Eliza Speech Recognition Technology Out to Make Healthcare Communication Sexier

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400 million phone calls have been made through the service in the last ten years (As far as protecting privacy goes, the company’s technology has ISO 27001 certification for managing information security.)

Eliza’s technology has been in development since the 1980’s, but Drane joined in 2000, when it was “a classic example of really smart engineering with zero application,” she says. Drane, who had recently sold her Web-based injury tracking startup, Tesseract, and had worked in other healthcare consulting and startup endeavors, found the Eliza technology to be “the holy grail for healthcare,” she says. To date, the company has not raised institutional financing, but was originally funded by angel investors and management. It’s been profitable for more than seven years, she says, and has annual revenue between $25 million and $50 million (the company declined to reveal the exact figure).

Traditionally, the company has charged companies on a much more transactional basis, such as a price per call or email, but Eliza is moving toward a more subscription-based model. Clients would set a goal of getting patients healthier over a certain period of time, and Eliza develops a system of communication to best achieve that outcome in the most cost-effective way.

Eliza works with three types of customers, health plan providers, prescription benefit managers, and employers. The insurance company customers, which include Kaiser Permanente, SelectHealth, and BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, typically use the technology to develop overall wellness and preventative health programs. Employers most often use the service to better explain benefits to employees. Prescription benefit managers employ it as a way to keep patients on track in taking their medication on schedule. (We’ve written about other Health IT companies that incorporate this goal into their technology, like Internet-connected pill cap maker Vitality).

The Eliza product could prove particularly useful to insurers as healthcare reform advances and patients are given more control in selecting their plans, Drane says. She says insurers’ use of the Eliza service could reflect a willingness to be more relevant to patients and target the healthcare issues that affect individual consumers most. “Health plans are recognizing the importance of them having a brand that matters to people,” she says.

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