10 Years of Benefits Engagement: A Q&A with the Friends Who Started Evive
It has been a groundbreaking year for Evive: from our 10-year anniversary to the launch of our rebranding, there seemed like no better time than the present to take a moment and reflect on Evive’s incredible journey. We chatted with co-founders (and pals) Peter Saravis and Prashant Srivastava to learn more about the company’s origins, how it has evolved, and what’s to come.
Evive turned 10 years old this year. But let’s look back at 2007 for a moment. How’d it all start?
Prashant: Evive started out literally as two guys and a napkin. Back in 2007, we said, “We should solve this problem: Healthcare-spending growth has outpaced inflation for the past 20 years. For all the talk about healthcare becoming a consumer industry, healthcare is still not consumer friendly. Someone has to take the data and turn it into information to empower people.”
Peter: Prashant and I both knew healthcare services well. We knew the decision makers, and we knew the data in terms of both its richness and the pitfalls. There was enough that was familiar. We thought, let’s start a new entity, but in an area we know well. We knew the way that people make decisions regarding things outside of healthcare—like in household goods—could be applied successfully to healthcare.
Prashant: We wanted to reduce the information asymmetry between consumers and providers. Then, the consumer can be the judge of value and choose smartly. Just like they do with every other purchase.
How does big data play into that?
Prashant: Even back then, in 2005, McDonald’s, Amazon, automobile companies, and credit-card companies were using data to market stuff they wanted you to buy. In a sense, we’re “selling” good health back to you using the same technology. For example, with Nordstrom, if you use their credit card, they’ll keep track of your purchases and your tastes. Supermarkets started doing the same with their loyalty-program cards. Healthcare already had a loyalty card: the insurance card!
Peter: Healthcare is a data stream. Data can be captured, linked, used in algorithms—and data can continue to flow, telling you what works well and what doesn’t.
Prashant: We started out with “small data.” We just built rules engines based on the person’s situation—if this, then advise that—and added behavioral economics to it so we could learn what content worked best for each individual. Then as the data streams grew—from claims to encounters, balances, demographics, census information, weather, income, and previous interactions with our content—we arrived in the big data realm where, rather than developing a hypothesis up front, we allow the data to tell the story. This opens up new avenues of connecting the dots that even the human mind could not have imagined.
You’ve mentioned that your clients have spurred a lot of Evive’s innovations. How so?
Prashant: Our clients articulate to us what their needs are so we can apply technology to solve their problems. We have a responsibility to advance the technology, introducing newer, simpler interfaces and opening up newer channels. Healthcare may be slow to respond on its own, but the power of large, innovative customers to drive a better experience has been key to driving our innovations.
Peter: Even our decisions today go right back to our DNA as a company. As a bootstrapped company, we don’t have the number of outside influences that could determine the direction of the company. Instead, it’s up to us, the direction of technology, and our customers.
Over the years, you’ve cultivated a distinct company culture. What is it, and why is it important?
Peter: To sum it up, how you get there is as important as getting there. Part of being a great company is knowing we can’t measure success just off profitability; we’d miss the joy and accomplishment of building a company that provides great jobs, great career development, rewards, and compensation that allows people to live out non-work-related goals. We wanted to create a place with cool jobs where people are valued, thoughts are valued, and they make a good living. That’s how we got to “The Evive Way.”
What keeps you inspired?
Prashant: We have statistics on how many people avoid back surgeries, how many received the right cancer treatment, got better-priced MRIs, avoided a night at the ER by going to an urgent care center instead. Those individual stories add up to what our customers see in aggregates of their own groups.
Peter: We might’ve played a small part in a nudge that led to a whole different trajectory in someone’s life. Will they ever tell us? Highly unlikely. But we’re impacting the stories of their lives.
Prashant: Simplifying people’s lives, in moments that matter the most—that’s where I see us continuing the science.
What’s next as Evive enters its second decade?
Prashant: We started out on a journey to transform healthcare. Over the past couple of years, we brought in the employee-benefits journey. The logical next step is to transform the complete employee experience. We spend a lot of time in our lives being employees. Making it seamless and rewarding is the key to work’s overall contribution to people’s happiness. Ultimately, there will be employers who recognize that making the human experience better makes better employees, which makes for better business.