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Interviewee: Ted Chan, CEO and Founder
Healthcare Weekly takes in-depth look at CareDash, the healthcare provider review site bringing trust and transparency to the important healthcare decisions we all face. Launched in 2016, CareDash has just passed some major milestones and plans to continue a massive growth trajectory with its team of data scientists and analysts continually improving the CareDash platform. Ted Chan shares his insights on the importance of transparent reviews and how CareDash is making that model work, despite the challenges.
What’s the story behind your company?
Ted Chan: The idea for CareDash really came when I was shopping for healthcare for a loved one. In the search process, I found that the existing provider websites were almost criminally irresponsible in some of their practices. Review sites that made money from removing negative reviews, review sites that didn’t require a login, so essentially a bot could produce 50 good reviews in 30 seconds. Seeing that was the initial spark.
When I dove deeper into the business, I found there were some segments of the population, particularly in rural areas and in lower income demographics that were underrepresented and I saw a real business opportunity as well as an opportunity to serve a broader audience and provide transparent information to healthcare consumers.
Tell us about CareDash, how it addresses the problems you’ve seen with the current review site models, and how you’re building a successful business.
TC: I will say, I got very lucky at the beginning. My lead investor, David Blundin, was an angel investor in two great platform companies, TripAdvisor and CarGurus. Dave had a really good sense for how to get user generated content behind a registered login, which is a really big challenge, and takes time. We are on a really good trajectory to have the most quality review content without compromising principles around having registered users.
And Dave, also having worked with TripAdvisor, suggested a sponsored listing model would be the best way to monetize.
For example, with a sponsored listing model, that means in any area there’ll be 20, 4-5 star dentists, all taking appointments. This model allows those providers to get first look from prospective patients. Since we won’t scrub a negative review, our commitment to the consumer is that you still need to be a great provider.
What are some of the major milestones CareDash has achieved?
TC: We launched in 2016 and last month was our first month with over 1 million healthcare searchers on the site. In the healthcare world, I guess I would say that’s almost a meteoric rise. We’ve also crossed the 100,000 review mark and we’re really seeing acceleration there. Those are exciting milestones for us, we’re excited to have the audience and bring them the values this space can be approached with.
We also had a major white paper that was featured on front page of USA Today as the infographic, that was very exciting. Our data scientists showed the impact of pharma payments on prescribing patterns using Medicare Part D data.
We just did our update and now the provider directory shows payments to healthcare providers on an individual profile, and we’ve also gotten tons of buzz for using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and really sophisticated statistical analysis to weed out fake reviews or bot reviews.
As a review site, what is your response to doctors who come to CareDash looking to dispute or resolve a possibly “unfair” or “overly negative” review?
TC: We’ve made it very easy for providers to easily reply to reviews. We’ve actually seen people who’ve given 1 star reviews change or remove the reviews based on provider replies. In this situation, it’s often a reputation manager looking at what a doctor is doing and quickly identifying and resolving issues.
How do you moderate reviews?
TC: We have a machine learning team that has a model that automatically approves or rejects reviews, but that model was trained by us manually approving and rejecting reviews. I’ve personally approved or rejected 20k reviews myself.
We’re at a 55% automation rate. We’re still going through manually and approving a good number of reviews every day.
Can you talk about how you’ve grown CareDash users, both doctor and searchers?
TC: Our focus has really been on building the most useful and transparent consumer experience while still being fair to providers. And good providers do really well on our platform, we bring them patients.
What are some of the challenges you’re facing running a business in the healthcare space?
TC: Data in healthcare is messy and it’s hard to put all the data together. At CareDash, we want to be the TripAdvisor of healthcare and that means we care deeply about the data, specifically learning from the data and delivering actionable and useful insights for patients.
What does the future of CareDash look like?
TC: Our goal is to be the best place for healthcare consumers to research your provider, verify your eligibility, and schedule an appointment. Three years from now we want to have the most reviews of any site, and an all around great product. We striving for 20 million healthcare searchers a month on the site.