HealthJoy wants you to talk to an A.I. chatbot when you wake up sick at 2 a.m.

by Michael Hines
July 31, 2017

For many people, the most difficult aspect of the United States healthcare system is all of it. After that, one of the biggest struggles is navigating and understanding all that an insurance plan offers. In addition to being frustrating, this groping in the dark can be costly.

HealthJoy, a Chicago-based startup, believes the answer to this problem is a chatbot. More specifically, it’s an A.I.-powered chatbot named Joy.

“We found over the years that people really don’t understand what they need. They really need help with that decision support to understand what type of care is most pertinent to the situation or issue they have,” said HealthJoy founder and CEO Justin Holland. “We do that effectively through that chatbot and A.I. that steers them to lower costs of care.”

HealthJoy was founded in 2014 by Holland and Doug Morse-Schindler to help people signing up for health insurance via the Affordable Care Act navigate their plans and get the most out of them.

At the beginning there was no chatbot, just humans. After signing up 50,000 users and coming across 16,000 different types of insurance plans, HealthJoy recognized a need to ramp up its tech.

In addition to building a chatbot, the company moved to a B2B model with brokers selling the platform to companies as part of a health insurance bundle or as a standalone add-on.

HealthJoy offers a range of services through its mobile app. Users can find a doctor’s office, negotiate a medical bill, access benefit information and learn about more advanced plan offerings like smoking cessation programs. At all times the goal is to find ways to save users money, whether by offering cheaper alternatives or steering them away from unnecessary trips to the doctor’s office.

“We basically cast a very wide net and allow employees to really ask any question they can possibly imagine,” Holland said. “Joy’s primary objective at the beginning is to educate and gather health information so that we understand what to engage on and where we can find aspects of cost savings.”

HealthJoy’s CEO believes chatbots need to be human-augmented in order to be valuable, which is why users can speak with human concierges or physicians at any time.

Holland said HealthJoy is used by companies in almost all 50 states. It has around 30 people in its River North office and is hiring for several open roles.

 

Image via HealthJoy.

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