerships and product strategies

Physicians generally agree that at least 20 percent of medical care is unnecessary, according to a recent study.

That works out to about $210 billion wasted per year on procedures that families and patients agree to, in part because of lack of understanding.

Iris Plans hopes to address this money hole and, more importantly, the stress and conflict that occurs within families faced with complicated decision-making regarding their loved ones.

A recent investor backing will help them tackle this massive issue.

On Wednesday, the two-year-old Austin startup announced the closing of a $5.1 million funding round to put toward its video-based advanced care planning technology, hiring plans and strategic national partnerships in healthcare.

“When patients get these serious illnesses — congestive heart failure, late-stage cancer, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease — people don’t really have a sense of what is happening to their body and what will happen as time goes on,” said Dr. Stephen Bekanich, co-founder and chief medical officer of Iris Plans. “Those of us that get disturbed by that believe that patients are not empowered. You don’t really have true and formed consent about the medications to be on, and what types of procedures will be helpful if you don’t understand it or if you can’t explain your situation.”

By providing a compliant, secure video-conferencing platform with trained facilitators, Iris Plans is connecting families and patients with a go-to healthcare professional for guidance and education to inform the decision-making process. The service’s cost is completely covered for members of participating national healthcare providers and insurance companies. It’s also available in all 50 states.

“We look at these patients and their family members that have a difficult time navigating or understanding the system, and we try to give them an insider’s look,” said Bekanich.

Steve Wardle, co-founder and CEO at Iris Plans, said his company's success is indicative of where the industry is headed.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to do good for people and to solve problems that are really plaguing our industry and country,” said Wardle. “Value-based care is where the healthcare industry is going, and this is one of the most proven solutions in value-based care.”

Wardle is referencing Bekanich’s previous experiences building out advanced care planning, palliative care programs for over a decade including at Ascension Health and the University of Utah Healthcare. The result, Wardle said, was higher quality care and lower overall costs.

With a proven solution, Iris Plans looks next to build up its team of software developers, data analysts, operations and marketing roles as well as expand the healthcare professionals and specialists teams.

Wardle said they are also staffing up to support the onboarding and roll out with large health plans and providers with which they have partnered.

Austin-based LiveOak Venture Partners co-led the round with NYC-based Activate Venture Partners, marking the local VC’s 20th investment since its 2013 inception. Better Ventures, of Oakland, also participated.


Image provided by company website.

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