Exclusive Q&A with Pager Co-founder Oscar Salazar and Pager EVP Marketing Andrew Chomer on Disrupting the Healthcare Industry

Healthcare and business. When I mentioned both words, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? “Expensive” “costly” “necessary evil” etc.  All boil down to one issue: Healthcare is costly. And to make matter worse, the costs are rising annually.  The impacts are far from pleasant.

Businesses were forced to make a decision: Should they shoulder the healthcare costs to the full at the expense of profitability and growth? Should they reduce employees’ healthcare coverage that can cost them a few good employees jumping ship to other companies with better perks? Should they shift the costs to their employees?

It’s a tough call, really. Businesses need to find better alternatives.  Enter Pager.

In essence, Pager is a platform for individuals and businesses to get healthcare services at their fingertip: They can access care within hours and get users to access professional help via chats, videos (namely Telemedicine), in-person visit, and make delivery of a prescription.

To learn more about Pager and it’s game-changing role in healthcare sector and the business world, we have a great opportunity to talk with Pager co-founder (and also Uber co-founder) Oscar Salazar and Pager VP of Marketing Andrew Chomer in a Q&A:

Oscar Salazar and Andrew Chomer of Pager

Ivan Widjaya (Q): Please kindly introduce Pager and yourself to our readers

Oscar Salazar: My name is Oscar Salazar and I am the Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Pager. I have been a part of several successful ventures, I am the founding CTO of Uber and current advisor, as well as the VP of Technology at Ride and CEO of CitiVox.

Andrew Chomer: Pager is an on-demand healthcare service. In simple terms, our service provides immediate access to healthcare with the touch of button or click of a mouse.

With Pager, we provide a simple and direct way find and receive healthcare. That includes text-based chat with Nurse, speaking with Doctor via a tele-consult or, based on our assessment, we can send a qualified doctor or nurse to your location within two hours.

My role within the company is executive vice president overseeing marketing and sales. I’m responsible for the team that architects the brand, markets the brand and sells our services to ideal partners.

Q: Pager solves a million-dollar – even a billion-dollar problem: Healthcare, just the way you need it – fast. But in doing so, I’m sure there are challenges that you need to address. Can you share with us the challenges that you face and how does Pager go about with the challenges?

Salazar: Today it is a challenge for individuals to access high quality healthcare. Often, people will neglect their own health because it is a hassle to go to the doctor or ER and the costs can be outrageous. At Pager, we streamline the process and customize the patient experience bringing excellent healthcare wherever it is most convenient.

Chomer: Absolutely, most of our challenges revolve around the complexities that make healthcare such a difficult space to navigate. One of the main challenges we face, as with any new entrant, is one of behavior change. Pager has defined a new way to access care via a smart phone and that alone represents a large shift from how people have operated in the past. I believe our team has done a terrific job identifying the best ways to communicate our value proposition to help people understand there is a better experience that we offer. That said, it still represents a fun challenge for teams.

A few of the other challenges include how individuals pay for healthcare and building an effective operations model in the healthcare space. Typically, most individuals pay for healthcare with their insurance and we are not currently operating as an in-network provider, although that will change in 2016. Additionally, we’ve shifted our operations model a bit to focus on the right care provider at the right location. Sending doctor’s for every visit was a great proof point with the home care model, but we’ve greatly improved our efficiencies by moving into a team-based model. This allows us to prioritize the right care, the right person at the right setting.

Pager app

Q: Pager is moving into the B2B space with Pager for Business. Can you tell us the reason of the move? Who are your most notable clients so far?

Chomer: Pager wants to help solve some of the industry’s challenges by connecting your employees with on-demand medical care in their home or office. Businesses are seeing healthcare costs rise anywhere between 10% to 15% annually and Pager saves companies’ money by reducing claims and shifting care delivery location (from ER to less expensive solutions via tele-medicine or in-person). We help you keep your employees happy and healthy by providing access to efficient and cost-effective urgent care and wellness services.

To date, we have signed on about 20+ clients inclusive of Birchbox, Spotify, Thrillist and Gawker.

Q: If I’m a small business owner, how can Pager fix/solve/remedy my problems? (please pitch me!)

Chomer: The core value proposition of Pager for Business is focused on reducing the cost of healthcare by redirecting care to a lower cost option (from the ER to tele-medicine or in-person). Similarly, with Pager you get care within hours which limits sick days and provides immediate access to professionals on our mobile app – at home or in the office. In addition to nurse chats, tele-medicine and in-person visits employees and their families receive wellness, preventative and urgent care solutions.

Simply put, Pager for Business decreases healthcare costs, enhances access to care, increases productivity and retentions and decreases sick days.

Pager - helping patient

Q: Any entrepreneurial/startup tips on how to build a startup that matters?

Salazar: I’ve had success in identifying the cracks within major industries that operate with traditional platforms and processes. When you have a clear problem, it is easier to create a scalable solution, by leveraging technology. I want to make people’s lives to run smoother, so the consumer experience is always at the top of mind for me.

Chomer: I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way and I’m certain I’ll make many more in the future, but constant self-reflection has helped me to self-correct when things start to veer off course. I’d love to share a couple of the lessons I’ve personally learned along the way.

Sizing a Market and your Target Universe. Great ideas only reach their greatness by having a market large enough to capitalize on the idea. Follow the money to understand if people would pay for your product or service and do the research to understand if there are enough potential customers to make a business (and grow a business).

Focus and Discipline. I can’t emphasize this enough, distractions are always abundant with new companies, so prioritize what is most important and narrow your focus. Remove distractions, block your time, use clear agendas and prioritize your day. Even the most disciplined leaders forgot to do this when starting a new venture, it is constantly a work in progress.

Clarity and Communication. Before building a team, have a clear vision. Strategies evolve and plans change, but start with a clear path that is simple and straight forward. The more complex your vision, the harder it will be to attain. In order to motivate and empower a team, people desire clarity in both the strategy and their role in helping to achieve your objectives.  Lastly, good communication is key and a vital part to being a leader in a company.

Many thanks for your time, Mr. Salazar and Mr. Chomer!