An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Justin Nicols (founder and CEO) of Sift Healthcare, which was honored in our:
- 2023 Best Tech Startups in Milwaukee
- 2022 Best Tech Startups in Milwaukee
- 2021 Best Tech Startups in Milwaukee
- 2020 Best Tech Startups in Milwaukee
Tell us the origin story of Sift Healthcare – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
I founded Sift to fill a gap in the healthcare payments space. While developing a mobile payment app for healthcare, I observed the staggering amount of employee time devoted to processing and collecting medical bills. I noted dollars wasted because of disparate data systems and human capital-intensive workflows. With my background in data-driven eCommerce, I understood how predictive analytics would revolutionize the process. Sift Healthcare solves one of the most pressing problems in healthcare: payments and administrative waste. Healthcare payers and providers in the US spend ~$500B each year on billing and insurance-related costs. For healthcare providers, managing insurance reimbursement drives nearly 80% of billing-related costs. Sift’s goal is to leverage data science to help healthcare providers improve payment outcomes, cut administrative waste, and keep their focus on care.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Our biggest hurdle at Sift is breaking through all the noise around AI, machine learning, and analytics. The words have been overused and, to some extent, have lost their meaning. There is a burden on Sift to demonstrate to our health system clients the impact of leveraging their data and strategically applying ML. Further, it is complicated to sell to health systems. There are many layers of administration, and adoption can move slowly. We’ve had to adjust to account for how slow the healthcare industry moves.
What does the future hold for Sift Healthcare?
In July 2022, Sift closed our Series A round of funding. This funding has equipped us with the ability to build our team and onboard new health system clients. Our focus is on growing our client base, team, and product development through mid-2023. Since our founding, the waste in healthcare administration has only grown, and margins have only gotten tighter for providers. We are more committed to our mission than ever, working to reduce costs in healthcare administration.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Milwaukee?
I’m honored that Sift has come out of the startup scene in Milwaukee. We are part of the Wisconsin Technology Council and have appreciated their commitment to growing the tech seen in the area. Making connections with customers, investors, and talent is powerful, and there are leaders in Milwaukee who work hard to help founders connect.
What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
My best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs is that you can’t do everything alone, so building the right team is the most important thing you can do. There will always be challenging times and unique situations. However, with the right team that is oriented toward the same goal, you will always find your way to the other side with the company in a better position.