Jude Odu of Health Cost IQ

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Jude Odu (founder and CEO) of Health Cost IQ, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Health Cost IQ – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

I started my over two decades long career in healthcare IT at United Healthcare and have worked in various sectors of the healthcare industry. I’ve also led different teams on impactful healthcare software development projects. Along the way, one problem remained consistent: the amount of wasteful spending and inefficiency that existed within the US healthcare payment system. While working on my doctoral research, I was also struck by the lack of transparency in payment methodology and rampant inconsistency in Medicare payments to hospitals and individual providers.

Avoidable wasteful spending and costly inefficiencies permeate national and state healthcare programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and are especially rampant within private employer health plans. It was (and still is) a very costly problem with seemingly no solution. I decided to spin my research out of my doctoral program and into what eventually became Health Cost IQ. I went to work developing methodologies and algorithms to shed light on this particularly stubborn issue.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Some of the hurdles we faced early on was convincing employers that this was a viable solution to their runaway health spending. Most employers recognize that they have a problem with waste and inefficiencies – they just can’t pinpoint the exact issues causing their runaway costs. In most cases, these problems have been around for years, perhaps even decades. Unfortunately, many employers have come to accept these problems as unsurmountable or just a part of doing business, so when informing them that a solution exists, we run into a healthy dose of skepticism.

Additionally, some private employers operate under restrictive ASO contracts with insurers that limit their ability to hold those same insurers accountable for letting much of that waste and inefficiency percolate in the first place. We find that for the most part, we must educate employers on what’s causing them to bleed cash unnecessarily and give them different avenues to try to claw back as much of their lost funds as they possibly can.

What does the future hold for Health Cost IQ?

We are working on next generation algorithms to further augment the technologies we have already developed to help employers uncover different opportunities for savings within their health plans and formularies. These algorithms will span practically every category of waste, inefficiency, fraud, abuse, and other unforeseen and unforeseeable scenarios that besiege employers and lead to unnecessary and avoidable cost and risk. We hope to become the default solution for employers large and small who want to operate more efficiently with less risk and better cost management.

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

The local tech startup scene here is Chandler is impressive. We have a vibrant startup culture with many innovative companies doing great work and solving big problems. The local business climate is conducive for starting and running a startup, and the city offers plenty of help to companies that need it. It’s a great place to run a tech startup.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Once you have made up your mind on what you wish to build, go all in, but be aware of the potential risks and pitfalls. Ensure what you are pursuing is your true passion and not someone else’s. Be bold and decisive, but remain flexible to change direction if needed.


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