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Castlight Health finds new partner


By Darius Tahir
Posted: June 25, 2014 - 11:45 am ET
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Castlight Health, best known for its price transparency tools, is moving in a new direction by partnering with startup Grand Rounds, a firm that offers patients increased access to medical specialists.

For San Francisco-based Grand Rounds, the partnership is one of a series of recent business moves which included a $40 million funding round announced Tuesday.

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“Castlight focuses on bringing transparency to the cost side of the healthcare equation,” Evan Richardson, Grand Rounds' vice president of product and customer experience, said in an interview. “In many ways we're focused on a complementary piece of that—the quality of care.”

Grand Rounds offers Visits, which matches patients to high-quality doctors for a given condition; and Opinions, which allows patients to seek second opinions from the startup's nationwide network of experts. Richardson boasts that patients using Opinions get changed diagnoses 60% of the time.

When a patient logs into the Castlight platform, integration with Grand Rounds sits right there, making it easy to “flow back and forth,” Richardson said. The platform—combined with the ease—means that Castlight works well with its partners, said Naomi Allen, San Francisco-based Castlight's vice president of strategic alliances, in an interview.

“We've seen that vendors … see double or even triple the kind of engagement they would get outside of Castlight,” Allen said. “If you think about how the transparency component of Castlight works, users often are searching for something. And we can mine that search data and know which programs they're eligible for, and present those programs to the right users.”

Richardson agreed, saying that it provided the firm “another channel” to access eligible patients.

In managing those programs from Grand Rounds' end, the patchwork of regulations regarding licensure is challenging but manageable, Richardson said.

Richardson characterized interoperability, frequently a bete noire of digital providers, similarly: a challenge, but a surmountable one.

“A lot of the value we provide, especially in the earliest phases of starting an expert opinion, is interacting with that system that doesn't have a lot of interoperability,” he said.

Moving forward, Castlight's Allen has said that her firm “continues to be interested in appointment scheduling” and is moving into the dental space.

Castlight created a stir with its initial public offering in March with its shares opening at $16 each and soaring to a closing price of $39.80 per share, up 148.75% for the day.

It has since reported an operating loss of $24.3 million during the first quarter even though its revenue rose to $8.4 million compared with $1.9 million in the same period the prior year.

Follow Darius Tahir on Twitter: @dariustahir


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