An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Sherman Rogers (founder and CEO) of Advise Insurance, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Advise Insurance – what problem were you trying to solve and why?
The idea for Advise came to me in conversation with Tim Barry, CEO and founder of VillageMD (a national primary care provider). He told me about the problem senior patients often encounter when they choose Medicare Advantage plans without realizing the full impact of their choice on their relationship with their primary care physician, their referring specialists, and their outpatient services. It is commonly called the “January 1st” effect. This is when patients go to use their insurance at their doctor’s office or the pharmacy window and find out (the hard way) that their plan benefits or cost sharing isn’t what they thought. Physicians have had to “fix” these issues in conjunction with their patients for years. Our shared belief in the importance of continuity of care drove Tim and I to come up with the mission of Advise. The most important decision a senior patient makes regarding their health care is who they choose to be their primary care provider, or PCP. The quarterback of your clinical health is your PCP, and all insurance decisions should be made to support that decision, unless it is just not a viable path, which is actually quite rare. The genesis for Advise was the idea of a national Medicare brokerage dedicated to assisting seniors with their insurance (education and enrollment). Our model would take into account a patient’s provider and their referral network. The idea is simple, but the impact on seniors is profound. With guidance from Advise, seniors can choose the best health coverage for their unique situation without harming their all-important continuity of care.
What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?
Speaking in all seriousness, we face a current information climate in which the most accessible Medicare information reaches seniors in the form of a 30 second commercial pitch by Joe Namath or Captain Kirk. We needed to break through the very real “noise” of misleading marketing to reach beneficiaries with the best, simplest, and yet most comprehensive information possible. We also needed to help providers understand their essential role in educating their patients (they are far and away the most trusted source for seniors), all while building a national brand.
What does the future hold for Advise Insurance?
We think the future of healthcare requires the provider and insurer to work more closely together to create the optimal patient experience, which means keeping seniors healthy and not just getting them well. Advise is uniquely positioned as a resource to help accomplish this important task.
What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Bloomington?
The University and the city have worked hard to foster an atmosphere of early stage innovation. I am hopeful and excited to see how that translates to second stage, larger growth opportunities. I think Bloomington has all the ingredients to be a hub of innovation and growth. We need to begin to integrate and assimilate those assets for the opportunities planted locally and keep them here.
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. And remember, it’s the journey that is truly special, whether you ultimately succeed or not.