SAN FRANCISCO — Some health startup founders don’t believe in tackling problems across huge populations. Instead, they prefer to give individuals tools to help them take better care of themselves.

“Value creation … is not in filling beds,” Rushika Fernandopulle, chief executive and a cofounder of Iora Health, said at VentureBeat’s 2014 HealthBeat conference today.

“Improving people’s health and keeping them out of trouble — there is a staggering amount of value to be created there, and that is, I think, what we’re aiming for.”

Fernandopulle’s company pairs up a doctor, nurse, and “health coach” with each patient, as well as desktop and mobile applications that surface records and doctor’s notes for patients. Patients can even communicate with their Iora staff through text messages, emails, and video chats, so they don’t always have to go into the doctor’s office.

In essence, Iora’s health care revolves around the patient, not the doctor. As a result,┬ápatients may become┬áless dependent on doctors.

“You’ll be doing stuff, and we’ll watch you and make sure you are not falling through the cracks,” Fernandopulle said. “The goal is you don’t need us anymore.”

But doctors aren’t worried. There are upsides, Fernandopulle said, namely happier patients and better outcomes,

His startup’s approach aligns with that of Twine Health, which provides mobile-friendly cloud software where doctors can track patients’ health and where patients can follow and execute on plans they create with their doctors. After all, it isn’t so silly to think patients might care a bit about improving their health.

“Patients are the most underutilized resources out there,” said John Moore, Twine Health’s chief executive and a cofounder.

And when health care providers start thinking harder about helping one patient at a time, the results will add up.

“You don’t manage a population,” Moore said. “Blasting things out to big populations — that’s been a focus of where money’s been spent over the past decade. And what has it yielded? Nothing — very marginal results.”

 

HealthBeat is a two-day conference covering how new ways of tracking our personal data can improve our health and health care system.