January 18, 2013 in ATDC News

Startup Chronicles: Qnova Health

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Qnova Health At a Glance

While lecturing at a healthcare business conference in Atlanta two years ago, Dr. Susan Nicholas was surprised to discover how many providers utilized Groupon and other daily deal discount sites to draw new patients and revenue.

“My first thought was those types of social entities were not appropriate for the healthcare industry,” said Nicholas, a former clinical fellow in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford Medical Center. “But then I realized they could be crucial in addressing the problem of affordable access to quality care. We could essentially take the technology platform of e-commerce and apply it to healthcare and patient services.”

Nicholas set out with a new mission – to revolutionize the healthcare system by creating an innovative e-health platform that would provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare services. In 2011, she founded Qnova Health – initially named DocPons – which utilizes the discount coupon model to bring healthcare providers and patients together. No insurance is required to purchase or redeem a coupon, helping to remove one of the most significant barriers most people face in accessing outpatient health and wellness services.

It works like this: Qnova sells health access passes – or Q-passes – to subscribers to help connect them with outpatient care providers who accept cash for service. These services range from vision, dental and urgent care to gynecology, urology, podiatry, psychology and more. Everything is prepaid online, so there are no fees, co-pays, enrollment periods or bills. The Q-passes are also portable so users are never “out of network” or required to get pre-authorization to see a doctor.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re employed or unemployed, old or young. You can simply consume and buy the healthcare you want,” said Nicholas. “For example, if you don’t have dental insurance, you might be hesitant to walk into a dentist’s office. We get dental providers to feature their service with us at a fair cash price.”

With numerous accolades in recent years, it appears Qnova’s future is bright. The ATDC member startup won “Company Most Likely to Change the World” at the Women 2.0 Pitch competition in Silicon Valley last year. In addition, Qnova was accepted  into Astia, an accelerator program for women-led high growth companies. More recently, Susan Nicholas was named one of the “30 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2013” by The Jane Dough.

Qnova is currently conducting a pilot program focused on the Georgia Tech campus in Atlanta. With a pipeline of 55 local healthcare providers, the company’s primary targets are college and graduate students, as well as seniors and small businesses. But with a burgeoning database of more than 500,000 providers nationwide, Nicholas anticipates rapid growth and interest in the platform.

“One-third of the U.S. population is underinsured or uninsured, so we quickly see this going from regional play to national play,” said Nicholas. “Our goal is to really simplify the healthcare system and provide people with access to prices that are fair and transparent. We think we can actually change the economy and create the first true database on what the cost of healthcare is.”

Susan Nicholas

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