Deeper Data for Better Benefits | Rodney Reasen from Springbuk

Every year, companies evaluate the needs of their workforce to purchase their annual benefits package. This is an exceedingly complicated task, and it doesn’t always result in the best deal.

As a consultant who helped companies navigate the healthcare market, Rodney Reasen saw these difficulties first hand. “That process we found was fraught with lack of information, lack of data, and almost a perverse incentivization in the market,” he says.

He realized that if he could devise a way for companies to better ascertain the healthcare needs of their employees, they could make better decisions that both saved money and gave workers the best possible package.

His solution became Springbuk, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to analyze workforce data to give companies the deep insights they need to make informed decisions when assembling benefits packages.

On this edition of UpTech Report, Rodney discusses some of the special challenges presented by the healthcare marketplace, and why he believes curation is the future.

More information:

Rod Reasen, II, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Springbuk, a Health Intelligence platform with a vision to prevent disease with data. Prior to launching Springbuk, Rod founded and scaled a fee-based benefits consulting firm into one of the largest in the Midwest when it was acquired by a publicly traded firm in 2010.

In 2009, he launched the nationally recognized Healthiest Employers award program that has recognized over 8,000 employers at the top healthiest workplaces in their region and who represent nearly half of the working population in America.

From those learnings, Rod dreamed of a day where employers could make the best unencumbered decisions using data.

That passion drove him to co-found Springbuk, which now represents more than 4,000 employers including hundreds of household brands. His energy is contagious and the world is benefiting from his vision to disrupt healthcare. 

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Rodney Reasen 0:00
We’re we’ve found a way to make better decisions than ever have the folks have ever been able to make in the past, based off of good data.

Alexander Ferguson 0:13
Welcome, everyone to UpTech Report. This is our applied tech series UpTech Report is sponsored by TeraLeap. Learn how to leverage the power of video at Today, I’m very excited to be joined by my guest, Rod Reasen, who’s based in Greater Indianapolis, he’s the co founder and CEO of Springbuk. Welcome, Rod, good to have you on.

Rodney Reasen 0:32
Welcome to me, thank you very much for having me on.

Alexander Ferguson 0:35
You’re here, man. Now your product is a health intelligence platform. So for those out there, if you’re an HR team leader, 1000 plus employees, their average ones they’re working with about 10,000. But it can go up from beyond there, this might be an intriguing platform, you’re gonna want to check out now on your site, you state a more intelligent solution, but really help you understand, right? Like, what is this intelligence solution? What was the problem that you found initially, and like I need to solve this?

Rodney Reasen 1:03
Well, so my background was in the corporate benefits space, working as a consultant with larger employers. And each year employers go through this cycle of trying to understand what benefit program what their benefit program is going to look like. And that encompasses everything from their health plan, how they structure their stop loss deductible to the PBM, they choose to the overall third party solutions that are going to use to engage their employers. So that process we found was fraught with lack of information, lack of data, and almost a perverse incentivization in the market, where the consultants may not see the entire market of opportunities. Plus, they’re basing their information off of a lack of information, or good data. So we said, What if we could bring new insight into that decision making process and help the employers make the best investment into the population or their team? And so we decided in 2014, we were going to investigate the industry and then ultimately build out a smarter way of making those decisions and build out a health intelligence platform. And that’s what we’re here where we’re at today.

Alexander Ferguson 2:18
Now, you are not new to the health space. I mean, already before this, you’re CEO of healthiest employer. So it’s, it’s it sounds like it’s been in your mindset of of applying solutions around healthcare. Is that correct?

Rodney Reasen 2:32
Yeah, no doubt, you ask anybody that’s in the healthcare space, or anyone that has experienced it, healthcare in general, especially coming out of a COVID year, and you’ll say that healthcare is broken, and there’s ample opportunity to to create new new pathways or disrupt the space. And so that’s what we’re doing, we’re, we’ve found a way to make better decisions than ever have the folks have ever been able to make in the past, based off of good data. So these aren’t subjective ideas, or, hey, my best friend has a company you should check him out. This is all based off of data.

Alexander Ferguson 3:08
without help me understand Rob, for just clarity sake, before someone uses a solution like Springbok. I mean, what are they doing before this? And why is it actually help at all?

Rodney Reasen 3:21
Well, depends on the size of the company. So large employers, if you if you have 50,000 employees, you’d likely have an analytic solution or a consultant that’s working with you to look at your data from both a clinical and actuarial perspective. So larger employers have had access to tool sets and data that mid market employers certainly haven’t had in the past. But even those tools in the in the enterprise space have been a cobbled together, set of instruments, if you would, that are based off of very legacy type platforms or technology. So entering the industry in 2015, we became cloud native. And it’s interesting to even use that term anymore, because no one would even say cloud, right? Everything’s cloud, right? But But still, it’s fascinating that that was the space and enterprise employers were buying on prem type solutions that were cumbersome or clunky to use. And so we we looked at the space and said, What if we could take the modern paradigms that exist in the industry today. And as they’re growing, not just cloud, but all of the paradigms with a very sleek, easy to use interface, the almost a curated approach to the user to say, Hey, I know you’re not coming into my platform to go solve a problem that’s in your head. What if I the software could actually start solving the problem that you’ve not even thought of? That’s the difference between health intelligence versus just data analytics.

Alexander Ferguson 4:47
Help me understand very briefly, like just in a paragraph or phrase of what are the inputs that are coming in that it’s actually looking at to provide any intelligence on

Rodney Reasen 4:58
so we collect traditional medical claims pharmacy dental vision, think of it from an employee lens, any data that you create because you’re engaging in the healthcare system, those all each of those produce an element of information that helps us better identify both a pathway to success, where are you going from health profile? And then also, where have you been? Where you’re going as what’s most interesting, because I think that’s what you and I, as consumers want to know, now, it’s nice to have a history book, but where am I going to go? How can I be better served as a human being, that’s what technology really has the capability of doing here in the future than in the past we hadn’t had.

Alexander Ferguson 5:43
Now, for those that are in this role, an HR manager and leader that that you’re working with a word of advice, if you would bring them for their role, what they’re having to deal with, even aside from spring back, what would you share?

Rodney Reasen 5:57
Oh, my goodness, the one thing that we’ve found over and over again, that differentiates where the marketplace is at today versus where it’s going, is that and I liken this to Microsoft Excel, or Google Sheets, whatever platform you use, if if I gave you a whole host of data, and I said, run me some pivot tables and some shirts, I don’t know what your sophistication level is, but you’ll probably figure it out. Same way with me, I’ll figure it out. But our levels of output are going to be varying widely. So the value of a software is only as good as my own specific knowledge. Well, that inherently is a problem with the entire industry. So as HR leaders, one of the one of the fears that HR leaders often have is, I don’t know if I want to buy a system, because it’s, I don’t know what questions to ask. What we said is, that’s why we build a health intelligence platform is you don’t know, you don’t have to know the question to come into our solution. Our job, our sophistication, our engine, our insights platform is designed to dig into the data and expose the best opportunities, and then direct you down the path to take. So it’s, it’s not excel at all. It’s not that old paradigm. It’s the brand new paradigm. And it’s teaching folks that it’s okay to say I don’t know. And oftentimes, that’s just it, just it’s okay to saddle No, jump in and take a look. And you’ll see the future.

Alexander Ferguson 7:23
It’s kind of is on this road of technology itself is instead of just giving you data, here’s data, but it’s providing suggestions and ideas of what does this data mean? Can you speak to both the the immediate future of what you’re most excited about feature wise is coming out, but also long term as far as where the technology is headed in for data analytics, and to be able to use in healthcare.

Rodney Reasen 7:47
So I, this is always fun for us. We’re, I’m exposing this to our team here next week, and are all company off site. And just I’ll talk about the industry in general, you, one of the things that we’ve learned as human beings through COVID, is that we’re a massive consumer of information. We love to consume information. There’s a plethora of information out there and what what avenues we collected is often very interesting. And most of the platforms have a way of learning what we click on and then proposing new information to us. That’s just software working behind the scenes, to be better curators. For me as a consumer. You see this happen as consumers using Netflix when they do their propensity scoring, and say, Hey, movies like this you might like, or Amazon does it when you start to look at products. So the big consumer brands have figured out that we as consumers don’t really want to go look for the next movie to watch or even the product to buy. But what’s the last name to us to watch? Yeah, exactly. So so what we what we’ve said is okay, if that’s happening in the consumer space, healthcare is notoriously late to everything. And so why can’t we apply those same paradigms to the healthcare space? So think about it just from the analytics industry. Most of our historic process for buyers in our in our industry would be to come to an analytic solution with the problem already in their head. Similar to trying to walk into a video store not knowing and remember this when blockbuster existed, or even Netflix or Redbox, you go to the box and sort through the options, versus a streaming service that is learning from you all the time and suggesting new things. That’s the paradigm that needs to exist and it’s what we’re bringing to market. In the heart of COVID. This last summer, we brought together a product called answers. And we took that paradigm of linguistic search that you and I often do and we say hey Siri, or Hey Google, or Hey, whatever and We think linguistically, and we expect an instant result. And not just a result, we want it to be learned. But we also want it to curate, based on what I know, we launched a product last year called answers that does just that. So I can go in and find the best opportunities in my population to go serve. So I can keep babbling, but keep asking.

Alexander Ferguson 10:22
It’s the concept of being able to constantly learn and provide better answers. And maybe even using NLP, just natural language understanding processing, to be able to say, this is what I want for my healthcare for my options for my benefits. And both the employer as well as the employee can benefit from these types of new access. I’m excited for what you’re painting the vision rod, because I see it. I’m curious, because we could we could dig into that a long time. But I want to take a little different shift here and understand, this has been six years you’ve been building this helped me understand if you knew what you knew now. Yeah, can you now what you know, now, six years ago, would you be telling yourself six years ago, Man, I wish I had told myself this?

Rodney Reasen 11:07
I think we sometimes as human beings, limit ourselves to the capabilities of the impossible. Our theme as a company this year is enabling the impossible. And really trying to stretch our minds from what we know, and lean into the darkness, in many ways. So Plato often called it the cave syndrome. And what happens as human beings as the older we get, we put these barriers or blinders around us, because we have experience of winning and succeeding. And once we’ve had that experience, we almost become closed minded to other ideas. And that’s a big danger. So what we challenge our team to do is to say, hey, just because it was successful last year, or two years ago, or three years ago, let’s be okay, leaping into the future and saying, what happened? We done? Where could we go? And just taking the blinders off? to jump into the future?

Alexander Ferguson 12:03
As a leader? I mean, that’s one of your purposes is to lead and to take those challenges it can you share. For other leaders out there, what was one example of you’re like, Man, I wish I had just jumped a little bit further on this, or not taken so long to push further without the blinders?

Rodney Reasen 12:23
I am, I’m not a look back and regret kind of guy. So I’ll, what I’ll share is one thing, I think we did really well. March 11, we decided to begin working from anywhere. And last year, when when COVID hit. And our team had our own product roadmap in front of us, we’re launching a new product we were we were a software company. So you we had our product roadmap already in place. And then COVID hit and all of a sudden, the whole world is trying to understand what is COVID? How What does work from anywhere look like. And our team jumped into action. And we, over a period of several months, we attracted over 2000 attendees to webinars that we produced in conjunction with other organizations to say, here’s what the effective COVID could look like, here are the things that you should be considering. We created new cars, or 12 different cards or insights within our platform that weren’t part of our roadmap. So those are times when you as a leader, and as an organization, you jump into something that you don’t know. And you learn very, very rapidly of what’s what’s working, how do you educate your team. And believe it or not mean we just reported to our board yesterday, we stayed on our existing product roadmap. So we added those things and did not detract from our existing roadmap. And that was tough. It’s been a, you know, a tough year for everyone. I’m really, really proud of what the team was able to accomplish. doing extra, even in a tear even a year

Alexander Ferguson 13:54
of chaos, which is a testament to you, as a leader to be able to keep the the team corralled and focused on keep pushing forward, speaking of the team and building a team, that is its own challenge. So just being able to share any insights there. What would you say is maybe your the powerful tactic that you have found to find the right team member and hire the right people? When building when building your team?

Rodney Reasen 14:20
Well, I appreciate the praise for me personally, but I have to deflect it to to the team. It is the team that actually came up with the ideas on what to do. We just said we need to do something. And the team rallied around what to innovate on how to build the cards. It was the team that did that. So I think, for me, the biggest learning last year was to, to set the vision and then to get out of the way if you hire really good people, and you’re telling them what to do, then that’s really troublesome. Good people know what to do. They have their own ideas needed to step out of the way and let them go Do we have a fantastic team who innovates What I could ever dream of they step into that dark more than I do often and come up with new ideas that I wouldn’t have done on my own.

Alexander Ferguson 15:07
How do you how do you determine that this is this is a good person like this person is able to jump in before hiring them. And what’s your what’s your process? How do you validate? How do you identify that right value in those?

Rodney Reasen 15:17
I wish I had a silver bullet that could I can tell you that answer. We asked some crazy questions in our interviews, but

Alexander Ferguson 15:26
we didn’t exactly hire those questions.

Rodney Reasen 15:28
So one of the questions that we used to ask was, if you could have dinner with someone data live or fictional, who would it be? It’s not a new one. I think others have probably done it. But that’s that’s a fun one that just strikes conversation.

Alexander Ferguson 15:45
Yeah. As you build the team, I imagine as you said, it, that’s what really is allows your your whole organization to move forward, how big is the team today?

Rodney Reasen 15:54
We’re about 115 people. Gotcha. And

Alexander Ferguson 15:57
moving forward from here, what would you say, is kind of the next big thing that you’re going to be working on as far as the roadmap and the vision of moving forward,

Rodney Reasen 16:08
it’s continued to double down on what we’ve built. So we’ve, at stages, every company and individuals, we go through these s curves, and you you excel to the next platform, or the what next, so what not. So what now what, and last year, we we achieved a level of scale, we have over 4000 employers on our platform now, we added over 1000 employers to to the technology just in last year. And so we’ve figured out that the technology is working, we have this insights layer that I talked about, and now it’s about doubling down on creating new value for our customers. You know, ultimately that’s the value of a sass platform is that you’re releasing, we’re a continuous release shop. So every 30 minutes, we’re releasing new code. So every 30 minutes, the platform gets more valuable for the customers that paid you know, that bought last year or two years, or the ones that just joined every 30 minutes that we get more and more valuable. So it’s a really fun space to be in. So just continuing to do what we know how to do well. I’d love

Alexander Ferguson 17:12
to at some point, hear more about how you’re able to constantly be pushing out every 30 minutes new new code because that that’s got to be its own whole section of knowledge of your team be able to accomplish that. But in our time remaining I’m gonna ask you just one last question for as a leader, are there any books or or, or insights or places you go to and would recommend audio books, podcasts, as a leader to be able to keep growing?

Rodney Reasen 17:38
Sure, there’s, there’s three that come to mind real quick, and I’ll pull one and actually show the title here that I just got done reading. But Freakonomics is number one. Just if you just say that I won’t even give the history of the book but that Freakonomics is from for a business leader to understand business principles from that lens is, in my in my perspective, one of the best books you can read just understanding that thesis, or reach over here and, and show you this one. This is one that the president of our company just handed out to some of our leaders. And it’s about getting into this judgemental mindset versus learner mindset. It’s thinking positive very, very good book for leaders, especially coming out of a year that we’ve had with just a lot of chaos. It was easy for all of us to get in that pit. So another good book and then for business operations I I liked the book traction by Gino wickman which talks about the EOS business model so those are three I could go on I’m an avid reader as my my team knows but those those three I appreciate

Alexander Ferguson 18:45
I can already tell what the books behind you and a book ready to pull up only an avid reader could be able to accomplish that well thank you so much rod for sharing both the direction the insight the role that that Springbok is playing for those that want to learn more should definitely check out their website right and and it’s BUK and you’ll be able to check out and get a demo. Thanks again, Rob for your time. I appreciate it.

Rodney Reasen 19:10
Well, thank you for doing those keep up what you’re doing.

Alexander Ferguson 19:13
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you subscribe to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.


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