‘Knowledge is Power’: Rice students create startup to help people take control of their health care

The Healthcare Navigator aims to reduce unnecessary costs and improve health care system literacy

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A group of Rice University students has launched a startup, The Healthcare Navigator, to help people take back control of their health care and revolutionize the health care system. This powerful platform empowers consumers with comprehensive information on treatment and financial options, making health care easier to navigate.

The all-female team of eight said it wants to put power into the hands of patients by providing helpful and relevant information in an easy-to-use app to help patients make informed decisions about their health care. The women represent several majors across Rice, including pre-med, computer science, medical humanities, art and business, to ensure the platform is inclusive and empowering.

“About 88% of Americans aren’t health literate,” founder and president Kayla Grimes said. “It’s very hard for them to navigate health care in the way to get the best benefit for it, so what our platform will do is essentially give them the tools and resources to confidently navigate the health care system. We also help with price transparency specifically.”

The app, in addition to an accessible website, has several features meant to educate consumers on their health care options or consolidate information for ease of use. The features include:

  • Cost Compass: Compares procedure costs across local hospitals, enabling users to shop around and save money.
  • Care Genius AI: An artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot that helps people negotiate medical bills and answers health care system questions, saving time and frustration.
  • Patient Power Modules: Interactive educational videos that make understanding the health care system easy and engaging.
  • Pocket Doc: Helps consumers find the best nearby providers based on location, ratings and quality metrics.
  • Pulse Check Alert: Keeps users informed on important health care news and patient insights.
  • Care Manager: Streamlines users’ health care needs and goals in one convenient place.

Grimes, a rising Brown College senior and business major, said she saw the need for a streamlined and understandable single interface after several years in the health care administration space and witnessing family members seeking treatment.

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“When I was volunteering for the National Patient Advocacy Foundation, I brought the idea to them to see if this was worth trying. They told me, ‘If you do this right, this could actually change everything in health care,’” Grimes said. “Two years later and that’s exactly what we’re doing. People now have unprecedented access to crucial financial and quality insights in an easy-to-understand format. What’s more is that they have a personal health care navigator at their side 24/7 to ensure they go by the facts, not the fluff, to make the right decisions for themselves and their family. Knowledge is power, and that’s what we’re providing.”

Pocket Doc also provides information on hospitals, clinics, urgent care centers, freestanding emergency rooms — any place where people get health care.

“We have that in the system, so that you can actually see useful metrics instead of just going on Google reviews and reading their readmission rate — we’re going to explain what’s a good readmission rate and what’s a bad readmission rate,” she said. “That’s the whole point: We’re not just going to give you these metrics, we’re also going to give you some benchmarks, so you can make the decision for yourself.”

The Healthcare Navigator is not just for individual consumers — it’s also for employers looking to enhance health care benefits as well as colleges, school districts and community and public organizations, Grimes explained.

To learn more, visit TheHealthcareNav.com.