EP. 30 Only 2.3% of all venture funding went to female founders last year. Kristen Valdes changed her pitch to land her Series A.

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Laurie McGraw is speaking with Inspiring Woman Kristen Valdes who shares lessons she has learned in building her company b.well Connected Health.

Kristen Valdes, the founder and CEO of b.well Connected Health (www.icanbwell.com), has dedicated her career to empowering consumers with the data and tools to take control of their health care journey. An award-winning leader and acknowledged visionary, Valdes has pioneered inventive solutions that are pushing the industry forward into the consumer-directed future of digital health. She is driven in that quest by her experience as the mother of a child with an autoimmune disorder who nearly died due to a lack of health data interoperability.  (You can read about her virtual HIMSS20 presentation on that topic here: https://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/interoperability-can-save-lives-says-bwell-connected-health-ceo)

Kristen’s story is a podcast (or made-for-Netflix movie) in its own right: her daughter, Bailey, was born with a significant autoimmune disorder that multiple physicians failed to recognize or diagnose.  Seven years into the quest for a diagnosis, Bailey was prescribed a medication that is contraindicated for her condition and ended up nearly dying (in part because one physician’s EMR couldn’t talk to the other’s). Finally, Kristen herself assembled all of Bailey’s records from 17 different clinicians, paid 5 experts to review them, and arrived at the right diagnosis.

She founded b.well (named for Bailey or “B”) in 2016 so that no one would ever have to go through that nightmare again. The b.well Connected Health platform provides a long-overdue digital technology for health information interoperability and aggregation. By leveraging modern interoperability protocols such as FHIR-based APIs, the platform consolidates a 360-degree view of real-time data from insurer, provider and employer systems and integrates the rapidly-growing point solutions in these organizations. As a result, b.well transforms the way consumers interact with the health care industry, empowering them with a digital experience to manage all of their healthcare in one location that is persistent, portable, and personalized, driving meaningful interactions. We call it the “new front end” for healthcare.

b.well landed a $16 million Series A last March led by Walgreens Boots Alliance, UnityPoint Health and ThedaCare Health. The company’s client base includes those three organizations plus several large self-insured employers and MedStar Health in Washington, DC. Partners include the likes of Mastercard, which just announced b.well as its first partner in healthcare to deliver mobile digital ID.

Prior to founding b.well , Kristen was an executive at UnitedHealthcare running Medicare Advantage plans across 12 states. She started her healthcare career working with CMS on the first national payment integrity programs for Medicare and Medicaid. She then helped to build XLHealth, one of the pioneering Medicare Advantage plans for the chronically ill.  Kristen was responsible for maintaining and growing the profitability of the plan and was instrumental in its acquisition by UnitedHealthcare in late 2012 for $2.4 billion.

Kristen has won numerous awards for her leadership. Named one of “Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs,” she was recognized in 2020 as one of four “Women Transforming Industries” by Accenture and Springboard Enterprises for re-imagining how we can more efficiently and wisely leverage technology to access healthcare. Under her leadership, b.well has been recognized by Business Insider as “one of 35 healthcare startups VCs say will take off in 2021”; by BuiltIn Austin as a 2020 Best Place to Work; by the Digital Health Awards as the 2020 winner of the “consumer directed digital health” category; and as a “Top Innovator” at the 2019 Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge.

Kristen is a board member of the CARIN Alliance, a non-partisan multi-stakeholder collaborative that aims to enable consumers to access their health information with less friction. She is actively involved in her community; serves on various boards as an Advisor; mentors women entrepreneurs on her own and through organizations like Springboard Enterprises and the GuideWell Innovation Center; and has been a featured speaker at numerous healthcare industry conferences including HIMSS20 and CES21.


You can follow Kristen on LinkedIn.

Read the transcript here.

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