Interviews

Catch Up: Sherman Rogers of Bloom

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A catch up with Sherman Rogers (founder and CEO) of Bloom, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Bloom – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

For more than 15 years, we have been driven by a mission to help people with Medicare. I have always believed in this: Medicare shoppers are our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, and we know that communities do better when they are well and thriving.

Great health care and great health insurance coverage are a big part of that, so we owe it to beneficiaries to help them choose the right health plan to meet their needs. To achieve this, we work with some of the largest national Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) in the country and a broad array of regional and local plans to provide a shopping, enrollment, and engagement experience that leads to better health and plan utilization outcomes.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Over-saturation of marketing messages is still a big issue for seniors, even after 17 years in this business. It is hard for them to know where to turn for good advice, so we need to continue to break through the noise to help older adults get the counsel they need from a qualified individual they can trust.

There is also a lot of discussion in the industry and in government right now about how health insurance agents and third-party marketing entities are incentivized and compensated. These matters will have a lasting impact on how the Medicare industry operates and how those operational changes will affect beneficiaries. The reality is these types of regulatory conversations and eventual rulings have always been (and will always be) part of the way this industry is run. It is a challenge to stay on top of an ever-changing environment, but we’re no stranger to that at Bloom. We prepare our business leaders, our employees, and our clients to weather these changes compliantly and with an eye on continued better outcomes for everyone.

What does the future hold for Bloom?

There are so many things to be excited about. This year, we are continuing to focus on delivering High Value Enrollment for our clients and their members. This will always be a part of our past, present, and future. In addition, we are launching a new product called Ascend Broker, a multi-carrier Quote and Enroll tool built to serve the needs of independent Medicare brokers nationwide. We spent last year gathering feedback from agents and brokers on their needs, preferences, experiences and frustrations with competitive Quote and Enroll software. We learned a lot from those conversations and have taken those insights all the way to our in-house development team. They have created a seriously robust, feature-rich platform with a new UX/UI design that I believe agents, agencies, and Field Marketing Organizations (FMOs) will love, and that health plans will want to add to their distribution model this AEP (Medicare Annual Enrollment Period). It’s a big year for us.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Bloomington?

The name “Bloom” is a reference to the growth we want to achieve for our customers. And it is also a reference to where this company was started in 2007. I have always held a sense of pride in being able to say that Bloom was founded in Bloomington because of the support we have received from our vibrant local community over the years, and the wonderful employees we were able to recruit in this area, many of whom started their careers with us and remain with us to this day. I believe Indiana University and the City have both done their part to create an environment where tech innovation is a part of the “scene”, as you say. The enduring challenge will be fostering an environment where our best and brightest thinkers will want to stay in Bloomington and contribute to the growth we have seen.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Focus intently on solving a problem, be relentless in your efforts, be honest about your progress, and surround yourself with people who want to help you and your company succeed.

We last spoke in 2022. What has Bloom been up to since then?

Hopefully, we have been taking our own advice (see the previous question). But seriously, we have been focused, as always, on solving problems for people with Medicare, their health plans, the agents who help them choose those plans, the physicians that deliver the care, and the third-party agencies that connect these entities for easier communication (the aforementioned FMOs).

Part of being an entrepreneurial company will always be about finding new and innovative ways to solve these problems, whether it be a new or re-imagined piece of software, a new service offering, or an enhanced telephonic or in-person experience. That’s what we have been up to, and what we’re likely to be up to in the foreseeable future.

What’s new with the future mission or goals of the company?

We have our sights set on some additional data management enhancements to our tech platform that I believe will be a tremendous value add for our clients. We are already able to provide a member experience for our payer clients that enhances customer loyalty through our Health Activation outreach programs, which are tailored to our clients’ goals, begin at point-of-sale, and can extend through the health plan member journey. The data management enhancements on the horizon will continue to make our Health Activations programs more robust by helping our clients access care earlier and more often.

There is so much we can do when we have the right data at the right time and can gather it compliantly with the permission of all involved. And of course, we, like everyone else, are interested in what AI can do to transform the health care space for the better. So, we will be watching the industry and continually applying our values of compliance, privacy, and the importance of real human interactions to the decisions we make regarding AI in the future.

What have you learned or has surprised you about the industry since we last spoke?

I think the one thing that continually surprises me is the rate of change. Most would think healthcare is a staid, slow moving business. Regulation, competition and technology have combined to keep the pace of change at an all time high. Our industry isn’t for the faint of heart, but it stays exciting!

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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