MassMutual optimized their partnership with MassChallenge HealthTech by positioning the firm to adopt innovative technologies and approaches to supporting their employees and consumers.
Leading mutual life insurance company MassMutual doesn’t have a team fully dedicated to innovation but rather looks to drive its products and services strategically into the future within each organization throughout the enterprise. This includes identification of key stakeholders within the HealthTech ecosystem for collaboration and identifying emerging solutions within the regional startup community.
Through MassChallenge, MassMutual recognized opportunities to efficiently source new, innovative startups and build and foster these relationships. MassMutual thus began their partnership with MassChallenge – both the HealthTech and FinTech programs - in 2018. By working specifically with the HealthTech program, they hoped to identify new technologies and ideas and push inspiration around innovation internally.
Before the HealthTech program began, MassMutual helped kick off the inaugural MassChallenge FinTech program with the goal of identifying the biggest challenges that could be addressed by partnering with fintech organizations.
“Once we started with MassChallenge, we looked to our executive team for the initial first step,” said Mohammed Dastigir, Head of FinTech and HealthTech Partnerships, Ecosystem Development at MassMutual. “Our approach was to identify a few creative and talented people, regardless of job description or department, and really focus on creating a team of innovative thinkers. With this team, we were able to help define business challenges across the enterprise.”
MassMutual then used these identified challenges to "reverse pitch" startups during our application period, vying for a spot to act as the startups’ mentors and partners with a focus on entrepreneurs and solutions that could possibly benefit their business.
MassMutual’s team was active with both their 2018 and 2019 cohorts. They participated in the online judging, startup matchmaking, and had a regular presence during startup showcases and mentorship programs.
One of the strategic challenges MassMutual identified was accessing electronic health data. After key stakeholders met with 18 selected HealthTech startups during matchmaking, MassMutual identified 1upHealth as one of the startups they would collaborate with during the 2019 program.
1upHealth is an inclusive data platform for patients, providers, researchers and app developers to automate data integrations with health systems and wearable devices within 1upHealth’s EMR integrated application.
Since the end of the 2019 program, MassMutual has continued their relationship with 1upHealth. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, the company experienced challenges obtaining the customer health data needed as part of the underwriting process for new life insurance policies as the availability of paramedical examiners became scarce. MassMutual leveraged 1upHealth’s technology during an engagement earlier this year to access medical data from external health systems in a HIPAA-compliant way, which allowed the underwriting process to move forward without in-person exams for some customers to get the life insurance they needed to protect themselves and their loved ones.
In addition to their relationship with 1upHealth, MassMutual forged relationships with three other HealthTech startups during the 2019 and 2020 programs which the company is still keeping in close contact with for future opportunities to partner.
Pixm – Pixm is the world’s first award-winning, anti-phishing protection that uses deep learning computer vision to detect phishing attacks in real-time at the point of click.
Posh – Posh is a Boston-based, conversational AI startup that enables developers to efficiently build and deploy conversational agents and text and voice channels.
UDoTest – UDoTest’s SaaS platform designs and personalizes an at-home disease testing kit and collaborates with insurers, physicians, and labs.
From a broader perspective, MassMutual has been able to strengthen the Boston HealthTech ecosystem as innovation and collaboration leaders.
“Our partnership with MassChallenge over the last three years has been impactful, with clear mutual growth opportunities that emerged with startups in the FinTech and HealthTech programs,” said Mike Fanning, Head of MassMutual U.S. “MassChallenge gives us access to hundreds of talented, forward-thinking entrepreneurs who are solving real business challenges. 1upHealth is just one example of a strong partnership we established that led to leveraging the startup’s technology in our underwriting process for some clients during COVID-19. We look forward to our continued engagement on both programs and having MassChallenge housed at our new Boston Seaport office.”